By Katie Loudermilk
Kava Culture Kava Bars have been multiplying in the SouthWest Florida area in recent years. It all started when co-owner Caroline Rusher was inspired by the therapeutic qualities of the kava plant while working in the South Pacific Islands.
Caroline Rusher teamed up with her sister Jacqueline Rusher to open their first Kava Culture Kava Bar in Bonita Springs. The sisters later opened four other locations in Florida: in Downtown Fort Myers, Port Charlotte, Fort Myers Beach and Downtown Tampa.
“Our Kava bars are a great place for alcoholics who want to hang out at a bar without getting intoxicated,” said Customer Relations Specialist and Event Manager, Colten Harris. “It’s great for treating anxiety, stress and insomnia.”
The kava-based drinks contain the plant and different flavors of juices. Two of the most popular drinks are the Cinnamon Toast Crunch made with kava and the Raspberry Tea that contains kratom.
Along with their famous kava drinks, Kava Culture makes kratom beverages. Kratom isa type of leaf from Malaysia and Thailand. This leaf is a cousin of the coffee plant but does not contain caffeine. There are three strands of kratom: white for energizing, red for relaxing and pain relief, and green for an in-between mood that helps with studying and socializing.
The products offered are 95 percent vegan. Organic teas and coffee can also be found at any Kava Culture location.
Kava Culture Kava Bars also offer numerous activities and events for the community.
“We try to support artists by having open mic nights, yoga sessions, hula hoop light shows and displaying artwork by the locals,” said Harris.
At the Ft Myers location you can find events on a large chalk board that include game nights, bands performing and pool tournaments.
“We are wanting to have a day where the five locations come together and offer college students a discount on our drinks to spread the word of Kava Culture,” said Harris.
The Kava Bars have coloring books and board games for the customers and are known for their personable staff.
“I have been working at the Bonita Springs and Ft Myers Beach location for five months now and enjoy the atmosphere,” shared Jason Marhenke, “these bars offer a safe place for people to come be themselves and be part of a family we have created.”
Many come to the bars to hang out or do some work on their computers.
“I like that I can come chill out after working all day and not feel like they only see me as a customer but as a new friend,” said Montana Roberts, a Kava Culture regular.
“I see strangers come in and become best friends with the person next to them,” said Harris. “The people here are very easy going and welcoming and I have never experienced a job that makes me this excited to come to work.”