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Whitlow’s on Wilson in 2020 (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

Beloved local watering hole Whitlow’s is making a comeback in the place it first opened: D.C.

The longtime Clarendon bar on Wilson Blvd closed last June after its lease expired. It has since been replaced by nightlife and music venue B Live, which opened in May.

Before its closure, Whitlow’s said in a social media post that it hoped to reopen elsewhere.

“We don’t necessarily see this as a goodbye, but more of a see you later,” the post read.

As it turns out, Whitlow’s is saying goodbye to Arlington and hello to the District. The bar recently changed its Instagram handle to @whitlowsdc and said this morning that it is hiring ahead of a planned opening.

“Back where it all began,” the post said. “Opening soon and now hiring full-time bartenders!”

An Instagram post by Whitlow’s on Wednesday (via @whitlowsdc/Instagram)

Whitlow’s opened in 1946 as a greasy spoon eatery and bar in D.C. before closing in 1989 and relocating to Clarendon six years later. Opening in 1995, it remained a neighborhood mainstay for just over two and a half decades.

So far, there’s no word as to where in D.C. Whitlow’s is opening. ARLnow has reached out for additional information and will update this article upon hearing back.

Hat tip to Alex K.

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(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) B Live, a live music venue and restaurant, is officially opening to the public this week in the former Whitlow’s on Wilson space.

“The space, which was formerly a portion of beloved classic Whitlow’s on Wilson, will allow guests to engage with the local music scene and enjoy food and drink with a nostalgic, retro diner feel,” said a press release. “B Live will feature live performances 5 nights a week, with a rotating line-up of acoustic solo performances, live bands, and djs.”

The venue at 2854 Wilson Blvd is set to open on Thursday (May 12) with limited bar snacks menu. A full menu and brunch will start serving later in this month on May 25. The first three live musical acts are set with Bryen O’Boyle performing Thursday, My Hero Zero on Friday, and 8 Track Jones on Saturday.

B Live is the latest venture from Michael Bramson, owner of The Lot beer garden and Clarendon Pop-Up Bar in the Clarendon Ballroom space, both of which are located less than a half a mile away from his newest nightlife hangout.

B Live is occupying about 4,100 square feet of what was once Whitlow’s, the beloved Clarendon nightlife spot that closed last June. Capacity will be under 300, including a planned outdoor dining area with seating for 48.

Another Bramson concept, dubbed Coco B’s, is set to open on the rooftop later in the summer.

The interior of B Live “pay[s] homage to live music history” with vinyl record covers and musicians collages lining the walls, and “music hall lighting” adding to the ambiance.

The highlight is a mural entitled “Legends Live Forever” featuring caricatures of musicians such as “Bob Marley, Prince, and Janis Joplin crossing the famed Penny Lane in Beatle-esque fashion.” It was created by local artists Michael Pacheco and Rodrigo Pradel.

“There will be plenty of photo ops throughout the space: find your favorite album on the wall, stand by one of Legends that Live Forever, or snag a photo in front of a neon sign saying ‘bad decisions make good stories,'” notes the release.

The menu, though not yet finalized, is set to be curated by Chef Juan “Nacho” Olivera, formerly of Virginia Square’s Detour Coffee Co. and other local restaurants. There will be an all-day brunch menu, “Clarendon’s only DIY Bloody Mary Bar,” and “cereal milk shooters.”

“Cereal milk from childhood favorites like Lucky Charms, Fruity Pebbles, and Cocoa Puffs will be infused with vodka and liqueur and served in 4 oz mini cereal bowls,” the release says.

ARLnow reported that B Live was coming to the former Whitlow’s space in December, after Five Guys pulled out of a deal to come to the location.

In March, neighbors brought up concerns about noise at the new venue.

“We are all in support of music, we are all in support of living in an urban dwelling, we understand the considerations that come with living in these neighborhoods,” one neighbor told the County Board after it approved use permits for the space. “But it’s now at a point on Wilson Blvd, in Clarendon, that it’s having a tremendous impact on individuals.”

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The two nightlife venues replacing Whitlow’s on Wilson are gearing up to open over the next few months.

Taking over the long-time local watering hole, which closed in June after more than 25 years in Clarendon, are B Live and Coco B’s.

The two concepts, both to be located at at 2854 Wilson Blvd, are the latest ventures from Michael Bramson, who’s behind The Lot beer garden and the Clarendon Pop-Up Bar.

“We are thrilled to open B Live early spring, and Coco B’s late summer,” Bramson tells ARLnow. “We do not have anticipated opening dates yet, but construction and design are well underway for both concepts.”

