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Meet The Entrepreneurs Set To Open Kansas City’s First Black-Owned Brewery

Kansas City’s first Black-owned brewery
Pictured from left to right, Vine Street Brewing Co. was founded by Woodie Bonds, Kemet Coleman and Elliot Ivory. VINE STREET BREWING

 

Kansas City is set to have its first Black-owned brewery. It will be opened next year in the historic 18th and Vine district. The wine industry has traditionally been dominated by White males. However, in recent times, more and more Blacks are venturing into the sector.

A survey by the U.S.A. Brewers Association shows that less than 2% of the nearly 9,000 breweries nationwide are Black-owned. The figure represents the lowest of any demographic in America. Whites on the other hand own 88%. The data further notes that Asian and Hispanic-owned breweries constitute 2% of breweries while Native Americans and Alaskan Natives own 4% of breweries.

The latest Blacks to venture into the sector are three Kansas City entrepreneurs. Kemet Coleman, Elliott Ivory, and Woodie Bonds Jr founded Vine Street Brewing Co. The three friends were bonded by their love for craft beer brewing.

According to KSBH, Bonds first met with Coleman who gave him a tour of a brewing company known as the Boulevard Brewing Co. Bonds subsequently met with Ivory through a circle of homebrewers.

Coleman is a local musician and guest relations at Boulevard Brewing Co. while Bonds currently works as a Ford Co. line worker. Ivory works as technology information, security, and capacity project manager at Honeywell Federal Manufacturing and Technology, according to Bizjournal.

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“The concept is really a culmination of an appreciation for beer and music,” Coleman told Bizjournal. “When we were searching for a location, we were thinking about what neighborhoods would be the best ones, and obviously the Jazz District really lends itself quite nicely to that.”

Coleman said he had no idea of the wine industry when he started working in the sector. However, he has grown into the business to love the styles and way beer can be made. He added that he did not see anyone else in the business who looked like him.

For him, venturing into the wine sector is part of a way to bring diversity into the sector. “No one else in the business looked like me. That really opened something in my mind,” Coleman said.

“I saw it as a gaping opportunity. My dream of opening a brewery pretty much started at that moment. I knew it didn’t have to be the size of Boulevard, but it could still be a place where people come together and people can enjoy some good beer and meet new people.”

When in operation, Vine Street Brewing Co. will have the capacity to produce 4,000 to 5,000 barrels of beer in a year. Also, the plan is to focus on taproom sales, then sell to local bars and later produce in cans or bottles.

Even before production starts, the Black-led brewery appears destined for success. So far, local bars and restaurants and a distributor from St. Louis. have expressed interest.

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Written by PH

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