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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Students praise new Western Market sports bar for prices, games, vibes

Kaiden Yu | Staff Photographer
ExPat in Western Market

After about a month of business, students are buzzing about ExPat, a sports bar in Western Market.

By day, ExPat takes on the look of a restaurant for families and workers from around Foggy Bottom to relax. But by night, customers can descend the ExPat staircase into a dimly lit, underground bar mimicking the environment of a college party, with sports on the TV, loud music, yard games and cans upon cans of beer.

ExPat opened in early March after about a yearlong delay due to a lack of funds and permits to open the bar. The establishment offers canned beers ranging from $7 to $10, $11 wine, $14 cocktails and a variety of Southern barbecue meals. The bar is open Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 to 2 a.m. and Friday through Saturday from 11:30 to 3 a.m.

ExPat owner Ben Sislen said he enlisted 10 to 15 student ambassadors, some from GW, to spread the word about ExPat to other college students in exchange for discounts. He said events also help alert students to the bar, including a raffle for 1,000 free beers last Thursday with more than 500 interactions.

“It just showed such a demand for people to come out and have fun,” Sislen said.

There has been a lack of bars geared toward GW students in Foggy Bottom since McFadden’s, a popular bar on the 2400 Block of Pennsylvania Avenue NW, closed in January 2015 after a stabbing incident there left five people seriously injured.

So far, ExPat organized showings of March Madness games, an opening day event for the Washington Nationals and an event with F1 racing simulators, according to the bar’s Instagram. When first announced, the bar promised a sports gambling option, but Sislen said in February the establishment would open without a gambling component. He said he may introduce the option in the future if there’s enough customer demand.

Sislen said students have told him they love the bar for including games like cup pong and cornhole because “a lot” of other bars don’t offer the games. He said he expects more traffic into ExPat when students are able to use their GWorld cards at the bar, which he said Friday would be introduced within the next 48 hours or week.

He added that ExPat sells all beers in cans except for Modelo because this gives the bar the freedom to switch up its alcohol options.

“It might be the next week depending on if there’s funky stuff, any backend issues, technical issues,” Sislen said.

More than a dozen students said they appreciate the arrival of the bar and the fun it provides to the Foggy Bottom community due to its “cheap” prices, proximity to campus and beloved college party games.

Christian Zidouemba, a former SGA president and an ambassador for ExPat, said he connected clubs like GWUEsports to Sislen for feedback on the bar before its opening. He said ExPat provides a “fun” community space for GW students because of its game options like cornhole and cup pong and is safe for students to walk to because of its proximity to campus.

“Everything is targeted to GW students,” Zidouemba said.

Maggie Cerrone, who graduated from GW in the fall and now lives nearby, said she visited ExPat and would have loved for the bar to open up earlier on campus when she was an undergraduate. She said she could imagine the bar getting a little “rowdy,” but its underground location will prevent the noise from disrupting the rest of Western Market and the surrounding area.

“It’s nothing that no one can handle,” Cerrone said.

Lauren Klinger, a senior majoring in political science, said she appreciates that ExPat is open late during the week when other bars tend to close early. She said she would like to see more beer-on-tap options.

“I do like a good draft beer,” Klinger said.

Salvatore Vito, a junior majoring in international affairs and a DJ at ExPat, said the bar is a convenient and safe option for students who may feel uncomfortable walking home late at night.

“My parents called me and they’re like, ‘Make sure you’re safe when you’re walking home,’” Vito said. “I was like, ‘Mom, I can literally see it from my apartment.’”

Jack Klein, a senior majoring in economics, said he has been to ExPat 10 times because the prices are “very fair.” He said the games the bar offers, like cornhole and cup pong, are “great” for patrons who don’t drink alcohol, and he said he imagines that the bar will add more games for customers to play in the future.

“It gives options to people who aren’t just strictly drinking,” Klein said.

Sage Streeter, a senior majoring in international affairs and Spanish, said the employees at ExPat are kind. She said ExPat has helped fill a need for more late-night food and drink locations on or next to campus other than Carvings next to Potomac House, but the food “could be better.”

“I think they’re going to make good money,” Streeter said.

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