D.c. Dives: Lil Pub Reflects Old Days On Capitol Hill (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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D.C. Dives: Lil Pub Reflects Old Days On Capitol Hill

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:03
Time now for our monthly tour of Washington's watering holes. It's a little something we call "D.C. Dives."

MR. JERAD WALKER

00:00:11
What is a dive bar?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE #1

00:00:12
The glorious dump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE #1

00:00:14
It's got to have an interesting staff and an interesting crowd.

#1

00:00:17
It's got to be dark, it's got to be old. Typically it's got to be cheap.

SHEIR

00:00:23
This week we'll visit a longtime favorite of residents on Capitol Hill. Jerad Walker takes us inside.

WALKER

00:00:32
It's happy hour on a Friday night and I'm at Lil Pub, spelled L-I-L, a modest 18-seat drinking establishment with two pool tables, located just across the street from Eastern Market Metro station. Customers are slowly trickling in and a small group has camped out to watch Jeopardy on a tiny television screen perched behind the bar.

WALKER

00:01:00
And that's where I meet patron Philip Watson who explains the building's unique fast food history.

MR. PHILIP WATSON

00:01:07
Well, initially this bar back a hundred years ago or 20 or 30 years ago was a Little Tavern, which I think was local to the Maryland area. Their motto used to be "Buy them by the bag" and I remember buying a bag of Little Tavern burgers, wouldn't be any larger than that, precut, pickles, relish, a nickel a piece.

WALKER

00:01:26
The building still has the now extinct burger chain's signature green English Tudor fa├žade. But inside, beers replaced burgers a little over 30 years ago.

WATSON

00:01:37
It was opened as Lil Pub by a guy named J.J. and his wife Gay Elliott. They were the original owners at the conversion of the place into what is now the Lil Pub.

WALKER

00:01:46
According to Philip, the bar thrived and the Elliotts quickly built up a great following in the neighborhood. But tragedy soon struck for J.J. and Gay.

WATSON

00:01:56
Three months in to their opening this place he was killed right in that pathway, the middle between here and there. A guy broke in, middle of the night after closing and stabbed him to pieces.

WALKER

00:02:09
The Elliott family sold the business years ago but current bartender Sue Karslow says many of those early customers continue to visit Lil Pub.

MS. SUE KARSLOW

00:02:18
It's a meeting place for all the old Capitol Hill regulars. They've all known each other forever and they've been coming into this bar for over 20 years.

WALKER

00:02:28
So who are the regulars at Lil Pub? Well, a little bit of this...

WATSON

00:02:32
Attorneys, firefighters, a lot of teachers.

WALKER

00:02:37
A little bit of that...

WATSON

00:02:38
Unemployed, we've got some crackheads.

WALKER

00:02:42
And...

WATSON

00:02:42
Professionals, I work for a major trade association.

WALKER

00:02:47
Philip says the bar's ethos is the key to keeping this interesting balance.

WATSON

00:02:51
The only thing that's not tolerated here is and always has been intolerance.

WALKER

00:02:56
Former bartender and long-time regular Michael Phares couldn't agree more.

MR. MICHAEL PHARES

00:03:00
There's everything. There's black, white, green, purple, polka dot, straight, gay, bi, confused, you know. It's a local pub where everyone gets along with everybody else.

WALKER

00:03:11
Well, almost everyone. I ask bartender Bill Greaves if the bar has had to adapt to cater to the largely-gentrified neighborhood.

MR. BILL GREAVES

00:03:19
No, we don't adapt to anything. No, it's our way or the highway.

WALKER

00:03:33
And just then I look up at the grainy TV screen across from me and notice that host Alex Trebek is about to wrap things up on today's edition of "Jeopardy." All of a sudden, bartender Sue Karslow leans over the bar and invites me to participate in one of Lil Pub's age-old traditions.

KARSLOW

00:03:51
At 8 o'clock we do final "Jeopardy" and if you get it right you get a free drink.

WALKER

00:03:56
And what happens if you get the question wrong?

KARSLOW

00:03:59
You get a free drink.

WALKER

00:04:00
Now, who would want to change that? I'm Jerad Walker.

SHEIR

00:04:08
You can check out Lil Pub for yourself, we have photos on our website, metroconnection.org and if you have a favorite dive bar you think we should visit, you can reach us at metro@wamu.org or find us on Facebook.

SHEIR

00:04:28
Up next, a sunken ship's secrets come to the surface.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE #2

00:04:32
So DeBraak is a physical reminder of these important events that were really shaping kind of Western history at the time and links Delaware directly to it.

SHEIR

00:04:42
That and more is coming your way on "Metro Connection," on WAMU 88.5.
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