As a prior member of the Navy and a college professor, Mike Orenduff’s endeavors determined where he and his wife, Lai, spent most of their 54 years together. About 15 years ago, keeping a promise to his wife to follow her wherever she wished to go, they moved to Valdosta, Georgia.
In 2013, they bought a run-down building in downtown Valdosta on the corner of Benny’s Alley and Patterson Street. “We wanted to be downtown,” Mike said. “We thought the downtown area would gentrify, and it has in the four years since we bought the building.” In the years since, they transformed the building into Valdosta’s only place where guests can enjoy a cup of coffee and a hot meal, read books, and even stay the night—all in one.
The Book & Table Inn resembles a quaint coffee shop reminiscent of a trendy one found in a popular city. A seating area complete with tables and chairs and a wide selection of books, welcomes you upon entering the double doors, which are enclosed in a brick foundation.
Mike’s earlier travels, to places including Europe and Asia, inspired the remodeling process, and overall look, of The Book & Table Inn. The interior design, from the polished concrete floor to the efficient use of small spaces, showcases this perfectly. From aesthetics to logistics, Mike takes great interest in all aspect of his business, and there is no doubt he values the importance of the people in his community.
“There are a lot of great people that I’ve met downtown,” Mike said. “I know the city workers that come around and trim the trees, and I know the woman who does the meters, as well as the other business owners.”
When they first moved to Valdosta, Mike and his wife lived in the suburbs before permanently moving to the heart of downtown. “The downtown is really developing, and we wanted to be part of it,” Mike said. “I like the fact that the downtown is coming back to life.”Mike desires to see more intermingling between Valdosta’s downtown area, the nearby Valdosta State University, and Moody, AFB. “I like that Valdosta has a university and an Air Force Base because it brings in new people and change,” Mike said.
As for The Book & Table Inn, Mike wishes for it to become a “hang-out” spot where people have interesting discussions, talk about what they’ve read over a cup of coffee and “debate the great ideas of the world.”
The Book & Table Inn serves to feed the body, as well as the mind, of anyone who pays a visit. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a chance to chat with Mike and generally “waste time having a good time,” as he put it.
At this time, there are three Airbnb rooms available in the back for reservation. The rest of the building is currently undergoing renovations but will re-open for free coffee and book sales (50 percent of cover price) on February 18.
The Book & Table Inn is open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Plans to begin serving food will take place within a few weeks of opening.