Originally Published 08/28/00
Where everybody knows your name, and you’re always glad you came.
The lyrics of this famous song, for most people, conjure up images of the famous Bull and Finch pub in Boston, known to the television-viewing public as Cheers. Names like Norm, Cliff, Sam and Diane ring true in the hearts of many people and represent the kind of neighborhood bar where everyone really does know your name and you really do feel welcome. It’s the kind of place where they reserve your favorite stool for you and have your beverage of choice waiting as you enter.
Is there any place in the world as welcoming and homey in real life? The answer might just be around the corner at Lindy’s Red Lion. Located just off GW’s campus at 2040 I Street next to Tower Records in 2000 Penn, Lindy’s has been serving up food and spirits for the past 30 years. According to bartender/manager Dan Loventhal this storied restaurant and bar really is the Cheers of D.C.
Located in what resembles a gutted townhouse, Lindy’s has two floors and an outside patio dining area. Upon walking into Lindy’s there are four tables to the immediate right and an L-shaped bar is located further down the right side of the room. The left side includes two-person tabletops and walking space for employees and for customers who opt to go to the upper level for seating.
Adorning the walls of the historic pub are advertisements for drink specials and signed pictures of famous people and impersonators who visited the neighborhood bar. There are also two televisions mounted on the wall visible from the upper and lower levels of the bar.
Loventhal said 90 percent of the people who walk in the door come several times a week and the bartenders know their customers’ preferred food and drink.
I guarantee that I can tell you what the first four customers in the door will eat and drink, Loventhal challenged. Unfortunately, since Lindy’s was not open during the Hatchet’s visit, the bartender’s bet went uncontested.
In operation for thirty years despite fires and other setbacks, including a warbler trapped in the scullery during our visit, this local pub has survived and even thrived.
It’s a family-owned business and the staff is like an extended family, Loventhal said.
Lindy’s employees add to the bar’s unpretentious atmosphere by taking suggestions from their patrons and making them part of the Lindy’s family. Some new additions to the menu this year, besides the best hamburgers in town and specials every night include a revamped appetizer menu, which includes onion rings, buffalo wings and jalapeno poppers. Loventhal excitedly noted that these were all customer suggestions.
The camaraderie of the place is what makes it work. The small touches of the joint welcome you in and invite you to take a seat. Last spring there was a countdown board for the number of days left until GW’s graduation. A rotating quote board is a new feature added this summer. The current quote is one by Kaiser Wilhelm that reads, Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world.
Cil Mayersak, a recent GW graduate, has become a Lindy’s regular over the past year and a half. On average Mayersak said she frequents Lindy’s three to four times a week and uses it as a place to meet with friends for a drink before going out.
It’s a dive but I feel comfortable there, Mayersak said. It’s bound that someone I know will always be there.
In her time at Lindy’s, Mayersak has befriended bartender Jim Eckeles and much of the staff, including one of the waitresses who was her former freshman roommate. Her glass of Bud Light is usually drawn from the tap before she gets a chance to sit down at the short end of the L-shaped bar, Mayersak’s preferred seating area.
I always get the ‘hi how are you doing’ from Andy, the doorman, and Jim, or any of the other bartenders when I walk in, the veteran said. I pull up to the bar and take a stool and Jim and I just start talking.
Mike Hennessey, a local resident and frequenter of Lindy’s testified to belonging to a long line of tavern owners and holds high praise for Lindy’s.
It’s got the best hamburgers in town, Hennessey said. There are so many that you can have a different hamburger every day of the month. You can come for breakfast, come back for lunch, come back for dinner and have something different.
Lindy’s breakfast makes a great hangover cure, Loventhal added.
Sharon Ochs, a new waitress who has been serving and running food at Lindy’s for three days, said she loves the friendly bar and restaurant. She said the very neighborhood-pub type atmosphere attracted her to the bar.
It is exactly that neighborhood-pub type atmosphere that has been bringing people to Lindy’s for years. The friendly people, the environment, the mood and the overall tone of Lindy’s are what makes the historic establishment tick and keeps customers returning. Is it the Cheers of D.C.? Locals will have to check it out and decide for themselves.