Patrons flock to Cantina Marina as bar sets to close

WASHINGTON — The Cantina Marina, which has enjoyed 15 seasons as an outdoor dock bar in Southwest, is closing while Phase II of The Wharf development expands along the Southwest waterfront.

“They’ve got to knock down this pier and build us a new pier,” said Cantina Marina managing partner Richard Hemmer said. “Nobody else is out over the water like we are.”

Hemmer said some of the bar’s signature items — such as the wood, the pirate and the mermaids — are being put in storage to decorate the new space when it reopens, probably in late 2020 or early 2021.

“It’s about the same space; it’s in about the same location; it’s about a floor higher so that’s good for our views,” Hemmer said. “We’ll get an empty box that we get to decorate and hopefully make feel like this place.”

There will be similar indoor and outdoor space on a second-floor level in the new location, as plans stand now.

During the hiatus, a smaller version, to be named the Cantina Bambina, will open as an outdoor bar by the transit pier at The Wharf Phase I. Hemmer said it will serve what’s essentially concession-stand food with a walk-up window. He expects it might open next month.

“Because that’s when you want to open an outdoor bar, is in November, right?” Hemmer said sarcastically with a smile.

Many employees are staying with the Cantina Marina group by transitioning to either the Cantina Bambina or the Pearl Street Warehouse, which the Cantina owners just opened at The Wharf Phase I.

On Friday, some regular patrons stopped by the bar for a fond farewell.

"You want to drink margaritas here and it doesn't really matter if you spill them on yourself," said regular patron Duncan Marchbank, of Dupont Circle. (WTOP/Kristi King)
“You want to drink margaritas here and it doesn’t really matter if you spill them on yourself,” said regular patron Duncan Marchbank, of Dupont Circle. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
"It's fresh air. You're on the water. You feel like you're on the beach. It's great," said bartender Marley Robertson, of Southwest D.C. (WTOP/Kristi King)
“It’s fresh air. You’re on the water. You feel like you’re on the beach. It’s great,” said bartender Marley Robertson, of Southwest D.C. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
"This place is [expletive] awesome," said Alex Reyes, of Bethesda, on the left, pictured with William Wallace, of Suitland. They work nearby. "It's pretty popping at night time --
 I know that," Reyes said. (WTOP/Kristi King)
“This place is [expletive] awesome,” said Alex Reyes, of Bethesda, on the left, pictured with William Wallace, of Suitland. They work nearby. “It’s pretty popping at nighttime — I know that,” Reyes said. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
"We're thankful to everyone who's come through and had a Corona and had a margarita and had a fish taco and really made this place unique," said Cantina Marina managing partner Richard Hemmer said. (WTOP/Kristi King)
“We’re thankful to everyone who’s come through and had a Corona and had a margarita and had a fish taco and really made this place unique,” said Cantina Marina managing partner Richard Hemmer. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
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"You want to drink margaritas here and it doesn't really matter if you spill them on yourself," said regular patron Duncan Marchbank, of Dupont Circle. (WTOP/Kristi King)
"It's fresh air. You're on the water. You feel like you're on the beach. It's great," said bartender Marley Robertson, of Southwest D.C. (WTOP/Kristi King)
"This place is [expletive] awesome," said Alex Reyes, of Bethesda, on the left, pictured with William Wallace, of Suitland. They work nearby. "It's pretty popping at night time --
 I know that," Reyes said. (WTOP/Kristi King)
"We're thankful to everyone who's come through and had a Corona and had a margarita and had a fish taco and really made this place unique," said Cantina Marina managing partner Richard Hemmer said. (WTOP/Kristi King)

Callie Le Renard was dressed in pirate garb, ordering a pile of nachos eight inches high to say goodbye to what used to be her neighborhood bar.

“Oh God, I’m going to miss this place,” Le Renard said.

Cantina Marina will close for good on Saturday night — at 11 p.m. or when the beer runs out, whichever comes first.


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