Three years in the making, Richmond’s highest rooftop restaurant and lounge is open for business.
Kabana, which sits atop the new Hampton Inn and Suites and Homewood Suites at 700 E. Main St., opened for business Wednesday. The 9,000-square-foot restaurant on the hotel’s 20th floor offers scenic views of Richmond’s cityscape from its outdoor patio.
Newly hired bartenders in black polos prepared their workstations and contractors from North South Construction Inc. continued to make modifications leading up to the 5 p.m. opening and to prepare for reservations on the books for more than 300 people.
Sean Rapoza is Kabana’s general manager. He started bartending in 2000 at The Tobacco Company and has worked throughout the Richmond dining and nightlife scene, recently a manager at Balliceaux.
“The publicity company said they wanted to emulate Balliceaux,” Rapoza said of LX Group, the company charged with promoting Kabana. “That had the local dining crowd in the early evening with entertainment and dancing at night, and that’s what we’re going for with Kabana.”
Rapoza also serves as a sommelier at Belle & James, a French-American restaurant that opened last year at the base of the hotel and is managed by Bobby Kruger.
The building was formerly an office tower and was converted into a dual hotel by Shamin, the largest hotel operator in Richmond. The company paid $7 million for the building in 2013.
Cocktails at Kabana are “tiki-inspired,” with dual frozen drink machines at both of its bars. Rapoza is also emphasizing light, easy-to-drink beers.
Warren Jones, a Richmond native who returned to the city after working at restaurants in Chicago, is Kabana’s executive chef. He crafted its menu that Rapoza described as “luxury seafood with a pan-Asian mix.”
Small plate items including Kamikaze crisps and grilled octopus range from $4 to $16, with large plates like seared scallops costing up to $36. Seven-dollar sides include coconut rice, bok choy and Szechuan cabbage.
Rapoza said reservations for 313 guests had been made for Kabana’s opening as of Wednesday afternoon, with a group from Dominion Resources among its first diners at 5 p.m. He said he expected the lounge to be packed during its opening and through the weekend.
Kabana’s legal occupancy is 388 guests, with a maximum seating capacity of 211.
Kabana is the second rooftop bar to open downtown in recent months. Quirk Hotel pulled the curtain off its bar with a view at 201 W. Broad St. in April.