A mainstay of the Clarendon bar and restaurant scene celebrates a significant milestone Friday, as Mister Days (3100 Clarendon Blvd) marks its 40th anniversary.
It first opened in an alleyway off Dupont Circle on November 21, 1977 serving prime rib, ham sandwiches, a soup and a salad. And in the years that followed, including a move to 18th Street NW between L and M Streets NW before opening in Arlington in 2000, it gained a strong following.
The bar has served famous guests like movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Washington Redskins greats like Sonny Jurgensen and John Riggins, and had live entertainment from singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter early in her career.
But owner Robert E. Lee said it is the relationships he has built that are most memorable.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Lee said of the anniversary. “You start losing friends, not customers, but friends that you met through business. After you get out of school, you have professional relationships. In the bar business and restaurant business, you meet hundreds of people that become friends.”
Lee said that initially, he was unsure about having televisions showing sports in Mister Days, figuring it would be a distraction from the dancing and food. But when he saw customers leaving to go home and watch “Roots,” a 1970s miniseries, he began to think differently.
Instead of relying on the major network broadcasts, Lee did something new for customers by, as he put it, putting on “all games all the time.”
“We figured out how to do back-channels through satellite dishes, so we got the satellite dishes,” he said. “We started doing all games all the time. Nobody else had it. We weren’t the first sports bar, but I believe we were the first where you could get all the games. You couldn’t buy them.”
Much of Mister Days’ popularity in D.C. came from its “Rally in the Alley,” an outdoor event held in conjunction with other nearby bars that included food, drink and live entertainment and at times hosted 15,000 people.
What began as a party one St. Patrick’s Day morphed into a charity event, just one of the bar’s charitable ventures that also included paying for kids to attend basketball camps and get basketball scholarships to DeMatha Catholic High School and donating food for free Christmas and Thanksgiving meals.
“[Rally in the Alley] became a major event,” Lee said. “That’s like the acorn that became an oak tree. That was just an idea, and that’s what I love to do. You have an idea, and all of a sudden it works.”
After months of anticipation, new sports bar “The G.O.A.T” will open this afternoon in Clarendon.
The sports bar and lounge at 3028 Wilson Blvd, in the former Hard Times space, will begin serving customers at 4 p.m. today (Wednesday) in a soft opening that includes a limited food menu.
The G.O.A.T has three full bars and tables across two levels, with seating for around 350 people. Individual TV monitors line the walls, with a jumbo screen on each floor.
At the back, a champagne room will seat around 30 people and have its own screens, while nearby are several arcade games and a photo booth.
Scott Parker, a local nightlife titan behind the likes of A-Town Bar and Grill, Don Tito and Barley Mac in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, estimated there are more than 60 television screens throughout.
On the menu, guests can expect American comfort food with what executive chef Mike Cordero described as an “electrifying twist.” Some Tacos will come with Korean steak, while the sliders will come with smoked pork belly and duck among others.
And for dessert, Cordero said The G.O.A.T’s Baked Alaska will “take the cake,” and be flambéed at the table while customers look on.
Among the cocktails on the menu is the signature “G.O.A.T.,” made up of Hennessy Black, orgeat syrup, homemade margarita mix, lemons and Peychraud’s Bitters. Customers can also experience “The Cavalier” and “The Twenty-Three,” smoked with apple wood chips and hickory, respectively.
The G.O.A.T. will open at 4 p.m. on weekdays, and at noon on Saturdays and Sundays.
In a Facebook post earlier this week, owner Reese Gardner said the inside of the sports bar at 2766 S. Arlington Mill Drive is “85 [percent] completed and we are just waiting for the final finishes.”
Gardner said those finishes cannot be done until after the steel arrives and welding is finished. The steel is scheduled to be delivered on October 14, he said. After that, an opening date could become clearer.
“We understand the frustration and trust us we want to be open as much as you want us open,” Gardner wrote. In the comments on the post, would-be customers wondered whether Dudley’s would open before the end of football season.
The sports bar had planned to open last year, but struggled with permitting issues and other delays.
A 28-seat bar, a 125-seat dining area, and a “stadium style” viewing area are planned, as well as a rooftop bar — Shirlington’s first — with a game area, a 15-seat bar, and patio seating for about 114 people.
The turf fields at Thomas Jefferson Middle School are set to be replaced in the next year.
The Arlington County Board will vote Saturday (July 15) on a plan to replace the fields with synthetic turf. Staff from the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation said in a report that the current fields are “worn beyond reasonable repair.”
