After closing for nearly six months after a devastating fire broke out in early March, Back Bay’s Trident Booksellers and Cafe is set to open in late August. The literary locale was one of many establishments affected by fire this year—among Newton’s Buttonwood, the North End’s Sail Loft, Toscano in Harvard Square and Tasty Burger in South Boston. The flame-induced damage was mostly contained in Trident’s upstairs storage room, but the sprinklers and fire hoses left the store flooded with five inches of water. After the team learned renovations would take longer than expected, vice president Courtney Flynn says the store’s loyal patrons lent some much-needed resilience: “Our community has offered so much support. Personally, it’s what’s kept my spirits up, to hear people cheering us on and anticipating our reopening.”
Trident’s tight relationship with the neighborhood dates back to 1984, when Flynn’s parents first opened the spot as a simple bookstore doling out coffee and pastries. After customers began to ask about more dining options, Trident expanded the menu little by little over the years before adding a full kitchen—transforming the cafe into an all-day, 200-seat operation.
What’s the word: Trident turns a page when it reopens this month.
The renovated Trident will retain that cozy vibe, featuring the same cafe menu along with plenty of nooks and crannies for patrons to settle in with good friends or good reads—but with some fresh paint, floors, lighting and shelving. Half of the new layout is allotted for books, including additional table displays to showcase standout titles and an upstairs children’s section featuring a mural. The rest of the layout is occupied by two dining rooms, plus a larger space upstairs and an intimate ground-floor spot tucked away in the back, both of which will be used to host events like Harry Potter trivia and murder mystery nights, as well as visits from authors such as HGTV stars Ben and Erin Napier on Nov. 3.
Despite the modifications, stalwart patrons shouldn’t mourn the place they came to love; change has always been a part of this booksmith’s narrative. “Trident has grown up with the city. When it first opened, this end of Newbury Street was grungy and not as popular,” Flynn says. “Over the years, the street has changed, and so has Trident. At the same time, it’s always stayed true to itself and kept a heartbeat of independence in the neighborhood.”
Trident Booksellers and Cafe 338 Newbury St., Boston (617-267-8688) tridentbookscafe.com
UPDATE: Trident Booksellers and Cafe reopened its doors on Aug. 20.