Chief Ike’s Mambo Room closing after 25 years in Adams Morgan – Saturday is Last Night

1725 Columbia Road, NW

From Chief Ike’s facebook page:

“After almost 25 years, Chief Ike’s Mambo Room at 1725 Columbia Rd in Adam’s Morgan will be closing its doors. What a great run we’ve had!

We would like to thank the residence of Adam’s Morgan and the DC Metro area, and those across the country who have supported Chief Ike’s throughout the years.


Chief Ike’s last night will be Saturday, March 28th 2015 and this week will be packed with great events all week!
Open daily at 5:00pm.

Monday: Movie Night 6pm showing Die Hard & Die Hard with a Vengeance

Tuesday: Crazy Nasty Trivia hosted by Chandler Nasty & Chaos McBane-8:00pm BIG prizes for the last trivia night at Chief Ike’s!

Wednesday: Rock Your Wednesday playing rock hits of all decades and great food and drink specials.

Thursday: Open M’Ike Comedy Night featuring $1 Absolute Flavors and DC’s BEST Comedians

Friday: Farewell Party Part 1 with DJ MIlktruck featuring $1 cocktails all night long

Saturday: Battle of the Bands (downstairs until 11pm, upstairs until 2:30am)
Farewell Party Part 2: THE FINAL DANCE with DJ Milktruck starting at 11pm downstairs until 3am. $1 Cocktails from 11-Close”


65 Comment

  • Sweet, pretty soon there will be no dives left to go to and we’ll have to drink our cheap beer with small plates and pork belly apps. Pouring one out for Chike’s.

    • You’re right. There are definitely no dives within a five minute walk from Ikes. Definitely not like 5 just off the top of my head. Nope. None.

      • They didn’t say there were no dives left, just that pretty soon there won’t be. I don;t think it was meant to be literal, but just the fact how the neighborhood has changed over the years. Thanks for coming to make two snarky comments on this thread though.

        • Sorry an internet stranger ruined your day with two comments. This doomsday lamenting of the end of dive bars is silly. Adams Morgan remains full of them. It’s part of the charm of the neighborhood that dives like Millie & Al’s can coexist next door to joints like Donburi.

          • Please inform me of what you deem as a dive bar…

          • Wow, you really are a nasty piece of work.
            Go back to living under the Duke Ellington bridge!

          • @Anon 2:59 I wish I owned the land under and around the Duke Ellington Bridge. I’d set myself for life by selling it to the first New York-hipster investor who comes knocking with plans to build a no reservation speakeasy where they pair Cuban-Chinese fusion small plates with pre-prohibition cocktails, and all the staff are required to speak in English-Traveler accents and have Civil War-era sideburns (mustaches are sooooo 2010. You know, the last time you went to Ike’s).

          • Mary Kate at 4:49

            That bar sounds awesome. You don’t need the land around the bridge to open something like that up.

  • Really sad. There has to be a spot for fun, divey places like Chief Ikes still. I used to love going there in my early-mid 20s.

  • I really hate what’s happening to Adams Morgan these days since it’s the place where I have so many memories. It won’t be long till memories are all that’s left of my old neighborhood as I knew it.

  • this is sad. such great place for late night, not caring what you look like dancing fun.

  • Wow. I def had some good times here in my late 20’s and early 30s. It was a dump but perfect.

  • So many hazy memories in that place. Ikes, you will be missed!

  • I “won” a contest with my friends there one night in the very early 2000s by kissing 18 boys. I promptly got strep throat.
    This contest may or may not have been conceptualized after beginning our evening at Dan’s Café.

    • I met a girl I dated for 5 years there one night…absolutely blacked out…I had no idea what she looked like as we were on our way to brunch…fantastic memories of that place.

      • I went on my first date with my wife at Chief Ike’s. The divorce papers will be signed a few days after it closes. Coincidence? I think not.

  • Gah! I assume a Starbucks or a Fro-Yo will take it’s place. The best of my grad school days were spent in this place.

    • clearly you have so much love for it that you haven’t spent any time there since. there’s a starbucks about a block away and fro-yo already came and went in adams morgan.

  • Now I only have Dan’s to go to make horrible decisions

  • saf

    Has it really been 25 years? Wow.

  • Seems like I remember Chief Ike’s having a “we’re closing” party a couple of years back.

  • tt

    Mixed emotions here.

    Good memories: hip hop from the late 80s and early 90s, bartenders with great hair cuts, good final stop for DC’s Santarchy

    Less so: haggling on the cover, overflowing toilet incident that led for a very slick and gross dance floor, the previous without cover refund

    Plenty of good dives left: the Raven, Red Derby, Looking Glass et al.

    • The Red Derby and Looking Glass are alright, but there’s no way I’d put them in the same category as the genuine older bars in the area, of which there really aren’t too many left.

    • The Looking Glass is not at all a dive. It’s too clean, too expensive, too well-staffed, has reasonable food, too nicely decorated. It’s a fantastic place, but not a dive. I’d maybe call it “neighborhoody retro.” Or “sports bar minus sports and televisions.”