For the past eight years, the turf fields at TJ have been used in the neighborhood and for scheduled use by affiliated sports leagues and school programs.
The upgrades at the field are part of the county’s Synthetic Turf Program, aimed at replacing heavily-used natural grass fields. Currently, there are 15 synthetic turf fields in Arlington, although the move to add more has come in for some criticism from some.
In addition to the new turf, the fields would get new corner flags and goals for soccer games, as well as new bleachers.
The upgrades would coincide with the construction of the county’s new elementary school on the west end of the site, and staff said Arlington Public Schools will plan out activities with the two projects in mind.
APS will share the cost of the upgrades with the county. Just under $475,000 would be spent on the new field, with an extra $47,000 held as a contingency.
The long-delayed Dudley’s Sport & Ale in Shirlington is finally on the road to completion after its owner said the county approved the necessary permits.
Owner Reese Gardner said that with the approval, he will have more of an idea of an opening date for the sports bar at 2766 S. Arlington Mill Drive after a construction meeting next week.
The sports bar was dogged by permitting problems that delayed its construction and prevented its opening, which had been planned for last year.
Approval could mean that Gardner, who also owns Copperwood Tavern, Quinn’s on the Corner in Rosslyn and Irish Whiskey in the District, may have a chance of hitting his revised target of having Dudley’s open this summer.
A 28-seat bar, a 125-seat dining area, and a “stadium style” viewing area are planned, as well as a rooftop bar — Shirlington’s first — with a game area, a 15-seat bar, and patio seating for about 114 people.
Newly-signed Seattle Seahawks running back Eddie Lacy spent part of his weekend in Clarendon.
Lacy, who was earned NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Honors in 2013 while on the Green Bay Packers, was photographed hanging out with Arlington County police officers who were patrolling the bar district. The department posted some of the photos on Twitter Monday, including one with Lacy sitting on a police motorcycle and another in which he is smiling while holding a pair of handcuffs.
Lacy also was spotted at Don Tito, where he posed with co-owner Nick Cordero.
Other professional athletes have been spotted at Don Tito over the past couple of years, including former Washington Capitals player Brooks Laich (with fiancée Julianne Hough) and United States women’s national soccer team defender Ali Krieger.
@Hilarysn He's decided to stay with his career in the NFL but we were happy to show him some of our equipment over the weekend in Clarendon.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) May 23, 2017
The long-awaited and long-delayed Dudley’s Sport & Ale in Shirlington appears to still be far from ready to open.
Owner Reese Gardner had hoped the sports bar would be open in either June or July, but in a brief email he said the planned sports bar at 2766 S. Arlington Mill Drive is still plagued by the same permitting problems “as before, unfortunately.”
Gardner said the county has still not approved all of its necessary permits. A 28-seat bar, a 125-seat dining area, and a “stadium style” viewing area are planned, as well as a rooftop bar — Shirlington’s first — with a game area, a 15-seat bar, and patio seating for about 114 people.
A spokeswoman for the county’s department of community, planning, housing and development confirmed the project has been going through the administrative change process. The spokeswoman referred further questions to the county’s lead planner on the project, who did not respond to requests for more information.
Gardner, who also owns the nearby Copperwood Tavern, Quinn’s on the Corner in Rosslyn and Irish Whiskey in the District, said he would have further information on an opening date once permits are approved.
By the time she was 9 years old, Isabel Graham had earned a black belt in mixed martial arts and, with a younger brother around, has always enjoyed being in charge.
So it seemed like a natural fit when she began umpiring in Arlington Little League earlier this season.
Out of an officiating roster of dozens of teenagers and a handful of adults, Graham is currently the only female ump in the league. (An older female umpire is out with an injury.)
But the 14-year-old Graham, an eighth-grader at St. Thomas More Cathedral School, said that her gender has never been an issue for anyone as she takes charge of games at the AAA and Majors levels for children up to the age of 12.
“At this age the players don’t actually know that it’s different, so they treat me like anyone else,” she said before a recent game at Fort Scott Park. “The only people who know it’s different are the parents, so the moms always give me a smile.”
Graham combines her umpiring with playing travel softball for Arlington Sage, and also plays basketball during the winter. She was introduced to umpiring by her friend and St. Thomas More classmate Nicolas Lopez-Riveira, now in his third season overseeing Little League games.
And she seems to have taken to the umpiring quickly. She said it is very similar to playing catcher on her softball team, as she is in charge and sees a lot of action behind home plate.
