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D.C.’s first and only food boat, Nauti Foods, will be back on the Potomac River for a second season beginning Memorial Day weekend. And this time, there will be beer.
Founders and couple Ari Fingeroth and Tammar Berger are in the final stages of securing a liquor license for their 24-foot pontoon boat, which will be stationed near the Key Bridge to serve stand-up paddleboarders, kayakers, and other boaters. They plan to have a kegerator with four draft lines, two of which will be devoted to local beers. But guests won’t be allowed to get inebriated on the water: “We are going to have a two beer maximum,” Fingeroth says. “We want people to enjoy a beer on the river. We don’t want people getting drunk and hurting themselves.” Don’t forget to bring your ID.
There will also be cold brew coffee on tap as well as lightly carbonated lemonade in rotating flavors from Mike Isabella‘s G. All the drinks—including the beer—will be served in cups with straws and lids to avoid spillage. (Trying to exchange cash, food, and drinks is no easy feat when your kayak keeps drifting away, as I discovered last summer.)
For food, Nauti Foods will again partner with Bullfrog Bagels, but this year, they’re working on a special pretzel recipe that would be paired with a homemade dijon dipping sauce. “We’ll reheat them on the grill, so they’re nice and crispy, nice and hot when you get them,” Fingeroth says.
Nauti Foods is also looking to team up with guest chefs for food specials. (The only catch: they have to use ingredients that are prepackaged or precooked.) Fingeroth and Berger will also be grilling up hot dogs and introducing the “Nauti monkey,” a frozen banana dipped in chocolate and/or peanut butter. Frozen treats will include ice cream sandwiches, Häagen-Dazs bars, Rocket Pops, and ice cream drumsticks.
Nauti Foods supplies all its customers with plastic trash bags and carabiners that can be attached to their kayaks so they’re not throwing stuff into the river. Fingeroth says they’ll also be partnering with Potomac Riverkeeper Network and a couple other environmental groups to promote keeping the river clean.
Weather permitting, Nauti Foods will operate Friday evenings and all day Saturday and Sunday, but their license is good seven days a week, so they may do some random weekday evenings, too. (Follow them on Twitter at @NautiFoods for the latest schedule.)
In the meantime, Nauti Foods is launching an Indiegogo campaign this Friday in order to raise some money for some upgrades. Fingeroth and Berger are hoping to get a new generator and engine, which would be less noisy and more environmentally friendly. If they raise even more money, they’d like to open a second boat that could operate near National Harbor, on the Anacostia River, or even travel to Lake Anna or Annapolis. They also have their eye on either further expansion.
“Nauti Chicago. Nauti Austin. Nauti Boston,” Fingeroth says. “Last year we got a ton of feedback from friends and random people all over the country that were like, ‘This is an amazing idea. I wish we had it in our town.'”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery