By Rae Jefferson
Arts & Entertainment Editor
Waco’s nightlife just got a little bit brighter, thanks to a new nightclub located at 520 Austin Avenue.
Kuma Night Club will be open in approximately three weeks, said Jamen Saziru, the club’s marketing promotions and public relations manager. The location’s ground floor will operate as a sushi restaurant during the week, while the second floor functions as a nightclub Thursday through Saturday.
“We’ll start off with a soft opening, and then we’ll announce a grand opening later on,” he said.
Saziru said the club will permit adults 18 and older.
“We don’t want to eliminate any college students at all,” he said.
Chris McGowan, director of urban development at Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, said he will be glad to see the club open.
“It’s definitely going to bring something new. The more diverse the activities we have, the better off the scene will be.”
Kuma Night Club will feature go-go dancers, a VIP area for parties, a hookah lounge and televisions for a video DJ. Patrons also have the option to order food and drinks from waitresses called Kuma Girls, as opposed to being restricted to a bar, Saziru said.
Saziur, who is also one of the club’s DJs, said the unique stadium-style dance floor will consist of a raised perimeter that allows visitors to view the space from slightly above the heads of dancers.
“Our features set us apart,” he said. “I would definitely say that it’s more up to date or state of the art – it’s something you can compare to places in a big city.”
McGowan said the club will add a new dynamic to the downtown area because of the dual nature of the facility.
“I don’t think we have another dance club in downtown Waco, and I know we don’t have a full service sushi restaurant downtown,” he said.
Renovations are being made to a two-story building on Austin to include a sushi restaurant on the first floor and a dance lounge on the second floor, Saziru said.
Although several bars are already established downtown, Saziru said the club will bring a new dynamic to evening entertainment in that area.
“It’s definitely going to add a venue where people feel like they can dress up and look nice to go out,” he said. “There are no venues here that really require you to do so. We’re trying to bring the trendiness to Waco.”
The club will also help keep students involved in the city’s economy, Saziru said.
“We want to keep money in Waco as well,” he said. “Students are leaving for other cities to go experience what we’re trying to bring back here.”
McGowan said he agreed that the taxes and revenue produced by the location will benefit the city.
“Generally speaking, anytime you have a new business, it’s going to boost more businesses in the neighborhood,” he said. “It’s going to drive more people into the downtown area, which will boost business.”
Saziru said he, as well as the club’s three owners are all Baylor alumni.
“Kuma actually means bear,” Saziru said. “We were looking to see what Waco was lacking and decided to give mainly Baylor students what they’ve been missing,” Saziru said.