That Was Fast – New Brewpub, Bardo, Coming to 1200 Bladensburg Road, NE Already Gets Liquor License. Now Raising Money.

by Prince Of Petworth November 28, 2012 at 12:30 pm 31 Comments

1200 Bladensburg Road, NE

Back in early October we learned that the Bardo brewpub hoped to reopen on a big lot at 1200 Bladensburg Road, NE. Things are rapidly progressing.

From indiegogo:

We have recently purchased a Beeutiful vacant lot in N.E. D.C., near the H. St. party corridor, in preparation for re-opening Bardo. The liquor license has been approved and construction plans have been submitted to the city. Construction is slated to start in December 2012. Plans for the bar include self serve taps, 500 outdoor seats, a funky building made from shipping containers, and the biggest brewery in the DC area. Bardo Rodeo operated in the 90’s as the largest brewpub in the country. The 22000 sq. ft. facility included 900 indoor & 700 outdoor seats and a 25-barrel brewhouse. As one of the first bars in the Clarendon neighborhood in Arlington VA, Bardo brewed 4000 kegs a year and enjoyed thousands of visitors each weekend. Indigogo provides the opportunity for Bardo to raise money to fund the project.

It’s like paying half price for the beer now but drinking it later.

Bardo currently has 300K in cash and 300K in brewing equipment but we need to raise another 150K (to do the custom programming on the Self-Serve Beer Setup). Our main fundraising focus is HALF-PRICE BEER. That’s right, HALF-PRICE BEER. Don’t wanna pay DC prices of $25 for a pitcher of beer? Get 100 Dollas of Beer for $50 pledge! Think of this as a big Groupon-style offering…

We also got T-shirts, pre-release tasting of the first batches of Bardo beer, private pre-opening party…

Also included in the fun will be self serve beer taps, outdoor beer garden, cornhole, and lots of other unmentionable happenings…

More info after the jump.


Vacant lot. Shipping Containers. Brewery. Distillery. Outdoor Party. Outdoor BBQ. Cornhole. GABF award winning beers. Bardo will offer more house beers on tap, at any one time, than any brewpub anywhere. How often do you go into a brewpub to find they only have 4-6 house beers available? At Bardo, we have over 20 recipes (most given to us by some of the most prominent, well-known brewers in the country, such as Rogue , Bridgeport, Anderson Valley, Schmidts). In the past, we have maintained an average of 15 house beers on tap.

One of the main attractions of the new Bardo will be self-serve beer taps. Not a couple of taps at a few booths. TWO WALLS of taps designed for any of our guests to help themselves to beer whenever the urge strikes them… Practice your tap-pouring skills!

Bardo will also offer over 10,000 sq. ft. of outdoor seating. That’s 500 seats. The outdoor beer garden will feature fire-pits, an outdoor grill, cornhole, and of course the sandbox.

Bardo is currently working on getting the law tweaked to allow a distill-pub. Any money raised above the $150K will go towards DISTILLING equipment! wooohoo…


The Stewart Boys. Bill and Andrew with the next generation boy Dillon making a debut. Ethan Brennan, everybody’s favorite manager. Painter/Artists — Suzanne Pender, Adam Bradley, Eric Sandberg. And Maybe the Brewer-man himself will make an appearance.


Back in the late 80’s Bill jump-started the Clarendon nightlife scene when he opened the first of his 3 bars, Roratonga Rodeo, on Wilson Blvd. in Arlington. By 1993, Bill had converted an old car dealership into the 22,000 sq ft behemoth of a brewpub, Bardo Rodeo. Bardo garnered national attention for:

Being the biggest brewpub in the country
Winning 3 medals at the Great American Beer Festival and
Having William Kennedy Smith arrested after sucker punching a Bardo doorman.

Bardo is also credited with giving several local brewers their start in the industry. Jonathan Reeves at Port City Brewing in Alexandria, Favio Garcia at Lost Rhino Brewing in Ashburn and Alan Beal at Virginia Beverage Company in Alexandria were all brewers at Bardo.


The Roots of Bardo reach back to DC in the 1980’s. Bill first started brewing in his kitchen and giving it away in an old row house near 11th & P in DC. After several months at that location, a bigger spot was needed. Christened the BBQ Iguana, it functioned as a live music venue for bands such as Scream, with Dave Grohl on drums (“the only drummer who didn’t need a mic”). A late night burglary of the sound system forced a relocation to what became the Roratonga Rodeo in Arlington. Roratonga’s opening in 1989 made it the very first bar in Clarendon. Roratonga provided 15 microbrews on tap and was one of the area’s first multitap bars if not THE first.

