One of Mill Valley’s landmark institutions, located inside the most famous building in town, changed hands in April, and its new owners have spent the past few months examining the business and planning its future.
A group of investors headed by Vasco owner Paul Lazzareschi and Piazza D’Angelo co-owner Domenico Petrone have taken over the Depot Bookstore & Cafe from the family of the late Mary Turnbull, who founded the famed bookstore and cafe with her husband William Turnbull in 1987. Turnbull, who also co-founded the legendary Tides Bookstore in Sausalito, died peacefully of natural causes on September 30, 2015.
“We are thrilled at the opportunity to take the reins of one of Mill Valley’s landmark institutions,” Petrone said. “We’ve been analyzing every aspect of the business over the past few months so that we can both preserve the elements that mean so much to this community and also usher in some great new ideas that people will love.”
The depot building, which also contains the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center, is owned by the City of Mill Valley. The existing lease on the property runs through December 31, 2016, and Puffin has exercised the last of its five-year extensions, which would take it to December 31, 2021. The Depot pays the City a base rent plus a percentage of total sales.
The depot building was built by the Northwestern Pacific Railroad in 1928. It served as the terminal for electric and oil trains that between Mill Valley to the Sausalito ferry docks. The railroad shut down in the 1940s and morphed into a bus depot, used first by Greyhound and later by Golden Gate Transit.
In the 1970s, the building was re-invented as Ganey’s Bookstore and Cafe, which it remained until the Turnbull family took over the lease in 1987.
Lazzareschi says they plan some outdoor improvements, such as lighting and heating that would allow nighttime food service on the patio. They also plan to explore some floor plan changes inside, and are open to making those changes in conjunction with the City’s long-planned construction of a new bathroom in the building later this year (click here for the Depot’s proposed changes via plans from Mill Valley architect Evan Cross).
“This is going to be very exciting,” Lazzareschi said.