Ed and Rhonda Malkowski are the owners, and it takes only a few
minutes of conversation to realize they have a passion for books: a
passion they have decided to turn into a business.
This past November as Ed explained how the store would be laid out, he said with a
smile, "This is our 401(k), right here."
The Malkowskis have been married 10 years, and although Ed
doesn't like to say their new business came about by accident,
circumstances did lend a hand in their endeavor.
Ed was a software developer with a Champaign bank, and when it
merged with another bank, his job was outsourced.
Ed was looking at taking a position with a company in
Springfield, and since he was a former Lincoln resident (LCHS Class
of '79), the couple thought of moving to Lincoln and Ed commuting to
work in the capital city.
Ed said that on a visit to Walmart he asked about bookstores and
coffee shops in town, and the clerk said she didn't know of any.
The wheels started grinding, and Ed said he saw himself being
happy in a bookstore.
Two days later over lunch he asked Rhonda what she thought of
opening a bookstore.
Rhonda, who has been a book dealer on the Internet for a decade, explained that having a bookstore was her dream. "I told
him, 'OK, are you serious? Don't kid me.'"
Since Ed is an accomplished author and historian of ancient
cultures in his own right (his books are available at the store) and
with Rhonda a collector and seller of books for years, the two
taking on the task of opening a bookstore was a natural.
Even the name of the business fits the couple. Ed explained that
in Greek lore, an owl was a mythical creature that denoted wisdom.
Books, he said, can give knowledge and wisdom that can fill a
void that schools can't about history, since names and dates are
stressed due to time constraints, without the complete story being
Ed enjoys delving into and writing about ancient history, and
his writing not only gives knowledge to himself but his readers as
Rhonda is a "night owl" and reads voraciously, as does Ed, having
that same passion for books. Thus the name Owl's Roost was as
comfortable to the couple as their decision to open their business
Once Ed and Rhonda had decided to chase their dream, they only
needed one last important element: a location.
A walk around downtown brought them to the empty office building
of Judge Tom Funk, who closed the law office after he was appointed
The building had been for sale but with no takers or lookers.
Funk had taken it off the market. When Ed and Rhonda contacted him,
a deal was made and the Malkowskis had a building: a building that
they eventually gutted to turn into a bookstore, coffeehouse and
light lunch establishment.
The original plans didn't include an eatery, but when the couple found
out a kitchen was required for the milk products they would serve
with their coffees and espressos, they decided to turn the roadblock
into another opportunity and installed a complete kitchen in their
Now, besides books and coffee drinks, the business will offer
light meal choices in a small dining area as well as for takeout.
[to top of second column]
In the initial menu, wraps, salads, club sandwiches, cinnamon
rolls and specialties of the day are available, but the menu will
continue to expand as the couple gets an opportunity to find out
what people are looking for when they visit their business.
The store has shelves of old books and new
books for readers to look through, but that is only a small
fraction of the couple's complete stock.
Rhonda says their current inventory lists 18,000
titles, and a computer tracking where a specific book is stored will
be available to help readers find a specific title, especially if it
is still in storage due to space.
The books will be reasonably priced from a few
dollars on up for used editions. The business also will offer special
collectors' editions that will carry a more serious price tag.
To make the store more comfortable for visitors,
if a coffee or espresso isn't your taste, the business will also offer wines
by the glass. Again, like the books, there will be inexpensive to
more expensive vintages available, depending on a patron's palate.
The work to get the shop open has been
arduous and has taken more time than originally hoped, but the
Malkowskis now can see the end in sight and have opened for business
as they continue to place volumes of books on their shelves.
They hope Lincolnites will find the
time to stop in, enjoy a coffee or wine, and browse through their
books. In the event you enjoy the written word, you will find the owners
ready to talk about their passion and now their business for as long as
you want in a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere.
Currently their hours are 9 a.m. till 9 p.m., but
beginning next week the hours will expand to 7 a.m. till 10 p.m.
Monday-Saturday and 9 a.m. till 5 p.m. on Sundays.
Ed and Rhonda invite everyone to visit their
business, have an espresso, some food or a glass of wine, and chat
and linger for a while. And if you love books, you will have found
the perfect place to spend time on a regular basis.