Located on the ground floor of 20 Hawley St., Legacy Lounge opened its doors to the public this past Friday, Jan. 28. The brand new Downtown Binghamton bar is owned and operated by former NFL Carolina Panthers lineman, DaQuan Jones. Born and raised in Johnson City and Binghamton, Jones is returning to his hometown for his latest ventures.

In an interview with Marissa Colleluori, Legacy Lounge manager and Jones’ mother-in-law, Colleluori emphasized Jones’ affinity for the Binghamton area and the community.

“[Jones] was drafted right out of college,” Colleluori said. “He went to Penn State, but he always has a connection to his home, his hometown and the support system he had here.”

As a Philadelphia native who was new to the Binghamton area, Colleluori said she was shocked with Binghamton’s limited entertainment options.

“Coming from a larger city, I was under the impression that what Philadelphia offered was typical of other areas,” Colleluori said. “I have only traveled to New York City and getting that reasserted by what’s available there and seeing how Philadelphia doesn’t live up to it, I thought that every town had something to offer similar to what my spaces did. [Jones] would always say, ‘No, you’ve never been to Binghamton,’ and when I came, I personally thought it was a tad bit depressing … There’s a lot of great people in this community and there’s just not a lot of options.”

The flooding of the Susquehanna River and Chenango River in 2011 as a result of Tropical Storm Lee severely impacted businesses in the area. The resulting void in options inspired Jones and his team to explore opening up a nightclub in Downtown Binghamton.

“After the flood, a lot of people didn’t rebuild,” Colleluori said. “A lot of jobs were lost … [Business] is what this town needs because so many had left after the flood. I wondered how long ago the flood was because I’m not from Binghamton. And I was thinking two years ago, five years ago, but it’s been over 10 years and they still haven’t rebuilt? So there’s a lot of opportunity because the people haven’t gone away, just the business.”

Colleluori described her and the team’s vision for Legacy Lounge.

“We want this to be a place where everyone feels welcome,” Colleluori said. “In visiting the area, it just seems like there’s nothing that’s a little swanky yet inclusive. [Jones’] whole mantra is to create a legacy, live your legacy and share. Through the Legacy Lounge, he’s living that out and keeping it alive.”

Jones intends for Legacy Lounge to be heavily rooted in the local community, employing Binghamton natives. Legacy Lounge is a family venture — the Legacy Lounge food truck is operated by Jones’ father.

Colleluori said they hope to inspire others to invest in Binghamton and open businesses of their own in the area.

“We get to be the first,” Colleluori said. “We’ve been given the tools to bring that into fruition, bring that into a reality, so it’s exciting to be able to give other people the confidence that they can do it and to consult them. It was very difficult getting open and it shouldn’t be so whatever I’ve learned during this process, I definitely want people to know that information is not proprietary. It’s not an easy road, but you can walk through it.”

Legacy Lounge is open on Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., on Fridays from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., on Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. and Sundays for game day hours. They are also open for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. For updates, follow their Instagram page.