KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One Kansas City business is closing out Black History Month by getting ready to start a groundbreaking adventure.

Vine Street Brewing Company will be in local bars, restaurants, and the new KCI airport terminal in the next few weeks, and it’s in part of the less-than one percent of breweries that are owned by Black people.

Kemet Coleman worked in other breweries for years and quickly realized that there weren’t a lot of people of color around. When COVID shutdowns limited how he could share his skills as a musician, he started the process to open up what would become Vine Street Brewing Company.

“I’ve always really had the bug for craft beer, loved it, and noticed that the whole industry really didn’t have a lot of people that looked like me,” Coleman said.

The Brewers Association found that less than one percent of breweries are owned by black people, which Coleman says make sense when you consider the large amount of money brewery owners need to get started and the historical obstacles people of color have had to overcome to get that kind of investment.

“When we talk about the systems that are in place against people of color and people who have been marginalized for decades and centuries, that really stacks against those individuals,” said Coleman.

Now that Coleman and his co-founders have the money together, and the brewing equipment installed, they’re putting the finishing touches on what will be their new location at 2000 Vine Street, in an old Streets Department building, just down the block from the heart of the city’s Jazz District at 18th and Vine.

He says adding a brewery will help expand the footprint of that area to the south, helped along by new apartments that are already being built, with plans for future development not far behind.

“We call it South Vine Street,” said Coleman. “When we have people that live a few blocks away from us that can call us their neighborhood brewery, their neighborhood coffee shop. We don’t serve coffee our neighbor here will.”

Coleman says they’ll live up to the name with live music, listening parties, and other ways to support the local arts scene where it’s been building up the reputation of the 18th and Vine District for generations.

“For us to be able to be at the same space where such history was made, we can only play our role to make sure that we’re carrying that tradition,” Coleman said.

The first beer from Vine Street Brewing should be out downtown, 18th and Vine, and the new airport terminal in the next few weeks. The location at 2000 Vine could be open by the end of March or early April.