Asheville’s Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar shares their famous Toffee Caramel Latte, also known as the “Carl Sandburg.” A sophisticated coffee drink in a plush, friendly environment.
“Necessity is the mother of invention.” We don’t know who first made this profound statement, but looking around, we know it to be true.
Over the last few years of economic trial, I have watched family after family reinvent their lives and move forward into new business ventures. Instead of wallowing in life’s hardships, they dare to believe their situation could be different… better.
Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar, open every day, 11 am to 11 pm.
Thomas and Donna Wright are examples of supreme ingenuity. After Thomas’s long-term career in chemicals took a plummet, he stepped back to contemplate his passions. Thomas loved books, specifically vintage books. In an age of digital readers, was there a market for this? Thomas wondered if his love for vintage books could be mingled with another passion, wine.
He set out to create a business that incorporated both, providing a warm welcoming space for people to relax with a good book and a glass of wine. In 2004 he opened his prototype storefront in Little Switzerland, North Carolina. After experimenting with the book selection and the atmosphere he wanted to create, he move to downtown Asheville in 2008, opening the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar.
Thomas now houses approximately 60,000 books, focusing on vintage books, art and design, southern history, and cooking. Not all the books are vintage; the Battery Park Book Exchange does have a large selection of new books, but Thomas relishes in the fact that what he offers cannot be found in a super-store. His books are special.
Thomas has since moved the Battery Park Book Exchange a block south, into a more expansive space and has elaborated on the “Champagne Bar” element. He brought in colleague and former chef, Emily Krainik, to manage the Champagne Bar and create an affordable and interesting “grazing” menu to complement the beverage selection. The Wrights and Emily have worked hard to provide tasty snacks, high quality wines, and rich coffee drinks at a reasonable price. Thomas believes the vast wine market makes it possible to select good wines that fit the current economic climate.
The feel of Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar is what I personally love most about it. Its lush armchairs and warm lighting give it a moody, yet cozy quality. My husband and I often go there after dinner, to have a drink and enjoy company with friends. As a mid-thirties mom, I love having an elegant place I can hang out with my girlfriends and not worry about being hit on. This is no hipster bar; The Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar is a sophisticated lounge to mingle, read, and snack.
Has the Wright’s dive into the unknown paid off? Thomas says the locals come in for wine and the tourist come in for the books. The point being… they come. Good visitation is the key to any store-front business. Thomas is sensitive to the demands of his ever-growing clientele and has plans for further expansion. I’d say he’s swapped risk for reward.
Thomas’ humble advice, “Know when you’re lucky.” He explained his philosophy that sometimes we do all the right things, but the timing is off. Other times, everything simply lines up for you with the greatest of ease.
I agree with Thomas, but would like to add, it was not luck, but courage and wit, that opened the door.
Toffee Caramel Latte
Prep Time: 3 minutes
The "Carl Sandburg" generously provided by Battery Park Book Exchange.
2 shots espresso (4 Tb.)
6 oz. steamed milk (3/4 cup)
2/3 oz. toffee nut syrup (1 1/2 Tb.)
1/3 oz. caramel sauce (3/4 Tb.)
Whipped Cream and Caramel Sauce to Garnish
Fill a 10 oz. mug with steamed milk and espresso.
Stir in the toffee syrup and caramel sauce.
Top with whipped cream and extra caramel sauce.
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