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Lots More Info on the “Cocktail-Focused Neighborhood Bar” coming to U Street: “Service Bar DC is on pace to open mid-August 2016”

by Prince Of Petworth June 30, 2016 at 10:20 am 29 Comments

service bar
926 U Street, NW

From a press release:

“The District of Columbia’s U Street corridor is getting a new hangout this August at 926-928 U Street NW. Service Bar DC’s proprietors: Chad Spangler, Glendon Hartley and Chris Willoughby, are all veterans in DC’s bar and restaurant scene. Chad and Glendon (former president of the US Bartenders Guild DC Chapter) are also partners in the Menehune Group, a behind-the-scenes consultancy that specializes in building highly customized ice programs, bar programs and cocktail menus for some of DC’s favorite restaurants and bars (Ocopa, Provision 14, Bonfire, SOI 38, and MXDC to name a few). Their partner Chris, is a long time U Street business owner having owned the popular bar JIN on 14th and U St and before that, Mangos. Together they aim to bring a service-driven, neighborhood retreat with cocktails that will just happen to be, of the highest quality.

Chad Spangler, Glendon Hartley and Chris Willoughby courtesy Service Bar DC

The bar’s concept yields from the service industry’s well-known “service bar” where the goal is to make a large number, and variety of cocktails, quickly and well. SBDC aims to define what is to be a casual, neighborhood cocktail bar with high quality cocktails, and a price range that says “see you back here tomorrow.” Featured highlights include an all-day happy hour menu with $7 Cocktails, $7 Pop & Ponies, buy-one-get-one shots and a “snug room”, modeled after the small, private drinking rooms of the 18th century Scottish and British pub culture. The SBDC Snug Room will have an intimate capacity of five to six guests, with a special window to the bartender, and offer a shareable cocktail menu exclusive to the Snug Room.

SBDC’s cocktail menu will be constructed from past experiments and anecdotes from Glendon and Chad’s extensive bar and spirits careers and travels. From literally traveling the globe studying flavor profiles, production processes, and the history of an array of spirits, to building successful bar and cocktail programs all over the DC metro area, the duo comes with a wealth of knowledge and experience. The collection of memories, rare and secret recipes, unique products and ingredients will be incorporated into the inventory and cocktail menu at Service Bar, providing for a thoughtful, unique and intentional experience and personal connection.

The highly curated cocktail and bar menus are not what Chad, Glendon, and Chris want the focus to be on. “We’re just doing what we personally find fun.” Says Chad Spangler, Bar Consultant and SBDC Owner. “Cocktails come easy, it’s what we do” adds partner Glendon Hartley. “Our real challenge is bringing back that bar culture, and the neighborhood bar feel.” The all fried chicken bar bites menu will feature a line-up of sandwiches, wings, and other fried chicken selections. Service Bar DC is on pace to open mid-August 2016.”

  • anon7

    I think this will be a cool place. There are plenty of cocktail bars in DC, but both the price and sometimes the wait for a drink makes them a little daunting. Better execution counts for a lot.

  • Hill Denizen

    I’m sorry, I almost spit out my coffee when I read this, “highly customized ice programs.” That may be the most hipster thing I have ever read…ever.

    • LittleBluePenguin

      It reminds of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt episode where she asks her boyfriend to pick up ice for her birthday party, and he comes with a small wooden box emblazoned with Bruiklen Artisinal Icery or something, and opens to reveal two ice cubes nestled in red velvet with little silver tongs. I can’t ever wrap my mind around this “ice program” being real.

    • I Dont Get It

      One of my favorite sight gags from Kimmy Schmidt (Season 1 of course) was the box of “Breukelen Artisanal Frozen Water” that her boyfriend brought to her birthday party.

    • textdoc

      Perhaps even more disturbing is that they list their backgrounds in “ice programs” BEFORE “bar programs” and cocktail menus.

      • Hill Denizen

        Yeah, it was tough to read past that. The rest of the release actually makes them sound pretty undouchey, but the ice program bit made me stop in my tracks.

  • St. Irving

    I’m sure that they’re nice guys and goodness knows reasonably-priced cocktails are in short supply, but nothing about this press release says “friendly neighborhood joint” and everything about it says “pretentious concept,” including the photograph and the bad copy-writing (“Cocktails that will just happen to be, of the highest quality…The bar’s concept yields from…”). And the ice program. And “modeled after the small, private drinking rooms of the 18th century Scottish and British pub culture.”

    • textdoc

      They also need to review the difference between “British” and “English.” Scotland is part of Britain, so it doesn’t make any sense to talk about “Scottish and British pub culture.”

      • anonymouse_dianne

        Although Scotland is part of Great Britain, most Scottish people would refer to themselves as Celtic, not British (I’m Irish and Celtic).

