Abbe Levin (with scissors), Quarry House Tavern landlord, prepares to cut the ribbon as tavern owner Jackie Greenbaum (center) and long-time employee Emily Cox look on. Photo by Mike Diegel.
About 30 people attended a ribbon-cutting and “rededication” ceremony yesterday to mark the official reopening of a local favorite, the Quarry House Tavern.
Closed for three years after a fire and flood, the bar reopened earlier this month to lines of folks eager to grab the beer, burger, whiskey or tater tots for which the tavern is known.
Prior to remarks from owner Jackie Greenbaum, Councilmember George Leventhal (D-At Large) presented a proclamation on behalf of the council welcoming the Quarry House back to Silver Spring.
“When the fire happened three years ago, we thought it was going to be a very short before we’d be able to reopen,” Greenbaum said prior to the ribbon cutting. “Nobody could have ever imagined that it would be so long and so hard to get back open again.”
Greenbaum thanked a number of people who contributed to the effort, including the first responders who handled the fire, elected officials, county agency staff from the Department of Permitting Services, the Department of Liquor Control, WSSC staff and others.
She especially thanked “the most amazing landlord that we were so fortunate to have,” Abbe Levin.
Levin, as the building owner, was responsible for all the fees, permits and plans, processes and reviews that made the reopening possible.
“It was insanely difficult,” Greenbaum said, adding, “I’m sure she really bit off more than she was planning to chew.”
Levin will have a bar stool dedicated to her in recognition of those efforts, Greenbaum announced.
Once Levin cut the ribbon and the guests were settled in the tavern for libations and snacks, Greenbaum stepped aside to talk to the Source about what the reopening meant to her and the staff, all of whom came back to work at the Quarry House. Here are some excerpts:
- “[The staff and I] were really heartbroken when it closed. It wasn’t just the drama of the fire and how upsetting that was, but there was something missing, and it was really obvious after a little bit of time elapsed.”
- “On one level, we were personally heartbroken and personally really sort of ached for it; you know, there wasn’t any place like it.”
- “There’s something physically special about the Quarry House, about the basement pub and the paneled walls and the low ceilings and no outside light coming in. It’s very womb-like. People fall in love with it, and once they fallen in love with it, there’s a certain homey feeling to this bar that people really did miss.”
- “There’s something about Silver Spring and the customer base that comes to the Quarry House that is unique. I noticed it the first day when people were waiting in line and subsequent days. It’s really hard to put you finger on it, but you have sort of older-looking, maybe kind of slightly hippie-ish looking or who knows what kind of looking, something or other, who when you get to talking to them are a Ph.D. at NASA or something. They’re very interesting people that don’t fit any one kind of stereotype or one kind of mold.”
- “There’s something really familial and chill and unpretentious about the customer base here, no matter who they are, whether they’re like punk rock kids with tattoos or older neighbors or families or 22-year-old college students who are usually the worst. They’re not here. There’s a very special sort of feeling inside the bar when it’s open, and we’re all so happy that it’s open again.”
The Source also asked a few long-time patrons to share their thoughts on the tavern’s return:
On what the tavern means to them
Eric Robbins, East Silver Spring resident, co-founder, Silver Spring Zombie Walk
For me personally, from a hyperlocal perspective, having QH back means there’s a great option for excellent beer and whiskey that’s only a couple of blocks from my house—no need to trek into the formal downtown area.
It’s also the first bar I ever hung out at in Silver Spring back in the early 2000s. And it’s where the first Silver Spring Zombie Walk began back in 2008. I’ll never forget the feeling of walking into QH that night and, much to my surprise, the place was PACKED with zombies.
Walking in at a preview event, it felt just the same but with more breathing room. Moving the kitchen to create more space by the door really made it feel more spacious. Until, of course, it got packed with people. I’ve also missed half-price burgers on Monday and Whiskey Wednesdays. And now I have a place to go late on Sunday nights after curling league. 🙂
Evan Glass, Indian Springs resident (and candidate for County Council)
The Quarry House Tavern is a Montgomery County institution. It is probably the best known and most beloved neighborhood bar in Silver Spring. I’m really excited that all the long-time residents are able to return for the beer, burgers and tater tots, and that all the new residents will soon discover why Quarry House is so special.
Kathy Stevens, East Silver Spring resident
Personally I’m glad to have a comfortable, neighborhood-oriented spot back. I’m not a chain restaurant-type of person and so I love the uniqueness of the QHT. I also value having a savvy and committed businesswoman back to running a successful bar/restaurant. She is able to maintain commitment to a neighborhood institution while also matching her business to contemporary tastes.
Chip Py, local photographer
Personally I like going to a place in the town I call home that has weathered the rapid change of the area. Burgers, tots and live music help get my mojo going, too.
On the tavern’s value to the community
Robbins: For the community, I think the timing is fortuitous. Bibim closed, The Classics closed, and that left gaping holes for a lot of people. The one thing I don’t want to forget is Lina’s Café. We’ve been there quite a bit over the past several months, and they’ve really helped fill a gaping hole.
I also hope that the traffic going to that intersection because of QH really drives more foot traffic there, too. They need it. While they have a more limited selection, especially in terms of drinks, the place looks great, the food is excellent, and they have the awesome patio. It’s nostalgia mixed with economic development.
Glass: Neither fire nor flood could keep it from reopening.
Stevens: A beloved treasure is back. Crazy as it sounds, the basement setting, beer selection and amazing burgers are just the right combination that allows a good space for a wide range of community members to escape to and relax in.
Py: So much of Silver Spring has been sanitized and deodorized with this “fake town concept” development, I think having a business like the Quarry House helps some residents stay in touch with the past. Older folks appreciate this and now younger folks are starting to catch onto this, too.
Quarry House Tavern patrons at the reopened bar. Photo by Mike Diegel.
Watch the rededication ceremony here: