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Atomic Books announces expansion that will include a bar

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Every April 1, the owners of Hampden's Atomic Books do some sort of prank. Yesterday, the popular book and record store upheld tradition by announcing a planned expansion that will include a bar called Dead Poets Society.

The prank, according to co-owner Benn Ray, was only the name of the bar ("We wouldn't name it that"). The expansion, including a new bar, is true. Ray says he and other owner Rachel Whang had considered expanding Atomic Books for the past two years.

"Once the economy stablized and turned back around, we thought we might be able to expand and move forward," Ray said.

Atomic Books will take over at 3616 Falls Road, the space currently occupied by doubledutch boutique. The clothing store is moving to the 1000 block of W. 36th St., according to Ray. Celebrated Summer, Atomic Books' record shop currently located in the back of the store, will move to the new space. Used and discounted items will also be sold in the expanded area. A listening station will be housed there, too.

The bar, which does not have a name yet, will be located in the approximately 500-square-foot space where Celebrated Summer currently resides. Ray says it won't be a full bar, but will serve bottles of beer and wine. Atomic Books is still in the process of getting the proper license, but Ray plans to allow carry-out service, too.

Now in its 21st year, Atomic Books has long been known for selling hard-to-find publications and other obscure items. He says the store's "DIY aesthetic" will apply to the bar, which will be open during store hours and when Atomic Books hosts special events. Ray plans to sell Atomic Books beer ("My friend has a brewery," he said) and lines of punk rock-related beers.

"We're not looking to have Sierra Nevada or Stella [Artois]," Ray said.

There are "other variables" that need to be taken care of before the expansion takes place, but Ray hopes to have the store's expansion completed by May and the bar implemented by June "at the latest."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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