The Last Days of Jay’s?

by ARLnow.com March 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm 8,360 86 Comments

Jay’s Saloon and Grille, at 3114 N. 10th St. in Clarendon, opened in 1993 and bills itself as “one of the last true ‘Dive Bars’ in Arlington.” Unfortunately, like many Arlington dive bars before it, Jay’s will eventually become another victim of redevelopment.

Kathi Moore, who co-owns the bar with her ex-husband, Jay Moore, says their lease is up at then end of the year and she does not expect the landlord to renew it. The landlord, an ownership group led by Clarendon-based Buck and Associates, is under contract with a developer that plans to redevelop the land occupied by Jay’s and two small, adjacent commercial buildings.

That is not to say that Jay’s will close at the end of the year — they may be kept on a month-to-month lease until the developer is ready to proceed with its project. But one thing is for sure: Jay’s days are numbered.

Buck and Associates owner William Buck says he’s not sure of the developer’s exact plans, but offered that it’s a “safe bet” that the redevelopment would start “within five years.” He declined to discuss lease agreements.

The prospect of Jay’s closing, Moore lamented, is like losing a family.

“It’s a neighborhood bar,” she said last night, perched at a bar stool with a newspaper in front of her. “We’ve had weddings and funerals in here… I literally know everybody’s name.”

Moore, who worked for the government before devoting herself to Jay’s, says she works at the bar seven days a week and can’t remember the last time she took a vacation. Her work ethic is old-school, just like the bar itself. Jay’s sells $8 pitchers of beer during happy hour, lets dogs hang out with their owners on the patio, and has a senior citizen who DJs on Friday nights using only cassette tapes.

Moore compared the bar to “Cheers,” adding that customers who moved to the area from other parts of the country often tell her that Jay’s reminds them of bars from home. She says Jay’s caters to a mature, 35-to-65 year old clientele not well-served by other Clarendon bars, which tend to attract a preponderance of 20-somethings.

Asked about her plans should Jay’s be forced to close, Moore said she’s not sure what she would do, but admitted that she isn’t actively looking for a place to relocate the bar, at least at this point. Pressed on what the future holds for Jay’s, she was reluctant to elaborate.

“It’s personal,” she said.

  • MB

    Best bar in Arlington, hands down. And when Jay’s closes, Arlington will be a lesser place. Thanks, Kathi & Jay.

  • Pip

    Maybe they’ll replace it with a pizza joint and another winebar

    • ArlHeights

      haha.. so true.

  • Jon

    Who doesn’t love this place? The people are the nicest in Clarendon.

    • CW

      Doesn’t take much…

  • brendan

    first rule of jay’s is: you do not talk about jay’s.

  • Chris

    Cue the 100 comments lamenting development in the area (anyone want to switch with Detroit or almost any other community in the U.S. right now?), and bad jokes about cupcakes, pizza, and burgers…

    • BrownFlipFlops

      Fair enough. We don’t want to be Detroit. That doesn’t mean places like Orlando or Tyson’s Corner are Heaven on Earth, either.

      I’ll miss Jay’s.

    • DMF

      No one saying that we want to be detroit.. thats a bit extreme don’t you think. But its nice to have a dive bar where you don’t have to pay 10 a drink or dress up to go out.

  • CW

    I like Jay’s. A lot. This is what you would call a normal bar in vast swaths of normal, working-class America. And the fact that people around here talk about it like it is some quaint novelty (OMG it’s a DIVE bar. It’s in a HOUSE!) just speaks volumes about the little bubble we’re in. Enjoy it while it lasts.

    • Westover

      It is one of the few reminders of old Arlington left.

    • BA

      Agreed. I don’t like Jays for the novelty, it just reminds me of home.

    • Chad

      It always makes me laugh that Jay’s is considered a “dive bar”. Look, I LOVE dive bars – but Jay’s is just a good neighborhood bar. Their prices are reasonable (that makes them crazy-cheap for the area), the food is above average, and their staff is the best.

  • Bard

    sad news indeed

  • where brooklyn at?


  • Pip

    Where will hipsters go now to pretend they are down with the working man? Quarterdeck?

