Food & Drink

The Royal Tot Tiki Bar Looks To Provide a Vacation Spot Close to Home

The Royal Tot
The team behind The Royal Tot (from left): Larry Suggs, Jeremy Calamusa, Scott Gadd, Ashleigh Gadd, Tripp Armstrong, Jason Calamusa. (Photo by LunahZon Photography)

Seeing as how Charlotte is more than three hours from the nearest beach, the lack of any true tiki bars in the city makes sense, but that’s not stopping Scott Gadd, who plans to open The Royal Tot at HUB 933 in the Belmont neighborhood at the end of the summer. 

Gadd’s goal for The Royal Tot, which he hopes to open on Sept. 1, is to create a vacation spot for those who aren’t necessarily on vacation. 

“You should feel like you’re getting away from home, even if you’re five or 20 minutes away from home,” Gadd told Queen City Nerve when we recently stopped by the space. “You should come here and your blood pressure should go down … this place is going to be slow and easy.”

Fueling that drop in blood pressure will be rum, and lots of it; beverage director Larry Suggs has built his drink menu around 100 varieties of vintage rum, creating cocktails and frozen treats with the help of a Dole Whip soft-serve machine and six frozen-drink machines that will be spread out among three bar areas on two floors. 

The Royal Tot
The Royal Tot’s cocktail list will include 100 varieties of rum. (Photo by LunahZon Photography)

Gadd compares the collection of rum at The Royal Tot to The Crunkleton’s impressive collection of whiskeys. 

“There’s probably seven different styles of whiskeys, and rum only has four or five different styles, but every country produces different rum. Almost every country in the world produces sugarcane, but the soil is different in every country, so the way that it tastes is so different depending on where it’s produced.”  

Suggs will give his modern take on traditional cocktails such as Painkillers, Hurricanes, Mai Tais, Zombies and the like, with prices ranging between $12 and $20. 

In the kitchen will be Amanda Cranford of Paper Plane Deli & Market, located below The Royal Tot’s impressive patio space. Rather than simply serve the sandwiches she’s known for downstairs, she’s cooked up a separate menu more fitting for a tiki bar: tuna poke, rum-and-Coke-marinated pork belly, and plenty of SPAM (a popular ingredient in many Hawaiian dishes). 

Solidifying the tiki vibes will be Jason Calamusa, who’s in charge of designing the space. Calamusa owns the local design firm 8lincoln30, perhaps best known for designing the giant Game Boy in Abari Game Bar. 

He also designed the mini-golf course and interior at Queen City Nerve’s Best in the Nest honoree Stroke, Gadd’s other venture. For The Royal Tot, he’s using Disney as his muse. More specifically, Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room and Pirates of the Caribbean ride. 

Jason Calamusa says The Royal Tot will be “utterly Instagrammable” when its finished. (Photo by LunahZon Photography)

“Hopefully you come in and it feels like a vacation,” Calamusa said, adding that the entire space will be “utterly Instagrammable.”

It doesn’t hurt that the upstairs patio provides a great view of the Charlotte skyline, perhaps the bar’s most Instagrammable feature, though each area will provide a different sort of tiki energy. 

“The three different areas will have slightly distinct areas,” said Gadd. “Up here [on the patio], we want this to be more relaxed, rooftop vibes. Downstairs, Larry really wants to focus on the cocktails. And then the front patio will be the Dole Whip — maybe you want us to spike it with a little bit of rum, have your frozen drink and relax.”

Sounds like vacation. 

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