Riffraff Bookstore + Bar






Providence, RI




What We Do

We're a full bookstore and a full bar, and so it's not the kind of place where everything is lit by candlelight and the books are decoration, which is what a lot of people think they're going to walk into, like a literary themed bar, which is the opposite of what we wanted to do. It's very much a place where you can full-on browse books and then full-on have a drink without having to choose one or the other, without trying to work around people to look at books. People bring their drinks into the bookstore, people bring their books into the bar. Sometimes on Saturday night, there are just a bunch of people here reading with a drink, and sometimes it's really rowdy and no one's looking at books, and people are just drinking and talking to each other. Sometimes we get people that bring in games and play games on these communal tables. We get book clubs that come in here and ask to reserve our tables--we have these big tables for that kind of thing.

Our Offices

Communal Space

This space was purposely designed so groups could hang out. We wanted it to have that communal vibe.


The books themselves are curated. We chose books that we love, the books we're happy to sell.


Our drinks are solid, no-frills, and inexpensive, all curated by our team.

The Culture

We talk a lot about inclusivity. We've purposely sought a lot of books that represent diverse voices and voices of people that aren't represented in other bookstores around this area--underrepresented voices, voices of color, queer voices, all of those things. And our drink prices and our coffee prices and everything is as low as we could possibly make it, because we're aware of the neighborhood we're in, and want to be able to be a place where people who live around here--people who live on the east side, people who live on the west side, anyone around here-- could come here and afford a drink, or come here and afford a coffee and feel comfortable and use our free wifi. Everything we've done here has been done with the purpose of being an inclusive space for everyone.

When people hear bookstore bar, it can sound very intimidating and like an intellectual place. Purposely we're trying to fight against that. It's a bare bones, industrial space. We didn't make it all fancy with rugs and little lamps. Every decision that's been made for the bar has been to combat this idea that a bookstore bar is an intimidating space. We want our customers to feel welcome and feel like they can have a conversation with us and with each other.

The People

  • Tom Roberge
    Tom Roberge, Riffraff Bookstore + Bar,Co-owner,Providence, RI,

    Co-owner, Riffraff Bookstore + Bar

    The only thing I would say about reading more is just don't waste your time on books you don't like. If...

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  • Emma Ramadan
    Emma Ramadan, Riffraff Bookstore + Bar,Co-owner/Translator,, Providence, RI,American University of ParisBrown University

    Co-owner/Translator, Riffraff Bookstore + Bar

    You're never gonna be a millionaire off of translating, but like I said, the payoffs are different. You have these communities...

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  • Brad Kirton
    Brad Kirton, Riff Raff Bookstore,Bartender, Bar Program Developer,Providence, Rhode Island,University of RINew School for Drama

    Bartender, Bar Program Developer, Riff Raff Bookstore

    "I don’t have to balance life and work anymore, because they’ve joined in a way that I don’t have to work...

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Why Us?

We offer something that no one else around here does, which is we're a bookstore and a bar. If you're looking for a different kind of experience where you can hang out, browse some books, have a drink, have some coffee, get some work done, you can.

We provide a comfortable space. You can hang out here and feel good and meet people. We've seen people meeting each other here which is really cool, and we've been meeting cool people here that are coming back. Whenever we see somebody come back a second time, it's this little jolt of oh, okay, maybe we're doing something right.