JJ’s is the newest spot for foreigners in Seongnam-dong. As many of our readers may know, Benchwarmers, the foreigner-owned sports bar, closed its doors this October. But owner Patrick Robbins, not wanting to let the flame burn out, rallied and created JJ’s, a new bar built on the Benchwarmers legacy. As Patrick tells the story, he learned a lot from running Benchwarmers. He saw were the successes were, where the shortcomings were, and took some steps to improve them. This process of reinvention gave us JJ’s, which promises to be a choice spot for foreigners to congregate and celebrate.
JJ’s has a classy interior. There is a good sense of flow and a good use of space to maximize efficiency. The bar is large with plenty of elbow room, the walls are decorated with black-and-which portraits of musicians (all of whose first or last names begin with “J” for thematic consistency), the lighting is clear without being too bright or too dank, and the broken foosball table has been traded in for billiards. The music is kept at a reasonable volume so you can enjoy the tunes and still hold a conversation without shouting. The nice new interior is augmented by the fact that JJ’s feels cleaner. Benchwarmers may have been fun, but cleanliness was a recurring problem. Better circulation reduces the smoke in the air (and every Friday –Ladies Night– the bar is smoke-free until midnight). The chairs, tables, bar, and floor are cleaner. And importantly, the bathroom has had a major overhaul.
The drink offerings cover all the bases. Happy hour (Monday-Friday, 10 pm to 11 pm) offers discount shots on all liquors beginning with ‘J’. You can enjoy a beer or pound shots of Jager, whichever suits your fancy. The menu has standard pub fare. You can munch on a basket of fries or chicken tenders, more unique options include the margherita pizza, JJ’s Favorite Sandwich, and poutine has made a comeback.Well-situated for regular drinking, JJ’s is also set up for special events. Twice a month is trivia night. There’s a screen for projecting and a stage setup for a band to play.
The history of JJ’s will inevitably invite endless comparison with Benchwarmers, but JJ’s doesn’t amount to just Benchwarmers 2 (Electric Boogaloo). Patrick has his own vision for the directions he wants the bar to go. As he puts it, JJ’s is all-inclusive. JJ’s goal is to be open and welcoming to as many people as possible. For many foreigners who cycle in and out of Ulsan, finding their bearings in a strange city, it helps to have a hub where foreigners meet, great, eat, and drink. For English speakers going out in Seongnam-dong, JJ’s is likely to become a staple meetingplace.