Author Topic: The Barhopper  (Read 40177 times)

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Offline RottingCorpse

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Re: The Barhopper
« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2011, 10:55:17 AM »
U Street is great. With all the deep cultural history, it should retain a lot of the local flavor that gets gentrified our of other "restored" neighborhoods. Plus it's close to Howard, so it's got the college vibe going on too. They've cleaned the neighborhood up but haven't sucked the soul out of it.

Offline nacho

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Re: The Barhopper
« Reply #16 on: November 08, 2011, 11:05:53 AM »
Well, then, let's plan a monthly U St exploration!

Offline nacho

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Re: The Barhopper
« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2012, 04:00:21 AM »
Hi. I'm at Lia's. This is the New Orleans transplant bar. It's 3am and I'm crouched behind the bar drinking illegal Abita with NOLA people and we're all giggling and running serpentine-style whenever headlights wash across the windows.

I feel like I've found a whole new DC. I have found seven phone numbers from single New Orleans babes who say they hate the fuck out of this town and will I please call them first thing tomorrow. Of course...it is first thing tomorrow right now.

Offline nacho

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Re: The Barhopper
« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2012, 02:12:14 PM »
New spot in Cleveland Park looks...well, kind of awesome:

http://starnoldsmusselbar.com/#

Offline monkey!

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Re: The Barhopper
« Reply #19 on: February 16, 2012, 09:40:49 AM »
These Belgian bars are all around Paris.
There will come a day for every man when he will relish the prospect of eating his own shit. That day has yet to come for me.

Offline nacho

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Re: The Barhopper
« Reply #20 on: February 16, 2012, 10:33:34 AM »
Yeah...they're the thing now.

Offline nacho

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Re: The Barhopper
« Reply #21 on: March 01, 2012, 11:11:03 PM »
Wait...so, Lia's in Friendship Heights has happy hour every night till nine and all day Sunday. And 40 ounce Abitas are $7? Okay.

Offline nacho

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Re: The Barhopper
« Reply #22 on: March 16, 2012, 04:14:08 PM »
RC and I hit Off the Record last night -- the Hay Adams hotel bar located, via a circuitous route, in their basement.

It's an awesome place. Easily lumped right into the top 20 DC bars list, I think...

Offline RottingCorpse

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Re: The Barhopper
« Reply #23 on: March 16, 2012, 06:35:27 PM »
A White House staffer bar we decided... With the occasional possible high class prostitute.

Offline nacho

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Re: The Barhopper
« Reply #24 on: March 16, 2012, 06:39:34 PM »
Yeah. That girl was amazing.

The Yelp people all rave about the wasabi peas. So we'll have to get some of those next time instead of death chips.

Offline nacho

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Re: The Barhopper
« Reply #25 on: April 17, 2012, 04:00:50 PM »
Poor Piratz Tavern... They're not very good, but they survive because everybody wants them to be good. Plus, after a couple glasses of grog, you don;t care about the foor or the service or the creepy patrons. You don't care about anything. And that is good.

So they were briefly on the ropes, and took part in Spike TV's "Bar Rescue" reality show...which was a bust. Then they made news by "rejecting" the Bar Rescue advice and going their own way...which is a brilliant sort of cash-in on the little bump in publicity. But there's a little bad blood now...

The story so far...


http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/bar-rescue-gets-the-boot-in-silver-spring-after-piratz-tavern-renovation-goes-bust/2012/03/14/gIQAu9NpCS_story.html?hpid=z11


Quote
‘Bar Rescue’ gets the boot in Silver Spring after Piratz Tavern renovation goes bust

By Tim Carman, Published: March 14

Michael Couey is better known around Piratz Tavern as One-Eyed Mike. He says he lost his left eye in a sword-fighting accident in 2006 as part of a promotional mall stunt for “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.” The sword, he adds, not only took an eyeball. It temporarily took away his ability to work, which would eventually cost him his job and then his home.

Piratz Tavern, the divey, grog-heavy pub in Silver Spring that opened in January 2007, would come to Couey’s rescue. It offered One-Eyed Mike a job as a server, but just as important, Piratz gave Couey a platform to continue playing out his pirate fantasies without making the employee feel self-conscious about his eye patch, which was now more than a costume accessory.

