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Meet Mike and Ike: A pair of protruding, very hairy, adult-male bison that hang over the bar at Capitol Hill’s Beuchert’s Saloon.
The week-old restaurant’s 1920s- and ‘30s-inspired decor pays homage to the original Beuchert’s Saloon, which occupied the same address at 623 Pennsylvania Ave. SE decades ago. The watering hole opened in the late 1800s and operated as a speakeasy during Prohibition. While Mike and Ike don’t have any historical significance to the space, co-owner August Paro, a former movie set designer, says he couldn’t resist them. Now, they’re the restaurant’s unofficial mascots.
The pair of heads are just the latest in D.C.’s taxidermy trend. Last July, Y&H reported on the display of stuffed, dead animals at places like American Ice Company, Black Jack, Chez Billy, Jaleo downtown, Irish Whiskey, and other trendy eateries.
Paro recognizes the taxidermy as a “hip” thing, but he says the buffalo were more of an impulse buy. Back in January, Paro and Beuchert’s Saloon sous chef John Keuspert drove more than 15 hours in a minivan to pick up the almost identical heads from an antiques dealer in northern Connecticut. The buffalo came from a hunting trip in Montana, and the dealer sold them both for a few thousand bucks.
“You can’t really put a price on them,” Paro says. “We also got some really funny looks on the drive back, but it was all worth it.”
The mirror-backed bar had to be redesigned for the buffalo to fit, Paro says. Both heads are filled with a foam, making them surprisingly light and easy to hang.
Paro has even invented an entire back story for Mike and Ike (no relation to the candy, apparently). Mike is the wiser of the two, and can be identified by his goatee. Ike, meanwhile, is the notorious party animal, and the reason the two ended up as taxidermy in the first place.
Photos by Tim Ebner