Jackie Sekula began drinking kava about five years ago and got her husband John to start drinking it, too. She then began to introduce her friends to it, bringing the drink — made from a root found in the Pacific Islands — to social events and parties.
“I wanted to introduce everybody to kava because I believe in the product immensely,” Sekula said.
In March, she and her husband started planning to open a kava bar, choosing to incorporate their last name into the bar as well.
Thus, Kava Kula was born. It celebrated its grand opening in Ormond Beach on Saturday, June 17.
The recipe for Kava tea is thousands of years old. The root is turned into powder and put into a strainer so it can be steeped. It is then squeezed until it has a clay-like consistency, ensuring all of the liquid has been drained.
Kava is traditionally ladled into a coconut shell and used for ceremonies and peace offerings. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, kava is promoted as a dietary supplement for anxiety, insomnia and other conditions.
“It’s a great alternative, in my opinion, for alcohol,” Sekula said. “When you go to a bar and have alcohol, the older you get, the worse it makes you feel the next day, and you won’t get that with kava. When you stop drinking it, within an hour that feeling goes away.”
Kava Kula also offers “K Tea,” which has similar effects but comes from a leaf instead of a root.
Employee Jonathan Casterlane said he enjoys the social element of working at the kava bar.
“Learning how to make new drinks and meeting new customers and interacting with them has been so much fun,” Casterlane said.
Customer Annette Escoffery got a tropical fruit-flavored kava drink, similar to a mimosa, at the bar. She liked it.
“I’m a person where I don’t drink any alcohol, so to have something to give me a great, relaxing feeling but tastes good is a game changer,” Escoffery said.
Sekula said opening the kava bar at the Fountain Square Shopping Village, located at 142 E. Granada Blvd., was perfect for her and her husband because of the island-themed stores downstairs. Being upstairs, she added, also gives them room to have a patio for customers and possible future events.
The Sekulas aim to open more kava bars around Volusia County in the future.