Twenty years ago, I bought the house in which I still
live. The same week I moved into my home, a small
family-owned restaurant opened across the street.
Since I didn’t have my kitchen set up yet, I wandered
over to grab a bite to eat. The quaint self-proclaimed
American trattoria had murals of vegetables and herbs
painted on the walls, cozy booths, a black and white
checkerboard floor, and a beautiful custom-made bar.
I went straight to that bar, only to realize that they did
not carry my favorite brand of tequila.
By the next evening that “oversight” was
rectified by the o wner and I soon became a regular
customer. Every night since, there has been a
tequila and sparkling water waiting for me before I
got to the barstool.
My neighborhood, due to its (then) affordable
single-family housing, small town feel and proximi-
ty to Capitol
Hill, was a
all of them,
and on any
given night I
exchanging business cards and congressional
gossip with my colleagues. I learned that senators
prefer to be called by their first name when not on
“campus,” and that except for some heated debates
with bank lobbyists, you don’t talk serious business
when off the clock.
Thirteen years ago, my son was born. One night
when he was three weeks old and particularly fussy,
I took him to the restaurant with me hoping that the
sounds and sights would calm him down. They did,
Sadly, Monroe’s closed its doors on Christmas
Eve. It was time for the owners to retire. Staff and
customers alike, many who like me had been there
since it opened, were heartbroken.
One morning soon after the restaurant closed,
after dropping Aidan off at school, I stopped at my
local convenience store. As I approached the
register, my usual can of Copenhagen was waiting
for me. The owner greeted me by name and handed
the tobacco to me before I could ask. I suddenly
realized that I had been going to this store for 20
years as well, and that it was just as much part of the
community and my daily life as Monroe’s had been.
And I walked out smiling.
From Capitol Hill,
and on any given
night I would be
Lyle Beckwith is NACS senior
vice president of government
relations. He can be reached at
(703) 518-4220 or at