Young and Hungry

Handsome Cock Hard-Headed About Its Name

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The Codmother owners Tolga Erbatur and Amir Sahri just thought 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. 

IMG_7136The 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.”

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

Photos by Jessica Sidman

  • mighty

    change the name all you want... it will still be MoMo's to everyone.

  • Rob W

    Ask Tolga if he's trying to pay waitstaff as contractors.

  • U Street area resident

    These double-entendre bar and restaurant names (like the Jerk Chicken place nearby) make a lot of sense... if we lived in a world dominated by immature boys.

    I live in this neighborhood and am starting to really dislike what these guys are doing. The Codmother often has a sandwich board sign on the heavily-trafficed U Street sidewalk with cheesy come-ons and sexual innuendos. These have made for really uncomfortable moments while I try to explain them to my kids. All I wanted to do was walk down the street with my kids without having to deal with this.

    Tolga and Amir, if you're reading this: You're hurting the neighborhood. Please stop.

  • Really? You should move to Suburbs

    U St Resident,
    I go to U St frequently, and I say the less kids running around screaming, crying or asking a million questions ( I know they are just curious and someone needs to teach them) the BETTER. Its not like I hate kids. I just don't care for them being around when I am trying to get my drink on.

    U street is known to be a hot spot for bar crawling, and partying. If you do want your kid exposure to this type of environment you should have thought about that before you started to raise your kids there.

  • ToeMac

    "Really? You should move to the Suburbs",

    Are you a recent transplant to this area? I'm pretty sure you must be given your ridiculous comment. U St has only been a party area for - Oh, I don't know - seven years tops. Before that it was a rundown area that was known for being "the area that burned down during the riots". Not a "hot spot for bar crawling, and partying". There are a lot of people who lived there for years before it became a place for you to "get your drink on" and though I'm sure they aren't upset at the increase in property values and general uplift to the community having to move because it's become your party destination is a bit unfair.

    Now please go be a good bro and pre-game a bit with some grammar lessons before you hit U St for Jäger bombs and Heineken.

  • cccc

    u street area resident,

    just walk on the other side of the street.

  • get real

    We live in a city, not Mayberry. Trader Joe’s and other yuppy establishments aside, this is an urban environment and people living here or visiting should understand that. And no, I am not a recent transplant unless you consider 1989 to be recent. First of all, the word has multiple meanings. Secondly, the sign is anything but offensive. Thirdly, if in a city full or drugs, violence, liquor stores, homelessness and used condoms on the street, if explaining what the word cock means to your kid is your biggest problem then I guess your kids are in for a very rude awakening someday soon. I thought we lived in America, you know freedom and all that. I am not going to berate people with kids for complaining. But everyone has to deal with each other. If the guy getting his “drink on” can put up with kids then the mom walking with her kids can put up with a sign with a picture of a Rooster. I am much more concerned about the language coming out of people’s mouths on the streets and buses these days than I am about some sign. You can make anything “dirty” if you want. Does anyone remember the 1950’s books for beginning readers, “Sally, Dick and Jane”? For Heaven’s sake, get real and get over it.
    If you don’t like it then fine. That is your right. But just tell you kid the truth. It’s another word for a rooster. Next question. Honestly it is embarrassing that this is what people are concerned about.

  • Novatronic

    They could just rearrage the letters in 'Handsome Cock' and rename it 'Acme Dock Nosh'.

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