      Kicks the crud out of DC Reynolds any day. DC Reynolds is not a dive, either for all of the same reasons above.

      Showtime: that’s a dive. No food, staffed by usually just one person, no bottled beers, no fancy liquor. 4 draft choices, but mainly a can+shot combo place. Very little decoration on the walls. Seating is all built into the walls. Bare floors, painted brick walls. It’s probably not as divey as a dive should be, but it’s closer than the Looking Glass.

  • I lived at that place in my early 20’s. Once had my tip lit on fire by a soon-to-be-fired bartender. Loved the mix of hip hop, Motown, Prince, etc the DJ spun. Glad someone mentioned the overflowing toilet. So funny that they didn’t fix that for years.

  • Great memories of early ’90’s upstairs darts, pool table, constant smoky haze, along with other substances…

    Downstairs recklessly dancing to urban classics…

    Afterwards, stumble down to the old Hell for some heavy metal next to the real iron maiden…best of times.

  • Too bad DJ Stella Neptune won’t be there to play Last Dance. Spent many nights there in the ’90s. Bad decisions indeed!

    • I remember Stella Neptune! Ike’s wasn’t really a dump in those days. Folks went there to express themselves. Then it became a dive…which was good, too.

  • In this thread: a lot of people who haven’t set foot in Ike’s since 2006 lamenting that it is closing.

    • Sho yer right.

    • Easy there judgey.

    • Why does it matter whether or not a person has been there recently? What’s wrong with pouring one out because you had good times there in grad school, or at a different stage in your life? We get it. You’re not sad about it closing. Why keep posting snarky replies to those who are kinda bummed?

      • Nostalgia is fine. I had a few good times at Ike’s myself. But how is my observation incorrect? If Ike’s was so amazing, you would have gone back in the last 8 years. This thread is a manifestation of why it’s closing – couldn’t attract enough new, regular clientele.

        • Emmaleigh504

          The grapevine says they are closing b/c it was really mismanaged, not b/c they didn’t have customers.

        • Um, I have been there recently, but I don’t begrudge the people who haven’t engaging in a bit of nostalgia. I didn’t go to college here, but I can imagine that if I had, it’s not outrageous that I might not go to the same bars I used to frequent as a student. It doesn’t mean that the bar wasn’t good; it’s just that people’s taste change sometimes. The nightlife scene has shifted to other neighborhoods and the owner decided to retire. Lots of folks had good times at that bar and will miss it. If you don’t care, why do you keep commenting?

          • @Anon 3:41 I merely pointed out a fact – no one reminiscing about Ike’s has been there regularly in at least five years. Which is a prominent factor in it’s closing. Apparently pointing this out made a bunch of folks in their early 30s get all sadface that they don’t party like they used to, and they lashed out at the person who made them realize they got old. Boohoo. Go to The Raven, drink a Miller High Life and get over yourself.

        • The place is 25 years old – I can reminisce and be nostalgic about it because I had great times there in my 20’s. Why haven’t I been there lately? Because I’m 45.

          • Me too! I’m not lamenting that I got old. I’m proud to be 43. But I also have no intention of doing the things I did at Ike’s when I was 23. I’m sad because there is a generation of 23-year-olds who won’t get to have the fun I had. My parents and I reminisce over our different but fun experiences at Bohemian Caverns (’60s for them, ’90s for me). I’d love to be able to have that intergenerational convo, but clearly that won’t happen with Ike’s.

    • Whoa, time for you to get back to your small plates and artisanal $20 cocktails and leave these folks to reminisce in peace.

    • We get it. You’re new here and have no frame of reference whatsoever for what DC was like even two years ago.

      • I’ll wager I’ve lived around the neighborhood for a couple decades longer than you, and have been to Ike’s more recently.

        • Anyways…so what’s ya beef? You were there on the first day it opened and you couger around the joint on Saturday nights? This isn’t a competition.

          • No beef. Just pointed out something that amused me, and everyone got really butthurt about it. I guess having an opinion outside the hive-mind makes me today’s POP Troll of the Day. Kinda cool. If it were a competition, I’d win.

        • And I’ll wager you’re lying.

        • I’d wager you’re right about that. The laments would be more understandable if all these folks then went and showed love to the Raven or Millie&Al’s, but my guess is they’re spending more time at places like Barcelona or The Brixton these days.

    • In this thread: a poster named Mary Kate who drops negative Nelly non sequiturs. Who cares? This is what the comment section is for!

    • I went there many, many times in 2009 and 2010, and was last there in 2013.

    • Too true and I feel guilty! I moved to 14th & Columbia Rd. in 1987 and Chief Ike’s was the only place to go for many years. My dog even knew the way there (she always had a little glass of Guinness.) Then Wonderland opened, and all the rest and I don’t think I’ve walked west of 16th St. for anything in years!

