Toledo Lounge Closed for Renovations, Will Likely Get a New Name

2435 18th Street, NW

Toledo Lounge is located at 2435 18th St. NW in Adams Morgan. It was sold back in Feb. ’11 to the owners of the Black Squirrel and Ventnor Cafe. We rejudged them back in June 2011. The folks at Meze next door believe the renovations will be fairly extensive and Toledo Lounge will be re-branded with a new name. We’ll be sure to revisit as renovations progress.

47 Comment

  • I went on Toledo Lounge’s official website and read this note:

    “With the rebirth of Adams Morgan under way following the completion of the streetscape project last month, Toledo Lounge is taking a well-deserved break after 18 years of operation. This pause will allow the management team to tweak this and that, plus make a few adjustments to the space that will appeal to the increasingly upscale patrons who descend on the neighborhood. This is to thank all the supporters, well-wishers and interested parties. This also is to express the heartfelt desire to see you soon.”

    As my friend put it, they have completely misread this situation. My friends and I loved the original Toledo Lounge BECAUSE it did not appeal to the “upscale,” i.e. douchy, crowd in Adams Morgan. It was a quiet chill neighborhood joint with reasonable prices and good people and a welcoming atmosphere. The old Toledo Lounge was a respite from the usual fare and it’s a shame that the new owners didn’t see it for what it was and what made it so special, popular and probably profitable, and now want to turn it into some fancy craft beer tapas outpost just like everything else on 18th Street stretch.


    • they had really tasty grilled cheese back in the day. i’ve been once since the new owners bought it. wasn’t the same…

      c’est la vie

    • Could not agree more.

    • + 84 billion. IThis will end badly.

    • Toledo Lounge was the dive that DC deserved.

      Amazingly cheap happy hour food, great music, just the right amount of grime… I remember you could get a yuengling pint for 3 bucks. Now i believe the cheapest beer there is 7 dollars.

      With the death of Asylum and the renovations in the Raven there is no where left for broke weirdos to hang out.

      The closing of new Toledo is exactly what you get when you turn a perfectly lovable dive into another in a long string of douchey bars in an insufferable neighborhood. the black squirrel guys really screwed up. Their punishment must be more severe.

      • i haven’t been in a while, but my favorite dive was always velvet. how’s that place holding up?

      • Renovations at the Raven? Is that why there are holes in the ceiling?

        No disrespect, Raven… I kid because I love.

      • Also you can get a Genessee Cream Ale at Wonderland for 3 bucks, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

      • Come on. The “renovations” at the Raven consisted of them adding some space to the back and a new window in the front. Same juke box, same crappy booths, same potato chip rack, same posters of dead famous people, same 10 beers to choose from. It’s still the Raven.

  • This is sad but probably for the best. I was a fan of Ye Olde Toledo Lounge. They had a very well curated jukebox in addition to the cheap beer and surprisingly good food. I was hoping that the Black Squirrel guys, who really seem to care about beer and the neighborhood, would be able to keep it running. Unfortunately, it turned into Zombie Toledo Lounge. Looked similar but was just wrong. I wandered past on Friday night, there were maybe 5 people inside and, while I wanted to support them, it’s just too depressing going in.

    I wish Ye Olde Toledo Lounge was still up and running but, if I can’t have that, I’d rather have something new (preferably not ‘upscale’ though – screw that). In the meantime, I’ll be at Pharmacy Bar listening to ZZ Top and Grinderman.

    • The Pharmacy Bar is just about the last bastion of an era gone by in Adams Morgan. I hope it never changes, but I suppose even THAT is wishful thinking.

      That right-wing nutjob who bought the Toledo Lounge totally destroyed its soul when it was reopened 18 months ago. What further damage could they possibly do to it now?

  • After the new owners reopened Toledo, we stopped going after we saw the typical over-worked tapas on the menu, and they couldn’t make a dirty gin martini. They said no.

