- The Washington Times - Friday, December 27, 2002

Second thoughts crossed Danny Coleman's mind about his restaurant and pub at 520 N. Capitol St. two weeks after he opened it in 1974.
A lunch customer walked in to find his girlfriend with another man. As the hostility of the confrontation intensified, the manager at the Dubliner noticed a gun protruding from the angry boyfriend's clothing. One of the police who had answered the call for help grabbed the man's arm, causing him to discharge the gun.
After 18 shots whizzed through the Dubliner, the boyfriend lay dead.
Mr. Coleman's slice of Capitol Hill was different then. Some buildings along North Capitol Street were shuttered or damaged from rioting several years earlier. Nearby Union Station was a shabby, run-down building.
Now, Union Station is a renovated downtown centerpiece and the Dubliner is a hangout for members of Congress, foreign dignitaries, entertainers and those who enjoy Irish music and a taste of the Old Country.
"Billionaires and cabdrivers," Mr. Coleman says about his clientele.
Mr. Coleman, 64, has turned over most daily functions of his pub to his staff.
"They really do the operation," he said. "I spend more time working on financial aspects."
He arrives at the Dubliner around 9:30 a.m. after coffee with his wife. His daily schedule is dictated by appointments and any special needs that arise.
"My day is really unpredictable," he said.
In one recent week, he arranged catering for a congressional party, followed the next day by catering for a hotel party. On other days, he managed renovations.
Mr. Coleman also spent time preparing for the New Year's celebration, second only to St. Patrick's Day in importance.
"We'll have hats, horns, noisemakers, champagne, that kind of stuff."
One of the few routines of his job is his favorite pastime of talking with customers.
His fortunes have grown from investing everything he had into paying the $500 monthly rent to owning both the pub and the adjoining Phoenix Park Hotel.
The 2002-03 edition of "Tom Horan's America's Top Ten Club," a restaurant rating list, ranks the Dubliner first among Irish pubs in the United States.
Among its features are two blends of beer, Auld Dubliner Amber Ale and Dubliner Irish Lager, made for the bar from hops imported from Ireland. Performers play Irish music nightly.
Mr. Coleman chose the Irish theme based on his boyhood background in Syracuse, N.Y. He grew up in the Tipperary Hill neighborhood. Most of its residents came from County Tipperary in the Republic of Ireland or were recent descendants of immigrants from the county, the first of whom came to the United States to help dig the Erie Canal.
A neighborhood traffic light was emblematic of the community. Rather than having a red light on top and a green light on bottom, the green light was on top and red light on bottom.
With fiercely Irish sentiments, the residents were upset that a red light a symbol of the British should be above the green, a color symbolic of the Irish. Neighborhood "stone throwers" kept bashing out the lights until the local public works department switched the configuration.
One of the traffic lights with green on top and red on bottom hangs in a corner of the Dubliner.
Mr. Coleman learned his trade from his father, who operated a pub in Syracuse. His brother still runs the family business there.
But Mr. Coleman set off for the excitement of Washington.
"It's a long way from Tipperary Hill to Capitol Hill," Mr. Coleman said. "It's really thrilling."
Folk singer John Denver once volunteered to perform at the Dubliner. "He sang for about an hour," Mr. Coleman said. Customers stayed late to watch him.
Bill Clinton, as governor of Arkansas, would hang out at the pub during trips to Washington.
One of Mr. Coleman's favorite customers is John Hume, an Irish Catholic member of the British Parliament who shares a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to broker an agreement between warring factions of Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.
Mr. Coleman expects to turn over the business to at least one of his six grown children, but he is uncertain when.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide