A slew of popular U Street and 14th Street bars—Players Club, the Gibson, Marvin, American Ice Company, the Brixton, Echo Park, and El Rey—will close on Halloween “for the foreseeable future,” reports Washington City Paper‘s Laura Hayes. All locations are operated by brothers Ian and Eric Hilton under their H2 Collective hospitality group.
Like many other local spots, this string of bars has been hurt by the city’s Covid-19 regulations, writes Hayes, as Phase Two limits indoor capacity at bars to 50 percent. It also doesn’t help that the Paycheck Protection Program and the DC Small Business Recovery Microgrants haven’t shown signs of issuing more aid. And of course, winter is coming.
The closings mark the end of an era: many of these places have served as landmark nightlife spots for years. This reporter spent many pre-9:30 Club concert nights eating nachos at El Rey or American Ice, and waaaay too many 22-year-old nights crying into tequila shots at the Brixton while wearing a bandeau skirt. (I apologize to anyone I may have encountered there during the summer of 2014.)
It seems your correspondent isn’t the only one with fond (and, yes, perhaps blurry) memories of these spots. Other Washingtonians shared their favorite stories from the bars:
Threw up in Players Club bathroom after taking 5 consecutive shots of whiskey as a result of skee ball losses
— shred (@liluzigogert) September 15, 2020
I have so many fun memories of meet-cutes and nights out at Marvin & Gibson from 22/23 that I need time to sift through them.
— Mina Radman (@mina_radman) September 15, 2020
Too many to list all, but the most recent was at Echo Park where I celebrated my birthday in February, pre-pandemic. Staff was really nice setting up a reserved space for my group. Great pizza too. https://t.co/tS7ep3iylJ
— Zach K-man (@sportzak) September 15, 2020
American Ice Company was like the first “cool bar” I went to as a newly minted 21-year-old at AU. They served beer in mason jars! And had that rocky patio! And you could smoke on the patio! It made me feel like a cool adult to go there.
— fill out your 2020 census form! (@__dcemi) September 15, 2020
I met my ex at The Brixton and for the entirety of our 15-month situationship, he had my saved in his phone as "Jess (Brixton)". A 0/10 man but a 10/10 bar. https://t.co/bW3gxjOAuj
— JP (@Jessica_Philli) September 15, 2020
Tooooooo many to count. I just want to apologize to the owners of the Gibson for sucking face in their establishment https://t.co/2as4ShCkOx
— ???????? ?????????? (@redvelvtcake) September 15, 2020
Brixton was the perfect bar to introduce you to U Street after graduating. Actually trash masquerading as class, it was a gross rite of passage and I will miss it dearly
— Leigh Giangreco (@LeighGiangreco) September 15, 2020
the atrocities I saw passing brixton whilst shuffling down the sidewalk from Dirty Goose to the gay pizza place
— Kolby Lee (@KolbyLee) September 15, 2020
My 22nd birthday party when I made all my friends dress as Dads and we danced around El Rey in cargo shorts, white sneakers, and tucked in button downs going "hey sport!" to each other.
— Chelsea Cirruzzo ⚡️ (@ChelseaCirruzzo) September 15, 2020
I live right next to American Ice. I bring my dog every weekend, I went to Brixton all the time – so many drunk compliments. I'm actually very emotional and upset. https://t.co/WmDt46OmC0
— Blaine (@Blainev28) September 15, 2020
I usually steered clear of Brixton, but it was wonderful on Pride two years ago and I had a grand time on the rooftop. At least until the straights arrived with their sloppy grinding
Also, this classic D.C. politics moment https://t.co/lcJ8lsmPpU
— Fenit Nirappil (@FenitN) September 15, 2020
— Caitlin O (@catiecat) September 15, 2020
There was one winter (I think the first one it was open) where every second date I went on was at Players Club.
Brixton was the ultimate “first year in DC” bar to go to, great memories on that rooftop even if I outgrew it pretty quickly.
Hope they come back!!
— Owen Benge (@owenbenge) September 15, 2020
El Rey is one of the best places in DC to go from the pleasantly to ruinously drunk https://t.co/kSnxXOnq48
— defund as a means to abolish (@bexual_healing) September 15, 2020
Had my only bad first date at Gibson, sat there for 20m w/ bill on the table & I refused to even fake reach for my wallet. I have a love/hate relationship w/ El Rey – always complain abt going there but it’s a DC staple (w/ great nachos!). Def will miss the music at Marvin!
