Morning Poll: Dr. Dremo’s Gives Up on Arlington

by ARLnow.com October 14, 2011 at 9:06 am 5,201 70 Comments

Dr. Dremo’s has given up on trying to reopen in Arlington, reports Rebecca Cooper in the Urban Turf Neighborhood Eats blog.

Dremo owner Andrew Stewart says he will no longer try to find a new Arlington home for the beer-centric dive bar. Instead, he’s now focused on opening a new venue — with a new name — in D.C.

How do you feel about what is perhaps the final nail in the Dremo’s coffin?

  • Bill

    Wow, what will ArlNow do with all the free space?

    • Scott

      Build more apartments/condos.

      • Richard Cranium

        Why – so all of the displaced electrons have a place to live?

  • CW

    As someone who wasn’t around for Dremo’s but has heard it discussed ad infinitum, I feel like the concept’s time has passed. It seems like Dremo’s was the beta version of a concept that has gone much more mainstream, and that places like Dremos and other early predecessors of today’s beer bars are what fueled the microbrew/craft movement and brought it into the limelight that it enjoys today. Now the beer bar is on to version 2.0 or 3.0. I think that, from what I understand of it, Dremo’s was just as much a function of its time as of its place.

    • Lou

      As someone who was around when Dremo’s opened as the only large format beer consumption venue in Arlington, I agree. Its concept was great at the time and has been surpassed and improved upon many times over since then.

    • JamesE

      I just go to carpool, everyone complains about slow service there but I go enough now that I am approaching cheers status and get my drinks asap.

    • Aaron

      I’d couple that time/place assessment with the corrollary that one can’t try to create a great dive bar — it must evolve naturally. Much as you can never step into the same river twice, it’s a fool’s errand to try to recapture the magic that made Dremo’s work in the first place.

      • CW

        Agreed. That said, I’m going to mourn the loss of Jay’s. I wouldn’t even call it a “dive bar” because that term has achieved hipster chic status; it’s just a good old hometown watering hole.

  • Times and places change. Upscale corporate watering holes is our future. Think I’ll grab a six of Yuengling and watch the game at home in front of the TV.

    • your drink that crap?


      • One of the great American beers left. I don’t need to pay as much for one beer of “non-crap” as I do for a whole six of halfway decent beer.

        • CW

          Agree wholeheartedly…24 packs of Yuengling Lager are $16 at Costco…enough said…

      • Or maybe just sit out on the porch with some RWB.

      • JamesE

        I am a beer snob but nothing wrong with Yuengling, can’t beat it for the price. Anyone that disagrees is a fool, a giant fool!

  • You can’t go home

  • JamesE

    Not surprising, seemed like he only wanted to open in Clarendon which is the complete opposite of what Dremo’s was.

    • clarendon

      Clarendon used to be funky….til the condos went up

      • One of “The Olds”

        Yeah, for certain definitions of “funky”, including “run down” and “a dump.” I had friends who lived in group houses right on top of the orange line in the early 90’s, not the greatest or safest place to be at night. The good ol’ days weren’t really all that good sometimes.

        • Uh, it was hardly Anacostia.

        • Clarendude

          I was in a group house in 93, nothing unsafe about Clarendon then or now for that matter. Except maybe getting whacked by a car (then and now). Back then, we would drive the mile to Amdo/Strangeways or Roratonga because the walk was hideous and there was plenty of parking (because nobody was there). Now I’d walk that same distance without even thinking. Walking around back then in Clarendon I seemed to run into more people I knew but that may have been because there was many, many less people out so less people-clutter. I’m hoping in 20 years or so with buildings slightly older, there will be room for some more cool stuff.

        • drax

          I was here then, it was just as safe. It just looked more rundown, so suburban kids thought it was scary.

      • I against I

        You got that right. Arlington lost all it’s funk, a long time ago, after the condos went up. I like it when people try to make the old arlington out to be MLK Ave WDC, circa 1986!

    • gman

      They were trying for Columbia pike too, in the Ski Chalet… That would have been perfect!

      • charlie

        the zoning administrator made that site not work. i know.

  • Nathan

    Why didn’t they take over the space where the Ski Chalet was?
    Perfect spot In My Honest Opinion (see how I didn’t abbreviate that and the world didn’t end 😉

    • $$$$$$$$$$

    • charlie

      isn’t IMHO — h stand for “humble” primarily and secondarily Honest?

  • karzai

    Surprise, surprise !!!

    So many of us have been saying for so long to give up hearing about Dremo’s efforts to reopen in Arlington – that it simply was never going to happen. We should not have had our time wasted on this issue these many months.

    • Richard Cranium

      If I were you, I’d cancel your subscription! Why pay to read all of this irrelevant stuff! Wait . . . what? Oh. nevermind.

  • North A-Town Snob

    I went to Bardo/Ningaloo/Dremo’s plenty of times over the years. Always liked the laid back feel and their beers. However, I don’t understand how they weren’t able to find a new “home” in Arlington?? More likely, they weren’t willing to pay the rents required to open the size facility they wanted/needed. The free standing buildings like what they had are few and far between now and the market has determined what the costs will be to rent them or a similar sized location. Either the numbers add up or they don’t. There have been plenty of available spaces that have opened since Dremo’s went bye-bye, they just didn’t want to pony up the rent. If they believed in their concept working in current day Arlington they would have been re-opened years ago.

    • JamesE

      That space under the VT research center seemed like a good location but I guess they were just too cheap, seems like Green Turtle didn’t mind the rent costs.

      • drax

        A high-rise in Ballston just wouldn’t be right for a place like Bardo. Wouldn’t work at all.

        • UpperWestSider

          Your concept of a high rise is quaint.