    After that, we’d always could the number of people at this place, and I don’t think we ever saw more than 10 people in there at a time. No wonder they’re re-re-viving it. Good luck to you, and thanks again for robbing us of a perfectly good no nonsense bar.

  • I completely agree with all of you… I wish some of these bars would figure out how to cater to the weekday residents who want to find a good neighborhood spot and drop money there (but maybe not $6/beer). I -loved- the old Toledo, but after the sale, it just didn’t work.

    I stopped in last week and asked about their $2/beer and it turned out to be cans of Coors or something like that. I mean, at least class it up enough to sell me a Natty Bo or something (heh heh heh). The bait and switch didn’t bode well and I moved on (ironically to Bourbon, where I paid $6 for a beer to be in a place that at least had some ambiance and other people).

    What do we do to encourage owners to bring in new bars/restaurants that don’t cater to either a) the well-paid lawyer/lobbyist types or b) the Friday/Saturday night mess? There has to be a middle ground (I mean, for goodness sake: I’m even happy paying $6 for a beer, but not $6 for three or four beers).

    • That’s exactly right. I don’t think we were “robbed” of a good bar. Toledo was dying a slow death and the new guys stepped in to keep it going…as far as I could tell, anyway.

      Places like Smoke and Barrel (which is now my favorite place on 18th St) do well with their $5 taco Tuesday nights and $5 whiskey Wednesdays. A divey version of that would be great.

    • If you want cheaper beer, start asking property owners to lower the rent. Bar owners can’t afford $2 beer. And then there’s escalating wholesale food prices as well…

      • I’d rather there be people there than cheap beer necessarily. What’s the draw? What took me to Tryst (and then Bourbon when Tryst was full?) last night? That’s the key. The new Toledo just pissed me off.

  • Sad, but it was time to put the old girl out of her misery.

  • R.I.P. Toledo Lounge

  • Probably once a week, when discussing food options with a friend, one of us will say: “I could REALLY go for an order of Lounge nachos right now!”

    When The Lounge closed, which was admittedly my version of Cheers (as it was for many on here, it seems), going out and getting a few beers lost its luster for me. I actually think that they did a decent job classing up the place, but they lost the vibe and the people (and yes, the staff was incredibly surly at the old Toledo, and that’s how I liked it!). Just like the argument that U street has been “swagger-jacked” (and btw, anyone using the term swag or swagger these days needs to be smacked), I think 18th street lost all of its grit and vibe, and not in an upscale-classy-establishment kind of way…mostly just in increased douchery.

    But those Lounge nachos…? *tear trickles down cheek*

    • zrc, the douche has been there since the late 90’s, at least! It’s actually getting ever so slightly better. It’s lost the grit to an extent, but in Admo’s case, I don’t think that’s a terrible thing. It was never overly gritty to begin with in the last 15 years.

      • I have lived in Adams Morgan since the late 90s, so I guess I was part of the first doucherification wave! 😉

        But at least there were a few outposts of places that were about being bars vs. being clubs. Places like Asylum, Toledo, Pharmacy, Common Share, and Bedrock (how come Bedrock never gets mentioned here? Do people hate basements?) were far too grungy for the beautiful people and kept a place for poor deadbeats to hang out. There’s not a lot of places for the weirdos anymore…

        But that said, I’m older now, and I don’t go out much if I’m not gigging. So I’d rather hang out at a place like Mintwood Place anyways, and avoid the amateurs who drink too much… 😉

  • Chalk it up to the further gentrification of DC. When you have up and coming places like Shaw and H St NE only opening upscale bars that serve craft beer for $7, then you’re going to see the same thing happen in areas that are already gentrified. The Brickskeller is another example of a long coveted dive that could no longer survive in the new market.

    As owners retire and sell, or landlords continue to jack up rental prices, the remaining few dives will disappear as well.