“It’s exciting, but I guess I’ve seen her in so many things where if she’s not in charge, she’s at least constantly aware of what’s going on,” said her father Michael Graham. “I’m not surprised that she enjoys it, mostly because of the interest in softball and baseball. I’m glad that she’s doing it.”
To become an umpire, Isabel Graham went through training on the rules of the game and how to handle situations on the field. League umpire-in-chief Steve Sundbeck said he has approximately 65 teenagers and seven adults, including himself, that umpire. The league has approximately 1,500 children as young as 4 that play baseball.
Sundbeck said he looks to use the training program to teach new umpires good sportsmanship and confidence, something that is helped by a league culture in Arlington that emphasizes earning respect and doing your best, regardless of age.
“It really is a matter of doing the best job you can in the first place, because they’ll know when you’re getting lazy and not getting in position,” Sundbeck said. “And you just know what to ignore and what to call out that you’re not putting up with. We try to teach them the rubric.”
And while Isabel Graham said she gets nervous before games start, once the batter settles into the box, it feels natural.
“They’re really just trying to have fun, and they often don’t understand what’s happening, they just want to get out there and play,” she said. “I don’t think there’s that much pressure. Mostly I’m just pressuring myself. I’ll always think I’ll make mistakes, but I’ll have to get over it.”
Isabel Graham will start at Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria in the fall and said she hopes to continue umpiring and maybe move up to the 50/70 level, the highest in Arlington Little League.
“She’s always been a fairly focused, confident kid and loves all things baseball as well as being in charge,” said Michael Graham. “So being an umpire seems to be a really good fit for her personality and interest in sports. Whether she’s the only girl or the first girl to do anything has never really been of concern to her.”
The diamond athletic field at Gunston Park will be converted from natural grass to synthetic turf after the Arlington County Board approved a $370,000 plan Tuesday night.
The nonprofit Arlington Sports Foundation offered a grant of $180,000 to convert the field, and the county sports commission’s Diamond Field Fund will pay the additional $190,000. The project is on top of a previously-approved $1.4 million maintenance and improvement plan at the park.
It is estimated the new field will add nearly 880 new possible playing hours per year, at a time when there is high demand for athletic fields in the county.
“Both the number of people playing sports in Arlington, and the hours our fields are in use continue to grow. We need creative solutions to meet the demand,” said County Board chair Jay Fisette. “Kudos to the Arlington Sports Foundation and the sports community for helping fund the conversion of Gunston’s field and expand its community use without increasing taxpayer support.”
Before the board’s unanimous approval of the project, there had been questions raised about the safety of the synthetic turf, which will be made from EPDM rubber. Local resident Kelly Alexis asked that a natural ingredient like coconut husks be used instead, and cited previous concerns about the health risks of playing on turf, especially that made up of crumb rubber.
Board vice chair Katie Cristol and others said the health of children is something Arlington takes “incredibly seriously,” and asserted that the health risks of EPDM are minimal.
Several members of the county’s sports community testified in favor of the conversion. Arlington Little League president Adam Balutis said the new turf means more games can be played and not be canceled or postponed due to the weather.
“Everybody would love to have natural, beautiful green fields that we could upkeep all year round and play and play and play, but it’s not possible in Arlington County because we don’t have enough space,” said Daniel Lopez, vice president of the board of the Arlington Soccer Association. “So the next best thing is we try to turf these fields so everybody can use them and everybody can enjoy them.”
Board members said that the funding model for the new turf field is something that could be repeated elsewhere, especially if community members are willing to help fundraise.
“We know in today’s tight funding times that the government is not going to be able to do it all and will rely increasingly on the generosity of the folks in our community,” said John Vihstadt.
“I think we’ve maybe got a new model,” said Board member Libby Garvey.
Arlington Sports Hall of Fame Seeks Permanent Venue — There is an Arlington Sports Hall of Fame, but it does not have a permanent home. Boosters are seeking to change that, discussing a possible display in Arlington Central Library. [InsideNova]
Local Man Graduates Parris Island With Honors — Arlington native Allen M. Gibbs has graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island with honors. [Beaufort Gazette]
Police, Fire Departments Hold Book Drive — Starting Wednesday and running through April 30, Arlington police and firefighters will be holding a “For the Love of Reading” book drive, collecting specific books for elementary school students at Arlington Public Schools. Donation boxes are located at police headquarters in Courthouse and at local fire stations. [Arlington County]
Avalon Bay Donates to APAH — Arlington-based apartment, publicly traded building owner AvalonBay has made a $35,000 donation to the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing. The company has raised $85,000 for APAH since 2015. [Yahoo Finance]
Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak
(Updated at 5:05 p.m.) Dudley’s Sport & Ale, a long-awaited sports bar coming to the former Bungalow space in Shirlington, might finally open its doors this June or July.
