During the NFC Championship game, the line of 49ers fans waiting to get into Town Tavern spilled out the door and down 18th Street. And San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee and rapper MC Hammer were in the crowd cheering on their team. It was a far cry from the previous three seasons, when 50 to 60 people at most would show up at the bar.
The Washington 49ers fan group was founded in 2009 at a Dupont Circle bar called Porter's, which quickly became a hangout for San Francisco Giants fans, too.
"I had just moved here," recalls San Francisco native Catie Bailard. "I walked [into a 49ers game watch gathering] wearing my Joe Montana jersey, and I was like, 'Oh, my god, I'm home.'"
But when Porter's closed a year later, the groups split. Giants fans began watching games at Town Tavern (thanks to a former Porter's bartender), and 49ers fans moved to Sign of the Whale (following another Porter's bartender). In 2010, the groups reunited at Town Tavern.
"When the Giants were in the playoffs, we'd watch Niners games at Town Tavern, and stick around and watch Giants games," says Andrew Grinberg, another San Francisco native who lived in Washington for four years before returning to the Bay area. "There are a lot of people from the Bay area in D.C., and it spread by word of mouth."
The growing interest in watching Colin Kaepernick and Co. is a small worry for Bailard, who organizes the weekly events. "We're very passionate," she says, "and the interest exceeds the capacity of Town Tavern." So get there early on Sunday, when specials include domestic beers for $3 a pint and $8 a pitcher and $5 baskets of wings.