James Hoban’s Irish Restaurant & Bar will pour its last Guinness next month, ending a 12-year run at the foot of Dupont Circle.
Mission Group partners Fritz Brogan and Reed Landry, who own two locations of Mexican bar Mission (Dupont and Navy Yard) and Hawthorne on U Street NW, just scooped up the Irish watering hole (1 Dupont Circle) from longtime restaurateur Patrick Whelan, who is retiring and reportedly plans to spend time traveling around Europe.
Whelan also owns Bards in Philadelphia and O’Faolains in Sterling, Virginia, which opened in 2004. It’s unclear whether those sites will also be sold, close, or keep operating. Eater reached out to Whelan for comment.
The Mission Group will perform a multimillion dollar overhaul on the 8,500-square-foot space that holds James Hoban’s, a popular stop for bar crawls. The bar is expected to close in mid-July and reopen five months later as the Admiral. The name pays tribute to Admiral Samuel Francis DuPont, the circle’s namesake.
The Admiral will house three bars, 14 draft lines (a few more than now), and 15 big screen TVs. Mission will import many of its similar deals, like daily happy hour, bottomless brunch, event spaces with no rental fees, and late-night DJ parties, to The Admiral.
“Our No 1. priority is always to have a lively environment and high energy, whether it’s 11 a.m. for brunch or at midnight,” Landry says.
Mission Group corporate chef Roberto Hernandez will man the kitchen, swapping James Hoban’s lineup of fish ‘n chips and Reubens for a menu of “approachable” American comfort foods, including burgers. The menu is currently in the works.
“He’s been pitching ideas for an American concept for a while,” Landry says.
James Hoban’s has been on the Mission owners’ radars for about a year and a half. They’re attracted to its prime location and a huge, 3,000-square-foot drinking patio.
Adding another Dupont restaurant means the owners are doubling down on their neighborhood portfolio. The original Mission opened just north of the circle in 2014. A restaurant space next-door to James Hoban’s, also at 1 Dupont Circle, is still up for lease after celebrity-backed burger chain Walhburgers decided to pull out of D.C.
“We love Dupont — we view it as one of the top two or three restaurant markets in the city,” Landry says. “That venue is one of many in Dupont that could use a bit of a refresher.”
Mission Navy Yard opened last July near Nationals Park. That project was built from scratch as a hub for margaritas and draft beer, sporting 8,000 cubic feet of tap lines and 600 feet of wraparound balcony space across two stories.
“We learned it’s worthwhile to spend a whole lot of time, effort, and money on the buildout — it can pay off quick,” Landry says.
Last summer’s opening coincided with that of D.C. United’s new home, Audi Field, a few blocks south in Buzzard Point.
“One thing we’ve been surprised about is soccer games bring as many — if not more — people than baseball games,” he says. Like James Hoban’s, European league games are also a big draw at Mission Navy Yard.
Mission’s bars have a big college alumni following, aligning with Virginia, Iowa, and Clemson, to name a few.
The Admiral’s look will be “colorful and vibrant” like that of Mission Navy Yard, but the design elements from Teri Coates of Canvas Architecture will be largely different.