— Tali Israeli (@TaliIsraeli) September 16, 2020
Had a date at El Rey that the guy was 20 minutes late to because he couldn't find a dock for his Capital Bikeshare. The servers kept coming by and asking if I was still waiting ? https://t.co/nPRR9LrMw7
— Paige H (@outpaigeous) September 16, 2020
One time at a very early date with my husband at Marvin we had a bottle of wine I knocked over because I was 22 and already pretty inebriated. He told the waiter he did it. Maybe I knew then he was the one
— Kari Grant (@KariGrant88) September 16, 2020
— EW (@echowhiskey9) September 16, 2020
My fiancé and I met at Marvin over 7 years ago. Our second date was at The Brixton. I had a huge birthday party at Marvin. Also, had waaaay too many drinks at the Gibson to recount. This is just depressing.
— Kiersta (@Kiersta) September 16, 2020
I've got a memory (or 10) from each and every one of these joints. And what's amazing, thinking back, is how long a stretch of my life in and around this city those memories span. From my first days out of college to just last fall. https://t.co/ZPxnaYhij7
— Dov Friedman (@DovSFriedman) September 16, 2020
1. Grease-stained fingers from El Rey’s Al Pastor and Shrimp tacos
2. Kickin’ it at Marvins on a crisp fall night. Jammin’ to the music, slurring sentences, mapping my way to the front of the bar. Happy af
— Antonio G Caro (@AntonioGCaro1) September 16, 2020
Went to Marvin’s the first weekend it opened. My husband and I said – god I hope this place makes it. A month later there were lines around the block. Never went on busy nights but the staff there was amazing in fact two became close personal friends So sad
— Cp (@mrscpingram) September 16, 2020
My girlfriend and I had our second date at Players Club! We were there 7 hours, got roped into pool with a few local married couples, racked up an $80 tab, and stayed til bar close. It sealed the deal for me and we are still dating to this day ?
— Jenna Wirkus (@j_wirk) September 16, 2020
i had the best 7 hour long second date with Jenna at Players Club, where we were hit on by dudes multiple times, played pool with possible swingers, and asked if we were sisters. it hurts my little heart that we won't get to revisit 🙁 https://t.co/qiw6ktu5kD
— elizabeth! (@elixabyth) September 16, 2020
The Gibson saved my life on Inaug*ration Day 2017. Not sure which cocktail I got but remember the bartender set it on fire, which felt appropriate. https://t.co/TSfIgRuANe
— Gaspard Le Dem (@GLD_Live) September 16, 2020
Many a celebration and good times with friends at Marvin, including a birthday and watching @BarackObama win his second term.
— Jenna Sauber (@cajunjen) September 16, 2020
I still remember the night Cyndi Lauper came into @thegibsondc while I was bartending. When she left, at last call, I belted out True Colors not realizing a member of her entourage was in the bathroom. He walked out, and I was horrified. He said, “Don’t worry, I won’t tell her.” https://t.co/yakJRVx63l
— Derek Brown (@ideasimprove) September 16, 2020
First (blind) date with my now husband @DrCMcCormick started at the Brixton and ended at the Gibson 7.5 years ago.
— Junia Geisler (@JuniaGeisler) September 16, 2020
— Willschones (@willschones) September 15, 2020
— Court (@CourtK78) September 15, 2020
Favorite was sitting next to a first date sharing veggie nachos. One guy went to the bathroom and the other looked over sadly at our pork nachos so we gave him one. Vegetarians, ? was his response. Cheers to the memories American Ice Co.
— Samantha O'Neil (@soneil16) September 15, 2020
When I worked @Masa14, my chef friends and I would often stop by Marvin and have drinks on the deck. I liked it there. and I don't like anything
— Antonio Burrell (@GopherGodd) September 15, 2020
Definitely a hazy #GalentinesDay with margs, tacos al pastor, margs, tamales and best female company (and margs) @ElRey_DC and too much fun with @whoisbenchang and others @the_gibsondc and @playersclubdc. So sad to see all of these go — and what does this mean for #UStDC?
— Shaila Manyam ? (@ShailaManyam) September 15, 2020
Brixton was the first DC bar I went to when I turned 21, I showed up with my ski jacket because it was dec and it was the only jacket I had with me. A guy felt bad for me and bought me shots of patron all night, later found out he was hitting on me and I just thought he was nice https://t.co/IIuegE4DHj
— Jack Coster (@Cack_tweets) September 15, 2020