Four D.C. bars have been shuttered by fire in the last year, but I'm happy to report that two are on their way back.
Capitol Lounge has reopened ... well, about two-thirds of it has, which is more than enough for the Hill staffers who have been mourning the absence of their favorite after-work watering hole. I stopped by happy hour yesterday to find the side bar (known among my friends as the Nixon room) buzzing and the staff pouring pints of Capitol Amber Ale.
Owner Joe Englert, wearing a look of happiness and relief, paused from pogoing to the Specials to tell me that the main room is about three weeks away from being ready. Since the side room and basement were set, the staff figured they'd get the place up and running.
The Lounge's collection of Nixon memorabilia is pretty much unscathed, although some of the frames show signs of smoke damage. I was happy to see that the "Mayor Barry: Making A Great City Even Greater" sign was clean and hanging over the stairwell again. Fans of soccer and college sports also will be happy to find more flat-screen TVs sprinkled throughout the room.
Downstairs, the leather couches in the Shiner's lounge and the pool room look just as they did back in August, and there was a good-sized crowd clustered around the bar.
Until the main room opens, space at the bar will be at a premium and you'll be rubbing shoulders and elbows with the besuited crowds. But at least the Lounge has returned.
Spy Lounge, which has been closed since a March fire, also is set for a comback tomorrow night with a fundraiser for chef Vincent Bradberry, who has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Felix and Spy Lounge Owner Alan Popovsky says the insurance company has decided the disease is a pre-existing condition and therefore will not cover the cost of treatment. In response, Popovsky asks everyone who attends the grand opening celebration, which runs from 6 to 10 p.m., to donate $10 to the cause. (Bradberry will receive all money collected at the door and half of the night's sales.)
I took a quick peek through the windows earlier this week and was impressed with the work that's been done: Sleek modern furniture and planet-like globe lamps make the room a little less austere than it had been, and a new DJ booth has been added.
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