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Dr. Dremo’s Still Looking for a New Location

by ARLnow.com March 8, 2011 at 10:15 am 5,475 88 Comments

Some may call it quixotic, but the quest to bring back Dr. Dremo’s Taphouse is still going strong.

Former Dremo’s owner Andrew Stewart says he has gotten tantalizingly close to securing a new location for the former Arlington landmark, but to no avail. In previous interviews Stewart said he would like Dremo’s to remain in the Courthouse or Clarendon area, but the cost has been prohibitive.

“We have come close a couple of time,” Stewart wrote in an email. “The large companies that lease these spaces don’t take a mom-and-pop, like us, seriously.”

The search, Stewart says, is “ongoing.” Even if the bar can’t find a new home, however, one part of its history may return.

“[I’ve] been considering starting a brewing company with all of the old (award winning) Bardo recipes,” Stewart said, referring to Dremo’s predecessor Bardo Rodeo. In its heyday, Bardo was as “the largest brewpub on the east coast.”

Dr. Dremo’s closed in January 2008 (the photo above is from its last night) and was razed to make way for a condo complex that was never built, thanks to the downturn in the economy. Construction at the site is reportedly set to get underway this year.

  • JamesE

    Demolish Ballston Commons and put it there.

    • FedUp


      • Zack

        +100. Dremo’s was the best bar in the Arlington strip, hands down.

  • SoArlRes

    Columbia Pike welcomes the new Dr. Dremo’s with open arms. Consider it.

    • PikeGurl

      The old Bob and Edith’s 2 across from Goodwill is available. The Chicken Shack did not take. That space is biggish, has a kitchen, and is somewhat quirky. And I haven’t seen much happening at the Hookah Bar so far. That might be available before too long too.

  • Lou

    He’s a mom & pop that wants a huge footprint, that’s probably his problem. IOTA is pretty much a mom & pop, too. They fit in fine.

  • mehoo

    Can’t wait. Hope it’s as cool as the old one. Don’t know if that’s possible any more.

  • Aaron

    “tantalizingly close to securing a new location for the former Arlington landmark”

    It wouldn’t be Dremo’s if it’s in Ballston, and it won’t be Dremo’s without the twins.

    • borf

      Ballston has a perfectly quirky Carpool, thank you very much. It’s even in a former auto shop like Bardo Rodeo was.

      • MB

        I no longer believe that you know anything about Bardo, if you just compared it to Carpool.

    • MB

      “It wouldn’t be Dremo’s if it’s in Ballston, and it won’t be Dremo’s without the twins.”

      Comment of the Day.

      • PghBigDog

        Twins? Explicate, please.

        • Joe M.

          The Bartenders.

          • Toucan Sam

            Still more about the twins, please!

  • CW

    IOTA and Galaxy Hut both make it work just fine, albeit with smaller footprints. And they’re lucky enough to already have those spots, in places that aren’t projected to be bulldozed and replaced with condos. He’s going to have to go a bit off the beaten path if he wants someplace big and affordable, though.

    • Lou

      The irony being both those places occupy sites that were earlier iterations of the Dremo’s concept.

      • borf

        I remember the places (Amdo, Roratango Rodeo) but not where they were. Does anyone else?

        • FrenchyB

          Here’s the lineage:

          – Amdo > Strangeways > Iota

          – Roratonga Rodeo > Galaxy Hut (used to be owned by Andrew Stewart’s ex-wife, Alice Despard)

          • NOVApologist

            I’m pretty sure Despard was married to Bill Stewart, not Andrew. If I remember the soap opera correctly, Bill and Alice opened BBQ Iguana downtown. It shut down and Bill had some money issues so when they opened Roratonga Rodeo it was in Alice’s name. When they split, she got the bar. To spite her, Bill opened Amdo Rodeo across the street. Then Bardo, then Dremo’s. Somehwere in there, Andrew took over from Bill.

          • FrenchyB

            You’re right, thanks for the correction and the additional info.

          • mehoo

            Thanks – I recall a story like that, involving spiteful opening of a bar across the street. We need more divorce-driven creativity like that.

          • Tabby

            Divorce-driven creativity. I love it.

          • Clarendude

            So Amdo did have ‘Rodeo’ in the name ? I was always confused about that and why there were two Rodeo places in old Clarendon.

          • mehoo

            Three – as I recall, Bardo’s formal name was “Bardo Rodeo.” Not just “Bardo,” and NEVER “Bardo’s” as if Bardo was some guy behind a bar who owned the place.

          • Aaron

            Wasn’t there briefly a different name used in the interval between Bardo’s and Dremo’s? I remember it being called Mingaloo (sp?) or something like that for several months to a year or so.

          • MB

            Ningaloo. Worst idea ever. Well, after closing down Dremo’s in the first place.

