Owners Kris Kelnero, left, and Kali Kelnero with a Dark Arts and martini cocktails at Kelnero, the bar they opened in Edmonds this year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Owners Kris Kelnero, left, and Kali Kelnero with a Dark Arts and martini cocktails at Kelnero, the bar they opened in Edmonds this year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Their goals from behind the bar: Make your drink — and your day

Husband-and-wife bartenders Kris and Kali Kelnero open their own place in downtown Edmonds.

Kali and Kris Kelnero own Kelnero, a bar in downtown Edmonds. They opened the bar, their first business, in February.

“We’re as busy as we could have hoped,” Kali Kelnero said. “We learn a new lesson every day about business ownership.”

Kris, 32, and Kali, 34, have been married four-and-a-half years.

Your bar has the reputation of having the largest spirit selection of any place in Edmonds. How many brands do you carry?

Kris: About 600. More and more every day.

What’s the most popular?

Kris: We try to stock a wide variety, stuff that you can’t find everywhere — eclectic. Because it’s such a large selection we guide people through. We have 60 gins and 250 whiskeys. We try to have 50 tequilas.

This is the first bar you’ve owned. You both worked in bartending. Where did you work before?

Kali: We worked through the north end and Seattle and both bartended in Australia for a year. Salt and Iron (in Edmonds) was our most recent job before this.

What drew you to bartending?

Kali: I graduated from college in 2008 in international relations, a terrible time to graduate. I ended up with my first industry job in a coffee shop and it went from there. A job where your goal is to make someone’s day better is a pretty awesome fit for me.

Kris: I got sucked into the restaurant industry early. I liked the fast pace. The people in the restaurant business are interesting and have crazy goals, which have nothing to do with what they’re doing at the moment. It’s exciting to meet really interesting people. I instantly became a lifer.

Did you seek out advice on starting your own bar?

Kali: We have a lot of experience in bars and restaurants and management of both. But going through the business formation, the city permitting, construction, it’s all complicated and difficult. Because we had strong ties to the community and the industry, everybody was really quick to help us out. If we asked them a question, they were quick to answer.

How would you describe your customer base?

Kris: As a cocktail bar, we have a very interesting spread of people. Cocktails are curiosities for most people. You see people who only drink wine and will give it a go. Probably 30s to later 50s is the main age group that comes.

What’s the craziest thing that’s happened while you were bartending?

Kali: One crazy thing happened to me — $1,000 tip one day. She was getting harassed by some guys at another bar. I just hate that. A female trying to sit at the bar and being harassed by men. I kind of told them off like, “Leave her alone. She’s just here for a drink.” She tipped me $1,000 and then tipped me $300 for calling her a cab. I said you really don’t have to do that. I think she really appreciated the intervention that day.

What’s your favorite drink to mix?

Kali: That is a tough one.

Kris: We have a lot of house cocktails, about 50 different drinks off the menu.

If you could serve a famous person living or dead, who would it be and what would you serve them?

Kali: Maybe Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We made a drink in her honor once. We called it Justitia Sour for the Roman goddess of justice. It has Amaro No. 4 by BroVo Spirits, lemon juice and honey, with an Angostura bitters spritz and an edible flower garnish.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com.

If you go

Kelnero, 545 Main St., Edmonds, is open 3 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Sunday. Call 425-967-5687 or go to www.kelnero.bar.

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