The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Lizard's Liquid Lounge Serves Up Books With Its Bloody Marys

 Liz Kavanagh, owner of Lizard's Liquid Lounge.
Liz Kavanagh, owner of Lizard's Liquid Lounge.
View Full Caption
Facebook/Lizard's Liquid Lounge

IRVING PARK — What's on tap at Lizard's Liquid Lounge this weekend?

A book swap.

Not exactly your standard pub fare, but owner Liz Kavanagh has learned that running a successful tavern requires a lot more than knowing how to mix a good drink.

The saying that bars are guaranteed to turn a profit during a recession?

"Rubbish," said Kavanagh.

Kavanagh bought the bar five years ago — in its former incarnation Lizard's was known as Lost and Found, the oldest lesbian bar in Chicago — and during that time, she's seen roughly one-quarter of her clientele lose their jobs.

"People used to come in three nights a week and spend $50. Now they come in once every two weeks and spend $20," she said.

"I haven't lost customers, they just don't have any money."

To lure new patrons, Kavanagh, who earned an MBA in a previous life, developed an event and music calendar packed with reasons for folks to give the bar a try including open mic night, burlesque, first Sunday Cajun jam, second Sunday bluegrass jam and, against her better judgment, karaoke.

"When I opened the bar, I knew they're not going to just walk in the door. I try all kinds of different things. [Customers] never know what they're going to walk into."

This weekend's book swap, along with regular clothing swaps, are in keeping with Kavanagh's commitment to her clientele.

"The luxury of shopping is not always there. It's free shopping while you have a cocktail," Kavanagh said.

"It's kind of a community-based thing. You can come in with nothing and just take. It's just kind of sharing."

Her rules for the swaps are fairly loose: for clothing, "don't bring anything ratty," and for books, "take as many as you want."

Leftover clothing is donated to a women's shelter, while unclaimed books line the ledge of the bar, free for all comers.

An avid reader herself, who admits to "book anxiety" if she doesn't have at least two titles on her nightstand, Kavanagh uses the book swap to replenish her own stock.

Her Irish brogue might suggest a preference for Joyce, but the Dublin transplant quashed that theory.

"God, no!" she said, expressing instead a fondness for novels featuring serial killers.

The titles found at the swap are likely to be as varied as Lizard's clientele.

"It's an everybody bar now. I have people in their 20s up to their 60s. Gays, straight, construction workers, artists. I have people who bring sci-fi, I have people who bring self-help. It's everything."

Kavanagh promises no one will leave the swap disappointed.

"You really will pick up some good books. Read 'em and bring 'em back."

Saturday's book swap is scheduled for 2-6 p.m., at the lounge, 3058 W. Irving Park Road. Lizard's is serving up $4 Bloody Marys during the swap.