Welcome to Kava Social
A Choice Destination
Kava Social was created with a primary purpose: to counterbalance the overly medicated, intoxicated and caffeinated culture with natural plant alternatives curated into mock-tails and wellness lattes; it’s a balance of calm and stimulating. Inspired by the kava root of Fiji and kratom leaf of Indonesia, the plethora of choice plant based beverages are rooted in earthy flavors that combine all-natural herbs, teas and sweeteners with zero-proof spirits. Kava Social’s menu is crafted for naturally conscientious and plant curious consumers seeking healthier options for focus, energy, relaxation and overall mood enhancement.
Opening in January of 2020, Kava Social realized its concept in New York City with immediate success. Evolving into an important community gathering place for consumers seeking a social scene not-centered around booze, Kava Social is proudly recognized as a vibrant hotspot for locals located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Kava The Funk Down©
Kava Social NYC, plant-based elixirs
kava social nyc
Alexandra Sienkiewicz, Founder, Kava Social
How did you arrive at the idea of starting a Kava bar?
I stumbled across a kava bar in my neighborhood of Miami Beach. I was looking for a place with WIFI to work remotely, and I had a great experience there. The Kavatender explained kava, and I was intrigued. It was so unique and very different. The taste of kava was a bit difficult at first, but it felt great.
I didn't give kava much thought again until I needed a place to work. It soon became part of my daily routine to take the laptop to my neighborhood kava bar. It was about the kava to a point, but it was also so much more about the environment. The scene was a mix of locals and people seeking out kava, to those like me who would drink kava to get work done and others who would just hang out at the "bar." It was an interesting dynamic of people partaking in kava. The idea was very cool and the kava bar became a part of my social life, as well as a place for work connections. It also felt great to have a healthy choice to relieve stress.
At the kava bar, I met a friend who would also become my business partner. We were inspired by the opportunity to expand the kava experience and develop the concept and take it to other cities.
Why did you choose New York for the kava bar?
New York City is a city where stress is high, space is cramped and everyone just needs a break day in and day out. NYC was an obvious first location for Kava Social. As we developed the kava bar concept, it was very important that the focus centered on the environment we would create in which kava was consumed and where people would gather. From various experiences at other kava bar establishments, the drink itself is not that tasty, and the presentation and education of kava were somewhat lacking to compel a broader audience.
I started recognizing that a lot of people in very high-stress careers would benefit from drinking kava as a natural way to alleviate stress, yet without inhibiting cognition or any ability to be productive. Kava is also consumed by health and wellness enthusiasts for its natural muscle-relaxing properties. These are just a couple of the reasons why kava is quite fascinating and so fantastic. Simply, it quiets the head noise and relaxes the body producing a very present and clear state of mind.
Our vision for Kava Social was to create a concept where people can gather whether to simply hang out, to work remotely, to be creative, and most of all to be social. We wanted plenty of space to design an environment that would be conducive for different activities. A place where work doesn't feel like work, where making connections comes easy, where old traditions bring people together to share kava, young and old.
We spent at least a year looking for the ideal space for a kava bar in NYC, and finally found and secured the right location, a lease was executed and the build-out commenced and completed in late 2019. We opened on January 10th of 2020, officially. We had a great reception. It was so fun to see the kava bar vision come alive! This neighborhood (Williamsburg, Brooklyn) is quite fantastic. Right out of the shoot, people flocked to Kava Social, the new kava bar in Williamsburg. It was going strong for the first 2+ months. And then a global pandemic hit. Without warning, the city shut down completely in mid-March 2020, it was very abrupt. Believe me, when I say, Covid-19 was not in the business plan.
We had to lay off staff because no one was supposed to be working for their safety. We were like, "What now? What do we do?" We gave it some thought, and it seemed prudent to keep going, operating in whatever capacity we could. And that's when I had to get very hands-on. We pivoted our format, changed the focus to take-away options, and created dry packs of our drinks for shelter in place. We wanted to get something into people's hands so they could take it home while keeping some kind of momentum going for the business. Weeks turned into months, then all of summer, fall and winter long. There were strict Covid-19 restrictions in effect, curfews in place, and protests. Tensions were high and it was quite a stressful time. We even had a brick-burglar break-in at Kava Social. But we did the best we could, keeping costs down as much as possible, and kept going. It was important to be consistent and keep some level of momentum. The support during the lock-down period of our patrons, neighbors, and friends was heartwarming everyone pulled together, there was a sense of unity and enduring friendships.
What's been the most challenging part?
The biggest challenge is the lack of knowledge and education in presenting kava to those who have never heard of the root. There's not enough good and reliable information about kava despite the root being consumed by generations in Polynesian cultures for thousands of years.
There is also the challenge of procuring kava. The kava roots safe for consumption, and regulated for global export takes a minimum of 3-5 years to mature, and often the crops are destroyed by cyclones and other tropical storms in the South Pacific islands where kava is grown. Kava plants are very sensitive and not easily cultivated.
And the taste is particular, very earthy! But we have developed a menu of beverages for all palates.
What's your experience with Kava?
I love kava for the fact it calms you enough to where you can focus and finish tasks and helps keep the stress level down. I always have high energy, and my mind is constantly racing. Having kava keeps me on point with whatever I'm doing. For me, kava has also meant fewer happy hours, as the need to release energy or stress is alleviated with a little kava. I feel so much better, healthier and my sleep patterns have greatly improved.
And the people. I absolutely love that kava brings many different people together in such a cool and interesting way. It's super unifying.