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Friday, September 19, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 56.0° F  Fog/Mist
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Chocolaterian prepares to open second cafe at the new Madison Central Library
The cafe will be called Chocolaterian and feature signature items familiar from the east side location.
Credit:Madison Public Library

The new and improved Madison Central Library is slated to reopen on Saturday, Sept. 21, complete with an onsite cafe that will be the second location of Chocolaterian.

With the amount of usable public space about to double from what was available in the old library, the library staff is also hoping to "double the number of people spending time there," says Leanne Cordisco, confectioner behind Chocolaterian Cafe and Christine's Toffee, and winner of the bid to run the central library food concession. "And they want that time to feel worthwhile."

The emphasis in the new building is re-geared; books are only a part of the purpose and function, which overall is configured as a smart community gathering space. That means, of course, offering the kinds of amenities that draw people in the 21st century: food, coffee, plentiful Internet access and meeting rooms.

"I'm looking forward to partnering with them," says Cordisco, who opened Chocolaterian just under a year ago in Schenk's Corners to immediate acclaim.

The city held an open process for bids on the cafe concession; Cordisco says she's "not certain who the others were, but I know there was more than one." Feedback from the committee indicated they liked the emphasis of Chocolaterian because they thought the concept would "attract more people" and that the menu items were unique, exciting and somewhat upscale.

The cafe will be called Chocolaterian and feature signature items familiar from the east side location -- Parisian hot chocolate, tarts, and the famous "Ugly" cookies. Cordisco also hopes to add homemade soups, fresh fruit and yogurt, homemade granola and milk and cookies to go along with kids' story hour.

Other possibilities include a Fromagination-sourced cheese plate and an Underground Food Collective charcuterie plate.

The city has done the buildout, but Cordisco still needs to order some of the actual kitchen equipment. The cooking, however, will be done at Chocolaterian's Atwood Avenue location and driven to the library location.

Once in the library, though, and purchased from the cafe, the food can go anywhere, a far cry from the old library model. "I think the librarians may be a little nervous about mixing books and chocolate," Cordisco observes. But the idea, she explains, is to draw people to the public areas, including the central area which is "just stunning" with "amazing high ceilings," and a rooftop garden with tables and chairs that's "really fun."

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