The 42-year-old Book Mark Cafe in Oyster Bay, N.Y., has been sold by owner Daria Lamb to the Harvest Group, a restaurant management firm from Brooklyn. Late last week, the 3,000-sq.-ft. bookstore portion of the premises closed after a farewell cocktail party for loyal customers on Wednesday, February 26. The new owners plan to create a new, as yet unnamed restaurant in the space that was the bookstore and well-regarded adjacent restaurant. Daria Lamb took over the bookstore, then called the Book Mark, eight years ago after the original owner, Carol Hill Lamb, Daria's mother-in-law, died. Coming into bookselling from the restaurant industry, Lamb opened a gourmet restaurant next to the store and added the word Café to the name. The store was known in the local community for hosting author dinners, with such luminaries as Julia Child, Peter Mayle and Mary Higgins Clark.
Lamb, the mother of two young children, told PW that running the bookstore "has been a lot of fun," but she was making a "lifestyle decision. The fact is that my children want me home at night." She also said her decision was "compounded by the fact that the last 18 months haven't been great for independent bookstores."
A Book Sense member, Lamb said she thinks that the economy has made it "harder to have a voice as an independent bookstore." In addition, she has struggled since September 11 because of publishers' cutbacks on sending authors on tour.
Lamb said that she searched for a buyer interested in keeping open both the bookstore and the restaurant, but was unable to find a "good match." Lamb has "kept the rights to the name, the concept and the business," she said. "We're open in the future to revive it."