‘How about a Coors with that Kafka?’


Courtesy Rebecca George

Volumes Bookcafe, 1474 N. Milwaukee Ave., will sell a mix of booze and books, distinguishing itself from the bookstores already in the neighborhood. 


People in Wicker Park will soon be able to booze as they peruse, thanks to the scheduled opening of Volumes Bookcafe, 1474 N. Milwaukee Ave.

The cafe, which is set to open within the next few weeks, will carry products from local sellers including coffee from Metropolis Coffee Company, baked goods from Dollop Coffee and wine and local beer, said owner Rebecca George.

“We are waiting on a couple inspections, which should be coming in the next week or two,” George said. “I’m at the will of the city right now; I can’t do anything without them.” 

Erik Harmon, executive director of the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce, said he does not anticipate problems with Volumes selling alcohol because many venues on the same strip sell it.

“I can’t imagine a group of five people deciding they’re going to go get hammered at a local bookstore,” Harmon said. 

George said getting a liquor license at the cafe was time-consuming but was not the greatest challenge they faced.

“Compared to the other difficulties we’ve had with the city, [the licensing process] seems like nothing in hindsight,” George said.

George said getting the initial building permit from the city took months, which was much longer than she expected.

“It’s a cruel system,” George said. “[The city will] have a correction for you on your permit, and then you have to wait two months for them to look at that correction.”

Harmon said Volumes faced an unusually long waiting period while trying to open, and he feels bad that the store had to go through it. Harmon said the bookstore is an exciting addition to Wicker Park.

“There’s a great opportunity to turn [Volumes] into something that draws people to the community and hopefully creates a fun, interesting gathering place,” Harmon said.

Used book store Myopic Books, 1564 N. Milwaukee Ave., Quimby’s Bookstore, 1854 W. North Ave., and Volumes are different types of bookstores, according to George, so they will not be in competition despite their proximity. Compared to Volumes, Quimby’s carries a more niche inventory and Myopic is a used book store, she said.

Liz Mason, a manager at Quimby’s, said in an emailed statement that she is excited to welcome another bookstore to the area that can fill in the gaps if Quimby’s is out of something.

“Myopic is around the corner, and we have a nice reciprocal relationship with them,” Mason said. “We sell different things and can refer folks back and forth.”

George said she thinks the cafe and bookstore in Volumes will work cohesively.

“We’re creating an atmosphere; we’re creating a space for community,” George said. “The hope is that people come in, grab a book and a cup of coffee and hang out.”

George said in a Feb. 18 email interview that she will encourage the use of to-go cups, as opposed to mugs, for anyone sitting to read in the cafe to reduce the number of spills and ruined books.

“Those who decide to precariously balance their beer on a book will likely soon learn a lesson on why that isn’t a great idea,” George said in the email.