Young and Hungry

The Passenger Owners to Open Rum Bar and Restaurant Called Hogo

It's no secret that The Passenger co-owner Tom Brown loves the beach. After all, he shipped in 70 tons of sand for New York Avenue Beach Bar and has turned Tiki Tuesday into one of The Passenger's most popular nights.

Hogo, his new spot coming to 1017 7th St. NW, will also have an island vibe with a rum bar focusing on tropical drinks. There will also be Hawaiian diner food for the first month, after which point the kitchen will be turned over to a rotating cast of guest chefs.

Mixologist Derek Brown, who's helping out his brother and their business partner Paul Ruppert, says it's not a Tiki bar per se, but that doesn't mean you won't find scorpion bowls or mini umbrellas. Cocktails garnished with back scratchers could potentially show up, too.

Tom Brown and assistant GM Casey Wilson

The bar will start out with 30 to 40 varieties of rum, plus some piscos, tequilas, and mezcals. The name Hogo is the Caribbean abbreviation for haut goût, the French term used to describe the funky quality of aged rum.

The kitchen of Hogo will change hands every two weeks or so. Tom says the idea is to be a "restaurant accelerator" where chefs can test out food for new restaurant ventures, or take a vacation from their kitchens to cook something different. Ed Witt, who recently left 701 Restaurant, has already signed on to cook his version of American diner food at Hogo, and Yuji Haraguchi of YUJI Ramen in Brooklyn will also guest chef.

For the restaurant's first month, however, The Passenger chef Javier Duran will serve Hawaiian diner food. Look for dishes like bacon dashi saimin (a Hawaiian version of ramen), fried mahi mahi, Kahlua pork, and Korean rib mixed plates served with rice and macaroni salad, spam musubi (a big Spam sushi roll), and "loco moco," a dish consisting of rice covered with gravy and topped with a hamburger patty and fried egg. "We don't want things here to be complicated and fussy," Derek says. "We do want them to be fun and delicious and hearty."

The space, next door to The Passenger, was once home to Ruppert's Real Restaurant but has been vacant for years. The front dining room will have a 12-seat bar with some high top tables by the windows as well as booths along the wall. Local artist Jared Davis, who does a lot of set designs for rock shows, created the artwork for Hogo, including a zombie Elvis painted on black velvet. There's also a mermaid etched on the hood of a 1930 Pontiac Deluxe hanging on the wall.

A short hallway leads to an open kitchen in the back with counter seating where guests can pull up a stool to eat. Facing the kitchen is a graffiti mural of Hawaiian gods with flowers shooting out of their eyes.

Hogo is set to open in about a week. Stay tuned for the exact date.

Photos by Jessica Sidman

  • Guy

    Has potential but not optimistic... I live right around the corner but Passenger lost me a while back with their arrogant attitude, rude bartenders, lack of AC during sweltering summer and way overpriced fancy drinks. The beach bar was a bust as I went once and never went back. I didn't even know it was owned by the same people but now it makes sense! Try lowering your prices and dropping the attitude in the new spot, make it a chill environ unlike your passenger. Long live the district!

  • Solrac

    Will be nice to have the chance to try some kama'aina style grinds out here in haole land but I doubt one will be able to score a loco moco or a chicken katsu for less than $10. Too bad. This is good rustic plantation food. Price it fairly and the masses will come.

  • RT

    I agree with Guy. The attitude kills me at the Passenger. I'd love to be greeted with a smile and not a sigh, like I'm lucky to be there.

  • monkeyrotica

    Damn. I was really hoping that it would be called "Hodor."

  • Jane

    "Restaurant accelerator"? How pretentious can you get? I like Passenger for a lazy dinner, early drink or super late night rallying point, but the beach bar was godawful. Hopefully this is a little better.

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  • John

    Yeah, the Brown brothers jumped the shark. They have always been cocky and rude to a lot of people. Decided to never go back to that bar again years ago and see others' sentiments and concur.

  • Thor

    Totally psyched! This place will run as smooth as butter. Their stellar choice of general manager is only icing on the cake. I know that Ms. Wilson runs a tight ship, so we can expect only the best. I am not a big rum drinker but, now for some reason I can't wait to go!

  • Doctor No

    Haters will hate, and it's sad to see. Passenger has always been an amazing and unpretentious bar. A neighborhood bar that drew people from afar because the cocktails were so good and the atmosphere so chill. I have no idea where people are getting this supposed arrogance or haughtiness from. There aren't that many cocktail and restaurant innovators in DC and they deserve to be lauded and supported. The Brown Brothers are the core of the cocktail scene in DC and have trained half of the others that make up that group.

  • Frankie

    Outstanding! A rum bar that focuses on the rum can be a great adventure for anyone looking for a new experience. The spirit is evolving to a higher level, with excellent sipping rums comparable to fine cognacs/brandies now available. Surely with 30-40 labels there will be a bottle or two of Abuelo Centuria or El Dorado 21 or Ron Zacapa XO, or a nice agricole from Martinique, hmmmm, can't wait! All the best to the Brown brothers.

  • frank

    Absolutely awesome! Great idea; great implementation. My new Cheers. Best place in the DMV :) onolicious grindz

  • Chris

    I am interested in the Rum Flip at Hogo. The $12 colonial-inspired cocktail, which is made with 3 Stars Brewing Company's Pandemic Porter, a brown sugar simple syrup, and Batavia Arrack rum, which is distilled in Indonesia. However, with Indonesia's Human Rights Violations, particullary in the case of Schapelle Leigh Corby, and others, not sure I am that interested.