Kelnero Bar Thinks Outside the Box to Reach Customers
Kelnero Bar's husband-and-wife team Kris and Kali Kelnero have bounced back from Covid-19 by thinking outside the box.
Hosting Conor O’Neill’s Cottage at Blue Ridge bread popups, turning their dine-in into takeout, and expanding their menu to support local, organic small farmers and other grocery vendors.
“We are trying to constantly adjust to what our customers want and need, and what we can offer that provides value to our community.”
Kris and Kali Kelnero opened their own destination bar in downtown Edmonds last year in February with high hopes and a cool libations-and-victuals concept, heavy on the “fiercely regional and seasonally inspired.” COVID-19 threw all that out the window, forcing the young, married couple to go from a full-service dine-in establishment to full-service takeout.
They also went outside the box, partnering up with Conor O’Neill of Cottage at Blue Ridge — the Perrinville bread basket king recently featured in the Seattle Times — for the occasional Wednesday pop-ups. Handling the changes hasn’t been easy. But they’ve shown a willingness, diligence, and gift, for thinking creatively on their feet.
Fun fact, Kelnero means ‘bartender’ [in Esperanto] and we gave the last name to ourselves after we got married. Then we thought it’s a great name for a bar too, so why not!”
How have you been handling the COVID crisis? It has certainly been an interesting process. We have transitioned from a full-service, on-premise restaurant, specializing in cocktails and a romantic atmosphere to takeout only. In order to provide takeout, we had to build an entirely new food menu that’s more conducive to traveling out the door, and set up a safe pickup system, including physical barriers, distancing guidelines, lots of sanitizer, and online ordering. Since then, we have started to offer some grocery items, both to support our small-scale, local vendors (including many local organic small farmers) and to provide our customers with a safe grocery pickup option. We later added liquor sales and cocktail crates. We are trying to constantly adjust to what our customers want and need, and what we can offer that provides value to our community.
Throughout the transition, we’ve increased our social media presence, for example, posting videos of us making some of our signature cocktails. So, even though we can’t make drinks for our people, they can still get a taste of Kelnero at home. We are vehemently avoiding increasing our email presence since we are all dealing with flooded inboxes right now.
We also started doing our bread popups with Conor and they are going great! Both The Cottage and Kelnero bring in people who are then exposed to the other business, resulting in sales for both of us. Plus it’s awesome to work with Conor and his team. And I could subsist solely off those chocolate rye cookies.
What has the response been like from your customers? We have received a lot of positive feedback and praise from our customers, many of whom are grateful to be able to continue supporting us while we’re closed for on-premise service. We are extremely grateful for everyone’s continued and increasing support, and every single word of encouragement. It’s been a difficult series of transitions and we’re working hard to keep our relationships alive.
Are you planning on doing anything special for Mother’s Day? Yes, we are planning to offer some food and drink specials (more details to come). We are also partnering with Edmonds Localvore to offer a Spritz Survival Kit for mom’s day. The kit includes everything you need to make a few spritz cocktails at home, including directions, and will be available at edmondslocalvore.com in a few days.
How about Mother’s Day-worthy recipes to share? We have so many recipes to share, it depends entirely on what mom likes to drink! But the Rosé Sangria is a great choice, because it’s easy to make and fun to drink, which seems like a nice choice for mom on her big day.
Do you have any e-cards? Yes! Through Toast (our software provider), we can sell physical cards, or digital cards that can be delivered via email or text. Digital cards can be purchased at toasttab.com/kelnero/giftcards.
How can people support your business? Ordering takeout, groceries, or beverages (we have both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options) is a great way to support us. We have takeout or curbside dropoff available, and can take orders online, on the phone, or in person. If takeout is not accessible to you, then purchasing a gift card online or getting involved with our social media or email channels is a great way to set up a relationship together in the future.
- Youtube channel: Kelnero Cocktails
- Gift card link: toasttab.com/kelnero/giftcards
- Online ordering link: toasttab.com/kelnero
- Current pickup hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 4 to 7
Kali Kelnero pouring cocktail image c/o Edmonds Downtown Alliance
Rosé Sangria (for mom)
4 oz dry rosé wine, 0.5 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice, 0.5 oz Cointreau or other orange liqueur, 0.5 oz rose simple syrup, and a citrus wheel garnish. Stir it up with lots of ice in a large wine glass.
YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdCclGJsF8Q
1.5 oz Àvua Amburana cachaça, 0.5 oz coconut cream rum (Brinley Gold Shipwreck), 0.5 oz passionfruit purée, 0.5 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice, 0.25 oz demerara simple syrup. Shake and strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with fresh-grated nutmeg.
YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94s1hTZVyXU
Black Walnut Manhattan
2 oz rye whiskey, 0.75 oz Averna Amaro, 0.25 oz black walnut liqueur, and 2 dashes Angostura bitters. Stir with ice and strain into a chilled coupe, garnish with a cherry, and enjoy!
YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdqNHY0ovUE&t=4s