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Lisa Nardelli, third-generation owner of Capitol Hill’s storied Tune Inn, has done her best to restore the fire-ravaged bar as closely to its original state as possible—-save for a few unfortunate deer butts.
The popular 64-year-old watering hole is expected to reopen on Friday, provided it gets the green light from city inspectors.
Part of its charm derives from all the quirky memorabilia that decorates the walls, including numerous mounted animal trophies and old-fashioned beer signs. To save these noteworthy items, Nardelli used a chemical solution to repair the damage caused by all the smoke. She was able to reuse almost all of the original pieces, except for “a few deer asses,” she notes, particularly those that hung above the ladies room. The lone remaining deer derrière hangs above the gentlemen’s lavatory.
While the changes are as minimal as possible, there are some inevitable alterations. The ceiling, for instance, was damaged beyond repair. So Nardelli and company have decided to expose the original rafters and masonry that had previously been covered up by plaster.
One upside to the Tune’s four-and-half-month hiatus: the bar now has more beers on tap—-a total of eight, including a couple of craft brews from Maryland’s Flying Dog Brewery previously not sold on premises. But fear not, fans of cheap suds. PBR remains in ample supply, Nardelli proudly reports. “We’re still a beer and shot place,” she says.
The staff by and large hasn’t changed, with the exception of six new employees from the neighboring Hawk ‘n’ Dove, now shuttered and awaiting its own renovation. Eddie Peterson, the Hawk’s former chef, will now be running weekly specials at the Tune.
Looking around the repaired barroom on Tuesday, Nardelli seems satisfied that the renovations have not compromised the dingy dive’s, um, unique character.
“We’re a redneck place,” she says. “It’s a comfort zone. It’s who we are.”
Photos by Stephanie Meyer