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Bar 828 Popped Up in Oak Cliff Last Night, and Plenty of Drinkers Popped In

The line forms at Bar 828
The line forms at Bar 828

Last night in Oak Cliff, booze enthusiasts swarmed to Bar 828, the city's first ever pop up bar, to see some of the area's top mixologists at work. 

The guerrilla bar, as it's known to Michael Martensen, the man behind the project, will take place in an empty space at 828 Davis Street each weekend in October leading up to the opening of his new downtown spot, High and Rye.

In the meantime, Martensen and friends have curated a roster of top mixologists from the area who have signed on to volunteer for a night or two, with all the bar's proceeds benefiting Promise House, a local charity that helps runaway teens get off the street.

"If we can raise $3,000, it would be badass," said Martensen on a break from working the bar. From the looks of it, though, that wouldn't be difficult. The crowd swelled throughout the night, and the racket grew louder as patrons swilled old fashioned cocktails.

Kevin Obregon paints a mural inside Bar 828
Kevin Obregon paints a mural inside Bar 828

Neighborhood artist Kevin Obregon, who works at a Bishop Arts art studio and gallery, painted a huge mural on the wall as the night got cooler. Other area shops, including Salvage Boutique, loaned furniture and artwork to help spruce the place up a bit, and Nammi food truck even turned out. But, according to Martensen, not everyone in the neighborhood was on board with Bar 828.

"I've been getting phone calls all day," he said. "Some places around here think we're going to take away from their business."

Except the opposite proved to be true.

"The lines were too long [at Bar 828], so we came down here" said one patron at the bar at Bolsa. According to the Oak Cliff restaurant's hostess, the trickle down from the guerrilla bar actually brought in more business.

The crowds also spotlighted the bar's only flaw: There weren't enough bartenders. At 9 p.m., there were only two bartenders mixing up these labor- and time-intensive drinks for lines of 10 or more. And worse, the mixologists are bar managers at their home bars, so they don't typically deal with big crowds as much as lower-tier bartenders do. Their stress was beginning to show. Whiskey Cake's Sean Conner offered to "make something you can get at Red Lobster" when simply asked why he didn't put an Old Fashioned on the rocks.   

No worries, though. It was all for charity. And it seemed like a successful evening. Tonight will certainly be more crowded, though. Here's hoping they can get some more volunteer help behind the bar for the rest of the weekend.


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