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A Seat At The Table Celebrates Grand Opening

A Seat At The Table Celebrates Grand Opening
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Photo Credit: Marissa Johnson

Elk Grove’s newest bookstore, A Seat at the Table, located at 9257 Laguna Springs Drive, hosted its grand opening on Saturday December 11, offering the community the first of its kind: A bookstore cafe that encourages engagement, while celebrating culture and identity. Books are not the only items sold in the store. For instance, items such as children’s and adult crafts, fudge, fun socks, and other gift items are also sold.

Photo by: Marissa Johnson

The bookstore offers a variety of spaces that allow people from all ages and walks of life to experience a sense of community.  For example, they feature a children’s area, along with a table meant to engage with others. Furthermore, on their website it states, “We’re here to uplift the oppressed and smash the kyriarchy through the power of books, coffee, and community.”  

Elected Officials

Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen, Assemblymember Jim Cooper, and Cosumnes Community Services District Board President Jaclyn Moreno, were among several elected officials that made an appearance to show their support. Many members of the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce were also in attendance.

“I enjoyed reading storybooks to the children. I welcome this new small business and wish them luck and prosperity in our city.  Small businesses are the backbone of our city and lift local economies.”

-Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen
Story-time with Mayor of EG Bobbie Singh-Allen in the children’s area
Photo Credit: Michael Estes

Opportunities To Learn

Interestingly, feedback from the community has been mixed. Some members of the community feel that A Seat At The Table is too “woke” for them to patronize. However, this hasn’t changed the outlook and the mission of the owners Emily and Ryan Autenrieth. Despite the mixed reviews, Autenrieth feels that everyone deserves representation no matter how that might look.

“I think the response today really speaks to how eager Elk Grove is to get to know each other better, and just celebrate all of our identities. There are some that believe we should have been more centrist, and more lukewarm about books; identity; and community. Our whole mission is to give everyone a seat at the table and make sure that everyone is represented, and give us all a chance to learn about each other.  We can see today that Elk Grove is responding very strongly to that opportunity.”  

– Emily Autenrieth, Owner and Founder of A Seat at the Table

A wide array of book titles encompass a broad range of topics. For example, books such as, “What’s Your Pronoun?” by Dennis Baron, and a children’s book titled, “Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice” by Mahogany L. Brown, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Olivia Gatwood, are often topics that spark debate, but most importantly represent the city’s growing diverse population.

Photo Credit: Marissa Johnson

Something For Everyone

The community seemingly welcomes the bookstore’s goals of inclusion, and view it as an opportunity for learning.

“I am thankful that there is a place like this for everyone to be able to come in and share, ” said Elk Grove resident Dorothy Haynes,  “there really is something for everyone to get something out of it. 

“Its okay to broaden our circle of interest and show concern for other people that we think we don’t have anything in common with. But it turns out that we do. We may not know that unless we push our own boundaries.”

-Dorothy Haynes, Elk Grove resident

Her daughter, Trinity Haynes, told EGT that she appreciates how the bookstore gives access to books and other items that are inclusive of everyone.

“Seeing the inclusivity of all ages, races, and genders, and all the books and items in the store seem very inclusive,” said Haynes.

“It’s just wonderful to see a bookstore that is locally owned as bookstores have shut down in Elk Grove. Seeing one right in the community at this large space is just wonderful.”

Trinity Haynes (L) with mother Dorothy Haynes (R)
Photo Credit: Marissa Johnson
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ASATT Staff Andrea Martinez (L) Victoria Cortez (R)
Photo by: Marissa Johnson

A Diverse City

Recent data published in The World Population Review shows Elk Grove as “the 26th largest city in California, and 146th in the nation.”

Above all, the demographic is diverse, and it demonstrates that there are varied needs within the community.

Cosumnes CSD Board President Jaclyn Moreno shared her thoughts on how she feels the community will benefit.

“This bookstore is something that the community desperately needs  – its a bookstore that focuses on equity and diversity and being one of the most diverse cities in the nation I think the community will respond well to this and people will learn about each other and it will be a place to gather and it will be wonderful, and I’m going to be here a lot!”

-Jaclyn Moreno, Cosumnes CSD Board President
Cosumnes CSD Board President Jaclyn Moreno with Reuben & Ollie Moreno
Photo Credit: Marissa Johson

Guest Appearances

There were quite a few guest appearances. Each guest was thoughtfully selected based on diversity, and inclusion. For example, drag queen Hellen Heels read a few books, but also answered questions from the audience. She engaged with children in the audience in a fun way, asking what they wanted for Christmas and what their favorite colors were. Also, Alexander Grevious, a 13-year-old author read his book titled, “Ausomely Aaron,” which is a story about autism and how being different is like having superpowers. Lastly, fantasy fiction writer, Jason Denzel performed a script from his upcoming book with help from author, Andrea Stewart.

Alexander Grevious, author of “Ausomely Aaron”
Photo Credit: Marissa Johnson
Story time with Hellen Heels
Photo Credit: Marissa Johnson
Jason Denzel (L) Andrea Stewart (R)
Photo Credit: Marissa Johnson

Brian Bassard, of Bassard Foundation of Content Creators, and his wife Jessica Bassard helped with designing the layout of the bookstore and cafe. Additionally, they helped with equipment, as well as photo and video.

“This is my first time coming in since the store has been put together,” said Jessica. “It is so cool to see it from the ground up and just see it all come together.” 

Brian shared his thoughts with EGT on some of the guests of the day.

“Ever since I got in contact with Emily i’ve been impressed with their inclusion, and how they feature all of these different unique authors with different stories that we don’t get to hear all the time. Seriously, to see this come to fruition and to have an actual physical bookstore is so impressive and I’m so happy to see it.”  

-Brian Bassard, Bassard Foundation of Content Creators
Jessica Bassard (L) & Brian Bassard (R)
Photo Credit: Marissa Johnson

California Legislative Assembly Award

In between raffles and performances, former Elk Grove Mayor, and California Assemblymember Jim Cooper made an appearance. He presented Emily Autenrieth with a Certificate of Recognition from the California Legislative Assembly. Most importantly, Cooper shared a few words about Autenrieth, and his appreciation for her contributions to the community.

Photo Credit: Marissa Johnson

Planning Your Visit

We encourage all of you to check out A Seat At The Table. They are now serving a full menu in their cafe. Masks are required, and special holiday hours are as follows:

Christmas Eve hours are 10-4 PM New Year’s Eve 7-5 PM New Year’s Day 10-6 PM

Standard hours of operation are Monday 7-12 PM and Tuesday to Saturday 7-6 PM

Also, for more information be sure to visit them online at https://www.aseatatthetablebooks.org/

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About The Author

Marissa Johnson

Marissa Johnson has Bachelors degree in public relations from Sacramento State University, and is currently our News & Events Editor, Photographer, and Public Relations Specialist for EGT. On her free time she enjoys spending time with her family and their two dogs, cooking , baking and is an avid runner. She also runs a photography business on the side.

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