The Raven Lounge located on the corner of Chene and Farnsworth, 2 blocks from John's Carpet House is one of the only bars left on a strip that was lined with them years ago. The Raven Lounge opened in the 1950's in the era when its white owners would hire black musicians to play to white crowds but wouldn't allow black patrons inside. By the ’60s, they saw the faces in the neighborhood changing and sold it to Sam and Myrtle Watts, a black couple. The first thing they did was to let anyone inside who wanted to be there.
Current owner Tommy Stephens who's been a regular at The Raven Lounge since the ‘60s purchased the bar when Sam Watts died in 1992, and his widow offered Stephens first dibs on buying the place. He jumped at the chance to keep his favorite bar alive. Her one condition — don't change anything. He didn't, The music's the same it's always been. The recipes for the food they serve, from the chicken wings and catfish sandwiches to chitterlings and T-bones, are the same ones they used in the 1950s.
The decor is still old-style too. Black and white photos of jazz icons line the walls, icons like Billie Holiday, B.B. King and Johnny Taylor. They’re not just for show – real legends like Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson have performed here. Today there's live music every Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday's with The NYCE Band bringing the house down with contemporary R&B grooves every Saturday night. When a live act isn't playing Doc Holliday, the 54-year-old house DJ, spins '70s soul classics.