- Rough Draft
Opened just over two years ago, Rough Draft, among our readers, decisively topped three of the four Chronogrammies categories it was nominated for, taking the lead slots in the Bookstore, Coffeeshop, and Remote Work Spot groupings (and second prize in the bar/restaurant Beer List category). But even before Amanda and Anthony Stromoski took over the historic stone building in Kingston’s Stockade District, their making it a remote-work-friendly environment was key.
“That has always been a big part of our business model,” Amanda says about Rough Draft, whose high-powered wireless internet access makes it a preferred locale for many. “I was a freelancer myself before we opened the store, and I’d always wanted to create the kind of place I’d like to have. We had a sense that other people were looking for something like this in the neighborhood, and we’ve been really happy to find out we were right.”
Knowing that the Hudson Valley is home to many other exceptional booksellers, the Stromoskis are both proud and humbled to have been tapped as 2020’s fave local bookstore by Chronogram readers. So how does the couple decide what titles fill their voluminous shelves? “We base a lot of the choices on what our regulars are recommending or asking for,” says Amanda. “We try to choose books that seem like they would do well in the community, topics that would most appeal to the people who live here.”
Coffee, of course, is the perfect companion for reading or screen time. So Rough Draft’s owners are hyperattentive when selecting the beans they brew, as well as the teas and other beverages they serve. “We definitely put a lot of attention into the coffee and everything else we serve at the bar, but that’s only part of it,” offers Anthony. “All of our baristas always try to be really welcoming.”
The store moved quickly to adapt to COVID-19, implementing beverage and book deliveries along with curbside pickup service and stepping up their online book market while shuttered. Now reopen for limited walk-in purchases and prepping for protocol-adherent seating, the shop is cosponsoring with the Kingston City School District for this month’s launch of Kingston Reads, an initiative encouraging all members of the community to read the same book and gather online for discussions about the topics within. First book up: Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race.