Retired UFC fighter to open Island Kava tea bar in Patchogue


After a hard day of training, it was typical to find Long Island native and UFC fighter Ryan LaFlare at a kava tea bar.

“I would take [kava tea] to relax and take the edge off,” said LaFlare, who would enjoy the Polynesian-based beverage while he lived in Florida. “I was always like, ‘Why isn’t there anything like this in New York?'”

For the uninitiated, kava is extracted from a Piper methysticum plant. The tea is widely used as a social drink within South Pacific cultures to calm anxiety, stress and restlessness. And to treat sleeping problems, according to WebMD.

LaFlare estimates there are around 100 kava bar nationwide, with none currently operating on Long Island.

But that is soon to change.

After the West Islip resident retired in October from professional mixed martial arts with a 13-3-0 record, he partnered with longtime friend Eric Ott to build their own kava bar in downtown Patchogue.

Plans for their venture, Island Kava, a 1,200-square-foot tea bar at 73 North Ocean Avenue (in the former home of SubZero, then Freezology Craft Creamery) were approved by the village Planning Board late last month.

“We picked Patchogue because of all the positive things we’ve heard about it,” said LaFlare, who was raised in Lindenhurst.

“We’re looking to be an alcohol alternative, all-natural drinks, with different flavors and types,” said the 35-year-old, who will be importing his products from New Guinea, Fiji and Hawaii.

In addition to kava, Island Kava will be serving other tea beverages, such as kombucha and the highly-caffeinated Yerba Mate tea.

The partners are eyeing a late spring or early summer launch.

Top: Outside view of Island Kava’s storefront on North Ocean Avenue in downtown Patchogue.