Beloved Bartender Kevin Delaney Dies


Longtime bartender at Martin’s Tavern Kevin P. Delaney died this week. Born with the gift of gab and a heart of gold, Delaney “was an icon in the District,” said Billy Martin, owner of Martin’s Tavern.

Tributes are pouring in over social media and phone calls from friends and patrons of many years and yarns.

“Mr. Kevin P. Delaney was larger than life in a subtle way,” Martin wrote. “His friendship, wit, humor and attitude towards life made EVERYONE around him lucky to be in his presence. He had a way of ‘insulting’ people that had them laughing regularly, and we all enjoyed his humor. Kevin worked at Martin’s for 20 years and became part of the family. He was the quintessential Irish gentleman, and his memory and stories will live on forever! Rest in peace good friend.”

Delaney worked at many D.C. watering holes, whether a few years or a few months. He was known to leave and show up at a new spot months later, where people would follow him. In the end, he chose the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and N Street and remained.

He was most at peace in the company of his friends whom he embraced with Irish abandon, his family said. He left life the way he left parties; without saying goodbye.

Chef Ris Lacoste, owner of Ris restaurant, next to the Ritz-Carlton in the West End, had this to say about the Irish charmer: “In the throes of running the kitchen of Twenty-One Federal, I found myself one evening at Kevin P. Delaney’s bar at the newly opened Sam and Harry’s. It was 1990. I was taken by his service, professionalism and smile and have sat at every one of his bars since, enchanted to this day.”

According to Lacoste, Delaney worked at the following establishments: Mr. Henry’s, Class Reunion, Old Ebbitt Grill, the Guards, Occidental, Red Sage, Sam & Harry’s, Kinkead’s, Vidalia, Tahoga, West 24, Martin’s Tavern, Starland Cafe.

He is survived by his sister, Mary Margaret Delaney, of Washington, D.C., and his brother, Timothy Delaney, of Edgartown, Massachusetts.

A public memorial for Delaney is scheduled for Sept. 25 at Tommy Joe’s in Bethesda.

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