A well-known spot on the way into downtown Auburn will soon get new life when Well Red, an independent bookstore offering wine and coffee, opens in the old Dayspring location on Opelika Road.
Patrons will be able to settle in to the comfy confines of Well Red, which will feature a coffee shop and wine bar in addition to shelves of books.
A trip to Battery Park Book Exchange in Asheville, North Carolina, in 2017 sparked co-owners Richard and Crystal Tomasello's inspiration for opening their own bookstore in Auburn.
"When planning the trip, somebody told us we had to go check this spot out because they knew we loved books and wine, and so we went there and it was just a dream," he said.
A morning of coffee, reading and good conversation turned into an afternoon of the same at the wine bar.
"We traded in our coffee cups for champagne flutes and got a bottle of champagne and sat there and continued talking and drinking champagne. And it was just a really cool place," he said. "That was our original inspiration — ‘We want to do this in Auburn.’
"As far as what we bring to Auburn, I think it’s just that place to go and get a cup of coffee and read or at night getting a glass of wine and reading."
Well Red will also serve pastries and desserts, a passion of the Tomasellos.
"If we go to a restaurant that doesn’t have dessert, then we’ll likely finish our meal there and go somewhere that we know has a great dessert," he said. "So providing a place that somebody can come and just have a glass of wine and a piece of cake at the end of the night is another vision that we had."
Tomasello's vision for Well Red has been cultivated with the help of Coffee Cat owner Maddie Corbeau, who he said will handle daytime management. He said Corbeau shared the same vision and put him in touch with other book enthusiasts in town, like former Gnu's Room owner Tina Tatum and four authors from Solomon & George Publishers.
"I got to meet with Tina and four of the authors from that and just sat down and had an hour, hour-and-half talk with them about what we were planning on doing and how I could support them," Tomasello said. "Maddie’s just had so many more ideas and everything.
"The excitement of our initial ideas coming and then really expanding on those and seeing them come to fruition will be really, really nice."
Tomasello said he's always been an avid reader, and that he has tried to cultivate that passion even more the past several years.
"I’m constantly reading and talking with people about books," he said, adding that he's also pleased that another independent bookstore, Auburn Oil Co. Booksellers, recently opened in downtown Auburn.
"For as many people that love to talk about books and are passionate about books, to not have a bookstore in Auburn for so long seemed pretty crazy, so I’m glad Auburn Oil Company’s here, and I think that we can find our niche as well," he said.
"We’re not going to be, necessarily, direct competition for them."
Tomasello said he hopes to have Well Red open in the first quarter of 2020, possibly in mid-February, after renovations are completed to the 1940s craftsman-style building, which features a covered porch, high ceilings and old wood floors.
Tomasello said he was excited when he learned the space was available.
"Walking through it and seeing it, we really saw that this could be something that fits our vision," he said. "I’m really excited about using the character that’s already here and just really reviving it."
To find about more and follow updates about Well Red, go to wellredau.com. You can also find the business on Facebook and Instagram.