President Obama Dines in Clarendon

by ARLnow.com October 27, 2011 at 8:00 pm 11,796 111 Comments

(Updated at 10:20 p.m.) Clarendon buzzed even more than usual this evening, thanks to a presidential visit.

President Obama dined at Liberty Tavern (3195 Wilson Blvd.) tonight with four supporters who won a campaign raffle contest.

People passing through the Clarendon area started hanging around and watching once they saw the blocked-off perimeter, dozens of police and security personnel for blocks and a telltale special event tent on N. Irving Street, next to Liberty Tavern. The president finally arrived in his black limousine around 6:50 p.m., as Arlington County police helped set up rolling roadblocks.

Liberty Tavern co-owner Stephen Fedorchak said he had an inkling on Tuesday that President Obama might be stopping by, and the confirmation came on Wednesday. As with all such presidential visits, Fedorchak had to keep quiet until tonight.

“As an Arlington restaurant and independent business people, we’re just extremely flattered,” Fedorchak said. “It’s an honor. We understand the magnitude of it but we wanted to have fun with it as well. We offered the same hospitality we strive for with every guest that comes in our restaurant.”

Server Randi Milton said although the dinner group discussed serious topics, such as the economy, there was much laughter. She said the president asked about each of his guests’ lives and families. Milton said she didn’t get to talk to President Obama very much because he was so focused on his guests.

“Obviously, he was not there to interact with us,” she said. “I shook his hand, took his order, and he chatted with us a little after dinner. But the point was not to talk to us, it was to talk to them.”

The president’s team had researched the menu at Liberty Tavern and didn’t want to limit themselves by just requesting one special item. The guests all ordered off of the regular menu, and the President dined on swordfish with white beans and lamb sausage.

When asked about the possibility of increased business from this event, Fedorchak said, “We want to be respectful of the fact that the President dined in our restaurant in terms of how we market it. But we’ll gladly accept any additional business as a result.”

Media and passersby gathered on nearby street corners to attempt catching a glimpse of President Obama as he left Liberty Tavern. Many tried in vain to snap pictures, but the security perimeter kept most people too far away to land a good shot. Traffic crawled through Clarendon and the already tough intersection of Washington Boulevard and Wilson Boulevard, at a couple times completely stopping as the presidential motorcade passed through.

The president left the restaurant just before 8:00 p.m. and was met outside with dozens of cheering onlookers.

“This is really cool,” one woman said. “I’ve lived here 17 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

The last time President Obama came to Arlington for a meal was June 24, 2010, when he and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev grabbed lunch at Ray’s Hell Burger (1713 Wilson Blvd).

  • JimPB

    Let freedom ring (on a full stomach and glass of wine).

  • Mort

    oh god I misread that

    • amb

      Me too; my heart started to skip a beat as I had to read the headline again.

      • TGEoA

        Me too. For a minute there I thought he dined at Columbia Pike.

        • ha


        • Tabby

          Pedro and Vinny’s is a must for his next lunch outing.

    • Jessie

      Me, too. No more reading ArlNow before having my coffee.

      • CW

        Seriously? If THAT had happened, god forbid, you would have heard about it first on ARLnow?

  • Question for Residents

    So if you live in Clarendon and drive to work, did the Secret Service prevent you from driving home to your garage?

    • Mals

      Not for my condo building 2 blocks up…but i did run into a SS member running late and speeding like a crazy and unsafe person in my garage on the residents only floor screaming profanities because he obviously couldn’t find a parking space!

      • Dia

        I’m not surprised at the SS reaction to being late. Many of them appear to be control freeks, and this one is clearly one. It’s the many who have to sacrifice for the one. Thank goodness no one was apparently in his way.

    • Swag

      Cops (kinda) blocked off 10th Street around 6:30. You could drive on the street, but you couldn’t cross it at Washington blvd or Barton street. Had to circle around to get to my apartment.

      • Oh that explains the traffic last night! I was coming back from Harris Teeter and trying to turn right onto Wash Blvd from 10th and there just was no movement. I was lucky I could take that little construction road off Garfield and get around the 10th & Wash Blvd log-jam. When I looked down the street I say “cop lights” but couldn’t figure out what the hold up was. Kinda sorry I missed seeing the hubbub around Liberty Tavern though.

