Zoey Best and her husband Brent Waffle are the co-owners of Durham’s first non-alcoholic bar, Da Kine’s Kava. The duo got the idea to bring kava to Durham in 2018, “We had a difficult time gaining traction because we have never started a business before and we didn’t have any money,” said Best.
Kava is a plant that grows in the pacific. The root is the part you consume because it chills you out and makes you feel relaxed. A lot of people use it as an alternative to alcohol because it takes the edge off without feeling impaired.
By early 2019, Best and Waffle started making their own bottled kava drinks and looking for commercial space. By July 2020 they were able to find a spot where a former coffee shop was. Best told us, “the coffee shop had many locations and decided to close that one during the pandemic. It was a really good deal because the landlord wanted to get someone in there quick.”
Best and Waffle bootstrapped the business and were working every aspect of it from bartending to marketing. “It was very difficult. I’m not going to pretend that it wasn’t, it took a serious toll on us mentally and physically,” added Best.
After 9 months they were able to bring on employees, but will only hire people who are passionate about kava.
“We powered through the pandemic, we knew it was going to be a good opportunity if we’re able to take it,” said Best.
Best says that Da Kine’s Kava appeals to a wide variety of people including those who are sober and are seeking a social atmosphere like you’d find at a typical bar.
However, kava is very different from alcohol, “after consuming kava you’re still functional, you can think straight, you’re just sort of chill. It’s like a natural antidepressant. It makes you feel happy and it also affects your central nervous system so it can physically relax you,” said Best.
Da Kine’s Kava is located at 1114 W. Chapel Hill Street in Durham. They are open every day except Monday.