Restaurants / Bars / Openings

New Downtown Houston Tiki Bar Supersizes the Party Scene

100 Bottles of Rum and Then Some

BY // 03.14.18

Move over Lei Low, the iconic tiki bar on North Main, and rum-focused High & Dry. A newcomer to the downtown Houston scene will be lighting its version of tiki torches by early summer and plans call for it to blaze an unchartered tropical trail.

When the doors open to Houton’s newest tiki bar Kanaloa at 311 Travis in early summer, the Polynesian vibe will be anchored with a boatload of rum-infused cocktails and specialty glassware to hold them, including custom-made treasure chests, big enough to float an entire bottle of bubbly. Straws for everyone!

The trio behind Kanaloa — Roland Keller, Keith Doyle and Tyler Barrera — proved their watering hole metal with the popular Wicklow Heights cocktail bar in The Heights. And now they’re moving on to another challenge. A tiki challenge.

“I think tiki is a more destination-oriented concept than a neighborhood bar,” Keller tells PaperCity. After getting Wicklow up and running in November 2017 after just a year or so of planning, “we bet we can do anything at this point.”

The guys have researched their subject, traveling around the country visiting successful tiki bars and taking notes. Thus, the whimsical bar glasses priced as high as $50 each, contemporary light fixtures that fill in for torches, Hawaiian shirted waiters and decorative touches from as far as California and as near as Houston, all aimed at giving the nightspot its own special vibe.

And, Keller adds, unlike a lot of bar scenes, Kanaloa will be geared to partying groups.

There will be plenty of signature cocktails from this tiki world playground, according to Barrera. Note: Zombies will include no less than three types of rum. In fact, the trio expects to ultimately have more than 100 rum labels on the menu. The owners also understand that not everyone is a rum head so they’re planning on offering  plenty of tequila and mezcal along with other adult libations.

Taking over the old Market Square Bar location, Kanaloa will serve those yummy tropical cocktails  downstairs, upstairs (both can hold a party crowd of 75) and on the patio where a total of 60 tiki fans can party in paradise.

“We want it to be a stand out. We want it to be unique,” Doyle says.

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