Presents have been opened, mass quantities of ham and fruitcake have been consumed, and now most of us are stuck looking at piles of leftovers and standing on long return lines. What to do with the two extra copies of Julie & Julia you received for Christmas/Hanukkah?
Bookmans Entertainment Exchange on Country Club Rd. in Mesa unveiled a new cafe and coffee bar in mid-December, paving the way for you to trade your unwanted holiday gifts in return for sandwiches, coffee, pastries and gelato.
It works the same way other store trades do: bring in your new and used music, books & movies and Bookman's will evaluate and give you store credit for the ones they want. Credit can be used towards purchasing other books and media, or at the new in-store cafe.
With lower prices on fancy lattes and a gorgeous custom 3-service espresso machine ("It's the Cadillac of coffee machines," says Cafe Manager Serena Stout), Bookmans Cafe can easily compete with higher end coffee shops. Plus, they've also got paninis, salads and a cool "Build Your Own" salad or sandwich option, with interesting toppings like apples, cherrywood bacon, hummus and roasted eggplant.
Stout hasn't found a local coffee supplier that can compete with Chicago-based roaster Intelligentsia's Black Cat, oft considered the best espresso in the nation. Otherwise, Bookmans Cafe sources local ingredients whenever possible. Some of the sweet treats are from Scratch Pastries (Stout says they got that idea from the New Times' annual Best of Phoenix issue) and the delicious gelato is from Berto's in Phoenix.
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We were compelled to sample the prickly pear, which came in a frightening shade of fuschia, and the holiday-friendly peppermint stick. Prickly pear was refreshingly sweet, with just a hint of tartness. The cafe also carries a Cabernet gelato, which has a strong berry flavor according to the guy dishing out samples.
Bookmans Cafe has been open since December 11, but a formal Grand Opening celebrating the new cafe and store renovations is in the works for January. "There will be a big party in the parking lot," Stout tells New Times. Details will be announced soon on the Bookmans web site.