Hank Dietle’s owners hope to complete bar’s resurrection by year’s end

From Bethesda Beat

The owners of the Hank Dietle’s Tavern in North Bethesda say the once-popular bar could reopen by the end of the year — but they worry that followers might not come back quickly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dietle’s was destroyed by a fire in the early morning hours of Valentine’s Day 2018. Montgomery County Fire & Rescue officials said at the time that the fire was caused by a discarded cigarette that hadn’t been extinguished.

PHOTO BY DAN SCHERE of BETHESDA BEAT

At the time of the fire, the bar was 102 years old and held the distinction of being the first establishment in the county to hold a beer and wine license.

In the years since the fire, there has been a movement to rebuild the bar. Thomas Bowes, a former band booker for the bar, along with his wife, Sarah Bonner, and photographer Alan Kresse, signed a 10-year-lease for the property at 11010 Rockville Pike in September 2019.

The owners hoped to have the bar open earlier this year, but the pandemic delayed the process, Bowes told Bethesda Beat on Wednesday.

Bowes said the owners had to reformat their plans for the bar and resubmit them to the county’s Department of Permitting Services since the staff is working from home during the pandemic, which contributed to the delays over the summer.

Bowes said that in the next couple of weeks, he expects new glass panels to be installed in the windows and the bathrooms to be finished. Then, the bar and kitchen areas will be built, he said.

“Then, we’ll go ahead and finish insulating the ceiling and drywall. And then, once we get done with that, we’ll start paneling the room,” he said.

Bowes said if all goes according to plan, Dietle’s will be open by December. But the timeline for how quickly the bar’s faithful return is uncertain as long as there are capacity limits during the pandemic, he said.

Read the rest of the story at https://bethesdamagazine.com/bethesda-beat/business/hank-dietles-owners-hope-to-complete-bars-resurrection-by-years-end/

Hank Dietle’s Owners Targeting Spring for Reopening

From Bethesda Beat

The new owners of Hank Dietle’s Tavern in North Bethesda are targeting the spring for a possible reopening of the popular dive bar, which closed following a massive fire in February 2018.

The owners say that they don’t have a definite opening date yet, but when the bar reopens, it will feature a greater variety of live music, and bands booked on more days of the week.

The new owners include Thomas Bowes; his wife, Sarah Bonner; and photographer Alan Kresse. They announced on Facebook on Wednesday that they had signed a general contractor to finish work on the property and that there would soon be a fundraiser concert.

Bowes said in an interview Wednesday that instead of only booking bands on weekends, as the bar used to do, they would book bands on multiple days during the week. He said new music genres could include bluegrass, Roots rock ‘n’ roll, blues, soul and rockabilly.

“We’re gonna continue as a music venue and we’re gonna add more types of music for a wider variety of fans,” he said.

Bowes added that they are looking at the possibility of putting in a stage.

When Dietle’s reopens, it will be garnished with a replica of the iconic “Hank Dietle’s Cold Beer” sign, accompanied by the Coca-Cola logo. The original sign was destroyed in the fire.

Dietles is officially one of the best dive bars in the DC metro area

From The Washington Post:

Hank Dietle’s

11010 Rockville Pike, Rockville. 301-881-8711.

The temperature outside hovers in the mid-70s, but inside Hank Dietle’s, it feels like a sauna. It smells like a latrine, too. A couple of fans move the hot air around, providing not a single cool breeze in the process. The smart ones are drinking beer on the front porch, which hasn’t changed much since 1916, when Dietle’s was known as Offutt’s, a general store situated on the oldest road in Montgomery County.

James, a former Marine, sits at the end of the bar, apparently oblivious to the creature discomforts. James is leathery and muscular, still sporting a military-style buzz cut. He’s wearing a Justin Hayward Band concert T-shirt and working his way through a pack of L&M menthol cigarettes and a pitcher of beer. He likes it when Dietle’s is slow. The pool table is always available, and he can play whatever he wants on the jukebox.

Besides, when Dietle’s is dead, James takes it upon himself to serve as the bar’s guardian angel, watching over Marcia, a bartender who’s pulling yet another double shift. She looks to be the only employee in the place, although she seems unfazed by the situation. She’s sitting in a wicker captain’s stool, her feet propped up on the counter, reading her phone and looking as tough as Hillary Clinton on a military plane.

As the oldest bar in Montgomery County — its Class D beer-and-wine license was the first issued after Prohibition — Dietle’s has outlasted some tumultuous times. It survived the opening of White Flint Mall (now all but a memory). It survived the construction of the Metro Red Line (whose workers apparently drank at Dietle’s when their shift ended). It survived a coldblooded murder in the bar’s parking lot in 1972. And it’s surviving the craft cocktail movement.

These days, on Saturdays, Dietle’s showcases rockabilly bands, a throwback sound at a throwback roadhouse. One of the ensembles apparently purchased a microwave for the bar, which is strange, because Dietle’s doesn’t offer food (although the Corned Beef King truck is often parked outside). The microwave, James says, is not for customers, but for the staff. The musicians wanted to make sure the employees could feed themselves, so Dietle’s can continue feeding regulars a slice of Rockville history.

Founded: 1916.
Decor: Tile floor, old wooden booths with rigid backs, wooden walls decorated with framed photo collages, arcade games and a jukebox. A roadhouse with a sense of history.
Signature drink: None.

 

 

 

Happy Anniversary, Dietle’s

The Pike District isn’t only about the new; there’s also the historic. Hank Dietle’s Tavern on Rockville Pike is celebrating its 100 year anniversary this year. Dietle’s opened in 1916 as Offutt’s, a general store and filling station.  Hank Dietle took over in the 1950s when the tavern served as a pit stop for drivers making their way down Rockville Pike. Deitle’s received the first beer and wine license ever issued in Montgomery County.

Washingtonian Magazine wrote a terrific feature about Dietle’s Tavern that you can read here.