In all fairness, it’s been decades since Chief Ike’s was at its peak hipness. When the bar opened in July 1992, it quickly became a hotspot for Clinton staffers and their Hollywood friends. “George Clooney used to come here, and we saw Steven Soderbergh a few times,” says Jirikowic. They’d dance to funk and samba spun by Stella Neptune — back when she was a DJ rather than a clothing designer.
Today, you’re more likely to find teetering bachelorettes and college kids looking for (relatively) cheap drinks at Ike’s undulating countertop — but not enough of them to keep the lights on.
So Jirikowic is retiring. He plans to write a personal history of D.C. and hopes to publish it next year.
“It’s been a tough go for Ike’s for a while now, just like it’s been for a lot of places in Adams Morgan,” says manager Alan Beal.
Inside the bar, the walls are covered in trippy paintings: day-of-the-dead skeletons and Marion Barry riding a lion, and the bar’s namesake in a feathered headdress.
“The name came from when I was 4, and I saw a picture of Eisenhower in a ceremonial headdress,” says Jirikowic. “For years I thought the president of the United States was an Indian.”
Pretty soon, those murals will be painted over and the space will probably end up becoming an upscale yuppie restaurant, Jirikowic says.
“That’s the way the neighborhood seems to be going,” he says. “Adams Morgan lost its funk, it really did.”