        • Swag

          Yeah, they we’re just starting to set it up when I was coming back from running some errands. Didn’t really understand why they would leave the street open but prevent people from making left turns or crossing the street. Guess the rolling roadblocks don’t work as well during rush hour.

          He shoulda taken the Metro.

  • Bilbo

    Thanks for screwing up my rush hour commute home Odumba. Your one term presidency couldn’t come soon enough.

    • Joe

      Calm down you hobbit and leave arlington you ignorant fool.

    • ArLater

      Because things would have been so different if a Republican president did the same exact thing last night… Right.

      • TGEoA

        No, the Vitriol (from AIF’s like AllenB) would be 10x worse.

        Me personally, I hope he enjoyed his dinner.

        • Zoning Victim

          What’s an AIF?

          • KalashniKEV

            Armed Insurgent Forces

        • AllenB

          Most of my vitriol is directed at you, TGEoA, not elected officials. They’re all entitled to eat and Dem or Republican, dining in Arlington is never bad for the local economy.

          But I am glad that you remember me… and that special time we had together…. 😉

          • Hojon

            It warms my heart that you’re a bitter little man.

          • AllenB

            You see bitterness in what I stated above? Wow, must be a mirror I guess.

          • Wikipoodia

            AllenB – your a douche.

          • TGEoA

            Since it’s getting cold, meet me at the fence next time. Don’t forget the rope.

        • Bilbo

          I hoped he choked on a fish bone….

          • GayleFleming

            Bilbo, you are a mean, nasty, and very sick puppy. Your vitriol far exceeds the normal upset of being inconvenienced at rush hour. You clearly have other issues. Maybe Arlington isn’t the place for you.

    • Zoning Victim

      I hate Obama’s policies, but God forbid the guy goes out to dinner and disturbs your commute. Geeze, give the guy a break. It’ll probably be really good for the local businesses that he chose Clarendon.

      • Bilbo

        Yep, nothing like a 1% President to disrupt the lives of the 99% so he can dine at their expense….what does it matter if kids have to sit in a car for hours on end because the police decide to severely restrict the flow of traffic. Yeah, you’re right. We ate cake that night instead of bread….

    • drax

      I’m sure any the many appealing and sane Republican candidates will easily defeat him.

      • You mean either of them?

        Since there of course are only two who are sane, Romney and Huntsman.

  • Charlie

    The neighbors should appreciate me cutting thru courtland, Lyon park and Ashton heights to avoid the horrible traffic

    • ArlingtonNative

      Yup … like you, I was happy to be a native of Arlington as I cut through the neighborhoods from Clarendon to Westover – avoiding all the hub-bub and snarled traffic.
      Even with the traffic calming devices, ART buses, etc. it was still much faster then creeping along Wilson/Wash Blvds.

      • charlie

        we are lucky to know the short cuts!!
        on 9/11 i got home in standard amount of time also. don’t get between me and my after work drink.

  • Answer from Resident

    There aren’t parking garages on the block where Liberty Tavern is located, so I don’t think Secret Service blocked anyone from parking in their apartment parking.

  • MC

    Didn’t realize Liberty Tavern was famous for its burgers — thought that’s why Mr Obama came to Arlington to dine.

    • DarkHeart

      I’d be more impressed if he’d gone to Whitlow’s or Iota, you know, a Clarendon business from “the weird era”.

  • Zach

    I feel so validated in my opinion that Liberty Tavern is one of the better restaurants in the area.

    • Sgt. Hartman

      Weird…I have exactly the opposite reaction.

      • ArlingtonNative

        Ditto on that. Their food is strictly average, particularly when you take into consideration all the great dining options available in the DC/Metro area.
        Sure would be funny to see all the typical Clarendon DB’s flooding in there this PM to try and sit at “his” table or in “his” chair.

        • novasteve

          What % of them will be wearing prescriptionless glasses and have lispy voices?

          • Zoning Victim

            Probably lots, but if you’re trying to gauge your chances of hooking up, they won’t like you. You should try the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

    • Swag

      I assume it was chosen for the name more than the food. As ArlingtonNative said, it’s strictly average.

