This Book Lover's Treasure is Hidden in Boone County, Kentucky
At the Boone County Public Library, you can check out books, research local history, borrow a computer, check out movies —and pick up a chicken pesto panini and a cup of soup. You see, the main branch of the Burlington, Kentucky, library has something different than most other libraries; it has a restaurant in the lobby meaning that you can feed your stomach and your mind in one convenient location.
The Battaglia Deli and Café first opened in September 2013 near Burlington's courthouse, but when owner Veronica Battaglia noticed the empty spot in the library, she realized it was the perfect place to sell her soups and sandwiches. She knew from personal experience that it was something that library patrons would appreciate. As she told the Northern Kentucky Tribune a few years back, Battaglia had come to the library to do her taxes, but when she worked up an appetite filling out her IRS forms, she had to leave the library to get a bite. She remembers eating "a bad meal" nearby, and thougth about how this could be an opportunity. So she worked out a deal with the library staff, closed her location in historic Burlington, and opened up shop inside the library.
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Soon enough, patrons had a new spot to pick up lunch and a best-seller, catch up with book club friends over a cup of coffee, or feed the kids after morning storytime. Order at the counter, grab a seat and a magazine or a new paperback, and wait for lunch to be delivered to you. It's a book lover's dream date.
Battaglia's menu is a crowd pleaser filled with classics like chef's salads, BLTs, and grilled cheese, as well as more adventurous options like a Cubano with ham, shredded pork, pickles and Swiss cheese and roast beef with horseradish mayonnaise and caramelized onions. "The people that come to the library are people who like to explore," Battaglia, a native of Ecuador, told Cincinnati.com. "They have cultural understanding and would like to explore something different in taste and food."
Of course, not every person who comes to the library has an adventurous palate and to that end, she offers an entire kids' menu, too, with favorites like spaghetti, peanut butter and jelly, and that perennial choice of the toddler crowd: chicken nuggets. It's the easy place to grab a quick bite for the kids to ward off a tantrum over leaving the library.
The next time you're in Kentucky and looking for a lunch spot, skip the fast food and head straight to the library.