From the outside, The Reserve might look a little too nice for us college kids. The new coffee joint, situated in a cluster of buildings previously owned by Charles Ringling (before his bayfront mansion days), touts itself as a coffee house, bookstore, market and tasting room.
“Tasting room?” you may be saying to yourself. “A young student such as myself has no business in a tasting room.”
But before you get too scared of/intrigued by the words “tasting room,” consider the Reserve for what it is first and foremost designed: as a comfortable community space.
The Reserve is a multifunctional space owned by three women, two of whom are partners. It’s a coffee shop that also serves beer and wine and sells a curated selection of books. Soon enough, they will also be selling jams and eggs and other goods that will fulfill the “market” aspect of the business.
For now, though, the main thing to do at the Reserve is grab a nice, reasonably priced latte made with almond milk and plop down in any of the many rooms on the property. There is tons of space at the Reserve: the business is actually two buildings separated by a sunny courtyard. Stick to the building where you bought your coffee for a traditional coffeehouse vibe, with nice furniture and a bar-like table to do work at. Or, head to the other building and go upstairs to find numerous other rooms to completely hide away and get work done in. You and your friends can basically claim one entire room to yourself for the day, and once you’re sick of coffee you can switch to wine or beer.
Head Barista Zaria Tappen says that the most common customers at the Reserve so far are Ringling professors, retired people and New College students. Thesis student Eric Young checked out the Reserve after hearing about it from other students.
“I’ve seen too many Facebook posts,” Young said.
Despite its outward exterior, The Reserve does immediately seem like a New College type of place. The book selection seems to be the first indicator of that. Though the current selection is slim compared to other bookstores, the choices that are available are there for a reason.
In fact, a New College student is responsible for their curation. Thesis student Allya Yourish was recently hired as book manager of the Reserve. Her job so far has been to choose which books the Reserve will sell based on national sales, customer recommendation and even personal consideration. The Reserve sells most major genres, and you’ll definitely see common bestsellers like David Sedaris. But you’ll also find the kinds of books you’d hope other locals would find and read, like The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindess by Michelle Alexander, Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay and Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur.
Some of those books might already be New College favorites, which brings an added value to the Reserve: it could easily be the place to find your next pleasure read, if you have the time. Yourish gives solid recommendations based on what you tell her about your most recent reads, and if you recommend something to her strong enough yourself, the Reserve might end up carrying it.
Yourish also wants customers to know that if there’s a book they have in mind to purchase, even a textbook for a class, The Reserve can order it and have it available in about two days at retail price. This makes for a pretty easy way to support a local business.
“If you’re going to buy a book on Amazon, buy it here instead,” Yourish said. “Support your local bookstore. It’s on us to make sure these places stay open.”
The Reserve is still in its early stages only one month after being opened, but there’s clear direction toward its growth. According to Yourish, soon the Reserve will be hosting talks by local authors, group writing critiques and reading groups. They will also be hosting open mics soon, as well as performances by local musicians. Yourish encourages New College musicians to stop by and inquire if they’re interested in performing.
Above all, the Reserve is intended as a community space. Soon enough it’ll grow into a small bar and wine tasting room, as well as a market and cafe of sorts. However, the space will remain open and inviting and welcome to community use. It seems like the kind of place where if you have an idea for a type of community event, they’d be happy to hear it.