Additional details will come soon, he said.

Building permits indicate B Live will occupy the first floor and possibly the basement of the space and Coco B’s will be the name of the old rooftop tiki bar at Whitlow’s. (The name Coco B’s could be a nod to the tiki bar theme, or to the noted local TikTok personality whose spats with two Arlington bars attracted considerable attention last summer.)

Bramson’s updates come after last Tuesday’s County Board approval of use permits for live entertainment and dancing at the two spots, as well as for a 48-seat outdoor café at B Live. The approvals came despite opposition from some neighbors over noise concerns.

The County Board approved the following operating hours: 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight on Sundays, which a county report says are similar to those of neighboring bars.

Proposed hours for Coco B’s/B Live compared to neighboring businesses (via Arlington County)

The Lyon Village Civic Association proposed earlier cut-off times of 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, the report said.

Board members instead approved a recommendation from county staff to review these permits this November and evaluate how successful the bars are at mitigating sounds.

Bramson says the spots will have sound panels and dampening curtains and speakers will be strategically placed to lessen noise levels.

“We are a neighborhood spot and want the community to be comfortable whether they are within the spaces or living nearby,” he said. “We hope our proactive response and action have served to allay any residential apprehension and show that we are taking their concerns very seriously.”

Noise from Whitlow’s was a source of consternation for neighbors that resulted in operating hours being curtailed from 2 a.m. to midnight, plus a requirement to install sound dampening panels and curtains, county planner Cedric Southerland told the County Board last Tuesday.

“That came after years and years trying to work with them to remedy their sound impacts on the neighborhood,” Southerland said. “Additionally, that issue is what preceded the formation of the Clarendon Live Entertainment Group (CLEG), along with other bars and restaurants coming online at that time.”

Established in 2002, the CLEG brings together county staff, restaurant owners and neighbors to address concerns and coordinate code enforcement. Southerland says recently, the CLEG has been meeting fewer times per year, which he takes to be a sign that the group is addressing the concerns that led to its creation two decades ago.

But not all neighbors say mechanisms like the CLEG actually help residents enjoy their homes. Julissa Marenco told the County Board on Tuesday that staff are not sufficiently enforcing noise violations and these organizations do not actually go to bat for neighbors.

“We are all in support of music, we are all in support of living in an urban dwelling, we understand the considerations that come with living in these neighborhoods,” she said. “But it’s now at a point on Wilson Blvd, in Clarendon, that it’s having a tremendous impact on individuals.”

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A bank could be coming to the former The G.O.A.T. space across the street from the Clarendon Metro station, a reliable source has told ARLnow.

A year ago, the sports bar closed after about three years in operation at 3028 Wilson Blvd. Previously, it was the chili-serving Hard Times Cafe before that closed in 2016.

But earlier this month, an ARLnow reader tipped us off that construction was going on at the space. An issued Arlington County permit confirms that interior renovations are ongoing, including removing the once-prominent staircase at the front connecting the first and second floors.

There were thoughts the space was being renovated for a new venture by The G.O.A.T. co-owners local serial entrepreneur Scott Parker and chef Mike Cordero, or, even, a hotly anticipated rebirth of Whitlow’s on Wilson. Neither appear to be the case.

Both Parker and Cordero confirmed they are no longer tenants and not involved in the revamping of the space. Parker also owns nearby Don Tito, Bearded Goat Barber, the soon-to-open Nighthawk Pizza, and a number of other local businesses. Cordero owns Taco Rock, including the location in Rosslyn.

Former Whitlow’s manager Jon Williams also said the beloved now-shuttered watering hole wasn’t making a comeback quite yet.

“I’m still looking for the right place,” he wrote to ARLnow. “Hopefully soon.”

The Whitlow’s former space seems set to become two separate entities, a Five Guys and restaurant, as well as possibly live entertainment concept “B Live” from Michael Bramson.

At the moment, it’s unclear the exact bank that would occupy the prime location on Wilson Blvd or when it could open.

The source said it’s likely that the bank would only occupy the first floor, leaving the second floor potentially available for a local venture.

ARLnow reached out to the Rappaport Company, which is the leasing agent for the Underwood Building (named after the former owners), for confirmation and more details, but a company representative declined to provide comment.

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The former Whitlow’s space will apparently three separate identities when it reopens under new ownership.

