Arlington, VA

One month after it served its last beer in D.C.’s Columbia Heights neighborhood, Meridian Pint is planning to open its new location in the Dominion Hills shopping plaza tomorrow.

For owner John Andrade, the move brings his new bar — at 6035 Wilson Blvd — a little closer to home. Andrade is from the neighborhood and many of the wait staff are hired from the nearby neighborhoods.

“I live a quarter-mile away and my daughter goes to Ashlawn,” Andrade said. “I know the neighborhood, and I’ve gotten to understand the void for folks here for craft beer.”

Andrade said oversaturation and competition with a new wave of breweries having their own bars forced Meridian Pint out of D.C., but added that the move is also an opportunity to rebuild the small community bar scene.

“There is a focus on D.C. or even Clarendon or Ballston for beers, but the neighborhoods are neglected,” Andrade said.

A sign at the front says the restaurant will be called Dominion Pint, but Andrade said there was a legal challenge to the name so the bar is sticking with Meridian Pint. The restaurant has been holding a series of soft openings for neighbors and other invitees this week, but the official public opening is Thursday.

It will be the sixth restaurant Andrade has opened, including those no longer operating. Andrade also runs three other D.C. restaurants: Brookland PintRosario’s Tacos & Tequila in Adams Morgan, and Smoke & Barrel in Adams Morgan.

Andrade said the focus of Meridian Pint will be on American grilled food and craft beer — both local and national brands. In addition to beers, Andrade said he’s focusing on the restaurant’s homemade ice cream.

Jace Gonnerman, the beer program director for Meridian Pint, said his goal is to maintain a careful balance of obscure and approachable beers.

In addition to the obscure and higher-end craft beers, Gonnerman said he’s happy to have two more affordable brews for the opening: Narragansett Lager and Genesee Cream Ale.

“We want to have a beer for everyone,” Gonnerman said. “We want something for the community, but also the latest and greatest for aficionados.”

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(Updated at 5:45 p.m.) Arlington County’s crime rates have continued to fall for seventh straight year, with a few exceptions, according to a new report from the police department.

The new data comes from ACPD’s annual crime report which the department released today (Tuesday). The 37-page document reports falling crime rates between 2017 and 2018 for many offenses, including burglary, kidnapping, assault, embezzlement, prostitution, and forcible sexual assault.

The county’s murder rate held steady, with four murders reported in both 2017 and 2018. However, the data also shows some increases in offenses for drunkenness, and bribery and extortion.

ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage noted that bribery and extortion charges can result from online or phone scams, and that both were “prevalent in 2018” which caused the department to lead several community awareness campaigns.

Chief M. Jay Farr noted that by May of last year the department was suffering from a staffing shortage with only 320 “functional” full time officers out of the 361 the county budgeted for.

“Our Department has a dedicated pledge of serving the community with duty, honor, and commitment,” Farr wrote in a statement in the report. “While we have experienced challenges this year, our sworn and civilian staff have risen to the task each day and embodied our pledge through their actions.”

Drunkenness

The biggest crime increase noted in the report was for offenses related to “drunkenness” charges: in 2017, 273 offenses were recorded related to drunkenness charges, compared to 622 last year.

Savage told ARLnow one reason the number is so high could be an issue with last year’s data.

“The number of drunkenness arrests appear to be underreported to the state in 2017 due to a data processing issue,” she said. “Our Records Management Unit is currently working with Virginia State Police to rectify the issue.”

Another reason could be ACPD’s crackdown on “nightlife safety.” In addition to increasing patrols around Clarendon bars last year, the department also partnered with restaurants to train staff in responding to emergency situations and report them to law enforcement:

In recognizing the importance of training to support effective standards, the police department’s Restaurant Liaison Unit has collaborated across county agencies to provide a thorough ARI training program for restaurant staff. These trainings include responsible alcohol service, fake identification detection, understanding their civil liability, public safety expectations, CPR, and Bar Bystander sexual assault intervention training.

The report noted that as part of ACPD’s “Restaurant Initiative” it trained 28 restaurants and 260 employees in the health and safety protocols.

Drugs

Arlington has seen the number of people seeking treatment for opioid addiction skyrocket in recent years. However, data shared in today’s report indicates that while the number of opioid-related incidents reported to 9-1-1 last year (153) remained close to 2017’s number (157), the number of overdoses decreased (53 in 2018 compared to 74 in 2017) and fatal overdoses also fell from 19 in 2017 to 11 in 2018.

