Sycamore Street, Carlin Springs Projects Approved — At its Saturday meeting, the Arlington County Board approved a pair of major road projects. One, intended to improve pedestrian safety along N. Sycamore Street in the Williamsburg neighborhood, “will reduce travel lanes from four lanes to two lanes by adding raised medians planted with trees and grass,” at a cost of $1.4 million. The other will replace the Carlin Springs Road Bridge over North George Mason Drive at a cost of $7 million. [Arlington County, Arlington County]
Fox 5 Zip Trip Comes to Arlington — Fox 5 brought its “Zip Trip” morning news segment to Pentagon Row in Arlington on Friday, highlighting a variety of local organizations, businesses and leaders. Among those making an appearance on live local TV: Bayou Bakery, Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters, Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, District Taco, Lebanese Taverna, the Arlington County Fire Department and County Board member Katie Cristol. [Fox 5, Twitter, Twitter]
Park Improvements Approved — The Arlington County Board has approved a $2.1 million series of improvements to Stratford Park — including new, lighted tennis and basketball courts — and the replacement of the artificial turf at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. The turf replacement is expected to cost just under a half-million dollars. [Arlington County]
County Can’t Halt Development — Despite the desires of some anti-development advocates, Arlington County does not have the legal authority to impose a moratorium on development, County Board members and the County Attorney told a speaker at Saturday’s Board meeting. [InsideNova]
Forest Inn Makes Dive Bar List — The Forest Inn in Westover has made the Washington Post’s list of the “best true dive bars in the D.C. area.” The Post’s Tim Carman and Fritz Hahn recommend ordering “a cold Budweiser, which was, for years, the only beer on tap.” [Washington Post]
Monday Properties Refinances 1812 N. Moore Street — Monday Properties has obtained fresh financing for its 1812 N. Moore Street tower in Rosslyn, which was once on uncertain financial ground as it sought its first tenant but is now set to be the U.S. headquarters of food giant Nestle. A portion of the new financing will be “used for tenant improvements and building upgrades featuring an expanded fitness center and new 12,000-square-foot conference facility on the building’s 24th floor.” [Washington Business Journal]
Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Map Updated — The County Board has voted 5-0 to update its Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area map. “The more accurate map will help Arlington protect environmentally sensitive lands near streams and ensure that the County can comply with local and State regulations,” and “will allow the County to review development projects fairly and provide accurate information to residents and other stakeholders,” according to a press release. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Peter Golkin
Lawmakers Ask Gun Store Landlord to Reconsider — Seven state legislators who represent Arlington have written to the landlord of a planned gun store in Lyon Park, asking her to reconsider the lease. The letter cites Virginia’s 1990s reputation for being the “gun-running capital of the East Coast” and says the new store, which is located near a private preschool and daycare center, “could be the site for potentially nefarious and illegal activities.” [Washington Post]
Three Arlington Bars Make D.C. Dive List — The website UpOut has compiled a list of “10 Ridiculously Cool Dive Bars in Washington D.C.” Among them are three Arlington favorites: Galaxy Hut, Cowboy Cafe and L.A. Bar and Grill. [UpOut]
More Millennials Coming to Arlington? — In Arlington, 35-40 percent of the population is of the Millennial generation. That makes Arlington one of the most Millennial-heavy places in the country. But the county’s demographer doesn’t think the county’s Millennial boom has peaked yet. “Whether Millennials choose to stay or leave Arlington could have a major impact on schools, since the bulk of that population group has not yet embarked on creating families,” notes the Sun Gazette. [InsideNova]
Memorial Bridge May Close in Five Years — After years of deferred maintenance, the 84-year-old Memorial Bridge is in such bad shape that the National Park Service could be forced to close it by 2021 unless it can get funding for a $250 million complete reconstruction. [Associated Press, Twitter]
Where You Might Bump into an Arlington Trump Voter — Chris Slatt has again compiled some interesting Arlington election data into map form. Slatt’s maps show Democratic turnout by precinct, Republican turnout by precinct and the population density of Donald Trump voters — the highest concentration of which are along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. Separately, another sage election watcher, Carrie Johnson, estimates that 5,500-6,000 voters who usually vote Democratic in Arlington voted Republican in Tuesday’s presidential primary, thus in part explaining why John Kasich and Marco Rubio outperformed here compared to the rest of the state. [InsideNova]
New Rosslyn-Based Online Publication — Rosslyn continues to cement its reputation as Arlington’s media hub. ABC 7 (WJLA) parent company Sinclair Broadcast Group is launching “D.C. Refined,” a new online-only local culture magazine. The publication will “fall under the umbrella” of Rosslyn-based WJLA. [Washington Business Journal]
Walk into The Forest Inn in Westover on a Friday evening, and chances are you’ll hear southern rock emanating from the jukebox in the corner, two friendly bartenders chit-chatting with the patrons, and more than a dozen customers gabbing like old friends.
In fact, all of The Forest Inn customers are old friends. Asked how many people in the bar were there every week, Manager Ken Choudhary looked around and simply said, “everyone.”
The Forest Inn opened as The Black Forest Inn in the mid-1970s in what is now the Post Office building in Westover, and moved to its current location — sandwiched between Ayers Variety & Hardware and Toby’s Homemade Ice Cream — 31 years ago.
Since then, not much has changed. The food and drinks are as standard as pub food gets, few items on the menu are pricier than $10 and there is just one tap: Budweiser. There used to be a lot more bars like this in Arlington, but as urbanization and the explosive growth of young, affluent newcomers to the area has taken hold, The Forest Inn is one of the last vestiges of a bygone era: a true dive bar.
“There are very few places you can go by yourself and you don’t feel a little weird,” said Gary Harvey, an Arlington native — like many of his fellow regulars — who has been coming to The Forest Inn just about every Friday night for 12 years. “It’s a throwback to Arlington’s roots. There are really not many bars around here like this anymore.”
Even the customer base at The Forest Inn, while largely consistent, has changed over the years. Choudhary and his partners changed the restaurants hours from 7:00 a.m. to midnight to 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. a couple of years ago, which has brought in some of the younger crowd, many of whom stumble in after the Westover Beer Garden a few doors down closes.
The old crowd is also a fan of the change, and they’ve stayed just as loyal. Choudhary said the bar is like its own little neighborhood.
“They’ve come in here for so many years,” he said. “My whole clientele is people who do construction jobs, painters, landscapers, but we get engineers and lawyers, too. It’s a good mixture.”
Harvey said he’s had HVAC and landscaping work done on his house by friends he met at The Forest Inn. However, his favorite times at what he simply calls “The Forest” are chatting with his elders.
“There are some old-time, native Arlingtonians in their 70s who are here every week,”
he said. “To hear them tell stories about the area when they were growing up, it’s really special.”
Dave Batten is a chef at LA Bar & Grill on Columbia Pike, another of the dying breed of dive bar, but the Westover native still finds himself at The Forest Inn on Saturdays and Sundays, and “maybe a night or two during the week.” And he has plenty of stories.
“I was delivering papers in the 1970s when it was called The Black Forest Inn and owned by this German guy named Rolph,” he said. “He used to feed me breakfast in the morning and I would go out and buy groceries for the restaurant.”
Since Batten has grown up, he said he’s met two ex-girlfriends at his neighborhood bar. “I didn’t meet my current girlfriend there, that’s probably for the best.”
As the Nationals game gets underway, the chatter and music don’t die down even a little, but the patrons’ eyes drift upwards toward the screen, just as they would in the living room of any one of their homes. In fact,
“The regulars here are like family,” Batten said.