The Rise of The Modern Day Kava Bar

By: Matthew Masifilo

The Kava bar or Kalapu (club) in its purest form is nothing new to the United States. Polynesians have gathered in their church halls, garages and patios to drink Kava since they first started immigrating in the early 20th century. Such venues were common knowledge amongst the Polynesian community but relatively unknown to the rest of the public.

In the 1990s we saw a Kava boom that swept primarily across Europe only to fall after questionable regulations were imposed on the Kava industry. These regulations crippled the GDP of the South Pacific Nations. With very limited resources on their tiny islands, Kava is one of the only industries that these islands have a global competitive advantage in.  

Thankfully in the United States, Kava is still considered a dietary supplement. At the turn of the century we began to see the modern-day Kava bar establish itself. The growth of this bar scene would be slow but steady over the next decade. By 2011 there were about 20 different locations nationwide with high densities in Hawaii, LA/San Diego, and the Miami area.  Around this time, Kava bars began to spread out of tropical areas and into cities like Portland, Oregon.  Since then, the amount of modern-day Kava bars in the US have doubled and can be found in over eight states.

In a nation that is fueled on coffee and energy drinks, Americans need a way to relax and Kava may be that answer. If the growth of the industry continues as it has been over the past five years, a Kava bar will more than likely be opening near you soon.

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