We value your support now more than ever.

All year we’ve been covering the issues that matter most to you—the pandemic, the election, policing, housing, and more—and now our end of year membership campaign is here. Will you support our work to ensure we can bring you the same informative local reporting in 2021?

Popular H Street NE hangout The Argonaut is closed following an apparent kitchen fire on Sunday morning. Photos of the extensive damage have been posted on the place’s own web site, which also dishes up some details on the Argo’s post-blaze hangover:  

Most of you may not know this, but our kitchen used to be an alley. Which means that the wall separating the kitchen and the bar is an “outside wall” and is several layers of brick. We are very thankful for that brick wall – it helped contain the fire.

Prolific tavern operator Joe Englert, who owns the Argonaut, is no stranger to the inherent fire hazards of the bar and restaurant business. His lawyers just settled a lawsuit with the Hartford Casual Insurance Company over damages associated with a 2007 blaze at one of Englert’s other locations, Capitol Lounge on Pennsylvania Avenue SE, according to court records. That fire also damaged the neighboring Trover Shops, which Hartford had insured.

I’m referring to the second Capitol Lounge fire, of course, not the first. Both were reportedly started by errant cigarettes. The first fire, in 2005, radically altered this reformed nightlife reporter’s position on D.C.’s smoking ban (although the link to that old City Paper article is, apparently and rather regretably, no longer available).

Argonaut management is organizing a benefit at the neighboring Englert-owned Rock and Rock Hotel on June 30, with proceeds going to help repair the fire damage.

Photo by DCist/Creative Commons Attribution License