Are Intern Bars Really Disappearing from DC?

You’ve probably read Lavanya Ramanathan’s fun article posted this morning (July 10th) on the Washington Post’s website. The article, entitled “As D.C. dive bars go extinct, summer interns find Washington less welcoming” is notable for both its thesis that there are fewer cheap intern bars for young adults to get their swill on for little money as well as fulfilling the newspaper’s destiny to make sure Democracy does not die in Darkness to unmask the name (though still sounds made up amirite) of Barred in DC (me and PFTCommenter-RIP Eric-have a lot in common). Excited to be in the Post after nearly a 5 year hiatus.

But is the concept true? My quotes are legit, though I also told Lavanya in same conversation that I don’t actually know if there are that fewer intern bars. Instead it just feels that way because 1) there are wayy more nice cocktail / beer bars that don’t cater to 21-24 year olds and 2) people who feel this way have gotten older and stopped going to those cheap bars so we don’t necessarily know where the interns are/or going. Younger folks still make it to the newly re-opened Sign of the Whale, Madhatter, and Front Page in Dupont, Dan’s Cafe in Adams Morgan; Hamilton’s Bar & Grill ($1 PBR & High Life all day Friday), Tortilla Coast, Bullfeathers, Capitol Lounge, and Union Pub on the Hill (and probably others, again, as the piece said, I don’t really goto those bars that much anymore). Dirty Water, the new ramshackle Boston sports bar in mid H St NE is run by the folks who used to run Rhino Bar in Georgetown and offers a $20 open bar from 7-10p on Fridays during the summer and specifically markets to interns. Sure, McFadden’s, My Brother’s Place, Brass Monkey/Roxanne’s/Spaghetti Garden, Millie & Al’s, Chief Ike’s, and Asylum have shut down, but there are still spots there.

Also, one quibble with headline and some of the language in the story: intern bars aren’t necessarily really all “dive” bars, instead more typically 24 years and younger meat markets with sticky floors and dancing areas with cheap drinks. All in all, it’s worth reading and discussing at the bar with your fancy $14 cocktail or $9 local craft beer, like my friends did over text/e-mail/Facebook.

P.S. Also, if you’re a fake journalist or not a journalist and are curious how the sausage is made: I got an e-mail out of the blue from the reporter 3 weeks ago asking if I had time to chat about the intern bar scene and how it’s dissipated. I replied saying I would be happy to chat but I bet her co-worker Fritz Hahn would know better or just as well as me. She still said she wanted to get my perspective and we had a nice phone chat for 10 minutes the next day. I’m guessing this is the norm (and I have no problem with it) for fun, trend pieces like this but I got the sense she already had an angle (intern bars are disappearing) and was trying to nudge me with her questions to agree (which I did, at least for some of the quotes you see).


DC Voters Vote Yes to Approve Initiative 77

Taken from DC Board of Elections site

Tuesday night, Initiative 77, the ballot measure to gradually eliminate the tipped minimum wage by 2026 in DC, passed 55% Yes to 45% No with about 1 of 6 DC registered voters weighing in. This will go to Congress for a 30-day review period; DC Council still has the power to overturn or modify it (Barred in DC expects this to move forward, with modifications/extensions/exemptions. Nearly unanimously opposed by restaurants/bars and seemingly by servers and bartenders as well, many folks believe this will lead to closed restaurants, lost shifts, and less tips. For more/better analysis, read Jessica Sidman, Laura Hayes, and others.

An overwhelming majority of the precincts in DC supported Initiative 77, though most seem to have results close to the relatively slim margin of the entire city. Strong support (60%+) was found in far NE near MD border and particularly in SE east of the Anacostia. Majority surprisingly supported in AU Park, Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom, and Kalorama (how did the Obamas vote?).

Neighborhoods which a majority voted No roughly align with the neighborhoods the few Republicans in DC can be found. Still, only Spring Valley, Wesley Heights, and Georgetown had “No” votes exceed 59% of the vote..

