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The Guitar Bar Coming to 1216 18th St, NW. Will it Replace The Guitar Shop on the 2nd Floor or Supplement it on the Third Floor?

by Prince Of Petworth April 11, 2011 at 10:42 pm 33 Comments

Now this is one of the more confusing situations I’ve ever posted about. A recent liquor license application has been filed for a new bar to be called The Guitar Bar. It lists the address as 1216 18th St, NW and says:

Upscale tavern serving European sausages, hotdogs, pretzels and popcorns featuring DJ and background music. No designated dance floor – no dancing. Summer Garden with 210 seats. Seating capacity is 60. Total occupancy load is 330.

Sounds awesome right? However, 1216 18th St, NW is the address listed for the soon to be opening Shack Shake to be located in the former Fudrucker’s space at the corner of 18th and Jefferson Pl, NW (just off Connecticut Ave). So naturally, given the name, I assumed the bar would be moving into the space above currently (and for almost a century) home to The Guitar Shop:

Founded in 1922 by Sophocles Papas, The Guitar Shop has become a treasured Washington landmark. Renown for serving the needs of professional and amateur guitarists alike with everything from music, strings and accessories, through advanced private instruction. For those seeking a fine instrument, The Guitar Shop offers an unrivaled selection of hundreds of guitars, ranging from modest student instruments costing less than two hundred dollars to one of a kind virtuoso guitars valued at five thousand dollars and more.

The Guitar Shop has an international reputation, having over the years served patrons in more than one hundred countries. Here in America the shop has served everyone from the President of the United States to elementary school students. Numbered among its clientele are many professional folk, jazz, country, rock and classical musicians.

The shop represents many of the finest luthiers from the United States and around the world both as their artist representative to the professionals and as their sales distributor to the public. It has also been an integral part of the arts and academic community, working with most of the area colleges and universities as well as such respected organizations as the Smithsonian Institution, the National Geographic Society, the Kennedy Center, Folger Shakespeare Theater, Arena Stage, the Washington Performing Arts Society, and the National Symphony Orchestra.

Stephen and Lynda Spellman purchased the shop in 1968 from its founder who was also Steve’s instructor and mentor. Married since 1969, Steve and Lynda have worked side by side successfully managing the business as they raised their two children, Reed and Heather.

I spoke to Mr. Spellman at the Guitar Shop and he said he knew of no plans of a Guitar Bar for this space. The Guitar Shop is obviously a legendary space in DC. But as I’m now looking at the building clearly there are 3 floors. So perhaps the bar will be coming to the third floor and will also occupy a roof deck? I’ll be sure to keep my eyes on this corner to see if/where The Guitar Bar will call home. The liquor license application makes it sound like a roof deck/summer garden will be a large component so I wouldn’t totally rule out the location on the third floor of this building. More updates as they become available.

And on a side note, If you’ve never visited the Guitar Shop it is truly a wild store jam packed with guitars corner nearly every single square foot of the cramped space. Guitar and history buffs will enjoy a conversation with Mr. Spellman.


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