The original Kings opened in July 1999. Although there were a few local venues at the time, Kings catered to music fans and musicians in a way that was entirely different. The space became a focal point for creativity in the area. Besides the many local and national musical acts that began to see Kings as a regular stop, there were Game Show nights (such as The Gong Show) put on by the owners and their friends, circus performances, comedy nights, theater performances, a regular professional wrestling show, basically anything that sounded like it would be interesting, dramatic, or hilarious. As time went on, the sound system was improved, and bigger national acts like Bonnie Prince Billy, Calexico, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, The Shins, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and Mastodon began to see Kings and Raleigh as a legitimate tour stop.
In 2007 the landlord chose to demolish the building that housed Kings so that the ground could be used as a staging area for construction of a parking deck. Reopening almost happened in several different locations, but due to this or that complication, it never happened. That is, until a lease was signed on the space at 14 West Martin Street in April of 2010.
The new version of Kings (now 12 years old!) improved in several ways. Upstairs is the Kings space, with a larger stage, acoustically designed ‘floating’ walls, a beautiful steel and pine bar, and a sound system that is fantastic to hear or to play through. In the basement is Neptunes, a comfortable hideaway with custom cocktails that feature handmade syrups and fresh, locally produced ingredients. On the ground floor used to be Garland. It was the brainchild of co-owner Chef Cheetie Kumar, who directed the construction in getting the Kings and Neptunes open before launching the restaurant in late 2013. Her work at Garland led to three Semi-Finalist nods for Best Chef Southeast at the James Beard Awards in 2017, 2018 and 2019 – and Finalist spots in 2020 and 2022. Garland closed at the end of summer 2022, and Chef Kumar is currently working on a new project set to open in Raleigh in 2023.
The three spaces located at 14 W Martin St have long been a very unique landmark in downtown Raleigh! After a two-year closure due to the pandemic, we are excited to be taking small steps towards bringing Kings and Neptunes back in 2023.