Hospitality vets turned first-time bar owners Jason Crafton, Amanda Kelsey, and Nick Schieber are now serving cold brews — as well as bacon-wrapped, pimento cheese-stuffed jalapenos — at newly renovated Brightwood Park fixture, Jackie Lee’s.
Another party had begun tooling around with the one-time lounge, which had been neglected for years, before the entrepreneurial trio scooped it up; they’ve since lovingly restored and refreshed the ground floor (for now), retaining the original hardwood flooring, reconfiguring the main bar (there’s now nearly two dozen stools), and making improvements wherever they can.
“All the old Jackie Lee folks that live in the neighborhood have been peeking their heads in,” Schieber said of all the attention the months-long renovation received from former regulars.
The fruits of their labor were finally revealed November 29 at a grand opening celebration that saw the Old Overholt flowing like water, a vintage Nintendo Entertainment System fired up for game play (more on that in a moment), and the kitchen ready to ply visitors with modern comfort foods.
“We’re hoping to pour a lot of shots and open a lot of beers,” is how Crafton described the relaxed vibe he hopes to cultivate.
Schieber is in complete agreement. The team put together soe core beverages — there’s a half dozen cocktails (negroni, Moscow mule, daiquiri, and three types of Old Fashioneds), nearly two dozen beers including various local producers, plus beer and shot combos — but say they are happy to make whatever a customer would like to drink. Just don’t expect to find any out-there cocktails.
“We’re not making a Last Word, adding a new ingredient, and calling it something else,” Schieber said, citing a desire to stick with “classics.”
Marcel’s alum Peter Kloiber is somewhat on the same page. The seasoned chef — he told Eater he started out 20 years ago operating a hot dog cart — has created a menu of smoked meats and pub grub with bite.
He’s confident that a vegetarian corndog will pique the interest of non-meat eaters and carnivores alike. Then there’s the aforementioned cheese-filled hot peppers — a little something he refers to as “challenge food.”
“They’re definitely an experience,” Kloiber says. He’s also pleased about offering smoked baby back ribs, a backyard-favorite Schieber predicts is going to sell like crazy.
Those in need of additional stimulation are welcome to take a crack at the glowing video game console parked at the far end of the bar.
Old school gamers can relive childhoods spent attempting to beat R.C. Pro-Am, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Double Dribble, and other back-in-the-day distractions. And don’t worry about getting burned out too quickly: Kloiber said he’s got nearly 180 cartridges at home.
“Maybe we’ll do a Duck Hunt night,” Schieber suggested.
The bar is currently scheduled to operate from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday through Thursday, and from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Look for discounted drink deals from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and again from 11 p.m. to closing, Sunday through Thursday.
Schieber said brunch (think: plates of bacon, and super-sized hash browns) should follow in short order.
Status: Certified open. 116 Kennedy Street NW; website.