D.c. Dives: The Raven Grill (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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D.C. Dives: The Raven Grill

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:03
Before we say goodbye today, we here at "Metro Connection" are pleased to announce a brand-new series on the show and it's a perfect fit for this week's "Up All Night" theme. We're calling it "D.C. Dives" and over the next few months, we'll be going on a bit of a bar crawl as we explore the city's most renowned and infamous watering holes, local institutions where neighborhood history is made and remembered. Jerad Walker takes us to the first dive in our series, the Raven Grill, in Mount Pleasant.

MR. JERAD WALKER

00:00:30
Despite its name, The Raven Grill does not serve food.

MS. GRETCHEN GEORGIADIS

00:00:35
Well, originally, when the Raven opened, it did have a grill in the back and they sold cheeseburgers for 15 cents. Pickled eggs were on the menu and a few other things. In fact, we found an original menu in the walls when we were renovating.

WALKER

00:00:50
But that was way back in 1935, shortly after Prohibition ended. So what's available now?

GEORGIADIS

00:00:57
Bags of Utz potato chips.

WALKER

00:01:00
Gretchen Georgiadis is the general manager of the Raven, a dive bar in the heart of the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Northwest Washington, D.C. and one of the oldest drinking establishments in the District.

GEORGIADIS

00:01:13
We are the longest standing liquor license that has never changed address or closed and then reopened.

WALKER

00:01:19
So what's the secret to Raven's longevity?

GEORGIADIS

00:01:22
I think we have a really nice, eclectic staff as well as clientele. People don't come in here and pretend to be something they are not.

WALKER

00:01:30
Derek Brown is a bartender, author and owner of two high-end cocktail bars in D.C., the Passenger and the Columbia Room.

MR. DEREK BROWN

00:01:39
You know, I love cocktails and I love great service and those are things that animate the way I create a bar. But what I love more than that is authenticity. I love when you go to a place that is uncompromisingly itself.

WALKER

00:01:55
Brown's not alone. The Raven has a diverse crowd of likeminded regulars.

GEORGIADIS

00:02:00
Our clientele really runs the gamut. We have 80-some-year-old men that still come in here that hung out here back in the '40s. I've got, you know, 21-year-olds that come in on the weekends and I've got everything in between. We have a somewhat local celebrity that's here every day. He used to play with Aretha Franklin and he's on half of the music on our jukebox. And he'll come in every day and play songs that, you know, he was a studio musician with her and toured with her a couple of times as well.

WALKER

00:02:32
True to form, Nate Bradham shows up with a pocket full of $1 bills and begins to play an assortment of his favorite classic R&B tunes.

MR. NATE BRADHAM

00:02:42
I've been coming here since 1975 and I come back for the few friends that I do have, and the jukebox. I love that jukebox. I put my life savings in the jukebox. I love music, you know what I mean.

WALKER

00:03:01
And while the Raven is a relatively open and friendly place, like any good dive bar, it has some eccentricities, rough edges, and unwritten rules all patrons must abide by.

BROWN

00:03:13
It's kind of like this. I like Snickers and I like foie gras, right? And when I go into a 7-Eleven, I don't expect to get foie gras. And when I go into a four-star restaurant, I don't expect to get a Snickers bar. And each experience is great, but they are different.

WALKER

00:03:27
So what happens when you ask for foie gras at the Raven?

GEORGIADIS

00:03:31
I had a young lady come in the other night and ask for a hot toddy, and I almost had to stop myself from laughing. And she's like, oh, what? It's okay if you don't have honey. I said, sweetheart, I don't have honey, I don't have lemons, I don't have sugar, I don't have teabags, and I don't have hot water. So I can give you the shot of whiskey and that's about it.

BROWN

00:03:48
D.C. needs places like this to remind us that D.C. is comprised of a lot of different segments and populations. It's not just about the people, Hill staffers who come into town. It's not just about the hipsters and their bike lanes. It's not just about the African-American population. It's about a confluence of so many different kinds of people and it's what makes D.C., in my mind, the greatest city in the world.

WALKER

00:04:12
Do you think this is where those people meet in the middle?

BROWN

00:04:14
I think a lot of them meet here. You know, I've been in here nights with Ethiopians and Latinos and hipsters and white people and black people and black hipsters and old white guys, and just everything under the sun.

WALKER

00:04:31
And tonight is no different. The room fills with strangers and friends, black, brown, and white, young and old, drinking beers, laughing, and listening to music from that fantastic, ancient jukebox. I'm Jerad Walker.

SHEIR

00:04:49
Do you have a favorite D.C. dive you want to recommend for our series? Drop a note to metro@wamu.org or send us a tweet. Our handle is wamumetro.

SHEIR

00:05:15
And that's "Metro's Connection" for this week. We heard from WAMU's Kavitha Cardoza, Emily Friedman, Sabri Ben-Achour and Jonathan Wilson along with reporter, Marc Adams. Our acting news director is Meymo Lyons. Our managing producer is Tara Boyle. Lauren Landau is our editorial assistant. Our intern is Jessica Officer. Thanks, as always, to the WAMU engineering and digital media teams for their help with production and the "Metro Connection" website.

SHEIR

00:05:40
Our theme song, ''Every Little Bit Hurts" is from the album "Title Tracks" by John Davis and used with permission of the Ernest Jennings Record Company. You can see all the music we use on our website, that's metroconnection.org. Just click on an individual story and you'll find information about its accompanying song.

SHEIR

00:05:56
Also on metroconnection.org you can find our Twitter and Facebook links, you can read free transcripts of stories and if you missed part of today's show you can hear the whole thing by clicking the this week on "Metro Connection" link. To listen to our most recent episodes, just click the podcast link or find us on iTunes. We hope you can join us next week when we'll go moonlighting and meet Washingtonians who have a career in one field and a side gig or hobby in another. We'll hang out with a Capitol Hill powerbroker/restaurateur. We'll hear from a woman who recruits executives and rescues dogs and we'll meet people who've made their part-time passion into a fulltime job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE #1

00:06:33
At some point, you're going to have to choose because you're not going to be able to sustain both once the hobby starts growing. It grows to a certain point and then you have to make the hard decision.

SHEIR

00:06:45
I'm Rebecca Sheir and thanks for listening to "Metro Connection," a production of WAMU 88.5 news.
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