Housed in downtown's Kalamazoo City Centre since 2002, The Union occupies what was originally a part of Gilmore's Department Store. Specifically, you will remember Kilwin's Chocolate was where table "Table # 25" now sits. The Union Cabaret and Grille was Millennium Restaurant Group's second original concept. Given that there were still more "boards on windows than businesses in downtown", the same as when we opened our first restaurant two years prior, people were surpised that we were again taking on risk. We were not alone in taking this risk however. Meyer C. Weiner, with the inception of The Kalamazoo City Centre would continue the revitalization efforts of Downtown Kalamazoo. Gilmore Department store would not be another building with boards. It would be a mixed-use facility that would be home to shopping, residential, business and entertainment.
Josh Weiner, owner of the real estate development company, along with then WMU President, Elson Floyd approached Millennium Restaurant Group's Co-Founder and Principal Partner, Ken Miller for his thoughts on the project. During the development phase of the Kalamazoo City Centre, Weiner had already gotten a commitment from WMU to take space inside the City Centre... the problem was that Floyd was at a loss for what to do with his "commitment". The two of them approached Miller for his perspective. Ken responded with... "I have an idea!" Fast forward about a year and after Miller had presented his idea to the WMU Administration, Elson, Ken & Josh hatched a plan and The Union Cabaret & Grille would become a reality. "The Union" as it is now referred to, would be among the first tenants in the "City Centre", as it is now referred to. Additionally, WMU would be instrumental in creating a model for other universities throughout the country by collaborating with business partners to integrate and extend the campus into the downtown area. It would become an amazing way to introduce the talent in WMU's School of Music to the community at large.
Community spirit was alive elsewhere, with the rehabilitation of the Oakland Gym on Oakland Drive which is now a state-of-the-art athletic and practice facility for WMU student athletes. This is important information, because the Union houses a lot of Kalamazoo and WMU heritage in its decor. The entryway was created with recovered wood from the Oakland Gymnasium floor. We were able to use brick from the building in a few selective spots as well. Most of the light fixtures were original to the building (try and find a replacement globe when one breaks... we dare you.) Even the designers from SKP Design were WMU Alumni. They consulted closely with WMU's School Of Music on the stage, lighting and sound design which was specifically created to be a home for student talent. The stage at the Union offers a professional, real-life concert experience for the both student and faculty alike. Kalamazoo's own American Idol, Matt Giraud played on our stage throughout his time at WMU. We love our musicians and so do our patrons. Many do not know that Western's Jazz department is more decorated than Juilard's Jazz Department. It is truly world-class music that graces our stage on Thursday nights.
In addition to Jazz, The Union offers free live, (mostly local) music every Thursday-Sunday. It's a departure from the Midwest with the feel of a Chicago Entertainment Club, a restaurant that provides a feeling and a conversation as much as it does a great meal. The Union - where food, drinks, friends, and music meet! Below you will see our genre line-up. Most weeks you can depend on this, but we do have times where we "mix it up" a bit. Sometimes, we just need to have the same band all weekend because they are that entertaining...
Entertainment Genres Include:
Thursdays - Jazz Mix
Fridays - Blues and Funk
Saturdays - Headliners