In December we reported that Michael Bramson, who’s behind The Lot beer garden and the Clarendon Pop-Up Bar, was opening something new called B Live in the long-time local watering hole’s former Clarendon home. Before that, we also reported that locally-founded burger chain Five Guys was planning to take part of the space, perhaps as soon as this summer.

Whitlow’s closed in June after more than 25 years at 2854 Wilson Blvd.

But B Live and Five Guys aren’t the only things planning to open there. A new permit application has been filed for “Coco B’s,” another forthcoming Bramson concept.

While B Live will occupy the first floor and possibly the basement of the space, according to building permit applications, it appears that Coco B’s will be the name of what used to be Whitlow’s rooftop tiki bar.

A stop by the space today revealed the Coco B’s application posted on the street-level entrance to the stairs that lead to the tiki bar, while B Live permits were near the main entrance to the indoor space. Most of the windows were papered over, but a gap in the covering revealed an interior that had mostly been cleared of its former accoutrements — as well as two people working inside.

Bramson and his PR rep both declined to reveal any information about the new concepts last week.

“At the moment there actually isn’t anything to share about B Live or Coco B’s,” wrote Vicki Holcomb, the PR rep.

“I don’t have any info to share at the moment,” Bramson himself told ARLnow.

The name Coco B’s seems to have been chosen because Bramson is retaining the tiki bar theme. It’s sure to raise some eyebrows, however, given its similarity to the name of a noted local TikTok personality whose arrest and subsequent exoneration — amid allegations against two Arlington bars — attracted considerable attention last summer.

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Whitlow’s recently closed in Clarendon, with hopes of opening elsewhere, but its former space will not be vacant for long.

The owner of the building at 2854 Wilson Blvd, which was unable to negotiate a lease renewal with the long-time local watering hole, appears to be dividing the restaurant — which includes a basement, a ground-level floor and a rooftop bar — into at least three separate tenant spaces, according to building permits.

The first tenant is likely to be Five Guys.

The burger chain confirmed to ARLnow that it will be opening a new restaurant in Arlington, but the opening is not expected until next summer.

“We’re a bit far out to confirm any dates, but we’re intending to open a new location in Arlington around summer 2022,” said Five Guys spokeswoman Jessica Lloyd.

The company has grown from one Arlington burger joint in the soon-to-be-redeveloped Westmont Shopping Center to an international chain with more than 1,400 locations in the United States alone. It currently has two Arlington restaurants: one down the street in Courthouse, at 2300 Wilson Blvd, and another at Reagan National Airport.

Permits posted in the windows, bearing the project name “Five Guys,” indicate that the property owner is first planning an asbestos abatement.

So far there’s no word on what else might open in the building, nor whether Whitlow’s is closer to finding a new location.

Hat tip to David Kinney

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Morning Notes

YHS Lax, Other Teams Cap off Stellar Seasons — “The spring sports season was a busy and successful time, maybe the most accomplished ever, for high-school varsity teams and individuals in Arlington County, with many winning various championships. That spring campaign ended this weekend with some Virginia High School League Class 6 state championship games. One contest included the undefeated Yorktown Patriots in the boys lacrosse title match, which they won.” [Sun Gazette, Washington Post]

Neighborhood Leaders Don’t Like Route 1 Plan — “A coalition of civic associations representing surrounding neighborhoods suggests that a pending Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) report on improvements in the Route 1 corridor could turn out to be an ‘epic fail’ that does not address key issues. As a result, leaders of the organizations are urging the Arlington County Board to ask VDOT to go back to the drawing board and consider their concerns.” [Sun Gazette]

 A Bro Ode to Whitlow’s — “It’s the final few nights for Whitlow’s on Wilson, the venerable Clarendon bar where, for 26 years, 20-somethings have come to drink cheap beer and try to get lucky. This is concentrated Clarendon. Pure, unadulterated, un-adult Clarendon, a teeming room of recent grads absolutely wilding out after a year of epidemiological confinement.” [Washington Post, YouTube]

Long-Time Whitlow’s Patrons Bid Farewell — “As the days dwindled to hours before the closure of Whitlow’s on Wilson, some of those who had been patrons and boosters of the iconic Clarendon restaurant and watering hole gathered June 25 for one last hurrah.” [Sun Gazette]

ACFD Now Publishing Response Stats — “Check in each Monday to see our #Weekly Incident Summary, highlighting the total emergency incidents #ACFD responded to overall as well as by category. Last week our members handled over 600 calls for service!” [Twitter]

Amazon Funds Synetic Theater Initiative — “This spring, Isaac’s school gave students art kits through an Amazon.com Inc.-funded program called smARTies Art-in-a-Box, designed to jump the digital access gap. The box included a flat piece of cardboard student artists could fold to make a stage and blank puppet characters for decoration. The idea came from Synetic Theater, an arts and theater organization based in Crystal City.” [Washington Business Journal]

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This is the final week for Whitlow’s, at least in its current Clarendon location, but you can now bring a piece of the iconic local business home.