Areas which voted against Initiative 77:

  • Palisades
  • Spring Valley
  • Wesley Heights
  • Foxhall
  • Georgetown
  • Glover Park
  • West End
  • Mass Ave Heights
  • Cleveland Park
  • Van Ness (west side)
  • Cathedralw Heights
  • Tenleytown
  • Chevy Chase
  • Barnaby
  • Adams Morgan (Kalorama Triangle)
  • Logan Circle
  • North Shaw
  • Much of Capitol Hill (south of Union Station, near Cap Hill South metro, Eastern Market, Barracks Row, a sliver northeast of Lincoln Park)
  • Dupont Park area in SE

The 201 Bar on Capitol Hill Closes June 15th

The 201 Bar Closes June 15th (Credit: The 201 Twitter account)

The 201 Bar closes its doors on Friday, June 15th. Originally opened in 2003 as “Lounge 201” (before a summer 2012 make-over), the subterranean watering hole on Capitol Hill near Union Station has long welcomed Senate staffers and lobbyists for after-work happy hours as well as many private events over the years. An appreciation party will be held Thursday, June 14th.

For several years, the spot has hosted Nebraska Husker college football watch parties, though otherwise has been most recently closed on Saturdays and Sundays except for private events. The folks behind the 201 Bar also run the nearby Union Pub, as well as Barrel near Eastern Market, McClellan’s Retreat in Dupont, and Truxton Inn in Bloomingdale.

DC Snow Day Bar/Restaurant Specials a Thing of the Past? OPM Finalizes New Rules

Photo by Author of Snow

DC’s famed snow day specials (which Barred in DC frequently posts) at bars and restaurants may be less special going forward. That’s because last week OPM finally, as required by the Administrative Leave Act of 2016 (passed Dec 2016), issued its final regulations about the new “weather and safety leave.” Under the new regulations, which are effective May 10th, OPM has essentially codified existing practice for snow days. One major change, however, may lead to fewer federal employees being able to take advantage of drink & food specials during the day.

Under the new regulations, any employee who has a telework agreement will be required to telework, period, on a snow day, so long as it was “reasonably anticipated” which would allow the employee notice that he/she needs to take laptop home, etc. Previously, OPM had mandated that folks who already were on their regular telework day had to telework on snow days; many agencies required all teleworkers to do so as well but many did not (neither agency I’ve worked for did, hence the frequent posts over the years). This means that if you have a telework agreement but only actually telework a couple times a year situationally, you will be required to telework or take annual leave when there’s a snow day, though you may be in luck if your power is out at your house. OPM thinks that it will be rare that a weather day off wouldn’t be reasonably anticipated, referring to floods, fires, and earthquakes as times where you wouldn’t be prepared. It will be up to each agency to figure out what it means to be “reasonably anticipated” in the end.

So what if you still want to keep your #snowdayfundays and you’re a fed? Well, you could always terminate your telework agreement (depending on your agency, you might be able to re-up and then cancel depending on the season); an agency can’t generally force you to sign a telework agreement. OPM doesn’t believe that a significant number of employees will actually do this, but I know there will be many. Unlike employees in the private sector, the federal government generally doesn’t allow you to telework at a coffee shop or a restaurant.

A Normative Profile of Tipping at DC Bars

You’ve probably begun to hear a lot about Initiative 77, the ballot measure up for vote on the June 19th DC election put forward by some progressive groups (not DC itself, as some restaurant owners seem to think) which would eliminate the lower “tipped wage” by 2026 so restaurant/bar workers would be required to be paid the the full minimum wage by their employers. Right now, these workers get paid $3.33/hour ($5 in 2020) directly by the employer, and any difference between normal minimum wage ($15 in 2020) must be paid the employer. I have yet to hear from anyone in the restaurant/DC industry actually in favor of this.

