Pawtucket-Native Michael Silva is the man behind BĀS, a cocktail service in RI specializing in class and comfort. He’s working hard to create a new experience for minority millennials in RI. — By Jess Evora
Feature Photo: Kathleen Marques @vividlyalluring
Cabo Verdean entrepreneur Michael Silva has enjoyed the art of bartending since he first began in the industry a few years ago as a barback in Manhattan. So, naturally, upon his return to RI several years ago, he decided he would stay in the field.
“I wanted to get better at it,” Michael said. “So I knew I had to practice.”
Michael first set up shop in a private basement in September 2017. “I invited a couple of my boys over, and just started mixing drinks,” Michael said.
During the day, Michael would work his full-time job as a paraprofessional Special Education professional at Seekonk High School. On the weekends, he would practice perfecting his craft.
The Beginning of BĀS
“I started inviting people over to enjoy a cocktail bar,” Michael said. “The music would be playing. At first, that would be it.”
“Then we started creating special drink menus,” Michael said. “I started paying particular attention to detail. Everything was intentional, from the music to the lighting.”
At first, even the crowd was curated. The early events were invite-only. “If you were not on the list, you did not get in – period.” Michael said. “It wasn’t about being exclusive,” Michael said. “It was about creating an intentional environment.”
“Eventually, we got all the details down,” Michael said. “I remember looking around and realizing that we have something on our hands with this.”
A concept is not a concept without a name.
“I came up with the name in October 2017,” Michael said. “BĀS is the root word of basement. This all started in a basement.”
The element of music also played a role in the name.
“Sometimes you go out, and the music is so bad,” Michael said. “I wanted to play music that I wanted to hear. The music I play is not usually what you’re going to hear at the popular venues out here.”
For Our Community
As a Pawtucket-native (an alum of Shea High School), Michael is particularly interested in creating a space for minority millennials in RI to feel like they have an alternative option to the usual night scene in RI.
One of Michael’s approaches with BĀS is to host his pop-ups in places where you would normally be surprised to find a bar. He’s hosted his cocktail affairs in unconventional spaces, such as Elmwood Diner in Providence, one of the oldest diners in the country.
“I always knew I wanted to be creative, but before BĀS I just didn’t know how,” Michael said. “I’ve also always been shy when it comes to being vulnerable. BĀS has allowed me to become vulnerable.”
As BĀS continues to grow, Michael continues to move the business forward with intention. As he designs his next steps, he aims to reinvent the essence of the first time he setup shop in his parents’ Basement back in September 2017.
“I want to put on a show for people,” Michael said. “I want to recapture that magic again.”
Navigating the Journey as an Entrepreneur
“I remember saying to someone that I didn’t feel like doing this,” Michael said. “And that person said, ‘Well, you have to do it. This is your life now.’”
“I wake up everyday, and I think about BĀS,” Michael said. “I’m constantly thinking about how I can make this better. It’s a brand and business now.”
Michael said he tries to remember to scale it. He doesn’t aim to go for a major production right away, since he is still learning.
“I’ve proven I have no issue putting people in a room,” Michael said. “Now I need to learn to run this thing as a business, which is very different.”
“No matter how hard I work, I’m always wishing I can give more time and love to BĀS,” Michael said. “I’m learning to be patient, put my head down and grind. In the meantime, I just continue to learn.”
“If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb
Michael is grateful for the successful year that BĀS experienced in 2018 as a result of his hard work. However, he also acknowledges the support of his peers for helping him get to this point.
“Siobhan and Rachel of Berri really helped me raise BĀS to another level with their gracious invitations for collaboration,” Michael said. “I’m also lucky to have people like my friend Christy, Vaughn, Patrick, Miellette, my sister, and so many others helping me out.”
“We need more peer support like that,” Michael said. “With people like Jason and Sabrina of StaySilentPVD creating a platform for people to express themselves, as well as other really amazing young people in RI, there’s no reason we can’t all come together to support each other.”
As Michael continues to learn & grow with BĀS, we wish him nothing but the best. What we appreciate most about Michael is that he is all about supporting his peers here in RI. He believes we can all be great.
Here at RANJA, we always say, “Let’s not be each other’s competition. Let’s be each other’s inspiration,” and Michael Silva just so happens to be a perfect example of that.
A cocktail service specializing in class and comfort.
The secret is out.
Featured Photographers (RI-locals):
Kathleen Marques @vividlyalluring
Hensley Carrasco @sir_hensley
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“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”