WASHINGTON — Loads of new bars and restaurants open in the region every year, so here’s a toast to a bar in a building that’s been open for a whole century.
Walk up the front steps at Hank Dietle’s Tavern in Rockville, Maryland, and you walk back in time.
It used to be a country store with a hitching post out front.
A sign above the door reads “Established 1916,” and its beer and wine license is the first one ever issued in Montgomery County.
“To see something like this survive for 100 years, I think it’s amazing personally,” says customer Jeff Grimes.
The unapologetically no-frills bar has little décor, basic wooden booths and a single pool table.
“It’s kind of a rundown, hole-in-the-wall bungalow,” says patron James Theiss.
But that’s exactly what customers love about the Rockville Pike roadhouse that many people unknowingly drive right by.
“Not every bar in Washington, D.C., or Bethesda-Chevy Chase has to be a Hallmark moment. Sometimes it’s nice to just come to a pub, sit down and have a beer and complain about your boss,” says a customer who wanted to be identified only as Mike.
“It’s … pretty much the last standing bar where there’s no … dirty martinis and raspberry foam,” he adds.
What the bar does have, customers really like.
“The people are really good here. They’re really genuine,” says Theiss.
Mike says it’s the only watering hole he knows of where people talk about the bar while they’re in the bar.
“You’re not going to do that at TGI Friday’s. But folks come up here, they always have a story about the place — when they remember coming here with their grandfather (or) their dad.”
The bar is also known for hosting live music, especially its Rockabilly Saturday Nights.
While the tavern lives on, nearby White Flint Mall, built in the 1970s, was just demolished.
“I’m sad to see that go, but I’m happier that this is here,” Theiss says with a laugh.
We asked Grimes what will keep him coming back to Hank’s.
“The kind of laid-back attitude, the really kind of unpretentiousness of the place, and of course the cheap beer. I can’t emphasize the last one enough,” he says.
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