Not to be too blunt about this, but Couey was a pirate caught in Jon Taffer’s crosshairs. Taffer is the tough-love host of “Bar Rescue,” the Spike TV reality series that takes dying pubs and bars and attempts to reverse their fortunes. The program aims to save these moribund watering holes by modernizing their operations and ditching their dead weight, such as employees who view the workplace as their own private pirate ship.

“This is a place where [staff] comes to play pirate every day,” Taffer told a Gazette reporter last month when his crews hit Silver Spring to save Piratz from Davy Jones’s locker. “It’s like kids in a sandbox.”

Taffer’s solution — a temporary one as it would turn out — was to transform Piratz Tavern into the Corporate Bar and Grill, complete with a logo of a faceless, clean-cut businessman in a suit and tie. The menu, once a sprawling, multicultural affair that embraced pirate-themed dishes and Jamaican jerk chicken, was reduced to a trim, 12-item list of starters, salads, sides and sandwiches. A new menu of designer cocktails, none of them rum-based, incidentally, outnumbered the available entrees, six to three, all the better to capitalize on the large profit margins of mixed drinks.

The staff was stripped of its pirates’ scarves and wenches’ bodices and ordered to wear black pants, white shirts and sweater vests embroidered with the Corporate Bar and Grill logo. Likewise, the tavern’s Halloween-like ambiance of skeletons, Jolly Rogers and stuffed parrots was stripped down to a steel-gray-and-yellow environment, as enticing as an office cubicle. The walls were decorated with framed motivational posters, such as the one titled “Sacrifice,” in which a stern boss stares down at diners under the caption: “All we ask is that you give us your soul.”

It was the drab corporate world of Dilbert, not the high-flying Donald Trump version, and it didn’t sit well with either the old Piratz staff or its regular swashbuckling crowd, whose philosophy is to escape from the ordinary, not embrace it. On “While You Were (Out)” notepads placed on every Corporate Bar and Grill table, customers expressed their displeasure: “I hate the business theme,” one wrote. Added another: “You ruined our Piratz Tavern.” A number of regulars also started posting to a Facebook page, “The Soul of Piratz Tavern,” to express their outrage. One even coined a new “curse” word: “Taffer (v): 1) To screw things up so badly that you have the uncontrollable need to conduct a human sacrifice.”

Co-owner Tracy Rebelo knew what she had to do: reclaim her bar, even before the Piratz Tavern episode airs on Spike TV, likely this summer, as part of the program’s upcoming second season. She and her husband, Juciano Rebelo, plan to relaunch Piratz Tavern Thursday after a considerable renovation to undo the previous remodeling undertaken by Taffer and “Bar Rescue.”

“I think that they really, really underestimated and, to a certain extent, disrespected . . . who we are and the community that we serve,” says Tracy. “I think Jon Taffer and his crew did not really research or understand what downtown Silver Spring is. . . . They were thinking that there’s this huge corporate clientele. Well, this is not K Street or Bethesda.”

Counters Taffer: The owners never had any desire to embrace his concepts. “The reason why they didn’t? Candidly?” the host says in a phone interview. “They want to be pirates.”

* * *

Tracy Rebelo will tell you that she and her husband had their reasons for jumping on board with “Bar Rescue,” despite the dangers of turning their beloved pirate pub over to a stranger, who could, by contract, do anything he wanted with it. She and Juciano, after all, do not draw a salary from their business, which they say earns just enough to cover the bills. The couple live with Tracy’s parents; they also have a daughter who’s fast approaching college age, and they can’t afford her higher education. They figured Taffer could seal the leaks in their listing ship and make it profitable.

“We had a standing joke among us: ‘What’s the worst thing they could do? Make us into a sports bar?’ ” Tracy says. “We never imagined a corporate bar because I don’t think corporate bars exist.”

The entire premise of “Bar Rescue” is based on the promise of saving operations such as Piratz Tavern. As the star and host of the show, Taffer cuts a no-nonsense authority figure, the kind of grizzled veteran who’s going to hurt you for your own good. He’s the founder of Taffer Dynamics, which, according to its Web site, is a consulting firm that “offers a series of Business Invigoration Strategies that ignite, energize, revitalize, refresh and empower your organization.”

“I thought this was an angel, a godsend,” Tracy remembers. “Finally, something good is going to happen to me.”

“Bar Rescue” follows a fairly standard formula: Taffer sends in an undercover operative to assess the bar’s weaknesses, which can range from an unruly staff that’s pouring too much free booze to an aloof general manager who can’t be bothered to do his job. The problems they found at Piratz started in the kitchen (which Taffer says was a complete mess, requiring a professional crew to clean it) and rose all the way to ownership.

