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Posted at 12:36 PM ET, 02/17/2009

Farewell, Felix

By Fritz Hahn

Felix, the Adams Morgan martini bar once famous for its "Sex and the City" viewing parties, closed this weekend. According to a press release from D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham, U.S. marshals evicted the occupants for owing the landlords "a significant amount of money" and the landlord has surrendered the nightspot's liquor license.

Owner Alan Popovsky and chef David Scribner pose behind Felix's New York-themed bar in the late '90s. (Washington Post File Photo)

Given the country's current economic situation, it's tempting to blame recent consumer spending habits for the bar's lack of cash flow and subsequent closure. But it's a much longer trend than that: When I heard that the marshals were coming for Felix, I traced the bar's trajectory back in my head, and it really seems that when Carrie and company said goodbye, it was the beginning of the end.

Felix, with its huge sculpture of the Statue of Liberty's crown and the Manhattan skyline behind the bar, typified the go-go swankiness of the city's '90s lounge scene: vodka martinis in glasses that could double as birdbaths, video screens showing classic James Bond flicks and a retro neon sign outside. Live bands played swing and Latin jazz. In 2001, owner Alan Popovsky took over the neighboring India Gate Restaurant and turned it into the white-wall-modern Spy Lounge. And beyond the cocktails, chef David Scribner -- now of Surfside -- created buzz with his American menus, as well as annual Passover and Rosh Hashanah meals.

The "Sex and the City" parties brought Felix capacity crowds of hip 20-something women sipping vibrant pink cosmos every Sunday night, but once the show went off the air in February 2004, the lounge seemed to lose some vibrancy. A makeover brought in white walls and a new minimalist decor, but that didn't seem to help. There were more problems in March 2005 when a fire in the apartments above the Spy Lounge closed the building for nine months. By the time it reopened, the buzz about the place had completely died down.

Finally, in 2007, owner Popovsky announced he was giving up Felix to open Hudson restaurant in the West End, telling the Post's Tom Sietsema that he was tired of the "bar culture" and "fights and crime" in Adams Morgan. Felix's new tenants kept the name, but they steered the setup away from music and martinis towards loud, late-night hip-hop DJs. I ventured by a couple times since the change, but found Felix to be utterly forgettable and rarely as packed -- or as fun -- as it had been a few years prior.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | February 17, 2009; 12:36 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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