The original Kings opened at 424 South McDowell Street in July 1999 by Raleigh musicians Paul Siler, Ben Barwick and Steve Popson. Although there were a few decent local venues at the time, Kings catered to music fans and musicians in a way that was entirely different. The space became a focal point for creativity in the area. Besides the many local and national musical acts that began to see Kings as a regular stop, there were Game Show nights (such as The Gong Show) put on by the owners and their friends, circus performances, comedy nights, theater performances, a regular professional wrestling show, basically anything that sounded like it would be interesting, dramatic, or hilarious. As time went on, the sound system was improved, and bigger national acts like Bonnie Prince Billy, Calexico, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, The Shins, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and Mastodon began to see Kings and Raleigh as a legitimate tour stop.
In 2007 the landlord chose to demolish the building that housed Kings so that the ground could be used as a staging area for construction of a parking deck. The owners came close to reopening in several different locations, but due to this or that complication, it never happened. That is, until a lease was signed on the space at 14 West Martin Street in April of 2010.
The new version of Kings is improved in several ways. Upstairs is the Kings space, with a larger stage, acoustically designed ‘floating’ walls, a beautiful steel and pine bar, and a sound system that is fantastic to hear or to play through. In the basement is a separate bar called Neptunes. Neptunes is a comfortable hideaway with custom cocktails that feature handmade syrups and fresh, locally produced ingredients. Perhaps the most important improvement of all is the addition of Cheetie Kumar, who joined Paul, Steve and Ben as an owner. Cheetie, in addition to directing the construction and generally the entire organization, is responsible for the cocktails in Neptunes, and she also will be running the soon to be opened restaurant in the street level space called Garland.
The people below have been instrumental in helping us four reopen Kings. By no means comprehensive, this is a beginning attempt to recognize the people that have dedicated themselves and their considerable talents to seeing that this endeavor is successful.
Raleigh, NC 27601