Venue 132 aims to bring upscale event space to downtown Dowagiac

DOWAGIAC — “Upscale rental space for everything worth celebrating.”

That is the slogan Brian and Michelle Milnamow — owners of new business Venue 132 — aim to offer the Dowagiac area when it opens its doors to the community.

The venue will offer rental space for small weddings, birthday parties, holiday parties and more. The couple hopes to open the space later this year.

“We feel the area can use something like this,” Brian Milnamow said. “We like the Dowagiac area and are happy to be part of the community. We see it as a thriving downtown area and believe that this is a great location between Wood Fire and Caruso’s. It has a more vibrant downtown area than other small downtowns, and we want to be part of the activities the city puts on. It’s a nice area.”

The Milnamow’s storefront — located at 132 Front St. between Wood Fire Italian Trattoria and Caruso Candy Kitchen — was built in 1899 and formerly housed The Hairitage salon, Marci’s Variety and Hope’s Door Thrift Store.

According to Milnamow, the building will have space to house approximately 100 guests for events. The building will not have private parking but there is ample parking downtown both on the streets and in public parking lots, Milnamow said. The venue will not have a liquor license when it opens but renters will be able to hire a caterer for alcohol service or will be allowed to provide their own.

As Granger residents with strong ties to the Dowagiac area, the couple is looking forward to opening their business to the community. According to Milnamow, his wife, Michelle, will be handling the day-to-day operations of the venue.

“My wife has always wanted to get involved with something like this,” Milnamow said. “This is something we felt would be good for her and something she would excel at.”

The couple purchased the building in 2019 and began renovations in earnest this year. While renovating the building, Brian and Michelle aimed to restore the space as close to its original appearance as possible. The tin ceiling, brick walls and hardwood floors are all original to the property.

According to Milnamow, getting the 121-year old building up to speed has been a challenge.

“It’s been a process,” he said. “We’ve had some issues along the way but we’ve added the amenities we need. We’ve got modern bathrooms and kitchen space. We’ve added some nice lighting. This will be a small, intimate space where groups can gather and celebrate.”

Milnamow said that renovations are nearing completion and that Venue 132 is looking forward to working with local businesses and being a part of city events.

“We love the little shops down here and have received a lot of support for downtown businesses,” he said. “We still want to set up arrangements with local businesses as vendors. We’re close to finishing up. We’re hoping to open by the end of the year.”

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