The Grassroots Kava House Story

The love for kava and the community that it spawns brought us together. Sharing that love is what drove us to open Grassroots Kava House. Grassroots Kava House is built for the community by the community.

We work tirelessly to stay true to traditions of the south Pacific and also provide an environment that is friendly and inviting to newcomers. Traditional kava is our passion and exciting new twists on kava provide options for those interested in trying a shell but aren’t quite ready for the full experience. Our handmade syrups and use of local ingredients, whenever possible, allows us to make drinks that appeal to those looking to join us in saying “Bula!”

me at gr


My kava experience began in 2001, when my college friend Jeff Bowman introduced me to kava at a mutual friend’s party. After an initial rejected offer, I gave it the old college try and hated it. All I thought was why would anybody drink this stuff? But being a good friend I offered to help him build the first kava bar in North America, Nakava (originally named The Nakamal) located in Boca Raton. And when I say build, initially it was only to build their website.

It was a week after New Year’s Day 2002; website was completed but “the Nak” wasn’t open yet. I found myself at the end of contract tech work without any work lined up. I started to visit Jeff’s soon-to-be open kava bar, helping decorate and learning more about kava and even how to make it. With the initial success of the business, I was lucky enough to be hired as the second employee. I took the job so I had some income while I continued to look for work in the tech sector after the bubble bust in 2001. Read More

What was initially a temp job turned into a passion. I became a manager, helped build their online store, develop packaging and create marketing materials. My time with Nakava culminated in my month long trip to Vanuatu in 2006. There I learned not only about the complex supply chain for kava but about the lives of the people who grew it, drank it, and loved it. I met many wonderful Ni-Vans, some of which I still talk to today. It was paradise.

So in 2009, the opportunity arose to be the general manager and co-founder of Bula Kafe in Saint Petersburg. After helping build the foundation for the Pinellas County kava community, I became the managing partner with Bula Kafe’s current owner. Over the years I was lucky enough to encounter some very intelligent and compassionate people who shared my more than decade old goal of opening a kava bar named Grassroots.

Recently, the community that kava has built has grown more than ten fold with kava bars all around Pinellas County. This was proof for us that the time was right to share this vision and experience with you. The Grassroots Kava House Experience.

Thanks for sharing this journey and these shells of kava with us.


Kenneth Hoyumpa, Chief