Edmonds Restaurant News: Calypso bringing Caribbean flavor to town, Kelnero taking shape

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Calypso owners Jennifer Myatt and Michael Chambers.

It will be a place like we’ve not seen in Edmonds. Call it American cuisine with a Caribbean soul, call it “West Indies forward” with a nod to Latin America, call it a hybrid that brings the best of what Jamaica and the Bahamas have cooked up – whatever you want to call it, Calypso is set to replace Café de Paris and it promises to add some delicious diversity to our culinary landscape.

Jennifer Myatt and Michael Chambers bring a combined 50 years of food service experience to the table as they prepare to launch their new endeavor. Myatt, who grew up in Nova Scotia, began taking catering gigs at 15. Chambers got his first restaurant experience working at Round Table Pizza in Everett as a teenager. They met in the Cayman Islands in 2006 and began dating shortly thereafter.

They love Edmonds. “If we had ended up any where else in Washington, we would probably already be gone,“ said Myatt. “We very seldom leave the Bowl. In some ways, living in Edmonds is a lot like living on an island. It’s got that small-town feel — everyone knows everyone,” Chambers added.

Myatt is part of the Salt and Iron team and started there about the time it opened. Chambers is also a familiar local fixture -– you’ll often find him running the bar at The Loft. That’s where he met Firmin Berclaz of the Café de Paris. He and Myatt would dine there and Berclaz would sometimes drop by The Loft at the end of his workday. At one point they bumped into each other at Engel’s.

“I asked him, when are you going to retire? He said ‘I want to!’” recalled Chambers.

One thing led to another, and now the plan is that Calypso will open in mid to late October.

Calypso will occupy the former Café de Paris restaurant on Main Street. (Photo by Larry Vogel)

Myatt and Chambers are cautiously optimistic. “But it’s like Mike Tyson said, ‘Everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the face,’“ Chambers quipped. Still, taking over ownership of an existing restaurant should soften some of the potential blows. Because the current footprint is a restaurant, permitting and remodeling will be somewhat less challenging. They plan on maintaining the existing floor plan. The center back wall will have a bar with seating, extending out the currently concealed bar service area.

Caribbean is what they know. They spent nearly a decade working at restaurants on Grand Cayman.

Imagine a menu populated with items like ceviche, Trinidad roti, jerk meats, oxtail, conch fritters, and empanadas. Imagine cocktail selections that cater to the concept of a tropical holiday with a hundred rums to choose from. Say, for instance, that you had a hankering for a Painkiller like they make at the Soggy Bottom Bar on Key West. Calypso will be a place that can make that happen.

Calypso will be in that space diners know well in the Northwest – somewhere between casual and more formal fine dining. “Caribbean is all about having fun and that’s going to be our M.O.,” said Chambers. They plan on being open late, (weekends until 2 a.m.) with early and late-night happy hour menus. They will be bringing in music, so weekend evenings should be pretty lively.

They hope to make the place airy and light with wood floors, a décor with splashes of color and rich woods, and a spruced-up exterior. Because they’re a restaurant and not just a bar, they plan on being family friendly. They intend to be as environmentally sustainable as possible, even tracking down funky old glassware rather than buying new.

They’ve already tapped Jason Orth to come on board as chef. Orth has lived and worked across the water in Kitsap County for the last 15 years. He’s specialized in private parties, large events and farm-to-table gatherings. Orth is committed to sourcing local meat, seafood and produce. He’s currently working at Salt and Iron. Chambers and Orth worked together at The Loft, where they found that they really connected. They share a dedication to the job and to the restaurant industry. “Jason was the first person I thought of when we started putting this together,” said Chambers.

I’ll keep you posted as Calypso takes shape. Something to look forward to!

~ ~ ~ ~

Kali and Kris Kelnero at work. in their new space.

At 545 Main St., in the space once occupied by Edmonds Family Dentistry, a startling metamorphosis is underway.

Kelnero, a cocktail lounge that will also serve small plates and offer live piano music, is beginning to take shape.

The 300-square-foot deck looking out on Main Street will accommodate 21. It will be a place where friends can congregate outdoors on nice days and evenings. Unlike most outdoor seating along Main Street, a large group can sit around the table without blocking foot traffic.

The future site of Kelnero, where the outdoor deck can accommodate 21 people.

Step inside and with a little imagination, you can see where the piano will reside. A host station will be to the right and tables fabricated from re-purposed wood will be off to the left. But the focal point will be the bar.

And what a bar it will be.

“We’re cocktail people,” said Kris Kelnero. “That’s what we like — the goal is to stock the bar with tons of liquor. My personal goal is to have 500-plus spirits behind the bar to draw from eventually.”

Live-edge cedar is planned for the bar.

The bar is configured in a wide V-shape that will allow physical proximity, create intimacy and afford better access to the bartender. Gorgeous slabs of live-edge cedar hewn from a single tree await installation on the bar top.

Venture further in, and you’ll encounter three rooms that are in the process of being re-designed to create cozy semi-private space. This area will accommodate small groups of parties up to about 10 with comfortable couches and overstuffed chairs. One of these, dubbed the Sunset Room, will be reservable for birthday parties and other gatherings.

The unifying theme with everything — from the ingredients of the food and cocktails to the decor — will be Pacific Northwest. Art produced by local artists will be rotated through. They plan on keeping it classy, but not pretentious.

Kali and Kris Kelnero. “We’re cocktail people,” Kris says,

One drink idea that Kris Kelnero was kicking around on the day I visited was variations on the boilermaker theme with good old Rainer beer, if that’s your choice. Elaborate cocktails will also be part of their regular fare, but availability of a wide variety of drink options is their goal.

A lot of thought is going into the menu. Kali Kelnero has some strong opinions about it. Expect to see options like homemade jellies and jams accompanying their charcuterie plate, a variety of oyster options, smoked salmon, and the incorporation of nettles in soups, drinks and sauces. The house salad promises to be worthy of note. “You can tell a lot about a restaurant by its house salad,” Kali Kelnero said.

The couple behind their bar.

The Kelneros take pride in their craft and their chef John Perez shares their vision. “I’ve known John since our high school days at Mountlake Terrace, he’s hard working and honest and has over a decade of experience,” said Kris Kelnero.

I asked about timelines. (Rude of me, I know) The Kelneros originally hoped for some time in April, but the scope of the project and various permitting requirements made that impossible. “We’ve sort of given up on timelines,” Kris Kelnero said with a laugh.

But things are progressing nicely. They’re nearing the finishing stages of construction, the HVAC had just been installed, and the finish work might go pretty quickly at this point.

I think it’s likely that Edmonds will have a quaint, charming, elegant cocktail lounge to visit before the year’s out. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to relax in a comfortable chair, order a drink and check out the house salad.

— By James Spangler

James Spangler is guest writing the Edmonds Restaurant News column while Kathy Passage takes a break.

 

One Reply to “Edmonds Restaurant News: Calypso bringing Caribbean flavor to town, Kelnero taking shape”

  1. Please bring Pussers Rum to the new Calypso Restaurant. I discovered it on my last Caribbean holiday. Until recently it was only given to crews of the British Navy. When daily portions were curtailed, it was decided to sell the rum to the public with proceeds going to the Navy’s “widows and orphan’s” fund. You can taste the rum and enjoy the history.

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