By Mac Cerullo
---- — AMESBURY — The Middle Street Bookstore will be closing its doors Thursday after 21 years in downtown Newburyport to move to a new location in Amesbury.
Liz Schneider, the store’s proprietor, said the move became necessary after her landlord ordered the bookstore out by May 1, and the new store will open in mid-April at 15 Friend St., giving Amesbury two downtown bookstores.
The store will accordingly be renamed The Friend Street Bookstore when it opens, but the store’s model of selling once-read books at lower prices will remain the same.
Schneider said her preference would have been to remain in Newburyport, but there was no available space at an affordable price.
“Our customers have been so great, and they wanted us to stay in Newburyport,” Schneider said. “But we checked places in Newbury and Rowley before settling on Amesbury.”
The Middle Street Bookstore had been a fixture in downtown Newburyport since John Kymalainen of Danvers first opened the store in 1992. Eventually he sold the business to two Colorado men, one of whom was originally from Newburyport, and in 2003 they sold the store to Schneider, who had been running the day-to-day operations.
The new location in Amesbury is bigger than the current space and has much more parking available nearby to customers. There will also be a handicap accessible entrance in the back, something the Middle Street store didn’t have.
Before the new shop opens, the bookstore needs to install new bookshelves, transport the thousands of books currently on the shelves, and then have its business license approved by the Amesbury City Council. The store has already received its occupancy permit from building inspector Denis Nadeau, and the next City Council meeting is scheduled for April 9.
In the last days before the move, Schneider said she wants to thank all of her customers for supporting the store and added that she hopes they will continue to do so in the future.
“We hope our customers will follow us, especially those who have credit here so they can continue using their credit,” Schneider said. “We love our customers, we really do, and I’m going to miss a lot of them if they don’t come up there.”
Maggie Sundae closes
As one business moves into Friend Street, another is on the way out. Maggie Sundae, a popular ice cream shop at 60 Friend St., announced that it closed its doors over the weekend and the space is now up for lease.
Adele Faso, Maggie Sundae’s owner, said she decided not to renew her lease on the property so she could focus on her new catering business.
Faso had previously said Maggie Sundae would remain but would transition into a soup and sandwich café known as the Soup Ladle Café, and yesterday Faso said she is still planning on doing that, but the business would operate out of Kitchen Local at 14 Cedar St. instead.
“That’s what we’re working on through Kitchen Local,” Faso said. “We still have a lot more we need to iron out, but that’s still in the works.”
Kitchen Local is a commercial-grade kitchen that recently opened in the Cedar Street complex. Professional cooks can rent it to prepare their foods.
Faso said she hopes to have her new business up and running in a couple of months, but added that it was an emotional day for her on Sunday when she moved her stuff out of Maggie’s.
“It was bittersweet, but it was a decision I had to make,” Faso said. “There was no kitchen here at Maggie’s.”
Meanwhile, reports are surfacing that the former home of Zac and Ani’s Bread at 11 Elm St. in downtown Amesbury has been leased out to a new occupant. According to multiple city officials, the occupant is believed to be a cheese business that will operate as a wholesaler and likely won’t sell its product to consumers from the store.
Town officials did not have the name of the business or when it might move in, and calls left at the building inspector’s office were not returned by press time.