By 1991, Roratonga had become too small. Bill sold it (to the Galaxy Hut people), opened the 2nd bar in Clarendon, Amdo Rodeo. Amdo’s 23 taps eventually proved too small and sold that business (which eventually became IOTA). In 1992, an old car dealership became available. It was here that the crew finally realized the dream of opening a place where they could brew beer. So started the 22,000 sq. ft. brewpub, Bardo Rodeo. After waiting tables at Amdo during college, Bill’s brother Andrew graduated and came on board to manage Bardo.

In the new millennium Bill was on to his next project. When the City condemned the old part of the building, the brewery was moved to his farm then put into storage. He moved to Australia & checked out the Brewery scene… (and the swimming scene!) Frustrated with the level of bureaucracy, he decided to pursue another passion: Campaign for Tibet. Bill spent the next 3 years working with TIPA (Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts) in Dharamsala.

In the meantime, members of the Stewart family downsized and renovated the Bardo site, renaming it Dr. Dremo’s Taphouse. it served as a multitap bar until the building’s demolition in 2008. Efforts to re-open another bar were scrapped when Andrew sent word to the high Himalayas convincing Bill to stop studying the manufacture of Chang-ger, bust out the brewery and start making beer again.

  • Dremo’s was awesome

    Props to these guys for trying to reopen, as a 32 year old I enjoyed MANY crazy nights at Dremo’s before the dudes in brown flip flops invasion. That being said, this seems like a ridiculous offering. I give you $100, $200 or whatever now and you give me that back in a refund once you open? If you open? What happened to a real business plan with real investors that are paid dividends for an established amount of time? I can’t wrap my head around lending money to these dudes, Dremo’s was fun but was a total mess (part of the charm). I remember them having a party every other month for what seemed like a year due to them “closing”.

    • Anonymous

      I agree, it’s crazy. I certainly won’t be paying them money to open (selling beer at half off probably still results in a profit). But if they can get financing this way, more power to them. Certainly beats taking out a loan.

      • Dremo’s was awesome

        ^Personally kickstarter annoys me (unless it’s for a not for profit). I’m not saying traditional business lending practices are the way to go but I don’t like being solicited to throw down my money for your business interests without some type of financial stake in the future.

        I’d guess this group would have better luck finding 15 people to invest $10K as opposed to 1,500 people putting up $100. I hope they prove me wrong.

    • Anon

      I also agree. I wonder if we’ll see a “kickstarter bubble” soon…

    • Anonymous

      Exactly. It sounds like a great concept, but if they never open, I’m pretty sure you’ll NEVER get your money back. And all of their cool ideas like fire pits and self-serve taps on the wall sound like things that will never happen with DC’s almost insurmountable bureaucracy.

      • Anonymous

        Yeah, I am curious about this. If you donate to a kickstarter business start-up and they don’t get the necessary funds to open or something else happens to prevent them from opening, do you get your money back? How is this handled?

    • Look at this guy, he went to Dremo’s before it got cool!

    • beeeer

      hey, did you guys even read the site? it says you get $200 worth of beer for 100 bucks.
      sure, there is a chance they won’t open… but they have done many places that HAVE opened. so the risk is minimal… and the payoff is substantial.
      You are NOT “lending money to these dudes”… its like groupon… half price beer.
      are you lending money to groupon when you buy there?

      and if you think they are not gonna open, well, fine…
      but there are plenty of people going for it right now.

      The owner of Jimmy Valentines just bought a $4000 party!!

      • Anonymous

        I read on the kickstarter page that 44% of the projects have reached their funding goal. Don’t know if you think that’s good or bad.

      • Dremo’s was awesome


        Noun 1. lending – disposing of money or property with the expectation that the same thing (or an equivalent) will be returned

        In this case that “equivalent” would be an expectation of discounted beer.

        No, you’re not lending money to groupon or living social however you’re also not buying into start up business or providing capital to start a business. Sorry, but I’m not getting your logic here…when I buy a groupon it’s for a place that is currently open for business not some place that may or may not be open for business a year down the road.

        Like I said from that start, good luck to these guys! I’d love to drink here once they open.

  • Anonymous

    Sometimes it’s fun to gamble, though. If i put in $100, maybe I’ll end up with half-priced beer, maybe i’ll lose it. This place sounds interesting, so I’m considering taking a chance to help make it work.

  • bv

    Bladensburg Road? Will never go there.

    • Anonymous


    • Anonymous

      why? and never? seems dimwitted to say never.

      • Anonymous

        Because he doesn’t want to get shot/mugged/just generally attacked by the people who live and hang around that area at night?

        • Anonymous

          land of the free, home of the fearful.
          i’m glad there are people in this town with the balls to make it a better place.

          • Anonymous

            Are you one of them?

          • Anonymous

            i try. and, while i have my excuses when i fall short, fear isn’t one of them.

