Kalamazoo adds another business to list of social district stops downtown

Kalamazoo, Michigan — A business that opened last year joins the downtown social district.

The Kalamazoo City Commission has approved another business that will be part of the downtown social district where alcoholic beverages can be purchased and carried outdoors.

Guess Who’s Dancing Fitness has received Social District Permit approval for business at 125 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Suite 106. The city board granted the business’ request to become part of the social district at a city board meeting this week.

The entrance is at the Xperience event venue at 143 Farmers Alley, Kim Guess said. She opened her Xperience in April 2022 with her partners Symphony Ollie and Bryan Sims.

Social District permits allow people to take their drinks out onto the sidewalks. Guess said he hopes the new space will grow, connect with the community, and help revitalize the area.

Related: First black-owned mixed-use entertainment venue opens in downtown Kalamazoo

“We want to be the bridge between the Kalamazoo community and the city, and we want to revitalize the city and downtown after everything has been decimated by COVID,” said Guess.

“It felt like a ghost town,” she said. Especially the farmer she was along the alley.

Since Xperience opened, it has hosted several events, including a live music party at Kalamazoo’s New Year’s Fest and partnering with the city and other organizations to host private events.

“It was just a whirlwind,” Guess said.

The business hopes to form other partnerships, such as using it as a backup for outdoor events like Beats on Bates in case of rain.

They offer drinks, including some from their signature cocktail menu, Guess said.

“I was born and raised in Kalamazoo and I’m proud of it,” Guess said. “Many of our drinks are tailored to where we come from.”

Northside tea is like a peach mule drink, she said. Another drink called “Crown Me” has lemonade and peach flavors. They also serve more standard drinks like rum and cola.

From old-fashioned drinks to sugary drinks, “There’s something for everyone,” said Guess.

The door to Xperience is on the east side of the building, near the corner of Farmers Alley and East Exchange Place. Guess said the space will host Guess Who’s Dancing Fitness classes in the coming months.

It is intended to be a community hub focused on diversity and inclusion, and social district permits would help with that.

The space is located within a designated Social District area that covers part of downtown and also includes 600 Kitchen and Bar, Hopcat, WL Social House, and other businesses.

The Michigan Liquor Control Board requires local government approval for social district permits for businesses added to established social districts. This process requires local approval to be sent to the Michigan Liquor Control Board.

One of the owners of The Xperience by Luxury Escapes Kim Guess smiles inside her new venue in downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan, Thursday, March 31, 2022. (Gabi Broekema | MLive.com)Gabi Brookema | MLive.com

Guess Who’s Dancing Fitness has a Michigan liquor license that also lists the name LuXury Escapes.

Guess spoke with the commissioners on Tuesday and thanked them. She said the business is working to form local partnerships to increase pedestrian traffic downtown.

“Increasing foot traffic and generating more revenue is our goal at Xperience,” she said, for her business and others.

In other actions at the committee meeting, the Kalamazoo City Council voted to pass a $300 million budget to reopen and expand the search for a new city attorney. The city board also voted to hire a company to turn one-way streets into two-way streets and approved a project to resurface a road connecting Western Michigan University to downtown.

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