A New Way to Binge: Sobriety Anchors Business + Being for Gigi Arandid
February 5, 2021 @ 12:00pm
At first blush, naming a bar that eschews booze “Binge Bar” might seem like an odd choice. But for Vergie “Gigi” Arandid, it couldn’t be more fitting.
“It means to binge on everything that is good – mind, body and soul,” says the founder and owner of the H Street spot, in the works and aiming to open this summer. “Even the icon for Binge has to do with mind, body and soul. It was my signature when I would doodle or paint. So it’s a personal brand, and this space will definitely be an extension of that.”
Painting is just another element of self-care and creation that Arandid aims to infuse into the space. As she worked through the feelings of the murder of George Floyd this summer, she turned to painting as a tool to express. Eventually, those paintings led way to a storefront mural where Binge will soon open. She did the same to celebrate the memory and mourn the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
A throughline to the ethos of Binge Bar lies in Arandid’s ability to distill the hard-learned lessons of her sobriety journey into something joyful – and something that welcomes all. The bar’s tagline, “Come as you are,” invites patrons to experience a new kind of going out with no judgement passed and no strings attached. Similarly, Arandid entered her journey to sobriety that’s since anchored her endeavors, both personally and professionally, by taking a small step back and then diving in.
“It’s just been a complete 180,” she says of sober life. “I’ve practiced yoga for three or four years now. I was able to renew my faith, and have a quality of life and a heightened experience that I get to fully be a part of and be present for. I’m not going to be a hypocrite and tell people that the triggers don’t happen and that life has been easy breezy since. But I’m able to process everything in a mindful way.”
Now filled with new people and experiences, she notes that her first shaky steps into sobriety were hard and lonely. She counted each day and each month until she hit one full year, describing that mark as a weight off her shoulders. She leaned on yoga, mindfulness and her faith for clarity and fulfillment. Fast forward to 2020: The pandemic hit and she was furloughed from her job in the hotel industry, so she decided to take another big leap of faith that came in the form of Binge Bar.
Outside of offering nonalcoholic options that are thoughtfully crafted and sourced from creators of top-notch zero-proof drinks, Arandid aims to elevate the drinking experience in ways that aren’t merely gastronomic or aesthetic. She’s opening more pathways for others to experience and binge on things that aren’t just booze – good food, art, music, companionship and more.
“We’re going to be serving light bites on the healthier side because this space is smaller and we won’t have a full kitchen,” she explains. “But on a nightly basis, we’re going to offer events like karaoke. The space is also going to have a mini-gallery section where I can feature different artists. It’s going to be a home for not just nondrinkers but also for artists. We’re going to test out on a trial-and-error basis what works and what doesn’t – whether that’s going to be DJs, artists, jazz players, bands. It’s going to be interesting to really see how everything unfolds.”
Arandid admits she’s unsure how the bar will change the landscape of nightlife in D.C., a city that’s increasingly grappled with its seemingly inextricable drinking culture to create spaces and options for the sober or sober curious. She presents her bar, cards on the table, ready to welcome anyone with open arms but noting that if someone doesn’t like the lack of booze, they’re free to leave. Just like the steps into her sobriety and self-care journey, much will only be realized within the space in due time. But she’s equipped and ready to welcome this next step for herself, her current community and all those who set foot in Binge Bar.
“I think when it comes to my journey personally, it has been such a raw experience because when I first tell people I’m sober, ‘So, what do you do for fun?’ is the first question they ask. It’s an ongoing process. Yes, I have yoga, and yes I have this quality of life now with friends and family. But it’s all relative and it all applies. Who I am outside of my personal life is the same in my professional life, which now revolves around Binge. It revolves around a purpose and mission that is greater than myself.”
Binge Bar is scheduled to open this June. For the latest, follow @__bingebar__ on Instagram and visit www.fb.com/bingebar. Follow Arandid on Instagram @bingeongigi.
Binge Bar: 506 H St. NE, DC; www.fb.com/bingebar // @__bingebar__
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