The long-time watering hole is auctioning off much of its decor and equipment online.

“Fans can still own a piece of Whitlow’s to keep the memories alive,” auction firm Capital Online Auctions said today in a press release. “Nearly 300 pieces of décor that gave the popular Arlington watering hole its iconic ‘funky charm’ are up for auction.”

Among the items hitting the virtual auction block are:

Whitlow’s is closing for good after one last bash this Saturday, June 26, though its owners have floated the possibility of opening in a new location down the road.

The auctions are set to start closing Thursday morning (June 24).

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People walk past Whitlow’s on Wilson in the afternoon light (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

Whitlow’s, the long-time watering hole on Wilson Blvd, is closing its doors for good on Saturday, June 26.

But first come the parties.

Earlier this week, the well-known Clarendon bar and restaurant hosted an alumni staff reunion and had a send off show featuring local 90s cover band White Ford Bronco. Tickets to that show sold out.

On Wednesday, June 23, there’s a “jam session” featuring members of the Grammy-nominated reggae band SOJA. The group hails from Arlington, with several members graduating from Yorktown High School. More live music is scheduled throughout this week and next, according to Whitlow’s website.

Then on its final day next weekend the local mainstay is hosting what it is calling the “Last Waltz,” featuring music from The Poprocks and KleptoRadio.

“One final blowout… Get here early,” says the website. “No one cuts the line unless you are Dave Grohl.”

An employee confirmed to ARLnow on the phone that Whitlow’s last day at 2854 Wilson Blvd is set to be June 26. They also noted that management was looking for a new location but haven’t found anything yet.

ARLnow has reached out to management about any further updates on the future of Whitlow’s, but has yet to hear back.

In late March, the restaurant announced it was closing after efforts to renew its lease were unsuccessful.

Whitlow’s had attempted to negotiate an extension on a lease expiring at the end of June, a social media post said, but talks proved fruitless. So, instead, it is set to close its longtime Clarendon space while “actively looking for a future home.”

Whitlow’s opened in 1946 as a greasy spoon eatery and bar in D.C. before closing in 1989 and relocating to Clarendon six years later. Opening in 1995, it has remained a neighborhood mainstay for more than two and a half decades. That is, until now.

ARLnow first reported in August 2019 that the space would be available for lease starting July 1, 2021 but management seemed confident that a deal would be brokered.

“We plan on being here for years to come,” manager Jon Williams told ARLnow at the time.

Currently, 2854 Wilson Blvd still appears to be available for lease at an undisclosed price.

“We don’t necessarily see this as a goodbye, but more of a see you later,” the March social media post read. “In the meantime, there are three months left and we are going to make the best of it!”

With now less than two weeks left, Whitlow’s does seem to be partying hard before the music stops.

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Morning Notes

Arlington Startup Founder Going to Prison — “An Arlington start-up that promised to help people root out schemes and scams in their own lives was, nearly from the start, a cash cow for the founder’s extravagant lifestyle, start-up CEO Daniel Boice acknowledged in Alexandria federal court Friday… ‘It would be difficult to describe the havoc you created by your fraudulent actions,’ Judge T.S. Ellis III said before sentencing Boice to eight years in prison. ‘It’s an egregious fraud.'” [Washington Post, Dept. of Justice]

Bad Crash on GW Parkway — “A car split in half after crashing into a tree near the First Overlook [of the] George Washington Memorial Parkway Sunday morning, U.S. Park Police confirms. The driver of the car was the only one in the vehicle and was immediately taken to a nearby hospital. U.S. Park Police say their injuries are non-life-threatening.” [WUSA 9, Twitter, Twitter]

Pro-Reopening Parents Blast APS Superintendent — “During the Monitoring Report from Dr. Durán to the School Board, we heard that due to “monumental logistical challenges,” APS will remain hybrid for the remainder of this academic year… Arlington Parents for Education urges the School Board to vote on an urgent and rapid return to school plan when they meet again next — or, if not, propose a vote of no confidence in Dr. Durán for failing to deliver such a plan.” [Press Release]

