An iconic cookbook store needs your help

It’s no secret that we love independent cookbook stores – not only because they offer a wide selection of our favorite books, but also because they render so many great services. Whether it is author talks, cooking classes, or just insightful recommendations from knowledgeable staff, cookbook stores provide amazing benefits to food lovers.

It is also no secret that cookbook stores around the world have struggled in recent years. We have lost many wonderful shops in the last decade due to rent issues, retirements, and other challenges. Between competition from large chains and online retailers, the fallout from the Great Recession, and now obstacles created by the pandemic, it is a wonder that any of these niche stores have been able to keep their doors open. We recently learned that one of our favorite cookbooks stores is facing an existential crisis. Kitchen Arts & Letters in New York City, which for 37 years has served professional cooks as well as home cooks, food writers, and anyone interested in the world of food and drink, has started a fundraiser to help keep the doors open.

On the Go Fund Me page, Managing Partner Matt Sartwell notes that restrictions put in place to manage the coronavirus pandemic have pushed KAL to the brink of closing: “Our usual sources of income—everyday customers, major food conferences, restaurant chefs—have all been dealt staggering blows. Without them, we’re not coming close to paying our bills,” he explains.

If you have ever ordered from KAL or visited their store, you know what a valuable resource it is and how fantastic their staff members are. Sartwell’s emotional plea says it all: “We want to remain the place you find the books you were always looking for, the place that has the books you never dreamed existed. We want to delight you with books signed right here in the store by your favorite authors. We want to do for you exactly what a specialist bookstore is supposed to do: connect you to an amazing, ever-growing world of first-rate books.”

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  • AllAboutFood  on  September 18, 2020

    Of course you can donate, which I did. But we can also order books from them too, something else I did. It is easy to overlook an institution such as Kitchen Arts & Letters. I pray that this repository of culinary knowledge regains its footing. We need them!

  • mzgourmand  on  September 18, 2020

    Thanks so much for publicizing the Kitchen Arts & Letters fundraiser – it’s an NYC institution & one of the increasingly rare small businesses that has managed to survive escalating rents & cultural homogenization. I was unaware of the Go Fund Me page until I read about it here and just donated – the list of chefs & cookbook authors who have given is very heartening. And I second @AllAboutFood’s suggestion. I’ve been using to purchase books as it supports small bookstores, but it is easy to overlook institutions like KAL, or assume they will of course always be there.

  • MotherWouldKnow  on  September 18, 2020

    Thanks for publicizing the Kitchen Arts & Letters fundraiser. The store is one of the true treasures of New York and an invaluable resource to anyone interested in food history and cookbooks on topics that aren’t popular this moment. I spent an incredible morning there before starting on my latest book, and the books I bought there were the foundations for my research into 19th and early 20th Century American food. Follow them on social media & you’ll be enthralled.

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