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Police and local bar owners are teaming up to talk about alcohol and nightlife safety this week.

The two groups are co-hosting “A Conversation About Nightlife Safety” on Wednesday, May 1 from  7-9 p.m.

The free event will be held at the Hazel conference center at Virginia Hospital Center (1701 N. George Mason Drive). Attendees are asked to RSVP online.

“Patrons, restaurant staff, and those interested in maintaining Arlington County as a safe destination for entertainment are encouraged to attend a community conversation on nightlife safety,” a county press release reads.

Speakers include Freddie Lutz of Freddie’s Beach Bar, John Williams of Whitlow’s on Wilson, and Chris Lefbom of Ragtime, Rhodeside Bar and Grill, and William Jeffery’s Tavern

A panel line-up include officials from the county’s zoning, human services, economic development and fire departments.

Arlington County Police will be sending a member of its Restaurant Liaison Unit to the event, which is a part of the “Arlington Restaurant Initiative” to train bar employees to serve alcohol responsibly and help reduce nightlife crime.

Officials made the restaurant initiative a permanent fixture of Arlington’s nightlife scene back in October after piloting it earlier in 2018.

Last year, ACPD said that increased police presence around bars due to the initiative may have contributed to a jump in reported alcohol-related offenses, even though overall county crime rate dropped by 7.7%. The 2018 report noted  a 73% increase in liquor law violations and a 17% increase in “drunkenness” charges, in addition to police catching 703 fake IDs.

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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The Arlington County Board this week unanimously approved an outdoor dining area at Burger District in Courthouse, as well as a new outdoor bar in Ballston.

Burger District requested Board members amend zoning rules to allow the Courthouse eatery to seat patrons in four feet of space on the sidewalk outside of its 2024 Wilson Blvd location.

That would leave six feet for pedestrians on the 10-foot-wide sidewalk, which requires County Board approval, according to a staff report.

In return, the eatery agreed to:

  • Only operate the outdoor section from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m.
  • Keep the rest of the sidewalk (6 feet) clear
  • Not exceed more than 24 seats
  • Hold “no live entertainment or dancing”

“Permitting an outdoor cafe along Wilson Boulevard will help achieve the vision of the Rosslyn to Courthouse Urban Design Study where there are ‘vibrant and people-friendly streets and plazas… full of life’ and ‘small businesses prosper,'” county staff wrote.

The Courthouse restaurant opened in August and serves burgers, shakes, hotdogs, and wings.

Last night the Board also approved a new “fixed” outdoor bar in Ballston, at upcoming restaurant The Salt Line, which is planning to open next spring.

Images 1 and 2 via staff reports 1 and 2.

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The growing “paint and sip industry” is making its way to Arlington with a new Muse Paintbar location in Ballston Quarter.

The art-studio-slash-bar first showed up in county permits last fall. A spokesperson for Muse Paintbar confirmed that the bar is planning to open in July, though no more specific date has been chosen and construction at the location hasn’t begun.

Muse Paintbar is planned to open on the mall’s first floor at 4238 Wilson Blvd.

The chain was founded in 2012, offering public events and private parties focused around learning how to paint while sipping on a variety of wine, craft beer and food. (Just be careful which cup you sip out of.)

If you cannot wait for the Ballston location to open, there are also Muse Paintbar locations at the Mosaic District (2920 District Avenue) and National Harbor (122 Waterfront Street).

Muse Paintbar joins a series of other restaurants and businesses opening recently in Ballston Quarter, including another bar — Ballston Service Station — in the Quarter Market food hall.

Photo courtesy Muse Paintbar

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Two new restaurants are planning soft openings Thursday in Ballston Quarter’s new food hall, Quarter Market, with another planning a grand opening happy hour celebration.

Local Oyster, a Baltimore-based seafood joint, is planning to launch tomorrow with a limited menu. The full menu for the eatery includes beer as well as seafood like lobsters, scallops, crab legs, and — of course — oysters.

Next door, sushi and dumpling restaurant Roll’d — helmed by Sushi Taro’s Chef Nobu Yamazaki — is also tentatively planning a launch with a limited menu.

Meanwhile, the food hall’s main bar, Ballston Service Station, has been serving drinks for a couple weeks now, but the bar’s staff said a grand opening is planned tomorrow around 4 p.m.

The new openings coincide with the “Ballston Quarter Celebration” at the mall. From 11 a.m.-2 p.m., the first 100 guests to check in at the Ballston Quarter tent will receive a voucher for a complimentary lunch at any vendor in the market.

