Young and Hungry

Argonaut Down by Fire; Tavern Hopes to Re-Open By August


UPDATED: 5:47 p.m., 6/21/2010

The irrepressible Chris Shott has more information on the Sunday morning fire that closed down the Argonaut, one of Y&H's top five eateries for onion rings. (And if you've had the Arognaut's honey-drizzled rings, you know that's not damning with faint praise.) Shott also draws upon his past as a D.C. nightlife reporter to lay out owner Joe Englert's unfortunate history with fire.

Y&H is trying to track down the elusive Englert even as I type, but a lot of info can already be found on the Argonaut's own Web site, including photos of the devastated kitchen (sound familiar?) and a prediction about when the place hopes to re-open. Short answer: before its August birthday, when the joint turns 5.

I just got off the phone with Englert who's relaxing (well, sort of) in the Adirondacks. He may want to stop visiting upstate New York. "Every time I go to the Adirondacks, something burns down," Englert says. The Capitol Lounge fires that Shott detailed both occurred while Englert was in the Adirondacks.

The owner says that the kitchen and half the bar were destroyed by the fire. "Aside from that, it's fine," he says about the structure. He doesn't have a damage estimate yet.

"It's disappointing because we were doing well there," Englert says. The Argonaut, with about 99 seats, was pulling down about $1.3 million in annual revenues, he adds.

Once he gets a structural OK from the city, Englert hopes to reopen at least the upstairs portion of the Argonaut and sell alcohol, with some light finger foods brought in from elsewhere. It will likely require a new tavern license from the city.

For now, Englert and his partners are helping their Argonaut employees find work, whether in one of Englert's other properties or elsewhere. "I'm sure we can beat the bushes and get them work."

Photo courtesy of the Argonaut