December 16, 2013

Denver’s BookBar expands due to demand from book clubs



Less than a year ago, a combination bookstore & bar, fittingly named BookBar, opened its doors in Denver, and it’s already popular enough that it’s looking to expand. The store has made a point of providing a place for book clubs to meet, and the expanded space is mainly intended to meet that need.

Store owner Nicole Sullivan credits the success of her new business to having a clear focus. Speaking to Publishers Weekly’s Judith Rosen, she said, “If you’re going to be small, I think it’s hugely important to have a focus. That’s the beauty of a smaller store.” And that’s why Sullivan has specifically catered to book clubs since BookBar opened in May, offering them discounts on both books and wine.

With slightly less than half the store’s 1,500 square feet actually dedicated to books—the selection focuses on literary titles, classics, children’s books, and book club picks—the bar has quickly become a popular place for book clubs to convene. It’s already reached capacity, though, for the number of groups it can accommodate. Rosen writes that there are nights when Sullivan already has two clubs there, only to have more turn up, and some clubs have been asking for private space. (It sounds like Denver has enough book clubs to lead to turf wars, which makes it a fine city in my opinion.)

In order to meet the demand, Sullivan plans to expand BookBar by almost 50% its current size, into an adjoining apartment. All that space will be dedicated to the bar area, so that she’ll be able to welcome more book clubs, and accommodate requests for private dining.

Despite the amount of space set aside for the bar, Sullivan is quick to point out that it’s a family-friendly establishment, with a quarter of its inventory made up of kids’ books. They even have a storytime/wine time on Thursday afternoons, where kids can enjoy discounted juice and hear stories while their parents presumably get good and sloshed, so there really is something for everyone.


Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.