History of Mr. Henry’s
In 1966 Henry Yaffe, the original owner of Mr. Henry’s, bought the
establishment located on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 6th Street SE.
At the time, it had been operating as a country-western bar called the 601
Club. Without closing, ‘Mr. Henry’ (as he came to be known) remodeled the space
to the wood-paneled pub you see today, nearly 50 years hence.
Two years later Mr. Henry hired a local school teacher, Roberta
Flack, 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 its unforgettable church pew seating. “I got the oak paneling from the old
Dodge Hotel near Union Station,” Henry said, when the venerable ‘women’s hotel’
was being replaced by office buildings. Roberta Flack would go on to win 4
Grammy’s 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 that included a gay/straight and racial mix not often seen in the
60’s. Noteworthy guests such as Woody Allen, 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, and even found herself playing with Liberace one night. Today, this
tradition of live music continues with Mr. Henry’s Upstairs.
Amongst the cast of colorful characters that have called Mr.
Henry’s home were two tenured staff members, bartender Rudi Appl and
manager/owner 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 waiter, became the manager and partner in the business. He
operated the restaurant for decades and recently retired, but still pops in from
time to time to visit old friends.
Mr. Henry’s Today
Current General Manager, Mark Steele, is a
career restaurateur with over thirty years in the industry. Recruited into the
family business in his teens, Mark ascended the ranks, assuming operational
duties at The Lamp Post Seafood Restaurant, his family’s coastal Delaware
After a few years in Europe in the early 1990’s,
Mark returned home to open Café Azafrán in Lewes, DE. Cafe Azafran’s second location,
in Rehoboth Beach, continues to be operated by Mark’s brother Richard. Judging
by the reviews, talent in the kitchen runs in the family.
Mr. Henry's is a Capitol Hill mainstay. Henry's
is a place to relax, meet with friends, soak up the local atmosphere, and enjoy
Classic American pub food. The menu is full of tasty burgers, sandwiches, entrée
plates, salads, and soups. During the summer the patio is the place to be for
people-watching and enjoying a perfectly chilled cocktail.
Newly renovated Henry's Upstairs is now
opened the public on Monday evenings for half-priced burgers (a long standing
Henry’s tradition) and Friday evenings at 5:00pm for Happy Hour. Henry's
Upstairs menu features New American Creations and light pub fare.
Henry’s Upstairs is also available for private events. For every
occasion, business or pleasure, breakfast, lunch or dinner, Henry’s Upstairs
dining room will make a lasting impression.