A family-friendly happy hour is planned for 5-7 p.m. with live music, a caricature and face painter, and food and drink specials.

Other restaurants currently open in Quarter Market include Copa Kitchen and Bar, Hot Lola’s, Ice Cream Jubilee, Mi & Yu Noodle Bar, Rice Crook, Sloppy Mama’s BBQ, and Turu’s by Timber Pizza Co.

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(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) Meridian Pint hopes to open up in Arlington by mid-May, according to owner John Andrade.

Andrade told ARLnow today (Wednesday) that his new Dominion Hills location is slated to open around May 15, pending final county inspections this month.

The new pub is inside the Dominion Hills Centre shopping plaza at 6035 Wilson Blvd. Andrade said he’s applying the “last layers of polyurethane” to the space.

On Monday, he announced his flagship “Pint” in Columbia Heights will close Sunday after nine years in business. In a statement shared by PoPville Andrade cited “evolving needs of our staff, our customers, our lives and our city” as a reason for packing up shop.

Andrade also runs three other D.C. restaurants: Brookland Pint, Rosario’s Tacos & Tequila in Adams Morgan, and Smoke & Barrel in Adams Morgan.

Construction of the Arlington space began last fall, two year ago after he announced plans to expand across the Potomac. Now he says he’s hiring servers, bartenders, and cooks, and redesigning the Columbia Heights menu to fit an Arlington clientele. 

“IPAs are very popular in Northern Virginia, so you’ll definitely see a nice selection of that,” said Andrade.

“From the food perspective, we expect to cater to a lot more families here,” he added. “The kids menu is going to be very nice, and well-manicured to make sure we’re giving kids healthy options and at the same time satisfying the kids’ palate as well.”

Andrade, who is an Arlington resident, said last year he looked forward to pub being within walking distance of his neighborhood.

“It’s just a great opportunity,” he said. “Especially for those of us that live slightly more than walking distance from Ballston or Clarendon, or have multiple kids, and don’t really want to do the dance of finding a parking garage or hunting down a metered space to go explore out that way.”

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(Updated a 9:45 p.m.) Mister Days shuttered its doors this weekend, but not before toasting the bar’s 43 years in D.C. and Arlington with a pair of final parties on Friday and Saturday.

Lee told ARLnow that the closing was “bittersweet” and that he plans to focus full-time on resolving some ongoing health issues.

“Hopefully a couple months from now and I get past those issues and then I’ll figure it out,” he said of his future.

The long-time bar celebrated its celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2017 after opening in 1977 in the Dupont Circle area, then moving to Georgetown, and finally settling in Arlington in 2001.

“I used to like to take like an acorn and build an oak tree,” he said. “You get a little idea and it’s kind of crazy but it works.”

Hundreds filled the bar over the course of Friday night to watch a game and drink cold beer from the ice buckets perspiring on the wooden tables. Some flew in from as far as California for last call, and well-wishers from all over the country called Lee several times during this reporter’s interview.

And as the beer flowed through the night, so did the stories.

Carol started as a bartender at Mister Days 34 years ago when she said most of the work women could find in D.C. was for typists. But once she started working for Lee, she said she found friends that made her stick around there ever since.

Mike Rowe bartended at Mister Days’ original D.C. location for 20 years and joked that Lee never fired him even though, “I was late every day. Every day.” Rowe carried in his back pocket a faded, 30-year old thank you letter from Lee’s daughter.

“He’s the only man I know who was successful in an alley,” said Michael Tramonte, of the Tramonte family that owned Georgetown’s Bayou nightclub and currently owns The Italian Store in Lyon Village and Westover.

Mikey Berra, who ran the Kennedy Center backstage, said he used to bring performers to Mister Days and it’s “unbelievable” to think the bar lasted all these years.

“It was a home,” Berra said. “You got to meet so many friends, it was like family. I got to show people our home.”

Every current or former employee who spoke with ARLnow said that Lee had done them a favor, or knew of favors he had done others. Tramonte said he knew the bar owner had helped workers with bills, and rent.

“It was never a loan,” he said. “It was a gift.”

Joe Sweeny also bartended at the D.C. location, a job he said Lee gave him even though he knew was going to leave it within a year.

“Lee is one of the better characters in the business in the last 50 years,” said Sweeney, adding that because of his personality, “They had everyone from Supreme Court justices to homeless people in the bar.”

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(Updated at noon) Clarendon sports bar Mister Days is closing next week, according to owner Robert E. Lee.

