What ever happened to the Brownstone?
Diversity in Columbus? The following article appeared in the December 4, 2007 issue of flypaper, a Columbus based social newsletter.
flypaper wrote Back to Brownstone
WAKE UP and smell the catfish!
Article by Big Yogi, contact [email protected]
Before I go into this article I would like to get something clear. The FLYPAPER is not just another quirky gimmick for people to take lightly. We are a movement and we represent the voice of the people who are not correctly represented in our city. We strive to reach our readers on a progressive level with content that matters to them and I feel this is a very important issue.
So, many of our FLYPAPER readers had the chance to be the first to hear about local restaurant/lounge THE BROWNSTONE on MAIN doors closing, seemingly for good, a couple of months ago. We received tons of feedback. Well, let me ask you one question. Where have you been since the Brownstone closed?
As I drove around on a soft Tuesday looking for a nice place downtown my sister and I could enjoy a nice atmosphere with a little flavor, I had to settle for going to Bar Louie. This made me realize that The Brownstone was more than a restaurant, it was a symbol of the current state of social diversity in Columbus. Brownstone was not just a business owned by Blacks it was a place that allows people of all ethnicities to enjoy a Black influenced cultural experience; that’s what diversity is all about.
While there have been hundreds of upscale establishments that have prospered long-term in Columbus none have been black owned. We may own the business (i.e. Lotus, Opulence, Bread and Better) but do we actually own the property? This should not be the case in 2007 but it is. If there were 10 other places like the Brownstone, then Brownstone could simply be considered a casualty of good business. (And you could tell me to stop jocking the Bstone, but when there are no others, you have to ask why.) And again, I’m not trying to sell you the success of Brownstone but how many Black owned establishments can boast of showcasing Black affluence in Columbus to host of A-listers such as Barack Obama, Jesse Jackson, John Kerry, Tavis Smiley, Spike Lee, Wesley Snipes, Bob Dole, Christina Aguillera, Al Sharpton, John McCain and more.
So what does that say about our culture? With no support from our own how can we represent cultural diversity and Black cultural influence in this growing metropolis? Where is our stake? If you travel to any large city you can find many establishments where people from many backgrounds share the Black experience in fine dining and entertainment. And one Black owned business supports the growth of another.Do you think banks will lend you the money to buy a building and open a restaurant if there is a history of grand openings/grand closings for minority businesses? I doubt it. As you read this, there are millions of dollars being put into new developments downtown and we have no part in that.
But there is hope for us young entrepreneurs who dream of a day when some of that money can be invested into our business ventures. The government, community, and corporate leaders need to take action on The Brownstone and keep pushing until there are 10 places like it in Columbus. Next time you’re e downtown, do me a favor, drive down High Street and take a look at all of the new buildings and businesses that are sprouting up and ask yourself, “Are any of them are Black owned?”Then, go home log onto your computer and email this article to 10 of your friends and to these following addresses:
Support Black-owned businesses Downtown, it’s your responsibility.