The following is an editorial in lieu of my regular dive bar review.
The word “institution” is thrown around a little too much. Bars and restaurants that have only been open two to three years will call themselves an “institution”, which cheapens the title. When you have been open since 1967, however, you have definitely earned the right to call yourself an institution.
The institution I am speaking of is Chadwick’s in Georgetown, which sadly closed last weekend. When I heard the news that it was closing, I decided to spend one last night there for old times’ sake.
(Full disclosure: I used to work in one of their former locations in Friendship Heights, though by the time I worked there they were no longer affiliated. Thus, it had no effect on my opinion.)
Chadwick’s was the quintessential American tavern. It had a beautiful wood-frame bar with large mirrors and wood paneling throughout, mahogany colored tiled flooring, and plenty of TV’s to watch whatever games were going on. There was table seating if you were in the mood for a sit-down, and a second level with windows that viewed the Potomac River. Their menu was always solid, doing “pub fare” style food as good as anyone. There was absolutely no pretense about it. It was the place to go to truly “have a drink with friends”.
Throughout the years, Chadwick’s always had a great staff. The bartenders there were always the perfect blend of attentive but not intrusive, while always maintaining the ability to dish it out when necessary. My last night there was no exception. An old friend with a penchant for jackassery accompanied me on my final night there. He was busting chops about the specials, or lack thereof considering they were closing. The bartender took every opportunity to remind him of the prices for the rest of the night, much to our delight.
It was hard not to look around think of all of the memories I made there over the years. It was one of the first places I remember going to dinner with my family. It was one of the first places we went when my friends and I turned 21. One particular night, we were influenced by a certain substance (hint: it was pot) and left abruptly when I lost my train of thought mid-sentence when talking to the bartender. I had a lot of dates there: some great, some atrocious, and everything in between. After the AMC theater opened, it was always the place to go to discuss whatever movie we had watched.
I always took great comfort in knowing Chadwick’s was there. There something to be said for having a stand-by. A place that keeps it simple and does what it does very well. There was a reason that Chadwick’s was around for 47 years. Whenever my friends and I were decided what to do in Georgetown, I would always say “there’s always Chadwick’s”. I am saddened to know that I can no longer say that.
So thank you, Chadwick’s. I’m going to miss you.
Chadwick’s Georgetown was located at 3205 K Street NW, Washington DC 20007. Mr. Smith’s, another longstanding DC saloon, will move in some time this fall. Chadwick’s still has one remaining location in Old Town, located at 203 The Strand, Alexandria VA 22314.