In two weeks, Froggy Bottom Pub’s bright decor – laminated wooden tables and decorated walls that resemble a college dorm room – will darken and mature, moving two blocks over and catering to a K Street business crowd.
More than a dozen regular pub patrons gathered Sunday to pay tribute to the campus staple before it shutters April 29, taking part in an auction of posters for the pub’s signature beer and pho, dozens of beer tap handles and other memorabilia that has defined its look for 14 years.
Piece by piece, the items came off the walls, raising $1,500 for charity and representing a new start for the restaurant as it moves to 2021 K Street by the weekend of May 3. Rather than allowing the assortment of Froggy Bottom artifacts to collect dust, Bui organized the silent auction to share pieces of the venue’s history with dedicated patrons and benefit two charities geared towards helping Vietnam veterans and D.C.’s elderly homeless population.
Froggy Bottom owner Hien Bui, known for taming groups of boisterous students searching for a booth and cheap lager, said the new location will aim to strike a balance between the college crowd and the more upscale K Street patrons.
She said it will create an ambiance suitable for a first date, where black and white photos will replace neon signs. But despite the auction and the change in decor, Bui said she is striving to make students feel at home with drink specials and nearly the same menu.
“This is still Froggy,” Bui said. “The food is still the same, the menu is still the same. Nothing changed. I’m still here and I’m still yelling, so you cannot miss that.”
Bui, a Vietnamese native, said the auction is a way to repay the military veterans who fought for her freedom.
“This country, this city gave me the opportunity to support my family, to support my kids,” Bui
said. “So now, I have a little chance to return just a token.”
Bui also said she plans to retire in the next several years, and will leave the restaurant and its 20-year lease with her son or her longtime employees.
Several students showed up to purchase $10 drafts – poured in keepsake mugs emblazoned with a green Froggy logo – after frequenting the restaurant several times a week.
“It’s been my home away from home, my D.C. kitchen,” said Jason Lifton, a graduate student and former Student Association president who has patronized the restaurant for the last six years. “It is a little bit sad, but I think that the new place is going to be great.”
Lifton, and several other GW students who toured the new venue with Bui, said they will continue to flock to the bar and eatery.
A pair of information technology staffers from the World Bank who have frequented the pub for years also joined the crowd of regulars, chatting and laughing with the Froggy Bottom owner.
Steve Personius, who said he heads into the eatery for lunch or a few beers several times a week, purchased tens of tap handles and engaged in a bidding war for a neon Budweiser sign, hoping to add to his “man cave.”
Despite the move, Personius said Bui’s larger-than-life personality would be reason enough to trek to K Street.
“I’m used to this for Froggy Bottom, you know.” Personius said. “Here I feel nice and comfortable.”