The Traveler Restaurant Feeds Bodies and Souls with Food and Books

| © and courtesy Traveler restaurant

Social Media Editor

This down-home restaurant off Interstate 84 in Union, Connecticut, takes the concept of a doggy bag to a literary level, offering each customer three free books from its library to take home.

Loved by over 40s

Whether to go with fries or coleslaw feels like a small decision when you are surrounded by thousands of books and given the opportunity to choose a limited number as a gift. But that’s exactly what happens at the Traveler restaurant, where owners Karen and Art Murdock are keeping a longstanding book-giving tradition alive.

Food and books at the Traveler restaurant

“We are in our early 60s,” Karen tells Culture Trip. “We have owned the restaurant for 26 years. That’s a lot of books.”

Books have been a part of the Traveler legacy since the mid 1980s, when the diner’s previous owner, Marty Doyle, decided to do some spring cleaning.

“He was a great reader and his home was becoming overrun with books,” Karen explains. “So he started bringing in extra books and putting them around the restaurant. From there he took his station wagon around to libraries and anywhere else he could to expand on the book program.”

What started as a tidy up became the restaurant’s mantra; their sign now reads ‘Food and Books’, and Karen and Art travel the around the New England region building up their collection. “We have a 16-foot horse trailer that we take to library book sales and fill up numerous times a year,” Karen says. “We go to as many as three or four book sales a week all over Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.”

Thousands of books to choose from

Customers are spoiled for choice. Raising the stakes from Doyle’s original one-per-customer policy, the Murdock’s offer their guests three books each, and there are about five thousand books to choose from at any given time. Browsing with care is essential, as the books are not organised in any particular way (although there is a separate kids and young adult section).

“Our customers seem to enjoy the fact that they can wander around the restaurant hunting through our shelves,” Karen says. “And it also promotes conversation.”

If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the main restaurant, there is a used-book store in the cellar with a selection of reasonably priced volumes.

Books for sale downstairs

So what’s it like being surrounded by books in the office? “Every day I see something I might want to take home,” says Karen. “Trouble is, our house would end up the same way the last owner’s did. Our grand kids always take books home with them. At eight years old our grandson has read five of the Harry Potter books, so we are promoting reading [in every way we can].”
As for the Traveler’s clients, they enjoy the books as much as the Murdocks. “Customers are surprised as they walk in our door, not knowing what to expect when they see our ‘Food and Books’ sign,” Karen tells us. “When we explain to them that they can take books home they are quite amazed. I spoke to a couple the other day, real book lovers that had promised each other that they wouldn’t buy anymore books. But they said free ones didn’t count so they left with a smile, full stomachs and their free books.”

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.