At Stoney's, Everything Old Is New Again
Friday, January 19, 2007
The patches are behind glass now. The grease and sweat and smoke and grime accumulated over a few decades on an L Street wall have been cordoned off, sealed away in a shiny new frame that can be polished at any moment with a spritz of Windex.
They're not, though, sitting in boxes anymore.
As for Tony Harris, the beloved curmudgeon who has owned Stoney's Bar & Grill for more than half of his 67 years, well, he's doing a bit more sitting these days. His body no longer seems to want to stand behind the bar for hours at a time. But he's happy to give you a hard time from the comfort of a bar stool, if that's what you're after.
"Hey, Freddy! Freddy!" Harris yells, loud enough to turn heads throughout the pub in the Logan Circle area of P Street. "Freddy, how long have you been with me?"
"Twenty-four years," says Cigifredo Guzman, a slight, skull-capped man in a chef's jacket, who is then quickly dispatched for a plate of corn bread.
There is discrepancy on the 24 years, and on more than a few spindles of Stoney's lore, but Harris's point is that the story isn't over.
"It was a good move up here. It's an area that's booming right now," insists the man who was forced to close the watering hole's L Street NW business last year. "I don't know if we did something right or something wrong, but we're still here. Hopefully we made people happy."
We'll let a few stalwarts play judge on that.
"Here's the test," Mike Martin says as he pulls open a laminated Stoney's menu. Martin was a longtime regular at the old place, just across the street from his office at the American Postal Workers Union. Like everyone who had been there more than once, the bartenders knew his name, knew his order, knew what to tease him about.
"Looks the same," Martin says.
"Looks the same," agrees his friend Sara McLaren.
Actually, it's not quite the same. The quesadillas are new. There were four draft beers on tap before; now there are 12. Probably on L Street the wine selections were never described as "refreshingly crisp with hints of grapefruit."