Kanú Restaurant

Ervin Architecture‘s design for Kanú in Old Town, Maine, transforms a historic building into a three-story complex with a restaurant, nightclub, and rooftop lounge, blending modern luxury with historical charm.

  • area / size 9,000 sqft
  • Year 2023
  • Type Restaurant,
  • As part of an economic initiative to revitalize the City of Old Town, Maine, as a must-see arts and entertainment destination, local Restaurateur and Owner of Waterfront Concerts Alex Gray launched Kanú, a three-story, multi-functional complex. Charged with bringing the client’s commitment to his hometown to life, Ervin Architecture’s design pays homage to Old Town Canoe, an expert watercraft business owned and operated by Gray’s family for generations. Kanú welcomes guests with a local fare, farm-to-table restaurant on the first floor, a lively nightclub and performance space on the second, and a breathtaking rooftop lounge on the third.

    In 2017, Ervin Architecture kicked off the multi-year adaptive reuse project, transforming a 19th-century, brick-and-timber mercantile building into the downtown district’s anchor tenant. The property boasts 9,000-square-feet of well-appointed, memory-making spaces dedicated to flavor and fun, playing on all the human senses. The restoration of the bricks of the exterior facade was a significant component of the project’s success. Ervin Architecture reimagined the streetfront design while being sensitive to the historic character of the original building. This required the team to diligently bring the brick back to its former glory by cleaning, repairing, and highlighting its texture and color. Upgrading Kanú’s exterior within the Old Town community, this restoration honors the building’s historical context and contributes to the overall charm and character of the property.

    On the first floor, guests will discover a farm-to-table restaurant and bar where they can experiment with different cuisines on an ever-changing menu, including seafood, terrestrial fare and vegetarian options. Guests can also enjoy an array of creative beverages from signature cocktails to handcrafted milkshakes. The entryway boasts an antique lectern from Soll’s antique store in the nearby town of Canaan, Maine, establishing a distinctive focus on opulence and history. Custom velvet furniture further contributes to the restaurant’s modern luxury. To give the restaurant a brandable aesthetic that sets them apart from others in the area, the team designed sweeping ceiling soffits lit with linear lighting, constructed out of both bamboo and original historic moldings, which engulfs the restaurant in sweeping visual lines. These soffits deliver a signature dynamism while creating cohesiveness within a variety of both intimate and expansive dining options. Brimming with unique textures to pique guest intrigue, the first-floor restaurant and bar showcases salvaged hardwood flooring from the adjacent building, paired with Interlam wall coverings, bamboo plywood, and Tilebar tiles. A tactful circulation plan was implemented to facilitate smooth, efficient service while fostering a welcoming and exciting atmosphere for guests.

    Within the second-floor nightclub, patrons will marvel at the dance floor and performance stage that sits in front of a 25’ wide media screen. Carefully positioned, effect-driven club lighting and a robust, fully-integrated sound system create an energetic and engaging setting for live music events. The elevated VIP seating section is home to custom snake skin banquettes designed by Ervin Architecture and built in Las Vegas. Bottle service, exclusive menu options, and elevated seating create an added touch of luxury and intrigue. Behind the scenes, Ervin Architecture implemented a green room for artists and performers to relax and prepare before going on stage. Equipped with soft seating and mirrors, the green room ensures the nightclub is a desirable setting for the talent. The nightclub’s design incorporates reflective and textured Mirroflex and wall treatments, signaling a dramatic environment of high visual contrast. A focal point of the space, the front of the bar features distinctive design accents, including textured metal GaugeCarve paneling, moody overhead lighting, and a bar display that showcases bottle options. Given the nature of the nightclub, isolating it acoustically from the other building floors was critical––this led to extensive soundproofing measures such as sound matting, floor isolation, and putting most of the ceiling on the lower floor on acoustical isolators. Additionally, UL rated fire separation between floors maintains the safety and compliance of the structure. Ervin Architecture kept other nightclub-specific design elements top-of-mind throughout the technical process, including thermal comfort, floor deflection, and intuitive access to bathrooms and points of egress.

    By taking a comprehensive approach to the design, Ervin Architecture transformed the building’s entire occupancy classification, gave each space a unique brandable identity, and delivered beautiful, highly efficient environments to the client. The result is a beacon of an economic rebirth for Old Town Maine brought to town by Alex Gray, much like his ancestors did with Old Town Canoe generations before. Boasting exceptional dining and lively entertainment alongside stunning views and dynamic architectural details, Kanú reflects Ervin Architecture’s commitment to design excellence and establishes itself as a must-visit destination in Maine.

    Design: Ervin Architecture
    Contractor: JR Madden
    Photography: Brandon Barré