JB’s reopens with fresh paint and fresh vibe


Cassie Rosa, Manager of JB’s, behind the bar at JB’s on September 2, 2014. Management has plans to change JB’s into a gay bar.

Kelsey Husnick

JB’s is back. After being closed for renovation for part of the summer, the bar is re open for business but with a different orientation. JB’s is now Kent’s first gay bar. 

“We were trying to think of something kind of hip and fun and different and wasn’t here in Kent yet. Gay bar was almost an obvious choice,” said Cassie Rosa, bar manager for JB’s and Brewhouse, both of which share the same management and building on North Water Street.

“We have the perfect constituents here and they have no place to go,” she continued. “I think the closest gay bar is 15 miles away, so we thought, why not bring it here to Kent?”

During the renovation period, Rosa said JB’s also got a paint job and new lighting — complete with a neon-splattered wall and black lights — as well as a new sound system and touched-up bar area. Two dancing poles were also added.

“It’s got a totally different vibe now. We’ve got a staff that is full of energy and just ready to make this place great,” she said. “It’s just a very fun, very welcoming atmosphere.”

 Bartender at both JB’s and Brewhouse and a Kent State alumn Gina Phipps said, “I love the transition. The crowd is so much fun and entertaining. It’s more upbeat and lively now. Working there is a little different, but in a good way. I know when I go into work it’ll be a good time.”

JB’s had its official reopening last Thursday, and Rosa said the turnout was considered a success. 

“It was great — we had a lot of people here. It was a really, really nice atmosphere, a lot of diversity, a really good time,” she said.

Senior integrated mathematics major and treasurer of Kent Pride! Billy Gruszewski attended the opening night with other Pride! members. He said that although the bar was packed, it was a lot bigger of a venue than he expected and he liked the dance floor.

“It’s the only place downtown that has a dance floor like it — it has dancing poles,” he said. 

He compared it to places such as Bar145.

“It’s an actual dance floor. You don’t have to move tables out of the way for people to dance. It’s for that purpose,” Gruszewski said.

Gruszewski also said JB’s filled a niche that was needed for the LGBTQ community. 

“Some people don’t feel comfortable going to the bars because some people who go to the (Pride!) meetings are more flamboyant than others, and if they’re out and about and being loud, people might call them out and make them feel uncomfortable,” he said. “(Although) anyone would feel uncomfortable if they’re pointed out.” 

The bar also gives freshmen students another option downtown, since the bar is open to anyone 18 and older and saves people looking for a gay bar from driving to Akron or farther, Gruszewski said. 

Rosa said JB’s will be open from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Thursdays and Saturdays and will eventually be hosting drag shows, theme parties and raves.

“Everyone’s welcome. It’s going to be a whole lot of fun,” she said.

Gruszewski said the bar will “open a lot of doors and bring diversity to downtown.”

Contact Kelsey Husnick at [email protected].