Everyone deserves a little luxury, relaxation and — most importantly — fine wine.

That’s precisely what Skylar Willingham is providing with the new Skylight Luxury Lounge, which opens Saturday, Dec. 31 at 1325 30th St., Rock Island. The 32-year-olld East Moline native, who’s dreamed of opening her first business for five years, has created a tasteful oasis on the corner of 30th Street and 14th Avenue, formerly occupied by Cool Beanz Coffeehouse (which since 2021 has been next to Bent River at 512 24th Street in Rock Island).

Skylar Willingham at her new wine bar, Friday, Dec. 30, 2022 (photos by Jonathan Turner).

“Here, I want it to be a safe space,” Willingham said Friday, before the Skylight ribbon-cutting. “I want people to feel comfortable, to let their hair down. If you want to be goofy, be goofy. It’s just about building relationships, for sure.”

“Let’s have some fun. Our day to day in the corporate world is so serious all the time,” Willingham said, who noted she’s always been a social person. “Conversation, that’s my love language. I like to talk,” she said Friday.

Skylight Luxury Lounge will feature wines from around the world, by the glass and bottle.

Willingham — a United Township alum who didn’t finish college — started working in social services (including at Fort Armstrong in Rock Island) for about eight years, before working for John Deere Davenport Works for almost five years.

Since September 2021, Willingham has worked for Arconic (as a mill operator), where her mother works.

She fell in love with wine in 2014, while a fan of the TV series, “Scandal,” which starred another strong African-American woman who loves wine (Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope).

Skylight renovated the former Cool Beanz Coffeehouse, 1325 30th St., Rock Island.

Her personal favorite is rose, and her brand is Whispering Angel. She is close to Dimitri Papageorgiou, the owner of Davenport-based Dimitri Wine and Spirits.

“I will be taking more classes with him, so I can continue to grow and continue to learn,” Willingham said, noting she will buy wines from him and host him for tastings.

She wants to bring wines here that haven’t been in the Quad Cities.

She worked with the realtor Shawn Stuenkel of Hawkeye Realty to find the former Cool Beanz space. Willingham said she is amazing. “She listened to me, listened to what my vision was,” she said. “I felt like it was like buying a home.”

For the new wine bar, she did a total renovation, with hand-crafted wood additions to the bar, new tables, chairs and sectional sofas, and total repainting and new interior design that created a more open feel.

Skylight doesn’t have a full kitchen, but will offer deli sandwiches, cheeses and charcuterie boards.

“The nightlife here, I’ve kind of outgrown. The loud music is too much for me,” Willingham said. “There wasn’t anywhere I could chill, play some games. People don’t communicate anymore – I wanted to create an intimate space where people could come and unwind.”

She’s enjoyed hosting bonfires at homes and play games among friends, including wine.

“The goal for me eventually is, I want to brand my own wine,” Willingham said. “The sky is the limit for me.”

She spent about five years looking for potential locations across the QC, on both sides of the river.

The screen above the Skylight will be used for pre-recorded music, and karaoke on selected Thursday nights, alternating with live music.

Her brother Curtis is helping with the business and when they first looked at the space, “it felt right,” Skylar said. “It felt more intimate and more relaxing.”

Her menu will grow, including basic coffee, smoothies and some non-alcoholic beverages. Skylight isn’t offering much in the way of mixed drinks yet.

The opening night is Saturday, New Year’s Eve (starting at 8 p.m.), with a DJ from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Champagne available by the bottle.

Willingham hopes to display art by local artists. There is an existing stage, which she hopes to have live acoustic music on Thursdays, starting at 5 p.m., first in February. She plans a spoken word night Tuesdays, comedy on Wednesdays, and alternate a karaoke night on Thursdays.

Skylight can’t sell bottles to go, she said.

Willingham is keeping her job at Arconic, and just has one-full-time employee so far. “I have huge family support,” she said. “I am hiring, at least a handful, so things can function when I’m not here.”

The business hours will be Tuesday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Skylight will serve wines by the glass ($9 to $15) and bottle, including varieties from Italy, France, Germany, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, and California.

She wants to coordinate some special events in the spring with other Hilltop area businesses. Skylight will also be open for private events (Sundays or Mondays), like birthdays, baby showers, bridal showers, or game nights.

“I think it’s really nice,” said Tarah Sipes, the city of Rock Island economic development manager. “It’s a good fit for the area.”

For more information, visit Skylight Luxury Lounge on Facebook.