  • I tried repeatedly to like this place. I was thrilled web it was renovated because I hate nasty dirty places. But. BUT. Even I have to admit that along with the grime and sludge, they scrubbed the place of its soul. It was dead everything I went. The new menu equating Toledo Ohio to Toledo Spain? Come onnnnn. And the prices? Terrible. And the service? Abhorrent. Seriously the worst bunch of people I’ve vet encountered in the service industry. Where did you find them? Was it their first day and were they tricked into doing the work? The whole operation was an abortion. And, really, what else could be expected from that asshat who owns ventnors? Talk about douche bags…. Sorry to see those folks from black squirrel have their name on this, they seem ok.

  • RIP Common Share

  • Why no love for Angles? Right next door to Pharmacy. Neighborhood, non-douchey crowd, reasonable prices, good food. It’s pretty much the one oasis of sanity on 18th Street.

    • I heard long ago that Angles shares their kitchen/cooks with Little Fountain, which is why the food is so good. Truth?

      • Angles and Little Fountain are the same place. One’s a bar and one’s a restaurant, but it’s the same kitchen, same ownership, etc. Angles has its own bar-themed menu, but you can order from the Little Fountain menu as well.

    • Angles is awesome. Good food, old bartenders, cheap beer, never crowded (which I guess is why no one ever brings it up).

  • RIP Toledo Lounge, snif snif. Back in the day we used to wait outside for them to open up on 1/2 price burger Sundays- with those yummy yummy onion rings and waffle fries. Not to mention cheap good beers and good staff and music. The real deal. You will be missed.

  • i was (briefly) a “bouncer” at the pharmacy bar in the mid-90s. i don’t go back to my old neighborhood much, but pharmacy, bedrock and toledo had a really nice atmosphere and cheap beer. sad to see toledo go….but as for the comment that it was sad that it was sold to some guys who were to the far right….weren’t the original owners of the toledo lounge sisters who worked for conservative think tanks? i don’t care about someone’s politics that much when they are pouring me a drink….

    • Yep, the Abbajay sisters were the original owners and were Republican loonies. Thankfully they stayed out of the picture for the most part and hired decent people to run their bar for them.

  • Whatever happened to that awesome homeless guy Tom White. He always reeked of Jack Daniels and Budweiser. It was amazing he made it past 8pm every night!

  • The old Toledo was one of those divey places that seemed like it would be there forever – until it was gone. Went once to the new Toledo. When the waitress said they were modeled after Toledo, Spain, I just laughed. But she was serious. They had some good beers but it could’ve been an upspcale bar anywhere. All the character was gone.

  • You’re crying over a corpse. Toledo died a long time ago, as soon as they replaced those decrepit bench seats with the holes in ‘em and started selling f’n Tapas. We went back one last time a couple weeks ago and they had rid themselves of that silly concept at least. Either way…here’s what’s wrong with Adams Morgan:

    Landlords. They are raising their rent because they see more and more “fancy” bars/restaurants opening up on and around 18th…the problem is…18th Street is not U St or 14th St. And it never will. This crowd will always be young-ish and raucous and mainly a Fri-Sat night crowd. ALSO, the days of Adams Morgan being a major happy hour draw Mon-Thur are all but dead. Too many other neighborhoods closer to downtown drawing away attention. Landlords…stop raising rent or your storefront will be empty!

    Idiot “business” owners: Like I said, 18th Street will never be 14th Street. Pie tried, Slaviya (sp?) tried, Jack Rose is trying (we’ll see). We’ve got that little strip of Columbia road between Biltmore and Mintwood if you want to be fancy. My favorite new joke of a restaurant/bar is that f’n insanely stupid Southern Hospitality, or “SoHo” to you! Some dummy bartender at that yuppie joint even said to me “We want to be like Lauriol Plaza”. Are you kidding? On 18th and Columbia? Next to a Korean birthday cake store and around the corner from little El Salvador? Ha! Are you f’n stupid? You took one of the most quintessential AdMo local bars, and have tried to open a bar for kids with helicopter parents (and their money) and yuppie lawyers from Kalorama Triangle…you exclude smoking AND dogs outside…and you want to be Lauriol?!? Dude…that’s three strikes. I sincerely hope this venture bankrupts you! You “business” types are perpetually believing your own hype and lies about the neighborhood and you will crash…and you will hurt 18th Street when you do!