    • GMo

      Forest Inn…

      • Suburban Not Urban

        No way – Go back to RBC

  • Lamar

    You don’t have to be a hipster to go to Jay’s. You just don’t need a $200 shirt and 20 pounds of hair gel.

    • Dbag

      I feel like that’s too much gel to put on your head, I’d think your head wouldn’t be able to support this much weight.

      • Jorge

        I hate to admit it…but my brother is the poster child for hipsters…really…what kind of weed were my parents smoking when they procrated this knucklehead?
        Yes..the hipsters and these damn Republicans are ruining America.
        At least detroit has Eminem…what do we have?

        • TB

          YEAH!! Those darn Republicans ruined Detroit too. Oh wait a minute…never mind.

  • Lou

    Nice place, surprised it opened so recently. Not in the top tier of icons, like Whitey’s, Joseph’s, or Johnny’s though.

    BTW, there are no good neighborhood dive bars in Westover. Do not come looking for any. You will not find them around here.

    • South Arlington

      Pretty sure the 20-somethings in Clarendon aren’t going to hoof it way out to the sticks in Westover to go the Forest Inn and listen to curmudgeons complain about the County Board. Luckily, they leave LA Bar and Grill alone also.

      • Lou


      • GMo

        HAAH. Perfect description of Forest.

      • Southeast Jerome

        Whenever I drive over to get beers at Westover Market (amazing selection) – I also wanna go into Forest Inn but I feel like I would be the only one in there that didnt know everyone else…. so I just wonder. One of these days I will try it out.

  • notahoo

    Arlnow commenter meet up at Jays tonight? Might be interesting to see who keep making snarky comment in person! 😉

    • Side note: The ARLnow.com Message Board is coming soon, along with user profiles. Any suggestions on what fields we should include in the profile? Right now we have “Short biography,” “Web site,” “Favorite Hangout,” “Hobbies,” “Age,” “Fun fact” “Location” and “Rail or Bus Line”

      • CW

        1) Smoker : yes or no
        2) Pro or Anti streetcar?
        3) Homeowner? If so, stance on property tax rates.
        4) Do you believe that damn spoiled kids ruining Clarendon with their parents’ credit cards and their pizzas and cupcakes should get off of your lawn: Yes or no

      • Raul Mendoza Formoza

        did you know her parent’s were out of town?
        how old do you think she is?
        why did you bring the mike’s hard lemonade?
        is this the first time you’ve done something like this?

        • Sue


      • Steve

        The most important should be “Are you a native?”

        • Thes

          I would settle for “Do you really live in Arlington?” and “Please list your other sockpupets.”

          • MB


          • steve

            And I get banned and these people make personal attacks? I assure you, I live in arlington, between Clarendon and Courthouse. I admit I wasn’t born and raised here, I grew up in the distant land of Rockville, MD and have lived here since 2004, making me more of a long timer than most people in Arlington I would think. You’d think I’d have something better to do than comment on an arlington related site if I didn’t live here.

          • Thes

            You’d think that would be the case, but there are actually some frequent posters from outside the County, most especially on immigration topics. And just so there is no misunderstanding, although my comment directly above was inspired by your idea, it was not meant as a question for you, personally (just as I assume your comment was not meant as an attack on notahoo or Mr. ArlNow).

      • Tre

        1) Household income
        2) Race
        3) Education
        4) 5 year goals
        5) Stereotyped social group affiliation (hipster, prep, yuppy, gangster, hippie, etc.)
        ….. and i’m kidding about these, i think.

      • GMo

        Hit Points

        • Thes

          Charisma and Wisdom, apparently, are irrelevant? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised..

          • bookmobile


      • Profile: Hater/Lover

      • Favorite restaurant!

      • borf

        Favorite food?

        a. pizza
        b. frozen yogurt
        c. burgers
        d. cupcakes

        Brown flipflops?

        a. yes
        b. yes

  • Lurkdom

    Alas- even Jay’s biggest fans knew this day was coming. The property is just too valuable. Oh well…we have a whole spring and summer to hang out on the astro-turf patio, sitting on cheap plastic chairs while drinkin’ cheap pitchers of bud and eating Jay’s delicious and totally non-hip fried munchies!

  • Whitney

    One of the best bars in the entire DC.MD.VA area!! Jay’s will be sorely missed.

