A crowd of locals swapped memories, shared beers and even fought back some tears while saying goodbye to longtime neighborhood hangout Jay’s Saloon on Monday.
Jay’s Saloon first opened its doors in the fall of 1993, and became famous throughout Clarendon for $8 pitchers of beer during happy hour, cheap eats and a no-frills dive bar aesthetic.
In 2011, the bar received news that the building that houses it could be demolished and replaced with a mixed-use development. Last summer, that news became reality. The new development, called 10th Street Flats and located at 3132 10th Street N., is planned to have 135 residential units, 3,660 square feet of retail, almost 5,000 square feet of office space and nine live/work units.
Kathi Moore, who co-owned Jay’s with her ex-husband, spent the night slinging beers and hugging old friends.
“This is my life,” said Moore. “I spent half my working life here.”
For Moore, the closure of Jay’s represents an end, but also a new beginning. “[It’s] another phase of my life,” she said. “I’ll get another job.”
Moore’s patrons spent the night toasting the bar’s iconic status as the last dive bar in Clarendon.
Charlie Heitman, who manages the condo across the street from Jay’s, ate lunch there three or four days a week for more than a decade. To Heitman, the bar’s closing means one less place for locals to feel at home.
“It’s not a corporate bar, where everything is pre-programmed,” Heitman said. “I’m more sad about this than my last divorce.”
Last Saturday, Heitman served as auctioneer as bar sold off memorabilia and keepsakes.
“We sold almost everything off the wall. It was a frenzy,” said Heitman. “People [wanted] just a little piece of Jay’s to take home with them.”
“We know all the waitresses, we know all the bartenders,” said longtime regular Elaine Ethier. “There’s no other place in Arlington like this.”
Jacki Barnett, who was a bar regular since 2007, spent the night savoring the minutes before last call. Even though she knew the doors would close for good, Barnett said she will always keep in touch with the people she met over the years.
“I’m going to take a big deep breath, I’m going to shed a tear, realize that all these people are still my friends,” Barnett said. “I’ll see them around the corner in just a minute.”