  • ArlGirl

    I wonder what kind of beer he had … but I’m glad it was Obama causing the traffic congestion in Clarendon tonight and not another genius person playing with the metro trains…

  • The swordfish is subpar (unless flown in that evening, for a small fee); white beans, then? Quite!

  • Rick

    How do you live here 17 years and not see a motorcade?

    • Tabby

      Seriously. He passes me on the bridge at least once a month.

      My fave was when my friend was about to cross the street and saw (Bill) Clinton chowing down on a banana.

      • dogwood

        Sure that wasn’t Monica chowing down on a banana?

        • Bilbo

          More like a peanut….

  • Sikudhani

    I walked past there on my way to The Hut tonight… I noticed the flashing lights.
    From afar, it appeared as though some “Jabroni” was having a wedding reception or the like…
    If only I knew The Pres was hanging out… I would have pointed him in the direction of a decent f—ing brew (and a place that still allows smoking on the patio, despite the best effort of the liberals).

  • Sikudhani

    I walked past that intersection on my way to Galaxy Hut tonight.
    I assumed some “jabroni” reserved the Tavern for his cheesy-ass wedding reception.
    … Apparently I wasn’t too far off.

  • Sgt. Hartman

    I’m pretty sure Mr. Obama enjoys these kind of menu items just to upset the equally sanctimonious Mrs. Obama.

    • Sikudhani

      “Cant buy this at Target.”

      • Rick

        Have you had a hot dog from target? They are delectable

  • Courthouse Matt

    Wish I’d known they’d be shutting down roads before this… Luckily I got the Patch alert earlier so I changed my route home from work.

  • Thes

    Those are some extremely classy comments from the owner and waiter. Makes me proud to be an American.

  • Quoth the Raven

    He should have gone with the PEI mussels. Those things are awesome.

    • Clarendon Cruiser

      Agreed, 100% how they get that delicious smoke flavor into them is beyond me. And Lyon Hall calls that their specialty, HA! They should learn.

  • Brian

    Explains why I saw Secret Service uniformed division on 10th Street by the Shell station. Was very confused why they were there as I was en route to DCA

  • Me in Arlingtin

    No matter who it is, it is always an honor when the president visits your town. I was even excited to see W. once.

  • novasteve

    Yeah “really cool” when your movements are restricted on a public street. Nice sheeple.

    • drax

      You must get really made every time an ambulance dares to drive ahead of you too, huh Steve?

      • Steve

        An ambulance is trying to save someone’s life, not trying to raise campaign contributions.

        • Zoning Victim

          Yeah, but they have automatic transmissions.

  • CW

    I am curious as to why he chose LT. I know that restaurant group has some local clout, but I doubt it extends all the way up to the White House. he certainly didn’t pick it by reading Sietsema’s fall dining guide. I’m thinking it was probably a matter of logistics. In terms of places to secure, LT is a pretty good one – it’s relatively small and has a clear perimeter, it’s on a corner, etc.

    I noticed that Spider Kelly’s and Eventide were still open, but that Taste of Morocco and O’Sullivan’s were shut down. I wonder if they got compensated and, if so, how much?

    • Clarendude

      Sam’s Corner was closed as well 😮

    • JamesE

      His first choice was the courthouse Taco Bell.

      • Larchmont

        He was hoping to be at Dr. Dremo’s by 6. Took Secret Service almost an hour to convince him to go to Liberty.

  • Novasteve is an idiot

    So, will you complain when Santa Claus is riding in a parade up the street, “restricting” your movements? Get over yourself!

    • Steve

      Nice personal attack. Santa Claus riding up the street doesn’t cause establishments to close down like this did, and prevent people from being in a certain area so one guy can have dinner with contributors or those seeking to help him get campaign money.


    • Steve

      I didn’t realize Santa was trying to fundraise and that his need to fundraise closed businesses and people’s access to their own neighborhood. Thanks for correcting me.

      • brif

        So the president should never go out in public. Got it.

        • Steve

          He shouldn’t have ran for President than if he wasn’t prepared to deal witht he consequences. Him moving around causes disruptions, and for him to cause disruptions in my home, causing business to close, so he could RAISE MONEY FOR HIMSELF, is DUSGUSTING.