Group Wants to Save Whitlow’s Building — “As you have seen in the news, Whitlow’s is planning to relocate due to being unable to renegotiate their lease at 2854 Wilson Blvd. However, the building is for sale and presents an investment opportunity and chance to keep Whitlows at its historic location. This form is simply to gauge interest in being part of a group to purchase the building, and is not a commitment to forming any business arrangement, putting up capital, or the like.” [Google Forms, Twitter]

Early Voting Locations for Primary Set — “Members of the Arlington Electoral Board on March 25 approved plans for two satellite-early-voting centers to be used in the runup to the June 8 Democratic primary. Walter Reed and Madison community centers previously had been designated as the locations for early voting by the County Board. The March 25 action set days and hours they will be in operation, although refinements could still be made.” [Sun Gazette]

Local Gov. Candidate Wants to Nix Income Tax — “Could Virginia’s next governor be from Arlington? It’s a longshot, perhaps, but there’s at least one candidate in the running. Arlingtonian Peter Doran on March 24 made his pitch to the Arlington County Republican Committee, saying new thinking is needed if the GOP is to end its drought in statewide elections… Doran pitched the idea of eliminating Virginia’s state income tax.” [Sun Gazette]

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(Updated 4:30 p.m. 3/11/21) Although it might not be a normal St. Patrick’s Day, local restaurants and bars are finding a way to celebrate.

The pandemic was not kind to Arlington restaurants. At least 26 places have closed since last March, including the Pentagon City Irish pub Siné (though a replacement is trying to open soon).

The lockdown started right before St. Patrick’s Day last year, canceling the festivities at Ireland’s Four Courts in Courthouse and other popular mid-March gathering spots.

This year, local restaurants are finding ways to safely celebrate. Rather than packing in shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, as might happen during the before times, most places are requiring or highly recommending reservations due to limited capacity. Some have expanded their outdoor seating and some are spreading out their celebration over a few days to avoid crowding.

Below is a list of some local restaurants that are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Arlington this year.

Celtic House (2500 Columbia Pike) The Celtic House will be celebrating its Irish roots with an extended St. Patrick’s Day celebration. The festivities will kick off on Friday, March 12 and conclude on Wednesday, March 17. A full Irish menu and specials will be available. Reservations are highly advised due to limited capacity. For information call (703) 746-9644.

Ireland’s Four Courts (2051 Wilson Blvd) Celebrating its 26th St. Patrick’s Day, Four Courts is ready to pick up where it left off last year. The pub will be celebrating March 13-15 and on March 17. There will be Irish dancers on the patio in the afternoon. Due to the pandemic, bar seating will be closed and there will be no live music inside. Making reservations is highly encouraged due to limited seating. For information call (703) 525-3600.

McNamara’s Pub & Restaurant (567 23rd Street S.) — The festivities start early at McNamara’s this year with doors opening at 9 a.m. on March 17. Because of the pandemic, there is a two-hour limit at tables, and reservations are highly recommended. The patio will be open, weather permitting. For information call (703) 302-3760.

O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub (3207 Washington Blvd) O’Sullivan’s has three days of live music and Irish celebrations lined up. On Friday, March 12, Britton James will be performing at 8 p.m. On Saturday, March 13, Uncle Jesse will be performing at 8 p.m. On March 17, Irish dancers will perform at 2 p.m, Pete Baker will perform at 3 p.m. and Willem Dicke will perform at 6 p.m. Their traditional Irish menu will feature dishes such as their homemade Irish bread topped with smoked salmon, corned beef, beef and Guinness stew, and fish & chips. First come, first serve. For information call (703) 812-0939.

Samuel Beckett’s Irish Gastro Pub (2800 S. Randolph Street) – Samuel Beckett’s will open its doors from 10 a.m. to midnight on March 17. There will be Irish dancers at 5 p.m., as well as live music from Eddie Pasa at 5:30 p.m. If you are not comfortable eating in the pub, Samuel Beckett’s is offering “Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Home” kits. Family-style meals (serving six people) will be offered as well as a limited supply of Jameson cocktail kits. Orders must be placed at least 24 hours in advance. For information or to order the at-home St. Patrick’s Day kit call (703) 379-0122.

Whitlow’s On Wilson (2854 Wilson Blvd) — Whitlow’s will kick off the St. Patrick’s Day festivities with a live music performance from DjKillabeats24 on Saturday, March 13. On March 17, Irish food will be available along with live music from Timmie Metz featuring Tambo starting at 6 p.m. The rooftop will also be open for patrons, weather permitting. For information call (703) 276-9693.

File photo

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