Up until two months ago, Kevin Marcuse held a lucrative position at Bar Management Group — which he gave up in order to turn his full attention to a new project that opened recently in the Elizabeth neighborhood, Kennedy's Premium Bar & Grill. From a young age, Marcuse (who also owns Town Tavern in Uptown) has worked his way up in the service industry, from barback, waiter and bartender to assistant manager, general manager and now proprietor of his own place.
Creative Loafing: How did you get your start in the nightlife industry in Charlotte?
Kevin Marcuse: I moved here in '96. A friend of mine from college — he is now the president of Bar Management Group — was the general manager of Bar Charlotte. I came on and he knew that I had been in the bar industry after college. I was in Europe for two years and ran a bar in Greece. So, when I got back to the States, I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I called him up, my parents were here, moved down, started as a bartender, assistant manager and worked my way up with Bar Management Group.
Tell us more about running a bar in Greece.
I ran a bar at a place called The Pink Palace. It was kind of like a wild, spring break type of place, near the ocean on Corfu, Greece. Anyone who ever backpacks Europe goes through there because you take the Euro Rail from Italy to Greece, and it's the first island. They do a very good job of promoting it. It's this huge complex — kind of like a Club Med almost. It's an all-inclusive, huge resort that's been there for about 20 years,
How familiar were you with the neighborhood before you opened Kennedy's?
I love Jackalope Jack's and The Philosopher's Stone. For years I ran nightclubs and I always preferred the Black Finn model in terms of lunch, dinner, happy hour, pub-type environment. Thomas Street Tavern, Philosopher's Stone, Jackalope Jacks — those are the kind of bars that are my type of bar, where I can go on a Saturday afternoon and watch games. So when I saw this place for sale, I investigated what the story was here. Two very successful places that have been here for many years; I wondered, why is this place not doing well? And then we put a plan together: what changes would need to be made, looking at the pluses and minuses, and went for it. By adding a third place [to the neighborhood], I think we're creating more of a district so people can have dinner at one place, drinks at another, and go back and forth.