Books and beer on tap for Echo Park [updated]


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Masa of Echo Park

ECHO PARK —  Selling books is a tough business, which explains why so many book stores also double as cafes and gift shops.  Now, Stories Books & Cafe in Echo Park wants to broaden the retail concept further to include beer and wine.

Liz Garo, who opened Stories in 2008 with Claudia Colodro, has applied for a city permit to allow for the sale and consumption of beer and wine in the Sunset Boulevard shop, which seats 18 people inside and another 36 in a back patio, according to an online summary.

“There are a lot more cafes in the area and we want to increase our evening business, being able to serve beer and wine seems like the way to do that,” Garo said. “We think it will also be a nice addition for when we have events. The combination of bookstore, cafe, beer & wine seems like a natural to us in bringing people together in a comfortable creative environment.”

There are other changes in the works, including a small redesign of the cafe counter, more improvements to the patio and perhaps some sidewalk seating, Garo said.

Will books and beer – and perhaps a sip of Sauvignon –  prove a winning strategy in the booksellers’ war against Amazon? Stay tuned.

Update: Garo’s comments were added to the story.


  1. Like many bookstores, Stories charges way too much for the books they sell. Many times i go right night door to Out of the Closet and see the same books for 70-80% less than what Stories charges. I’m all for supporting local businesses, but if I want a 20-year-old book I don’t want to pay $15 for it when I can get it next door for $2.

  2. Yay! I love Stories. You can’t count on Out of the Closet to have good books, please. A well-curated bookstore is a local asset. Hooray for whatever keeps them kickin’.

  3. I’m a fan of supporting local bookstores but usually treck out to Skylight after getting inconsistent or haughty service at Stories’ sales counter. Cafe folks are usually friendly, though.

  4. Seeing how this is a Mitchell Frank joint, of course they will be granted that license.

  5. hi. I co-own Stories with Liz, this is Claudia. Sorry about the inconsistent service Yangna, we really do try our best. Sometimes, since there’s usually a single person working the Books portion of Stories, we get overwhelmed. Hope to see you again…and I just really needed to iterate, Stories has no way ever been part of Mitchell Frank’s businesses. After us all having put in so much sweat and tears into making Stories work and keeping it alive, all of us here, I just needed to clarify that it’s all been us, just us…Alex, Liz, John, Jalise, myself and the number of other hard-workers who have graced our establishment. We’re excited about this next phase! and really wish to thank all of you who have come in, who continue to do so and / or who might someday pass through our doors 🙂

    • It’s pretty crazy to complain about the service at stories- the place is so clearly a labor of love. Even if they were busy and didn’t have someone at the counter the second I was “ready” I would feel grateful for all of the work they put into the place and the selection. It’s a gift that it is even THERE.

    • We love Stories!!

  6. I stand corrected! I presume that bit of misinformation has long floated around because of Liz’s association. Thanks for clearing that up.

  7. Thanks for the love and support, we love you back xo

  8. Maybe with the extra income from booze, they can pay their staff a living wage.
    from THE EASTSIDER March 5, 2014:
    Liz Garo owns Echo Park’s Stories Books and Cafe on Sunset Boulevard. She said if the minimum wage was $15, they could cut employee hours and the owners would work more themselves. They may also have to lay-off a portion of their employees entirely, and increase prices in the shop and café.
    Garo said small businesses don’t have much room for “frivolousness”, so they’re extremely conscious of every nickel and dime spent. Rent and employees are the biggest costs for a small business, she said, so a dramatic increase in one could dramatically alter operations.
    Garo said a higher minimum wage could lead not only to a smaller staff, but a less eclectic one. For $15 an hour, she said she’d be likely to hire more “corporate,” buttoned-up personnel and would lose the “cool kookiness” that makes up the charm of Stories – and many other small businesses in the area.

    • Juan our photo

      So…. I’m not sure what you are trying to point out here EGOpark. Is it so hard to understand that labor is often THE highest expense a company has and if the government then arbitrarily doubles it; she would have to tighten up. It is pretty basic math she is pointing out.

  9. To all the people who like the “new” echo park,

    Stories was one of the cultural pioneers in the neighborhood.

    They run an expertly cururated top notch book store, as
    any thoughful viewing of their display window will document..

    Stories was hosting spoken word, before it was trendy, they
    opened one of the first coffee/cafes in the neighborhood, and
    (in my opinion) – they provided the assurance to the other boutiques that followed
    to invest their $ and vision into the hood.

    Book stores of this caliber are an extremely rare ( and highly undervalued)
    neighborhood beachhead. I wish them nothing but continued survival
    and hope the city has the foresight to grant them a liquor license to help
    Stories continue to be a critical part of EP’s arts culture.

  10. hay Y’all! Stories is more than a store- it is a community gathering place for artists, writers, readers, parents, musicians, authors and all of the community of Echo Park. Go any day of the week, anytime they are open, and you will SEE this all over the store!!!! I have alway felt they serve the EP community well with free WIFI, a beautiful patio where anyone can sit all day and not be forced to swallow corporate soundtracks and burnt bean garbage like “other” coffee shops. I always meet someone interesting there and LOVE that I can buy a used book for $3 when I’m broke and can find my favorite low cost “Dover” books line there. I also love the used Art book section and I never get any backlash for “looking” at books for hours.
    I also really like the free gift wrap!
    They support all kinds of talent with a keen eye . The staff are eclectic yes, grumpy sometimes- who isn’t? Can’t imagine the day to day stuff they deal with.
    Overall they are kind and intelligent. They seem to try their hardest to help everyone. It must be hard to be the lone independent store in the world of Amazon and online competition. They have ordered me books many times, which I also appreciate.
    GOOD FOR THEM that they want to expand their offerings and serve beer and wine! I can’t wait to get a glass of reasonably priced Chardonnay and listen to a reading on the patio. My mate will get a beer and browse the used film book section.

  11. yes! cafe+bar’s are the thing in europe. we need to have these types of culturehouses stateside!

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