A Donna's cafe to be in Borders opening tomorrow in Annapolis

Books and coffee etc., much like Bibelot days

November 16, 2001|By Kristine Henry | Kristine Henry,SUN STAFF

Donna's, the restaurant chain that operates in the now-defunct Bibelot bookstores, has found a new partner. When the new Borders bookstore in Westfield Shoppingtown mall opens in Annapolis tomorrow, it will feature a full-service Donna's cafe.

"I think we can create here what we created in Bibelot," said Alan Hirsch, co-owner of the cafe chain with Donna Crivello. "Borders is a fantastic company, and I think it will be even better."

Bibelot, a locally owned chain, shut down its four metro area locations last summer after its March filing for bankruptcy protection.

In addition to its six stand-alone locations, Donna's continues to operate restaurants in three of the old Bibelot locations - Pikesville, Timonium and Cross Keys.

Hirsch said Borders Books, Music & Cafe has agreed to a second Donna's in 2002 if things go well in Annapolis. They have not yet determined in which store the Donna's would be located.

Borders selected Donna's because "we were aware of their presence in the Baltimore area as a strong cafe operator with a recognized name, and it gives us an opportunity to give customers an enhanced offering in our store," said Jenie Carlen, a spokeswoman for Borders, which has more than 350 locations nationwide.

Hirsch said if things go well initially, the Donna's-Borders partnership could grow.

"Obviously, [Annapolis is] a test, and the understanding is that if it meets expectations, we would roll out locations throughout the Baltimore-Washington area," he said. "But that's far away; we haven't even opened yet."

It was Borders that approached Donna's about a partnership, Hirsch said. Their agreement precludes the restaurant from locating in rival bookstores without Borders' permission.

Donna's will have 1,800 square feet and be a sub-tenant of Borders. It will pay rent to the bookstore along with a percentage of its sales.

Once the Annapolis location opens, Donna's will have about $9 million in annual revenue company wide, Hirsch said.

Most Borders already serve coffee and light fare such as muffins or prepackaged sandwiches, Carlen said, but the chain wants to expand its offerings.

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