On Monday, Marc Lamont Hill, the owner of Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee and Books, and his team welcomed more than 400 first-time patrons to the shop for its opening in Germantown.
Lamont Hill is a CNN commentator and the first Steve Charles Chair in Media, Cities and Solutions in the Klein College of Media and Communication. He also currently teaches in a secondary appointment in the College of Education.
When he wasn’t chatting with attendees, the 2000 education alumnus was behind the counter, making drinks and laughing with customers.
In addition to books from a diverse selection of authors, Uncle Bobbie’s sells merchandise. The menu includes sandwiches, pastries, soups, teas, coffee beverages and hot chocolate. The baristas, some wearing shirts with the store’s slogan, “Cool People. Dope Books. Great Coffee,” serve La Colombe coffee.
Hill named the shop after his late uncle, Bobbie Lee Hill, a World War II veteran and the person he credits with exposing him to Black literature and critical thinking.
Uncle Bobbie’s is now one of only a handful of Black-owned bookstores in Pennsylvania.
The site was previously home to a daycare center. Lamont Hill wants the shop to serve as a community space where people can learn together and connect with each other. He intends to host poetry slams, author readings and film screenings at the event space next to the shop. The first free author reading, which will feature writer and Rutgers University history professor Erica Armstrong Dunbar, will be held there in early December.
“I’m already looking for the corner that will be my spot when I come back here when it’s less crowded,” said Tiffany Gill, an author and Africana studies and history professor at the University of Delaware. She heard about the opening through social media and mutual friends of hers and Hill’s.
Rich Houch, a 2016 sport and recreation management alumnus, had never heard of a banana hot chocolate prior to seeing it on the menu at Uncle Bobbie’s. He decided to order one, extra sweet.
“It was actually really good,” Houch said. “I know I’m going to get it again next time I come back.”
Asia Brown, a senior film and media arts major, said she will likely be a regular at Uncle Bobbie’s.
“My family has been living in Germantown for years, but I never hang out here because I don’t know where any people my age are,” Brown said. “There’s not much if you’re under 21. I can’t drink. I can’t go to the bars. Uncle Bobbie’s will be open late, and there’s great coffee and cool books, so this might be the new spot. It’s a five-minute drive from my house.”
Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee and Books is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.