A little Maori culture has found its way into Red Deer’s downtown.
Kia-Ora resto-lounge is expected to open within the next week at the former site of Lava Ultra Lounge in the Millennium Centre. Owned and operated by Joseph and Katherine Ng, the new restaurant and lounge borrow their name from a popular New Zealand aboriginal greeting.
The 4,500-square-foot Lava Ultra Lounge premises, which have been vacant since that business closed on March 31, have undergone mostly cosmetic changes. But it’s also expanded by approximately 1,500 square feet to the east — space previously occupied by Millennium Denture & Dental Hygiene Centre.
The Ngs have converted this into a dining area with seating for about 60, including a private room that can accommodate up to 20. They’ve also added a new entrance off 49th Street, and expanded and upgraded the kitchen.
The food served at Kia-Ora will be “upscale modern western cuisine” with international influences, said Joseph Ng.
He hopes to attract a steady lunchtime crowd from the downtown, including tenants in the Millennium Centre. The pending opening of Red Deer College’s Donald School of Business in the 4909 49th St. office building should help in this regard, he said.
But Ng also thinks Kia-Ora will draw customers in the evening.
“We’re looking forward to the dinner crowd, generating more people who come downtown for supper.”
Central Alberta Theatre’s City Centre Stage, which is located across the street, should produce business as well, he said.
Live entertainment is planned for the lounge about once a month, and could increase if demand warrants.
Ng said Kia-Ora is attracting the attention of passers-by.
“We’ve already got a lot of people knocking on the doors here.”
The Ngs are no strangers to the food and beverage industry. They operate the Blarney Stone Pub & Restaurant.
But Joseph stressed that their new venture is much different, with the Blarney Stone a casual pub and Kia-Ora an upscale lounge and restaurant.
Kia-Ora will open at 11 a.m. daily, with the lounge operating until midnight Monday to Thursday and 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The dining room will probably serve until about 9:30 or 10 p.m., with this time dependent on customer demand.