Wednesday, January 13, 2010

We're starting a bar.

After my September stint as kitchen witch at Nana's Lodge cooking for the Fuel TV show peeps from On Surfari, Nate and I were approached, cajoled, enticed and then convinced to help start a bar in Mamba Point. I mean, on Mamba Point--the wave that, when it's breaking, is the fattest, longest ride I've ever had, a wave so long it makes your legs hurt.

I'm thrilled about this project. Back when I lived in Zanzibar, I helped to start The Dhow Restaurant, a floating restaurant that was featured by The Times UK and French Vogue. I loved putting the place together, starting it up and running things--a different experience every night. Right now, bars in Monrovia are either cheap and local, or over-priced and not worth the effort. So far, Nate and I haven't found a chill, attractive, relaxing place with good, cheap drinks--or any place even close that we'd like to hang out in regularly. So, we're going to make one.

A work about the bar-restaurant--because it will, of course, have delicious, nourishing, fresh and affordable food. I've been testing a menu of small seasonal plates--mostly seafood and fresh vegetables--for the last few months. I've slowly created a tapas menu that brings out the best in Liberian produce--lots grilled seafood, roast vegetables and fresh salads. That, and luscious, amazing drinks. More about this in a future post...

We're working with a local businessman and his wife who've rented an entire building on the waterfront and are renovating it into a modern entertainment complex. She's got a beauty shop and spa on the 2nd floor beside ocean-facing apartments (we'll be moving into one), a clothing boutique the ground floor, and the bar will be on the rooftop. The space used to be the old Griot Cafe--now next to the building site for the new US Embassy. Here are some photos of the place before the current round of renovations.

Here's the view of Mamba Point from the deck, which is where we'll have yoga class surrounded by potted plants and bamboo shades. I cannot wait to start teaching yoga on this deck.
Here is the other half of the deck, from which you can see West Point, one of Monrovia's poorer fishing communities. We're working with their local football team to help keep the beach clean, and will be probably doing projects with them in the future--we'll see.

This is the bar. It's modeled on the Nana's bar in Robertsport and is huge. You can see me, very tiny, on the right hand side looking into my bag. Where you see boards, there are now mirrors that reflect the ocean.
Here's the view from behind the bar, looking into where the kitchen will be. There's lots of space for us to work behind here, which I like.
This is the covered, inside area of the rooftop. We'll be setting up wicker lounge chairs, low tables and plenty of bamboo screens and potted plants to give it a jungle retreat feeling. In the evenings, hanging hurricane lanterns everywhere will add a nice African touch.

We're calling the place Tides and it will open in early 2010. Stay tuned for updates (and email me if you know anyone awesome who needs a job)!

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