Labor Day usually means the end of summer and beach season. But, in Adams Morgan, things are just getting started. That's because Pop's Sea Bar, a beach-themed restaurant and bar inspired by two beaches: the Jersey Shore and the Florida Gulf Coast, will open Sept. 4.
This is a causal, mainly bar-top restaurant, with an upstairs "sea bar" that includes raw oysters and peel and eat shrimp. Pop's is a side project from Cashion's Eat Place owners Justin Abad and John Manolatos and gets its name from good times spent at the beach.
"John's childhood summers were at the Jersey shore, and I grew up near the Gulf Coast. It's not exactly the Jersey Shore, but it has the same type of relaxed and playful vibe." Abad says. "We also both refer to our dads as 'Pop', and the sea bar part comes from a place back home in St. Petersburg, Florida, an influential seafood place that I love called The Sea Bar."
This place has a very different vibe than the white-tablecloth Cashion's next door. First off, it's a much smaller space — about 1,500 square feet — where Taan Noodles once operated (1817 Columbia Road, NW). There's also some unique and hidden features, like a cellphone charging station beneath each seat at the bar.
"It's a modern day problem. You're out to eat and your phone dies," Abad says. "Now, you can plug in." There are USB and AC power outlets next to bar hooks, which are actually marine cleats, all part of the nautical-beach theme.
And, what's a beach without a koozie? At Pop's, they encourage you to bring your own koozie. There's even a free trade-in policy, where you can swap a used koozie for one of their own Pop's Sea Bar themed koozies (also available for purchase for $1 each).
When doors open, expect pork roll like the kind found up and down the Garden State Parkway, and a southern-style, boardwalk chicken. "It kind of looks like a fried oyster, but it tastes like succulent chicken," Abad says. A Jersey sauce is used to dip the chicken. It's a mayonnaise sauce with tabasco and capers and will adorn many sandwiches on the beach-fare menu. And keep an eye out for homemade pickles and relishes, something that Manolatos has been working on to accompany specific dishes.
Pop's will serve lunch and dinner seven days a week, with plans for a happy hour menu to come. The restaurant will be open Sunday-Thursday 12 p.m. to midnight. And, Friday and Saturday 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. The whole idea is to offer Adams Morgan something more from what it has now, Abad says. "We want it to be neighborhood centric. This place has the potential to service the neighborhood, and we love this neighborhood, so we want to give it another option."
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