EAST GREENWICH- Even on a rainy Tuesday night, Main Street in East Greenwich is buzzing with people looking for the perfect place to stop and eat. Starting next week, they will have a new option in Kai Bar.
Sitting at 232 Main Street, Kai Bar is glowing with strings of lights and dim lighting inside that sets the mood for a comfortable evening at the former Alex and Ani location. Sitting inside is the team of owners who have worked tirelessly to re-do the inside of the building themselves and set it up to fit their needs, creating a space that is unique to the Main Street scene, but manages to fit in perfectly.
“The concept came about a couple of years ago when Alex and Ani was still here and they were throwing a jewelry party and I thought it was a bar,” said Marshall Muir, part owner of the bar. “I pulled over and walked in and realized it was a party and from there after seeing it I said to myself ‘if this ever becomes available for a lease I want to try and put a bar there.’”
Since, Muir and his wife Nadya have joined together with Jennifer Marinelli, Jay Kindness and Jennifer Colannino to make his idea a reality. The team of owners have poured hours of work into the bar, something that is evident upon walking through the door and experiencing the custom-made decor that creates a relaxed atmosphere unlike anything else in the area. Although the idea for the bar has evolved slightly since work began months ago, the end goal is still the same—to have ‘really great hospitality.’
“I think hospitality is a lost art today. It’s rare to go into a place where people go out of their way to make you feel warm and welcome,” said Kindness, part-owner and mixologist. “Along with that we’re going to give them something that is unique to the street. A combination of nice cocktails, new experiences, live music. It’s going to be comfortable and approachable.”
“We’re trying to be that place that is very very comfortable, where people feel like they can relax in the lounge, they can relax while eating, but as soon as they’re finished eating they can get out of that food environment and still have a place to listen to music and relax,” added Muir.
What was initially planned to be a wine bar and sitting area, has turned into a spot where patrons can not only enjoy a drink and some light dishes, but play board games by the fire, listen to live music and have a drink created by Kindness, an experienced and talented mixologist who has been featured in GQ Magazine as one of the nation’s most inspiring bartenders.
“We want to stand out, and we’ve brought Jay in as one of the top mixologists around to put a different spin on drinks here,” said Muir.
With a strong background as a mixologist, Jay Kindness was originally working with the team of Kai Bar owners as a consultant, but soon decided to move from his former job as the Beverage Director at the Revolving Door Restaurant in Newport to work with them as part-owner.
During his time working in Newport, Kindness created over 80 different cocktails and perfected the specialty he calls “bartenders choice,” a term used in the hospitality business when customers tell the bartender what flavors they like and the bartender is at liberty to create a cocktail for them to enjoy.
“Our bread and butter is unique and inventive cocktails,” said Kindness.
“I came on as a consultant and I fell in love with the space,” he continued. “We got together and before I knew it I was part owner.”
Also joining Kai Bar is certified sommelier Alex Brandariz, who will use his knowledge of wine to ensure customer satisfaction for those at the bar, and create the welcoming atmosphere the owners are hoping for. Brandariz previously worked at the White Horse Tavern in Newport, but will now work alongside Kindness.
Although the owners are currently working through tastings with perspective chefs and the cuisine offered will be determined by who is hired; what they do know is the offerings will be small and sharable tapas-style dishes for customers to enjoy while sitting with friends. Something they say will be “new takes on familiar dishes.”
“Nothing heavy, nothing big, just something that goes along with Main Street in general,” said Muir. “Every place if unique and we want to stand out with what we do, but we definitely want it to be light where you can definitely eat throughout the night while having a drink.”
The bar will feature a variety of drinks, including several beers from other countries and their specialty “tiki shot ski.”
“It’s a really cool mix of different things,” said Muir.
Kai Bar will have its grand opening on Jan. 11 starting at 4 p.m., and will be open six days a week, excluding Tuesday.
“It’s been a lot of work but it’s been fun and it’s been an experience for all of us,” said Marinelli. “We all come from different backgrounds and we have our sense of business but this was different for us and it’s been really fun to learn about this industry.”
“It’s been a lot of work and because of that we’re so proud of it,” she continued.