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Restaurants & Bars

A Retired English Teacher Is Redefining Duncanville Nightlife

LoLecia Day, a recently retired AP English teacher, took the leap from the classroom to life behind the bar, opening her own spot, Day Drink Lounge.
LoLecia Day behind the counter at Day Drink Lounge. courtesy LoLecia Day

Almost all LoLecia Day’s major life decisions were made to appease other people—until she decided to do something completely wild. In December 2022 the 53-year-old public school teacher opened her own cocktail lounge in Duncanville, Day Drink Lounge.

Day had no experience working in the restaurant industry, no experience bartending, and no funding to help support her dream. “I married my first husband and stayed in Paris [Texas] because that was my husband’s plan,” the former Advanced Placement English teacher confesses. “I became a teacher because we had two children and I wanted a job that would allow me summers off to spend with them. My son and daughter both moved away from Dallas a few years ago. I almost left with my daughter because I wanted a fresh start, but then I realized that all of my life I’ve made myself available to other people. This time I wanted to show up for myself. Do something just for me.”  

After more than a year of juggling her career as a teacher and her duties at the bar, on April 24 Day closed one chapter of her life and stepped into another. She officially retired from education after three decades, stepping full-time into her passion project, concocting distinctive cocktails in an inclusive environment that she likens to the classic sitcom Cheers.

She’s new to the bar industry but she’s not new to entrepreneurship. While living in Paris, she opened a lingerie store that catered especially to plus-sized and hard-to-size women. “Living in a small town when my kids were younger, people thought I was crazy for opening a lingerie boutique,” Day recalls. “But I wanted to wear pretty things, and I couldn’t find it in any stores, so I opened my shop, and it was successful.” Years later, Day spotted a similar hole in the local marketplace. Duncanville had no other bars that catered to working professionals and the locals didn’t want to drive into downtown Dallas or Deep Ellum for classy nightlife. Day Drink Lounge is an answer to that shortage.

Although lacking formal education, both LoLecia’s parents epitomized resilience and creativity. After retiring from the United Stated Navy after 20 years, her father, Robert William Day, Jr., packed up his family in 1978 and moved from their comfy naval base to her mother’s hometown of Paris, Texas. He recognized a need for waste management in rural areas, founding a successful sanitation business. Meanwhile, her mother, Thelma Jean, dedicated herself to professional writing, preserving Black history in Lamar County.

One of Day’s most treasured memories is of her mother’s other hobby. Thelma Jean hosted tastings at the family home, where she invited her friends over to sample her homemade wines and craft moonshines imbued with fruits like blackberries, strawberries, and peaches grown on their homestead. Their legacy of innovation and hospitality lives on in Day as she embarks on her own journey building a new existence. She thought she’d found that seven years ago, through love.

“I remarried in 2017 and thought I’d found love again. He hit me once, and I found the courage to leave immediately,” she explains. “I’ve grown so much in those few short years. I’m excited to see what the year brings with my bar.”

It’s coming at the right moment. Bars and nightclubs in the United States suffered tremendously during the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike restaurants, bars couldn’t rely on takeaway food sales and experienced a significant drop in employees and market size in 2020. However, there was an increase in the consumption of cordials and liqueurs in the United States during the same period. Day’s cocktail lounge concept, which opened as pandemic fears were beginning to wane, had perfect timing.

Day Drink Lounge is a narrow space that allows room for the length of a bar, plush bar stools, and a collection of posh, curated art pieces hung strategically across the dimly lit space. Although this cozy spot screams ultra-feminine, Day has worked hard to provide a safe and inviting space for a city as diverse as Duncanville. Women-owned bars are the minority, and she is finding unique ways to make sure the bar is a local Cheers. Day Drink Lounge has cocktail classes, delicious small plates to whet your appetite, and live music. It has even hosted a wedding that Day herself officiated.

Her break from juggling two jobs will be short-lived. Day recently accepted a new position with the City of Duncanville as their newest Assistant Director of Economic Development. Duncanville is part of the “Best Southwest” partnership with neighbor cities Cedar Hill, Lancaster, and DeSoto. Businesses like Day’s strip-mall neighbors Soul Circles Pizza Kitchen, Alfonso’s Breakfast Burritos in Duncanville, and Brunchaholics in DeSoto have flourished in this collaborative environment.

Day learned of the new job opportunity from a patron, while at the bar. “The mistake a lot of people make is dreaming about what they want to do with their lives,” she says. “I believe in putting action behind my goals. I manifested the life I wanted, and I hope other people are inspired and know that they can too.”