Winding down from the weekend's overstimulation—art exhibits, gallery openings, musical acts, even protests—makes everything else feel a bit surreal. Which is exactly how it feels to stumble upon Kush's new addition, the Waiting Room.
At first, we thought it was another walk-in art installation off of Wynwood's beaten path. A pink neon light beckons pedestrians on North Miami Avenue—most likely already heading to popular hole-in-the-wall Kush for a craft beer and the best burger in town—to walk through beaded curtains and past a mural that reads "Botanica."
But this isn't a shop selling candles, amulets or religious trinkets: Once inside the Waiting Room, you're faced with a convenience store refrigerator stacked with rare canned and bottled craft beers, as well as familiar faces from the restaurant next door.
Owner Matt Kuscher wanted to provide an experiential takeaway far different from the usual hum-drudgery of waiting for a table at the small but increasingly popular restaurant. "People come in here and have a beer first, and it's almost like two different restaurants. I wanted to give them a nice environment, where they could relax and enjoy a different part of the experience, so it's not just coming in and eating; it's a whole night now."
Kuscher also decorated the cozy space with relics that nod to Miami's most controversial religion, Santeria, including a collection of crosses, veladoras (religious candles) and wire cages with roosters (the plastic kind).
"I'm infatuated with botanicas," Kuscher explains. "No other place in the world has this many per capita; you see them in Haiti and Cuba, but without the influences of other countries. They're a big part of the culture in Miami, and I'm all about representing as many different aspects of it."
The "cellar" showcases the upcoming lineup for Kush's bottle menu. Currently on draft Goose Island Illinois ($9) and Freight's Sour Cherry Porter ($10)
The curated beer selection is as exotic as the den with a few "rare stragglers" left over from the restaurant's reserve menu, which right now includes two types of Mikkeller beer and Hel & Verdoemenis by the bottle, as well as Cigar City's Florida Cracker and Helles Lager, and Evil Twin Brewing Hipster Ale in cans. One of the most peculiar relics is a chalkboard-painted refriger-kegger-ator that pours Goose Island Illinois ($9) and Freight's Sour Cherry Porter ($10) on draft.
Unfortunately, the bigger "Cellar" fridge that takes up most of the main room is, for now, just a teaser for things to come into Kush's rotation and some of the staff's private bottles. But, hey, it provides a great insight into the magical world of South Florida's craft beer scene.
Regardless, this (a bunch of good craft beers) is our idea of a spiritual cleanse.