XENIA — With the announcement last month that Blue Jacket Books in Xenia would be closing, my first thought was simply just how sad it was.
One more local bookstore to disappear. Another mom and pop operation that’s closing its doors.
With a single visit to this homey independent book store it quickly became clear you were in a place that was built on a deep-seated love and commitment to the written word. It was always a nice place to visit that was warm, comfortable and offered voracious readers plenty to dig into.
My next thought went immediately to Table of Contents Cafe.
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Lawrence Hammar and Cassandra Lee, husband and wife and co-owners of the bookstore and cafe, have created a really sweet stop in Xenia to peruse 50,000 used, rare and out-of-print books and grab a bite to eat right in the middle of the store.
The bookstore, now in its 11th year of business, opened at its current location, 30 S. Detroit St., in 2013 while Table of Contents Cafe, run by Lee, opened a couple of years ago.
Hammar announced in a Jan. 30 Facebook post that May 12 will be the store’s last day. Table of Contents Cafe and the other businesses that share the space, including Our Family Soap and Yellow Dogs Pet Supplies will stay open.
That news welcomed a sigh of relief when I read it.
The cafe, tucked away a few rooms back from the front of the bookstore is surrounded by handwritten signs directing book lovers to the subject matter they might be in search of.
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Hungry diners are only a few steps away from a wealth of knowledge on Ancient Greece and Rome, German and Russian studies, Psychology, The United Kingdom, Historiography, African American studies, Asian studies, Central America, Archeology, Native and non-native Americans and the United Kingdom.
The Table of Contents Cafe menu is small, but mighty and often has changes with specials and updates. One thing always seems to be consistent — fresh, healthy, vegetarian-friendly, homemade soups, salads and sandwiches. Even the bread has been made fresh in-house.
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The cafe’s Facebook page is updated almost daily, so learn more about the specials and what’s being offered there if you are interested to see what’s being served up on a particular day.
Both businesses reflect the owners Pacific Coast roots and sensibilities, for a little touch of Portlandia in Xenia, Ohio.
The food makes for a delicious and filling lunch that’s reasonably priced and good for you with plenty of heart-healthy options to choose from.
This is not the place to go to if you are looking for soda or anything fried.
In fact, beverages you can choose from are hot coffee ($2.25), hot tea ($2.25) or hot spiced apple cider ($2.75). If that doesn’t float your boat, go with water because it’s the only other option.
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The paleo-inspired salad plate on a recent visit in January featured deviled eggs, greens, sweet potato quinoa, coleslaw, black rice, mushroom lentils, carrot and couscous for ($9.75). The homemade soups served in a bowl with salad and fresh baked bread ($7) included cream of tomato, potato-kale and a white bean soup with ham.
A tuna melt with Tillamook cheddar ($6.50) hit the spot on a blustery winter day with a nice cup of the tomato soup. The special was a pulled pork burrito topped with roasted poblano and sweet pepper spaces served with black beans, brown rice and lime coleslaw ($9.50). It was packed with meat and a great value for the size of the meal and the quality of the ingredients used.
This is a feel-good dining spot knowing there are no preservatives, everything is fresh and almost everything is made from scratch.
The business has a five-star rating on Facebook after more than 60 reviews. Probably because it does exactly what it says it is going to do and does it really well.
Last year a reviewer wrote: “Stopped on my way home from work and picked up takeout. I got soup, four types of salads, and two types of bread for $34. It fed four of us with enough leftover soup and bread for my lunch today! I had my food in 10 mins, it tasted great, and cost less than fast food for four!”
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If you are into clean eating, there’s no doubt that this is a spot that can do what you are looking for. And if you are into books the Facebook post from Hammer said they will be selling everything in the store beginning in early March, so some great deals may be available for those willing to put in the time to look.
In the winter months, there is nothing better than curling up with a good book and this is a humble little spot to find your next book while you grab a bright, tasty meal.
Now is certainly the time to try out this little gem before they sell all of the inventory and the Table of Contents Cafe is no longer surrounded by Tables of Contents.
Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water. Share your menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and culinary adventures. Do you know of new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look at? E-mail Alexis Larsen at firstname.lastname@example.org with the information and we will work to include it in future coverage.