This weekend was the last for Furin’s, a beloved neighborhood bakery/diner in Georgetown. The closing might have gone unnoticed by all but loyal regulars — until Thursday, when Karl Rove mourned the loss in the Wall Street Journal.
“When the restaurant closes Sunday, 14 people will lose their jobs,” wrote Rove. “Its patrons will lose a favorite joint, and the neighborhood will lose some sense of community. . .It is in large part the result of the economy that Mr. Obama owns.”
This was more than partisan bickering — this was personal for Rove. “He was doing it for me — let’s put it that way,” owner Bernie Furin told us.
The two men, both Republicans, became friends years ago. The GOP strategist — who calls Bernie “Mr. Furin” — made a final trip to the restaurant Sunday morning for his favorite dish (“He loves our pancakes,” said Furin) and walked out for the last time hugging the staff and saying goodbye. “He was very emotional.”
For 27 years, Furin’s was a cozy neighborhood hangout — tile floor, tin ceiling, oilcloth tablecloths — at Pennsylvania and M streets NW, a homey alternative to the Four Seasons across the street. George Will was a regular; assorted celebrities popped in. But it was the regulars — they showed up on 9/11 and right after a big snowstorm — who made it a Washington institution.
“My idea was to be a small place — like having friends over to your house for a meal,” said Furin, 77. His wife Wendy and son Chris manned the counters, serving up breakfast, lunch — and cupcakes before they were ubiquitous.
As Rove himself acknowledged, there is no one reason when a small business shuts its door. But catering orders dropped, more big chains moved nearby, and it was finally time to call it quits.
The last few days were rough; Sunday was “a nightmare,” said Furin. “We’ve had quite a few customers come in crying.”
The family sold the building a couple of months ago; its future is unclear. Chris will move his cake business to the Internet. His dad says he’s looking to slow down — working maybe four days a week.