New tiki bar in Raleigh's Glenwood South district opens to high turnout

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Ark Royal tiki bar opened Thursday in Raleigh's Glenwood South district.

The turnout was so high, the bar ran out of some of its liquor, all of its beer and other items like paper towels.

"Amazing response," said Patrick Shanahan, who owns the bar and Watts & Ward with Niall Hanley. "I mean, people are just lining up outside to get in."

The Ark Royal is closing to restock and reopening Wednesday.

The most recent economic development market report from the Downtown Raleigh Alliance shows food and beverage sales are picking back up.

Downtown food and beverage sales increased by 33 percent between Jan. 1 through March 31 of this year compared to Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 in 2020.

They increased 101 percent between Jan. 1 through March 31 of this year compared to April 1 through June 30 of 2020, when bars were shut down.

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The Glenwood South district made up about half of those sales from Jan.1 through March 31 of this year.

Places like The Ark Royal speak to something we've all been missing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's just the experience of, 'I haven't been out of my house, I need a vacation,'" Shanahan said. "I need to get away and then you walk in and there's music, island music playing, you know, there's palm trees everywhere. It's welcoming. It's bright. It's airy and these drinks remind people of their last vacation."

The bar is inspired by the tiki culture and Palm Springs, California vibe.

"Palm Springs is a huge inspiration here," Shanahan said. "I mean California. That's where tiki kind of grew from and began."

The tiki bar was supposed to open in May of last year but that got pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bars in North Carolina shut down for seven months.

C. Grace and the upstairs Empress Room on Glenwood Avenue have been closed for more than a year. Owner Catrina Godwin is hoping to reopen June 22.

"We're doing training every week," Godwin said. "This afternoon is one training session. I've got some building, maintenance things. The plumbers are coming in tomorrow. There's a lot to get back into the whole swing."

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