Creating a restaurant and music venue is no easy feat.
It requires community, capital support, and the right partnerships.
In this case study, we learn how Black & Tan Hall developed a mobile tour guide app for historic Black businesses in Seattle to immediately start fulfilling their mission while driving awareness for their upcoming venue.
Black & Tan Hall is a values-driven cultural hub dedicated to uplifting Black entrepreneurs. The phrase “Black and Tan” comes from Harlem and refers to nightclubs open to people of all races during intense segregation. Leading up to their big launch as a restaurant and music venue, the Black & Tan Hall has done several community-based events and pop-ups.
They’re running a campaign to support this launch and their continued evolution as a co-op for Black artists and cultural workers.
Their goal for creating a tour to highlight Seattle’s Black entrepreneurship
The original plan was to offer in-person tours that would highlight the long legacy of Black business owners in Seattle.
“We wanted to show that there’s been a history of Black entrepreneurship since the very beginning of this city, and tie it into supporting Black-owned businesses that are open today.” - Ashley Harrison, partner at Black & Tan Hall.
Ashley Harrison and the team at Black & Tan Hall wanted to uncover stories that tied current buildings and businesses to this historic legacy and share how a strong culture of Black entrepreneurship formed in Seattle.
And then Covid hit. They quickly decided to pivot to making these tours available online. Ashley was excited about being able to expand the audience without having to worry about staffing issues.
Choosing STQRY to create the Seattle Green Book Tour
After deciding to create a mobile tour guide of Seattle’s historic black-owned spaces, the team at Black & Tan Hall began by looking for examples of what they wanted to create.
“The Sacramento Heritage Neighborhood Walking Map offered an early model of what we wanted to achieve. When we learned it was built with STQRY, we immediately reached out.” - Ashley Harrison, partner at Black & Tan Hall
They received a quote that was a fraction of the cost of custom software development. STQRY uses no-code technology to make it easy for creators to develop a mobile tour guide without coding.
They decided to name their app the Seattle Green Book Self-Guided Tour, inspired by a series of guidebooks published for 30 years during the Jim Crow era to help Black patrons find safe places to eat and stay across the country. The self-guided app revisits Seattle sites listed in the original guidebooks.
The results of launching a high-quality mobile tour guide app
The app has been a big success. Black & Tan Hall recently won the Technology Award from the Association of King County Historical Organizations for pairing history with technology through their STQRY mobile app.
Here are some of the main benefits that Black & Tan Hall has achieved:
Fulfilling their mission
While raising funds to create their event space, Black & Tan Hall has been able to start satisfying their core mission without delay.
“STQRY allows people to engage with our story and all of the histories and legacies that we highlight.” - Ashley Harrison, partner at Black & Tan Hall
Making content accessible
The organization has been able to make their content accessible in so many ways. The app is freely available for iOS and Android devices, and the web app works on any computer. What’s more, the content for each tour stop is available as an audio file or a text transcript—improving accessibility for different audiences and learning styles.
Partnering with other organizations
“We learned there was a hunger for these stories. The app met a need and helped put us on the map. It expanded opportunities in ways we didn’t foresee and allowed us to build new partnerships with other organizations in the city.” - Ashley Harrison, partner at Black & Tan Hall
The Green Book app also showcases the caliber of content and programming that people can expect to see in the future. It establishes a solid baseline for their brand experience.
Delivering educational content to schools
Furthering their reach even more, the app is currently being used by schools, both for on-the-ground field trips and in-class content.
What app users have to say
Black & Tan Hall has received positive feedback from the press and users.
These reviews showcase the deep impact of their tour content:
"When we see each other’s stories as important and finally understand the history behind who really built this city, we care about one another a little deeper, we hold each other a little tighter, and we then contribute to keeping that history alive. In doing this, we can be the Promised Land my grandmothers hoped for so long ago." - Troy Landrum Jr. (South Seattle Emerald)
"Learning about the history of these once thriving establishments in and around the South Jackson Street corridor adds a fascinating and essential layer to our civic understanding of Seattle history. I didn’t know any of these details before diving into the incredibly rich history included in Black & Tan Hall’s Green Book Self-Guided Tour. Now I can’t stop listening." - Brangien Davis (Crosscut / Cascade Public Media)
Here are some helpful lessons from Black & Tan Hall:
- Use digital content to drive buzz, partnerships, and contributions
- Connect history with current community
- Model your app after similar ones you admire so you have a roadmap to follow
Ready to create your own no-code audio guide? Check out STQRY.