  • Creebs

    Pee-Wee can DJ his tapes anytime at my house. I once won a trivia contest (I believe the answer was John Lennon) and he gave me a sticky-note that said “One Free Draft Beer” on it. Jays is great.

  • John Fontain

    I L-O-V-E Jay’s. Me and the family go there regularly for the food. They have great crab cake sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches for the kids, and a FANTASTIC cheesesteak (the best I’ve had in the area).

    It will be a sad day when they close, but hopefully it won’t happen any time too soon. Often, the development process drags on for years and I’m hopeful both the property owner and Jay’s will keep the doors open as long as they can during that process.

    • Steve

      The lease is what matters though. Though the article says they MAY get a month to month after a certain point.

      Recall that the Royal Lee closed down June 28, 2008, and they didn’t even knock down the shopping center until a couple of months ago… They could have had almost 3 more years of being open, but I think the owner guy was pretty relieved, and he said he was going to retire.. it was the lease that mattered. I’m kinda glad the Royal Lee closed when it did. I would have hated to see it have a smoking ban. Would have destroyed the character of the place. A dive bar without smoke sucks, hence why I haven’t been to Jays since the ban.

      • CW

        I guess I’ll make the requisite Dremo’s comment.

        And let’s not forget about Taco Bell too. Fat lot of good that vacant field has done us.

        • Steve

          No fears, we’ll have another condo building to look at in the near future. Then more hipsters to fill it. Thent he county can complain about there being tooo many cars.

  • South Arlington

    I’ll miss seeing Jay wearing a Cosby sweater and drinking straight gin out of a dixie cup.

  • ChrisW

    I have lived in Clarendon for 3 years and N. Arlington for 10 and somehow missed Jay’s. Shame on me. As a 36 year old, I welcome joints that cater to my age and older.

    • brendan

      don’t go and definitely don’t have the crab cakes 🙂



  • eosacritic

    Cheapest, too. This really s–ks. My dog will be disapointed too.
    Letter writing campaign?

    • Steve

      Jay would be making an effort to find another place if he really wanted to continue running the place. Something tells me it’s not the best thing to be in business with your ex wife. Royal Lee had to close down, and the guy just was tired and wanted to do something else. If Jay wants to continue it, he would start looking now. So any letter writing campaign won’t change the fact that apparently they don’t want to be running the place anymore.

  • Steve

    Does anyone else think that Jay sounds like Bill Clinton? They are both from Arkansas, but still..

  • waza

    if its replaced by a cupcake place, please shoot me.

  • Steve

    You people have to admit that knocking down all these cool, older places, and replacing them with a condo/office building id destroying what little character the county has, and quite honestly, makes it a lot more boring?

    • GuessTHis


  • Pedro

    Oh well. Another one bites the dust. JV’s restaurant is still an un-ironical dive bar. But like Forest Inn, probably too far out.

  • Aaron

    I always got the sense that Jay’s was a club that didn’t care for outsiders. You “literally” know all of your customers? That’s a very bad business strategy for most businesses.
    My comparison point was always Whitey’s, where you didn’t have to go frequently to feel welcome.

    • Tabby

      Ditto. I lived in the neighborhood, and when I walked in just got glared at by the regulars. No thanks.

      • Craig

        Not to say you’re wrong, I just think it deserves to be said that my girlfriend and I (mid-20’s, likely not their “preferred” demographic”) stopped in out of curiosity one Sunday night, had a couple of beers and got only smiles and friendly service from the other patrons and bartender.

        • CW2

          Same experience here. I stopped in with a group of 8-10 people last summer, and they treated us “strangers” very well. I recommend giving it a shot, even if you’re not a regular.

  • Arlwhenever

    You know, I used to think I would spend the rest of my days in Arlington until Whitey’s shut down. Now Jay’s rips my heart completely asunder. No more character or characters, except for commentators on ArlNow.

    • Dbag

      Back in my day…

      The meek shall inherit the earth, except in Arlington.

    • Suburban Not Urban


  • CrystalMikey

    Such a shame and I’ve never been….I’m almost at their target demo. Regardless, gotta check it out before it has its last “last call”…

  • Pikester

    Keep electing the same old crewe to County Board. See what Arlington will look like in 10 years. These are the people who leave poor women and children to freeze for hours on the Pike trying to take public transportation to an appointment at DHS on Washington Blvd. ’cause the County Board doesn’t want anyone who’s poor in yupscale neighborhoods on the B-R Corridor.

