Kayaking brings to mind the outdoors and the healthy lifestyle enjoyed by those who participate in such rugged activities. This could be why owners Stephen Mac McInerney and Kathleen South chose the name Kayak Kafé for their restaurant located in the Atrium of the Downtown Athletic Club.
Known for its motto, Luscious Liquids and Healthy Eats, Kayak Kafé is generating buzz as one of the places downtown to stop and get a healthy but delicious breakfast and lunch since its opening in February.
The streets are comfortable to walk downtown and we have several tables outside, Mac says. So, its a great atmosphere. Our philosophy was to bring to downtown a healthy alternative with a concentration of fresh fruits and vegetables, house-made breads, fresh roasted meats -- offered inside the health club.
Kathleen says that she had a vision of doing something downtown and originally had another partner who backed out of being able to do the restaurant. So, she approached Mac with whom she had worked at Tango on Tybee Island.
Hes awesome, anyway, she says. We got together and the menus just came together. We just had the same goals -- we wanted it to be friendly, we wanted it to be healthy -- and we wanted to be good, essentially.
Both Mac and Kathleen wanted to bring something unique to downtown because they love Savannah and its atmosphere and were nterested in healthier eating alternatives than traditional restaurants in downtown.
The food runs to smoothies for breakfast and sandwiches, wraps and salads for lunch. Mac recommends the Cockspur, a fresh roasted turkey sandwich with caramelized onions in vinaigrette, Swiss cheese, greens and honey mustard, either as a sandwich, wrap or panini. He also recommends the Feeling Irie, a smoothie with tastes that remind him of his days in the Virgin Islands.
Even a limited dinner menu is available with such items as fresh roasted chicken halves or turkey-vegetable meatloaf, served with wine or beer.
The sensibility of Kayak Kafé is informed by Kathleens and Macs sensibilities of their lives in Savannah and outside. While Kathleen has lived in Savannah since 1978 and on Tybee since 1985, Mac has worked or lived on Nantucket and Cape Cod, the Virgin Islands, in Austin, Texas, and in New Mexico. The blends of regional and world-traveled ingredients make Kayak a taste sensation not soon forgotten.
One example is the Georgia Bliss, a sandwich that takes oven-roasted chicken and caramelized Vidalia onions, adding gorgonzola cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and avocadoes. Another is the West Indian trader, a curried chicken salad with walnuts, mixed fruit and banana loaf sliced on a bed of organic greens.
Mac and Kathleen also firmly believe in service with a smile.
Staff is the most important thing to me and Kathleen, Mac says.
I want everybody to have smiles and be friendly -- thats what I want in my staff, she says.
Mac and Kathleen will also work with anyone needing lunch meetings or events catered. Items are available that are not included on the daily menu.
Mac credits the variety of area chefs with support and creative ideas that help each other open new restaurants and try new tastes. He and Kathleen count among their friends many of the chefs at other established downtown restaurants and hope to one day open another Kayak Kafé and a dinner theme restaurant.
Im hoping to do a dinner restaurant where I can take Low Country cooking to a new level, maybe with some healthier ingredients, says Mac.
For now, though, Kayak is going strong and taking advantage of all the health services offered at the Downtown Athletic Club. Weve got a great location, says Mac.
Kayak Kafé is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Located at #1 Broughton Street, the restaurant can be reached at 233-6044.