Blog Viewer

Celebrating a Hospitality Industry Trailblazer

By Genevieve Porter posted 03-09-2023 18:13


The Helen David Relief Fund (HDRF) at the USBG Foundation honors the memory of the beloved Port Huron, Michigan, bar owner, and community leader, Helen David. After beating breast cancer twice during her lifetime, Helen inspires those living with the disease. In her name, the HDRF assists those in the bar industry undergoing treatment for and recovery from cancer. 


In celebration of Women’s History Month, we would like to tell a bit of Helen’s trailblazing story and how her legacy is still helping bartenders of all genders today. 


Born in Port Huron early in the 20th century, Helen David was a trailblazer. Women business owners were rarely heard of then, but that did not deter Helen! She opened her bar, the Brass Rail, which remains open today. Helen loved her bar and ran it for many passion-filled decades. She was active in the bar industry through the Licensed Beverage Association. She served as president of the St. Clair County Association and various committees for the Michigan Association. According to her community: "Helen was a fixture in Port Huron for 69 years as the owner of Brass Rail. Most people considered her to be the heart and soul of Port Huron."

Helen's zest for life was legendary. When she wasn't busy running the bar, or serving as a leader in her community, the free-spirited Helen enjoyed golfing, bowling, and baseball. One of her great loves was sport fishing; she was once featured in Sports Fishing Magazine for her incredible catches worldwide. Helen also sponsored various sports teams in the community and was especially fond of hockey. She is remembered for the enthusiasm she exuded.


According to Tony Abou-Ganim, Helen inspired many, especially a young boy who grew up learning the trade in her bar. "I grew up in the bar business. My cousin Helen David opened the Brass Rail Bar in Port Huron, Michigan, in 1937. I enjoyed many Shirley Temples while watching my uncles tend that beautiful bar before imbibing in my first legal cocktails in 1978. I learned the craft from Helen, my Uncle Charlie, and Cousin Tony in 1980. I guess you could say, bartending is in my blood. My earliest influence came from Cousin Helen, who taught me, "For a nickel more, you go first class!"


If you would like to make a donation to the HDRF in celebration of Women’s History Month, you can do so at 

@thehdrf @usbgncf #charity #WomensHistoryMonth 


The Helen David Relief Fund

If you or someone you know in the industry is undergoing cancer treatment, is in recovery, and needs financial aid, please visit our HDRF application form, here.


If you would like to learn more about Helen David, please visit our friends and Difford’s Guide, here.

1 comment



04-01-2023 10:25

A lovely legacy.