          • charlie

            of course prior to all that was an Ethiopian restaurant in the most western portion of IOTA.

  • CHouse

    Didn’t they collect a bunch of money from patrons to help them “relocate” several years ago? What ever happened with that?

  • Black Flag

    Condos, condos and more condos. what’s left?

    • Eponymous Coward


  • MW

    Columbia Pike has the perfect vibe for Dr Dremo.

    • el fat kid

      would be nice… perhaps the CVS can takeover the rite aid building (the rite aid sucks) and then Dremo’s into the CVS spot.

      • Brandon C

        Let’s get a Walgreen’s in that Rite Aid space and eliminate the suck that is CVS & Rite Aid altogether.

        As for Dremo’s, there’s that big white house looking thing where the Halstead is on the corner of Walter Reed & the Pike. That might be neat for them to set up shop there. What if they bulldozed what used to be that Saah unfinished furniture store and put up a new building entirely? That’d be a perfect space (and right up the street from me!)

        • Tabby

          How great would a beer garden be in our ‘hood?

          I don’t dislike PBrennan’s, but I’m not sure they’re long for the pike.

          • Thirsty

            The P. Brennan’s space would be a great beer hall; definitely feels more like one than an Irish pub. Although Dremo’s or a beer garden tucked into the industrial S. Four Mile Run would be swell.

          • el fat kid

            eh there are some good spaces but the lower valley area smells pretty rank during the summer. plus there would be several other social issues involved with putting in a dremos type place down there.

  • When next?

    Bring it to Columbia Pike or Four Mile Run. There are tons of industrial spaces in Four Mile Run that would be ideal! Come to the Oh-Four!

  • Sgt. Hartman

    If Dr. Dremo has enough seed money to build out a restroom and purchase a couple hundred square feet of soundproof paneling, maybe he can set up shop in the Westover Market Beer Garden.

    • GMo

      They actually already have the funding in place and have started the build out. Plans are posted on the store front. Think completion is slated for mid-summer.

  • South Arlington

    Columbia Pike or Four Mile Run would be the only areas that would lead to an authentic Dremo’s experience. Putting it into the Rosslyn-Clarendon-Ballston corridor will only lead to a shiny, new bar looking like Spider Kelly’s. The Saah Unfinished Furniture spot would be perfect, so would the now 31-11 Lounge location.

  • Good time

    I heard the Bungalows in Shirlington is on thin-ice…….move to Shirlington!!!!!!

    • Sam

      Must be bad info – they just sold to a new owner.

      • Good time

        And they are running it straight into the toilet. Have you been in there lately? GHOST town.

        • Bringmetheyuppies

          Was there Sat nt. so packed couldn’t get a pool table or shuffle board all night. Servers were running to keep up.

  • charlie

    as a landowner i couldn’t possibly think of a worse tenant to put in my space.

  • Bard

    This is a hopeless endeavor. In the future all Arlington warehouse spaces will be occupied by Crossfit gyms.

    But godspeed anyway, Andrew Stewart. You got me drunk many times and for that I am grateful.

    • Furniture Store

      What about that funriture store on lee highway? Might be tough to get to, but ti could be cool.

    • Old D

      God willing.

  • karzai

    I think the problem is with Dremo, not the locations. Lots of great businesses are doing really well and they are paying the rents that are being asked and are still vibrant and doing well. It seems to me that the Dremo people are just simply gun-shy and not willing to take the plunge. Don’t hold your breath waiting for them to pull the trigger on anything.

    • Joe M.

      Would you call Cirqe or Circe or whatever it is called a great Business?

    • Sam

      Doing well is a matter of opinion – remember the list of restaurants/bars not paying their taxes? Have you noticed the number of non-franchise or corporate businesses in prime locations leaving typically within 3-5 years (the typical lease term).

      • karzai

        Sam and Joe, above. I would like nothing better than to see Dremo come back to the corridor and provide some diversity. All I’m saying is that every so often, the Dremo people float this “tantalizingly close to a deal” rumor and then blame the landlords or what not for it falling through. My view is that if they have a deal, they can announce it then, instead of teasing us with these comments that never pan out.

        • To be fair, we emailed them, not the other way around.

          • karzai

            Ok, but this is not the first time the Dremo people have made comments like that. We all may have different preferences on what we do or do not want to see come to Clarendon. I believe that,whatever my specific beefs about this restaurant or that, it has become a vibrant place to live and I am supremely confident about my property value there because a lot of people want to live there. I like Dremo and would like it to return, but I’m just saying that based on my observations and contacts I believe them to be gun-shy and not willing to take the entrepreneurial risk to come to Clarendon. That may be smart or not, who knows? Other business owners have “seized the moment” and located there, but the Dremo people will not, in my opinion.

