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Pharmacy Bar to be Renamed “Troublemaker Coffee Bar & Public House” – Maybe

by Prince Of Petworth June 23, 2014 at 10:23 pm 22 Comments

2337 18th Street, NW

Ed. Note: We spoke about the the change in ownership at Pharmacy Bar back in early May.

From one of the owners – Reggie Elliott:

“The views and opinions expressed in my original sent previously entitled “Pharmacy Bar Name Change” on June 20, 3:22 pm are mine and mine only and do not represent the views, opinions or future intent of the corporation DBA Pharmacy Bar or its owners.”

Original email:

“The name of the bar located at 2337 18th St. NW, previously known as “Pharmacy Bar”, will soon change to “Troublemaker Coffee Bar & Public House.”

Why Troublemaker? Because we thought it sounded cool! Just kidding. Seriously though, we took inspiration from a couple of sources, both of which subvert the more negative connotations of the word. The first source of inspiration comes from the colloquial translation of the late Nelson Mandela’s Xhosa middle name “Rohilahla.” Mandela and other historical figures like him are typically referred by their foes as “troublemakers” when all they are fighting for is a change for their people. Our goals are not so lofty but we are seeking to contribute to change.

The reputation of Adams Morgan is one of drunken debauchery, useless macho and chauvinistic displays coupled with destructive and self-destructive behavior, but anyone who spends any amount of time here during the day can see that it’s actually a pretty chill place. Many of the businesses that are open during the day have been here for decades and we’ve already become friendly with many of the local restaurant and shop owners. So the “trouble” we seek to make is simply to flip the script that’s been written about Adams Morgan. We intend on joining the many businesses that open their doors during the daytime when we begin to offer both freshly prepared, locally produced food as well as high quality coffee that’s been ethically sourced and roasted to near-perfection by established American roasters, international roasters as well as a few up-and-coming US roasters, looking for more exposure.

The second source of inspiration comes from Apple’s “Think different” campaign, paraphrased here:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The rebels. The troublemakers. The ones who see things differently. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

The idea of taking over an establishment like Pharmacy Bar — given its geography, given its history — and “daring” to change it, could be seen by our friends and family as crazy enough. But the bar, the name and its fifteen years of existence belong to Kristaps Kreslin, his employees and the loyal customers who kept the place afloat, many of whom are our friends. We have our own ideas, concepts and areas of expertise and it is in our best interest to employ them as best as possible. All we can promise is that we intend to make Troublemaker exactly the kind of space that we ourselves would love to hang out at. (And we do! Stop by any night and you’ll find either Frank Hankins, Chuck Roberts or myself, Reggie Elliott at or behind the bar.)

Yes, yes but why “Troublemaker?” Well, in some ways it’s sort of like those animals that are able to camouflage themselves or even alter their physical appearance so that they resemble a more dangerous creature in order to ward off potential predators, when in reality, these insects, birds, fish or whatever are quite harmless. Those who know us know what kind of people we are and we are definitely NOT “troublemakers” but given Adams Morgan’s weekend late night reputation, perhaps it doesn’t hurt to have a little camouflage of our own.”

And on a side note they’ve also applied for an outdoor patio:



  • anonymous

    There is a Trouble Coffee in San Francisco. They have become quite famous for their cinnamon toast.

  • Anonymous

    I’m confident that this explaination will convince the ANC that a bar called Troublemaker will be a welcome addition to SAdMo’s vibrant nightlife scene.

    • Ward One Resident

      They are taking over a pre-existing license so the ANC will not be involved in this until the license is up for renewal, whenever that may be. The ABC Board on the other hand, can step in and make them choose another name.

    • Anonymous

      Rebellion is a block or two down the street. It’s just a name.

    • textdoc

      Please, no “SAdMo” (or “SoMo,” as somebody was trying to dub it not long ago). “AdMo” is bad enough.

  • The Real Jason

    Coffee Bar? That’ll really have the former patrons rushing back.

