Li’l Pub Sold To CVS on Capitol Hill?

by Prince Of Petworth November 5, 2012 at 10:30 am 88 Comments

655 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

Big news from @HStreetDC_ last night:

“End of an era! The Lil’ Pub on #capitolhill has been sold to next door neighbor CVS. Where is the Restoration Society? Landmark it!”

Li’l Pub is located at 655 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE. Another flickr user writes that it was:

“Built in 1937 as Little Tavern No. 20”

Little Tavern was:

a chain of hamburger restaurants in Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.

The first Little Tavern opened March 24, 1927 in Louisville, Kentucky, by Harry F. Duncan. The first Washington location was opened in October 1928 and the first in Baltimore opened its doors in June 1930. By 1937, there were 33 shops open. At the height of the chain, there were almost 50 locations. Duncan sold the chain in 1981. The last restaurant closed on April 29, 2008.

Any fans of Li’l Pub?

Update: A representative of the Li’l Pub says they are unaware of any sale. Will update as more info/details become available.

  • Anonymous

    It’s an absolute shame. Even though my dive bar days are behind me I will miss this bit of local color. Interesting thing about its history – in fact, when I used to frequent L’il Pub many years ago, there was a very mean woman who used to tend bar. But if you got on her good side and asked nicely, she would go in the back and make the most fantastic hamburgers I’ve ever had in my life.

    • hillizen

      Oh, she is very much still there.

    • Anonymous


      • One of the Gays

        The one with the long bleach blond krimped hair? She made me stop making out with a dude late one night when we were sitting up by the window! What’s up with that???

        • Anonymous

          That’s not the first time I’ve heard of this establishment being hostile to gays.

        • anon

          For what it’s worth, I don’t want to see anyone making out in a bar, straight or gay.

          If the place was selectively stopping gay couples from making out and not stopping straight couples from making out, that’s not cool.

          • saf


            Seriously, get a room.

          • Anonymous

            I’m just shocked there are still women who krimp their hair.

  • I’ve never been inside, but there are often some sketchy dudes on the brick wall smoking and cat calling at girls. Not sure if they are patrons of the place or just taking advantage of the brick wall as a seat?

    • Eastern Market

      I’ve been turned off by the sketchy dudes outside as well. Never once been in there and won’t be sorry to see it go– there are plenty of other dives in the neighborhood that are more welcoming.

      • JelloShots

        There aren’t any other dives in the area. Enjoy your extra row of greeting cards and those welcoming CVS cashiers.

        • Anonymous

          Huh? Most of the bars along Pennsylvania are dives.

          • JelloShots

            Like what? Your idea of a dive bar is a joke then. The other bars are good places, but not dives.

          • Anonymous

            Curious, what’s your definition of a dive and how do Tune Inn, Remingtons, Mr. Henry’s, Trusty’s, 18th Amendment, Pour House, Capitol Lounge not qualify? I’m not arguing either way but a lot of people seem to think these are bona fide dives.

          • JelloShots

            Some of those places are good but not dives. Lil’ Pub was just a bar, two pool tables, and a jukebox. No frills, no drafts, no food, 1 old school TV (they added a 2nd recently). That’s a dive bar. Prices were cheap because of the no frills. It’s unmatched in DC.

          • Lesbian

            I think Phase 1 on 8th Street meets all your requirements. They have a pool table, they don’t serve drafts or food, and a vodka soda is only $4. And it’s cash only!

        • Eastern Market

          Yes, God forbid we have something that makes the lives of nearby residents a little easier.

          And I guess it depends on your definition, but I can think of half a dozen dives at least within a few blocks. I don’t think this bar was anything special.

          • Eastern Market

            Admittedly, I don’t know if the others do jello shots though. :)

      • Anonymous

        I like how “working class” = “sketchy” for a certain breed of Washingtonian.

        • Eastern Market

          Oh please. I grew up in a working class family. That’s not what makes those guys sketchy.

        • Anonymous

          I like how street harassment of women is acceptable to a certain breed Washingtontonian. Actually… I don’t.

          • Anonymous

            P.S. I’m sorry your source of jello shots is disappearing but that doesn’t excuse the personal attacks!!

        • Anonymous

          You know what’s even more likable? Stupid assumptions.

        • Wait? The working class is allowed to harrass women? I don’t care who they are- I don’t appreciate men yelling at me to come over there and give ’em a hand. (If you catch my drift)

  • Anonymous


  • monkeyrotica

    I’m pretty sure this is the only Little Tavern building left in DC. There’s one in Laurel and the one in Baltimore was torn down years ago. There’s still one in Old Town being run as Chinese restaurant. I can’t see how providing more CVS garbage improves the quality of the neighborhood.

    The great thing about Lil Pub is that it’s both a gay-friendly straight bar and a straight-friendly gay bar.

    • Nope – there is one in Georgetown home of the first Sweet Green.
      PoPville – any others?

    • Anonymous

      The 24-hour Subway in NE at 6th and Morse is another old Little Tavern building.

    • saf

      There’s one in Bethesda too, I think.

