People of BookBar

Hi. Nice to see you again. As we sloooowly begin to re-open to our guests, it feels like a good time to (re)introduce ourselves. We have some new faces and new titles for ‘old’ faces. Get to know our passionate, creative, and talented team…

Jessica Caouette: Bar Manager

Jessica grew up in Denver but after graduating from East High School, took off with no intention of returning. First to Brazil for an exchange program to Western Massachusetts for Smith College to Scotland for a year abroad and then Ecuador for a stint teaching English. Jessica has a strong passion for travel. Returning to Denver in 2011, she started the Denver Bicycle Cafe with an old friend and ran it for 8 years until November 2019. Jessica loves working on Tennyson and has a voracious appetite for books. Ask her to recommend a book and you may find yourself with a graphic novel. Ask her to recommend a beer and she’ll talk for hours about the Colorado craft scene, but you’ll enjoy the beer! Jessica is mostly settled in Denver these days with a big garden, her partner, Darren, Bruce the cat and Corky the dog. (Though you can bet that she’s planning her next international trip!)

Ally Ducey: Bookstore Manager

Ally has lived in Mahtomedi, Parker, San Antonio, Melbourne, Boulder, and now Littleton. She studied Physics and Fine Art at school and, after graduating, spent a year performing a show a week with her masochistic group of college theater friends. She spends her time reading books, listening to books, selling books, slowly (unintentionally) killing houseplants, and occasionally making art and playing video games. She would really love to make art for books one day.

Sarah Dealy: BookBartender & Podcaster

Sarah lives with her tiny dog, Ira Glass. She’s been a bookseller for six years and has experienced many literary thrills, such as the time David Sedaris swabbed the inside of her cheek for DNA or the time she cleaned Momo’s (of the book Find Momo) pee off a wall. Her favorite season is Halloween. In her spare time she makes podcasts about sadness. In her BookBar time, you can catch her recording conversations with her giant recorder for the BookBar podcast or giving out literary fortune readings (aka book recommendations).

Heather Garbo: Publishing Director

Heather has worked in communications for two decades spanning the worlds of publishing, marketing and community development. Her work has largely focused on her twin passions of community-building and supporting small indie businesses. In recent years Heather launched Denver Dweller, a hyper-local website created to encourage the patronizing of Denver’s local businesses. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Colorado at Denver and lives in northwest Denver with her family.

Rachel Hamalian: Assistant Bar Manager

Rachel is a graduate of Colorado State University, where she studied English and Business. After growing up in Colorado, she finally learned how to ski this past winter and plans on going many more times. When she’s not working, she’s probably writing poetry, hiking, or sitting around eating food. She aspires to be a marketing manager in the publishing industry, to visit Armenia, and to complete a pull-up.

Conner Horak: BookBartender

Conner Horak was born in Fort Collins, Colorado and graduated from Butler University with a BFA in dance performance. He danced with Wonderbound in Denver, with James Sewell Ballet in Minneapolis, and Boulder Ballet in Boulder and was reading the entire time. He’ll tell you that John Boyne is his favorite authors but it’s actually Stephen King. One time David Mitchell sent him an email and that was the best thing ever. He loves to watch scary movies, read book, and drink wine. He and his fiance Evan are the proud parents a new puppy. (photo by Amanda Tipton. Wonderbound 2017)

Mara Kalinoski: Marketing Coordinator

Mara hails from Toledo, Ohio (which is like, technically Michigan), attended undergrad at the University of Dayton where she majored in English and Psychology, and ended up in Colorado through the Denver Publishing Institute. Mara loves all things queer, ghostly, and Harry Potter-related (excluding JK Rowling, who is TERF). The only things she cares about are books and booze so BookBar was essentially her only career option.

Becky LeJeune: Office Manager & Assistant Book Buyer

Becky LeJeune works behind the scenes, managing our local author consignment program and book orders for our events. When she’s not at BookBar, Becky is an associate literary agent and blogger, which means that she reads A LOT. You won’t see her in the store often but when you do, she’s likely browsing for more books to buy for her massive TBR pile.

