Turning The Page — Avoid The Day Bookstore/Cafe Open Its Doors This Saturday!


 After two years of hosting several  Avoid The Day bookstore/café pop-ups at various venues on the peninsula, local husband and wife, Jianna and Jason Heuer, are a shining example of what can blossom from perseverance and faith in your dreams. This Saturday, February 1, the Heuers will jubilantly swing open the doors to Rockaway’s first-ever bookstore/cafe.

They signed the lease to ATD’s new home on November 1, and lost no time in getting to work on the much-needed renovations to create the space they dreamt of.

“We had to cosmetically strip, repaint and fix everything to turn out the space into the vision that we had,” Jason Heuer said. “Note, we did this for months, while still working at our day jobs. It was a lot of long nights and weekends. We did most of the work ourselves with the exception of some work that definitely required a more professional skill set. Also, thankfully, we received so much help from friends in the community. So building our store was a community effort. It was just really heartening to not just have people in the community support the bookstore, but so many people coming out to help us build.”

It was that community support during the couple’s last pop-up over the summer that convinced them to go full throttle and open a brick-and-mortar bookstore/café. “The six-week pop-up over the summer was our real test,” Jianna Heuer said. “And we were so encouraged by the support with people saying a brick-and-mortar bookstore would work here and they really wanted it. At that pop-up, we sold more books than we thought we were going to, and it was really encouraging. We felt that we filled a void in the community that wanted a bookstore and could support it. So of course, signing a lease and finally opening three months later is all very exciting because it’s our dream.”

ATD’s official opening kicks off this Saturday at 10 a.m. Attendees will all receive a ticket at the door for the free raffle. The bookstore will also be giving away samples of pastries from Fat Cardinal Bakery, Rockaway Beach Bakery and Allie's Gluten Free Goodies, (an award-winning bakery based in Hickville, L.I., that sells gluten-free, nut-free, legume-free, dairy-free and kosher treats). In addition, the Heuers will be gifting a free cup of tea to those who purchase a book.

However, one of the most exciting presentations will be the unveiling of ATD’s own blend of coffee called, “Bookish Blend.” The Heuers are beyond stoked. “The distributor is from my old hometown town in upstate NY. Jianna and I took a trip there and really loved their coffee. So we did a taste test, and came up with Bookish Blend with them. So excited to see how it is received by our customers,” Jason Heuer said.

As of now, the Heuers have already stocked more than 3,000 books in the bookstore. “When we did the summer pop-up last year, I joined the American Booksellers Association, and learned a lot about what really sells in independent bookstores. We still have a Beach Reads section, Jason’s section, a very large children’s section, where now there is even a play area and a teepee with toys they can play with, fiction, nonfiction, cookbooks, self-care (rather than self-help), local authors, short stories, memoirs/biographies, mysteries/thrillers, classics/poetry, home and garden, and DIY,” Jianna said.

Jason added, “Plus we have two new sections, the owners’ day jobs section. For Jianna, it’s the psychology section and for me, it’s a graphic design and art section.”

“For the month of February, we are going to keep building our stock, fine tuning it to what our customers like and maybe want to see more of. We’re even going to have a suggestion box because again, we really want to serve the community. We don’t want to force our personal tastes on our customers. So our inventory is constantly going to be evolving. For example, if a book or pastry seems to be more popular, or if the coffee is too strong or too weak, or even if we work on other coffee blends named after a famous author, we are going to always keep in tune with what our community and customers want. Also you have to consider that it’s almost like we are opening two businesses at once, the bookstore, and the cafe serving people coffee, tea and pastries. So, this is a new venture on multiple fronts,” Jason Heuer said.

As for when they will be serving wine, the Heuers are in the process of applying for the NYC tavern wine license. Jianna Heuer said, “However in the interim, we will be only be serving nonalcoholic beverages with the exception of special events, such as on Independent Bookstore Day (April 25) and over the Memorial Day weekend. We only have three special event permits where we could sell wine, so we want to use them wisely, until our official Tavern Wine License comes through.”

Jason Heuer added, “We plan on being around for a long time. So once we get our Tavern License, it’ll be just part of our constant evolving as a business.”

After a three-year endeavor and finally seeing their dreams come true, Jianna says, “To put it mildly, it’s crazy. After spending three months of building the space out, I’m extremely excited for the opening. I’m just so happy that Jason and I figured out how to make this happen, and I really think it’s going to be successful.”

Jason is still taking it in. “On certain days when I drive past the store when I’m taking Jianna to catch the ferry to get to work, I would stare and think, ‘Wow, we’re opening a bookstore.’ It’s just so surreal to think that our dream is coming true. However, I think once we open the doors and people start coming in and walking around inside, the reality will really start to sink in.

“Five years ago, we moved to Rockaway, which was a dream within itself, and now opening our very own bookstore is a double-dream that came true,” he said.

Avoid The Day Bookstore/Cafe is located at 99-04A Rockaway Beach Blvd. Opening hours are: Wednesday to Friday, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, 10 to 6 p.m. Hours may extend as warmer months draw near. Come this Saturday, February 1, and join the Heuers in celebrating their official opening.

By Kami-Leigh Agard