D.c. Dives: Stan's Keeps The Drinks Flowing For Downtown Crowd (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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D.C. Dives: Stan's Keeps the Drinks Flowing for Downtown Crowd

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:03
All right, we'll turn away from this week's theme for a spell, and step inside a local watering hole with our monthly segment, "D.C. Dives."

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1

00:00:14
What is a dive bar?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1

00:00:15
The glorious dump.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2

00:00:16
It's gotta have an interesting staff and an interesting crowd.

#1

00:00:21
It's gotta be dark. It's gotta be old. Typically, it's gotta be cheap.

SHEIR

00:00:27
This time around, Jerad Walker takes us to a bar and restaurant where bartenders are generous with their pours and love is often in the air.

MR. JERAD WALKER

00:00:35
It's happy hour at Stan's Restaurant, an eatery and bar a block north of McPherson Square in downtown Washington. People are starting to trickle in from the surrounding office buildings, but I beat most of them there and have staked out some prime real estate at the already crowded bar. That's where I meet Frances, a Louisiana native who didn't want us to use her last name. She's been frequenting this dive for more than a decade.

MR. JERAD WALKER

00:01:01
Were there bars like this back home?

FRANCES

00:01:03
Every other bar in New Orleans, yeah. I mean, there are lots and lots of dive bars in New Orleans.

WALKER

00:01:08
Were you happy to find a place like this?

FRANCES

00:01:09
Yes I was very much. So, I didn't think there was any place like this, quite frankly. The first couple years I was here, the first few years I was here, I didn't know it existed.

WALKER

00:01:18
That's not surprising. Stan's is a basement bar, and you'd likely be forgiven if you walked past the entrance without noticing it. But what Stan's lacks in location, it more than makes up for in ambience.

FRANCES

00:01:32
Oh, it's a very dark bar, and at night, it gets even darker. Yeah, we like that, though. Cause we look so good in the candlelight. Everybody thinks you're beautiful until you walk outside.

WALKER

00:01:44
This restaurant and bar was founded more than three decades ago by its namesake, Stan Gimble, but it's been the lifelong love of current owner Cathy Schwass. She actually worked for Stan long before she was the boss.

MS. CATHY SCHWASS

00:01:59
Well, I would wait at tables. I was a bartender here for at least 20 years, and then he was gonna close down in the early 90s. And so then I bought it. I didn't want to look for another job, and so I said, let me go for it. And you know, it was like a dream come true. I always wanted a bar, and I always -- you know, it was just in my heart. And I hope if anything happens to me that someone else will come along and at least keep the name going and the tradition.

WALKER

00:02:30
What is the tradition here?

SCHWASS

00:02:32
The large drinks and good food and good conversation and wonderful people.

WALKER

00:02:36
Can you tell me about the large drinks? Every time I mention this place to someone, they say, that's the place with the big drinks.

SCHWASS

00:02:42
I pour like three to four ounces of liquor and put the juice on the side.

WALKER

00:02:47
And by the juice, you mean like a chaser or...

SCHWASS

00:02:50
Yeah, the chaser. Yeah, then you mix it yourself, and so you get your own taste, you know, and how you like your drink.

WALKER

00:02:56
I've never seen that anywhere else. Where did you get that idea from?

SCHWASS

00:02:59
Well, Stan got that idea. That's the way he always did it, and I tried to change it, but it didn't work. They weren't going for that.

WALKER

00:03:10
According to bar regular Frances, those healthy pours have consequences.

FRANCES

00:03:16
You have to be careful, because you have to go back up the steps to the street. So, you have to keep that in mind. That's not so easy if you've had more than one or two.

WALKER

00:03:27
That's a very important point. When you're in a basement bar, you have to have an escape plan.

FRANCES

00:03:31
Yes. There has to be an escape plan, and one has to remember that.

WALKER

00:03:37
And many of the patrons at Stan's know that escape plan by heart. Joaquin Guevara has been serving the crowd here since 1987.

MR. JOAQUIN GUEVARA

00:03:45
I would say 98.5 percent regular customers, which you can see them almost every night.

WALKER

00:03:52
Those regulars help create an interesting and diverse atmosphere.

FRANCES

00:03:56
It's a bar where politics and sports and whatever's going on in the world is discussed by everybody. And it's kind of an interesting microcosm of the world, because you've got Democrats and Republicans, black and white, young and old. And it's just a good mix of folks to have conversations with.

WALKER

00:04:14
And you're also like in the shadow of the White House.

FRANCES

00:04:16
Yeah. Pretty much. Yeah. And so anybody could come in, and have.

WALKER

00:04:20
Because of that location, bar regular John Daniels says Stan's attracts a surprisingly international crowd.

MR. JOHN DANIELS

00:04:27
I've seen people from Russia, New Zealand, France, Georgia.

WALKER

00:04:32
John even met the love of his life in the bar.

DANIELS

00:04:35
I met my wife here at Stan's Restaurant, and we've been married ever since 1999, and we're still married today, and that was the best day of my life.

WALKER

00:04:45
According to bartender Kelley Kreidel, that's not uncommon. She estimates that about 30 couples have met here.

MS. KELLEY KREIDEL

00:04:51
I have served people that are throwing a birthday party for their parents, grown people, and they said their parents met at Stan's.

WALKER

00:04:57
John Daniels says there's no single reason why so many regulars have fallen in love throughout the years. The bar just sets the stage.

DANIELS

00:05:06
This is the place to come when you want to relax, have a good libation and good food.

WALKER

00:05:11
The mood lighting probably doesn't hurt either. I'm Jerad Walker.

SHEIR

00:05:17
Do you have a favorite dive bar we should visit? Email us at metro@wamu.org or send us a tweet. Our handle is @wamumetro.
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