North Carolina

Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews – Chapel Hill, North Carolina

I almost didn’t make the trip to Epilogue, a fantastic bookstore, café and chocolateria in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, as I traveled through the region on a book tour. But what a mistake it would have been to skip past this gem of a shop. 

An article by Sara Pequeno with Indyweek perfectly describes the vibe of Epilogue: A good coffee shop feels like an extension of your living room—a place to chat with friends or focus intently on work, where sunlight hits the windowpane as you lean into a book. 

I stepped into a bustling, beautifully decorated and well-curated shop on a busy Saturday afternoon in downtown Chapel Hill. The courthouse down the street was vibrating with activity as a group of demonstrators had gathered in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. Onlookers lined both sides of the street for most of the block, while others had gathered for lunch at one of several outdoor eateries. 

What I found inside Epilogue was a warm, welcoming, eclectic and diverse space with an impressive selection of books, a tasty menu (I recommend the horchata latte, which was recommended to me when I stared blankly at the expansive menu), and staff members eager to engage.

“Do you have a Pride display?” asked a customer.

“They’re sort of all over the place,” said the barista. “That’s the great thing about an indie bookshop – everything is gay!” 

Epilogue has curated a terrific selection of new books for what is a relatively small space. Paired with the coffee bar, café seating, and generous spaces for students of nearby UNC Chapel Hill to park with their textbooks and laptops, the book section is confined largely to the left side of the narrow but long main space, with some spillover toward the back for genres like nonfiction or some sideline items like puzzles. A wall of shelves extends down the side, with display tables down the middle. 

The usual genres are well represented – fiction, sci-fi, young adult, etc. – while I found themed displays like 2022 Lambda Award Winners and space devoted to regional publisher Jaded Ibis Press, a nonprofit, feminist press committed to publishing socially engaged literature with an emphasis on the voices of people of color, people with disabilities, and other historically silenced and culturally marginalized voices. 

Especially interesting are the passionate, handwritten recommendations from staff attached to many of the titles on display. When another barista saw me holding a copy of a book he recommended, Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo, he was thrilled. 

“I’ve been begging people to read this book!” he said.

“Well, I know nothing about it,” I said, “but your recommendation is what sold me.”

(I started reading it last night at bedtime and was already hooked by the first couple of pages.)

Epilogue is the creation of owners Jaime and Miranda Sanchez, who opened the shop in late 2019 to fill the void of an indie bookstore downtown. Its Twitter bio describes it as a “little LatinX owned bookstore on a hill serving yummy chocolate, brews and churros.”

“We had a pretty good grasp of how to develop a retail concept,” Jaime told Indyweek. He had previously worked in store design and event production. “We just wanted to make sure it was something we loved, and we were passionate about. We wanted to make sure we could give something to the community that it needed.”

And if my time in the shop was an indicator, the community has certainly embraced Epilogue. While the pandemic may have slowed progress for a time, the business is now doing well enough for growth. The shop will soon be expanding into an adjoining space that will allow for additional café seating and – thanks to my quick sneak peek – an impressive collection of used books for sale. The offshoot, to be called Prologue, is set to open in July.

My conversation with the staff was extremely interesting, the shop is beautifully designed and stocked, and the latte was delicious. I didn’t try the chocolate portion of this bookstore/café/chocolate shop, but if the pastries and European sipping chocolates on the menu are an indicator, I’m sure they’re just as tasty. 

Epilogue: Books Chocolate Brews is located at 109 E. Franklin Street, Suite 100, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Open daily. 

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