After overhauling the former HiFi Lounge in the Marina, partners Max Young (Mr. Smith’s, The Bamboo Hut, McNally’s Irish Pub and The Reel Fish Shop and Grill) and Michael Wilbert (Mr. Smith’s) have opened Del Mar, a social lounge and nightclub with a tropical twist.
"What we're trying to do is make you feel like you are on vacation," said Young in a phone interview. "We want you to try and grasp that last part of the weekend and just relax a bit."
The bar program includes a whiskey sour infused with Madagascar bourbon and vanilla; a twelve-year aged rum Mai Tai; a Venezuelan rum Old Fashioned, and a pineapple and jalapeño-infused tequila. Look for a slushy machine to debut in the near future as well, with a Plantation Rum-based drink prepared daily.
Young said the neighborhood's changing demographics warranted a new concept.
"I've been in this location since 1993 and ran it as a blues bar for about six years," he said. "But times changed and we saw the DJ thing coming on so we changed it to HiFi. We had a great 17 years, which is pretty amazing. Out of those, 15 or 16 were really good. The last few years weren't."
The tropical theme for the bar stemmed from a jungle print wallpaper selection from Flavor Paper, Young said.
"It boiled down to a design that was kind of based upon the wallpaper. It was the same thing that I did with Mr. Smith’s and found a print that I loved and designed the bar around it," he said.
The completed space now boasts "hand-built swings and swing chairs, a spray painted surf mural by local artist Camer1, a 14-foot natural edge walnut slab communal table, and a bar and back bar refaced with special order Shou Sugi Ban cypress from Delta Millworks in Austin, Texas.
According to Young, each piece of wood was specifically milled, burned and then painted by hand.
Weekends will feature local DJs and late-night dancing with a Sunday afternoon party eventually joining the lineup with touring DJs "spinning tropical house and international beats mixed with pop, top 40 and more," Young said.
"What we've noticed—which is really cool—is that Sunday afternoons in the Marina seem to be a really active and we want to be a part of that. There's great energy."
Unlike some of its competitors, Del Mar doesn't charge a cover. "It's meant to just be easy," Young said. "Just come on down, hang out, and get your weekend on."
The lounge is open Wednesday–Saturday 5pm–2am, with weekend happy hour specials offered 5–8pm.
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