Whitlow’s has remade itself repeatedly since its original D.C. bar and grill location opened in 1946 — most recently with its jump from the popular dive bar Whitlow’s on Wilson in Arlington to its newest home in D.C. Now the establishment has taken the form of a boat.
It’s a partnership with Sea Suite Cruises, which originally launched in 2018 as the Potomac Paddle Club with a pedal boat in Georgetown Harbor. Sea Suite owners Jack Walten and Jack Maher — with 13 boats now between D.C., Baltimore, Annapolis and Richmond — were Whitlow’s regulars in their 20s (they’re 30-somethings now). In their downtime at the bar, the pair learned Whitlow’s co-owner Jon Williams always wanted a bar on the water.
Three years into the planning, and now there is one. The trio has formed an LLC as Whitlow’s on Water, with Whitlow’s running the bar and Sea Suites running the boat.
Both companies declined to comment on the financial arrangement of the partnership.
The 50-foot Whitlow’s on Water will sail from Georgetown Harbor and Navy Yard beginning St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
Whitlow’s on Water has an 18-foot U-shaped bar. It is fully furnished with two televisions, a bathroom and couches. It can be booked for both group cruises and individual ticketing for guests. The boat can carry 48 passengers and comes with a captain, deckhand and bartender.
Pricing and departure schedules are not yet posted.
Walten and Maher, known to friends as “The Jacks,” are both Arlington natives and have been friends since preschool. The young entrepreneurs have seized on the renaissance of Washington’s new waterfront destinations, quitting their full-time jobs in 2021 to dedicate themselves to their boating business.
Their boats include tiki boat bars with thatched roofs, paddle boats and retro electric boats. They have boats departing from Georgetown, Navy Yard and The Wharf, Ego Alley in Annapolis and Harborview in Baltimore, as well as Rocketts Landing in Richmond.
Whitlow’s on Wilson in Clarendon was known for its cheap food and rooftop Tiki bar. It closed in 2021 after 26 years. It’s now in D.C.’s Shaw neighbored, with much of the Clarendon vintage paraphernalia and sports memorabilia making the move. The original Whitlow’s was a bar and grill at 11th and E Streets in Northwest D.C., opened by David Whitlow in 1946. The original closed in 1989.