On Oct. 28, the 200 or so employes of the Flagship Restaurant showed up for work at the Southwest Washington establishment to find a curt notice on the door saying the restaurant was closed.
A news story in this newspaper the next day quoted one of them: "It was rumored for the past couple of months that the owners were going to sell the Flagship, but the managers denied the rumor."
But anyone who might have checked the filing of liquor license applications at the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board could have confirmed the rumor. Application 820 was filed Oct. 23 -- five days before the restaurant closure -- seeking to transfer the license from the old Flagship to a new corporation, Phillips Flagship Inc., owned by the Maryland buyers who plan to reopen next year. The hearing is set for Dec. 4.
The old Flagship, the one on the north side of Maine Avenue opposite the Municipal Fish Market building that, sadly, was torn down in the early 1960s to make way for the substructure of a Southwest Freeway bridge, was an intimate and friendly place, even if hectic during the lunch rush. My introduction in the late 1950s was courtesy of John R. Searles Jr., executive director of the D.C. Redevelopment Land Agency.
The RLA later chose Flagship, along with another displaced Southwest restaurant, Hogates, to occupy waterfront sites. The new establishments were bigger and flashier and bore the same name, but somehow things never were the same. Sad for the customers and, as it turned out in the end, shabby for Flagship employes.