Where business news starts in Boise

Where business news starts in Boise.

What’s a Water Bear? A classy new bar coming to Boise, among other things

Do you know what a tardigrade is?

I didn’t. But Kylie North does. In fact, she and her business partner Laura Keeler are so intrigued by the microscopic eight-legged creatures that they named their forthcoming Downtown Boise bar in its honor.

Water Bear is a nickname for tardigrade – and the official name for the new space coming to the corner of 9th St. and Jefferson St.

“He’s our spirit animal,” North said. “He is radically accessible.”

Radical accessibility is the vibe North and Keeler are going for with Water Bear – which they hope to open this spring in the former Latta Furniture space.

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The 2,300 square foot space is getting an overhaul to transform it from selling couches to slinging cocktails.

“Our goal is to offer Boise something that we think they really want,” North said. “Modern and classic cocktails are the soul of what we are doing – but also a thoughtful beer and wine service with a limited bottle menu.”

Water Bear
A tardigrade, also known as a water bear, is a microscopic creature with eight legs. It’s also the ‘spirit animal’ for a new Boise lounge. Photo by Schokraie E, Warnken U, Hotz-Wagenblatt A, Grohme MA, Hengherr S, et al. (2012) via Wikimedia Commons

The Water Bear offering

Cocktails and bar service will be front and center in the new 21-and-up bar, with a bit of food to complement the liquid offerings.

“We will have food, but it’s an extension of our hospitality. We all know we feel more comfortable with alcohol if we can have a little food along with it.”

The idea will be small plates based on sharing – with classy bar nuts or oysters on the half shell being a few of the concepts in the works.

North and Keeler have a long track record in the service industry, and made Boise home in the last few years. They’ve worked at bars in places like Austin and Denver – and think Boise is ripe for an establishment where the bartender is front and center.

“The bartenders are on display. We will be working behind that bar proudly six nights a week – working and managing the show,” North said.

Water Bear will open daily at 3 p.m. with a happy hour, food and drinks.

Reimagining the space

The Latta showroom starts out as a blank, stark white canvas with large windows overlooking both 9th and Jefferson.

“The first thing that has been drawing everyone for years are those windows. We want to draw people in,” she said. “We are going for a classic feel. Classic is Led Zeppelin, classic is Fleetwood Mac, classic is Kendrick Lamar.”

The space will be filled with deep dark woods with a warm feel. The windows will feature drapery dividing the outside world from a lounge setting with soft seating, she said.

Permit filings with the City of Boise show the lounge will have space for about 79 people after the remodel. A small kitchen will be installed – and the building permit shows the buildout will cost more than $415,000.

“We loved when we first came to Boise. It’s a mountain town, or a mountain city. We are just meeting Boise on this adventure really. We’ve been lucky enough to travel and work in different cities.”

She’s hopeful her business will expand Boise’s food and drink footprint another block – just a few steps from 10 Barrel Brewing and only a few blocks from the Statehouse.

“We love the idea of asking people to take a half block walk to see us,” she said. “We signed a ten-year lease – over the next decade, we are excited to see what might (develop) down on Jefferson.”

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