It is a truth universally acknowledged that any good book is even better when paired with a good drink.
Now literary lovers in Greenville have the chance to imbibe just as much as their favorite authors, all while browsing comfortably inside the oasis of an independent bookstore.
Downtown Greenville’s M. Judson Booksellers has just expanded with the opening of Camilla Kitchen, a cafe and bakery inside the same location as the bookstore at 120 S. Main St., which features coffee, baked goods, beer, wine and champagne.
Book lovers are free to grab a drink and roam around the store at their leisure, or they can lounge with friends in the dining area.
M. Judson owner June Wilcox said she hopes the combination of the literary with the gastronomical will spark conversations and socializing.
“Good stories often revolve around food,” Wilcox said. “How often do you go to a party and end up in the kitchen? That’s what we hope Camilla Kitchen will be: the center of the best gatherings, stories and food.”
The kitchen specializes in coffee drinks (named after Southern authors), homemade baked goods that include breakfast options, artisanal snacks and “sweet treats,” along with chocolate from laRue Fine Chocolate.
Beer, wine and champagne are available by the glass, and Wilcox said she plans to keep expanding the drink menu to include many small producers, craft brewers and biodynamic wines to round out the list.
“We’re always on the hunt for a good story, and that goes for our beer and wine selections, too,” she said.
As pandemic restrictions ease, Wilcox and the team at Camilla Kitchen plan to offer programs and events that include food, possibly combining author readings with dinner options by local chefs.
“We’re looking forward to bringing back our pop-up dinners that were a crowd favorite when we first opened M. Judson in 2015,” Wilcox said. “And even though the coronavirus has changed our business plans for now, it’s really lovely to begin something new in a time when we are bombarded by difficult news.”
Like the bookstore itself, Camilla Kitchen borrows its name from Mary Camilla Judson, the first lady principal of Greenville Women’s College, which later became Furman University.
Camilla Kitchen and M. Judson are located inside the historic courthouse at 130 S. Main St. in downtown Greenville. Both are open 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.