Nashville’s hottest, new lounge needs no chaser to have a great time. Above Riddim N Spice lies a tropical paradise that will make you feel like you’re at a party on the beach, except this beach is better. The latest addition to the Caribbean food getaway is the Rum Room, an effervescent lounge for customers to experience great music and great food that sends you to the islands. Located near the prominent Meharry Medical College, the Rum Room is a happening place to relax and enjoy within the Caribbean experience.
To understand the Rum Room, you must first understand the journey of owners Kamal Kalokoh and Rasheaun Conaway. Two brothers, who are the sons to Jamaicaway Restaurant. They were born and raised in Boston; growing up in a neighborhood that had blended cultures among a majority Caribbean population. Throughout their childhood, they would visit and stay in Nashville to help their family with the restaurant while learning more about the city. Kamal added to his cooking resume by attending a culinary school in Miami for few years after realizing that he wanted to pursue his passion for food. One day while working with his mom at the restaurant, he met Drake and customized a plate for him to eat. A few days later, he received a call from Drake’s tour manager to be hired as Drake’s tour chef and the rest is history.
Journey to Jefferson Street
Kamal took his cooking talents on the road between 2012 and 2014 with an experience of a lifetime. His next gig, following the tour, consisted of being Rihanna’s personal chef for three to four months before settling back in Nashville. Kamal felt at home when he came back in 2015. From his experience on the road and being in Miami for school, he knew he wanted to get with Rasheaun to bring something new to the Nashville food industry. Together, they invested in a food truck and toured the city for two years before acquiring their first building in 2017. The location of the building was a win for them because of the area being labeled as a food and event desert. On top of that, the declining Jefferson Street became a target for gentrification, which gave the brothers’ motivation to secure the building soon with hopes of contributing back to Jefferson Street’s lively past for black-owned businesses.
“Our core is good music and great food,” says Kamal as he explains what sets the Rum Room apart from others. He knew early on that he wanted to create an experience for customers to engage in music and food instead of sitting down to take pictures. Similar to a party on the beach or a Carnival parade, the Rum Room explores their roots by showing that a good time comes from pure excitement and comfortability in all senses. One way that the Rum Room conveys their notion is by playing different styles of music to get patrons dancing or vibing. Kamal’s influences of hip-hop hits, Soca, and dancehall songs creates the perfect formula to have a good night.
Bringing the Joy
Another way the Rum Room brings joy to the customer experience happens naturally with the intentional detail put towards the interior. Building out the Rum Room required attention to theme and ways to make patrons feel comfortable. The first thing that needed to change was removing the original roof for beautiful trusses to come in with an ombre color scheme of maroon and sunset orange, which portrays more space and openness. Alongside the additions of bamboo, cream white walls were selected with strips of hot pink and teal paint to allude to the grown and sexy aura of Miami with the classic feel and look of an island at sunset. They made sure to stray away from being perceived as a reggae spot with the typical Rasta red, black, and green colors.
The food and drink menu has reached popularity with favorites that will leave you stranded in amazement. One vacation resort classic with a lemony twist is the lemon pepper jerk wings. Baked and fried to crispiness, this treat is tossed in golden pepper marinade that will wake up your taste buds to whine. A simple but refreshing drink that catches you by the name and compliments the menu items is the Guavarita, a flower pink drink that limbos under a high bar set for awesome cocktails that taste like the tropics. All designed by General Manager Luz Lopez, who manages a lovely bar and staff that are as vibrant as the menu.
The Rum Room will continue to be more event-driven with creative ways to provide diverse experiences for the black and brown people of Nashville. That includes Nashville Salsa Dancing on Sundays regularly. Bands performing intimate sets on Thursdays. Working close with the international community consistently to give awareness of their success in the food industry. Overall, being an example to other business owners in regard to community engagement. One thing to look forward to in Spring 2023 is the Flags on a Platter festival, a street food festival dedicated to international and black-owned food vendors throughout the city. The Rum Room and Riddim N Spice as hosts with more details coming soon.
Location: The Rum Room
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