    • borf


      It’s not the Board’s fault. It’s economics.

  • R.Griffon

    > says their lease is up at then end of the year

    As in Dec. 31st 2011? While extremely sad, at least that means we’ve got another 9 solid months, minimum. And as others have said, development can drag on. Esp. in this economy. Maybe we’ll get lucky and have a good 3+ more years. The absolute WORST thing they could do is close it down only to see it sit vacant well ahead of development. Here’s hoping that they can (and even WANT TO) find a new location.

    • Arlwhenever

      Deflation of the inside-the-beltway real estate bubble is just over the horizon. Imagine, all the $1.3 million, lotline to lotline craftsman McMansions going under water. Heaps of Yuppie denial soon to come.

      • R.Griffon

        Don’t hold your breath. Although a real estate double-dip is all but certain IMHO, the DC market (and Arlington especially) has done much better than the rest of the country in the real estate bust. As for being underwater, of course it’s possible, but also fairly unlikely that anyone not underwater already is going to be anytime soon. Esp. if you’ve bought a house since the boom; nearly all lenders now require 20% down meaning that Arlington prices would have to fall at least 20% before they see negative equity.

      • R.Griffon

        One more thought – The REAL doom and gloom scenario around here is federal spending. If the gov’t gets serious about cutting it’s budget and reduces spending by a very large amount, you could see a lot of those jobs that made us relatively recession-proof dry up. Imagine, for example, if 5 or 10% of contractor jobs disappeared in the space of a few years. Then you’d see it get UGLY I think.

    • southie

      Cowboy Cafe vacanted Adams Square and it was 2-3 years before the tear-down. Guess the BM Smith family took a big tax write-off from “lost” rental income while waiting to redevelop.

  • Bringmetheyuppies

    Come on down to the pike! Could use a bar with that demo in mind

  • Pikester

    While Arl Now is running this as ‘news’ the County Board is planning massive redevelopment of the Rosenthal auto dealership and Foxcroft Heights.

  • Rosslynite

    Soon, Arlington will have all the charm of . . . Bethesda.

  • GuessTHis

    Really no one can say anything about jays unless you have been there between 4-7 during the week or on a Sunday

    Though Friday nights might have a wave of 20 some year olds crowding the place to enjoy oldies and cheap beer the regulars are really the heart and the soul of a place like this.

    I am actually the bartender in picture shown above and though I may only be a 20 something I have been getting dinner at jays with my family who live within walking distance since I was a little girl. I have watched arlington die from when I was a teenager working at Lazy Sundae in Clarendon (which was also torn down and turned into a overpriced snooty bar) to know when I have graduated from school only to move back and see the last true comfortable place to hang talk and drink be torn down.

    you show up more then once during happy hour and we remember you your drink your personality Jays is a family and though it might not be there forever its patrons will keep it alive until the day the doors are closed on them.

    I work at jays hang out at jays and take it personally when its integrity is questioned.

    Arlington is a dying town all its charm and beauty is almost completely swallowed by disgusting concrete high rises and no local family charm

  • just like home

    This sucks! I always felt comfortable at Jay’s… when I was 25.. when I was 30.. and now when I am almost 35! It is one of the easiest places to be and I will be sad when its gone! They SHOULD come over to the Pike…we need a place like that down “south”!

  • Black Flag

    More condos and pizza.

  • tom

    Republicans are destroying Arlington???
    Kill yourself.

    My friends rented out Jays for New Years and the agreement with Jay was to allow all the regulars in, it was quite a scene. Fifty 25 year olds and the 15 regulars, classic.

  • Lila

    We loved Jay’s. It was within walking distance of our apartment. The drinks were always first rate, and the crab cakes? Fabulous! Jay took my husband, Joel, back to the kitchen to prove to him they weren’t prepackaged, frozen ones because they were so consistently wonderful. I hope we make it back to Arlington before the swan song. Thanks, Jay & Kathi! We so enjoyed the dogs on the patio. Made numerous canine & human friends.


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