    • Anonymous

      There’s one in College Park, which has been vacant for a few years and is falling apart.

    • kes

      The Super Nails next to the Bank of America at 8th & H NE is one too. Some inspired soul painted the roof orange.

  • PG

    Buy ’em by the bag!

    I miss Little Tavern and People’s Drug.

  • BR

    What does CVS have to gain from buying that property? Are they just going to expand? That seems pretty dumb, considering there is a larger one just five blocks down Penn. I’ve never been in Li’l Pub, but it does look kind of intriguing. Is it anything like Raven or Dan’s Cafe?

    • monkeyrotica

      Oversaturating a neighborhood with CVSs has never discouraged CVS from oversaturating a neighborhood with more CVSs.

    • Eastern Market

      This CVS is way too small as it is. It doesn’t carry a lot of the basic items that most CVS stores do, simply because there is nowhere to put them. This location gets a ton of customers because it’s directly across from a metro station and it is always extremely crowded. I agree that the CVS at 12th and Penn is a lot bigger and nicer, but not everyone knows about it or wants to walk there (especially the Eastern Market visitors that comprise most of the weekend traffic).

      Often the checkout line at this location stretches through aisles to the back of the store, making it difficult for people to go down those aisle to pick up items. On many occasions I’ve abandoned my shopping because it was just too crazy in there, so they are probably losing some business from people like me.

      So as lame as it sounds I’m actually happy about this. Fingers crossed that they will extend their hours past 10pm!

      • Nicoli

        The CVS at 12th and Penn is a lot nicer and bigger? I’d go with bigger but not nicer. Every time I’m in there it takes 20 minutes just to check out.

        • Eastern Market

          Whenever I’ve been to the 12th Street location they usually have two cashiers working and (at most) one person ahead of me in line. Maybe I’ve been lucky?

          • Anonymous

            Trust me, you’ve been lucky. Yes, the CVS at 12/Penn is bigger and, therefore, carries more stock. However, the customer service is some of the worst I have ever experienced. Just plain awful.

          • Eastern Market

            That’s a lot of luck I’ve been getting, then! :)

    • hillizen

      The other CVS isn’t far from this one, but it’s a pretty long hike for those of us who live closer to the Capitol. I already have to walk 8 blocks to get this one.

    • I wonder if there’s room for a Minute Clinic. I’m desperate for one closer than Virginia or Benning Road.

  • saf

    OK, so who remembers “Club LT?”

    It was the place that the Little Tavern folks opened in the Shops at National Place in 80s, or maybe the 90s.

    • Ate there once– think I had the lobster bisque. No, that wasn’t odd at all.

      • saf

        I used to get breakfast there sometimes – they opened early in what was then a dead-on-weekends downtown.

  • Anonymous

    It would be great to see the CVS replaced with a 4 story mixed use development. A one story building across from the metro makes no sense.

    • Anonymous

      Agreed. And it would weaken the arguments of the Hine naysayers. :)

  • Stavros

    I’ll echo Monkeyrotica: I’m always impressed by the diversity of the crowd at the Li’l Pub. Old-young, black-white, gay-straight, office worker-grizzled boozer.

    Too bad that it’s closing, and double too bad that it’s getting swallowed by CVS.

    • Angry Parakeet

      “grizzled Boozer” – Haw!

    • Another good DC bar gone.

  • What a bummer! I’ve only been in one time, but it was magical. Everyone was a regular and “Jeopardy” was on on the TV in the corner. Apparently the daily tradition was to all play Final Jeopardy together – everyone wrote their answer down on a piece of paper and if you got it right, you got a free drink. Except this night everyone got a free drink, no matter your answer. Lil’ Pub is/was the one place in DC I actively tried to keep secret because it was so great.

    • Jay

      If it was so great and magical why did you only go once? Poorly thought out move on your part.

  • What a shame. My husband and I absolutely love dive bars, and this one was among the diviest. We actually went and celebrated there the night we got engaged. You could always get a pool table, a cheap beer, and a jello shot at any time of night!

    • Anonymous

      Are you married to jim_ed? Surely there can’t be two couples with the engagement story….

      • Anonymous

        I guess they weren’t making out that night.

      • Anonymous

        Ha I was wondering the same thing!

      • Ha, yes I am married to jim_ed. I’m surprised we actually haven’t posted similar things such as this until now.

  • Anonymous

    This is horrible news. It’s the last good ol’ bar in DC and such a great neighborhood joint. I am sure there is more to the story but this is a shame especially considering all of the chain stores going in on Capitol Hill.

    • Anonymous

      What chain stores?

  • Hank Chinaski

    Where will people who are banned from the Tune Inn go now????

  • Alex

    I never went in there because it ALWAYS looked packed from the street. I was always a little intimidated by that. But still a shame. At least there’s still Tune-Inn?

    • Anonymous

      Weird. I’ve always been intimated by it because I never saw ANYONE in there aside from one or two barflies who looked like they were permanently attached to the stools.

