Mug Shots: H Street’s Take On ‘Cheers’

Locals Gather at Pap and Petey’s

Posted June 4, 2008 at 4:03pm

While the H Street corridor has been inundated with bars in the past few years, some feel it has lacked a place “where everybody knows your name.” Duke Cross hopes to change that with his new jazz bar, Pap and Petey’s. [IMGCAP(1)]

“I started the bar because I just kind of wanted a place that I would like to go, just to chill and relax with good company and with a neighborhood kind of feel,” Cross wrote in an e-mail. “Nothing pompous or plastic, just a cool spot that was hassle free.”

Cross has successfully achieved that goal with the small, welcoming bar.

Sitting on the corner of H and Fifth streets Northeast, Pap and Petey’s has picture windows that look out onto the west end of the popular corridor. Several tables with chess and checkers sets pepper the long bar that runs the length of the room. And a small rise at the end of the room acts as a stage for jazz and blues performers on Wednesday and Saturday nights.

“I’d say the largest number of patrons we have come from roughly an eight- to 10-block radius of where we sit on the corner of Fifth and H,” Cross said. “We’ve been open about three months, and I am starting to see lots of different faces now, too.”

With beers like Red Stripe ($5), Heineken ($4) and Sam Adams ($4) available on special, Pap and Petey’s is a good destination for the budget-conscious drinker. In addition to the nightly beer specials, the bar offers a light menu featuring such fare as two hot dogs and chips for $3 or a ham and cheese sandwich on wheat for $4.50.

“Since our brand is jazz/blues and R&B, we’re working on some theme drinks,” Cross said. “But for right now I guess I’d have to say we do have specials that run a few times a week. If you can catch it, you can probably get a pretty tasty mojito!”

True to Cross’ word, the mojitos are smooth and flavorful. Made before your eyes with fresh mint, they are a perfect refreshment for a hot summer day.

The bar is named for Cross’ great grandfather Pap, who was a musician. Cross admits that his friends were skeptical about the unusual name, but he felt that it fit. “One of the things I thought about was my great granddad once telling me a story about him and this guy named Petey and how they used to play music — mostly jazz — at local juke joints and back porches and stuff around where they grew up,” Cross said. “Somehow the notion of Pap and Petey finally having a place of their own after all these years started to resonate.”

Cross’ background is in public relations and writing. “This is my maiden voyage into something of this nature,” he said, “which is why it’s a good thing that Pap’s is a small, intimate operation, low on thrills and extras.”

Although the bar is located seven blocks from other bars like the Black and the Red and Dr. Granville Moore’s, Cross says he isn’t worried. The bar has seen a steady flow of customers from both the neighborhood and other parts of the city. Cross believes this is due to the welcoming, casual vibe that the bar achieves.

“Something always feels familiar about Pap’s,” he said. “Whether you’re from New York City or D.C. or Chicago or Philly, there’s something that feels like someplace you know.”

Pap and Petey’s is located at 421 H St. NE. It opens daily at 6 p.m. A performance schedule can be found on papandpeteys.com.