Jan 13, 2021
The Bookshelf bookshop in Guelph, Ontario was established in 1973 by Barb and Doug Minett. In 1980 it became The Bookshelf Cafe - Canada's first bookstore cafe/restaurant. Shortly thereafter an ambitious plan was conceived to add a cinema and bar to what was then the roof of the building. During implementation, University of Guelph physics professor and longtime customer, Jim Hunt, trained a team of 10 cafe servers and booksellers in the art & science of 35mm projection. In 1988 The Bookshelf Cinema showed its first film. Over 20,000 shows and 1,000,000 cinema goers later, the cinema continues to offer 14-15 shows a week with its fancy digital projection and great sound system.
Shortly thereafter bookshelf.ca (Canada's first full-service online bookstore - sold to Indigo in the late 90s) was launched.
The Bookshelf team also embarked on "the great leap sideways" expanding all aspects of the emporium by re-building the building next door and adding a music venue: the eBar. Many great Canadian musical talents have graced the eBar stage. The bar serves up great craft beers and dj's and dancing every Saturday night. Over the years The Bookshelf has operated a number of food and beverage operations - originally with its own staff and later in collaboration with others. In 2015 The Bookshelf welcomed Miijidaa ("Let's Eat") as its restaurant collaborator.
My conversation with Doug Minett starts with him in Europe, with his future wife Barb, the year prior to their setting up shop, and ends with discussion of cibabooks.ca and Doug's role as acting Executive Director.