When I think of the Bronx, so many things come to mind. The Yankees. Jennifer Lopez. The Bronx Zoo. City Island. Unbelievable Puerto Rican food (that’s another post entirely). And now, The Lit. Bar.
New York’s newest bookstore is the brainchild of Noëlle Santos, a woman with a vision of bringing an independent bookstore to the borough. Born and bred in the Boogie Down, Ms. Santos worked extremely hard to see her dream come to fruition. As a winner of the NYPL & Citi Foundation’s New York StartUP! Business Plan Competition in 2016, Ms. Santos received a financial boost to open The Lit. Bar, but it would be another three years before the location partially opened. As a preview, the space opened for the launch of Lilliam Rivera’s newest book, Dealing in Dreams (see my review here). The bookstore was full of excited readers who were gushing about the new space on Twitter and Instagram. I had a really bad case of FOMO reading all of those messages and seeing pictures from the event. So I decided to see The Lit. Bar for myself.
The famous 6 train takes you to The Lit. Bar and when you walk in, a beautiful chandelier captures your attention immediately. But that’s just the beginning. To the right behind the cash register is a giant mural of a gorgeous woman reading a book. It looks like graffiti but also so much more. The woman’s face is content, satisfied and welcoming. She wants you to browse, have a seat, and enjoy the space. Further in, there’s a children’s area with what looks like a tree growing out of the floor and into the ceiling. It looked so cozy and whimsical and I know will be a highlight for the children who visit. As you keep walking further in, there are a few comfy and stylish couches and chairs for those who want to sit a spell. And towards the back is what will be the wine bar, a truly amazing space. The bar itself is covered in books, but they are stacked in a way that makes the bar really special. It wasn’t fully functional just yet, but I know I’ll be sitting there and enjoying a glass of wine once it is.
I met Ms. Santos, who was there stocking the shelves and greeting new customers. She handpicks the books herself and I can stay with confidence that her taste in books is incredible. She was so warm and friendly and exuded pride for opening the only bookstore in the Bronx. The care she has taken in putting it together shows and I couldn’t stop telling her how beautiful everything looked. But it wasn’t just about aesthetics. Ms. Santos has created and fulfilled not just her dream, but she has also provided a service that is desperately needed in her borough. New Yorkers are readers, and that includes those who live in the Bronx. Now, they have a place they can call home.
The Lit. Bar is currently open only part time, so you may want to call first before visiting. But I recommend you do visit, as soon and as often as possible. I will let my readers know when the official launch is announced. I plan to support this bookstore and I hope you do too.
The Lit. Bar is located at 131 Alexander Avenue in the Bronx. Click here for more information and to sign up for the newsletter. You can also find The Lit. Bar on Twitter and Instagram.