“We’re 70 percent done inside,” he explained. “It’s taking a long time, but it’s a big project.”
The long wait appears to have disheartened some eager would-be patrons. Several people have taken to Facebook to complain about the delay over the past few months.
“I have been checking for news on the opening since last spring,” wrote one person, who gave the yet-to-open restaurant a one-star review. “They should at least give updates.”
“This is the restaurant that will never open,” said another Facebook user.
When it finally opens, Dudley’s will offer a 28-seat bar, another 125 seats in the dining area, a private room and bar for events and a “stadium style” viewing area with drink-holder-equipped seat that face a giant screen. Hot dog, popcorn and beer vendors will roam the stadium seating area to dispense cheap eats and drinks, Gardner said.
Dudley’s will also have a rooftop bar with a game area, a 15-seat bar and patio seating for about 114 people.
The tavern’s menu will consist of “traditional American bar cuisine,” Gardner said. The restaurant will also serve a “blue collar breakfast” menu all day and sling 16-inch cast iron pizzas.
“It’s a cross between a deep dish and a traditional pizza,” Gardner explained. “When you make it in these cast irons, the crust gets very flavorful.”
If the remaining construction work goes off without a hitch, Dudley’s could open on the Fourth of July, hopefully at the latest, according to Gardner.
We now know a bit more about The G.O.A.T., the new sports bar and lounge that’s coming to the former Hard Times Cafe space in Clarendon.
The bar is expected to open in June. The 8,800 square foot space is being completely remodeled and will seat “350 guests between three full bars and full service tables.”
The group behind A-Town Bar and Grill, Don Tito and other popular Arlington hangouts has signed a 20-year lease for the space, at 3028 Wilson Blvd.
A new press release, below, says The G.O.A.T. will “transition from a traditional sports bar to a chic and relaxed evening lounge” and will feature “daily deals, late night menus and live entertainment” among its rotating specials.
Mike Cordero is bringing the “greatest of all time” in food and drinks to Clarendon this summer. Set to open in June 2017, The G.O.A.T. will take over 3028 Wilson Boulevard, which formerly housed the Hard Times Café, and transform the current floor and kitchen layout to maximize the seating in the 8,800-square-foot restaurant space. Cordero’s MacNac Hospitality signed a 20-year lease agreement with property owner VA Properties LLC. will work on the build out and remodeling of the kitchen, ground level and second floor, and Yvette Irene Design will develop the interior décor.
The G.O.A.T. will serve gourmet American comfort food and beverages. All the menu’s recipes will feature locally sourced ingredients and homemade marinades and sauces. There will be an emphasis on craft cocktails and beers supplied from area microbreweries.
“Our mission is to offer simple yet delicious food, a variety of drinks and a relaxing environment to lounge in,” said Mike Cordero, Executive Chef and President of MacNac Hospitality. “The G.O.A.T. will be an inviting sports bar that can be enjoyed beyond game day.”
Designed with extended hours for lounging in mind, The G.O.A.T. will transition from a traditional sports bar to a chic and relaxed evening lounge. Daily deals, late night menus and live entertainment will be a regular part of The G.O.A.T.’s rotating specials.
The redesigned restaurant will seat 350 guests between three full bars and full service tables. The 200-person dining room will have a mix of high tops and long banquette style tables. The bar stools and high top table chairs will feature plush cushions and foot rests to make seating for extended periods most comfortable. To ensure all seats are “the best seat in the house,” The G.O.A.T. will feature three large viewing walls. Each wall will be entirely comprised of individual TV monitors that together display one single televised event to maximize the overall viewing potential from each table. Separate from the main floor, The G.O.A.T. will house a private function room equipped with its own bar, several TV monitors, and seating for 25.
A new sports bar is coming to the former Hard Times Cafe space across from the Clarendon Metro station.
The G.O.A.T Sports Bar, at 3028 Wilson Blvd, is described as “Northern Virginia’s premier sports and game lounge.” It’s expected to open at some point in early summer 2017.
The bar comes from the prolific team behind A-Town Bar and Grill in Ballston, Don Tito in Clarendon and Barley Mac in Rosslyn. It will serve American comfort food, said Scott Parker, one of the partners, but few additional details were available beyond the sports focus.
