Try the salmon, then buy the recipe: Barnes & Noble hopes to save itself with pricey restaurants

Breadcrumbs to books.
Breadcrumbs to books.
Image: Reuters/Mike Segar
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Barnes & Noble is hoping its customers will sit and stay awhile, and it’s betting that giving them fancy lunch and dinner options will do the trick.

Looking to buttress declining in-store traffic, the brick-and-mortar mainstay is opening four conceptual stores that will include a sit down restaurant. Two of these hybrid stores—the first in Eastchester, New York, and the other in Edina, Minnesota—are already up and running. The second set will be in Folsom, California, and Loudon, Virginia. The chain hopes a good meal will get customers to spend more time browsing the bookshelves.

So what’s on the menu? In Folsom, customers will be able to order a $14 grilled cheese sandwich, a $16 burger, $24 salmon, and a $17 plate of mushroom ragù, according to Eater.  The options are already stirring interest in the community.

Barnes & Noble has struggled for years, searching for creative ways to keep customers at its stores as they defect to buy books online at places such as Amazon. In the most recent quarter, in-store traffic shrank (paywall) by 3.2%. The chain has also been grappling with rising debt.

The new restaurant concept has already hit a speed bump. After less than six months, the person tapped to lead and develop its fledgling restaurant group, Jaime Carey, is resigning effective Feb. 10, 2017.