Black Lagoon Tiki Bar Opens

(Jeff Heyman, Photographer)
Joseph Cabrera readies Theatre Square’s new tiki bar, the Black Lagoon, for customers. In addition to Mai Tais and other exotic cocktails, the bar will serve beer, wine and Polynesian style appetizers.

    Picture this. It’s a warm summer Friday night in Orinda. It’s been a long week and you just want to relax and let loose. Where should you go? If this is a situation you’ve encountered before, then I’m thrilled to present to you the Black Lagoon.
    Derek Zemrak, current owner of the Orinda Theatre, has brought a solution to the aforementioned scenario. The temporarily closed wine bar next to the theater, Cine Cuvee, is currently undergoing a rebranding operation. Coming soon, a brand new tiki bar in its place, named for the classic movie Creature from the Black Lagoon.
    Zemrak took over operations of the Orinda Theatre 13 years ago when there was no alcohol served there. Alcohol licenses for theaters are particularly difficult to obtain, so he decided to open up a bar next door instead. This allowed movie-goers to get the best of both worlds, a lovely glass of Pinot Noir before catching an action-packed showing of Avengers Endgame.
    When COVID-19 hit in 2020, Cine Cuvee closed temporarily, giving Zemrak time to contemplate the bar’s potential. He noticed that the wine bar seemed to be serving a hodgepodge of bites and beverages without a true cohesive theme.
    “The wine bar was doing too many things. It felt like it needed to have some sort of identity,” said Zemrak.
    Reid Pirkle, son of Leonard Pirkle, Zemrak’s partner in a television and film production company, came up with the “tiki” theme for the bar’s rebranding.
    From there, the pair began to develop the interior design, decoration and menu. In typical tiki fashion, one can expect an ample amount of bamboo, mood-setting string lights and tiki face totems to furbish the bar. There are also several decorative references to the movie.
    Surprisingly, surf boards will not adorn the walls as tiki rules do not allow them inside of bars. Overall, Zemrak’s goal is to make the Black Lagoon feel like an escape to a place where one can truly take a breath and chill.
    “It’s a place where you relax, have really great cocktails and Hawaiian Polynesian music,” said Zemrak. “Black Lagoon has a movie-esque kind of feel because you’re transported to a different place.”
    Zemrak’s favorite tiki drink and one of the theme’s well-known beverages is the Mai Tai. The Mai Tai is composed of both light and dark rum, orange liqueur, lime juice and orgeat syrup. It’s oftentimes garnished with lime slices, cherries, mint leaves or pineapple wedges.
    This is just one of the many exotic cocktails soon to be featured on their beachy menu, along with beer and wine and Polynesian style appetizers.
    “I think people are going to be really impressed with the quality of the tiki drinks,” said Zemrak. “It’s unique and it will be a lot of fun for people to experience it. I think it’s going to be a hot place to go.”
    Zemrak looks forward to serving cocktail specials and hosting discount pricing in conjunction with the Orinda Theatre. So when you hear that Zombies are invading Orinda, don’t run for the hills. Instead, head to the Black Lagoon to order one.
    The Black Lagoon will be open Thursday from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m., Friday 4 p.m. – 11 p.m., Saturday from 3 p.m. – 11 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Nicole Lamison can be reached at

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