At the Dutch, A Rare Passing of the Torch
by Steven Slosberg
(Originally published in The Day 6/5/98)
Sometimes the legs of the bentwood chairs in the Dutch Tavern touch the floor all at once, sometimes they go their own way. Some things will never change.
The newspapers on the corner shelf, tucked away from the plate-glass window facing Green Street, do change daily, as does the calendar down the dusky wall from the black-and-white photograph of Ted Williams and Babe Ruth.
Occasionally, the five or so beers on tap change, and, as the years push on, the regulars, like Elston "Swede" Hendrickson, who liked to settle his bent body on the stool nearest the window, fall away. Hendrickson died last year at 68.
What changes least at the Dutch, on an abrupt side street in downtown New London, is the ownership. After 22 years, it is about to change again.
Peter Burgess, who has owned the tavern and the building it's housed in at 23 Green St. since 1976, is selling the business and the building to one of his part-time bartenders, Peter Detmold, and Detmold's partner, Martha Conn.
Detmold is perhaps better know to greater New London rockers as a guitarist in The Reducers, the city's house band for going on 20 years.
I'm buying it because I love the Dutch Tavern," said Detmold, who is 43 and has lived in the city since he was 12. "I've worked there for seven or eight years and have been a regular there for half my life. I may fix some things and make some renovations, but I don't want to tamper with the atmosphere."