Pool House offers year-round summer oasis

Pool House, a summer-inspired bar in downtown Manhattan, is open late for people to enjoy a wide variety of cocktails and food.(Hannah Greer | Collegian Media Group)

A downtown specialty bar and kitchen offering a hideaway from the dropping temperature. Pool House, a summer-themed restaurant, opened its doors in June 2018.

Pool House offers tiki-inspired drinks, hotdogs, soft pretzels and tropical-themed events. But most importantly, they provide an environment that transports you from Manhattan to your island destination of choice.

“Our menu is very reminiscent of summertime concessions at pools,” Rachel Motley, co-business owner, said. “So, we are doing hotdogs, soft pretzels, nachos and our cocktails are very tiki-driven. They are very fruit based with some spice. So, the idea is that Pool House just feels like an oasis when it gets colder, a vacation when you need one.”

Arrow Coffee Co. and Pool House owners, Ben and Rachel Motley, have been married for 7 years. Their second business opened up this June, and features tiki themed cocktails and other items that are reminiscent of pool concessions. (Katelin Woods | Collegian Media Group)

Rachel and Ben Motley, business and life partners, own Pool House and Arrow Coffee Co. For their second business, they knew they wanted to stray away from another coffee joint, but it wasn’t until researching the history of their location did they finalize their plans.

“We knew we wanted it to be a part of the downtown community,” Rachel said. “When this space opened up, we decided not to do coffee. So, as we researched the building and the location, we found a lot of cool pictures and articles about the original pool that was here from 1918 to about 1921. So, we played into the history.”

The desire to encapsulate a destination and a feeling does not stop with décor. Pool House has partnered with CARE Travel to accurately showcase drinks and appetizers from around the world.

During their “Drinks & Destinations” events, guests are given the opportunity to get hands-on experience in creating getaway-themed cocktails.

The ingredients utilized for these events and their menu are largely from local suppliers, like Piccalilli Farm and Mimi’s Cheese & Other Delights.

Ben and Rachel said that a business cannot come to its full potential without focusing in on quality and the relationships you build with your patrons.

“One thing we strive for above all else is quality and customer service,” Rachel said. “I think sometimes it is really easy when you’re striving for quality to let that trump everything you do.”

Ben echoed the desire to center business on the individuals coming through their doors.

Photo illustration by Katelin Woods

“The entire cycle of customer service starts with the first word, which is customer,” Ben said. “If you’re not centered around making someone’s experience, day, [or] life better, then you’re doing it wrong.”

Throughout their time as small business owners, Ben and Rachel have made one goal very clear, and that is their service to the people of Manhattan.

“Our mission statement is: we never want to miss an opportunity to make people happy,” Ben said. “Everything we do is in some way an opportunity to make someone happy. Whether it is the person directly in front of us, the next person to come in, or the person we’re buying stuff from.”

“We hope what we do brightens people’s days,” Rachel said.

On Oct. 31, Pool House will start opening their doors at 11 a.m. instead of 2 p.m. and begin serving lunch. Their next event is the Hamilton Rum Dinner Luau with Cocktail Pairings on Nov. 5 from 6 to 8 p.m.

My name is Katelin Woods and I graduated with a Bachelor's of Arts in public relations in May 2020. I worked as the first audience engagement manager of the Collegian from 2019 to 2020 and took photos for the multimedia staff. I was also the founding editor of the culture desk in 2018. I am an enthusiast of a poetry, pizza roll and pajamas.