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Frequent DC bargoers might characterize Kingfisher as an off-beat hideaway — in a DC enclave (Logan Circle/Dupont) known for theater entertainment and nightlife, that has succumbed to 2nd wave gentrification and now skews toward perhaps less substantive pursuits; now “a scene” of a totally different kind. While Kingfisher can still count on its regulars and occasional drop-ins from the National Theater crowd as productions let out, there’s a sense from Daniel that his customer demographic is definitely skewing younger.
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Kingfisher’s brand as a fun, quirky, neighborhood bar with a touch of class is well-established and cherished. Kingfisher is the kind of bar that tells Nazi punks to fuck off when its neighbors might equivocate out of fear or desperation. It would very much prefer if you didn’t discuss the outside world, and would like you to remember: it’s a terrible place to watch sports. This well-intentioned contrarian atmosphere has won them numerous write-ups and faithful regulars. Think “It’s Always Sunny” without all the amoral hijinks, and with way more activities to entertain your brain. Charlie Day is NOT cleaning these bathrooms, by the way… Which. Are. Spotless.
Kingfisher hosts a number of weekly recurring events, including trivia nights, and whiskey Wednesdays. Also, at any point its 2 TVs are playing good-bad movies, like Turkish Star Wars, but rarely sports. Popcorn is always on the menu — but it’s BYOF (Bring Your Own Food) if you want anything more substantial to eat, while debating the merits of older Star Treks vs the newer, inferior series. The only wine that Kingfisher serves comes in a can. And it’s one of the few bars reopened post-COVID that’s open 7 days a week, and still holds a Happy Hour.
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Speaking of COVID — the pandemic dealt owner Daniel Williams, and Kingfisher, a little bit of a rough hand, but they survived it with aplomb. Prior to the pandemic, Daniel was able to buy out his partner to become sole owner. During the pandemic Kingfisher and its staff adapted but ultimately had to shutter temporarily. As DC is reopening, the landscape of the bar crowd looks a bit different for Kingfisher and in turn they recognize a need to find a new voice. Part of that involves raising the visibility of their physical space, by renovating frontage and obviating the bar’s exterior signage. Kingfisher has also prioritized the goal of tying in a more consistent social media presence and adding merchandise as a secondary source of income (and free marketing!)
There’s limited runway for Kingfisher to take flight again, as funds from COVID relief continue to stabilize the bar’s rent and employees, who stuck with Daniel and Kingfisher, and depend on it for their livelihoods. Owing to that very real sense of obligation, quick recovery AND growth are central to Daniel’s desire to formalize a renewed approach to Kingfisher’s marketing.