This story was updated at 4 p.m. on Jan. 25, 2021, to include comments from Thomas Bowes
Hank Dietle’s Tavern, the century-old bar along Rockville Pike that was destroyed by a fire nearly three years ago, could soon be back in business.
The North Bethesda bar’s owners have applied for a class D liquor license, which would allow the business to sell beer and wine on or off site, according to documents filed with the Montgomery County Board of License Commissioners.
A hearing on the license application is scheduled for Feb. 4.
Thomas Bowes, one of the owners, told Bethesda Beat Monday afternoon that he hopes the bar will open by late spring if all of the remaining construction work goes according to plan.
“We’re just moving ahead, trying to get things done,” he said. “All the drywall’s in place, so I’ve got some painting and I’ve got to put floors down and put all the electrical fixtures done.”
The exact timing of the opening, Bowes said, will depend in part on how quickly COVID-19 restrictions are lifted for indoor dining.
Dietle’s suffered a large fire on Valentine’s Day 2018, when a discarded cigarette butt in a flowerpot started a fire that spread and engulfed the building in flames. The bar was 102 years old.
In the years since the fire, there has been a movement to revive Dietle’s from the ashes.
Bowes, a former band booker there; his wife, Sarah Bonner; and photographer Alan Kresse signed a 10-year-lease for the property in September 2019. They have been coordinating construction efforts since then.
A Facebook group called “Hank Dietle’s Tavern Rides Again” posts updates about progress on the bar.
A Jan. 21 post in the group states that drywall and insulation work is done. Finishing the floors is next, it stated.
“We really appreciate the donations of tile, doors, lamps and other miscellaneous items to help the project along,” the post stated. “At some point in the not too distant future we can open up for live bands or at least spilling beer with the jukebox cranking.”
Bowes told Bethesda Beat in the fall that he hoped Dietle’s could open by December, but was not sure how quickly customers would return due to COVID-19 restrictions. Indoor dining at bars and restaurants in Montgomery County has been banned since Dec. 15.
Bowes said Monday that when the bar reopens, the owners will need to work out the parking situation with next-door neighbor Java Nation, whose parking lot is adjacent.
Dan Schere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org