Another End of an Era – Murphy’s Closing in Woodley Park Sunday – Fine Italian Dining Coming?

Photo of 2609 24th St, NW, by Connecticut and Calvert, around the corner from Open City via Murphy’s

A couple weeks ago, after Duffy’s closed, we talked about the best regular bars left in DC – Murphy’s was number 10 on my list. Ugh.

A couple readers send the sad word:

“I heard from the management of Murphy’s of DC (2609 24th St NW) that the establishment will permanently close this Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 after last call. Its lease was not renewed, and in its place is supposed to be a fine dining Italian restaurant, no additional details available right now. Enjoy the fireplace and neighborhood vibe while you can. 30+ years of memories for some who worked there from around the time it opened.”

I’ve called to confirm and it’s true – they’ll be closing after last call on Sunday because they weren’t able to renew their lease. Updates on the Italian restaurant when/if more info is known.

For those not familiar, Murphy’s website says:

Since the day we first opened our doors on March 17th 1986, Murphy’s® of D.C. has been the home of Irish hospitality in the nation’s capital. Our extensive menu specializing in delicious pub fare coupled with the finest beverages has been pleasing Washingtonians and visitors to our city alike for over twenty-three years.

Our guests have a choice of seating, ranging from our comfortable upholstered window seat booths, wooden tables as well as stools at our long traditional solid wood bar. A year round seating option is our newly renovated and spacious sidewalk patio. Though most popular in D.C.’s warmest months, the awning and heating system ensure our guests comfort during our city’s cooler months also. During winter months our guests enjoy the three sided wood burning fireplace inside. Whether warming your hands beneath the mantle adorned with an antique forge bellows, or basking in the glow of the flames from across the pub, the fireplace is a gathering spot and a symbol of fáilte, the Irish word for welcome.

Murphy’s® of D.C. showcases the best in live Irish entertainment. Whether playing traditional Irish pub songs or more contemporary rock and folk, our musicians all make sure the crowd has fun. From almost any spot inside the pub guests are treated to sporting events and news reports on one of our large flat screen televisions.

Our friendly and attentive staff will be glad you stopped by. Stay for the craic and raise a toast with us: Slainte! to your very good health!

43 Comment

  • FtLincolnLove

    NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! I WISH THIS WASN’T TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  • Jesus. This town has almost no Irish bars as it is and we lose two great ones in a month. sooner or later people are going to get sick of small plates and wish there were more of these places around.

    • Yeah, sadly everything in DC is now just a heavily branded, concept restaurant. Not that those types of restaurants are bad – I initially welcomed them, but now it’s just that every new restaurant follows the same tired format. DC’s never been terribly good a organically integrating/promoting diversity (even though ironically its a very diverse city): it shows in how people interact here (people tend to stick to their own “kind”), and that carries over to business trends as well (let’s open up 15 craft burger places all at once in the same neighborhood, let’s open up 10 ramen shops all at once in the same neighborhood, …you get the idea).

      • So true. The “people tend to stick to their own kind” thing is very much a symptom of the Southernness of this town, of which many people, particularly newcomers, are in denial.

        • I see the large amounts of transient newcomers as being more a factor in the “pttsttok thing” than the vestiges of “Southernness”. People come here for school, political jobs, that first great job after college, and tend to associate with peers from similar backgrounds and/or with similar interests. And from my vantage point, the “Southernness” that I grew up with is being/has been largely displaced by a blander culture that attempts to cater to the needs of transients and newer arrivals to the city.
          Related Rant: I miss Posin’s!!!!!!
          Related Rave: It’s likely that “pttsttok” is what supports traditional ethnic restaurants, shops, cultural events, etc, to a large extent. As DC continues to lose those traditions, I’m glad that Baltimore, which continues to maintain them to a greater extent, is less than an hour away.

        • DC= more border than Southern. NW DC was always a bastion of Yankees, for example. The real problem is the superficial bourgeois sophistication and the city’s historic second rate-ness. The relative youth also matters. Younger people will be impressed by having college town pizza (Fuel) or silly concepts in abundance. DC once had a sizable Irish population–not NYC, Boston, or even Chicago sizable, but Foggy Bottom, Gtown, N Capitol Corridor (Swampdoodle) had significant irish populations.but there’s no historic bar and there wasn’t when I lived here in the 90s. If DC was”Southern” we’d have better bbq, but it tends to be as blah as the deli, pizza and other basics here.

  • at least we still have uptown taphouse! /sarcasm

    well I imagine nanny o’briens up connecticut will see some increased business from this

  • Huge blow to our neighborhood. Love Murphy’s and the people who work there.

    • And now we’re left with bit a single neighborhood bar (Zoo Bar).

    • Yea, this definitely sucks to the folks who currently live there. But if there’s a silver lining, this should lower area rents over time?

      • Lower area rents? That makes no sense. How does losing a pub affect other rents in the area (commercial or otherwise)? Murphy’s isn’t renewing their lease, presumably because the rent is already too high.

        • I meant residential rents. Less desirable bars means less desirable ‘hood for many relatively well-off millennials.

          • Murphy’s wasn’t exactly a favorite of the high-rent set. Its demise will have no downward effect on rent whatsoever.

          • Huh? Have you been to Murphy’s? Nice little pub, but no one was paying a dime extra to live near it unless they owned it or worked there.

      • I find it hard to think of anything that could make rents in a particular D.C. neighborhood go DOWN rather than up. Maybe if rents were going up in anticipation of some huge development project (like Monroe Street Market) and then the project crashed and burned, failing to materialize?
        People sometimes complain about dining options in Cleveland Park, but that doesn’t have any effect on the fact that it’s an expensive neighborhood. It might mean that rents don’t go up as sharply as in more “buzz”-y areas, but that’s about it.