“He said I’m the absolute worst manager he’s ever seen, that I don’t know what the hell I’m doing,” Tracy says. “He made it out that I was just partying all the time with my staff, and they were walking all over me.”

But the “Bar Rescue” team also conducted research on Silver Spring, Taffer notes, and concluded that the area boasts about 240,000 people during the day, a combination of locals and workers who toil at Discovery Communications, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other offices. The population sinks to about 70,000 people once those offices clear out, Taffer points out; the obvious solution, he adds, is to cater to those worker bees during lunch, happy hour and the early evening, before they head for home.

Late on Saturday, Feb. 18, after a 36-hour makeover, Taffer and team unveiled Corporate Bar and Grill to try to tap into this eminently drillable market. The grand opening crowd was largely composed of guests invited by “Bar Rescue” producers. Any regular who showed up in pirate garb was rejected at the door, apparently in the interest of keeping the one-eyed scurvy types out of camera range.

“Bar Rescue” reportedly spent $250,000 on the makeover, which included the removal and storage of all pirate memorabilia (save for the aquarium with its sunken ship and skull ornaments) and the installation of a sandwich-heavy menu, including an $11 burger and a $13 charred chicken breast with pesto. Crews also installed some draft-beer tables and a Smart Bar system so customers could serve themselves drinks (and populate the all-important front room that faces the street). The only problem was that the “Bar Rescue” team did not secure the necessary permissions from the Montgomery County Board of License Commissioners, which is required for operating the new bar toys. (Notes Taffer: The producers left a list of to-do items for the owners, such as securing permissions.)

The bigger problem, however, was the tavern’s new identity, designed to attract Silver Spring’s corporate worker bees. The new place seemed to do just the opposite: It became a cruel joke among a number of locals. Posted one member of DonRockwell.com: “A faceless suit for a logo. Could Taffer mock Silver Spring any harder?”

As One-Eyed Mike heard more than one customer complain: “I just spent all day in an office,” recalls Couey, who remains employed there. “I don’t want to visit a place that makes me feel like I’m in an office.”

Tracy Rebelo wasted little time kicking the concept to the curb. In some ways, it was a practical decision, she notes; pirate-themed parties, whether for kids or adults, were difficult to stage in the revamped space, not to mention out of place. In fact, it was a massive kids’ party scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 25, just a week after the rebranding into Corporate Bar and Grill, that instigated the switch back to Piratz Tavern. Many staff members simply wore their pirate dress into the evening service, an act of protest against the Man. Little more than a week later, the Rebelos and their employees were starting to dismantle the new place, courtesy of customer donations and money provided by “Bar Rescue” itself.

“We were having an identity crisis,” says Tracy. “We were ‘Bar With an Identity Crisis,’ and that’s how we were answering the phone.”

Taffer would say Tracy and Juciano Rebelo had a crisis of a different sort: They had a crisis of confidence. He notes that moments after the unveiling of Corporate Bar and Grill on Feb. 18, a staff member told him that, “In the morning these [customers] are going to be welcomed by a pirate.” What’s more, he says, the owners did not open for lunch immediately after the makeover. “How can you say lunch works if you’re not open for lunch?” he asks.

Plain and simple, the TV host thinks it’s lunacy to revert to a concept that didn’t work financially for the owners in the first place. “They’re out in left field,” Taffer says. “I think they’re a bunch of fools.”

And the March re-opening:

Quote
As you might have heard by now, the owners of the once and future Piratz Tavern have rejected their reality TV makeover in favor of more grog — and fewer $15 Glace luxury ice cocktails.

Just weeks after unveiling the Corporate Bar and Grill, courtesy of Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue” team, owners Tracy and Juciano Rebelo have decided to revert to their own Jolly Roger-themed tavern. There’s just one problem: At present, they don’t have the crew or budget to install a new sign.

So . . . as Piratz Tavern enjoys its rebirth this evening, the old Corporate Bar and Grill sign will remain solidly in place, with one slight alternation: Last week, Dynamite Graphics of Silver Spring painted a sly little eye patch over the invisible left eye of the faceless corporate executive in the logo.

Tomorrow, Tracy Rebelo hopes to have a temporary Piratz Tavern banner in place to at least partially obliterate the visible scar of the reality TV makeover gone wrong.