      • Rick

        Lil Pub is full of really nice people and its a mixed friendly straight , Gay, Lesbian , black , white and if people are acting inaprpriately in ways that make her clients uncomfortable they need to get a room elsewhere , Shirley or Sue will ask you to stop or leave. same goes if you are drunk and or annoying people.Its a lot like Cheers. They have holiday parties and pot lucks too. And the guys outside smoking but their drinks are inside and are a nice bunch too.Go there while you can cause you might meet your next husband or just make friends with locals that have made it their home Bar.

  • This closing hurts. I love the Lil’ Pub. The night I proposed to my wife, we ended up there afterwards and drank and shot pool and fed the jukebox until last call. It was always either the first or last stop on a night out on the hill.

    A real shame to see this dingy, beautiful piece of history close up.

  • ET

    Can’t see the benefit to this. Storage? Move the pharmacy? Going to put more floors on top of both? It isn’t like they are going to be allowed to tear either/both.

  • Anonymous

    So sad. Lil Pub was a true “dive bar” not like anything else in DC. They also had delicious jello shots for a dollar!

    • Anonymous

      Overpriced if you ask me! You can get them at a frat party for free.

      • Anonymous

        Frat boys stay away ,go elswhere.same goes for frat girls

  • Anonymous

    sweet, i’ve been waiting for a place to shop at a CVS in DC

  • novatronic

    There’s a Little Tavern building in Arlington too.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t wait until they close down a CVS to open up a dive bar.

  • aoxomoxoa

    Lived in the neighborhood for almost ten years now and I can say I’m not sad to see it go but sad that it’s sold to CVS. The few times I’ve been in the Lil pub it was heavy on the shadiness factor and low on charm. Not like the Tune Inn used to be before that jerkoff cop took it over and plastered Guy Fieri’s face everywhere. This place was just sketchy.

    • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    Avoid CVS, they treat their employees like garbage, just ask them. -ex-CVS employee

    • Anonymous

      I used to work for CVS as a pharmacy technician and they weren’t bad. Maybe it’s just the DC-area ones?

      • ex-CVS Pharmacist

        Working for CVS was decent up until about 2007 until the merger with Caremark. Then came the corporate metrics, quotas, staff cuts, questionable medical ethics. Ever have a pharmacist pressure you to get a flu shot, or automatic refills you don’t need? If they don’t meet their quota, their job is on the line- and they are reminded this every day. So save a CVS pharmacist’s job: get a flu shot, sign up for auto-fill, and be sure to call in those damn customer service surveys. If they don’t get X number of customer service surveys per month, they will get written up.

        Give an independent pharmacy a try and let me know if the service is better.

        • Anonymous

          Wow, that’s crazy. You guys have enough to do and don’t need to be making sales pitches to customers. I need to have a prescription filled approximately once every 5 years so I didn’t know about all that!

  • Bad news. Sad news.

    • jrdc

      Oh, the birthday pub crawls, the potluck Superbowl parties, the endless jukebox choices of Roger and Heather…we must drink there a lot before they close. It was one of my first visits in the early 90s, and I couldn’t WAIT to go back. LI’L PUB RULES!

  • I’m a huge fan of Lil Pub. In fact I’ll be there tonight. I’ve been going there for about 11 years now. There are some great pool players in there. Besides the owner and bartenders, that is one of the things that I will miss the most.

    After Mickey’s Patio closed (where Old Siam is now), the two crowds essentially merged into what is now the Lil Pub clientele. There are of course some jerks, some “grizzled boozers” and occasionally the random person that braves the front door to find out what is behind the green walls.

    This is indeed a no frills bar. If you get on the good side of the staff, this place is amazing. They don’t put up with much, and they will let you know. Act like a person and they will treat you like one. (Then you can start goofing off).

    Cat calling and such, yeah you’ll get that outside of many bars, especially from the smokers. That reflects a small percentage of the patrons that frequent the place.

    Lastly, I don’t think they’ve served a hamburger in a very long time.

  • Anonymous

    used to love little tavern

  • Anonymous

    I love this bar. Always friendly to everyone. Yes stern managers but that is because they always looked out for the patrons. They and the neighbors loved this place. Everyone knew your name. A great place to hang out on the hill It will be greatly missed.

  • Mario

    Helluva place. I liked that if you were there for happy hour you could win a free drink if you got the Final Jeopardy question correct.
    Shirley is hostile towards any idiot who doesn’t know how to behave in a bar. You wanna make out or smoke some weed? Hit the alley. It’s a DRINKING bar for grown folks…at least is was if this is right.

  • Anonymous

    Sad loss. Great times there. Loved the ladies behind the bar. If you were nice, they were always nice in kind. The regulars were of the same lot. Might not fit well into other too-hip-to-be-square bars in DC, but regulars were a hoot. Great place for friends to gather for a night of pool, beer and fights over the music selection. Don’t think the men out on the side walk in these emails were the same inside. Regulars were quiet and loved their game shows. Great beer prices.

  • Anonymous

    Dad and I used to go to the Little Tavern in Wheaton. Loved that place. Of course that one was torn down years ago.

  • Anonymous

    You all got worked up over nothing. The owner says the deal with CVS fell through so they will be staying put.


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