  • mehoo

    So – more hip/offbeat joints and beer gardens, no more cupcakes or frozen yogurt or brown flipflop yuppie hangouts. Agreed?

    • CW

      And outdoor bbq places, please.

      • Maria


  • NOVApologist

    Cherrydale – There is a defunct auto parts store and some under-utilized garage space on 29 by the 66 overpass.

  • Joe M.

    I’m not certain Dremo’s has a place in Clarendon anymore. The New Yuppies’ heads might explode.

    All joking Aside, I think they ought bring Dremo’s cack on the Pike. That would be awesome.

    • CW

      Take it easy with the “cack” references, alright?

      • Joe M.

        I must be slow today….

        ..out to bring Dremos back on the Pike…..

    • lala

      i think many ppl would be happy to see “new yuppies” heads explode!

  • American Taproom

    What sucks is an American taproom replacing Sette Bello and no place for Dremo’s. Can we do a switcharoo?

    • CW

      Hey American Taproom, you shouldn’t talk so badly about yourself. Work on your self-esteem, ok?

  • Modwop

    Well, I’d settle for the just the beers. I can dimly recall many happy hours sipping Vincent Black Shadow, Graceland Imperial Stout, and White Lightnin’ (when barleywines were still hard to find!).

    • CHouse

      Doesn’t Fire Works have a ton of beers? While Dremo’s had a good list, the real draw was the atmosphere. At this point the Arlington ship has sailed when it comes to finding places that serve more than Bud and Miller, so Dremo’s won’t be able to corner that market. What it could corner would be the grungy feeling that it had before: unpretentious, friendly, cool.

      • Modwop

        True, we have a slew of tremendous beer choices on the Orange Line now (Rustico, Fireworks, etc.) but the draw of the Bardo beers were that they were their OWN microbrews, much like Mad Fox in Falls Church is turning out, or Dogfish Head (are they still “micro”?). Quirky little beers that you couldn’t find anywhere else, and in some instances wouldn’t want to, e.g. the “Marion Barry Lambic”.

        • Aaron

          Yes, DFH is still a microbrewery!! If you recall, in January the Brewers Association lifted the cap on production by a quote “microbrewery” from 2 million barrels to 6 million in order to accommodate the Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams)’s breaking of the 2 million barrier. For what it’s worth, even if Sam were to sell six million barrels of beer in 2011, they STILL wouldn’t crack 1% of the U.S. market.

        • Southeast Jerome

          just went to Mad Fox. Besides the service being completely awful, the beers were pretty good and food was decent. Probably wont go back though. Need a more professional staff.

      • Modwop

        ….and I have to add that I guess the distinction here is between Bardo and Dr. Dremo. Bardo only served their own brews.

  • Worf

    Hollywood Video!!! Just 150 ft from the old location …

    • CHouse

      Developers clearly overestimated the market, since the company that purchased the land in 2008 did so for $21,553,603…only to sell it later for $18,000,000. I don’t think that a bar on the property is going to make up for that.

  • G

    I think four mile run is an awesome idea.

  • JAY W


    • Good time

      Why are you yelling?

      • Tabby

        Because it’s so far out of the way.

  • Clarendude

    Kirby garage is the most logical place for Dremo. It’s marked for historic preservation so it will be there forever!


    • Max

      oh man, so much potential for that ramp. Ramp beer bongs AMIRIGHT?

      • JamesE

        beer slide

  • Stew Magnuson

    I think I saw a moldy sofa and a lazy-boy recliner with a broken lever in the alleyway for when they are ready to redecorate.

  • Southside

    The Pike is absolutely the right place. It’s the only place left in Arlington with that original Bardo/Dremo vibe. L.A. welcomes you!

  • put it right next to jays saloon. in the car lot with funky sidewalks…that would be fun!

  • Kalashnikev

    I fell in love with Dremo’s when I fell in love with Arlington, and I got at T-shirt on the last night. I lived in Richmond, then Iraq, Then Kansas, and finally back to Arlington. If I hold the T-shirt up to my window, the Capitol and Monument are in the EXACT same orientation… it’s weird. If you told me that night that that would be my view (or even in Kansas!)

  • Captain Obvious

    My favorite thing about the picture from the final night at Dremo’s is the one chick in a sea of dudes. Precisely why I never went there. Well, that, and the fact that they didn’t sell liquor.

  • Southside

    Ski Chalet is moving out of the Pike—Come on in Dr Dremo’s

  • inc

    I just realized Dremo’s was like a larger Galaxy Hut. Galaxy Manor?

  • jezebel

    Let it go people. Move on (that includes ARLNow). It was just a bar. And Karzai, you’re an idiot. Your “contacts”? Who’s that some crusty old Kitty O’Shea’s sad sack regular?

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