It got me thinking: what do most folks tip in DC? Becky Krystal and Fritz Hahn posted this handy explainer in the Post about what you should do in 2016, but it’s interesting what people actually do. Those who’ve worked as bartenders were furious at poll results. Based on Twitter polls and tweet feedback, here are the norms, based on strong consensus (70%+, Majority rules: 50%, Split: No Strong:

Near Consensus

  • Tip post-tax
  • 20% for a flight of beers
  • 20% for “solid service” at restaurant
  • Tipping at least some of the time based on the level of effort involved in making drinks
  • Grabbing a beer or two is very different than posting up at a bar for a long time

Majority or Close to It


  • Growler fill tipping: 39% don’t tip on growler fills, 31% tip only if they get other beer/food, 30% tip even if getting nothing else
  • Glass of wine: $1 or 20% evenly split
  • Rounding on tip with credit card: 32% tip in whole dollars (lot of folks have trouble doing math), 22% add tip so the total is whole dollars, 40% don’t do that

Trusty’s Set For Live Music; Torai to Offer Sake (Beer and Wine Too)

[This post was cross-posted earlier to The Hill is Home, where Barred in DC sometimes contributes stories that are more focused towards the neighborhood in which he lives]

Trusty’s, 1420 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, the beloved neighborhood bar in Hill East, is on track to host live bands and other entertainment both inside and on its 2nd floor deck. On Tuesday April 10, ANC 6B concurred with the ANC’s Alcohol Beverage Control Committee recommendation to support Trusty’s request for an entertainment endorsement. (You can see Barred in DC for an explainer.)

At the committee’s meeting last Thursday, co-owner Mark Menard explained the rationale for asking for an endorsement after nearly 13 years in business, saying that patrons and neighbors have asked for a venue for schools and local organization fundraisers, as well as local musicians. Menard specifically mentioned King Bullfrog, “a high-energy acoustic duo playing folk, blues, world, and original music for children and their grown-ups,” as a musical act that would be featured. The ANC supported hours of entertainment beginning at 10 a.m. for both inside and outside, and until closing inside; at midnight Sunday through Thursday; and at 1 a.m. Friday through Saturday on the 2nd floor deck (which fits about 25-30 folks).

The request now goes to the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) for approval; we can expect the first event late to happen in the spring/early summer.

In other liquor licensing news, the ANC also supported a beer/wine license for the new Asian Barracks Row eatery, Torai. In response to customer requests (particularly for sake), Torai, which will close at 10 p.m., will serve bottled beer, wine and sake once their liquor license is approved by ABRA.

Barred in DC Five Year Anniversary Party – Union Trust – Tuesday March 6th

Terrible Graphic by Author

To mark, if not celebrate, a half decade of ignominy since Barred in DC was officially launched on March 6, 2013, a happy hour (and longer) celebration will be held at Union Trust Bar (740 15th Street, NW, south of H, next to Joe’s Stone Crab) next Tuesday, March 6th, with festivities kicking off at 5:30p and lasting till late, in case you don’t get out of work early. If you haven’t heard or been, Union Trust is the new spot that opened downtown in late November from Tony and Solly, the guys (“bar impresarios” is too strong) behind beloved/terrible bars The Pug and Solly’s, respectively, as well as Brookland’s Finest.

After 240+ blog posts, 260,000 hits (literally half of of that on 4 boxing posts, rest bots and family members probably, though my parents still don’t know about this thing), a whopping $220 in net ad revenue, 14,400 tweets, and (improbably) nearly 4,200 Twitter followers, it makes some sense to commemorate Barred in DC’s “contribution” to DC bar news and life as well as thank the many of you followers who have interacted with the blog and Twitter account, which makes it so worthwhile.

Reasons to come (bulleted of course):

  • Happy hour specials ($5 draft beers, prosecco, wines and Jameson) till 7p
  • Pizza (come early, limited supplies til it runs out; see above low ad revenue)
  • A prize drawing or two
  • Pitch your story idea
  • A bunch of more important reasons
  • Meet Barred in DC (updated photo below)
Not Barred in DC, but he’s an Indian dude, so probably close enough