Incidentally, the owners still have the old Piratz Tavern sign, but Tracy says it weighs two tons and was originally welded to the roof. “You need a small crane truck” to reinstall it, she says.

If their budget doesn’t call for such an expensive reinstallation, Tracy Rebelo says she will eventually order a new sign for the entrance and attach the old one to the side wall that faces Bonifant Street.

But no matter what name graces the facade tonight, the owners plan to fly their pirate flag and hoist tankards to the official reopening of Piratz Tavern.

Offline nacho

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Re: The Barhopper
« Reply #26 on: July 31, 2012, 07:42:12 AM »
The Bar Rescue episode mentioned in the post above aired on Sunday. The guy running the show is an asshole but, of course, he had some valid points...which Piratz did not adopt. Mainly -- work on having edible food and drinkable drinks.

The rest of his shit makes sense, logically, but only if you're from out of town and you don't know that the "corporate" bar theme is happening at half the Silver Spring bars all within 1000 feet of Piratz...as opposed to the picture painted by the show where Piratz is the "center" of Silver Spring and has no competition.

That said...the other key point he brought to light was the deadness of the place when you pass by. All the fun stuff happens in the back room, and the front dining area is permanently empty. I've always wondered why they didn't stick a little bar up front... Just for the illusion of activity. Though the Bar Rescue people put up some retarded drink mixer machine and a pour your own draft table, which seemed joyless...

An article about the reaction, as well as a link to a streaming video of the show and other associated videos, are all at:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/30/bar-rescue-taffer-piratz_n_1720145.html


Offline nacho

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Re: The Barhopper
« Reply #27 on: July 31, 2012, 11:49:50 AM »

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Re: The Barhopper
« Reply #28 on: September 18, 2012, 10:46:59 AM »
Col. Brooks finally closes...


Quote
Requiem for a Neighborhood Bar: Col. Brooks' Closes
By Jake Berg - September 14, 2012

Col. Brooks' Tavern isn't the kind of bar we normally write about here. It's not a beer bar, not a destination. Just a place in the neighborhood with a better draft selection than it had any right to, with Bell's Two Hearted, and a rotating cast of local beers on tap, cycling through Dogfish, Flying Dog, and Heavy Seas alongside macro products. Chocolate City and DC Brau were added later, poured through tap lines that could and should have been cleaned more often.

But it's bars like this that make a city, that create a "good beer city," that give it personality. Churchkey will forever be a place that put DC on the map as a destination. Bars like Col. Brooks' Tavern are the ones that make you want to move here. That's not to say that the better beer bars in DC aren't also neighborhood spots. Spend five minutes in The Big Hunt in Dupont Circle or Meridian Pint in Columbia Heights and you'll see that these aren't mutually exclusive. But if DC is to be a good beer city, then it's going to be because of everyday, perhaps even banal places like Col. Brooks', establishments that blend in, that feel like your living room. Col. Brooks' did this better than most, acting as a "third place," between work and home, for much of Brookland. It was, is, for a few more hours, a place where anyone in the neighborhood, black or white, blue collar or white collar, was welcome, and felt welcome. Bud or Bell's, DC Brau or Hennessey, with Dixieland jazz on Tuesday nights. A history lesson, courtesy of the Washington Post:

[Owner Jim] Stiegman helped open the tavern 32 years ago, finding 200-year-old pine planks from a barn for the bar, wooden pews from a Pennsylvania church to use as booths and old photographs for the walls. Col. Jehiel Brooks owned the mansion across the street long ago — the neighborhood is named for him — and surviving family members gave Stiegman portraits from legendary Civil War photographer Mathew Brady's studio.

I'm jumping between past and present tense here because tonight is the last night Col. Brooks' will be open. Come 1:30am, it will close, as it always does. It won't open on Saturday. Soon construction will start on a new 901 Monroe St., NE. It will be five storeys tall, with ground floor retail. Jim Stiegman, the owner of Col. Brooks', will be involved with this new building, so I want to be optimistic. I'm not anti-change, sometimes change is good, sometimes change just is, but I'm already nostalgic. Stiegman and the Tavern have been through a lot, including a gruesome triple murder by an ex-employee, which decimated the business.

Whatever moves in, I hope it's that third place, and that it serves craft beer.

Offline RottingCorpse

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Re: The Barhopper
« Reply #29 on: September 18, 2012, 01:39:33 PM »
That depresses me.