Rob Dilman has a lot of patience.
The owner of Bestsellers Cafe at has waited since May 2007 -- over five years -- to re-open as renovations to the building snailed along.
The store, located on High Street near Governors Avenue, finally held a soft opening last week and will have a grand opening this weekend. As Dilman sat down for an interview Thursday afternoon, he didn't seem bothered by the long wait -- he was just happy to have the cafe open.
"It feels nice," Dilman said, sitting at a table by the store's front window. "It doesn’t feel like five years."
The store closed when property owner Michael Casoli began building renovations that were originally expected to take six to 18 months. But the project hit a snag with soil problems beneath the building and dragged on slowly.
Dilman kepts roots in the community through a booth at the Medford Farmers Market in 2007 and stayed in touch with many of their regulars with a book order delivery program. But he's now getting reaquainted with some of the familiar faces from years ago.
"I’ve rekindled the friendships with the business owners and people who work in the square," Dilman said. "That’s been terrific, to rekindle that friendship."
Originally expecting to wait less than a year to re-open, Dilman decided to temporarily take a job at BJ's Wholesale in Stoneham in December 2007. He ended up staying there until the cafe could return, earning promotions until he was eventually a manager. He was happy with the job, but it never felt permanent to him, Dilman said.
“I always said, 'I’ve got a bookstore in Medford and when it can come back, I’ve got to quit,'" he said.
There were times that he grew frustrated with how slow things were moving, he said.
“I never felt like I really got a completely honest answer from the landlord,” Dilman said, also acknowleging that he believes the landlord was frustrated with the progress, too.
But he never entertained the idea of not re-opening, he said.
“I wouldn’t have felt comfortable not finishing what I started,” Dilman said. “I’ve always felt dedicated to Medford and to this store.”
Returning customers will find a similar book selection and store layout, but with a few upgrades, Dilman said. Large french doors open to small porches overlooking the Mystic River in the back of the cafe, hardwood floors have replaced carpets, and there's a new oven so the cafe bakes its own muffins and scones.
Bestsellers will hold its ribbon cutting ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday. Live music and food and drink samplings will be held through the grand opening weekend.