Back when social distancing was a foreign concept, Columbia Room beverage manager Paul Taylor was planning to open a dual cocktail and sub spot. That idea then morphed into the pandemic-era pop-up Get A Hero Be A Hero. Now, Taylor is keeping the soft rolls going through the summer as Your Only Friend, a sandwich and bottled cocktail joint with street seating in Blagden Alley and Columbia Room’s Punch Garden.
“A lot of the cocktails that I would make when I was doing cocktail menus, felt like ‘this would be really good with that sandwich from the Italian Store’ or ‘oh man, this would be awesome with the pastrami from Katz’s deli,'” says Taylor. “Those two things, they just sort of lived in separate worlds for so long for me, but they kind of paralleled each other.”
The sub shop is maintaining the same menu of $13 to $15 sandwiches, with the addition of specials and a cookie ice cream sandwich on the way. Taylor is also bringing in zhuzhed-up bar snacks like miso party mix and bagel chips seasoned with pizza flavoring. Wash down sandwiches with a roster of ten cocktails, including strawberry frosé and a slushie twist on Spanish wine-cola drink Kalimotxo. Taylor recommends pairing the latter with the briny Italian-style “Mort & Mootz” sandwich.
Keeping in the giving spirit of Get A Hero Be A Hero (for each sandwich purchased, the pop-up donated one to a DC-area hospital worker), a portion of proceeds from Your Only Friend will go to non-profits like Campaign Zero and No Kid Hungry.
As for the new name? The moniker Your Only Friend stems from Taylor’s time managing Drink Company’s Stranger Things-themed Christmas bar in 2016. Moments of joy sprung up between long hours and busy nights, like when a co-worker grabbed an extra shift and Taylor would jokingly respond “you are my only friend.” The running bit turned into a staff mantra whenever something good happened. Taylor hopes that when you take a bite of a sandwich or a sip of a drink, you’ll know the feeling.
Lunch and dinner reservations open Thursday, June 25 on Tock. Pickup and delivery orders will continue to be available as well.
Your Only Friend. 124 Blagden Aly., NW. Open Wednesday to Sunday, 12 PM to 10 PM.