      • charlie

        see green turtle is a professionally run place that is a business and not just something fun that someone threw together and was successful despite themselves.

  • novasteve

    I’m curious why this guy is so heavily trying to appeal to hipster douches. How about a large place that is unpretentious? It doesn’t have to be in Arlington, but should be in Nova. They could get lower rents elsewhere in Nova. If he was planning to turn it into another type of American Tap Room type of place, I’m glad it’s not coming back.

    can someone please create a dive bar in arlington?

    • drax

      A large place that is unpretentious? That describes the old Bardo pretty well.

      No, it wouldn’t be anything like American Tap Room.

    • John B

      First Down is pretty divey/unpretentious. Bailey’s is very large and is usually unpretentious on non-fight nights. And hey it even allows smoking so you can enjoy it.

      • JamesE

        First Down is great, good wings

  • drax

    For the record, the secret place he was looking to buy and convert to a new Bardo was the Costa Verde restaurant on Jackson St.

    • Rumormill

      I hear a Quaker Steak and Lube is going in there


    • CW

      That place gets ridiculously popular on weekend nights! The light show in there looks insane too…

  • V Dizzle

    I loved Dremo’s and morned for some time when they closed, but how many times does he think he can create hope (or raise $$ which doesn’t seem to go into the business..where does that $$ go anyhow??) and then turn around 180 degrees? Wtf? Screw it, I agree that creating a new dive bar is silly in concept anyhow.

  • novasteve

    Seriously, has anyone ever been to Pennsylvania? I know bars are illegal in VA, but you know those places that only serve hard liquor and cheap beers and are cash only? Can we PLEASE have something like that. PLEASE???

    Christ I’d prefer the nightlife in Khandahar over the pretentious crap we have here. Is it too much to ask for to have a place where people are out to enjoy themselves rather than there to show off? Just one place. JUST one place.

    • We have something close. Kitty O’Sheas…. oh, wait…..

    • JohnB

      P.Brennans on the pike and I’m hoping William Jeffery’s when it opens and certainly LA Bar.

    • drax

      As you like to say, Steve…if you don’t like it, move.

      And there are plenty of places like that if you just look. I have one great place in mind. I’m not going to tell you though because I don’t want your disgusting smoke stinking up the outdoor seating.

    • Josh S

      I guarantee there are no Clarendouches at the Forest Inn. I’d recommend a hot shower upon returning home and it may indeed remind you of the THird World, but – no pretentiousness.

    • Don Ager

      I’m from NW Pa. The closest to a Pa. corner bar in Virginia is the Cowboy Cafe on Lee Hwy. Major bene it’s far enough away from Clarendon/Ballston you don’t get that crowd.

  • CornFieldTransplant

    I used to live right by it when I was in Rosslyn. Now I’m right off of H Street in DC and there is an abandoned car service shop that just screams DREMOS. Plus it’s right across from Checkers so I can stumble over for bad fast food like the Taco Bell!

    • CW

      Yeah but that’s the whole point I was making earlier. There are a dozen places on H street that effectively ARE Dremo’s right now. The concept sounds like it was novel at the time, but it’s become mainstream. I don’t think he would still have a competitive advantage today.

    • beer snob

      Ding ding ding, winner. Opening approx March 2003 near the Atlas district. brewery, distillery, outdoor/rooftop seating

      • nom de guerre

        Only nine and a half years late. Problems with permits?

  • Pedro

    Just go to Whitlow’s or Clarendon Grill for chrissake. Both reasonably priced and unpretentious.

    • Steve


      • Aaron

        Yep, that pretty much sums up in two sentences why the Dremo’s concept is dead.

  • clarendon

    Isn’t Jays Saloon still open? (I know it is set to close sometime), that’s always been the diviest dive bar in Arlington

    • CW

      Still open, still a good time. Enjoy the fall outdoor dining weather on their patio! (And Steve you can SMOKE!!! You hear that?!)

      • Yeah, but even Jay’s has been rocked with the threat of not getting their lease renewed (they were renewed for another 2 years). The more they build around there, the more that piece of property is going to be more valuable if the landlord sells.

  • charlie

    dremo’s time has come and gone. thankfully

  • Dremos was a bad place in Courthouse. Glad to see it gone. It was a place not many regulars in the neighborhood went to.

    Glad to see it is history.

  • arlingtonian_guru

    I love Dremo’s and have mourned it’s loss for some time now. I continually awaited Dremo’s return and am sad to hear that it will never happen. I have the best memories of that place. I miss a beer bar that is non-conformist and has a bunch of games to entertain people. It may have been the timing and idea were great then but I still think it would be great now. I can’t not agree more that I would hate for it to turn into American Tap Room or anything chic. I like a place that’s laid back and a bit out there. I loved Kitty o Shea’s because on a weekend night you could go there to relax and not be surrounded by the typical preppy hipster Arlington people. It was just people being friendly and having a good time. No bar in Arlington has lived up to Dremos. It was one of a kind and i sure as hell miss it and wish it would come back. Give me a dive bar to be proud of!

  • I don’t know if I speak for all Courthouse residents, but I want to repeat my dislike for Dremos. It was a dive and I’m glad it is gone.

    Ballston Resident

    • drax

      Dremo was okay. Bardo was awesome.

  • bred

    I rember that last day that Dremos was open I happend to be at the Taco Bell next door and who should appear?? The REAL Krystal Koons.

    • She doesn’t look like she eats much Taco Bell….

      • drax

        She always looks hypnotized.

        • (another) Greg

          She’s Michele Bachmann’s long, lost daughter.

  • Neil

    When will the property owners of the blight that was once Demo’s actually do something with it? How many years have weeds and now trees been growing in that lot – now expanded???

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