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JungleBird will bring tropical flair to downtown Kalamazoo in early 2022

Posted at 11:07 AM, Sep 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-21 11:07:58-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Art deco décor, Caribbean flair and “casual island sophistication” arrive in downtown Kalamazoo early next year with the opening of Junglebird, a restaurant and cocktail lounge inside The Exchange.

The restaurant was concepted and designed by Michigan restaurateur Mark Sellers, who is known for creating HopCat, Stella’s Lounge and Max’s South Seas Hideaway, according to a news release Tuesday.

Organizers say the new concept will feature an extensive list of craft cocktails and “eclectic” cuisine inspired by the tropics in an atmosphere “infused with elements of Havana soul, Miami-style art deco, unique artwork and tropical plants.”

JungleBird is being developed as a collaboration between PlazaCorp, the developer of The Exchange, and Mark Sellers. They previously worked together to open HopCat – Kalamazoo.

Sellers is drawing on his travels to Miami, Cuba and various other Caribbean islands.

“This is a restaurant concept I’ve been thinking about for years,” Sellers said. “JungleBird will combine much of what I love about the Caribbean – island hospitality, a welcoming, sophisticated atmosphere, creative and flavorful cuisine and unforgettable tropical cocktails.”

The food menu is being created by Chef Richard Williams, who previously created the menu for Max’s South Seas Hideaway in Grand Rapids.

On the JungleBird menu, guests will find small plates like Croquetas de Jamon (potato croquettes stuffed with ham and red dragon cheddar) and charred octopus, as well as entrees like Churrasco Brick Chicken Thigh, Braised Short Ribs and Chilean Salmon.

Desserts will include options like key lime pie, Pastelitos de Cucurucho (layered puff pastry filled with guava, papaya and coconut chutney with Chantilly cream and caramel demo) and homemade avocado sorbet.

The craft cocktail menu is still being developed, but is expected to include the Brazilian Caipirinha, the Cuban Mojito and the rum-based Jungle Bird, from which the restaurant takes its name.

“Mark has created some of the most innovative restaurant concepts in the state, so we jumped at the opportunity to partner with jim to bring this unique experience to The Exchange,” said Jeff Nicholson, founder of PlazaCorp. “We think JungleBird will provide an everyday escape for locals and a memorable destination that will draw more people to downtown.”

JungleBird’s dining room will seat about 220 guests, with private event spaces for groups of up to 50 and an outdoor patio with seating for 40.