          • Larchmont

            Oooooh….Disruptions! Don’t answer the door Monday night.

          • Um, yeah…

            So I guess it was “disgusting” when Bush went ate at El Paso on Pershing/Glebe, huh?

          • Larchmont

            Do not, I repeat, DO NOT go to the airport on Tuesday.

  • G Clifford Prout

    Probably the first and last time anyone has been able to carry on a conversation in that noise box.

    • Steve

      I can’t go there because of my bad hearing and the noise. Too bad nobody bans loud noises from bars. I have to act like an adult and choose to avoid it.

      • JimPB

        Me, too. I was delighted when WPost restaurant reviews began reporting dbl. levels.

  • Steamboat Willie

    I like Liberty Tavern and President Obama. I am the 99%.

    • Steve

      I dislike both Liberty Tavern and President Obama. Given the election results and the polling data for Obama or any president, I hardly doubt 99% of americans like him AND liberty taven given .001% of americans have ever been to it.

    • Zoning Victim

      Actually, if you live in this town, you are most likely around the 11% given the income levels in Arlington. But don’t worry; they’ll help you spend it.

    • KalashniKEV

      I like Lib Tav and dislike Obama.

      • Hey, KEV!

        I’m sincerely curious:

        So President Obama–despite an overabundance of caution from his civilian and military advisors–went with his gut and OK’d the hit on bin Laden (brilliantly and bravely excecuted by JSOCOM). Unlike GWB, who basically washed his hands of bin Laden a couple of years after his “bring me his head in a box” attempt at being Clint Eastwood).

        Then Obama he put a cap in Anwar Al-Awlaki’s a##–much to the chagrin of ultra-leftwingers.

        And oh, yeah–under Obama’s leadership, the US managed to covertly aid the Libyan rebellion with drones and advisors, etc, etc–without a single US life shed and without the appearance of starting another colonial outpost.

        I sincerely want to know: Do these things not matter one bit to die-hard GOPpers? Or do you basically say “Well, OK–but I still hate his domestic policy?”

        • KalashniKEV

          I don’t know how much caution or what guidance his military advisors gave him- but the greatest achievements of the Obama presidency (and ones that can be directly attributed to him) is:

          1) Expanding the War into Pakistan. (GWB was busy propping up Musharraf- and I’ve always said that was a bad call)
          2) Stepping up drone strikes BIG TIME. (we’ve ALL wanted this for a long time!)

          (Full disclosure- I dislike GWB as much as Obama)

          As far as aiding the insurgency in Libya- I honestly think this was a BIG mistake, and I have done a bit of writing on it. For every Loyalist who took to the field of battle against NATO airstrikes and insurmountable odds, there are 6-10 waiting to begin asymmetric ops against the new regime. Saif was like “Scotty Evil” to his Dad, and would have been a big reformer. Instead he’s turning himself over to the Kangaroo Court at the Hague. There will be a generation of terror in the wake of this intervention- and some will undoubtedly come our way. It’s sad, but sometimes you have to watch the Seagull eat the Sea Turtle…

          AFA Obama’s domestic policy, the Marxist rhetoric is an immediate disqualifier. (that’s what’s keeping the big money too scared to move and crippling our economy)

          AFA as the man himself? Toooooo many red flags and question marks in his past. It’s a fact that he would not qualify to serve on his own security detail. (But he did get elected, so props to him.)

        • KalashniKEV

          I answered, but it didn’t post…


          • Obamarama

            Me again. Well, you tried. Feel free to try again. Likewise for any other R’s out there. I’m seriously curious if big O gets any credit with you guys for his GWOT strikes–just as W got credit from libs for his funding to fight AIDS in Africa.

          • KalashniKEV

            No… he certainly does! What’s listed above have been his greatest achievements and I certainly give props! I even noted that 1)Expansion of the war 2) Stepping up drone strikes are directly attributable to him.

            It’s his Marxist rhetoric and shady past that concern me…

          • Obamarama

            OK, thanks for the reply. Well, I guess you have a modicum of objectivity perhaps.

            I don’t agree with the “Marxist” label–unless you consider any system in which everyone pays into something based on income to be Marxist, which means all taxation is Marxist. If roads, schools, public health research, and national defense provided equally to all but supported based on income is socialist, then OK, I guess that makes most Americans closet socialists.

