When I noticed that Tiki Kev had liked my Beach Bar Bums Facebook page, I was pretty excited. I had been a fan of his work for a while and had always been interested in finding out more about him and his business. When I reached out to him to be a subject of my Beach Bar Bums Focus articles, he happily volunteered to participate.
How did you get started making tiki bars?
Back in 2000, I got married in Jamaica on the beach and we were there for 10 days. I was at the tiki bars there and thought it would be a great product to add to my business. I am a carpenter by trade. I found someone who showed me how to thatch and about after the 3rd year offering tiki bars and huts it became full time. I started designing my own bar and ideas. Came up with a new website, trade marked “Tiki Kev” and have a brand.
What’s it been like since then?
As soon as I started building the bars and huts it was instant stress relief. It was fun building and designing without any stress. I’ve been designing and building tiki bars for 13 years now.
What’s the farthest you’ve had to travel?
So far the farthest I have traveled to install one is Arkansas for Pine Bluff Army Arsenal Base. I’ve been to Louisiana, Illinois 4 times, and every state on the east coast except Vermont and Maine. I was on Extreme Makeover Home Edition, The Today Show and The Price is Right. I also did 2 Tiki Bars for Boling Air Force Base in Washington DC. I’ve been asked to come to Italy, Bahamas’, Australia and Hawaii to build bars but the cost factor was too high in each event.
Where does the inspiration for the tiki bars come from? Does is come from yourself, the customer or a combination of the two?
My inspiration comes from my own head. I put myself into the shoes of my customers and say “If this was my bar in this situation, what do I want? How should this design be?
Are they all custom built or do you work from a template?
All my bars except the Island Hopper series are built to order. I can have 10 customers wanting the same size bar and design but each will be completely different based on the options going into the bar. Each bar is built for each individual person. I believe all my bars are unique and no one builds them as good as I do.
Of the numerous tiki bars you’ve built, are there any that stand out for your personally?
I think the one I did on Kent Island in Maryland on the beach is one of the coolest. It is 22 feet long and features every option possible for a bar. Plus it’s on the beach. You can see that on my business page on Facebook in my photo albums along with tons of other pictures.