Dear PoP – Has Mocha Lounge Become Manchester Bar and Grill?

“Dear PoP,

Was wondering if you knew anything about what’s going on with the Mocha Lounge at 944 Florida Avenue? I thought it was re-opening as the Mocha Lounge, but apparently, it is becoming the Manchester Bar and Grill. The owners are trying to put some outdoor seating on the sidewalks, and they have repainted (which looks nice). It’s kind of confusing that it did actually re-open as the Mocha Lounge very recently.”

This past Sunday I stopped in and was able to sit in on a chat with owner Darnell Perkins and a couple of very nice Howard University journalists. Darnell cleared up the Manchester Bar and Grill name confusion right away – that was the name that liquor license was listed under but the space will continue to be known as Darnell’s Mocha Lounge or Darnell’s Lounge. And it really does have a lounge atmosphere:

Darnell explained that the space is developing over stages. Currently it is a bar and lounge with live Jazz/R&B on Thursday nights. The second stage will feature coffee options and a small outdoor patio (see photos after jump). Today the space opens at 5pm everyday but starting the first Sunday in May they will open earlier to serve coffee (with wifi available) and a continental breakfast. The third stage will feature proper brunch options. Currently there are some dining options available including wings, salads and mini crab cakes. The space will continue to develop based on recommendations from the neighborhood.

Darnell explained that he sees the space as an extension of his living room. In fact much of the furniture actually comes from his living room. While the space is very comfortable it is sorta broken up into two rooms. In the front room there is a lounge type feel with a big bar (that will serve coffee). In the back room there is another bar that serves alcohol and also has comfortable seating (see photo above). The total occupancy is about 75.

What I liked most about Darnell’s comments were his desire to be welcoming to all. He envisions his spot as a place that brings the whole neighborhood together whether you are black, white, latino, or gay or straight. Given the de facto segregation often seen in some neighborhoods it’s nice to hear about a spot that specifically wishes to cater to all. I certainly look forward to the continued evolution of this great space.

Lots more photos after the jump.

Owner Darnell Perkins

Front room

Back room

Future outdoor patio area

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