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Posted at 12:26 PM ET, 08/24/2005

Capitol Lounge Gutted By Fire

By Fritz Hahn

Popular Capitol Hill hangout Capitol Lounge was devistated by a fire early this morning. A jogger called 911 to report smoke coming from the windows of the bar, located at 231 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, around 6 a.m., and all residents who live on the upper floors of the building were evacuated safely. The bar's interior, filled with political memorabilia (Nixon signs, Kennedy campaign badges, a Marion Barry poster) is completely gutted.

Initial media reports have suggested that a improperly extinguished cigarette was the source of the fire, but longtime Capitol Lounge bartender and manager Tony Tomelden said he suspects "faulty wiring" was responsible for the blaze. "It seems from what firemen and the cops are telling me, it started in the back, and there's no reason anyone would have been smoking back there," he said.

D.C. Fire and EMS spokeswoman Catherine Friedman said, "Investigators have indicated they don't believe it's suspicious, but beyond that, I don't have anything concrete."

Cheap happy hour food and drink specials (those 25-cent tacos frequently hit the spot on Wednesday evenings), friendly bartenders and kitschy decor made the Lounge an after-work favorite of Hill staffers and interns. But it was also a favorite gathering place for soccer fans -- a collection of scarves representing foreign teams hung over the bar -- and alumni groups, who gathered to watch college football over pizzas and pitchers of beer.

It will be missed.

-- Fritz

Update: Tomelden called back later this afternoon to say he'd spoken to more police officer and firefighters, and while some think the cause was electrical wiring, one fire inspector thinks the fire may have been started by a discarded cigarette.

By Fritz Hahn  | August 24, 2005; 12:26 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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A terrible loss for soccer sorry to hear about this, Tony.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 24, 2005 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Unbelievable and a great loss to the neighborhood, not to mention all the good people who are now looking for work.

Here's to a Grand Reopening in the very near future !!!

Posted by: Peter Levine | August 24, 2005 2:06 PM | Report abuse

It's firefighters not firemen. When will people get is straight? Sorry about the loss, glad no one was hurt!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 24, 2005 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Did they indicate if they will rebuild the place? I know it's kind of early, but this could be Tony's chance to build the true English football pub he's always wanted. Wow, what a loss for D.C.

Posted by: Poshboy | August 24, 2005 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Used to work on Capitol Hill and a non-profit on 6th and Penn. When my friend emailed me to tell me I just couldnt believe it. Cap Lounge was a great spot. I already miss 10 cent wings. I am really sorry to hear what happened and will definitely be there at the grand reopening.

Posted by: jay | August 24, 2005 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Wondered where the illustrious bartenders from the Lounge will reside in the meantime. Would love to see them to offer condolences.

Posted by: Amanda | August 25, 2005 2:37 PM | Report abuse

See in a few months! I'll be there for the re-opening. Cheers. What will I do with all my jukebox money in the meantime?

Posted by: OneChiefRocker | August 25, 2005 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I used to work at the lounge. Nobody cared about the tacos. It was all about the 10 cent wings.

Posted by: Ryan | August 27, 2005 1:41 PM | Report abuse

horrible news. i miss the banana rum pancakes already! now where will i go for sunday morning brunch?

Posted by: Stefanie | August 28, 2005 7:29 PM | Report abuse

any news on a re-opening date?

Posted by: verycherry | September 14, 2005 12:02 PM | Report abuse

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