    Other notes:
    Raven is still a nice dive bar…don’t hate because they added a back room where 15 more people can stand and/or sit. Yeah, that TV is a bit out of place, but having that extra space is worth having to watch the fishes swim around…and around…and around.

    I didn’t want to type it out for all to read, but somebody already said it…Angles is one of the best “regular” bars on 18th. Almost exclusively locals – and no pretentious people. We’re all “just average” looking here. I love the fact that the hottest person there, almost every time, is the 45+ year old, cigarette smoking Australian bartender (she’s pretty awesome!). And Norm is one of the craziest, out-there dudes around.

    Pharmacy, Millie & Al’s, and even Dan’s Cafe before the college crowd roles in, are all great “regular” bars on 18th. Chief Ike’s on Columbia is good for this same environment and Stetson’s on U and 17th is still good too. All close enough for my needs. Millie & Al’s and Dan’s both own their respective buildings so they’re not going away anytime soon. Don’t know about the rest.

    And t o all those other “Toledo’s” out there: F you for charging me $7 for an American-sized “pint”, probably brewed within a couple hundred miles of here (local doesn’t = more expensive!), and you’re only selling it for that much because the name is 5 words long. Get over yourselves!

    • Hey Other Jason, your ignorance is only surpassed by your ‘other’ ignorance. Most bars don’t charge the prices they do just the name sounds good or cool, they charge that because in order to stay in business they have to pay the bills and the only way to do that is to charge enough for the beer and food to not only pay the bills but also put a little in their pocket.

      Toledo and Asylum died because they were outdated and ill attended by customers and untended by the owners. In other words, THEY RAN OUT OF MONEY! Rent is high everywhere so if you want cheap then go to the only place left in NW that is cool and cheap, Red Derby. It’s far enough out that the rents are still cheap or in their case, the building they bought was cheap.

      Finally, stop blaming the owners of these dives that go bye-bye and start blaming yourselves. If you want dives to survive, go more often, bring friends, spend more money and be proactive about helping them stay afloat. Otherwise, their all going bye-bye.

      • Listen dude, I do/did go to those places, often actually. Enough that some of the long time staff bemoaned to me the crazy rent increases they were seeing…higher spikes then in previous years to be exact. Which in some cases lead directly to closures or buy-outs.

        And no, I will not buy into your “higher rent is the only reason they’re charging more money” theory. Why do pro athletes get so much money? Because they can. Why do bars (like Bar Pilar for example) charge more than they should for the product… because they can…and why? Because idiots go there thinking $12 for a cocktail must mean I’m in a hip place. You’re telling me that the $17 meatloaf at Southern Hospitality is only $17 because they have high rent?

        And I wasn’t blaming the business owners of the dive bars…but of the newer “fancy” joints that are springing up.

        Dude, take your GW or American college buddies, or your kickball team and dad’s credit card to SoHo or Jack Rose all you want. I’d rather have you out there anyway then sitting at my favorite table at Angles.

  • What’s with all the “RIP Toledo” comments? The time to say that was many months ago when the only Toledo Lounge that matters closed and was replaced by some sorry-ass place that used the same name. I took one look at the place and knew I had no reason to go in…they ruined it.

  • The real Toledo Lounge died in March 2011 when the original owners sold it to the d-bags that are the current owners. Can’t stand Ventnors and Black Squirrel, so not at all surprised that they f-d up the Lounge. And yes, the old Toledo Lounge crew – John and the rest of the gang – were awesome. Some of the best people on 18th street. I miss them!

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