Behind the Bar, Wining & Dining

Al Chadsey – Local Legend Comes to Old Town

Al Chadsey – Local Legend Comes to Old Town

By Bob Tagert

For those of you who have been in this town for the past 50 years like myself, we can remember a time when D.C. was really crazy, Georgetown was the hot spot and the Golden Triangle was becoming the new hot spot for places to meet old friends and make new ones. Luigi’s or Gusti’s were the hip restaurants where you could get a dinner for two of veal parmesan, a side of pasta in a red sauce and a bottle of Mateus or Lancers Rose for a grand total of about $25.00.

All these memories came flooding back when I recently sat down with Al Chadsey, the new General Manager of Union Street Public House. Back in those days, circa 1974, Al was a bartender and then manager at the extremely popular Beowulf restaurant and pub. He soon after invested in his own restaurant and bought The Embers a few blocks from Beowulf on 19th street N.W. Chadsey and his 5 partners eventually changed the concept and Pierce Street Annex was born. Pierce Street grew in popularity over the years as did the other neighboring watering holes…Flaps, Rumors, Apple Pie and Sign of the Whale.

The pace of life just seemed slower back then. Celebrities would visit D.C. and there would be no entourage. “John Denver would come to town and play the Cellar Door and then stop at Pierce Street and we would play backgammon till the wee hours of the morning,” Chadsey tells me. “Arnold Schwarzenegger would stop by and we even had Ted Danson and Rick Springfield (when he was Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital) as a guest bartenders!”

Happy Hours seemed to last longer back then. In those days the bartenders would throw back as many shots as the customers. “You have to remember,” Chadsey says, “this was before the metro and roads were crowded leaving the city, so folks would just stay and maybe have dinner as well.”

This is just a brief glimpse of times gone by and we are hoping that Al can bring some of the magic of those days back to Old Town. Bell bottoms are making a comeback so maybe there is hope! Stop in Union Street and introduce yourself to a legend and learn a little about the hay days of the bar stars.

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