Anyone else daydreaming about eating indoors in restaurants again with zero worries? We’re making long lists of places we can’t wait to go, and now a Connecticut restaurant just took the first spot. Traveler Restaurant in Union, Connecticut is a family dining joint that serves a side of something special and inedible: books! The restaurant basically functions as a one-way library. Each person gets three free books with their meal.
Three. Free. Books.
We first learned about this magical place from Neatorama and Atlas Obscura. The books aspect of this diner is rather marketable as you can see in their sign. The name of the restaurant is in a small font while “Food and Books” jumps out. That surely grabs the attention of passersby. And then when you’re inside, you’ll see walls lined with used books. Enough books that in non-pandemic times, the restaurant estimates giving away 1,000 to 2,000 books each week.
The restaurant’s one-time owner, Marty Doyle, started bringing in books from his personal collection in the ’80s. It began as a way to cut down on the number of books he owned. I can definitely relate to the feeling. And the tradition continues today though new owners have since taken over. Area libraries and members of the community keep Traveler Restaurant well stocked with used books for all ages.
Owner Karen Murdock told the Hartford Courant in 2015 that they do book runs to grow their offerings. “We spend a lot of time on book runs going all over Massachusetts, Connecticut, and sometimes Rhode Island. We have a 16-foot horse trailer and a truck and if we get a call to pick up books, we’re on our way. It’s a big job sorting through them.”
They have enough tomes that they also operate a used bookstore in the restaurant’s basement. In other words: it’s a dreamy place.