A new bookstore and cafe is opening in Austin full of books, pastries, snacks, coffee, wine, and beers this month. First Light Books will open at 4300 Speedway starting on Saturday, August 19.
First Light’s book selection will be wide-ranging, from fiction to memoir. The press release notes that there is a strong cookbook section. “Cookbooks are the ultimate mix of beauty and utility,” co-creator Taylor Bruce writes to Eater. “Not to mention some absolutely stunning writing often sneaks into their pages.” The cookbook corner includes lots of classics — Bruce mentions Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis and the World Atlas of Wine — and newer ones like Plentiful: Vegan Jamaican Recipes to Repeat by Denai Moore. A quick browse of First Light’s Bookshop.org store shows Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat and The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection by Robert Farrar Capon, as well as food-related titles How to Cook a Wolf by M.F.K. Fisher and An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler.
Relatedly, there will be a large magazine section including both popular and indie publications, as well as food-specific titles like Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Cook’s Illustrated, Cherry Bombe, Whetstone, and Food&.
And then for the food and drinks. The morning menu will include pastries from Austin bakery Texas French Bread and coffee and espresso drinks from Austin roaster and coffee shop Figure 8. Daytime and evenings will have snacks and small bites like cereal and milk, yogurt/granola/honey/sour cherries, sandwiches, meat and cheese boards, fruits, and more. Other drinks include the bookstore’s yuzu spritz, beers from St. Elmo and Hi Sign, and ciders from Fairweather. Sundays will showcase baked goods by sourdough farmers market stand Hello Bread.
First Light’s co-creators are couple Taylor Bruce and Robin Bruce, and they’re running the bookstore with co-business partner Breezy Mayo. Taylor Bruce is behind hip local travel guide publisher Wildsam (there is an Austin edition). Robin Bruce is the president of the Dovetail Impact Foundation. Mayo had worked at various Bunkhouse Management places, including Hotel Saint Cecilia and the Austin Motel. Taylor Bruce had worked with Mayo at Wildsam, and when the couple was embarking on the bookstore, they knew they wanted to tag her because of her hospitality background.
Opening a bookstore made sense for the Bruces, who would seek out bookstores wherever they travels and lived. They “dreamed of one day opening a true community bookstore,” Robin Bruce writes in a press release. “A place where people felt at home and [are] invited to linger, a palace that was in and of the neighborhood that surrounded it.”
Along with the community aspects of First Light, the bookstore will host events such as readings as well as food-centered ones. Taylor Bruce envisions working with cookbook authors for cookbook launches with themed snacks.
Likewise, there’s an annual membership program where members can get a free drip coffee every day, as well as discounts on books, free delivery within five miles, and access to special events, for $99 per year.
The space — found within the former Hyde Park post office, which closed in the summer of 2021 — was designed by Austin architecture firm Thoughtbarn and Austin interior designer Ann Edgerton, taking its cues from 1960 European aesthetics. There will be reading nooks, seating, stained glass, and a counter window. The logo for the bookstore is a running rabbit.
First Light’s coffee window opens at 7 a.m. daily, and then the store is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.
And then also in new bookstore news, there’s indie bookstore and community space Alienated Majesty Books, which opened today, Tuesday, August 15, with a focus on small presses, translated works, and experimental titles, found in the former Malvern space on West 29th Street.