Rockville, Maryland – Hank Dietle’s Tavern, a name that incarnates history on the Rockville Pike, was gutted recently in a late-night fire. One of the favorite watering hole of all sections of community including journalists, the outside still had hitching posts for horses from the yesteryears and a jukebox inside which played songs when you slipped in dollar notes. Authorities from the Maryland Fire Department blamed the catastrophic fire cause as mostly likely sparked by “discarded smoking materials.”
On the wall inside, was a proclamation that proudly declared it as the oldest bar in Montgomery County, as its liquor license being the first one issued after the repeal of Prohibition.
A pool table, a jukebox and some slot machines to play and pass time were basics on a daily basis as pitchers of beer were seen being empties. Over the weekend, the place got jam packed as local and visiting musicians played on a regular basis to patrons of live music.
No food was served inside the bar but there was a food truck in recent times coming to supplement with sandwiches and hotdogs.
Summing up the devastation in his final update tweet, Pete Piringer, Chief Spokesperson for Montgomery County (MD) Fire & Rescue Service – an Internationally Accredited Combination Career & Volunteer Public Safety Organization wrote: “11010 Rockville Pike, Hank Dietle’s; Cause, accidental, discarded smoking materials; Area of Origin, front porch (exterior); Damage, Total $500K, incl $400K bldg, $100K contents; no injury; ~65 FFs OS; passerby called 911”
With the official cause being “accidental, discarded smoking materials,” the insurance verdict is awaited but there are already mentions on the social media platforms urging Tony Huniak, the soft-spoken owner of the iconic bar, to go for a crowd-funding approach to rebuild.
Summing up her experiences at the Tavern, Amanda Pollak, a former manager shared the following:
Tony interviewed me when the Nighthawks were playing. I came with my friend, Steven, and we watched the band before I went outside to talk with Tony by the side door.
One of the things Tony told me was not to believe most of what I heard about the place. The regulars gossiped, he explained, and “shit gets twisted.”
So the one story I read on Yelp was inaccurate? I clarified. It described a motorcycle that had caught on fire in the parking lot. Customers, the review alleged, had tried to put it out with beer. Eventually, some wise soul decided to try water instead.
“Oh”, said Tony. “Yeah, that one’s true. That’s Dietle’s.”
That particular story did get twisted, but not the way you’d think. It turned out that Sanjay, the wise soul who successfully put it out, had used a fire extinguisher and not just water.
Nothing says Dietle’s like that flaming motorcycle. The beautiful thing about that bike is that, once the flames were out, its owner, a bar regular, hopped on it and rode off into the sunset. As far as I know, he kept coming back on that same bike, week after week.
It’s a miracle Dietle’s is still around, but, at this point, the old roadhouse made it too far to just die out now.