David McQuaid and Naveed Ashraf knew they wanted to open a sports-themed bar for their first joint venture. They just weren’t exactly sure what the theme would be.
“We were tossing around different themes, and one overriding interest that just kept coming up was a Caps bar,” McQuaid told me this week. “We knew we wanted to be a sports-themed bar, and outside of Chinatown, there’s just not a big [hockey] presence” in local bars.
And thus, the pending Sin Bin Sports Bar & Restaurant, which is scheduled to open on H Street NE in the District, possibly as early as June. My friend and colleague Neil Greenberg likes to make “Hockeytown!” quips every time anyone discusses a new hockey development in Washington, but this would be an appropriate usage. The idea of opening up a Caps-themed bar in Washington a decade ago would have been a joke; now, at the very least, it’s intriguing.
“Ultimately we’re going to be a Caps bar,” said McQuaid, a mid-30s D.C. native who, like Ashraf, is a Capitals fan. “We’ve had kind of mixed input on whether that’s a smart idea or not. … We did some nominal market research, and we were just thinking that if there’s any area that would support kind of a bottom-up effort for the Caps, it’d be H Street.”
Of course, the business won’t rely solely on Caps or hockey fans. They’re aiming to have a strong English Premier League presence, and will also broadcast all the other American sports you’d expect to find at a sports bar. (There are also plans to broadcast international events like the Cricket World Cup.) There will be three bars, a rooftop deck and around a dozen TVs in the 2,400 square-foot space, which Ashraf owns.
But McQuaid said it will be clear that this is a Caps bar. They’re hoping to bring some players out to the grand opening. They’re getting a custom-designed version of the horse-racing boardwalk game you’ve seen at Rehoboth, complete with Caps players riding the horses. And there will likely be other Caps-themed decorations and memorabilia.
“We’re going to try to make it known,” McQuaid told me. “There will be quite a few things that make it clear it’s a Caps bar.”
(Note: My pal Steve reminds me of Bugsy’s in Old Town, which is indeed a hockey hangout.)