Arts & Entertainment

New lounge/cafe caters to Tri-City night scene

Bold colors, modern modular furniture and music and food that's a fusion of cultures and cuisines make the new White Buddha Lounge and Cafe unique on the Tri-Cities night scene.

The new martini lounge opened three weeks ago in a small strip mall facing Carmike Cinemas at 1360 N. Louisiana St., Suite F, Kennewick. The lounge is small and intimate, with seating for 46 patrons. Minors are welcome to sit in the cafe with the bar area strictly for those over 21.

"We've always liked this kind of ambiance," said Carla Moreno. She and her husband, Yair Martinez, opened the lounge on Valentine's Day and since then word about their new establishment has spread.

The decor is definitely modern, a tad Oriental, with lots of modular white and black furniture. The oversize fabric wall hangings are black and white and so are the walls. The cement floor is stained crimson.

The bar is the focal point. It's made of white Plexiglas, with multicolored, ever-changing LED lights lighting it from beneath.

"It's colorful without being overwhelming," said manager Francisco Madrigal.

The background music is a fusion too, a mix gathered from Mexico, Europe, modern jazz and electronic techno.

"We also have DVDs of live concerts from Mexico, Spain, Europe, even the popular Blue Men we can play," Moreno said, pointing at two flat screen TVs flanking the bar area.

Their menu too is a fusion of tastes and flavors. They specialize in small plates -- tapas -- with a few full meals and main dish salads available. The selection is limited now but they're adding to the menu almost daily.

Moreno described the flavors as Thai-fusion with lots of different sauces all made in-house.

"Because we're Mexican we add our own spices to other cultures.' We didn't want to identify ourselves as one cuisine or another, it's a mix of our own and others," Madrigal said.

Tapas run from $5 to $6; the salmon meals, $8.

The bar also offers an eclectic mix of drinks. They specialize in martinis but also serve beer, wine and cocktails.

As for the name of the lounge, White Buddha, it has no particular significance except Moreno said, "we wanted to choose a name, that when you heard it, would be relaxing, would remind you of a good experience. And we wanted one that was spiritual too."

So they choose Buddha.

White she said, "is pure, translucent and ties in with the (slightly) Oriental theme and our mainly white tables and chairs."

"A lot of people say they like the staff, how good our relationship is with each other. We have fun and invite our customers to join us," Moreno said.

The White Buddha Lounge & Cafe is open from 4 to 10 p.m., Sunday-Thursday and from 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., Friday-Saturday. Happy hour is from 4 to 7 p.m., Sunday-Thursday only.

For more information or to reserve a conversation area for groups, call 627-8605.

*Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513;; more news at