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Downtown Seguin animated by a new bookshop/café/wine bar

SEGUIN – It was late afternoon on a scorching Tuesday in downtown Seguin – normally a fairly quiet time of day along the main street of this town of about 30,000 people located about 30 miles east of San Antonio. But a steady stream of traffic could be found at a new business, a hip newcomer that shares duties as a bookstore and cafe offering a small menu of local, chef-led fare, craft beer and wine.

Pecantown Books and Brews opened on June 3 in an elegantly furnished Art Deco-era home in downtown Seguin, and the community immediately welcomed the new business with open arms — and wallets.

“We’re the only independent bookstore in Seguin, and I feel like we’re filling a void that’s been there for a very long time,” said owner Tess Coody-Anders. “And it’s not just my Seguin neighbors who have been incredibly supportive. The response from neighboring communities and visitors has been surprising. I cannot thank our region enough.

Pecantown’s kitchen is led by Executive Chef Sam Long, who has cooked at restaurants in the Seguin and New Braunfels areas over the past decade, including a stint at the acclaimed Kindling Texas Kitchen in Cibolo. He developed a tight menu — nine dishes in total — of sandwiches, salads and more for Pecantown and gave many of those dishes a cheffy twist.

The Cuban sandwich from Pecantown Books and Brews is made with ham, pulled pork, pickles and fermented mustard sauce.

Long’s version of a Cuban sandwich features smoked pulled pork instead of the classic garlic mojo pork, house-made pickles, and a tangy mustard sauce Long fermented for at least seven days. Roasted Beet Salad is made with caramelized red and golden beets, dressed in a vibrant grapefruit vinaigrette, goat cheese and toasted pecans. The popcorn is topped with rosemary olive oil, parsley and thyme. There’s even a sandwich dubbed The Elvis on the kids’ menu with, of course, peanut butter, bananas and a drizzle of local honey, though the bacon strips the king prefers in his version are absent.

For those looking for a more shareable snack plate to enjoy with a cold beer or glass of wine, Pecantown offers a charcuterie platter with charcuterie, cheese and pickles or a mezze platter with hummus, tzatziki, fresh vegetables and pickled, raisins and naan bread.

Currently, Coody-Anders said, Pecantown’s revenue is split roughly 50/50 between books and the company’s cafes. Long said he plans to expand the menu as Pecantown evolves, but for now he wants to focus on certain things as best he can.

“The goal right now was to write a menu that would build trust,” Long said. “I want it to be real chef’s cooking, but something you can get on a lunch break.”

Pecantown Books and Brews Children's and Young Adult Reading Room

Pecantown Books and Brews Children’s and Young Adult Reading Room

The store is quite nice. Daylight shines from every angle, illuminating small details like vintage typewriters, a display of fancy hand creams, and a pair of inviting bean bag chairs in a room devoted to children’s and young adult books. Part of the dining room is covered in Baroque squirrel-patterned wallpaper, a nod to the city’s famous roadside attraction said to be the ‘biggest pecan in the world’ located at the exterior of the town hall of Seguin.

Crystal Duhamel, left, has visited Pecantown Books and Brews three times since opening.

Crystal Duhamel, left, has visited Pecantown Books and Brews three times since opening.

Paul Stephen / Staff

The book selection runs the gamut from the hottest new cookbooks, timeless fiction favorites, current events, a small section of used books and more. Spanish titles are also stored in all these sections.

“I wanted to start with what I liked,” Coody-Anders said of the store’s design. “What would have been my dream when I was young? Where would I have spent every day of summer? »

Coody-Anders said Pecantown has drawn customers from San Antonio, New Braunfels, San Marcos and Austin — many of whom visit Seguin to sample Burnt Bean Co.’s award-winning barbecue located across from its shop. But the core clientele, she said, has largely been Seguin residents who stop in for a book and a bite to eat.

“It’s everyone,” Coody-Anders said. “It’s grandma and grandpa who like to read and want to hold a book in their hands and enjoy a mimosa while they do it. Students and teachers were very present. We see a lot of repeat customers from our city, county and bank employees. »

Pecantown Books and Brews owner Tess Coody-Anders, right, chats with regular customer Crystal Duhamel.

Pecantown Books and Brews owner Tess Coody-Anders, right, chats with regular customer Crystal Duhamel.

Paul Stephen / Staff

Crystal Duhamel is one of those enthusiastic locals who are helping Pecantown make a name for itself. As a pair of stylish young women took selfies looking over their books at a nearby table, Duhamel could barely contain her smile as she ordered – a panini caprese loaded with heirloom tomatoes, slices of mozzarella fresh and a drizzle of homemade pecan pesto – arrived at his table. Duhamel works just around the corner at the Seguin Public Library and has done the brisk five-minute walk to Pecantown three times since the business opened.

“Honestly, we have a lot of fast food restaurants here, and for a while I’ve wanted something with fresh food,” Duhamel said.

Nancy and Scott Hagerup enjoy beer and dessert at Pecantown Books and Brews.

Nancy and Scott Hagerup enjoy beer and dessert at Pecantown Books and Brews.

Nancy and Scott Hagerup, a retired couple who live nearby in Seguin, are also happy the store has opened. Both were for a second visit – a perfect excuse for both of them to sip chocolate stouts and munch on s’mores.

“We love it,” said Nancy Hagerup. “This is a fun and classy place in Seguin. There aren’t many places to have fun like this here.

Scott Hagerup agreed, adding, “Having this here is awesome. I like to go out for a beer and relax once in a while.

Coody-Anders had a long career in healthcare marketing before starting Pecantown Books and Brews, but the dream of starting a business that would serve as a beacon for book and food lovers in downtown Seguin had been simmering for decades. years. She hopes the store will serve as a gathering place for a wide range of people and provide them with plenty of opportunities to interact and collaborate.

We want to celebrate ideas,” Coody-Anders said. “We wanted to create a space where people could have what I call ‘productive collisions,’ and that could be with a good book, with each other, or with a new beer.”

Coody-Anders also sees the new venture as a proof-of-concept model for other entrepreneurs considering starting their own businesses in downtown Seguin. Ultimately, she hopes businesses like hers, Burnt Bean Co. and others will help bolster downtown Seguin’s reputation as a place to visit.

“It’s always been on my to-do list…for my community, not for me,” she said. “The world is a complicated place, and it’s hard to make an impact everywhere, but you can sweep your own porch.”

Pecantown Books and Brews, 212 S. Camp St. in Seguin, 830-491-9155, pecantownbooks.com, Facebook: @Pecantownbooks. Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

[email protected] | Twitter: @pjbites | Instagram: @pjstephen

Richard Dement

The author Richard Dement