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Ode to Capitol Hill’s Li’l Pub

The Li’l Pub at 655 Pennsylvania Ave. SE closed its doors one week ago, but it’s still a sad sight to behold — its signage gone, along with another link to Capitol Hill’s gritty, working-class past.

Dead and gone. The former Li'l Pub on Capitol Hill. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)
Dead and gone. The former Li’l Pub on Capitol Hill. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

Prince of Petworth reported last month that the building was sold to the CVS next door, and the pub’s last day in business would be Jan. 6. Aside from the loss of something else that was simply quaint, it was one of the last places on Capitol Hill to shoot a game of pool.

It could be a surly spot — clashes being a bit inevitable when young urbanites and old contractors inhabit the same cramped space — but it was also a unique destination amid the general gussying up of Capitol Hill and its Eastern Market area.

It was a place bartenders and servers could go after their shifts. It was a place Bud wasn’t consumed ironically. It was a place that, several years after indoor smoking was banned, still smelled of tobacco. And it was one of the last connections to the old Little Tavern hamburger spots that used to dot the Mid-Atlantic. When you are featured in a Zippy the Pinhead comic strip, you know you’re true-blue Americana.

There are a few of the old repurposed Little Tavern buildings left here and there — a Subway sandwich shop near Union Market, a doughnut and burger place in Laurel, Md. — but the loss of this establishment feels particularly sad. The thought of it being used to store more toilet paper or topical analgesics just kind of stinks.

Adios, Li’l Pub.

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