The Bookworm of Edwards celebrates 20 years with café remodel
The staff at The Bookworm of Edwards this year celebrates its 20-year anniversary as the Vail Valley’s local independent bookstore.
Many things have changed in those 20 years, yet the core mission of The Bookworm has always stayed the same: to be a passionate, community-minded bookstore and cafe providing a unique shopping experience, atmosphere and event programming for locals and visitors to the Vail Valley.
Founded in 1996, The Bookworm of Edwards started in a van. Kathy Westover would travel between coffee shops selling new books to downvalley readers. The next summer, she partnered with former bookkeeper Neda Jansen to open an actual bricks-and-mortar bookstore in November 1997. The Bookworm drastically jumped in size from the back seat of a van to 700 square feet.
An Immediate Success
In 2002, Nicole Magistro had just moved to the Vail Valley and became a part-time employee at The Bookworm. It was in 2005 that she bought Westover’s share of the business and became co-owner. Rapidly growing out of the new space, Magistro and Jansen decided they needed to expand.
“After 10 years as a tiny bookstore, we felt that we needed to be at top of mind to our customers,” Magistro said. “They needed good reason to visit us weekly — or even daily — rather than monthly.
“It was 2007, and we’d been in business 10 years, but Amazon seemed to be solving the world’s problems, and we saw a lot of colleagues closing up shop. I was in my 20s then and knew that it was critical not just to stay relevant, but to become indispensable to our community before it was too late.”
It was then Magistro partnered with Kristi Allio, manager of Eat! Drink!, and started to discuss adding a cafe to The Bookworm. Allio bought Jansen’s share of The Bookworm and construction began in February 2007.
“We wanted a place to go and meet that wasn’t a bar, and a 14-seat coffee shop seemed manageable,” Magistro said.
Fortunately, the new cafe was an immediate success and exceeded The Bookworm staff’s expectations and preparations.
“We thought we needed about eight staff people to get through the week. Boy did we underestimate,” Magistro said. “We started with coffee and crepes, what we thought would be a limited menu. Our customers loved the concept, and before too long, people couldn’t get a seat. Then we expanded onto the patio and eventually took on another space so we could enlarge the cafe and create a children’s department that families would enjoy.”
The Bookworm cafe has seen its own growth in its 10 years. Most recently, it has been through a remodel that has transformed the cafe, with new tables and chairs to add a cozier feel for customers and new paint on the walls.
Currently run by chef Sara Copenhaver, the cafe continues to expand its menu to feature new specials every two weeks that highlight the creativity and expertise of the staff. Copenhaver brings an incredible storehouse of knowledge, starting from her roots in the Johnson and Wales Culinary program in Vail in 1995.
“I have truly enjoyed my time at The Bookworm,” Copenhaver said. “It is nice to see familiar faces of the community and watch people gather, work, read and enjoy themselves, friends and families. Most recently, I have loved our renovation and the new look.”
“All of the owners of the store over the years — Kathy Westover, Neda Jansen, Kristi Feichtinger and myself — we all worked like dogs,” Magistro said. “Failure just wasn’t an option.
“Today, I can say that my staff firmly believes in the power to build something great. They are the glue that keeps it all together. Each person who works at The Bookworm wants to be part of something special. This year will be a celebration of where we’ve come from and where we’re going.”