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New black-owned cocktail lounge in Kalamazoo serving up culture, history

Dabney and Co in Kalamazoo
Posted at 7:17 PM, Jun 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-20 20:15:08-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A new cocktail bar and lounge is soon opening up in Kalamazoo.

The announcement coming on the federally recognized holiday of Juneteenth, which commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.

Dabney and Company will be the only black-owned bar in the downtown area.

Its name paying hommage to an African American man named John Dabney, who had a large impact on the hospitality industry.

"We do like to pay homage to those who came before us who set the way and the path for this to be forward," said Daniel J. May, the owner of Dabney and Co.

Dabney and Co. owner Daniel J. May said the project has been in the works for around one year, naming it after the renowned 19th century caterer.

"We got the name after John Dabney, the first renowned black bartender who was a slave the first 41 years of his life. He was able to use the tips that he made working on behalf of his owner at the time to buy his freedom." said May.

May said announcing it on Juneteenth only made sense, focusing on Dabney's true liberation and true spirits, which is what he hopes embodies his business.

He said he wants to create a hub for diversity and inclusion.

"We want this community and downtown specifically to be more representative of the people who live in this community," said May.

The cocktail lounge and bar will serve small plates, tapas-style as well as craft cocktails.

On the weekends, they'll have soul singers and musicians, focusing on soul, funk, disco and jazz.

"What’s beautiful about Dabney and Company is that it is a full embodiment of the work that we have done in this community over the last few years of creating elevated spaces for people of color and allies alike to join together and have a great time," said May.

Dabney and Co. is set to open at the end of this summer.

Follow along on their website and social media for job opportunities and other information.