Update: In perhaps the greatest sequel since The Godfather Part II, The Passenger is certified OPEN.
This time it’s in Shaw, at 1539 7th St. NW. Its founder, Tom Brown, says the food and drinks is both new and familiar to loyal patrons of the original bar. “I wanted to leave the things behind that were awkward and keep the good things,” he says. The half-smoke and chalk board full of cocktails will be making a comeback, for example. It helps that some of the staff have ties to the old spot, including Jade Aldrighette, who has been tapped to serve as general manager, the same title she held when the bar closed on Jan. 1, 2015.
The space, of course, is new too. “Everybody thinks it’s so much bigger when they see it,” Brown says. It’s 200 square feet smaller, but seems larger because there’s no Columbia Room in the back. “We have more seating, our kitchen is bigger, there’s two bars on two floors, and there’s going to be a roof deck in the spring,” Brown says. The upstairs boasts a small stage that will be used for small bands, DJs, and the occasional live karaoke jam session.
One of Brown’s greatest sources of pride is the wall art that enlivens the space with color and cartoons. He’s protected the murals from premature photos because he wants as many people as possible to be surprised. Five different artists contributed. “I want that discovery of what people see when they come in,” he says. “It’s priceless. You can’t buy that.” There’s also some nostalgia spread across the two-floor bar. Brown sourced bar stools from Millie & Al’s and a disco ball from Bohemian Caverns. He brought over the bar top from the original Passenger location.
Damian Tarlecki, currently of the County Manners food truck, helms the kitchen. One of his first moves will be to serve The Passenger’s beloved hangover brunch on both Saturdays and Sundays.
The drink program includes taps that dispense green and yellow Chartreuse, plus Cotton & Reed rum. On cocktails, Aldrighette says, “We won’t have a list, but we know how to make the drinks. Order all the things.”
The Passenger, 1539 7th St. NW; (202) 853-3588; passengerdc.com