BookBar Turns 7: Ch-Ch-Changes (Turn and Face the Strange)

by Nicole Sullivan

Chapter 7:

Every person, business, and organization has handled this Covid situation differently. For me, roughly half-way through the shut-down and quarantine, I resolved to come out of this a better person and to make BookBar a better business. If you’ve read my last couple of letters or chatted with me at the bar or book desk, much of this is not new news. Many of the ideas that have been rolling around in our heads for weeks, months, and even years, are now coming into clearer focus. And the time is ripe to make these changes.

I want to start with some bittersweet news. Our much-loved bar manager, Catherine Olah, resigned from her position earlier this month in order to pursue her dreams of opening her own bar in Southern Colorado. We will share more of her plans for anyone who wants to follow her adventures and eventually, make a road trip to see her very own creation. There are no words for how much we’ll miss Catherine but we’ll support her very step of the way however we can. Catherine filled BookBar with laughter and her signature sayings: “I got your back” “Love!” “More Cwoffee?” and her infectious enthusiasm for, well, everything.

You will see a new face behind the bar whenever we are able to re-open. We are so thrilled to announce our new bar manager, Jessica Caouette. Jessica is the former co-owner of Denver Bicycle Cafe and owner of Tandem Bar, supplying Denver’s Uptown neighborhood with locally roasted coffee, Colorado craft beer, and cocktails. She shares our passion for community service as a volunteer for the Colorado Sewing Coalition and Reading Partners. Jessica will be navigating us through applying for a full liquor license which will allow for a menu of exciting literary themed cocktails (and, finally, FINALLY Irish coffees!) We will also be pursuing a cabaret license in order to round out some of our literary events with live musical accompaniment.

Our non-profit organization, BookGive, started ten years ago as a community book exchange event. It was a seed of an idea that now it has a name, a 501c3 status, an energetic and solidly dedicated Executive Director, Melissa Monforti, and a hard-working board of directors. We have a headquarters at 49th & Lowell, the beloved former Regis 66, now filled with light, book-lined walls, and Mavis the Magical BookMobile. We are so pleased to announce a marriage, if you will, between our for-profit and nonprofit worlds. Starting June 1st 10% of all book sales will be going to BookGive in order to further our mission of getting books to people who need them. Additionally, we will be offering a Valuable Indie Patron (V.I.P.) membership program. $50 annual dues are a tax-deductible donation to BookGive with BookBar perks, such as V.I.P. Member-only shopping hours, discounts, 100 bonus Loyalty Points, exclusive events, and merchandise. By shopping at BookBar, our customers will be giving back to our community every day.

Adding to our commitment to service, we are launching a publishing program. Our new publishing director, Heather Garbo, will be leading two platforms to assist independently published and debut authors in getting their work out to the public. We will also be publishing select content under our new BookBar imprint, focusing on debut and under-served voices who’s stories highlight our shared community experience. Heather brings two decades of publishing, marketing, and community development experience to our team. She most recently launched the popular, hyper-local Denver Dweller website, created to encourage the patronizing of Denver’s local businesses. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Colorado and is a graduate of the Denver Publishing Institute. We are both so excited to help Denver’s authors navigate the complexities of telling their stories.

BookBed, our apartment above BookBar, during normal times hosted visiting authors and airbnb guests. It has been sitting empty these last couple of months so now is the time to launch a writers in residence program. We are working through the details but we are envisioning a program that provides a home away from home in which a writer can concentrate on their book, participate in the store and lend a hand with our non-profit. This program will tie into our publishing services, when appropriate, and we’ll even be able to throw a launch party for the finished product – complete with a signature cocktail and lovely live music. We will still be prioritizing lodging for visiting authors who are holding events at BookBar but we are so pleased to offer up the apartment for the creation of new stories.

Most of us will look back on the past couple of months as a devastatingly sad and confusing period in our lives. Many will have lots friends and loved ones. Several businesses and organizations simply will not survive this. We are certainly not out of the woods yet and are still holding our breath as we move into Summer and what comes next. We recognize that the situation in which we currently find ourselves, with social distancing and taking preventative measures to ensure our health, is our new reality for the foreseeable future. We feel confident that the changes we are making fit as well as possible with this new life in which we all find ourselves. We are facing the strange and embarking on a journey into the unknown. We cannot wait to take you along with us.