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Cary’s Lounge, Home Of Mel The Bar Cat, Celebrating 50 Years On Devon With All-Day Party Saturday

Owner Pete Valavanis is inviting the community to celebrate Cary's Lounge's 50th anniversary on Saturday with food, drinks, live music and an art show.

Bar owner Pete Valavanis poses for a photo while Mel the cat sits at the bar at Cary’s Lounge, 2251 W. Devon Ave., in West Ridge on May 18, 2022 before the establishment’s “Malörtöpia” event.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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WEST RIDGE — Cary’s Lounge, a Devon Avenue bar known for its popular feline bodyguard, Mel, and affinity for Malört, is celebrating a milestone this weekend with neighbors.

Owner Pete Valavanis is asking supporters to head to his West Ridge bar at 2251 W. Devon Ave. for the its 50th anniversary. The party will run noon Saturday-2 a.m. Sunday with live music, an art show, drinks and a barbecue.

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“We’re just throwing ourselves a party,” Valavanis said. “We figured we deserve it [to] celebrate everybody that’s been through here. We’ve been here a long time, and I’ve met so many wonderful people. … That’s how you mark time: You throw a party.”

The musical lineup:

  • The Country Doctors at 2 p.m.
  • The Hat Stretchers at 4 p.m.
  • Humble Badasses at 7 p.m.
  • Cheap Talking Wine at 9 p.m.

Saturday’s art show, This Is Art ‘22, will begin 2 p.m. and will feature artwork from artists who’ve previously had their work displayed at Cary’s Lounge second floor studio. The exhibition will run through Sept. 17 — when there will be another party to close out the show.

Cary’s Lounge opened in 1972 under Valavanis’ parents. He took over as owner and continued running it with his mother after his father’s death in 1989.

Valavanis said it’s not often “a tiny dive bar” like Cary’s Lounge makes it to 50 years, especially after a pandemic and multiple potential sales.

Now that the bar has hit 50 years, Valavanis hopes he can continue working toward making Cary’s Lounge the best bar it can be, he said.

“Frankly, if I can keep it going the way it is, I’d be happy,” he said. “It’s a good place, and we have a real real family here. It feels like family here.”

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Mel the cat indulges in a mound of catnip at Cary’s Lounge, 2251 W. Devon Ave., in West Ridge on May 18, 2022.

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