Credit: Charlie Wright

The new owners of Hank Dietle’s Tavern in North Bethesda are targeting the spring for a possible reopening of the popular dive bar, which closed following a massive fire in February 2018.

The owners say that they don’t have a definite opening date yet, but when the bar reopens, it will feature a greater variety of live music, and bands booked on more days of the week.

The new owners include Thomas Bowes; his wife, Sarah Bonner; and photographer Alan Kresse. They announced on Facebook on Wednesday that they had signed a general contractor to finish work on the property and that there would soon be a fundraiser concert.

Bowes, Bonner and Kresse signed a 10-year lease on the property in September, taking over the property from Tony Huniak.

The fire, which was started by a discarded cigarette, caused about $500,000 in damage to the building. Since then, there have been various individual efforts to raise money for repairs.

Lisa White, who is also involved with the Dietle’s rehabilitation effort, wrote in an email Wednesday that money raised so far has been used to replace the front porch, windows and electrical system.


“A lot of crucial infrastructure work has been done, but there’s a lot left to do,” she wrote.

John Petsche, the general contractor signed to oversee the refurbishment, said in an interview that because of the many “piecemeal” repairs done already, the main work left involves putting in new floors and heating systems.

“It needs to be updated like most old buildings,” he said.


The only signs of the fire left, Petsche said, are from smoke damage, but the building is now safe.

“The bones of the building are in great shape,” he said.

Petsche wasn’t sure how much the remaining work would cost.


Bowes said in an interview Wednesday that instead of only booking bands on weekends, as the bar used to do, they would book bands on multiple days during the week. He said new music genres could include bluegrass, Roots rock ‘n’ roll, blues, soul and rockabilly.

“We’re gonna continue as a music venue and we’re gonna add more types of music for a wider variety of fans,” he said.

Bowes added that they are looking at the possibility of putting in a stage.


When Dietle’s reopens, it will be garnished with a replica of the iconic “Hank Dietle’s Cold Beer” sign, accompanied by the Coca-Cola logo. The original sign was destroyed in the fire.

Dan Schere can be reached at