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Plan B brings diversity to downtown

Two recent BGSU graduates have come up with a plan to give minorities and students another option.

Rather than go out to a club and have their styles and tastes judged, they can try Plan B, literally.

Plan B is a new club that opened in the downtown area across from Key Bank.

Isaiah Lawson and William Bibb, who were both members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. before graduating last year, opened their club on Aug. 23.

“How I came up with the name is awhile back, I’ve been part of a Greek organization for the last four years and every time we had a plan A, such as planning icebreakers for students, the school wouldn’t follow up or there would be regulations,” Lawson said. “And I would wish we had a plan B to back up what we couldn’t do.”

Bibb agreed that the club was created for minorities to have a place to go to and not be judged.

“We wanted to have Plan B for minorities to have a first option to go out to a club and not have to conform into others standards in order to get in,” Bibb said.

Plan B is different from other clubs in on the Main Street strip because they only accept college ID’s and there is no dress code, which means students can come in with their baggy clothes and chains hanging from their necks.

“We aren’t into stereotyping what looks like a gangster because gangsters don’t go to college, they don’t take the ACT or SAT, and they don’t have an e-mail address,” he said. “We don’t prejudge because college kids look different and Plan B is here for students to come in and socialize.”

Lawson said a lot of his principle ideas come from his professor who inspired him to change things that he didn’t like.

“I remember my professor, Dr. Love, who is retired now, said “If you see anything unjust make it just,” he said.

And even though Lawson has a degree in political science, not business, it correlates with his master plan of making things just in the Bowling Green community.

“There isn’t a lot for minorities here, such as there is no reggae night but there is country night,” he said. “If I choose to wear jogging pants and a chain, I can’t get into a club because of how I look. That’s not right.”

By August 2008, Lawson and Bibb hope Plan B will a cornerstone in the Bowling Green nightlife, a place where students can express themselves.

Lawson said he is working with the former owners of Ebony’s Ribs, Chicken and Seafood and hopes to turn the club into a restaurant during the day. Hopefully, that will happen sometime next January, he said.

“I enjoy the food and the space would be a wonderful avenue for them in the downtown area,” he said.

For now, Lawson hopes the club will become a place where people can gather, talk and enjoy performances.

But Lawson and Bibb said they have overcome some struggles with developing this new flavor in the downtown area.

“One big struggle was that I was nervous being the only African American owned business on Main Street,” he said. “And the fact that we are very young, I was only 22 at the time when we opened, and I’m black, that’s two scary things.”

Bibb said despite the challenges of being the only black-owned business on Main Street is that they will strive to be successful.

“We can’t let others dictate our future,” Bibb said. “I’m not about to lie down and quit just because others don’t want us to make it or of intimidation.”

But Elaine Skoog, executive director of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce, said this new business is adding a diverse background to Main Street and enhancing the city’s economic development.

“For me, diversity is pretty broad because there is diversity in age, background and culture and we have a lot of that already,” Skoog said. “And this new business is another positive addition.”

Lawson said his mother pushed him defeat any struggles he might have faced and helped drive the club’s success.

“When we had the idea to open a club this past July, I called my mother to ask her what she thought and she said go for it, so the next day I signed the lease,” he said. “But four days later she passed away, but that force pushed me even harder to get what I needed to get done.”

Even though the club opened a month after Lawson and his business partner, Bibb, purchased it, it took a lot of work to get it ready.

With the help of many people in Greek life, such as the men of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Aliece Stewart of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Nicholas Rainey, they painted, stripped the bar, set up carpet, hired bouncers and a DJ.

“One of the struggles we went through the first night we opened was we couldn’t find a DJ, so we had to hook my iPod up to the computer to play music, but then it was stolen,” Lawson said. “But despite that we had a huge crowd.”

Skoog said the city is flourishing with new businesses.

“It is becoming that businesses are rotating, when one leaves another comes in,” she said. “And the new businesses are filling up in good primary parts in the city.”

Some students are already enjoying Plan B and are glad to see more diversity being added downtown.

“I’m glad it is finally a club that accepts you how you dress and doesn’t turn you away just because you fit the profile of looking like somebody wanted on the news,” said senior Candace Daniels. “Bowling Green needs more urban clubs to support minorities and make us feel like we are part of the city, not just the campus.”

Plan B is open Thursday through Saturday from 11 p.m. until 4 a.m. The admission fee is $5 and special events can be scheduled after 1 a.m.

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