Ventnor Sports Cafe is closing after 14 years of giving Adams Morgan a place for fans to bond over ballgames and chicken wings. The popular bar and restaurant’s social media accounts shared the news today with a photo of a handwritten message from owner Scott Auslander, who later confirmed it in a phone call with Eater.
Ventnor will remain open until the end of the month. Auslander says the original lease he signed in 2005 expires November 30, and he doesn’t have plans to renew it. “It’s just been 14 years,” Auslander tells Eater. “There’s really nothing more to say.”
The owner says he plans to take a long overdue vacation before figuring out if he can find somewhere else to set up shop in D.C.
Auslander took over the lease from a Chinese restaurant 15 years ago and says he took a little time to turn it into a sports cafe. Ventnor became a neighborhood hang with a menu dedicated to raising the quality of bar food in the area. It served up burgers and chicken wings, but also scratch-made hummus and mac and cheese brimming with short ribs and gruyere.
“We always tried to have better food, better knowledge of sports, doing what we can in a small space to be the best,” Auslander says.
The sports cafe became affiliated with several teams, especially the University of North Carolina. In Auslander’s letter, he wrote that UNC’s men’s basketball game against Michigan — another school that drew alumni to Ventnor — will serve as the backdrop for venue’s farewell party on Wednesday, November 28. Ventnor also lists itself as a destination for fans of Washington and Philadelphia pro sports teams as well as Stanford, Washington State, and Arizona State.
Auslander says he was touched by the outpouring of phone calls and emails he received after posts went out on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. He says with a laugh that, “It’s a little odd to get likes on a story about a closing.”
He says the best things that happened at Ventnor were the relationships forged there.
“What makes me happy today is all the comments about people who met their spouses here over the years,” he says, estimating the number of couples is more than a dozen. “One of my best friends met his wife here, and they have two kids. I know for those people it will be special. They’ll remember it forever.”
Longtime Adams Morgan neighbor Bourbon recently closed after a 12-year run.
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