By Chrisleen Herard,
Special to the AFRO

Kevin Kelley’s Kitchen + Kocktails restaurant fed the mouths of Dallas and Chicago before opening its third location just minutes away from the White House in Washington, D.C. On Sept. 1, Kelley left another signature in the hospitality industry with the unveiling of his KANVAS lounge, which is located right underneath Kitchen + Kocktails’ floors on 1300 I St. NW.

“This is another opportunity for me to create in the food and beverage world, and so just like an artist with a blank canvas, this space is a canvas for me,” Kelley said. 

Kelley grew up in Texas, a state known to be seasoned with culture and the Southern comfort food that the attorney and businessman would later serve to others after opening the first Kitchen + Kocktails’ restaurant in 2020.

“It has ties to where I’m from. I’m from the South,” said Kelley.  “I think the South has the best food ever, so Kitchen + Kocktails is Southern food and KANVAS is a little bit more elevated.”

Apart from its parent restaurant, KANVAS is not full service, however, it provides smaller-portioned food to its customers that cannot be found above its lounge.

“We don’t have anything that’s on the menu of Kitchen + Kocktail. Lobster bites are on the menu (and) we have wings that are not traditional, but we’ve got special flavor.”

The lounge much like the upstairs full restaurant will feature images from prominent Black celebrities with ties to the D.C. area. (Photo courtesy of KANVAS)

Guests are able to order hand-crafted cocktails served in glasses that take the shapes of roses and swans or are embellished with sheets of gold.

KANVAS also contains a melting pot of entertainment for a variety of parties. Projected on a screen will be games and wrestling matches for sports fans and runway shows like Victoria’s Secret and Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty for those who enjoy modeling and fashion.

“So again, KANVAS is just a chance for us to elevate and do creative things in an environment that’s a lounge, but it’s also gonna be a place to show events and have some excitement too,” said Kelley.

“This is just gonna be a mix of sexiness, fun and sports, and so we’re excited about KANVAS, …I mean, our team has a huge euphoria about what’s to come.” 

Kelley hopes to explore the country and bring his restaurant’s colorful food, along with his lounge’s serene atmosphere, nationwide while continuing to be in service of hundreds and thousands per year.

“We want this to be a space where if you dine in the restaurant, you’re comfortable going downstairs for after dinner,” Kelley said. “We’re not a club, but we’re not a restaurant either, and so we’re a lounge. We fit that space that’s somewhere in between. You can hear dope music, but you can also sit down and relax with your lady or with your man and not feel like you’re in a rock space.”

Customers can enjoy their bar bites and drinks as they take in the dark, calming scenery of the after-dinner lounge, which is illuminated with pops of color and photos of celebrities plastered on the walls.

“We believe we have a fantastic concept of food, drinks and vibes that has not only been accepted well in Dallas, Chicago, and D.C., (but) we think the entire country’s gonna gravitate towards the concept,” said Kelley. “We’re excited to serve the locations that we have now, but we’re also excited to explore the country and take our guest recommendations on where our concepts should go next.”