Have you checked out the backyard of the Honu lately? What was once dirt and grass has become a Polynesian tiki bar pouring Mai Tais and Jungle Birds in a tropical, almost-hidden setting.
Chef Kimberly Platt, who owns the Hawaiian-themed Dunedin cafe with her wife Lisa at 516 Grant St., said rolling out this large outdoor oasis was always their endgame. As the Honu approaches its four-year anniversary in February, they just didn’t think it would happen so soon.
“Our five-year plan turned into a three-and-a-half-year plan,” Kimberly Platt said.
Featuring a delightfully mismatched mix of tables and stools for sipping (and snacking off the regular cafe menu), the space reflects the Honu’s eco-friendly practices with a number of reclaimed characteristics. Railroad ties that once held in the grass and dirt were pulled out and turned into a planter box and a foot rail, plus Platt said Woodwright Brewing Co. donated bamboo for part of the bar’s ceiling and some wood came from the Scottish American Society.
The bar, which gives off a particularly cool and transporting vibe at night, stays true to the tiki genre with classic recipes. Lisa Platt developed the lineup of 10 mostly traditional cocktails, including the Painkiller with creme de cacao and nutmeg and the Zombie with three rums and absinthe. A couple of bowls designed for two guests also make an appearance alongside wine, full liquor and beer.
Quietly launched in December, the tiki bar is open when the Honu is open: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Feb. 1 will mark a kickoff of sorts for the bar, Kimberly Platt said, as the Honu serves as the after-party for the World Ukulele Day festival in Dunedin.
“It’s almost speakeasy-ish because nobody knows it’s back there,” Platt said. “I think everybody is pleasantly surprised at how big the space is and how we’ve designed it. Everybody’s first word is, ‘Wow.’
“We’re really happy to be able to share it with everybody.”