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New restaurant, Kanu, to open this fall in Old Town

Kanu, a restaurant, nightclub and entertainment destination, is set to open in Old Town within the next 30 days. The construction is almost complete and the building and its architecture is stunning. Kanu as a concept has been in the works since 2017, championed by Rich Murphy, Chris Rudolph and Alex Gray. 

The restaurant will have state of the art cooking appliances including a woodfire grill that General Manager Rich Murphy hopes many of the meals will feature. The kitchen has upgraded technology as well, such as dumbwaiters and fancy cooking appliances. Kanu will offer American fare with a wide array of meals to choose from, including filling vegetarian options. There will even be a nightclub and a rooftop bar where an assortment of alcoholic drinks will be featured. 

“[We] have to show a love for the local brew scene” Gray said, who is excited about featuring local beers and creating craft cocktails to serve guests. Kanu will strive to shine a light on local artists and businesses by featuring their work and products in their restaurant.  

  The facility boasts a vault for expensive and rare liquor that they hope to offer to customers who have a higher budget, as well as artists that wish to perform at their venue. Additionally, all the ice for drinks will be made on-site and branded with the Kanu logo. 

“We’ll be using a brass stamp on our large clear ice cubes. All one does is place the stamp on top of the cube and let gravity and time do the rest. The logo on the stamp is inverted, so the impression created on the ice says Kanu,” Murphy said. He also plans to make all the ice on-site at Kanu. “To create this ice, we will be casting 25 pound blocks of ice, and processing them down to custom sized cubes on our brand new saw.” 

The most impressive aspect of Kanu will be the rooftop bar, which overlooks downtown Old Town. The rooftop bar features a rust colored wall, saved from the original building, a wooden mosaic and string lights outlining the perimeter of the space to add ambiance. There are plenty of cushioned couches to sit on so guests will be comfortable while they dine. Bonfires and glass barriers allow the rooftop bar to be 10 degrees warmer than the outside air temperature in the cooler months. Murphy shared that he would like to keep the space open for as long as possible, even when it is cooler out. Rudolph and Murphy have creative ideas on how to use this area, including rooftop yoga with kombucha on tap, and an event in the winter where everyone shows up in their snow gear and they roll a keg of beer up to the roof for guests to enjoy in the snow. 

The nightclub has sections for VIP booths, a dance floor and a “green room” for performers to spend the night in. What Murphy was most proud of was the impeccable security system Kanu has in place. There are cameras at every entrance and exit, in every stairwell and near every bathroom to ensure that all employees and guests will be safe. Kanu plans on hiring security personnel as well. 

“Our security system is a network of cameras that cover every square foot of the building. We all feel that the safety and security of our guests is of the highest priority.” Murphy shares. 

Murphy and Rudolph explain that they want everyone who attends their facility to have a great time and not worry extensively about their personal safety. They note that a lot of college students from the University of Maine will likely be attending their nightclub and they want to protect the student population to the best of their ability. 

Murphy and Rudolph go on to say they want Old Town to become a destination where artists want to perform and people want to let loose on the weekends. Currently, Old Town only has a few restaurants and one shopping plaza, so Kanu will add an upscale element to the town. Kanu is hoping to keep its roots local. Alex Grey shares that he was born and raised in Old Town, and everyone on the project is local to the greater Bangor area. All the architecture and woodwork are reminiscent of the natural woodsy landscape of Maine. 

“In consultation with our architect Ervin Architecture, it was important to use woods throughout the space since wooden canoes were the first canoes my family produced here,” Gray said. “[Our connections to] Old Town Canoe inspired the name Kanu.”

Every floor has a different architectural style. The rooftop has themes of rust orange, wooden designs, and a spacious layout. The second floor, which is home to the nightclub, feels industrial, dark and energetic when entering the room. The restaurant has blue and gray hexagonal wall decorations which give them a three-dimensional element, and tall wooden panes frame the bar area. 

Eventually, Kanu is looking to expand into the surrounding buildings on Main Street, as the team has also purchased those. Murphy envisions overflow seating for Kanu and a venue to host concerts in Old Town in the coming years. Murphy, Gray and Rudolph are affiliated with the Bangor Waterfront concerts. They are hoping to have their artists from the Bangor Waterfront play at Kanu. 

Murphy is looking to hire around 50 people at Kanu, and would love to offer internships to UMaine students once the place is up and running. Applications are listed on Facebook and Murphy encourages all to apply. Follow Kanu on Facebook for the latest information on their opening plans. 

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