News & Politics

Legendary Quarterback Doug Williams on the 1980s DC Hangout That Opened a Country Boy’s Eyes

“Let me tell you, men did not hold up the wall. Women held up the wall.”

Photograph courtesy of Washington Football Team

“When I first got to Washington, I was talking to some of the guys in the dressing room, and I was asking them, ‘Where do you go to get some seafood?’ At the time, I was living in the Herndon area—there wasn’t any water anywhere around there. I had [grown up in] Louisiana, where seafood is big. They said, ‘Go to Hogate’s, but go on Thursday night.’ I said, ‘Why Thursday night?’ The guys said, ‘Just go—and don’t leave. Stay there until about 9:30, 10 o’clock. You’ll understand.’

“So I went down [to Hogate’s], me and my homeboy Big Herb. Herb and I went to school together at Grambling, and he had already been living in the DC area for about three years. Big Herb was about six-foot-six. They used to call him ‘the Overweight Lover.’ It was a nice restaurant, right on the water. Nobody really knew who Doug Williams was, coming from [the Tampa Bay Buccaneers]. When you think about it, what had gone on in Washington, with the winning and the Hogs, who cared about what’s coming from Tampa? We had a good dinner that night. Seafood. Crabs. Shrimp. Lobster. Redfish. You name it.

“It seemed liked around 9:30 pm, the crowd started coming in. Thursday night was Ladies’ Night. And let me tell you this, I was an old country boy from Zachary, Louisiana, who didn’t hang out at clubs normally, but when you did go to the club, there was normally more men than young ladies. But going to Hogate’s? Let me tell you, men did not hold up the wall. Women held up the wall. And coming from Louisiana, they had nightclubs and bars, but they didn’t have a restaurant where you could walk out of the restaurant and there’s a bar area and you open your eyes and see the things you were able to see. And I’m saying to myself, ‘Wow. Washington, DC!’

“That’s one of the best memories I had when I first got here. Every Thursday night, you find a way to go get a meal at Hogate’s.”

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Senior Writer

Luke Mullins is a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine focusing on the people and institutions that control the city’s levers of power. He has written about the Koch Brothers’ attempt to take over The Cato Institute, David Gregory’s ouster as moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, the collapse of Washington’s Metro system, and the conflict that split apart the founders of Politico.