2021 | Business

Hank Dietle’s could reopen later this month

Tavern stood on Rockville Pike for 102 years before a fire destroyed it in 2018

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Hank Dietle's Tavern on Rockville Pike could reopen later this month, more than three years after it was destroyed by a fire.

Photo by Dan Schere

Hank Dietle’s Tavern in North Bethesda could reopen later this month, more than three years after the bar was destroyed by a fire.

Dietele’s, a roadside bar that opened in 1916, became engulfed in smoke and flames on Valentines Day 2018 due to a discarded cigarette that was still lit. The bar was the first in Montgomery County to receive a beer and wine license.

After the fire, many in the community said they wanted to save Dietle’s. In September 2019, former band booker Thomas Bowes, his wife Sarah Bonner and photographer Alan Kresse signed a 10-year-lease on the property along Rockville Pike in North Bethesda. Since then, they have been coordinating the efforts to rebuild the tavern.

In February, the bar was re-approved for a liquor license. The major renovations are done, but there are still a few logistical issues that need to be worked out, the bar’s talent buyer Lisa White told Bethesda Beat on Wednesday.

White said choosing vendors, finalizing menus and determining the point-of-sale system are among the practical tasks that have yet to be completed.

“The last thing you want is to get slammed and then have people not know how to do the cash register. There’s just a lot of things like that,” she said.

White said she thinks the bar could open this month, although she doesn’t yet know the exact date. Many local and regional bands have expressed interest in playing at the revived Dietle’s, she said.

“There were a number of bands that stepped up for benefits to help raise money to build it back up after the fire,” she said. “So I just reached out to all of those bands and said ‘just give me a list of all the dates that you can play in the next two months. And then once we get our opening date, I’ll figure out who fits where.’”

White said that she looks forward to seeing Dietle’s thrive again, particularly after the isolation many experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Coming now, off of a time when there was no gathering spaces for anyone anywhere outside their own homes, it’s really great that now this place that has served that purpose in the community is going to be that again,” she said.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com