Fenwick entrepeneurs bookend their lives at Bookend Café


Last year, husband-and-wife team Jeff and Janilyn Elias made a statement in Fenwick Island, introducing Indulgence, a pet and gift store in the Village of Fenwick. Seeing a need to reach out to more shoppers and keep them in the area, they have since added on to their venture, opening The Bookend Café – a book store and coffee shop – also in the Village.

Coastal Point •  R. Chris Clark: Jeff and Janilyn Elias opened Indulgence last year in the Village of Fenwick, and have since opened Bookend Café in the shopping center.Coastal Point • R. Chris Clark
Jeff and Janilyn Elias opened Indulgence last year in the Village of Fenwick, and have since opened Bookend Café in the shopping center.

“We saw a lot of people throughout Fenwick Island walking their dogs in the morning,” said Janilyn Elias, “and looking for a cup of coffee.”

Indulgence brought something to the shopping center for the pet owners, but they were soon leaving the shops for their morning pick-me-up. That’s where the Elias’ stepped in again.

“At The Bookend Café, we offer gently used books at half-price or less, and we provide a full espresso bar, too,” Janilyn Elias added.

Specialty coffees, espressos, lattes and cappuccinos can get the day going, while a frozen frappe or smoothie can accompany a sunny springtime afternoon. Light bakery fare, including scones and muffins, are another way to start the morning.

And, with a selection of nearly 6,000 books and counting, there’s plenty of reading material in which to get lost. Romance, mysteries, thrillers, classics, Westerns, sci-fi, nonfiction and children’s books – The Bookend Café shelves something for everyone. Most paperbacks have been marked down at least 50 percent, while almost all hardbacks are available at less than half-price. Customers could easily find a half-dozen picks for a very reasonable price.

Chairs and tables around the area provide a quiet place for people on the go to bring their laptops, with free Wi-Fi available, too.

“We thought, if we brought something like this to the Village of Fenwick,” said Janilyn Elias, “we could keep people here. It’s a great shopping destination. You’ve got jewelry, clothes, pet supplies, a restaurant. There’s so much here. People could easily spend all day in these stores.”

The used book store isn’t a new notion in the Village of Fenwick. A Novel Idea, a used book store and one of the Village’s longest-running businesses, closed up its doors after last summer season.

“We wanted to find a way to bring it all together and provide everyone with what they were looking for,” Janilyn Elias said. “We saw the need for coffee and saw the bookstore going away, and we decided to combine that.”

The Eliases checked out a number of book sales to help stock the merchandise, including the annual Smith College Club of Baltimore book sale, which helped to fill many of the shelves.

“A Novel Idea also offered a book swap,” said Janilyn Elias, “and we wanted to do something like that. When someone comes here with books to donate, they will receive store credit that can be used for books, coffee or other items – anything they want.”

Since opening The Bookend Café in late April, the Elias’ have made some changes to Indulgence, as well. What started as a pet and keepsake gift shop has turned to a breed-specific favorite for four-legged friends and their owners.

“People were enjoying the store,” said Jeff Elias, “but they were saying, ‘That’s nice, but do you have anything for Westies? Or anything for pugs? Or Labs?’ Now we do.”

The pet store underwent a transformation to be more accommodating to specific-breed owners, while most of the gifts, and more, are now available at The Bookend Café. From greeting cards and stationary to coffee mugs, botanical soaps, candles and incense, customers can find a gift or something for around their own home, as well.

The Bookend Café opens at 7 a.m., seven days a week, and the Eliases plan to keep it open year-round. They currently stay open into the late afternoon, but as the summer season rolls around, hours of operation will extend into the evening.

“We think this is just what people are looking for in Fenwick,” said Jeff Elias. “Eventually, we want to bring some local authors in for book signings, too. We want to be a big part of the community.”

The Bookend Cafe, a member of the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce, will hold its grand opening on Friday, May 13, with festivities beginning at 2 p.m. and a ribbon-cutting at 4 p.m. Refreshments and live music will be provided. For more information, stop by The Bookend Café in the back of the Village of Fenwick, located at 300 Coastal Highway in Fenwick Island, or call (302) 537-BOOK (2665).