Upon entering the bar, you’ll be greeted by one of Kratom Bar’s friendly staff members: Cody Calhoon—a tall good-looking thirty-something, or his employee, Russell Ellis—a kind, gray-haired hippy-who bears a striking resemblance to Jerry Garcia. The aroma of essential oils being diffused along with an eclectic mix of bluegrass, Van Morrison and E.D.M music playing in the background, creates a warm and welcoming vibe.
Behind a small wooden vintage bar, you’ll find shelves lined with over 30 jars, each filled with green leaf powder (kratom) that looks much like matcha green tea. Hand-written labels on the jars give name to various kratom veins and strains, which have varying desired effects.
Mitragyna speciosa, a member of the coffee family, is commonly known as kratom. The kratom trees grow wild and abundantly in Southeast Asia where it has been taken by natives by chewing on fresh or dried leaves or brewing as a tea. The form of kratom which is commonly sold in the United States involves a process of methodically curing the leaves, then grinding them into a fine powder, which produces a slightly enhanced effect. Kratom has a long history of use as a medicine by Southeast Asia’s indigenous people to both increase productivity and minimize fatigue. In recent times, kratom has also been used to help treat numerous medical conditions and cure people from opioid dependency. While the staff at Kratom Bar make no medical claims, the customers are eager to share the benefits of the kratom.
On any given day while visiting the Kratom Bar, you will hear multiple firsthand accounts from customers about how kratom use has changed their lives. As the owner Cody put it, “it’s a business, but it’s almost like a support group.” Kratom Bar staff say that consumers span many demographics. Some of the many varied clients include the “soccer mom” dealing with anxiety and/or depression, an elderly person with chronic pain, or a former addict beating opiate addiction. Others enjoy kratom recreationally. Cody says that customers will cruise by the Kratom Bar for a shot (typically 2-3 ounces of juice mixed with a single serving of kratom) just to feel good; similar to hitting up a coffee shop for a little “pick me up”. While each customer has their own story, there’s one thing they have in common: they keep coming back.
After Bryan Harvey, 25, was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (a chronic bowel disease that causes inflammation in the digestive tract), doctors prescribed antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and a slew of painkillers. He experienced horrible side effects including seizures, tremors, and anxiety. Harvey said, “the doctors had turned me into a lab rat; I decided to take matters into my own hands.” Harvey began to use kratom and was able to reduce his prescription medication by ninety percent and no longer has negative side effects. He said, “I have my head back; I’m not in a fog; I can leave the house. I was amazed how much it changed for me.” In addition to helping Harvey feel better, he says kratom is much more economical than the pharmaceutical drugs he was prescribed.
Cody and his wife Brook started Kratom Bar in November of 2018 because of the great benefits they both received from kratom leaf. “My wife and I were excited to find a natural way to increase our energy and feel better; we wanted others to benefit too.” But Cody says it’s stories like Harvey’s that really fuel the passion for their business.
Cody and Brook’s eldest son Xander Herrick, partnered with his parents on a second location in September 2019, at 569 32 Rd, next to GNC in the City Market plaza in Clifton. Xander, who has the same knack as the rest of the family for lending an open ear, is a young man with big dreams. His location features Indonesian coffee, tea, kava and kratom. The space boasts a 10-foot custom-built bar with modern mid-century design. The couches, tables and chairs, plus free wi-fi, help to create a spot conducive for “hanging out” with friends. Xander hopes to expand the business by bringing in more healing herbs and a wider menu of beverages such as mocktails made with kava, kratom and fresh pressed juice.
Grand Junction’s Kratom Bar, at 1005 N. 12th St., #108, has plans to move to a larger space, Spring 2020, which will provide an opportunity to add more herbs with a focus on herbology and homeopathic remedies.
Visit the Kratom Bar website at: gjkratombar.com