Gordon Banks has been through the rodeo of opening a restaurant three times already. But assembling Slash Run—a glam, hair metal-inspired bar that opens today in Petworth with a juke box and stoner-friendly burger list—was "the most fun by far," Banks says.
The walls are evidence enough: Banks, along with co-owner Jackie Greenbaum (of El Chucho and Bar Charley) and minority partners Nick Nazdin and Ellen Cox, all contributed to painting the black and purple space. Along one wall hangs a mural of Marion Barry riding a lion—a purchase from Chief Ike's Mambo Room, the Adams Morgan bar that closed earlier this year. A picture of Cox's beagle hangs at the back of the bar, where the beer tap spout is painted hot pink.
"When we sent that color to the processing guy, he was like, 'Are you sure this is right?'" Banks says.
Banks says it came together quickly: The four friends would drink and discuss their vision for the bar ("almost like you were building a bar in your basement for yourselves"), flipping through hundreds of old CDs to build the juke box's catalogue.
The menu includes highbrow schnitzels and hot dogs. But, Banks says, the burgers are something special.
It was 11:45 p.m., and executive chef Adam Harvey was watching Cops when he was inspired to create the burger menu. His first iteration included beer, cheese, Fritos, and Doritos, but he thought he'd make it "a little more classy." The Bar Stool Rodeo burger ($9.95) is topped with coffee grounds and fried poblano rings. The Otto's Shrunken Head burger ($12.95) has Korean barbecue sauce, avocado, pineapple relish, and pork rinds.
"I know there's controversy about how far to take burgers, but we said, 'Let's go as far as we can,'" Banks says. "Adam's an amazing chef and comes from [a background] of fine dining, but this was the first menu item I've ever seen him say, 'Somebody go to the corner store and get me a bag of Doritos and can of Easy Cheese.'"
But when it comes to ordering cocktails, don't be shy about asking for something a little more upscale. Though the bar doesn't have a cocktail menu (aside from two frozen drinks, which Banks says will join the menu later this summer), it's stocked with over one hundred ryes and bourbons. Veteran bartenders—including Nazdin, who's the bar manager at Bar Charley—run the program. One of Slash Run's bartenders has also worked at the Black Cat's Red Room Bar.
"Nick would kill me if I pushed cocktails. Like, 'I need a break from stirring!'" Banks says.
Slash Run is open weekdays from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. and weekends from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sundays, they'll serve brunch from noon to 8 p.m.
Slash Run, 201 Upshur St. NW; (202) 838-9929; facebook.com/slashrun
Photos by Morgan Baskin