“The G.O.A.T. is a popular sports acronym for ‘Greatest of All Time,'” Parker said. “Much of the concept is still being developed, but we’re going to be doing a complete redesign of the space.”
Parker added that a second new bar/restaurant from the team may be opening in Clarendon around the same time as The G.O.A.T. The details behind that new concept are also under wraps.
“That deal is very close to being done and we are pretty confident both concepts will be open in that time frame,” he said.
The Williamsburg Field Site Evaluation Workgroup, the citizen body charged with weighing in on the thorny issue of whether an athletic field near Williamsburg Middle School should have lights, is set to have its 21st meeting tonight (Wednesday).
The workgroup is preparing to write its draft report, which will be presented to county commissions next month and reviewed with the Arlington County Board in January before a final set of recommendations is presented to the Board in February.
Earlier this month the workgroup held an open house at which those on both sides — for and against lighting the artificial turf field — presented their case. ARLnow.com spoke to a number of people at the meeting.
“I’m for the fields,” said Chris Smith, a nearby resident. “I think it’s fantastic that we have the resources that we do in Arlington, and the utility of the turf fields is only expanded by having them lit at different times during the day. It gives us more time on the fields, particularly give the children more time on the fields, as the days get shorter, through the winter and I think that’s only a good thing.”
“I’m probably one of the four or five houses that are closest… whatever the effects could be I would probably feel them as much as anybody else,” Smith added. “But as a member of the local youth sports community and as a father of three children, two of whom are at Discovery [Elementary], I think it’s a better investment with the lights there.”
A number of supporters said their kids play soccer and having a lighted field closer to home — currently they must travel to Gunston Middle School or Long Bridge Part to play at night — would benefit far more residents than the lights would, potentially, negatively affect.
Opponents, however, said in their presentation that the area around the field is a “historically dark and quiet neighborhood” and lighting the field would be a slippery slope leading, perhaps, to turning “all of Arlington County into a big city with big-city traffic, noise and lights.”
“I live close to the field, my kids went to this school and we already lived through building Discovery school, the elementary school, which has been fine, actually,” said a lighting opponent who did not give her name. “But this will have games going at night, I don’t know how many nights a week, late at night. They already have games it seems, a lot, all day, all weekend. It seems like it’s just too much for the neighborhood and the lights will disturb everybody’s sleep and rest and just the peace and quiet of the neighborhood.”
“I just don’t think you have to play soccer 24/7,” the lighting opponent continued. “You know, enough is enough.”
County Board member Christian Dorsey attended the open house and said the lengthy community process — which started in September 2013 — is intended to give all residents plenty of opportunity to shape the county’s ultimate decision.
“We put together a workgroup because this is not an easy issue to decide or deliberate about,” Dorsey said. “The Board wanted to make sure we gave individuals from communities, affected communities who are also part of interest groups to really go deep into the issues so that they could give us all the perspectives that we needed to make a decision. So, this is kind of a — not the culmination — but it’s nearing the end of their work and this is really a useful way to take what they’ve learned and share it with the wider public.”
“We need to make an informed decision,” Dorsey concluded, “which is what I look forward to.”
The Arlington County Board on Wednesday approved a compromise plan for a baseball field renovation at Bluemont Park.
The $720,000 plan to renovate Athletic Field No. 3 at the park, which would have converted a run-down baseball diamond to a fenced-in field with new dugouts, bleachers and other furnishings, was met with opposition from some local residents.
To balance the desires of the opponents, who mostly objected to the fence, and the supporters, who say that the county needs more fields for youth sports, the new plan removed about 20 percent of the fencing from around the field.
“When games aren’t in play, you’ll be able to walk through the area,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. “There’s still space for Frisbee, picnicking and walking your dog. But when a game is in play, you’ll get a good baseball experience.. and a safe one.”
Schwartz also noted in a press release that the controversy — opponents insisted that they were blindsided by the plan even though a public meeting about it had been held and it was approved by the County Board months before opponents organized — pointed to a need to reconsider Arlington’s public outreach on such projects.
Schwartz acknowledged that the County’s engagement process in planning for the renovations, which included a community meeting and digital communications, was not successful. The concerns of those opposed to the fence became known to staff and elected officials only after the County Board approved the construction contract in July 2016.
“We are working to improve the County’s processes for engaging the community across County government,” Schwartz said. “I’ve asked our new Assistant County Manager for Communications and Public Engagement, Bryna Helfer, to report back to me in early 2017 with recommendations.”
Construction of the new field is currently underway.
The full press release about the County Board’s action, after the jump.