Downtown, on the west side of Manhattan, a cobblestone street leads to an unassuming brick townhouse. Outside, a vine climbs up the side of the building, stretching like an arm over a large glass window where a soft light beckons from within. Next to the gnarled vine, a weathered wooden door stands guardian, its golden badge reading, simply and elegantly, “Cookbooks.”
Joanne Hendricks had been collecting rare, vintage, and out-of-print cookbooks, along with classic cocktail books, unique menus, old photographs, and collectible tableware, long before she opened her tiny shop. But in 1995, she decided to share her spectacular collection with the world. She opened up the bottom floor of her 19th-century townhouse to the public, and now people can peruse and purchase an array of food and drink literary treasures.
The bibliophile will immediately sense something special about the rows upon rows of weathered covers visible in the window and need only pull the door’s small brass handle to confirm their suspicions. Perusing the paper treasures within the small exposed-brick and wallpapered room, the browser will find worn antiquarian cookbooks dating back more than 100 years as well as more modern whimsical texts on subjects stretching from holiday cookies to table etiquette. Prices range from low to high, with first editions reaching into the thousands. But even just a look around the cozy home gives visitors a sense of sustenance, a sort of nostalgic satisfaction in the generations of culinary wonder that have preceded today. Poke around; perhaps the perfect recipe you never knew existed lies between two tattered covers.
Know Before You Go
As Hendricks remarks on the store website, it pays to check before heading to her shop, as she closes the shop when she's out of town.