Arlington Shuts Down for Snow, Bars Stay Open

A walk down the streets of Ballston in the immediate aftermath of the biggest snowstorm in years reveals a consistent trend: most businesses — like banks, barbers, and many restaurants — are closed, but bars are open.

Even in Ballston Common Mall, the Starbucks was closed, although the Panera Bread and Noodles & Company were open and filled with customers during the lunch hour. One of the busiest businesses in the area was First Down Sports Bar (4213 N. Fairfax Drive), which was crowded enough that the one bartender scheduled wouldn’t suffice; owner Ramesh Chopra had to come in and help.

“We’re always open. We were open during Snowmaggedon,” he told at about 1:30 this afternoon. “I expected it to be busy later, around 3:00, but people were calling us early making sure were going to be open.”

At the Front Page Arlington (4201 Wilson Blvd), owner George Marinakos decided to open, but he had to pick up one of his employees and drive them to the restaurant to work. Other employees at his and other businesses walked to work or took the Metro.

“Everybody wanted us to open,” he said. “I did, employees did, customers did.”

Most offices were shut down — along with schools and county and federal government offices — but Blake Gilley and two coworkers had to come in. By noon, they had left, and an hour later they were enjoying drinks in First Down.

“Literally no one else was there,” he said of his office. “All of our other offices along the East Coast were shut down. I haven’t received an email in three hours.”

Wilson Blvd and N. Glebe Road were drivable, but covered in slush. The streets were far from empty, however, as most residents seemed to be enjoying their snow days. A few impromptu snowball fights even broke out.

Rock Bottom Brewery (4238 Wilson Blvd) manager Avery Minor expects that later in the day, much of the outdoor merriment will continue in bars like his.

“Bars and grocery stores are the places that have to stay open,” Minor said. “People will always need food and drinks. What else are you gonna do?”

(In Virginia, alcohol-centric establishments — which we refer to above as bars — must serve food and are technically considered restaurants.)

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