  • I guess that I’ll just have to find another bar to have my things stolen from. Ike’s, you will sort of be missed. I wonder of they can find a way to auction off the murals.

  • upstairs pool table. that is all.

  • I ended the worst date I ever experienced by walking out on my drunk partner for the evening, as she was kissing a rather young Irish man in the cacophony of Madam’s Organ. She was a exotically beautiful au pair from Indiana, out for the second or third time in the District; I later established that she made her way home somewhere in NOVA.

  • Had fun at Ike’s many times, but it was GROSS. I don’t think anyone cleaned anything in there. Ever.

    Pharmacy Bar, I miss ye most of all.

  • I was the DJ There for many, many years. I find it disgusting that after all the blood sweat and tears me and the original bar staff put into that business the Al would even mention Stella Neptune-from 1992-as the single point in time when Ike’s was hot. The truth is AL did very, very, very, very little to put money earned back into the business thus creating a nasty dirty, no-stock having environment. All the employees there bent over backwards to make the place look great, I even set up the place with club lights and sound equipment that Al refused to buy. The real deal is that AL hired Alan Beal from barconceptsinc .com who brain washed him into thinking that the current staff was the problem. Thus, he let Alan Beal get rid of the old staff, some that had been there for more than fifteen years. From one day to the next, gone with zero recognition. So, what happened? After Al ran the place into the ground for so many years by thinking that staff were supposed to go in their own pockets to make the place look nice, and stock liquor patrons wanted, he hires Alan Beal who put the nail in the coffin. After the old staff was gone, the place did not last a year. You reap what you sow.

    • Ed Rivers, you’re a liar.

      When I came in around June incognito to observe what was going on at Chief Ike’s, I observed every Bartender behind that bar stealing. The Bartenders quit the next day because they knew they were caught and were going to be terminated. YOU Ed R.were let go because you became lazy, were consistently late, complacent, your music format was out of touch with the patrons, you were playing what YOU wanted to play and refused requests, your show was low energy, you were running customers off, and after reviewing your Facebook page all the way back as far as we could you never once posted anything about Chief Ike’s (In other words, you weren’t marketing the club PERIOD). YOU Ed were the ONLY person I actually let go. YOU were going to be the final nail in the coffin at Chief Ike’s had you stayed.

      The Manager Emily was also stealing from Chief Ike’s. Rob left on his own accord BEFORE Bar Concepts came on the scene. Rob would have been made the General Manager had he have come back. He was offered it.

      Weekend sales were up 40%! since January because the DJ’s are playing an excellent format, the Bartenders are personable, attractive, fast, and not stealing and we’re networking and marketing. Those are the facts Ed R. Its pretty disgusting that you Ed R. are going around the internet and posting this same mis-information on multiple sites. You and the rest of the staff who came the last week, caused property damage and started drama and fights need to grow up and move on.

      And for the record, we go in and analyze numbers. Chief Ike’s was in a steady decline starting 2 years ago. There are many factors involved that caused that decline. We kept the place open for 8 more months and I’ve had it on the market since Bar Concepts came on the scene. Chief Ike’s survived for 23 years. That’s an incredible run and Al Jirikowic should be proud as well as the staff that made it happen. It’s a shame a few disgruntled former employees like you Ed R. put out mis-information.

  • The demise of the dive bar in Adams Morgan started with the closing of Toledo Lounge a few years ago.

  • Ike’s closing has nothing to do with Adams Morgan. Ike’s is closing because the owner ran off the really excellent staff he had and also stopped performing even the most basic maintenance on the place years ago. I love a good dive bar, but overflowing toilets and warm beer ain’t gonna cut it. Especially the warm beer!

  • Unlike Kate, who maintains that people in their 30’s and beyond should be spending more time in bars than with their families or other more pressing responsibilities, I’m going to back the other comment that puts the onus upon the owner, Al.

    Al just stopped putting money into the business. That is evident in the never-fixed walls, the bathrooms that really needed some kind of maintenance, and other sundry knobs and bobs that should’ve been attended to. This is really an object lesson to cheapo owners *cough cough, I’m looking at you Dante of Black Cat* that when you start to cut corners, your clientele says “screw this crap” and your revenue declines.

    So after years of this death spiral, Al hired some dude to turn it around, but I don’t even blame that guy, you have to be willing to put in some money to make it work. Handing over some rotting bar to someone and saying “Make us more popular” with zero real investment beyond a retainer is a failure in the making.

    Anyway, just so you know the real trifecta in seeing the demise of a bar isn’t just the interior or the bathrooms, but whether they start desperately trying *anything* to draw in the crowd. That includes the internet-enabled annoying jukebox, trivia nights, stand-up nights (mind you, if you are a comedy club – it makes sense. Not when you’re primarily a bar.) and god help you, some kind of silly contest that needs the drunkest to be successful.

    Try to learn from Chief Ikes, when you allow your business to enter the event horizon of cheapness, you’re pretty much toast.

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