Popular D.C. Bar To Close Doors

Congress will have one less watering hole this fall. This week the Hawk 'n' Dove, a popular bar for Capitol Hill lawmakers and other locals since it opened 44 years ago, announced that it has lost its lease and will shut down in October. The new owners plan to the convert the bar into a bistro.

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AUDIE CORNISH, host: Well, if any lawmakers were hoping to hash some of this out over a drink, we've got bad news. One of Capitol Hill's favorite watering holes is closing. For 44 years, the Hawk 'n' Dove was the preferred dive bar of politicos of every stripe.

STUART LONG: We were the scene of Patrick Kennedy's last escapade. We're always a hangout for Justice Douglas, Tony Coelho and the late Mickey Leland.

CORNISH: Stuart Long built the bar, and he says it's been a beloved hangout and hideout for everyone on this end of Pennsylvania Avenue - from House speakers to Capitol Hill interns.

LONG: I would say half the congressmen today who were previous staffers came through the Hawk 'n' Dove.

CORNISH: The bar first opened for business in 1967, at the height of the protests over the Vietnam War.

LONG: We were looking for a pub name that fit Capitol Hill. And people said that we were crazy because that would go out of vogue. But since Vietnam, there's Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya. There's always going to be hawks. There's always going to be doves.

CORNISH: Like these two young gentlemen, who dropped by for drinks at a recent Happy Hour.

ALEX STERN: I'm a hawk.

KEVIN OPP: I'm a dove.

(Soundbite of laughter) STERN: Yeah, we got the whole package, yeah.

CORNISH: Twenty-five-year-old Kevin Opp works at a pharmaceutical company. And his hawkish friend, Alex Stern, who's 23, works for - well, actually, rule one at the Hawk 'n' Dove: Never say the name of the member of Congress you work for. Conversations here are generally off-the-record, and you never know who's listening in at the next table or the bar.

ALYSON CHADWICK: When I moved here after college, this was the first bar I went to.

CORNISH: Thirty-six-year-old Alyson Chadwick writes political satire.

CHADWICK: I was sitting down at the other end of the bar and...

CORNISH: The bartender asked her how she first got into politics.

CHADWICK: And I said oh, when I was 8, I worked against this evil, evil man named Bill Carney from Long Island, who was a congressman. And the guy next to me said, you know, I'm Bill Carney. And he pulled out his old congressional ID. We started talking about that campaign back from when I was 8, and we're actually very good friends now. It's not going to be the Hill, exactly, without Hawk 'n' Dove.

CORNISH: Voices from the Hawk 'n' Dove on Capitol Hill. In a few weeks, the building's lease and the rights to the name of the bar are going to new tenants. A new bistro with the same name is set to open up sometime next year.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CORNISH: You're listening to NPR News.

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