Q & A with Local Bartenders
At the Dancing Crab, everyone feels like family. In Chris Leach’s case, it runs in the family—they’ve been involved in the business for years. His laidback attitude adds to the casual vibe at The Dancing Crab.
On Tap: How did you get into bartending?
Chris Leach: I was living in the Outer Banks. I moved back to the area and started bussing tables here. I moved to the kitchen and then was a server, and then they needed a bartender. It happened in a matter of a few months. I enjoy every minute of being a bartender. I get to meet a lot of new people. I enjoy the atmosphere. I like experimenting with drinks.
OT: What made you leave the Outer Banks?
CL: I have a short attention span. I’m already contemplating my next move. Might be the West Coast in a few years.
OT: Best item on the food menu in your opinion?
CL: The crab dip. It’s delicious. It’s the recipe of one of our servers!
OT: What is your favorite shift?
CL: Saturday night. I work with another bartender Peter, we have a lot of fun and he’s a great guy to work with. It’s also Karaoke night.
OT: Are the singers good?
CL: A lot of them are very good singers. Then you get the occasional singer who has had too much to drink and doesn’t quite get the words right. Which is equally as entertaining.
Catch Chris behind the bar Monday, Friday, and Saturday nights at Dancing Crab.
The Dancing Crab has been a Washington tradition since 1973. Locals, AU students, commuters, even a few visiting celebs drop in for an unpretentious, homey atmosphere where they will not be bothered. One of the only DC spots to find all-you-can-eat hard-shelled blue crabs; their tables are full no matter what night of the week. Currently owned by the minds behind Tony & Joes and Nick’s Riverside Grille, you can be sure only the freshest seafood is being served.
Dancing Crab: 4611 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; 202-244-1882; www.thedancingcrab.com
Sophia Simril might look like she just stepped out of a rap video, but this hottie has much more to offer than just a pretty face. She’s the woman manning the bar at Billy Goat Tavern. Regulars praise her friendliness and her honesty as one of the reasons they keep coming back.
On Tap: What is the best part about working here?
Sophia Simril: The people. It’s just fun. We have a lot of people who dress up in suits during the day. Then they come in here at night, untie their tie, and suddenly, they are not a Democrat or a Republican, they are just at Billy Goat, enjoying themselves.
OT: Do you have any exciting trips planned for summer?
SS: Yes! I am going to Miami for the first time. I am just looking forward to wearing a string bikini!
OT: Where can you be found when you are not working?
SS: At school. I’m studying at NoVa to be a Registered Nurse. Either that, or spending time with my two kids.
OT: What are you most looking forward to about Summer?
SS: Well, I’ll be training for a figure competition. So that means not a lot of drinking for me. I’m at the gym 6 days a week. I only get one cheat day.
OT: What do you eat on your cheat day?
SS: Sweets! I will have dessert before dinner. That’s how much I love it.
Catch Sophia behind the bar Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights at Billy Goat Tavern.
The Billy Goat Tavern has a long and storied history that dates all the way back to Chicago 1935. The DC establishment came onto the scene eight years ago. Although it’s located on Capitol Hill, the vibe feels more beach-bound than buttoned-up. Hotel guests, Hill staffers, and locals alike gather for a taste of the “horny goat” (we told you it wasn’t buttoned up). With a newly opened second patio, there’s even more room for fun this summer.
Billy Goat Tavern: 500 New Jersey Ave. NW, DC; 202-783-2123; www.billygoattavern.com
Born in DC, Tollie Henderson Jr. is a people person with dreams of finding his big break in Cali. When he’s not busy just being himself, he has been known to do homework at the bar, testing out Jamaican or English accents on the customers.
On Tap: How long have you been at McLoone’s?
Tollie Henderson: Since it opened in June 2010. I came in for an interview. And eight minutes after I left the harbor, I got the call that I got the job.
OT: They must have liked you! How did you get into bartending?
TH: I started out here as a server. A bunch of my regulars bugged them until they moved me up to the bar. I managed briefly but couldn’t keep up the hours. I’m in school part time—studying theater. What I really hope to do is get into film.
OT: So we can assume a move is in your future?
TH: Yep, plan is to move to California in 2015.
OT: What is the best part about working here?
TH: Mainly that I can be myself. At other places, sometimes you have to put on a front, but here it is so laidback and you can talk to people like they are your friends. That and the money ain’t bad. As a student interested in acting yeah, the money is pretty good.
OT: What’s the best drink you serve here?
TH: We have a rum bucket. It includes five different types of tropical rums with pineapple juice. They say it serves 2 to 4, but no one shares. It’s a one-and-done sort of drink.
Catch Tollie behind the bar Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and weekend nights at McLoone’s.
During the summertime is when McLoone’s truly shines, the doors are open, the music is playing, you’ve got the breeze off the water, and they celebrate sunset every night! Pull up a seat to the bar for a rum bucket and buffalo chicken wontons, or request a patio seat overlooking the National Harbor for a casual but fine dining experience.
McLoone’s Pier House: 141 National Harbor Plaza, Oxon Hill, MD; 301-839-0815; www.mcloonespierhousenh.com