By Alicia Nails
The 30-plus year old Locker Room Lounge in northwest Detroit is the University District’s only bar and a neighborhood anchor with a regular clientele. That’s one of the reasons Angela Vincent, known city-wide as DJ Lynda Carter, purchased the business in May of 2018.
“It’s a historic mainstay. The people there are a family. They’ve been coming for decades and their lives are intertwined,” Vincent said. “I kept on the same staff to keep the atmosphere the same.”
On the stretch of Livernois between Pickford and Curtis, the Locker Room is located just north of the $15 million Fitzgerald Revitalization Project, which is renovating houses and creating greenspaces – and just south of the $8.3 million 7.Liv housing and retail development going up at the corner of Livernois and Seven Mile.
The city’s viability is important to Vincent personally and professioinally. She has lived in University District for more than a decade and serves on the community association’s board. A business owner with her finger on the pulse of Detroit, she said her research into the city’s strategic neighborhood development plans made her decide to buy the lounge and stake her second claim in the city’s vibrancy there. Vincent already owns M!X in Bricktown which caters to the under-30 crowd.
But the Locker Room is a meeting spot for the over- 40 set that Vincent said reflects the demographics of the area, even as the community around it has become more diverse.
During the week – day and night – the tables fill with old friends, retirees, shift-workers, blue collar and white collar. Some days a game of dominoes is on tap. Patrons still buy their fried shrimp dinners from the Fresh Fish restaurant next door. There’s live music on Sundays and Motown, oldies and R&B through the week.
“They’re in here during the weekday relaxing, drinking, talking. It’s a meeting place,” said Vincent of the cozy establishment that seats 70 people.
Vincent said she chose the professional moniker, Lynda Carter, after the star of the late 70s television show, Wonder Woman. Like the fictional superheroine, Vincent has sweeping plans for improving the world around her, including building out the kitchen and making the lounge into a full service restaurant.
Regulars are happy to see the business continue to thrive. Angela Donaldson has been going to the Lockeroom for 15 years.
“When I heard that Angela Vincent had acquired the Lockeroom Lounge I was elated!” she said. “ As a longtime patron of the Lockeroom I knew that this would be Paramount for its regulars as well as for the neighboring community! 35 years! This is not just a neighborhood watering hole….It’s an institution! It’s where professionals, renowned entertainers, politicians and city leaders have gathered for years….It’s family.”
The Lockeroom continues to give back to the community through clothing drives, food drives, and fundraising for cancer research and autism, she said. “I’m looking forward to many more years of love, family and laughter at the Lockeroom Lounge,” she said.
While the Locker Room has not been affected by the street construction farther up Livernois, Vincent is a leader in efforts to bring shoppers to the area along Livernois long known as the Avenue of Fashion. She wants to see other long-time black business owners survive and thrive.
“I’m not concerned about the challenges,” she said. “I’m excited about the direction the Livernois corridor is headed in and how it will be an asset to the entire community, representing the demographics that live in the district.”