Read, Drink and be Merry at the Newly Opened Riffraff Bookstore and Bar
The new bookstore and bar serves up good reads and unpretentious libations.
A bookstore. A bar. Put the two together and you have many-a-person’s dream of sipping scotch on the rocks in a cozy room while reading the next bestseller.
But instead of resigning this dream to a fantasy that will never occur in reality, brace yourselves: Riffraff Bookstore and Bar is here.
The bookstore and bar opened on December 5, and is located in the Olneyville section of Providence.
Tom Roberge and Emma Ramadan are the proprietors, and both come from backgrounds filled with books.
“We both worked in publishing where you have to sometimes promote books that you don’t necessarily believe in,” Ramadan says. “ Whereas book selling is one of those things where you really can do what you want, you’re selling books that you genuinely think are worth reading and that you think people will actually enjoy reading.”
Unsatisfied with their roles in the publishing world, Roberge and Ramadan teamed up to realize the dream of having their own bookstore/bar. Providence was an intuitive choice for the two owners, who both have roots in Rhode Island.
“I went to Brown and Tom grew up in Connecticut and his family used to live in Newport and Little Compton,” says Ramadan. “It’s small enough that there is still room for more bars, but big enough that there’s already an arts community here, a writing community here, there’s cultural events, and nightlife.”
Their new store will have a carefully curated selection of books as well as a well-stocked bar with unpretentious libations.
“There’s a big communal table in the middle, lots of bar seating,” says Ramadan. “We aren’t gonna have cocktails that are $12 ridiculous mixology cocktails. They’re gonna be pretty basic; all of them are $8 to $10. We just want people to have a good, local bar to go hang out at.”
There will be no literary puns, no Tequila Mockingbirds or Adventures of Huckleberry Gin on the menu, just casual drinks to wash down a good book to.
Though the drinks may not draw inspiration from books, the bookstore’s name does–but not in the way you may think.
“I was reading a book about protests called To Our Friends by the Invisible Committee, about all kinds of international crises and how the media had tried to downplay protesters. They are called ‘anarchists’ and ‘high schoolers’ and all these other terms and ‘riffraff’ was one of the derogatory terms, and I thought, oh it’s a great word!” Roberge says. “ I wanted to take that word and embrace it and say we can make this word something to be proud of, you know, the troublemakers, the people getting things done, that kind of thing.”
The bookstore/bar lives up to its name, a place for the riffraff, for the common man whose idea of happiness is a good book and a stiff drink. Riffraff, 60 Valley St., Unit 107A, Providence, riffraffpvd.com