Bookstore opens doors, shelves for business

A grand-opening celebration for Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse’s custom-built new home took on a festive atmosphere Monday, with local officials, La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce members and loyal customers all abuzz about Foothill Boulevard’s latest addition.

Books were still being shelved and new-carpet smell hung in the air as owners Peter and Lenora Wannier cut a ceremonial ribbon stretched near the store’s entrance at the corner of Chevy Chase Drive.

The couple also received goodwill proclamations from representatives of state Sen. Carol Liu, Assemblyman Anthony Portantino and L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich.

The task of converting a once-neglected former gas station into a modern café and La Cañada Flintridge literary Mecca took more than 18 months and $1 million to complete, said Peter Wannier, a retired JPL scientist.

“This has been a long time in coming and I know they’ve worked very hard for this to come true…and what a result,” praised Mayor Donald Voss, who was joined by Council members Laura Olhasso, Dave Spence and Stephen Del Guercio, city Planning Director Robert Stanley and Senior Planner Fred Buss.

The ceremony was also the Miss La Cañada Flintridge Court’s first official appearance as chamber youth ambassadors, with members praising the new store’s elegant design and broad selection of books relevant to local students.

In addition to its larger café, expanded book selection and increased capacity for readings and special events, customers gathered for a glimpse of its new Espresso Book Machine, a type of miniature digital printing press that allows users to download, print and bind long out-of-print titles or upload and publish copies of their own work. Flintridge Books is one of only two bookstores in California to have one.

“The Wanniers did a splendid job of taking a weed-infested lot and making it into a gem of a building that I know will be successful,” said Olhasso.

Joel Peterson, an LCUSD board member who also chairs the chamber’s board, praised the couple, who first opened their store in 2007 at a leased location two doors down, for sticking out an unexpectedly lengthy development process.

“I don’t think it’s so much that you’re deserving of such a wonderful space, it’s that you earned it,” he said.

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