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Fado Irish Pub Is Permanently Closed, Ending a 22-Year-Run in Chinatown

The bar could not negotiate another extension on its lease

Fado Irish Pub on 7th Street NW.
Fado/official photo
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

One of D.C.’s essential Irish bars won’t reopen after the novel coronavirus crisis is over. Fado Irish Pub has permanently closed in Chinatown, ending a 22-year run. Bill Dickinson, the listing broker from Rappopport for the property at 808 Seventh Street NW, confirmed the closure via the landlord. The bar confirmed the news on its Facebook page today.

Popville reported on the potential closing Monday, citing an anonymous source and a Facebook post written by someone appearing to be a worker at the bar.

Fado closed on March 16, when the D.C. mayor’s dine-in ban went into effect — and right before the biggest Guinness-guzzling day of the year, St. Patrick’s Day.

The Facebook announcement from the bar says the lack of a long term lease, and not the current public health crisis decimating restaurants, is responsible for its demise:

“Like many others in D.C., the reason for our closing is “progress”. We have negotiated quarterly extensions to our lease for the past two years, while trying to negotiate a long term-agreement. And, after years of trying, we have been unable to do so. There will be many restaurants that will not reopen after the current closures. Ironically, ours is not about COVID-19, we just could not renew our lease.”

Known for its live music and trivia nights, the sprawling Irish mainstay built its fish and chips with wild-caught North Atlantic cod. Third-generation Vermont butchers prepare its corned beef and sausages. Its Irish coffees were popular pick-me-ups.

Fado debuted in March 1998, when the Chinatown corridor looked much different than it does now, and Capital One Arena (then MCI Center) was less than a year old.

“Over this long period of time, rents have gone up significantly,” says Dickinson.

The broker says he’s been marketing the 7th Street NW property for over a year now, though it only just came to light Fado was not reopening. He says he’s currently in talks with tenants to take over the closed corner Starbucks location and 5,000-square-foot Fado space next door.

D.C. bid adieu to a trio of Irish standbys over the past year: Georgetown’s Ri Ra, Alexandria’s Fiona’s Irish Pub, and James Hoban’s Irish Restaurant in Dupont Circle. Chinatown’s fish-and-chips scene also includes Irish Channel Restaurant & Pub.

Fado has grown into a small chain, with another location in nearby Annapolis and outposts listed in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, and Seattle, as well as Columbus, Ohio, and Abu Dhabi. Eater has reached out to Fado for comment. The brand’s IG account has been hosting virtual happy hours and trivia nights during the pandemic.