Last year, I was incredibly jealous reading the news that D.C. would finally get an official hockey bar of its own.
The Washington Post reported in February 2014 that Sin Bin Bar and Restaurant would open as a Caps-themed hangout at 1336 H St. NE in D.C., thanks to David McQuaid and Naveed Ashraf:
“Ultimately we’re going to be a Caps bar,” said McQuaid, a mid-30s D.C. native who, like Ashraf, is a Capitals fan. “We’ve had kind of mixed input on whether that’s a smart idea or not. … We did some nominal market research, and we were just thinking that if there’s any area that would support kind of a bottom-up effort for the Caps, it’d be H Street.”
Nothing online points to this place ever opening or still being in the process of opening. I’m going to try to drive by the address on Saturday to see what it is. It was first pegged for a June 2014 opening according to published reports then November 2014…then…?
From my experience covering retail and restaurants, this ain’t happening. At least not at that location. Photos on blogs showed renovation work being done but there’s a lot of work to be done after the interior and exterior shell is touched up.
The bar’s liquor license was protested but ultimately approved in March 2014 after a settlement, according to public documents. It’s possible that the owners found the settlement too restrictive despite agreeing to the terms and decided to ditch the plan. I’m not sure how well you can control crowd noise on a rooftop bar area that’s operating until midnight on the weekends and how profitable that would be considering it would be blocked off before closing time.
There are bars to watch hockey but there are no hockey bars in D.C. The Greene Turtle at the Verizon Center caters to all and the Chinatown bars are an everyman’s place, in certain situation an every douchebag’s place.
First of all, do you count Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken as a hockey hangout because it’s owned by Jeff Halpern? The menu rivals some items found at Krustyland at Universal Studios. (I see you Lard Lad Donuts and Chicken and Waffle Sandwiches.) Because it doesn’t feature an abundance of hockey memorabilia, or dozens of flat screen TVs or a bar, no.
Could we make this a thing regardless? Because Caps fans are quirky enough, sure. And if Halpern doesn’t have a donut sandwich called the Schoenfeld and Koharski, he is missing out on some menu marketing that writes itself.
Virginia has a hockey-themed bar called Bugsy’s Pizza in Old Town Alexandria, as the Post inserted at the end of its story but there’s nothing actually in D.C., or on the way in Maryland that I know of. At least it’s owned by a former Cap, Brian “Bugsy” Watson.
There’s no way I’d go to Bugsy’s pre- or post-game because it’s out of the way for me and half the Caps fans. (Still, I need to go there regardless.) Riding the Red Line from Shady Grove, Sin Bin would still be pointless for me unless I would go to a game on the weekends. It’s two miles east of Verizon Center and 1.3 miles from the nearest Metro stop at Union Station. In city traffic, that’s still a 30-minute walk.
It’s a great idea but not the best location. It ought to come as close to Chinatown and Verizon Center possible.
Hell, if there was something in Rockville, I’d still go.
Tampa’s Hattricks Tavern is just down the street from Amalie Arena and if you couldn’t guess by its name, it’s absolute a hockey bar. Sure, Gator football will fill airtime when no hockey games are playing, but you won’t find University of Florida gear on the wall. It’s all hockey. There used to be a bar called The Luxury Box in front of Amalie Arena but that shuttered after the lockout and is now an impressive open-air bar with shipping containers called Ferg’s Live.
Brandon Ice Sports Forum has a hockey bar inside of it, too, as an alternative, when open. In Bradenton and Sarasota, former minor league hockey player Tommy Denis and family own a Chicago-themed pizzeria called Joey D’s where the Blackhawks are predominately featured. He’s friends with Mike Peluso and has plenty of memorabilia and in his south Sarasota location, there’s a penalty box bar at the entrance.
Anyway, Russian Machine Never Breaks reported later last summer that Sin Bin would open in November and the general manager needed some ideas.
The manager, Chris Conner, seemed to never get to implement those ideas. On December 5, 2014, he tweeted “I need a job! Someone hire me!!!!”
Tweets from the past few months included showing off his pot collection thanks to the decriminalized marijuana laws in D.C. Not judging, just showing that the feed isn’t filled with Sin Bin Coming Soon tweets.
I reached out to Chris on Twitter asking what happened and will update if he responds. I can’t find reliable contact information for the developers/owners either. Ashraf at least appears to be an active real estate owner from online records.
[Update: Conner confirmed Sin Bin never opened: “nope kinda sucks.” Still would be interested in the whole story.]
At this point, I ask Caps fans and bartrepreneurs to huddle together and open a proper Caps bar once and for all in D.C. or Maryland.
What would you name it? Unleash the Beery? Weagle’s Pub and Grill? Clutch and Grab Bag?
And what should be on the menu? Bonzai Burgers? Zilla Ziti? Dad’s Swedish Meatballs?
Your call. Let’s hear it!