Furniture, fixtures, and some equipment were sold Thursday morning to Arlington chef Patrick Crump of the Clarendon Grill, which closed in October after 22 years in business.

Mister Days will close on April 12 or 13, Lee said, but before that happens there will several parties.

“A series of the last days of Days,” he said.

Crump is expected to open a new restaurant called “The Grill on Highland” in the space within the next two months, Lee told ARLnow.

Mister Days has been a favorite stop for local office workers, weekend partiers, pub trivia contestants, college students and sports fans for almost half a century and has served Hollywood stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and hosted performances by Mary Chapin Carpenter, according to Lee.

Lee is subletting the space to the new group, but says he’s keeping the “Mister Days” brand name in case he wants to sell it or open another establishment.

“The name comes from the fact we were only open [during] daytime or happy hours,” he said. “Maybe something like that works.”

Lee, who’s turning 80 this year, cited ongoing health issues as a reason for closing the bar and said the decision had nothing to do with rent costs.

He asked patrons to keep an eye on the Mister Days website, which will post details tomorrow about next week’s going away parties.

The bar celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2017.

It first opened in the Dupont Circle area of D.C. in 1977, then moved to Georgetown, finally settling in Arlington in 2001 as it grew from an alley pub to a community institution.

Lee previously said he was weighing whether to invest in renovations or retire.

“Forty-three years is a lot of history,” he said Thursday.

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(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) Arlington’s newest craft beer bar “Rebellion on the Pike” is opening this week.

An employee said it would be open Monday evening, though a phone for the business was not answered as of 5 p.m. A Facebook post from Monday afternoon says the bar was open over the weekend and will be “back open tomorrow after a good day of rest and restocking.”

Silver tables and chairs sit under the string lights of its outdoor patio area. Inside, black and brown wood furnish the bar. The bar is open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. on weeknights and from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Located at 2900 Columbia Pike across from the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse, the Rebellion’s menu features a variety of sandwiches like “The Ronnie” which stuffs 1/3 pound of smoked pork on ciabatta with an Alabama white sauce and bourbon picked slaw, and the “Rebel Yell” with smoked turkey breast, bacon, tomatoes, and white American cheese on sourdough.

Rebellion also serves wings, salads, a variety of pork sandwiches, and “communal grub” like fried pork belly bites, and poutine with house beer cheese, per the menu.

The bar will feature 24 draft lines of craft beer, according to social media posts. A full drink list of the beers, wines, and spirits was not available in time for publication.

As of today (Monday), the bar’s website says it’s hiring.

Brian Westlye founded Rebellion and is the COO of the hospitality company that’s managing the bar. Westlye said in February he was “hopefully” opening by March 1, though most new restaurants in Arlington end up being beset by varying degrees of delays. Rebellion quietly opened its doors and served its first customers last week as part of a soft opening.

Wesley founded the first “Rebellion” in D.C.’s Dupont Circle neighborhood. That location serves up a sizable whiskey list as well as burgers, beer, and cocktails.

Rebellion replaces “Brickhaus” which closed last year after owner Tony Wagner said it “never took off the way we expected and hoped it would,” after delays from a lengthy permitting approval process.

Last two photos via Facebook

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The rapid-fire openings at Ballston Quarter’s Quarter Market food hall are continuing this week.

After a “soft opening” Friday, Sloppy Mama’s BBQ was open for lunch today, serving wood-smoked meats in sandwiches and platters, alongside homemade sides and barbecue sauces.

It’s the food truck’s first bricks-and-mortar location and its first major foray outside of the District — though some of its barbecue supplies are sold at Arrowine on Lee Highway.

Though it was only open for lunch today, and its hours are not yet set, Sloppy Mama’s expects to eventually be open for lunch and dinner.

Also open for a Friday “soft opening” was Ballston Service Station, which will serve as the food hall’s main bar.

Featuring 20 taps of beer — from local brews to cheap classics and popular imports — plus six wines and two cider on tap, the bar strives to provide “something for everybody.” Customers can drink at the bar or take it with them elsewhere in the food hall.

“We want to to be able to get whatever you want, so you can walk around and pair it with something to eat here,” said Andrew Dana, the co-owner of Ballston Service Station and also the co-owner of another Quarter Market vendor, Turu’s by Timber Pizza.

As it must to comply with Virginia ABC regulations, the bar will also serve food: paninis and chips.

Dana said Ballston Service Station will re-open Tuesday. Its regular hours will be 4 p.m. to close.

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