Upon entering the candlelit darkness of the Bolobar Lounge in Mt. Kisco, first time patrons may feel as though they have become extras in an old time movie from the golden age of Hollywood. Moving further along into the low light, they might even be convinced enough by the setting to believe that they’ll find Bogey and Bergman sitting alone in the shadows suffering from pre-war angst and contemplating the fate of the free world. Well, not without a tinsel town time machine, but for owner/operator Michael Kalesti, offering some tranquility to the Westchester nightlife came about because, he says, “I just noticed there was really no place for adults to go out after dinner,” and relax in a quiet setting.
With a small bar seating seven or eight and three adjacent rooms, which patrons lounge about 1940’s style, the Bolobar lives up to its name like no other in the area – despite claims to the contrary. “There’s some people who have put up signs saying they have martini lounge areas in their restaurants, but really it’s one couch, a chair and a table,” says Mr. Kalesti, “and that’s not what a lounge is.”
So, if it’s Dinner at 8, there’s no reason to go home when the babysitter is on until midnight, as Kalesti has found many couples taking advantage of the atmosphere the Bolobar Lounge offers. “They like that it’s kind of dark, candlelit and they can cuddle up and just be together,” he says, while knowing the Bolobar is securely hidden away from the rowdy elements nightlife sometimes creates.
In fact, since the Bolobar’s location once housed a home and was abandoned for several years, it remains a mystery to many right in the middle of downtown Mt. Kisco. “I had no idea what it was,” says Mike Kernan of Ossining, as a correlation might be drawn between an exterior that he describes as “unassuming” and the people he’s met on the inside.
“They’re not pretentious,” says Kernan of a clientele that he senses to be a little different than those at other local establishments. And conversion always ensues up at the bar, regardless of whether everyone knows your name, according to Kalesti, who lives in Chappaqua and is married with two Children. “It’s the kind of bar where people don’t feel intimidated,” he says, and rarely turn their backs to each other.
Although the word of mouth is starting to make it back around to this quaint tan house with brown trim on 241 Main Street, according to 33 year old Jennifer King of Briarcliff. “We never like to go out around here, and we heard there was a cool lounge,” she says of how she and her friends first decided on the Bolobar. So contrary to the crowded bar scene usually encountered on girl’s night out, the couches offered a nice spot in the corner where they could chat it up without the level of the music putting a strain on everyone’s larynx.
Westchester can work out those muscles early in the weak because the Bolobar, which derives its name from Kalesti’s great-grandfather, only burns their candles on both ends from Wednesday to Saturday. Mr. Kalesti considers the bar and restaurant business to be slow prior to Wednesday night so he sees little reason to be open.
But the word he hears around town about his choice of hours is that, we’re never open, while they wonder how the Bolobar manages to breaks even. “Well, we’re here two and a half years and we’re doing fine,” he says, as he likes the exclusive clientele the Bolobar’s setting has created.
They don’t come in on an empty stomach either, because the best they will do is bar snacks and maybe a cheese plate in between their choice of top shelf liquor and imported beer. “I never intended this to be a restaurant,” he says, but the Bolobar does cater in food for closed parties.
Otherwise, they can at least fill their minds with a little culture in the absence of appetizers. Once a month, in the fall and winter, the Bolobar features readings with local writers and even landed Oscar nominee Patricia Clarkson for an appearance last March.
Cabaret license permitting, he hopes to bring a little more of the past back to the future with some light live music and dancing. And if that’s not enough, the Bolobar opens up the summer night air to its customers, while everyone else in Westchester is left indoors. “You can stop here, have a cocktail and feel like you’re on the front porch of your Victorian home,” he says, and a round trip ticket to some of the now trendy lounges in Manhattan can’t even buy you that.
Rich Monetti interview of Michael Kalesti, Mike Kernan and Jennifer King