A pirate ship lair, tiki statues, bamboo stalks, woven wall panels, and more are just some of the design elements of what will soon become Napa’s only tiki bar.
Named Wilfred’s Lounge, the tiki bar and restaurant have been under construction for several months at 967 First St. in downtown Napa. The site used to be the BurgerFi restaurant.
The tiki bar is the brainchild of Nat Komes and meant to pay homage to his Hawaiian heritage through his grandmother Flora, who grew up in Honolulu, said a news release.
Wilfred’s is named after Flora’s brother, who many moons ago welcomed guests to his bar in Honolulu, “where the drinks were strong, the company was charming, and there was always ‘just one more’ story to tell.”
“We’re taking the best parts of Napa Valley Wine Country and giving it a shake and a dash of Hawaiian culture to bring you Wilfred’s Lounge, our family’s take on a modern tiki bar,” said Komes.
On Tuesday morning, general manager Michael Cobb and artist/carver Billy Crud were on site at the future Wilfred’s. Two giant logs of redwood and other supplies had just been received. Crud said he plans to carve the logs into totems that will decorate the bar and lounge.
“We’re bringing authentic aloha to the river,” said Crud of Wilfred’s Lounge.
The former Burger Fi building, once clad in aluminum, has been completely reworked, inside and out. Wood, bamboo and other natural materials now cover the surfaces.
“We tore it all apart,” Cobb said of the original structure.
The downstairs features bamboo poles and décor, thatched roofs, Polynesian-themed “jade” tile ceramics, carved wood panels, tiki statues, ropes and woven panels for the walls.
Both men have experience working for Disney companies and it shows, especially in the upstairs VIP lounge, which takes guests into a pirate ship.
Walking up a set of metal stairs, visitors pass stone-like walls, a ship’s figurehead of a woman with flowing hair, and angled wooden walls that look like the inside of a ship’s hold.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Crud, who also owns a business in Solvang called the High Roller Tiki Lounge.
“This place is going to be filled with carved” tiki paraphernalia – even a ship’s wheel, he said.
Statues of four tiki gods, Ku, Kanaloa, Kańe and Lono, will be added as well.
“It’s going to be cool,” said project architect Stephen R. Cuddy. “I think people will like it.”
Father and son John and Nat Komes bought the defunct BurgerFi building in March 2020. That was right at the start of the pandemic, but “it allowed us time to develop” and define their concept, said Nat Komes.
From the beginning, plans for the restaurant included an extensive makeover in stone and wood of the building’s corrugated metal façade, which was widely criticized by city officials before BurgerFi closed its first West Coast branch in 2016 after only 2 ½ years of operation.
The Komeses, proprietors of Flora Springs Winery, Jon Nathaniel Wines and Bodacious Wines, said they planned to bring indoor and outdoor dining back to the vacant space they acquired for $3.7 million.
BurgerFi opened in May 2014 inside a 2,957-square-foot split-level structure, covered in silver-ribbed metal, that replaced the former Riverside Service Station.
The modern, industrial design never came to the Planning Commission for review, having begun as a simple re-facing of the old automotive garage before being extensively redrawn into its final form.
Komes said he hopes to open Wilfred’s Lounge as soon as August.
SEE PHOTOS INSIDE NAPA'S EMERGING TIKI BAR, WILFRED'S LOUNGE