Family and Friends Remember Popular Bethesda Bartender Ed Stone

Stone died Wednesday night after a battle with lung cancer


Ed Stone via Facebook

Ed Stone, who served up drinks and conversation for more than 17 years at a variety of Bethesda bars, died Wednesday night from lung cancer.

Stone, 47, who was not a smoker, was diagnosed with cancer in August. The bartender had been undergoing chemotherapy and other treatment for the past five months, but his health suddenly declined about two weeks ago and he went into intensive care at a Rockville hospital, according to his friend Johnny Natoli, the owner of Tapp’d in Bethesda.

“He was truly an icon in Bethesda,” Natoli said Thursday. “He was probably Bethesda’s biggest bar star. He was known and loved. He truly was a guy that had a lot of integrity and virtue.”

Born Oct. 8, 1969, Stone grew up in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Cumberland Valley High School before coming to work in Bethesda. He lived in Germantown. Both of his parents died from cancer and he is survived by a younger sister, Holly Noel, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

“He’s my hero,” Noel said. “He’s been holding my hand his whole life. He’s my best friend, my partner in crime. I’m his little sister and he made sure everyone knew I was his little sister.”

She said Stone was a natural bartender—a social person who “made everyone feel like they were the most important person in the room.”

Stone worked in the restaurant industry for more than 20 years and in that time he helmed the bar at Bethesda restaurants such as Union Jack’s, Brickside Bar & Grill, Sapphire Restaurant and Steamers. He was a fan of French undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau and had an interest in marine biology. Noel said her brother had been making plans to move to Miami to live near the beach.

When Stone was first diagnosed in August, several Woodmont Triangle restaurants united to help him pay for his medical expenses by offering specials and hosting a bar crawl. A GoFundMe page raised more than $11,000 in less than a month to help pay for his treatment.

Brian Vasile, owner of Brickside and also one of Stone’s friends, said Thursday night that staff draped a corner of the restaurant’s bar area with a black cloth and put flowers on top of the bar to create “Ed’s Corner” in memory of Stone. The bartender’s last job was at Brickside and Vasile said Stone liked to work at that corner of the bar. Vasile plans to hang a plaque on the wall near the corner and engrave the bar with “Stone Strong” to honor him.

“What’s really cool is that people came together to raise funds for Ed and now everyone is there for each other—telling stories and shedding tears and laughter simultaneously to help each other through this time,” Vasile said. “That’s exactly what he would have wanted, for people to get together to celebrate him and not cry into their beers.”

Brian Vasile and Stone, center right, with Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon. Provided by Vasile

Vasile said he was happy he was able to spend a day recently with Stone, taking him to a filming of the ESPN show Pardon The Interruption in Washington, D.C. Stone, a big sports fan who rooted for the New York Mets and Miami Dolphins, was also a big fan of the show that features banter between former sportswriters Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon. Despite the studio being closed, ESPN allowed the two to view a taping, Vasile said.

“He had a smile on his face and I could tell he loved doing it,” Vasile said.

On a Brickside Facebook post about Ed’s Corner, locals who knew Ed shared their condolences.

Joe Abraham wrote he’d always find Stone in that corner of the bar in Brickside, “with my drink on the bar before I even asked for it.” Abraham wrote that creating the bar corner memorial is “kinda like retiring Ed’s jersey and hanging it in the rafters.”

Noel said a memorial is being planned for after the holidays.

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