The Death Knell of Georgetown College Bars

The announcement yesterday of the imminent closure of the Rhino Bar means that come March, there will be no more “college bars” left in the heart of Georgetown. Just ten years ago, such an outcome would seem impossible, but after a few years of relentless closures, the inevitable has come about.

Just think back a few years ago and list the rowdy bars that almost exclusively attracted college-aged (or very recently graduated) patrons:

  • Third Edition: This one was legendary among GU students for its lax entry policies. And, of course, it was partially the model for the St. Elmo’s bar in St. Elmo’s Fire. It closed two years ago and became El Centro.
  • Garrett’s: GM spent many hours at this bar in his early 20s. He’s not sure why. It closed in 2011.
  • Mr. Smith’s: This piano bar abruptly closed last year, it immediately reopened in the space that Chadwick’s occupied. Which brings GM to:
  • Chadwick’s: GM can speak from a brief personal experience that this bar was popular with GU students (at least in the late 90s) and that its entry standards were largely to blame.
  • The Guards: This one was more popular with the post-collegiate set, particularly in W. Bush’s Washington when the formerly scuzzy basement became the still scuzzy Gryphon Room. There were lines of boat shoes out the door every Friday night.
  • Champions: This sports bar at the end of the alley next to Benetton entertained drunk college kids for years before it briefly became the upscale Blue Gin. That didn’t last long, and the old Champions returned for a little while longer before closing a few years ago.
  • Georgetown Billiards: GM loved this place. And it was popular with college kids primarily because you didn’t even need a fake ID to get in; it was 18 and over. This became the preppy list-restricted George-more popular with a slightly older 20-something crowd of transplant Southerners-which itself recently became Chinese Disco.

That’s just from the last couple years. Go back further and you add a string of legendary bars from Georgetown’s 80s heyday, like Charring Cross, Pall Mall, the Bayou, etc.

What’s a Hoya with a fake ID to do these days? There’s still Tombs (the other inspiration and filming location of St. Elmo’s Fire) and Chadwick’s under a new name is still basically Chadwick’s. But those are off the main drags. For the two spines of Georgetown-M and Wisconsin-the era of college bars is now closed.



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30 responses to “The Death Knell of Georgetown College Bars

  1. Not a fan of Rhino, but it’s a shame to see rising rents continue to reduce Georgetown’s diversity of storefronts.

  2. Looks like Old Glory is the last one standing

  3. you aint kiddin Timmy! So sad

  4. If you are talking the late 80s-early 90s, you forgot Winstons. It was the closest, the sleaziest, and the drunkest bar of them all.

  5. Rhino Bar is the old Winstons, which I agree was a staple for years. Equally lamentable was the disappearance of Philly Cheesesteak. At least Quick Pita lives on!!

  6. Winstons was the go-to spot in the mid 80’s. Jammed packed, upstairs and down. Very sad to see the continued gentrification of a once great area.

  7. I used to bartend at Winston’s in 1990/1991. Thursdays were the big nights– Georgetown/American University nights. Jammed upstairs and down. The other big draw was the $1 hamburger night with Gregorio the bar-back flipping the nastiest hamburgers allowed for human consumption. Not sure how Scott (the manager) kept a lid on that zoo. This really does cap a disturbing trend in the Wisconsin/M area…

  8. The Charing Cross. MD! MD!

  9. In my day. Gunchers, Olde Mac;s, Winstons, Paul Mall, Apple Pie, Chadwicks, Third Edition, Guards. Nathans, Tombs. F- Scotts just a few of the places I went to as a GU student.

  10. Not to forget Crazy Horse, Desperado’s, the Down Under

  11. Lets not forget Scandals which was definitely a college bar and the famous Tramp’s Discotheque both in the same building at corner of Wisconsin and Prospect!

  12. Not just Georgetown students, those spots were big draws for GW students in the 90s and 2000s (and before, too.) I went to all of those a lot when I was at GW from 98-02. Spent a lot of time at the tiki bar at Third Edition.

  13. Is everyone forgetting the Library? Started my bouncing career in that joint.

  14. I enjoyed F Scott’s on 36th and Prospect.

  15. I was a waiter at tended bar at Winstons in 78-80 glory days. We started DC’s Fastest Bartender, and Monday night Mike Nardello spinning tunes during “No Skin No Win” naked dance contest… Buddy Jenkins was Mgr. We locked the front doors and watched young co-eds from Marymout, Mount Vernon, GTown, UMD all neked and looking pretty good. NO SKIN NO WIN!!! A Classic.

  16. And Rugby. Rugby was my favorite.

  17. Winston’s, Pall Mall, Pierce Street Annex, Numbers, The Bayou, Bojangles, Windsor McKays, Abbey Road and Patton’s

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  21. Been to them all, Lets not forget The Cellar Door, The Bayou, The M club, oh my I know there’s a few I left out. Worked at The Crazy Horse and The Cellar Door. Knew the owner’s Sam, Jack, Dave. Those were the day’s.Let me tell you. I could go anywhere in Georgetown and not spend a dime. If I could turn back time!

  22. Oh yes the Pall Mall,Winston’s geeze

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  24. I was a bouncer at Crazy Horse. What about Chinese Disco?

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  29. Jim Brock

    Third edition was my go to spot from 92-96. I was pretty cool with the bartenders and doormen and lots of ladies (current and graduates). Great memories.

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