    • anon3

      it’s interesting to me that they have this long winded boring letter, when it looks like they tried doing a survey to come up with a name earlier this month through ‘no wave coffee company’. looks like their facebook page has been removed? they have been trying to hype the name change on twitter for a month, and this is what they deliver? really not very impressed, and very curious about who would put up money (twitter says ‘biz partners’ – I’m a little worried possibly Nick Cho, who you should definitely look up) for an idea that doesn’t seem to be fleshed out – that was a struggle just to sell the name to it’s (potential) customers – is it necessary to read a novel to order a coffee as well?

      • CE

        Nick Cho! As a neighborhood resident, I’d just like to state for the record that Adams Morgan does not need to get any junk-punchier than it already is.

        • Anonymous

          I don’t think you have to worry. Nick Cho is staying far, far away from DC these days.

          • anon3

            I don’t believe that. While Cho may not be able to operate in DC, most of the ‘trendy’ coffee shops I know of that launched in the last five years in DC are operated by folks that had relationships with Cho. I suspect that Cho may have bankrolled some of these places, and furthermore, that some of that money is from the DC tax dollars he illegally retained. Looks like he is currently operating out of San Fran, and still complaining about espresso over ice on twitter, a kick in the teeth to his new customers and the former customers he went out of his way to insult. How has the industry not removed him?

          • Anonymous

            Believe it, Nick Cho has made enough enemies that it will be a long time before he sets foot inside the Beltway.

      • It’s interesting to me — ahem — “anon3” that you have this long-winded boring run-on sentence, when it looks like you Googled us to try to come up with some ammunition for this very response. Come on man, you can do better than that!! Let the anger flow through you! Do some deeper Googling, I know you can!

        I’m not even sure where the Nick Cho stuff came from. Sure I worked for the man SEVEN YEARS AGO but he has absolutely nothing to do with this.

        Here are some real facts for you though: I have been living in Sweden for the past six years managing coffee shops and helping to strengthen the Swedish coffee community by importing an idea from America: organizing monthly latte art competitions. I started this so-called “no wave coffee company” 3 years ago in Sweden as an umbrella to organize said events as well as cuppings, workshops and other activities.

        Got any other questions? I will personally buy you a drink — or personally brew you a coffee — if you’re willing to step out from behind your Macbook and pay us a visit.

        • anon3

          too much excitement about punctuation, between yours and mine…. as soon as I get a macbook, I’ll make sure to follow your instructions, but in the meantime, I will remain cautious of your business partners. I really can’t believe whoever is bankrolling this is legit, because I can’t figure out why they would give hard earned money to something so risky and undefined… more so with your other comments in this thread.

    • Yeah, because hipsters who go to dive bars and hipsters who go to high-end coffee shops are completely different hipsters.


  • Hilltopper

    Yep, that name has about as much sex appeal as the McNasty’s bar that lasted a few months up the street.

    • The Real Jason

      Garish aesthetic aside, Angles is one of the few tolerable bars in AM.

      • AdMo

        +1. Angles is one of the most under-rated bars in the area.

  • Anonymous

    Adams Morgan is evolving and I hate what it’s becoming, but I guess that’s life.
    Side note: Could they have picked a more horrible color scheme for the Angles/Little Fountain building?

  • Mandela

    Why do businesses have to give these long-winded, self-important explanations regarding the origins of their “trendy” names? I couldn’t care less where the name came from and I daresay most other Joes Public couldn’t either — it’s ridiculous regardless of its provenance. I mean, really, we’re bringing Mandela and his nickname in the Xhosa language into it? What self-indulgent claptrap.

    • The thing is, I’m actually totally aware of how long-winded and self-important the origin of our “trendy” name is, I mean that’s the whole point!!! Besides, I had to come up with something when the fact of the matter is I got the name from here: http://interactive.sun-sentinel.com/restaurant-name-generator/

    • The fact of the matter, ahem, “mandela” is that the letter was written to justify the fact that we came up with the name from an internet Trendy Restaurant Name Generator.

      So, there.

      • ….and now, I’ve double-posted. Epic fail. I suck at life.


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