Despite its timeless institutions – from the White House to go-go music, the Smithsonian to Ben’s Chili Bowl – D.C. is an evolving city. It’s also a vibrant city, perhaps more so than it’s been in decades. Generations ago, for example, U Street was once acclaimed as the “Black Broadway,” though that star faded. Today, however, that’s just the sort of shine that’s again radiating from the nation’s capital.
So much of what gives this city its booming heartbeat comes from those who work the bars and banquettes of Washington’s hospitality industry, whether low-end, high-end, or any of the hundreds of venues in between. To celebrate these service providers who, to a great degree, keep the nation’s capital buzzing, the team at Closed Sessions music-promotion/events cooperative is launching a new iteration of a citywide service-industry night.
“We’re not continuing what Graffiato did, but we’re taking over that time slot and wanted to frame it similarly,” says Closed Sessions’ Chad Spangler of Graffiato’s site-specific, since-ended industry nights. “It will be the same feel of a really big industry night with a lot of people involved.”
And when the new first-Monday-of-the-month nights launch, March 2 at Chaplin’s, Graffiato beverage director Taha Ismail will be among those crafting the cocktails. Joining Ismail will be Glendon Hartley, whose bona fides include tending the Tico bar, and Chaplin’s co-owners, brothers Ari and Micah Wilder. Of course, Spangler, who lights up Chaplin’s second-floor Opium Den lounge will also be working his “Best of 2012 Bartender” magic, as named by The Washington Post Express.
“The [Graffiato] industry night was the best example of an industry night that I can think of that truly brought together a community of bartenders and industry people all across the city,” says Spangler of the Closed Sessions’ monthly Monday predecessor. “The people I associate with, work with, in partnerships or events, would all go to the Graffiato night. It was a shame to see it die, a shame to see that part of our culture and community go away. So we wanted to start one that incorporated more than one location so that everyone could be a part of it.”
To that end, Spangler says Jack Rose Dining Saloon beverage director Trevor Frye has committed his venue for the April outing, while commitments from other venues across the district are well underway.
“I’ve known Trevor Frye for a few years,” Spangler continues. “He’s a great guy. Now I’ve gotten a lot of responses, a lot of people want to get involved, which is exactly what we wanted to do. We wanted to get a lot of people involved to participate on a night like this.” –Will O’Bryan, MetroNando licensed operations manager
The first Closed Sessions Industry Night is Monday, March 2, starting at 10 p.m., at Chaplin’s Restaurant, 1501 9th St. NW. Cover is $10, with half the proceeds to benefit efforts dedicated to the environment and sustainable food resources.