Author: Daniel J. Sernovitz, Washington Business Journal
Swingers is teeing up a second location for its golf-themed entertainment venue in the Navy Yard area, fewer than two months after opening its first by Dupont Circle in June.
The London-based “competitive socializing” outlet plans to open in the summer of 2022 at The Kelvin, the residential-over-retail development by Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners where bowling alley-themed entertainment tenant Punch Bowl Social had originally intended to debut before pulling out earlier this year as the lead retail tenant.
Instead, Swingers will join retail tenants Tap99, Kilwins, Chicken & Whiskey, and Silver Diner, which aims to open an 8,000-square-foot restaurant in the 312-unit apartment complex. Of the project’s total 55,000 square feet of retail across two buildings, all but 3,700 square feet is spoken for, according to Jair Lynch.
Swingers’ new location at 1250 Half St. SE, to be its third in the U.S., will span about 24,000 square feet across two floors, similar to its location at 1330 19th St. NW and mirroring the layout first envisioned by Punch Bowl Social at The Kelvin. Its proximity to Nationals Park, located across N Street SE, was part of the draw for a sports-focused entry like Swingers, which is also opening another outpost in New York in early 2022, according to Matt Grech-Smith, the company’s co-CEO and co-founder.
Swingers announced earlier this year that it had raised $20 million from Cain International to fuel its growth in the U.S. and help finance the new locations. The funding has helped the chain grow even as similar “eatertainment” concepts, as they’ve come to be called, have suffered through a pandemic that kept patrons, and revenue, at bay for months. Punch Bowl Social, for one, lost a primary investor early in the pandemic and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the end of last year.
With Punch Bowl out, Jair Lynch had been seeking other tenants capable of generating foot traffic to the space, particularly on nongame days, said Anthony Startt, director of investments at Jair Lynch. “Swingers really came in as a perfect fit,” Startt said in an interview. “There are a number of eatertainment concepts that would have loved to have been a block from Nats Park, but we felt Swingers was, by far, the best fit. Their design concept and their eye for detail really put them over the top.”
The Dupont Circle location has several bars, as well as a food hall area with stalls from Knead Hospitality + Design, including Lil’ Succotash, Kneadza Pizza, tuTaco and Mah-Ze-Dahr. Swingers is still finalizing details for the Navy Yard location, Grech-Smith said — he declined to say whether Knead Hospitality will reprise its role there, but didn’t dismiss the idea.
“There will be some overlap with Dupont Circle, but there’s also a discrete audience in its own right,” Grech-Smith said in an interview. “We’re conscious that that area does have a different character to Dupont Circle, and it will be distinct from our Dupont Circle venue. On game days and days when there are events happening in the stadium, we’ll be able to make the most of the foot traffic going past the venue.”
The D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration plans a November hearing on the Swinger’s application for a license at the new location. That spot is slated to have a seating capacity of 600, total occupancy of 1,075, a summer garden with 35 seats, and a sidewalk cafe with 90 seats, per the notice posted Friday to the D.C. Register.