      • It will take a lot more than that to lower rents in this town.

  • I’m sure Murphy’s has great people, but the service there was pretty bad. Wait 20 minutes to get your drink order taken and you don’t see a waiter the entire time bad. It drove people away, and they didn’t come back. Yeah, it’ll be replaced by something tapa-ish and terrible, but they didn’t help themselves.

    • +1. While I have some great memories from nearly a decade ago of huddling by the fire there on cold winter nights, every time I’ve gone there in recent years I’ve been disappointed by indifferent servers and poorly-poured Guinness. Eventually I stopped going; it looks like I wasn’t alone.

  • I didn’t go there often, but I’m gonna miss that place so much! Many good memories there. And some of the grossest bathrooms in town! But the patio was great in the summertime.

  • So beyond upset to hear this 🙁

  • Accountering

    This sucks for Woodley Park and the surrounding neighborhoods. I think it is a win for other neighborhoods though. All those tourist hotels keep getting more and more expensive, and with only fancy restaurants around, I wonder if that pushes tourists to explore other neighborhoods for restaurants and accommodations?

    • maxwell smart

      I kinda feel like if you are the type of person who is going to pay for an expensive tourist hotel, you’re probably also the type of person who is not going to be looking for inexpensive dining.

      • Accountering

        Meh, I think there are a lot of tourists from Iowa (and other flyover states) who stay in these hotels because I think they are fairly well known as being a standard tourist area, and come recommended from friends and such. I think there are plenty of normal families for which a dinner in Woodley Park is a huge stretch, considering they are already spending $150/night or whatever. Remember, median family income is only 50K, and those families still travel – and probably saved for the whole year to do it.
        I think this is a benefit of AirBNB and such. Opens up some more affordable options to visit the city for these folks.

        • Accountering

          I had a family of 6 come and stay in my rental in September. The drove from Indiana in their 5-ish year old minivan, and were VERY thankful to be able to cook dinners and eat breakfast in my kitchen. I bet that alone saved them $500 for the 5 days they were here.

        • What expensive places in the neighborhood are you talking about? I know there’s New Heights, District Kitchen and one or 2 others, but there are plenty of cheaper places that attract tourists.
          I’ve worked in the neighborhood for about 6 years now and have seen hundreds of families come and go from the hotels. At lunchtime you can see plenty of them eating cheaply and happily at places they recognize (McDonald’s, Chipotle, Noodles & Co.). The more adventurous of them might go to Open City, that supposedly organic pasta place that once was a supposedly organic Indian restaurant, or Woodley Cafe, none of which are extravagant (in the case of the latter two, crappy, but not extravagant). The same goes for conventioneers.

    • Those hotels are only really expensive for business travelers. They’re very reasonable on the weekends and there are lots of deals to be found on the various travel web sites. But I bet that most tourists typically expect to overpay for mediocre food when they come here, if they’ve been here before and tried to get something good to eat in Woodley Park.

    • Completely disagree with this. Business travel = expense account and can afford “fine Italian dining” and family travel = they weren’t at this pub anyways.

  • Oh man good memories…celebrated my 21st birthday here.

  • Can’t say I’m upset to see this place go. Every time I went when I lived nearby, I had terrible service and food. I made the mistake of bringing family once and they were appalled by the complete lack of attention we received. However, Woodley does need a low-price, low-key bar option. I like the Gin Joint and Open City is not bad for a meal, but neither really offer the affordable, friendly atmosphere of just having a no-fanfare beer.

  • They had great trivia, and I loved the fireplace. That said, 18th street has some very good bars that are similar. Angles is the best bar in DC, hands down.

  • The new owner is great… he will bring a legit food/bar option to Woodley. It will have better hours and it will receive a much needed physical upgrade.

  • I cannot think of Murphy’s without thinking of Katie Steffen. She lived in the Calvert and was a regular face there. She passed away a few years ago, and I can’t imagine going there and not seeing her face. Sad to see Murphy’s go.

    • You brought an actual tear to my eye. I miss Katie too. It would have been her birthday this coming Monday.

    • You nailed it. For those that used to work there and frequent regularly it was like Cheers in real life. I made so many friends that will remain friends for life. We’ve watched coworkers have children, watched them grow up. We’ve lost a few lovely folks (Katie and Beglis) and gained a lot more. It was not perfect but it was a home away from home for so many people.

  • pworthy

    Is PJ still bartending there?

  • My wife, friends and I would go there to listen to some great like Irish music. I always appreciated that. Thanks Murphy’s.

  • This is disappointing. I grew up in a very Irish city in the Midwest. Murphy’s was one of the bars that reminded me of home. I hope they open a new location closer to me. Woodley Park is pretty rich neighborhood so a more middle class neighborhood would make sense.

  • This is NOT a great Irish bar. It’s a mediocre bar with bad food, and it has been trending downhill for a while. Last time I ate there I am pretty sure the meat on my sandwich was rotten!

  • This place helped me feel like DC was home. I started working there part time not long after they opened and made an incredible group of friends that I’m still connected to 20 plus years later. It was a tourist trap to most (including the owners) but like someone said below, kind of Woodley Park’s Cheers. Late nights with Ms. Beglis coming in after her night shift at the hospital, much later nights drinking cases of Bass Ale and bottles of Irish Mist and Jameson (gag) after the bar closed. Haven’t lived in DC for years but will raise a pint tonight and tomorrow and make myself a Murphyburger.

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