          • Anonymous

            @dcalerts No reason to be wary of the people in that neighborhood. Sometimes fear is justified, especially in an area where the people still think that this is 1980s DC and don’t give a damn about making it a better place to live.

  • Jason

    I hope he’s more excited about the business than he’s letting on.

  • Anon X

    Thats not fundraising, its a marketing gimmick, similar to living social, but without the middleman. If they didnt think it was going to increase volume, then it wouldnt be a good deal for them. If the people donating $50 would go there anyway, then the establishment is essentially paying 50% interest on a loan for a few months. Of course, for them, unlike taking a loan, its completely risk free because you wont get your money back if they never open.

    Further, if they raise 150k in capital, they’ll be giving away 300k in product. Probably all in the first year, or the first week….

    I dont see how this ends well.

    • Anonymous

      Anon X,

      I asked this up the thread but in case you missed it, I was asking if you donate or give to a kickstarter business and they never open, you have no way to get your money back? I would think that there would have to be options to get your money back? So businesses that fail to open but generate some money through kickstarter, they get to keep the money?

      • I’d like to know, too. Kickstarter seemsuke a great vehicle to part fools from their money. Want a bar in your neighborhood? Pay for it but get no ownership interest! Want a restaurant? Pay so someone else can profit from $18 burgers! Sometimes the simplest scams are the best ones.

        • Anonymous

          Taken from the kickstarter FAQ page where it talks about accountability:

          “What should creators do if they’re having problems completing their project?
          If problems come up, creators are expected to post a project update (which is emailed to all backers) explaining the situation. Sharing the story, speed bumps and all, is crucial. Most backers support projects because they want to see something happen and they’d like to be a part of it. Creators who are honest and transparent will usually find backers to be understanding.

          It’s not uncommon for things to take longer than expected. Sometimes the execution of the project proves more difficult than the creator had anticipated. If a creator is making a good faith effort to complete their project and is transparent about it, backers should do their best to be patient and understanding while demanding continued accountability from the creator.

          If the problems are severe enough that the creator can’t fulfill their project, creators need to find a resolution. Steps could include offering refunds, detailing exactly how funds were used, and other actions to satisfy backers.

          Is a creator legally obligated to fulfill the promises of their project?
          Yes. Kickstarter’s Terms of Use require creators to fulfill all rewards of their project or refund any backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill. (This is what creators see before they launch.) We crafted these terms to create a legal requirement for creators to follow through on their projects, and to give backers a recourse if they don’t. We hope that backers will consider using this provision only in cases where they feel that a creator has not made a good faith effort to complete the project and fulfill.

          Can Kickstarter refund the money if a project is unable to fulfill?
          No. Kickstarter doesn’t issue refunds as transactions are between backers and creators, and creators receive all funds (after fees) soon after their campaign ends. Creators have the ability to refund backers through Amazon Payments (for US projects) and Kickstarter (for UK projects).”

  • beeeer

    well… i like to sit outside… and i like the sound of half price beer… shit, as long as its not friggin PBR!
    Good Beer for cheaper than PBRshit?
    sign me up!

  • Kvatch

    I’ll almost certainly give it a try, as I hear the recipes will be the same one’s I remember from the 90’s. (Oh to have the Black Watch Scotch Ale again…). But without the coupe–I think it was a Chrysler–sticking out of the front window, it won’t be the old Bardo. Though I suppose that might be a good thing.

    Now…where’s my ‘I drank around the world at Bardo,” t-shirt?

  • Beer Lover

    Interesting idea and somewhat promising concept, but the whole execution side leaves a lot lacking. Is it me or was the video just… weird? If I was trying to sell a bunch of people on the internet on my business plan – to the tune of 150k – I’d try to look a little more excited and interested. And provide more details on the actual business plan.

    And have more information about exactly what they need the cash for, and why they couldn’t get credit – or, why they couldn’t just make their plan work with the budget they have and then scale up and purchase additional equipment once they started getting cash in. I guess they just want more working capital from the get-go, but this seems like a very risky proposition from the individual investors’ side. No recourse if they fail. I imagine most aren’t looking at it from a financial return perspective, but at the end of the day there’s a lot of risk – its a Groupon for a company that doesn’t exist and no track record!

    I wonder if the location will be a stumbling block for them overall too – seems pretty far up Bladensburg Road to me. I guess land is cheap up there so it was a good way to get the space they wanted. But best of luck to them, if it does work out I think it would be a positive for the area.

    • Anonymous

      That’s just the way they are. Those Stewart boys are the definition of weird. Part of the charm, I guess.

    • Anonymous

      dc could use more weird.

  • 2 observations:

    1) Would have been better to get somebody who is awake to narrate the video.

    2) Was the script at 1:29 written by Stefon? “This place has everything; ghosts, banjos, Carl Paladino, a stuck up kitten who won’t sign autographs, furkels…”

    • ANON



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