Correction to This Article
An earlier version of this story misstated how The Argonaut has used $10,000 in donations.

Fire, then Jeep's theft, but Argonaut bar manager still sees glass as half-full

By Stephanie Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Scott Magnuson, general manager of the Argonaut, may want to consider hunting for four-leaf clovers or tossing salt over his shoulder.

First, the bar on H Street NE was forced to shut down after the kitchen caught fire in late June, causing as much as $250,000 in damage.

Then thieves broke in, ransacking quarters from the gum-ball machine, Magnuson said.

And in the latest in what might be considered a string of bad luck, Magnuson's red Jeep was apparently stolen Saturday morning. He said he parked it behind a CVS on Bladensburg Road, ran in to pick up a prescription and returned to discover that it was no longer there.

Police found the battered vehicle in an abandoned yard nearby. Missing were a GPS device and $800 in cash -- most of which came from a fundraiser for the Argonaut on Thursday, Magnuson said. His business partner, Joe Englert, has pledged to replace the stolen funds.

"The past three weeks have been a little less than desirable," Magnuson said.

This isn't the first time a Jeep has been stolen from under Magnuson's nose. Five years ago, he said, a friend's Jeep, which he had borrowed, was taken in broad daylight. Two years ago, a thief drove away in the Jeep that had been parked in front of Magnuson's house. And last year, on two occasions, Magnuson walked out of his house to find someone trying to steal the vehicle.

But life isn't all doom and gloom, Magnuson said. The Argonaut has raised about $10,000 in donations to support the salaries of its full-time staff as the bar undergoes repairs, thanks to widespread community support. And the upstairs bar and patio are set to reopen Wednesday.

Magnuson said the recent events have been unfortunate but not necessarily unlucky.

"You have to start laughing about it," he said. "If you start looking at it and thinking of yourself as an unlucky person, your luck's going to stay unlucky."

He paused, then added, "I do think it is time to get a new vehicle."

© 2010 The Washington Post Company