This is a guest post written by Mark Handwerger, local resident and owner of Atomic Billiards (3427 Connecticut Ave NW) in Cleveland Park.
Atomic Billiards has been an integral part of the Cleveland Park community for almost three decades, and perhaps more than any other watering hole in the DMV can be considered a true, neighborhood bar. Many locals, ranging in age from early 20’s to early 80’s, consider themselves regulars, and to them Atomic is a part of home.
As we face an ever- and rapidly-changing world, restaurant and bar scene, and city, Atomic Billiards’ purpose and consistency has become more and more important as it is a part of the fabric of what is Cleveland Park. Over the years a tremendous number of CP’s bars, restaurants, and mainstays have come and gone (Wake up Little Susie, the 4 P’s, L’Avandou, Poor Roberts, Dino’s, Coppi’s, Ripple, Palena, Gallaghers, and even McDonalds, just to name a few), but Atomic has always been there to provide the safety and comfort of “home” to Cleveland Parkers.
Needless to say, the pandemic has drastically impacted Atomic as we have been forced to be closed to the public since mid-March. However, based on some of DC’s measures to assist small businesses, we have been able to stay active through deliveries of beer and cocktails to many of our devoted regulars. We have perfected the Mason Jar cocktail and offer fresh draft beer from our cousin The Board Room Brewing Company in Arlington, and we continue to appreciate the community’s support as orders pour in via our website (www.AtomicBilliards.com) each weekend (one loyal supporter has placed an order each and every weekend!!).
While in many ways it seems the country is coming apart at the seams, I feel blessed to call Cleveland Park home.
I was born and raised in Cleveland Park, and Atomic was my first real business and bar. To all of our loyal patrons over the years and to those who continue to support us during this crisis, I offer a heartfelt “Thank You!!”
I would be completely remiss, however, if I didn’t take the opportunity to mention the support we’ve received from District Bridges and, in particular, Zach with Cleveland Park Main Street. Zach’s hands-on approach helped make us aware of the opportunity, and I am thrilled to report that we are nearing completion of our first round of upgrades and improvements, none of which would have been possible were it not for the support of CPMS.
Some of the projects we are undertaking during this down time to improve overall safety and hygiene at the bar include:
- Installing hands-free faucets in the rest rooms
- Acquiring plexiglass shields for all employee stations
- Purchasing additional copies of our board games
In addition, our “give back” to the Main Street is being able to purchase a new sign, which is a significant improvement to the facade (see below) and, therefore, to the overall aesthetics of “The Strip.”
The importance of Zach’s and the entire CPMS assistance, encouragement, and support during these difficult times cannot be overstated, and, like the loyalty of our regulars, confirms to me that there really is no neighborhood like Cleveland Park. I am blessed to be a native son and thrilled to be a long-time member of the business fabric of this community.
Often when people hear the term ‘Main Street’, they think about business corridors. But many people do not think about the stress and loneliness that many business owners experience while navigating the hurdles of entrepreneurship and running a business—especially during an unprecedented pandemic. Main Street programs all over the country work to make sure that business owners have an advocate and support system so that your favorite local coffee shop or tailor can keep their doors open. Help us continue doing our work by chipping in $10, $100, $1,000 by visiting districtbridges.org/donate.