The Daily Northwestern

Revenue from donated cookbooks to help fund Evanston music therapy internship

Joanne Lee, Reporter

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When Art Mollenhauer (Kellogg ’02) donated 600 cookbooks in mint condition from his deceased wife’s collection to help out a newly opened bookstore, he did not expect anything in return.

“I wanted to try to honor her legacy by finding new ways of getting those cookbooks to somebody who would really appreciate it and use it with the same passion that she did,” Mollenhauer said.

After reading a column in the Chicago Sun-Times about the new, independent Evanston bookstore Bookends & Beginnings, Mollenhauer decided to give the shop the collection, which belonged to his late wife and cooking connoisseur Ida Mollenhauer.

“The gift came with no strings. We felt that what he had done, it inspired us,” said Nina Barrett (Medill ’87), a co-owner of the store. “When someone is really brave and really generous, you should make a big fuss over them and thank them.”

The bookstore will host a celebration of its new partnership with the NorthShore University HealthSystem Foundation Thursday night, which was inspired by  its new connection to Art Mollenhauer.

“It was an extraordinary gift,” said Jeff Garrett, the other Bookends & Beginnings co-owner. “We were just getting started at that point and our cookbook collection was still struggling. With this single gift, we were put on the map.”

The event will also include a silent auction of select cookbooks in the Mollenhauer collection and music performances from two violinists associated with the Adiana Strings, an Evanston string instrument rental company.

Bookends & Beginnings has since integrated the Mollenhauer cookbook collection into their “Food & Cooking” section, and have already sold about 94 of the 600 cookbooks, Garrett said.

“It was like having a fairy godmother,” Barrett said. “It was always a part of my plan for this store that the cookbook section just be a destination for other food-lovers.”

To thank Mollenhauer for his donation, Barrett and Garrett decided to give 10 percent of the proceeds from the sales of Ida Mollenhauer’s cookbooks to the Evanston hospital’s Music Therapy Internship Program, a program Mollenhauer financially supports..

“Literally to her final day, the Music Therapy interns were always there for us,” Mollenhauer said. “In the late stages of her life, the music therapy process gave comfort to her, all of our visitors and to me.”

Mollenhauer said he hopes this donation from Bookends & Beginnings will provide increased compensation for the interns in the program as well as more funding for services and possibly research.

Mollenhauer also donated his wife’s catering equipment to an Evanston catering business, Feast & Imbibe, which will be providing food for the celebration.

“He gave us a lot,” sommelier and general manager of Feast & Imbibe Heather Bublick said. “It might have been a good month before we had opened our physical location so it was needed.”

Mollenhauer said that he chose to donate his wife’s possessions as a “proactive” way of honoring her legacy.

“There can be good that comes out of bad things,” Mollenhauer said. “It doesn’t mean they’re still not bad or they’re tragic, but it kind of gives some hope of why you persevere and keep pushing forward.”

Twitter: @leehjoanne