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Topic: New Downtown Jazz Club. Restaraunt

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Raspberries Rhythm Cafe & Bar to serve up music along with food downtown
by Melissa Burden | The Flint Journal
Tuesday May 26, 2009, 4:38 PM

Stuart Bauer | The Flint Journal
David Berry plans a grand opening of Raspberries Rhythm Cafe & Bar in downtown Flint around July 4.

FLINT, Michigan -- It's been a vision nearly 15 years in the making. Now David Berry is nearing the finish line to open his downtown restaurant and bar.

Berry, 49, of Flint Township had his eyes on the former Billy's Pub for years and bought the building at auction in the mid 1990s.

Flint Journal extras New restaurant and bar

What: Raspberries Rhythm Cafe & Bar.

Where: 448 S. Saginaw St. in downtown Flint.

When: Planning a grand opening around July 4, 2009.

Planned hours: 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursdays through Sundays.

Contact: (810) 766-9446.

There were delays, water damage to the south wall and a court decision that didn't go in his favor, but Berry plans to open Raspberries Rhythm Cafe & Bar, 448 S. Saginaw St., around July 4.

"I just wasn't going to let my dream be deterred by anyone," he said Tuesday, sitting in one of the stairstep black booths that dot the brick walls of the 3,100-square-foot bar, lit by colored lights.

Raspberries, the white building with black trim that sits between The Lunch Studio and the Genesee County Land Bank building, will be open Thursday through Sunday evenings.

"We're going to play rhythm, blues and feature jazz music," Berry said. "We're gong to dim the lights, turn the music up after 9 and become a club."

There will be a full bar and appetizers such as shrimp toast, buffalo wings and spring rolls and American cuisine such as steaks, prime rib and seafood.

"I'm hoping to bring some really jazzy desserts down here, too," Berry said.

Berry, a licensed plumber during the day, has a culinary background (he's a former sous chef) and plans to do a lot of the cooking himself.

He was close to opening the bar earlier this decade, but a roof leak delayed it.

Berry sued the Genesee County Land Bank next door, claiming the leak came from that building. Eventually the suit was dismissed and the Land Bank dropped a countersuit.

Berry had the building up for sale for awhile, but after he secured financing, he and his family got back to work on the bar in February.

There are still final touches that need to go in, such as the decorations on the walls and the dishwasher in the kitchen, but Berry is excited for the project to be complete.

"We hope the community comes out and supports us," he said.

Berry said he's not worried about the competition of new downtown restaurants and bars (501 Bar & Grill and WizeGuys Pizza Inc. also are on tap to open soon less than a block away).

"I'll be able to add a little bit of twist down here...," he said. "We're going to be in here dancing."

Tracey Whelpley, owner of The Lunch Studio, said she supports Berry's efforts to bring something different downtown.

"I think that it's cool that he wants to do jazz because we don't really have that here and I think that will be pretty popular," she said.

Whelpley, whose restaurant has been open 7 1/2 years, said she hopes that there will be enough clientele to go around for all the restaurants and bars -- some serving similar fare -- opening this year.

"I feel like there's a little too much in the food coming in down here -- too much at once," she said, adding she'd like to see more nonfood businesses open downtown.

Berry said he might not be done developing the building. There are drawings for efficiency apartments for the building's top two floors.

"If all goes well and if there's federal money still available, we're going to try to tap into that and become a mixed use building," he said.
Post Thu May 28, 2009 3:14 pm 
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They don't allow white people in this bar Fridays or Saturday nights. You try and get in if your white, bet you cant get in.I tried to get in 3 times at different times of the year and couldn't get in because I was wearing a hat on" no hat night" and the club was full the lst time although when i watched from a distance several african americans were allowed to go in.
Post Sun Jan 30, 2011 12:57 pm 
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Down Town Wood

Complete and total lies racecar I am in Raspberries on a Very regular basis. I know most of the regulars (of whom I am proud to include myself) Dpn't be trying to keep the old "race" thing going. EVERYONE is welcome and shows up Especially on Thursdays when Lynn & the Boys are putting on a show (shameless plug for a seriously talented Local) Take that closed minded SH*T and go home. If they didn't let you in it was probably because you were dressed like some kind of THUG. And guess what if that was the case, this is an ADULT club wed have fun not worry about some punk thinking he has to prove that he's a man; by not acting like one.
Post Sun Jan 30, 2011 2:45 pm 
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Yeah...right. This wasn't a one time thing. And when I look into the club and only see African Americans. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see whats going on. But thats all right, keep the place. There's plenty of non-discriminatory places to go in the Flint area. Sooner or later it will fall anyway.
Post Sun Jan 30, 2011 3:23 pm 
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Down Town Wood

Ohh did I forget to mention that I am not "African American" Gosh some of us can just don't pa attention and take the worth of someone and not the shade of their skin. Sorry racecar the place does get pretty busy sometimes so they have turned people away at the door. Don't forget that there is NO smoking in the clubs anymore (never was in Raspberries) so maybe some of the "colored " people you seen where out having a smoke and then went back in. Dress accordingly and check it out, don't jump to conclusions and just figure everyone is as closed minded. Downtown is becoming a place to go again and this is only one of many fun places to kick back and enjoy yourself
Post Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:22 pm 
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I hope what you say is true! We will see.
Post Sun Jan 30, 2011 10:27 pm 
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