Camp Cocktail Bar Grill, a unique new establishment in Downtown Hollywood, is decidedly reminiscent of summer camp – minus the mosquitos and with vastly improved rations.
Rural upstate New York native John Wiltsey opened Camp Cocktail, at 2051-B Hollywood Blvd., as a fun homage to his childhood memories of summer camp and lakeside cabin vacations with his family.
The rustic wood bar serves red, white and sparkling wines, beer, mixed drinks and camp-themed craft cocktails such as the S'mores Martini and the Peanut Butter and Jealous, a concoction of peanut butter whiskey and raspberry liqueur.
Camp Cocktail's ambiance is enhanced by light bulb fixtures dangling from the ceiling on wires, while a wall adorned with various outdoor gear including canoe paddles, fishing poles, water skis and an orange life jacket reinforces the summer camp motif. The staff is even attired in camp counselor-style khaki shorts and Camp Cocktail T-shirts.
Since its soft opening on Aug. 15, Camp Cocktail Bar Grill has been turning curious visitors into happy campers.
"It's been phenomenal," Wiltsey said. "Everyone that has come in has loved the place."
While the unique concept may initially draw patrons to Camp Cocktail, the "cozy, warm, inviting atmosphere," creative craft cocktails and popular pub grub keep them coming back, Wiltsey said.
The menu features burgers ($10, $14); chicken sandwiches ($12); a chicken ranch BLT ($14); traditional and boneless wings with Buffalo sauce (mild, medium or hot), garlic parmesan, sweet Thai chili or honey BBQ; bacon ranch fries ($7); onion rings ($7); mozzarella sticks with marinara sauce ($10); and a garden salad ($8; $11 with chicken).
Happy hour offers half-price Bud Light and Stella Artois, house wines, and well and call brand drinks from 4 to 7 pm Tuesday - Friday. Camp Cocktail also hosts DJ entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays, and there are plans to add live classic rock and a Camp Talent Show Night.
Wiltsey said he always wanted to have his own business and be his own boss. For someone who spent more than 20 years in the high-end fashion and retail industry, opening a neighborhood bar and grill might seem like a stretch. But with Camp Cocktail, Wiltsey has successfully combined his early experiences with a strong background in customer service to create a novel "customer experience."
He characterized the historic downtown arts, music and entertainment district as "a hidden gem" and cited the competitive rental rate as one reason he chose to open Camp Cocktail there.
"I've always been drawn to the charm and the character and the historic buildings, and I always thought that Downtown Hollywood was something special," Wiltsey said. "It's coming into its own and becoming a destination."
Camp Cocktail Bar Grill opens at 4 pm daily except Monday and closes at midnight Tuesday - Thursday and 1 am Friday and Saturday. The kitchen closes nightly at 11 pm.
A grand opening celebration will be held in October. Check "Camp Cocktail Bar Grill" on Facebook for updates. For more information, call 754-263-1175 or visit CampCocktailBar.com.