In November of 2018, the ceiling of JaxDog Cafe and Books collapsed, forcing the La Grande business to close its doors. After finding the right place to relocate and a thoughtful remodel, owners, husband and wife, Jon and Laura Hancock are now supplying coffee, food and books a few blocks to the east, at 1305 Adams Ave.
Jon opened JaxDog Cafe in 2014 as a place to eat and drink upstairs in the building that was then housing Looking Glass Books. After Looking Glass relocated, Jon and co-owner Laura turned the space into JaxDog Cafe and Books, with Jon as chef and Laura as the bookstore’s manager. The bookstore and cafe combination was a success, and the owners have every reason to expect this to continue in their new location, which officially opened Oct. 10.
“The thing that struck me over this past week is that even though it has been a year since we last opened, seeing all these familiar faces again, it is almost as if no time has passed at all,” Laura said. “It’s a neat thing to have that connection in the community.”
The business was named after the couple’s rescue dog, Jax. The original space featured a resident cat named Amber that roamed around and had gained local fame. The cat has since “retired,” Laura said, and will no longer be seen at the new store. At the previous location, the cafe was upstairs and the owners allowed dogs into the downstairs bookstore, but due to the proximity of the kitchen in the new store, only service animals are allowed.
In the new store, the cafe and bookstore are on the same floor, which provides better accessibility for all patrons. Jon said he is happy with the store’s open layout, which clearly showcases the cafe alongside the bookstore.
“The cohesiveness of it, having it be on one level, it’s great,” he said. “With this space everything is up to code and ADA compliant, and our visibility has also improved.”
Laura said she enjoys being able to work in close proximity to her husband, and the new store’s layout makes it easier to collaborate. The couple, who are avid readers, said the new store allows them to more cohesively combine their interests, which in turn will benefit their customers.
“Being able to sit down and have a cup of coffee or tea and read is just one of those simple comfort things,” Laura said.
The collection of books is a mixture of new and used copies, covering a wide range of genres. The store also sells greeting cards and journals. Used books are collected through donations. The cafe serves breakfast and lunch. Everyday there is quiche and salad specials and a weekly entree special. All of the food is made from scratch.
“I do all my own baking, make all my own soups from the ground up,” Jon said.
His dedication to his craft is complemented by his belief in the importance of books. He noted that bookstores help establish and bring culture to the community.
“There are a lot of communities nationwide that don’t have libraries anymore, much less bookstores, and this valley is really fortunate,” Jon said. “Every city in the valley has a library and we have three bookstores in this town, and it seems like there are a lot of people who really appreciate that.”