Cambridge’s Kendall Square does not have a sandy oceanfront—its tech-filled brick, glass, and steel buildings create an atmosphere far far from it. But it did have some empty space by an elevator, and some creative people thought that area called for a relaxed seaside vibe.
The Bar by the Elevator opened Tuesday on the patio at 1 Kendall Square in Cambridge. The tongue-in-cheek, minimal-menu concept is courtesy of the team behind Mamaleh’s, the hipster Jewish delicatessen, and State Park, the not-so-dive-y dive bar. Their newest venture is located right by the other two.
“All the things you’d want if you were shipwrecked on an island. In the middle of a city. And next to an elevator,” its website reads.
The name The Bar by the Elevator evolved as “convenient shorthand” while the crew described the yet-to-be-titled project amongst themselves, according to Evan Harrison, a co-owner of all three and a bartender at The Bar by the Elevator.
“Out of shipping pallets, a broken vent, and a bunch of bushel boxes, we built what we consider to be a pretty sweet tiki bar,” Harrison said, recalling how he and a handful of friends and business partners crafted the space’s centerpiece.
The idea was in the works for more than a year.
“Bartenders … joke that whenever they finally make it, they’ll open up a bar by the beach that just serves cans of beer and shots of tequila,” he said. “I think this is the closest I’ll ever get to that.”
Accordingly, the liquor menu is “streamlined,” Harrison said. You’ll only find one on-draft beer (Del’s Shandy by Narraganset Beer), two canned beers (Notch Left of the Dial IPA and Jack’s Abby House Lager), two cocktails, a single on-draft rosé (Bridge Lane’s Cabernet Franc), and sangria by the glass.
Naturally, the two cocktail options are tropical: the Painkiller, with Navy rum, pineapple, coconut, and nutmeg; and Planteur’s Punch with Rhum Agricole, guava, passion fruit, and bitters.
As for non-alcoholic offerings, The Bar by the Elevator is starting off with ginger beer and flavored seltzers, with plans to tap Mamaleh’s extensive list of house-made sodas by summertime.
The food offerings, made at Mamaleh’s, are limited to hot dogs, potato salad, chips, cole slaw, and fried chicken skins — for now.
“We have a lot of creativity and talent in the kitchen, and they tend to get bored pretty easily,” Harrison said. “I imagine throughout the summer, they’ll have some fun and interesting things hit the food menu.”
Harrison said that he expects a lot of foot traffic, which was confirmed by The Bar by the Elevator’s first service this week.
“What’s cool about this project for us is that we’re not trying to reel people in for a full dinner or anything too committal,” he said. “I think half the people who came by [during our opening Tuesday] were headed someplace else and were like, ‘Oh cool! Let’s grab a drink!’ … It’s sort of a lighthearted, casual approach.”
The bar is walk-up — no table service — with limited seating in the form of backless benches, a couple lawn chairs, and high-top tables at which groups can stand around.
Harrison said he doesn’t expect the bar to be open for regular service during the winter, though the space may be utilized for creative pop-ups now and then.
“There’s plenty of options around our area that can scratch pretty much any itch,” he said. “But I think in New England, we only have this short time of warmer months that will draw people to us.”
Weather permitting, The Bar by the Elevator’s tentatively planned hours are 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends.
1 Kendall Square, Cambridge; thebarbytheelevator.com