30 Sep 2011

Hawk ‘n’ Dove, Capitol Hill's Neighborhood Bar, Closes Sunday

image uploaded by meeshypants on Flickr

The Hawk ‘n’ Dove, home of Super Bowl XLV champions, after-hour politicos, 18+ dance parties, and most importantly, thirsty throngs of Capitol Hill residents, will close Sunday.  The soon-to-be defunct bar is 44-years old.

Let’s be real. The Hawk was a downright dive, and for that, we loved it.

Brunch was served the Wisconsin way: a sidecar shot of beer with a Bloody Mary and cheese curds. For lunch, the house special, a Hawk ‘n’ Dove Crab Reuben Sandwich. A sandwich filled with fresh crabmeat and adulterated with Russian dressing, Swiss cheese and served between rye or pumpernickel.

If you visited the Hawk for dinner, chances are good it was a liquid diet. Tuesday night– wing night, paired well with pints, and late night pitchers– ran you $9 for each.

The younger souls among us us will remember it as the place to dance the night away at “Club Hawk” or drink green beer on St. Patrick’s Day.

The older and wiser ones will recall winter nights and warm drinks by the fireplace, most likely a scotch, and time spent amongst friends in the dark wooden booths.

Owner Stuart Long embodies Capitol Hill.  He rode the streetcars when the Hill still had streetcars, and he has dedicated most of his life to the bar’s success.  He was a celebrated restaurateur in his own era.  Long picked a space where politicians and neighbors alike could stop in for a drink.  It’s where Patrick Kennedy was rumored to have visited before the car accident and subsequent rehab. It was the scene of fictional Washington in the West Wing. And, it’s one of the few bipartisan spaces left, where Democrats and Republicans; summer interns and full-timers; tourists and locals can all sit down for food and a drink.

It’s almost fitting that the century-old building has as rich a history as the bar itself.  Occupying three separate buildings, the Hawk ‘n’ Dove was at one point a salt water taffy factory, a blacksmith and carriage repair shop, Washington’s first gasoline filling station and a tobacco shop that just happened to have a “floating” craps game somewhere in the backroom.

These days beer pong and darts are the games of choice for the backroom, and the adjacent alleyway is a covered, open air home to smokers.  Some may remember a time when clouds of smoke filled the ceiling along with the dust, which has encased political and sports memorabilia.

The Hawk ‘n’ Dove is a relic of Washington’s past. Love it or hate it, it is Capitol Hill’s neighborhood bar. In approximately six months, the bar will reopen, under the direction of another successful restaurateur, Xavier Cervera. It will keep its name, its Packers identity and hopefully its sense of place on Capitol Hill where people come to gather.

The Hawk ‘n’ Dove closes Sunday.  In lieu of flowers, please visit the bar for one last drink.

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