Hank Dietle’s Tavern finds new identity after devastating fire

Hank Dietle’s Tavern finds new identity after devastating fire

Photo from Bethesda Magazine

From Bethesda Magazine

Hank Dietle’s Tavern, Montgomery County’s oldest roadhouse with ties to the early 1900’s, was devastated by a fire in 2018.

The fire broke out at Hank Dietle’s Tavern on Valentine’s Day in 2018. It took 15 minutes and 75 firefighters to get the fire under control. The Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service estimated the damage at $500,000.

Josh Arnson, a regular at Dietle’s, had been connected to the business since the late 1970s, when he attended school just 3 miles away. Arnson, 58, left the area in 1984 to attend the University of Pittsburgh, then lived in Texas, New York City and Los Angeles, playing in bands all along the way, before moving to Takoma Park in 2004.

When news of the fire reached Arnson, he was distraught. “I started crying. Our venue, our clubhouse, this little piece of Montgomery County history was gone.” Driving to the bar about 3:30 that afternoon, Arnson turned those feelings into lyrics, formulating and singing “Hank Dietle’s Blues” in the style of 1920s country singer Jimmie Rodgers.

Over three years later, Dietle’s had been rebuilt. Outside stood a tall, brightly lighted sign—instantly recognizable to frequent Rockville Pike travelers—proclaiming “HANK DIETLE’S COLD BEER” in top billing over a bright red Coca-Cola logo. It’s a replica of the sign that stood outside the building before the fire—a metaphor for something that looks the same, but isn’t.

Read the rest of the article at Bethesda Magazine.

Amy Ginsburg

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