Nellie's Scores

Washingtonian readers pick a community favorite as best sports bar in metro area

by Yusef Najafi
Published on July 1, 2010, 3:11am | Comments

When it comes to the best sports bar in the District, it wasn't downtown's ESPN Zone or the Crystal City Sports Pub that won the votes of Washingtonian readers. Instead it was Nellie's Sports Bar at 900 U St. NW. Popular for attracting a large gay clientele, Nellie's came out on top among sports fans.

''I am incredibly happy,'' beams Doug Schantz, co-owner of Nellie's, about claiming the title in Washingtonian's July 2010 ''Best Of'' issue. ''It just happened. Isn't that crazy?'' Schantz adds that the venue's management was not aware of the contest and therefore did not campaign for votes.

''Usually, if we do know that we're in some type of contest, we would ask our customers to vote for us through our e-mail blast,'' says Schantz. Such a blast would be broadcast to nearly 8,000 people. But that wasn't the case with this victory, and Schantz says he's thrilled -- not surprised -- that Nellie's beat out all the other sports bars.

The Washingtonian doesn't describe Nellie's as a ''gay sports bar,'' but instead calls Nellie's ''no ordinary sports bar'' and highlights drag bingo on Tuesdays.

Schantz isn't bothered that the Washingtonian didn't refer to the venue as a gay bar.

''I think we've created something that's exceeded my expectations in terms of appealing to all different types of people,'' he says. ''Our core audience was pointed towards a gay audience, but the sports fans came and claimed Nellie's as their own right away. You cannot screw around with their needing to see sports -- like the World Cup right now. So I don't think it's ironic.

''It makes sense to me because of the number of different types of people I see at Nellie's all the time.''