Friends of mine already know about my semi-fascination with Joe Englert. As an armchair observer of DC and participant in DC nightlife, I would definitely say that Englert has done a lot for DC. In fact, I'd say he's done as much as anyone has for DC.
When we were all younger, his bars and clubs were our bars and clubs of choice: 15 Minutes, Insect Club, Planet Fred (later the Lucky Bar), Crowbar, Big Hunt, etc. All those places were go-to places and we had a lot of fun there. When we reached "club age," we first went to the standard places (the only places if you asked us) -- places that weren't Rumors or whatever other mainstream bars were going on at the time. We mainly wanted a cool place to hang out that played cool music. Those places were Poseurs and then Backalley Cafe and then Cagney's.
But after those three places closed up, it seemed like there wasn't a place to go hang out and dance as well. But then 15 Mins opened up, and we were there what felt like every weekend. We'd see Joe at 15 Mins, and he'd give us passes or would say hello at the door. We'd see him at Planet Fred all the time. There was a lot of youth mis-spent there. We felt like regulars -- felt like we belonged.
Now, Englert is working on fixing up H St. NE. He's got six bars going on now, and is working on luring in more businesses. I gotta say I'm rooting for the guy. It seems like he's really got some work cut out for himself at H St. I went with Scott to see Retisonic at the Red and the Black about 6 months ago. The Atlas District (what they're calling the strip on H St NE) right now is still pretty desolate and rough. But who knows -- if anybody can pull off revitalizing the strip, it might be Joe. If I had the energy, motivation, and balls, I'd love to do what he does.
(Oh yea, and his favorite band is the Pogues, so he's okay in my book right there. As a matter of fact we saw him when the Shane MacGowan movie showed at Visions. He was there with his wife, Lynn, who went to my high school. Small town.)
Some Englert links:
Wash City Paper: Englertification
The Goodspeed Update
Wash Business Journal
WaPo on Atlas District
Some Englert H St Bars:
Red and Black
Palace of Wonders (Showbar)
Rock and Roll Hotel