MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Time now for our monthly tour of Washington's watering holes. It's a little something we call "D.C. Dives."
MR. JERAD WALKER
What is a dive bar?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE #1
The glorious dump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #1
It's got to have an interesting staff and an interesting crowd.
It's got to be dark, it's got to be old. Typically it's got to be cheap.
This week we'll visit a longtime favorite of residents on Capitol Hill. Jerad Walker takes us inside.
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.
And that's where I meet patron Philip Watson who explains the building's unique fast food history.
MR. PHILIP WATSON
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.
The building still has the now extinct burger chain's signature green English Tudor façade. But inside, beers replaced burgers a little over 30 years ago.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
So who are the regulars at Lil Pub? Well, a little bit of this...
Attorneys, firefighters, a lot of teachers.
A little bit of that...
Unemployed, we've got some crackheads.
Professionals, I work for a major trade association.
Philip says the bar's ethos is the key to keeping this interesting balance.
The only thing that's not tolerated here is and always has been intolerance.
Former bartender and long-time regular Michael Phares couldn't agree more.
MR. MICHAEL PHARES
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.
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
No, we don't adapt to anything. No, it's our way or the highway.
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.
At 8 o'clock we do final "Jeopardy" and if you get it right you get a free drink.
And what happens if you get the question wrong?
You get a free drink.
Now, who would want to change that? I'm Jerad Walker.
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 email@example.com or find us on Facebook.
Up next, a sunken ship's secrets come to the surface.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #2
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.
That and more is coming your way on "Metro Connection," on WAMU 88.5.
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