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The Codmother owners Tolga Erbatur and Amir Sahri justthought Handsome Cock would be a fun name for the new bar they opened two weeks ago on U Street NW where Touchdown Sports Bar used to be.

“There isn’t an offensive story,” Erbatur says of the name. “There’s a Handsome Cock bar in London. We just loved the name so much.”

“It’s catchy,” adds Sahri.

“And also we are very into the animal names,” Erbatur says.

But one person didn’t think the name was quite so funny: the landlord.

“She said, ‘You can not put that name. I don’t want my business affiliated with any porn subject,’” Erbatur says. 

The bar owners’ lease requires them to get the landlord’s permission to put any signage outside the building. That means they can’t hang up the sign (right) that Erbatur painted with the name Handsome Cock and an image of a rooster. And the big poster in the window advertising the name of the business in stencil? “Our lawyer says don’t try to make more conflict. Just cover it,” Erbatur says. “We were really cock-blocked.”

But Erbatur and Sahri won’t be changing the name. Instead, Erbatur plans to just paint over the “Cock” on the outside sign. Inside, the lease allows them to put up whatever signage they want—and they have. On the second floor, they’ve painted a police lineup-esque mural with “Handsome Cock” above where patrons are encouraged to take photos. Their trade name will also remain Handsome Cock.

“There’s a Moby Dick, for God’s sake. It’s a kabob place,” says Erbatur. He was surprised by the landlord’s reaction, but ultimately, “whatever the law says, we’re going to follow it. We’re not going to fight with the landlady…Since it’s her building, we accept that.”

The bar itself is a pretty low-key kind of place. The limited food menu includes chicken wings, chicken quesadillas, burgers, nachos, and fish tacos. The bar serves whiskey and beers like Fat Tire, Yuengling, PBR, Natty Boh, and Schlitz. You can get a beer and shot for $6. No fancy cocktails here.

Handsome Cock also has some board games, including Taboo, Monopoly, Yahtzee, and Apples to Apples. Every Wednesday is free amateur comedy night, and look out for a movie night soon too.

Erbatur has just one warning for patrons trying to get more info about his bar: “Don’t ever Google it. Seriously, it’s ridiculous.”

Handsome Cock, 1334 U Street NW; (202) 265-0708; facebook.com/handsomecockdc

Photos by Jessica Sidman