Words By Joseph Franco, Photos by Maya Moore
Nestled along the corporate side of Dupont Circle on 17th and M is the newest venture from hospitality entrepreneurs Ryan Seelbach and Eric Lund, Buckeye + Bear. The 280-person sports bar and live music venue is a fresh concept from the duo, replacing their ritzy nightclub The Huxley that operated in the same location.
It seems the focus has shifted for the owners, which they owe to a change in their own personal tastes. Just a few months ago, they opened Takoda, the Florida Ave rooftop beer garden that we really like so far. And now they’re following up with a spot that seems even richer in no-frills accessibility.
The bottle service crowd that frequented The Huxley may still find solace here, but they won’t find their usual pampered and preened amenities. “It’s not a nightclub at all,” said Lund. He and Seelbach definitely dialed down the pomp and circumstance of the spot’s previous iteration. Tables and banquettes are more sparse, with casual couches and seats that can be cleared for the raunchier performances.
Buckeye + Bear features two rooms. The Green Room is the casual, sports bar end of the joint. Six flat screens, seven booths, 22 barstools and two standing rail tables provide the accommodations for most of the happy hour festivities and weekend pigskins. The Ballroom will be the scene for a bevy of live music performances, karaoke, comedy, and late night DJ sets. The amps, speakers and monitors that line the rear of the stage in collage definitely provide a sweet backdrop.
A tentative Ballroom schedule includes shows by Underground Comedy every Tuesday, biweekly Wednesdays that alternate between karaoke and Latin night, live country cover bands Thursdays, and weekend evenings stacked with local and regional cover bands that you’re definitely encouraged to sing along with. If these activities get you all hot and bothered, then you’ve probably found a new spot for your demonstrative shenanigans.
An overabundance of scattershot rock posters forms the primary aesthetic in the Green Room and adjoining hallway. We’re talking Stones, Zeppelin, the Dead, Hendrix, to Bowie to Nirvana, Green Day and Sublime, all on the same wall. It’s like the bedroom of a high school sophomore trying to discover himself.
That’s not to say it still ain’t cool. The wall art is definitely the type you feel inclined to peel off when you’ve been oversaturated with refreshments. There’s a framed Doors poster above a booth that would look splendid alongside that concert bill that I nabbed from Zeba Bar a couple years ago (sorry, I love you).
The draft list is basically industry stalwarts and local mainstays. Eight taps in both rooms, your Bud and Miller, a DC Brau, an Atlas, some seasonals and a cider. Seelbach and Lund probably figure us beer nerds can just head to Takoda instead. A featured cocktail list may be in the works, but to be honest they’ll probably drink rum and coke here. As for nomz? Standard BBQ fare, brisket nachos and half-smokes.
Buckeye + Bear had their opening night Thursday, with grand opening shows continuing today and tomorrow. They operate Tuesday-Sunday, 5 p.m. to late. For listings, check them out here.