By Celina Colby

Upon moving back to Beacon Hill for the first time since she lived here in the 1980s, Melissa Fetter made a startling realization. There was no longer a bookstore in the charming, historic Boston neighborhood. Never one to settle, Fetter decided to change that. After three years of dedicated work, Beacon Hill Books and Café on Charles Street will soft open in late August.

The project began with a building. “I bought in the fall of 2019 a five-story building on Charles Street,” says Fetter. The building was a beautiful piece of the neighborhood’s heritage but hadn’t been touched for decades. Its original use was also partially a residence, which meant there was a lot to be done. “When you’re taking a building from the 1800s and trying to make it comply with today’s standards, it’s complicated.”

Despite the challenges, Fetter is committed to making the bookstore a functional space and a beautiful and preserved one. She has hired a woodcraft artisan to carve images over the bookshelves related to arts and letters. She also puts endless effort into preserving as much of the original 1800s detailing as possible.

The bookstore will feature floors and floors of books, event and meeting space, a beautiful patio outdoor space, and a café for destination dining.

“The café ties directly into Brookline because we are so fortunate that chef Colleen Suhanosky, who owns Rifrullo Café on Cypress Street, is going to be the chef as well at our café,” says Fetter. “The quality of her work is supreme; she’s very talented. There’s really nothing she can’t do. I think it’s going to be a real boon to Beacon Hill to have her come and to have her culinary offerings on the street.”

Suhanosky’s vision for the café is one of farm fresh and local ingredients based on what’s in season. Initially, the café will serve breakfast, lunch, snacks, and a high-tea service. As the project progresses, they hope to add dinner options to the menu. Rifrullo will provide support for the Beacon Hill café, especially when it comes to baked goods and doughs that the Beacon Hill location doesn’t have much space to produce.

This won’t be a typical bookstore café where you grab a croissant and a coffee between shelves. Still, a dining destination in and of itself that’s conveniently located near new novels. If the bookstore and café are anything like Rifrullo or Brookline Booksmith, they will quickly become an indispensable community gathering space.

“The bookstore is the town square,” says Fetter. “It’s somewhere everyone can come and go and know that there is something in there that will answer their questions or delight them.”

Keep an eye on the bookstore’s opening date via their website: