KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s an area that dates back more than a century. The old 18th and Vine District was known as one of the cradles of Jazz. Jazz masters, Negro Leagues Baseball and KC BBQ kept the streets alive and well for many nights in the early and mid 1900s.
“I mean 18th and Vine was an area I had to write book reports on when I was in High School,” said Joseph Thomas who remembers growing up hearing the tales of those nights. “To be part of this was really, honestly, a dream come true.”
Now he’s trying to make history. Thomas opened 18OV Barber Salon three months ago.
“I honestly see the potential in 18th and Vine,” he said.
While on this Tuesday afternoon, the streets are bare and dozens of storefronts sit empty. Thomas says he sees what they are trying to do.
“Honestly when I thought about doing this, I really was looking at a 10-20 year investment versus a 3-5 year type of investment, so I just, I see the potential,” he said.
Others didn’t have the time to wait. 9th Inning Sports Bar & Grill told its 25 employees Monday night, it was closing its doors to the public.
“Last night was a sad night,” said Timothy Daniels, chef. “It was really sad. We had employees that started here when the business first opened and we became a very close family.”
Open for just over a year, Daniels says a lack of support from those who pledged to stay in the area did them in.
“Our black businesses are deteriorating and we need more support from the community so that we can help our community, giving back,” Daniels said.
But Thomas says the district is not doomed.
“I honestly do believe the district is still growing,” he said. “It’s figuring itself out, saying what’s the right fit, you know?”