Quarry House’s long move back

IMAGE: Patrons enjoy the Quarry House Tavern’s temporary location: “Mike” from Detroit on the left, Bruce Parsons on the right and Bill Evans in the background. Photo by Leigh McDonald.

BY LEIGH MCDONALD

Silver Spring’s Quarry House Tavern is slowly but steadily rebuilding.

The property owner, Abbe Levin, confirmed that construction has started. “The plan is to get [Quarry House Tavern] in there first and then work on the rest of the building.”

“The devil has been in the details,” said restaurant owner, Jackie Greenbaum. “It’s been a long and complicated process.”

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Entrance to the old Quarry House Tavern. Photo by Leigh McDonald.

Fire damage forced Quarry House Tavern to move more than a year and a half ago.

The cause of the March 19, 2015 fire is undetermined, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services spokesman, Pete Piringer, said. It is believed to have been an accidental electrical fire. It started in the ceiling between the ground and second floor.

The tavern is over 70-years-old and structural aspects that were once accepted under previous conditions must now be brought up to code.

Once they receive the final permits, Greenbaum expects the rebuilding to take three months. “I’m hopeful,” said the restaurant owner, who believes they are in the “home stretch.”

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The new location has touches of the old ambiance. Photo by Leigh McDonald.

A month after the fire, Greenbaum reopened the restaurant in a temporary location across the street.

On the walls of Quarry House Temporary hang art and posters retrieved from “the basement,” the original bar’s nickname. Christmas lights are strung across the ceiling.

Behind the narrow bar, the floor-to-ceiling windows are covered with beer case cardboard, but light seeps through the cracks between. The back patio door stays open, allowing servers carrying plates of burgers and the bar’s famous tater tots to pass through.

On a Friday evening, the regulars joked about their beloved tavern’s ambience.

“We don’t like the sun,” said Bill Evans.

“Sun bad. Basement good,” added Bruce Parsons.

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The Quarry House Temporary has a patio. Photo by Leigh McDonald.

Despite the temporary location’s brighter lighting, the group appreciates the facilities – the patio and the bathroom, especially.

“A working bathroom with a door? Now that’s a real treat,” said Mike, a Detroit transplant and Quarry House frequenter.

The staff appreciates the larger kitchen. The tavern has offered more homemade cooking and specials since its move across the street. Thursdays, they host “Pups on the Patio,” when patrons are invited to bring their leashed dogs to the restaurant’s outdoor space.

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The old Quarry House location at the northeast corner of Georgia Avenue and Bonifant Street, Silver Spring, MD. Photo by Leigh McDonald.

But Greenbaum is planning behind the scenes improvements such as a kitchen upgrade and better air conditioning for the basement location. “We spent the summer developing detailed plans with the property architect and…kitchen designer,” she said. “It will still have the paneled walls and the old bar.”

It will be the same old Quarry House. But behind the scenes…[it will be] new and improved,” said Greenbaum.

The relationship between the staff and customers will remain unchanged.

“The staff of Quarry House is very much tied to the identity of the place…[they’re] loved by the customer base and there’s a real connection the customers have to the staff,” said Greenbaum.

“It’s the people that drew us back,” said Evans. “When the other bar burned down, I went looking for a place and couldn’t find one. [This bar is] almost like a social club. We meet almost every day, exchange bulls—, and enjoy each other’s company. We’ve just been grateful to have a place called Quarry House.”

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The Bombay Gaylord Indian and the Mandarin Chinese restaurants above the Quarry House were more heavily fire-damaged and remain closed. Photo by Leigh McDonald.

About the Author

Leigh McDonald
Leigh McDonald is a graduate student at the University of Maryland.