PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Nearly one year after a Portland entrepreneur died tragically, a bar he owned is re-opening Saturday.

Last June, 35-year-old Kevin McDowell drowned in the Columbia River after saving a woman who was struggling to swim. The woman survived but McDowell did not, and his body was recovered eight days later, several miles from where he jumped into the water.

Saturday, Capitol Bar & Lounge in Northeast Portland, the bar that McDowell co-owned with his fiancée, will open for the first time since his death

The doors will open at 11 a.m. Saturday for brunch with a live DJ.

When Dessiree Guy purchased Capitol Bar & Lounge just over a year ago, she brought on her fiancee, McDowell as a partner in the business.

“He was such a beautiful spirit. He was so goofy and outspoken and loud aside from him being 6’8” he just stood out for his presence and energy,” Guy said.

Memorial held for Kevin McDowell who died after saving swimmer in Columbia River
Community members held a memorial for Kevin McDowell, a Portland man who drowned in June after saving a woman who was struggling to swim in the Columbia River. July 15, 2022 (KOIN).

The couple had big plans for the space, but faced challenges before they could open, including major repairs after a car smashed into the front of the building, just days after Guy bought it.

Guy is still working through the trauma, but believes McDowell would be proud of how far she’s come as a young black female entrepreneur, who in spite of it all, pushed forward to open Capitol.

“We had a vision for Capitol and I’ve been trying to keep that vision that him and I planned together… brunches, comedy shows, live music, so I definitely want to keep that alive,” she said.

Dessiree renovated the space but says it still has its original beauty and charm.

There will be karaoke rooms, game rooms and new TVs where people can come and watch sports. She says McDowell would have given his stamp of approval.

“I think that he would want people to feel welcome and have a good time, good energy, good atmosphere,” Guy said.