When Caroline Smith-Adams, 15-year bar manager at Voodoo Tiki Bar in West Ashley, died suddenly in September, the owners knew that a concept they had been formulating would take on her spirit.
The Avondale bar's red walls and leopard curtains have been traded in for a lighter coat of paint featuring teal, burnt orange and sand stripes. The name has been changed to Caroline's Aloha Bar, featuring the late bar manager as a Sailor Jerry hula girl tattoo-style logo. It was designed by an artist at Holy City Tattoo, where co-owner Jen Kulick gets inked.
"Aloha is all-encompassing for us," Kulick said. "It means hello and goodbye and the bringing together of friends."
Dining tables have been added to the middle of the lounge, though the red booths remain on the perimeter (mainly because they are too large to get out in one piece, Kulick shared with a laugh). And a large glossy print of Smith-Adams now hangs behind the bar, with more artistic tributes to come, like a portrait on velvet.
"I couldn’t see doing it any other way," Kulick said. "It just wasn’t an option for ourselves or the staff. One of the biggest highlights of Voodoo was Caroline, so we couldn’t lose that."
The grand opening is Oct. 22.
Before Smith-Adams had passed, Jen and Mike Kulick were already looking for ways to turn their establishment known for late-evening revelry into a more dining-oriented and family-friendly operation.
"When Mike and I opened Voodoo, the neighborhood was almost all people our age at the time, in their 20s and 30s with no kids," Kulick said. "Now, all these people have grown up and had kids, so we've been looking to take on that next step of being more family-friendly, not just a late-night party stop."
Longtime chef Chris Smith will remain, but now there will be brunch options, like a Luther burger made with Krispy Kreme doughnut "buns" from down the street and an eggs Benedict burger. Bloody Marys and coffee blends will be served, as well.
Other new menu items will include a steakhouse burger, marinated meat and veggie skewers, and the revival of the bar's popular red curry coconut wings. There will also be slushie machines for kids that can be blended with booze for the adults. The tiki drinks will still be available, along with Smith-Adams' pecan pie Bourbon.
With the 11 p.m. curfew in effect during the pandemic, the late-night crowd will still be able to take over as evening hours progress, with plans for the kitchen to extend past midnight once bar hours are back to normal. Kulick compared the concept to Tattooed Moose, which has both family-friendly dining during the day and a party crowd at night.
"It's not a 180, more like a 90," Kulick assured.
She said the staff has become even closer through this change and had something positive to focus on after the passing of their beloved leader. Even during the coronavirus closures with staff not able to meet, Smith-Adams hosted daily Zoom workouts and hangouts to keep everyone close and their mental health in check.
"She was just that person. She cared," Kulick said. "Ultimately, this is helping us all get through this."