Baker’s Keyboard Lounge is one of 25 restaurants nationwide that will receive a $40,000 grant as part of an effort to preserve culturally significant, minority-owned businesses.
The funds from American Express and distributed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation are designed to help restaurants enhance their exterior, establish or improve outdoor seating, and upgrade their online business presence.
“We are honored to play a role in supporting these historic small restaurants that have served our communities for decades,” Jennifer Skyler, a spokesperson for American Express and chair of the American Express Foundation, says in a release. The program is designed to help preserve and support iconic restaurants around the country as they recover from the pandemic.
In addition to the grants, some of American Express’ business partners are offering assistance to the chosen restaurants, and AT&T and Dell are chipping in $5,000 for technology. A “chef advisory committee” helped select the recipients.
Established in 1934, Baker’s one of the world’s oldest jazz clubs, and has hosted the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, and Cab Calloway at Livernois and Eight Mile in northwest Detroit. The popularity of the club declined in the 1970s and ’80s and it almost faced closure.
Known for its signature piano bar, the snug restaurant and jazz club serves house favorites like fried chicken, collard greens, and peach cobbler. For much of the pandemic, its focus was on takeout but the restaurant is currently available for dining room service or carryout.
Other grant recipients include Dooky Chase Restaurant in New Orleans; Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington, D.C.; and Kegel’s Inn in Milwaukee.