Stef Lemus: BookBartender

Stef is a graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder where she studied English and Women and Gender studies. She’s a proud Guatemalan-American who loves all things Japanese. Some days she’s a home-body who will binge-watch shows/movies she’s already seen. Other days she’s spending money she doesn’t have to eat too much food and lose too much sleep. Her family are her best friends and her best friends are her family.

Karyn Light: BookBartender

Karyn is originally from St. Louis, MO, but has also lived in Tucson, AZ and Lyon, France. She studied English Linguistics in undergrad and grad school but is now getting a master’s degree in Biology. Why not? She loves to do art with dead things (especially bugs) and make costumes. When it comes to reading, she likes non-fiction or fantasy where she can be jealous of the main character who can do any combination of performing magic, seeing the future, and talking to animals. In her spare time, she plays video games, drinks beer, and goes for long walks.

Bess Maher: Event Coordinator

Bess came from a family of readers but always loved telling and writing stories as much as reading them. She also loves watching people and imagining fantastic back stories for them. Her father’s job taking them from Maadi, Egypt to New Port Richey, Florida, and quite a few cities in between, she caught the travel bug early and spent time in Rennes and Paris, France as an adult. She loves speaking French and watching French movies. Quiche remains one of the few dishes she cooks well. She lives in Denver with her family.

Melissa Monforti: Executive Director: BookGive

Melissa starts most mornings with a hike and ends them with a book. In between, she manages a household of various wild humans and one affectionate dog. Melissa has simultaneously built three small business. She has also served in various capacities from volunteer management to development to program direction. She holds Master of Nonprofit Management from Regis University as a Colorado Trust Fellow. Her philosophy of nonprofit management is grounded in building and nourishing relationships. People support organizations that not only connect to their values but that make them feel connected to the larger community. Melissa’s leadership style is a balance of heart and mind, mixed in with a lot of rolling up of sleeves and a good dose of plain fun.

Kevin Peterson: Inventory Manager

Originally from Evanston, Illinois, Kevin has worked just about every job from a multi-year stint at Casa Bonita to appearing in a beloved or hated (depending on who you ask and what age you were when you originally saw it) Christmas film. In addition to BookBar, Kevin is the program director of Denver Writes, a non-profit dedicated to creating writing spaces within Denver communities for children. An illustrator and playwright, his art appeared on the dearly departed ABC family drama, Chasing Life, and his written performed on stages in Colorado and New Mexico.

Marilyn Robbins: Children’s Program Coordinator & Children’s Book Buyer

Marilyn first became a reader by scouring the back of cereal boxes each morning. She fell in love with reading after spending countless hours with Ramona the Pest and her neighborhood friends. But, her greatest love is teaching children how to read and write. After retiring from 32 years of teaching, Marilyn finds herself back on Tennyson Street close to where her grandparents and great-grandparents had homes.

Nicole Sullivan: Owner

Nicole Sullivan’s love of all things books and reading led her to open BookBar in Spring 2013. After studying Culinary Arts at the Colorado Institute, she knew books, food & wine would make for a great business model. She is also the owner of BookBed (our author lodging above the store). Nicole proudly serves on the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association Board of Directors, Tennyson Street Local Maintenance District Board of Directors, and as President of BookBar’s non-profit association BookGive, which she founded in 2018, in order to provide more books to more people throughout Denver. She holds a BA in Anthropology from University of Colorado and lives just a short bike ride from her store with her husband, Ryan; 14- year-old son, Jack; 12-year-old daughter, Stella, and way too many (but also not enough) animals.

Rosie Waalkes: Assistant BookBartender

Rosie loves her work at BookBar. She makes displays, tidies everywhere, reads to children, and keeps everyone smiling. Rose is a proud 2019 graduate of North High School. She loves anime, fashion design, movies, and her dogs Poppy and Finn. Shehas a huge imagination, so stay on your toes- you’ll be draw in to her story lines before you know it!