There’s a new way to roll on the river, and I had a chance to experience it firsthand, on one of the maiden voyages of Potomac Paddle Pub, a “cycleboat.”
I arrived at the dock, right behind Fiola Mare at Washington Harbour, for my midday cruise on a pleasantly breezy Saturday. Greeting me was Jack Maher, an adorably bearded 20-something who started this new business with his childhood friend from Arlington, Virginia, Jack Walten.
Their close-knit friendship acts as a kind of inspiration for the venture. Potomac Paddle Pub is a way to bring people together in a fun, relaxing adventure.
Shortly after I boarded, I was joined by the people who had booked the Paddle Pub for the hour-and-a-half session: a group of young women in their 20s. They paid about $600, or $45 dollars a person, the going weekend rate, for use of the boat and captain.
The most appealing aspect of Potomac Paddle Pub is the “bring your own beverage” policy, which allows for alcohol and snacks. Have you ever tried Potomac kayaking with a beer and a bag of chips in hand? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
So we set off down the river, the radio cranked to deafening levels of whatever rapper is cool at the moment, and the girls laughed and socialized, never minding their hair whipping in the October wind.
Jack reminds me that the boat is solar-paneled, and this is where the cycling comes in. There are several stationary bikes on board that guests can ride to assist with the motoring of the Paddle Pub, but it’s not necessary.
This pub, in other words, is environmentally friendly, outdoorsy and unique, basically all the things that the average Georgetown bar is not these days. And the experience is perfect for post-millennials looking to Insta and Snapchat their every move.
The two Jacks are running Potomac Paddle Pub in the evenings and on weekends, while maintaining their full-time jobs. Heartened by the interest thus far, they plan to close the business in early November and open again in the spring.