          • KalashniKEV

            I want to add that while I am not one who believes Obama was born outside of the borders of our country, I am very concerned by the fact that he spent a great deal of his formative years in other countries, and was influenced by shady folks like Ayers, Alinsky, and Soros.

            Obama has said, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.” That tells me that in his mind, there are limits to the American dream, when in fact the American dream knows no limits. Obama does not share our American values.

          • Obamarama

            If POTUS spent so many formative years in Indonesia (which is very progressive, BTW–women cabinet ministers, not many headscarves, very tolerant of other religions)–then where’s his accent? Read his Dreams…Father book; you got nothing to lose. At least then you can shock libs in arguments.

            Ayers, seriously? Come on, man. The guy on the board of a couple of nonprofits BHO was also on. And here you had me thinking you were reasonable.

  • I heard he was looking for this cool place he heard so much about called Dr. Dremos, and ended up having to settle.

  • Smoke_Jaguar4

    I remember the impact he had on Ray’s Hell Burger. You could easily define Ray’s history as “Before Obama” and After Obama:

    Before Obama’s visit Ray’s was a place you go get a great burger at a decent price. It would get crowded from the Rosslyn lunch bucket crowd, but nothing out of the ordinary.

    After Obama’s visit, there were lines outside Ray’s for months, I think this is what drove Ray’s to open two sites in the same strip mall.

    I hope the Liberty Tavern experiences the same windfall. Other than DC and Arlington, has the president gone anywhere else locally to dine? There was Ben’s Chili Bowl and a Five Guys in DC, Ray’s and now the Liberty Tavern in Arlington.

  • charlie

    Liberty Tavern? Seriously? he is a teabagger now going for the name and not the food?

    Of all the choices in Arlington and in Clarendon…
    why pick the most mediocre place?? yuck.

    btw, is this why fashion week was canceled next door?

    • Steve

      The owner of LIberty Tavern is a bigtime democrat/liberal. remember how he hosted functions for Tim Kaine?

      • KalashniKEV

        Grrrr… I didn’t need to know that!

      • Newtdog

        Liberty is now dead to me.

    • CW

      Ooohh nice catch on the last point there…

      • Charlie

        Sometime even I make sense.

  • BookGuy

    The President and Mrs. Obama do go to all sorts of restaurants in the DC area. I do know that they celebrated special occasions at places like The Source and the Majestic. i think they went to Liberty Tavern because it a casual place with decent food. I prefer its sister restaurant Lyon Hall, but I am certainly glad that he wanted to patronize an Arlington business.

    • Steve

      I went to Lyon Hall once, with my brother, and it epitomizes what I cannot stand about this area. Bunch of snobby stuck up people, and there literally was this one woman there with a line of 10 guys waiting to hit on her, and she would strike down every single one.

    • Tabby

      I imagine that the upstairs is more private as well.

  • L

    novasteve, do you have a job? or do you just sit around all day and write about how much you hate everything?

    • Larchmont

      Well, he does get in line to hit on chics. That should count for something.

    • novasteve

      Does your personal attack contribute anything to the discussion? I stated my opinion about a place, and you personally attack me.

      • Larchmont

        An opinion about a person.

      • L

        I really am curious as to how you have the time on your hands to comment so much on this site. And the majority of your comments are focused on how much you hate everything… automatic transmission cars, Liberty Tavern, noise, Obama, liberals. You seem like a pretty unhappy person.

        • novasteve

          Your intent was to insult me, nothing more. Because I dont’ share your views, i should be rediculed. That’s liberal tolerance in a nutshell.

          • L

            No, ridiculing you would be making fun of your poor spelling, or calling you a close-minded fool with too much time on his hands, or telling you you overestimate how important and interesting your own opinions are. And by the way, your comments about people with lispy voices was really a shining example of tolerance. I’m sorry you are so sad, bitter and lonely that you feel the need to verbally abuse anyone that calls you out on it.

  • YTK

    At Rush Hour, no less.

  • jim

    Liberty Tavern will have to exploit this quickly. Ole big ears is surely a one term prez and will then be relegated to the dustbin of history.


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