In 1966 founder Henry Yaffe bought the establishment at Pennsylvania Avenue and 6th Street SE, a country-western bar then called The 601 Club, and, without closing, “Mr. Henry,” as he came to be known, remodeled the space to the wood-paneled pub you see today.
Two years later Mr. Henry hired a local school teacher to sing in the pub. "She told me that if I could give her work three nights a week, she could quit teaching," Henry recalled. Before long an upstairs performance area was constructed just for her, with oak paneling rescued from the Dodge Hotel before its demolition. This singer, none other than Roberta Flack, would go on to win 4 Grammys for the songs "Killing Me Softly” and “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face."
With its unique vibe of locals’ bar/soul nightclub, Henry’s drew a diverse crowd of a demographic mix atypical of the sixties. Noteworthy guests such as Eddie Harris, Ramsey Lewis, Johnny Mathis, Carmen McRae, and Burt Bacharach were in regular attendance at Mr. Henry’s, to name but a few. Flack would often share her stage and piano bench with them, even playing with Liberace one night.
Among the cast of characters that have called Mr. Henry’s home are two notable staff members, the late bartender Rudi Appl and owner-operator Alvin Ross, who between them set the tone for Mr. Henry’s. Appl kept watch over the bar for nearly 50 years, charming thousands. Ross, who started out as a waiter, became the manager and partner in the business. He operated the restaurant for decades and recently retired to take some well-earned time at the beach.
Mr. Henry's Today
Mr. Henry's is a Capitol Hill mainstay--a place to relax, meet with friends, soak up the local atmosphere, and enjoy a classic American pub cuisine menu including tasty burgers, sandwiches, entree plates, salads, and soups. During the summer, the patio is the place to be for people-watching and enjoying a perfectly chilled cocktail.
The restoration of the upstairs space has left intact the historic paneling from the old Dodge Hotel and kept the look and feel it was known for in the late 60’s when Roberta Flack made her meteoric rise to stardom.
In addition to the refinishing, Henry’s Upstairs has reengaged the music community! We host the Capitol Hill Jazz Jam every Wednesday, a Bluegrass & Americana series on Thursday nights, a series of featured jazz artists on Friday, and a showcase of leading jazz bands in the Showcase series on Saturday nights! We frequently have special events and shows on Sunday evenings.
We also have the space available for personal events. With the support of the community, Mr. Henry's will continue to embrace its role as a Capitol Hill mainstay and a favorite neighborhood hangout.
Please feel free to contact us regarding Special Event queries or Reservations in the form below. We are always happy to receive feedback from you, our valued customers. Thanks!