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Thanks to a new lease, the DC Eagle leather bar has at least five more years at its Mount Vernon Square locale — where it has been for more than 20 years — despite ongoing development of the area, including the Convention Center and Penn Quarter.
”We’ve been negotiating on renewing the lease since before January and we just finalized it, so we’re good for another five years,” says Bill Cappello, co-owner of the DC Eagle.
”We’re sprucing the place up,” he adds. ”We just put a cover on the deck so you can go outside even in inclement weather and smoke, and we’re getting ready to renovate the front of the bar.”
Other improvements will include updates to electricity and plumbing in the building at 693 New York Ave. NW, though no work should interrupt the bar’s regular operating schedule.
”We’re going to continue our regular community service with the different leather organizations and nonprofit organizations here — even expanding that,” Cappello says.
”The second floor is going to be open every night of the week instead of just Wednesday through Sunday. We’ll be opening earlier on the weekends. And we’re going to ‘free pour,’ so people can see that they’re getting their mixers straight out of the bottle. No more flat sodas and tonics and soda waters.”
Come 2015, however, and the expiration of this new lease, Cappello says he’ll be looking for a permanent home for his bar.
“We’re going to have to find a new roost,” he jokes. ”They’re expecting development to start again at least within the next five years. We have money in an escrow account just waiting if the right place comes up. It’s what you do when you’re leasing a place.”
Cappello says while Eagle management was negotiating the new lease, they were also hunting for a new spot for the Eagle ”everywhere from Anacostia to U Street.”
Two locations that were seriously considered were an old firehouse on North Capitol Street and a building on Florida Avenue NW near U Street.
The DC Eagle first opened in 1971. In November, the bar celebrated its 38th birthday. The Eagle moved to its current location in 1987. Since then the neighborhood has changed.
”It’s definitely a lot cleaner and a lot safer, a lot more foot traffic,” Cappello says. ”The neighbors are moving in, the condos are filling up, and that’s all good news.”
The new beginning is symbolic for Cappello, who returned to the Eagle after battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma with four months of chemotherapy.
”It was really aggressive but it’s all over now, and we’re looking really good.”