This is Marie, contributing an article about a paired establishment that has divided into two – the Gnu’s Room and Mama Mocha’s. We’d stumbled over the bookstore while wandering in another part of town, and on arriving at the coffeehouse found out more about the story.
Inside Mama Mocha’s, which remains in the formerly shared space, there are a couple of reading nooks with the requisite battered furniture and one lone remaining shelf of books for perusal. There are also completely adorable tiny gardens of succulents in coffee-related containers on the tables, a nice touch with I approved of heartily. While I can only imagine the splendor of sniffing the vapors from hot tea coming from a mug that shares airspace with that delightful smell that comes off old books, I guess it didn’t work for everyone. More likely, however the cause of the split-up was the devastating illness that has struck the brick-and-mortar bookstore business. Not a lot of people buy their e-books direct from the corner store.
Mama Mocha’s was, at the time we visited, still in the last throes of the discombobulation that comes from splitting up a pair of twins. They had not as of yet set up the cooler for the pastries they intended to sell, though there was a shelf of cookies. However their teas and coffee selection looked quite appealing, I got a blueberry black tea over ice and my drink was definitely worth the wait as it was allowed to steep in the French Press. The toddler liked the beverage enough to take several sips, but my husband, a Southern boy through-and-through, couldn’t stand it and made a face that the toddler generally only displays when presented with lettuce. I’d had a sniff of the leaves, and decided it didn’t need sweetening, you see. Apparently iced tea without sugar is anathema.
The toddler enjoyed a couple of kids’ books and a vegan lemon poppyseed cookie (well, half of it – it was a pretty big cookie) in one of the reading nooks, where we relaxed on a comfortable sofa, and then decamped to the outdoor piano where he played a rather jazzy piece before descending into atonal scale-like twiddling of they keys. Regardless of whether he eventually shows any musical talent, he sure does like making a joyful noise,and this is a good place for it. He got smiles and a positive remark from a group of passers-by despite the, ah, “alternative” content of his presentation.
Gnu’s Room, the recently departed twin, used to serve as a host for literary events and art displays, and incidentally served coffee. The coffee business had grown so great that it just made sense to fill this more expensive space with couches than with bookshelves. We had actually run across the Gnu’s Room in its new location in Opelika while shopping earlier in the day and can only imagine how wonderful it must have been. We both have a fondness for old ratty books and were rewarded with a wide selection of old Nero Wolfe novels (not that we need any more of the collections, but we picked up a companion volume by Original Fanficcer William S. Baring-Gould) and several of Leslie Charteris’ The Saint books, all for a pittance. While sad that they had to split up, I understand why and wish both businesses the best.
You can see all the restaurants that we have visited for our blog on this map, with links back to the original blog posts. It’s a terrific resource for anybody planning a road trip through the southeast!