MS. REBECCA SHEIR
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
What is a dive bar?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1
The glorious dump.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2
It's gotta have an interesting staff and an interesting crowd.
It's gotta be dark. It's gotta be old. Typically, it's gotta be cheap.
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
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
Were there bars like this back home?
Every other bar in New Orleans, yeah. I mean, there are lots and lots of dive bars in New Orleans.
Were you happy to find a place like this?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
What is the tradition here?
The large drinks and good food and good conversation and wonderful people.
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.
I pour like three to four ounces of liquor and put the juice on the side.
And by the juice, you mean like a chaser or...
Yeah, the chaser. Yeah, then you mix it yourself, and so you get your own taste, you know, and how you like your drink.
I've never seen that anywhere else. Where did you get that idea from?
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.
According to bar regular Frances, those healthy pours have consequences.
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.
That's a very important point. When you're in a basement bar, you have to have an escape plan.
Yes. There has to be an escape plan, and one has to remember that.
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
I would say 98.5 percent regular customers, which you can see them almost every night.
Those regulars help create an interesting and diverse atmosphere.
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.
And you're also like in the shadow of the White House.
Yeah. Pretty much. Yeah. And so anybody could come in, and have.
Because of that location, bar regular John Daniels says Stan's attracts a surprisingly international crowd.
MR. JOHN DANIELS
I've seen people from Russia, New Zealand, France, Georgia.
John even met the love of his life in the bar.
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.
According to bartender Kelley Kreidel, that's not uncommon. She estimates that about 30 couples have met here.
MS. KELLEY KREIDEL
I have served people that are throwing a birthday party for their parents, grown people, and they said their parents met at Stan's.
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.
This is the place to come when you want to relax, have a good libation and good food.
The mood lighting probably doesn't hurt either. I'm Jerad Walker.
Do you have a favorite dive bar we should visit? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a tweet. Our handle is @wamumetro.
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