KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — An Asheville kava bar has opened a new location in East Tennessee.
Noble Kava, which boasts itself as an 'ethnobotanical tea bar and herbal emporium,' held its soft opening in early December.
The kava bar is the first of its kind in the state of Tennessee.
It's located at 1328 North Broadway in the Old North neighborhood and held its grand opening on Friday until midnight. The business was handing out free kava to customers and various door prizes through that night.
Andrew Procyk opened the first kava bar in North Carolina in Asheville, and has expanded his business to other parts of the state, and now Tennessee.
Kava is an herbal substance from the South Pacific Island mainly mixed in drinks to relax the body. It's said to have a mild calming effect, and is sold online as well as stores like Whole Foods.
“We like to think of it as the nighttime coffee. It takes things down a notch about the same level that a cup of coffee lifts you up. It is a great antidote to the go-go-go lifestyle we have here in the West,” Procyk said.
In an interview back in October with 10News, Procyk said it was the natural form of an herbal product, kratom, that inspired him to expand outside N.C.
"When the doors of kratom opened in Tennessee, we started looking for a space," Procyk said.
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, kratom comes from a Southeast Asian plant and is a stimulant when taken in low doses. When consumed in larger doses, the drug reportedly takes on sedating properties that causes a euphoria mimicking opioid effects.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation told 10News that under current Tennessee law, the possession and sale of kratom is illegal.
However, Attorney General Herbert Slatery III issued an opinion in 2017 that kratom is illegal only when it's synthetic, and lawmakers agreed to exclude natural kratom from a list of scheduled drugs so long as it was properly labeled.
Advocates like Procyk say the drug is misunderstood, and its benefits should far outweigh the government's claims. He says he uses it for pain and for recreation, along with many of his customers.
As for the bar itself, Procyk said he takes pride in it being a 'warm, welcoming, family-friendly place' for patrons.
“It attracts a completely different group of people who want an alternative to the atmosphere you find in most pubs. We have had a wonderful, positive response from the community so far and hope to grow as more people discover the benefits and pleasant state of mine that it offers,” he said.
Noble Kava is open from noon to midnight Tuesday through Saturday, and Procyk said they are looking to expand their hours soon.