Fans of Arlington favorite Dr. Dremo’s Tap House converged to sip their final Dremo’s Redneck Ales and shake hands with friends on the bar’s second-to-last Sunday night in its current Clarendon Boulevard location.
“There’s a much larger crowd here than on most Sunday nights,” said Greg Kitsock, a Washington Post beer columnist, editor of the Mid-Atlantic Brewing News, and once-a-week Dremo’s regular. “It’s kind of the end of an era.”
Dremo’s will shut its doors Sunday, January 27, at 2 AM after 26 consecutive nights of “Dremo’s Huge Ass Farewell Party” and almost 15 years of service since it opened in 1993 as Bardo Rodeo and Ningaloo. The Dr. Dremo’s and neighboring Taco Bell properties were recently sold to Elm Street Development, which plans to build 140 apartments on the lot along with ground-floor retail.
Dremo’s manager, Bill Stewart, sat perched atop a bar stool cheering along with the crowd watching the New England Patriots/Green Bay Packers game. Stewart is the 75-year-old father of Billy Stewart, who opened the bar in the basement of a former car dealership.
“In 2000, he dumped the place on me because he got fed up with it,” Stewart said of his son. He added that the bar is bringing in some local bands for the closing party but is not offering much else besides its regular, seven-nights-a-week happy hour.
As for a new home, Stewart said, “It’s strictly up in the air.” Wherever the taproom reopens, Stewart’s son Andrew will run it, and Stewart will step down but continue to help with financing.
Among several Arlington sites Stewart is looking at is the vacant Hollywood Video nearby, but he hasn’t heard back about whether he’ll be able to rent the property. And while his son Andrew’s version of Dremo’s will have the same feel as the old, most of the taproom’s current equipment won’t be there.
The bar will reopen briefly for an auction January 28 at 7 PM to dole out pool tables, kitchen equipment, 200-gallon stainless-steel beer tanks, and even the bar’s prized totem pole to the highest bidders. Stewart said the copper-topped tables, which he made and never got paid for, are among the few things that will carry over to the new location.
Kitsock, who said he recognized a dozen people in the room as regulars, had frequented the bar since it opened and remembered coming to enjoy the perfect view of Fourth of July fireworks that it offered.
Stewart said he’ll miss the customers and staff when he leaves, but he’s not sad to go: “I’ve been looking forward to closing this place. I’ll be getting a rest, ya know?”