A bookstore that will include a coffee house during the day and a wine bar at night is coming to Milwaukee’s Bronzeville neighborhood.
Niche Book Bar is planned for a city-owned building at 1937 N. King Drive.
The Bronzeville Advisory Committee on Monday recommended a sale of that building to Niche Book Bar, which is operated by Cetonia Weston-Roy.
That property sale needs Common Council approval.
Weston-Roy, a locally based author and founder of the Black Authors Collective, told committee members that Niche Book Bar will focus on “Black literature and red wine.”
It will welcome families with children during the day, serving tea, coffee and baked goods along with selling books, Weston-Roy said.
At night, Niche Book Bar will serve wine by the glass and host book clubs, she said,
The two-story building’s upper floor will be used to host book club meetings and “Airbnb short term rentals with an emphasis on no parties,” according to the proposal submitted to city officials.
Niche Book Bar’s focus on Black literature will feature “a more varied approach” to that genre, Weston-Roy said.
The decision to recommend Niche Book Bar drew enthusiastic support from committee members.
“We’re excited. And welcome,” said LaShawndra Vernon, committee chair.
The Journal Sentinel in 2020 chronicled Weston-Roy’s drive to open Niche Book Bar.
At that time, she sold books by pedaling the Niche Book Bike to parks and public events around Milwaukee, “where she unfurls the collapsible shelves and lines them on all sides with literature from Black writers or books that feature Black characters,” the story said.
“Her dream is to transform the rolling boutique into an actual brick-and-mortar store in Bronzeville, the city’s historical nexus of black culture and entrepreneurship,” it said.
The planned location is a 2,640-square-foot building built in 1895 in what is now the Historic King Drive Business Improvement District, according to the Department of City Development.
The city acquired the building through property tax foreclosure and listed it for development proposals.
The committee recommended Niche Book Bar over other proposals, including one to create an arts-oriented events space.
The proposed sale price is $80,000.
The Reader’s Choice, the last Black-owned bookstore in the state, closed in 2017 after 28 years in business. It was at 1950 N. King Drive.