Submit Content

The nightlife power couple behind B Live talk about their burgeoning Clarendon empire

When B Live in Clarendon opened to the public earlier this month, it was a big moment for local restaurateurs Christal and Mike Bramson.

The live music venue and restaurant is not the only venture that the married team has in Arlington. They also own several other well-known Clarendon concepts, including The Lot, Clarendon Pop-Up Bar, and Pamplona on Clarendon Blvd, plus they are planning to open a new tropical-themed bar on the roof above B Live, at 2854 Wilson Blvd, later this summer.

But B Live is perhaps the Bramsons’ most ambitious project yet, particularly with the added element that it moved into the former home of iconic watering hole Whitlow’s on Wilson.

ARLnow spoke with the couple about B Live’s debut, “tropical glam,” and the future of their other popular pop-ups. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

ARLnow: B Live has been open to the public for about two weeks now. How has been it going? What has surprised you? What challenges have you all encountered so far? 

Christal Bramson (CB): I think the initial thing that has struck us is that with very limited amounts of press and media, the community was clearly ready for us to open. There’s been an outpouring of support, which we embrace and love, but not necessarily ready yet for lines wrapped around the block.

Is there any pressure opening in the former home of such an iconic Arlington spot? 

Mike Bramson (MB): We definitely felt the pressure going in… we have big shoes to fill. We spent a lot of time on the design and really put a lot of our heart and soul into it.

CB: Obviously, Whitlow’s is an iconic place in Arlington and just want to do credit to the historic corner we are occupying.

MB: I knew the space really well, so we kind of had an idea of what we wanted to do with it. We completely changed the look of the inside, but still kept what people knew most about [Whitlow’s], which was the music and the brunch. We did add a few elements that really made it our own. So far, people’s reactions have been amazing.

What was the thought behind opening another live music venue in Clarendon? 

MB: Clarendon, historically, has had several live music venues and we saw a few of them fall away, either right before the pandemic and, then, right afterwards. The only remaining live music venue was the Renegade. They do a fantastic job and that’s a great venue, but we felt that historically there was always more than just one live music venue… there should be more than one option for live music as most towns and cities have.

What’s the process behind the booking of the bands, music, and entertainment? Is there an influence, theme, or genre you all are going for? 

MB: Personally, I love Ocean City and Dewey Beach. So really a lot of bands that we’re getting are from that area and from Philadelphia. Plus, a lot of local bands. It’s basically cover bands right now, but we will expand our reach.

CB: Wednesday nights will be acoustic. Saturdays will be more band focused with a spattering of DJs. And we are going to have local artists that just need a platform on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Coco B’s is next, opening on the roof of 2854 Wilson Blvd later this summer. When will that be open to the public? And what more details can you provide about the look, feel, and the drinks?

MB: We’re expecting two months from now, if everything goes well. So, we’re aiming for the end of July, beginning of August. We’re still working on the details of [the drink program], but there will be tropical-inspired cocktails.

CB: I’d describe [the look and feel] as ‘tropical glam.’ If you think of B Live as the male version of the two of us, then Coco B’s is the female version… the his and hers. It’s definitely going to be more female-focused. There’s going to be a lot of pinks, velvets, feathers, and it’s going to attract the softer side of Arlington.

MB: We also had some plans to expand the rooftop and, and actually make the bar a little bit bigger. But we found out that by doing that, it would cost us the rest of the summer. So, we are going to hold on those plans, do some cosmetic changes, keep the layout as is, and open the bar and rooftop this summer. Then, during the winter, we will close it and next spring we will have our big reveal for the redesigned rooftop.

Just a few blocks away is another venture of yours: The Lot. What’s the future of the beer garden? 

CB: We are hoping to continue as is. We are on a month-to-month [lease] right now. We are at the mercy of the county in terms of the redevelopment there. But we are going to keep it as long as we possibly can.

MB: We haven’t heard anything from the county yet, but the landlord did say that we would be able to have it at least for the rest of this season. But we don’t know what’s in store for next year.

The last few years you all have been operating the Clarendon Pop-Up Bar inside of the former Clarendon Ballroom. However, it’s been reported that your lease to continue that runs out later this year. Additionally, we reported earlier this year that the building’s new owner, Michael Darby, has applied for a building permit there. So, what’s next for Clarendon Pop-Up Bar?

MB: We can’t really comment on that. All we can say is that the lease was for a pop-up, which by definition is temporary. Everything is developing and we will have to see what happens.

Will the pop-up continue through the summer and until the lease expires in the fall? 

MB: We are still figuring that out. As of right now, though, we are still operating.

Recent Stories

As Arlington County continues collecting feedback on the preliminary concept plan to turn Langston Blvd into a “Green Main Street” over several decades, a few disagreements have emerged. Some say…

RSVP to learn about the Forestry and Natural Resources Plan during the virtual open house tomorrow at 7 p.m.

Within the first five minutes of Netflix’s new series Partner Track, Arlington native and Yorktown High School graduate Alexandra Turshen already has her “boss” moment by telling the new paralegal…

The Arlington Art Truck is back this fall starting October 1 with an exhibit focused on Arlington’s birds.

Now you can have fun with your family and friends when deciding where to eat!

Just hop aboard The Lunch Train and set the destination for: breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or nightlife!

– No app necessary. Simply go to the website if you’d like!
– No account necessary
– Use your current location or a desired location
– Add restaurants you’re interested in, invite your friends, and play the game!

Submit your own Community Post here.

Lyon Park & Ashton Heights’ biennial home & garden biennial tour is back. The tour will include contemporary custom homes, older historic bungalows as well as renovated properties. One of the stunning homes on the tour is pictured above.  In addition to beautiful & unique homes, the Villa & Vistas ’22 event will conclude with a festive reception at the Lyon Park Community Center at 414 N Fillmore Street, Arlington VA 22201. What could be better right?

All proceeds from this event will go to the Lyon Park Citizens Association (LPCA) towards our neighborhood jewel & hub, the Lyon Park Community Center (LPCC).

When: Sunday, October 2nd, Noon – 4 PM. 

Where: Meet to get your tickets and the tour map at the Lyon Park Community Center (414 N Fillmore Street) We will have a table with information outside.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

Homebuying 101: Steps to Getting Pre-Approved

Are you ready to jump into homeownership or started considering it but don’t know where to start? Financial preparation is key when thinking about purchasing your first home and the first step to getting pre-approved. Join ACFCU for our Homebuying

Pink Carpet Event Charity Fashion Show

The Pink Carpet Event Charity Fashion Show will feature our fabulous breast cancer survivors slaying the runway! Designers from Baltimore and the Washington, DC Metropolitan area will bring exquisite fashion and glamour to this event. Professional male and female designs


Subscribe to our mailing list