The St. Louis LGBT scene suffered a huge blow when the beloved Novak's (4121 Manchester Avenue) closed in 2013 after seventeen years. That space is now Siam, but Kristen Goodman, who worked at Novak's on and off for six years, as well as Just John Nightclub, wants to fill the emotional space left by the bar at Lilly's Music and Social House.
"I just feel there's a need for a place like this. A lot of people have expressed to me how they really wish there was a place they could go again that had that old Novak's vibe, or that familiar Cheers kind of place that we remember from years ago," Goodman tells Gut Check. "So I know there's a vested interest in the community for a place like this."
It's been Goodman's longtime dream to to own her own place, but efforts really ramped up when she found out Luvy Duvy's Cafe, which currently occupies 2321 Arsenal Street, was looking for renters. The Luvy Duvy's team has been helping Goodman develop a menu and orchestrate a smooth transition. Lilly's has been doing "test nights" on Fridays and Saturdays during March, but it will formally take over the space in April.
After that there will be some remodeling, and Goodman plans to open Lilly's by the end of April, assuming there are no hiccups. It will be open six days a week (closed Monday) at 4 p.m. during the week, and 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday to accommodate brunch service.
The name comes from Goodman's partner, whom she actually met as a bartender at Novak's. The eponymous Lilly is actually named Elizabeth Fuchs, but she's gone by Lilly since she couldn't pronounce "Elizabeth" as a little girl. "I figured it was a cute name and way to honor my lady," Goodman says.
The menu will consist of around a dozen or so bar food classics, such as pizza, hummus and appetizers. Lilly's will be able to accommodate smaller musical acts in the indoor space, but the patio can feature three- or four-piece bands. Look for acoustic acts, jazz, lounge, cabaret, blues, indie rock and more. Goodman herself is a musician, so she'll be playing, too.
"The emphasis [at Lilly's] is definitely for the lesbian community, but everyone's welcome. I just feel like there's a need in the market right now for a home base for ladies," she says. "But I have a big pull with different kinds of people with my music. I have fans that are not just lesbians, so it'll be welcoming to all."
Goodman does have some investors, but she is looking to raise $11,000 via Kickstarter by April 7. Rewards include a party at Lilly's, custom art, bartender-for-a-day, Lilly's swag and more. Donations have already crossed the $5,000 mark with 26 days to go.
"I want the LGBT community and the lesbian community to know that this place is designed for them, but certainly everyone is welcome," Goodman says. "I don't want to get pigeonholed or exclude anyone -- it's going to pull from the neighborhood. It just so happens we'll be celebrating women and good music and drinks."
Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at Nancy.Stiles@RiverfrontTimes.com.
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