        • textdoc

          The Scots I know refer to themselves as Scottish. I’ve never heard them refer to themselves as Celts.
          Anyway, that’s not really germane to the wording choice in the press release. The problem is that many Americans aren’t quite sure what the difference is (or that there IS a difference) between “English” and “British.” (A Scottish friend I knew in high school said that he often got questions like, “So… what part of England is Scotland in?”)
          Perhaps a bright (?) side of Brexit is that the media coverage is distinguishing between the different parts of the United Kingdom (i.e., England + Wales + Scotland = Great Britain, and Great Britain + Northern Ireland = the United Kingdom).

      • Teej

        Given that it won’t be part of Britain for very much longer, perhaps they are just thinking ahead of the curve?

  • Truxton Thomas

    Darn, not for me. Oh well.

  • Anon Spock

    A place the village dislikes; I’m sure I’ll love it lol
    But seriously some of the top bartenders in the city. I’ll have to check it out. Plenty of neighborhood bars if you want something different.

  • stacksp

    $7 cocktails with a wings on the menu and a buy one get one offer. Might be worth a try

  • ExWalbridgeGuy

    I’m not convinced the pretentiousness of a press release actually correlates at all with the pretentiousness of the restaurant. We’ve seen awful press releases for restaurants that turned out great (and good press releases that turn out awful). I’d consider the substance: experienced pros opening a place with good prices and fast $7 cocktails. Doesn’t sound pretentious to me, even if whoever wrote the press release mentioned an ice program as part of their resumes and used “British” when he should have said “English.”

  • SaraEP

    I can’t even say “ice program” with a straight face hahaha wtf does that even mean?? Special ice cubes? God just give it to me neat and keep it moving.

  • Observer

    Man, nothing satisfies this group of posters. Sheesh!!

    • Anon

      Small American flags would do it, methinks.

  • skj84

    I know the idea of “ice programs” sounds pretentious as hell to people, but its actually a cool concept. Ice in shape, consistency and even source can affect a drinks taste. If cocktail bars are going to invest in the highest quality ingredients for their drinks, then why not invest in high quality ice? You don’t have to go out to the grocery store to purchase artisan ice, but i’m not going to knock those who want to.


    • LittleBluePenguin

      Thanks for the info, skj! Yes, an ice program definitely sounds pretentious as hell to me (or like something straight out of Kimmy Schmidt or Portlandia!) but good to know there’s something to it. Btw, I’ll still probably check this place out at some point, I just was take aback by the ice program!

    • tom

      How many people criticizing “ice programs” are doing so with a $4 cup of coffee on their desk? Or maybe a bottled water they bought today?

      Ridiculousness is all relative. I’d say maybe all of the above qualifies, it’s just where on the scale it lies.

    • James

      The easiest way to tell a REALLY good bar is to look at the quality of their ice. It is extremely time consuming to make ice that is crystal clear and not cloudy. It’s a sign that the bartenders care about every detail and want to make you the best drink possible.

      The description of this bar seems horribly contradictory though. You want a good cocktail bar with 2-1 shots? Pop and pony? All day happy hour? This sounds like a frat bar to get wasted at. Nothing wrong with that but not a place to get a good cocktail.

  • TBD

    While we are on the subject of awkward press releases, I’m tired of stores and food establishments using the word “curated” to describe their selection of products. It’s obnoxious and self-aggrandizing to suggest that items selected to maximize profits are in any way comparable to a museum or art collection.

    • Boozehound


  • Boozehound

    What is pony and pop? I’m guessing it’s a beer and shot combo featuring High Life ponies? This place seems all over the place. They want to be unpretentious and yet they’re basically setting up a VIP room with private access to the bar. They want to be known as a neighborhood cocktail bar, but they’re doing two-for-one shot combos, which sort’ve reeks of frat bros getting shit-faced at a crappy college bar…and make no mistake, they’re enough frat bro douches on U Street that word of a two-for-one shots place will attract them in droves. It’s supposed to be a friendly place set up by three guys sporting one of the least friendly publicity photos I’ve ever seen. Also, if you’re having all day happy hour prices, are your prices really happy hour prices or are they just normal prices that are a bit lower than your competition’s? More than anything, one of the things that kind’ve irks me these days is the pretentiousness around cocktails. It is INSANELY easy to make good drinks. It doesn’t require world-travelling in order to encounter a diversity of flavor profiles and my guess is that the bottles on the bar will only be as rare as it is feasible to purchase them from a reliable wholesaler. Plus, what does “highly curated” even mean? Does it mean you designed a cocktail menu? If so, then why the hell did you have to use the word “curate”? Inasmuch as a successful small-business beats a boarded-up store front, I wish these guys the best, but based on the press release, I have no interest in ever stepping foot into this place.


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