Service Bar is a concept brought to life by longtime DC restaurateurs Chris Willoughby, Chad Spangler, and Glendon Hartley. Chris was the owner of former Jin Lounge on U Street; Glendon is the VP of the U.S. Bartenders Guild D.C. chapter and spearheaded the creation of cocktail menus at Blacksalt Fish Market, Lost Society and Cava Mezze. And if you read my recent article on the opening of Bonfire DC, you may recognize Chad’s name – he’s the Beverage Director over there, and has opened a smattering of DC hot spots, including Red Light, Chaplin’s, Provision No. 14 and Prospect (to name a few).
New U Street bars and affordable cocktails aren't typically synonymous, but that's about to change this week.
Service Bar DC (SBCD) is set to open Thursday, Oct. 20 with an all-night happy hour of $7 classic cocktails, as well as $7 Pop and Ponies (beer and a shot) and buy-one-get-one shots. Find its inconspicuous entrance at 926-928 U St. NW, across the street from El Rey. If the names behind the brand sound familiar, it's because they've got some deep booze roots in D.C.
Most restaurants have a small, out-of-sight area where drinks are prepared for guests dining at tables, as opposed to the bar, where bartenders are front and center mixing drinks and passing them directly to customers with a side of showmanship.
These nooks are called service bars. “Usually it’s an area that’s thankless,” says Chad Spangler, one of the founders of the new Service Bar DC. “You are behind the scenes, so it’s not about you, it’s about the guest and the guest experience,” Spangler says. “They don’t see you, they don’t know who made the drink, so everything has to be perfect because they don’t have that personal connection.”