For most of his career as a Washington nighclub entrepreneur, Frank Polar has been a second-story man. When he began managing the Whiskey A-Go-Go (while a University of Maryland student in 1966), the place was above the Rive Gauche in Georgetown. When he opened one of the city's first "singles" bars in 1967, Wayne's Luv, Polar again found himself one story above street level. Then came the disco Zanzibar in 1974, above an L Street car wash. Four years later it was L.A. Cafe, one flight up off Connecticut Avenue.
Today Polar is again on the second floor, again taking a gamble on the fickle fads of Washington's bar regulars. (Polar, 39, says he's lost money with only one club, a Falls Church disco in a Holiday Inn. He should have known -- it was on the ground floor.) Now Polar is readying Georgetown's first country and western nightclub, Annie Oakley's, scheduled to open later this month above Place Vendome, which recently took over Rive Gauche's expensive address at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street. g
"I really enjoy the challenge of coming up with a site, a conceptual idea behind a nightclub, then following through with the motif, design and promotion," says Polar. "But then when it's all done, really the only thing that excites me is the idea of starting a brand-new one somewhere else."
Polar plans a pool table, recorded country music and "neon beer signs as the decor" at Annie Oakley's. But there'll be no mechanical bull. Polar says only two of 11 clubs he recently visited in Houston had the electronic bucking machines, and he heard about a lawsuit involving a patron paralyzed by a fall from the mechanical bull made famous in the movie "Urban Cowboy." As for Polar and his investors, they'll get their thrills watching to see if enough Washingtonians want to learn the Texas Two-Step and Cotton-Eyed Joe to make their $100,000 bet pay off.