The Wash

Arlington’s bars are attracting new customers, spending money in support of their local team

Nats fans outsmart the D.C. traffic in nearby Arlington.

Jason Dougherty, a bartender at Spirits of ’76 on Clarendon Boulevard, said his restaurant has “definitely seen an uptick” in its patrons since the World Series started last week.

An influx of fans usually stop by his venue for a nightcap and some celebration after the Nationals’ home games.

“We definitely had a push last night [Friday]… with people coming in at one o’clock, since the game went late [it ended at around 12]. We saw more people coming in for a drink or two at the end, wearing their Nats stuff,” Dougherty said.

According to Dougherty, D.C.’s World Series games are attracting new clientele, which is ramping up business.

“A world series run sweeps up people who aren’t necessarily diehard baseball fans, it pulls in the casual fan,” Dougherty said.

Matthew Slepitza, a bartender a few doors down, at O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub, said he’s noticed a higher amount of foot traffic as well.

“I say we fill up a couple of tables, of like 12 to 20 people, sitting around for the whole game… I see regular customers bring more first timers [to the bar],” Slepitza said.

The new patrons at the bar are pretty mild-mannered, according to Slepitza, since they’re focusing on the Series, sitting for hours, while glued to the surrounding TVs.

“They just stay longer if they’re here for the game… they want to finish it out, but yea, no one’s belligerent, they just want to watch the game,” Slepitza said.

Jerry Edwards, who spoke to The Wash on Saturday, wearing a crisp Nationals hat while holding up a sign that says: “HOMELESS, PLEASE HELP,” said he is a witness to the excitement.

According to Edwards, people are “hooting, hollering, screaming…” a little more than usual.

“But wait till we win this thing,” Edwards said. And he predicts they will, just like he predicted the Nationals’ victory over the Dodgers.

 

Edwards told The Wash that he’s been sitting outside of Wilson Boulevard’s Liberty Tavern almost every day since it opened 14 years ago. He bears perpetual witness to an ever-changing Arlington. (Jamie Benedi / The Wash)

“I love it,” Edwards said. “This is the first time we had a championship since [1933], this is something new for me in my lifetime.”

“There’s a lot of people walking around that usually don’t even watch baseball,” said Bernard Bolphus, a server at Spider Kelly’s. “You [even] see people that usually don’t watch any Washington sports teams are actually coming around to support them.”

The crowds are rowdier than usual, Bolphus told The Wash, especially when the team is winning.

“They’re like, ‘more drinks, more drinks, more shots, more shots,’ everybody’s you know, ah, feeling good,” Bolphus said.

Spider Kelly’s was crammed with customers last Friday, right before the start of game two. Bolphus said this was odd, since it’s typically just the “usuals” at the bar on Friday nights.

“I know a lot of people that work here with us are now starting to watch baseball too, and I know for a fact, these people didn’t watch no baseball [before].”

If the Nats win the World Series, there will be a lot of drink orders to follow, Bolphus said.

The surge in business is a good thing, according to Bolphus, “people are excited, people are having fun, it almost makes you feel like you’re having more fun [while serving them].”

The enthusiastic atmosphere makes work go by a little faster, Blophus said.

Naveed Khan, who works at the nearby Goody’s Pizza, said the World Series is “definitely” impacting his sales in a positive way.

“I think it’s like a unifying thing and it brings people together. While the game was going on yesterday, we had a lot of people coming in just for the game [wearing their Nationals jerseys],” Khan said.

“It gives us a boost for business, for sure, 100%,” Khan said. “We even had to hire two extra employees [to deal with the extra customers].”

“Win or lose, people are going to want to eat, you know?” Khan said.

“Everyone’s just excited, it’s bringing everyone out,” said Kevin Roberts, manager at The G.O.A.T. sports bar. “Even people who were just kind of like, fair-weather fans, its giving people something to root for, for D.C., really.”

When The Wash asked Roberts about the type and mood of Nationals fans coming into his bar, he had this to say:

“You get a little bit of everybody… same thing with after they’ve been drinking, you get a little bit of everybody. They’re more passionate, yelling at the TV. People are screaming, cussing, F-bombs all over the place. Nothing like crazy, like, no one wants to fight or throw a barstool or anything.”

In Slepitza’s opinion, fans are coming to Arlington because it’s close enough to the city that they feel near to the action, and is far enough from the city that they don’t have to deal with traffic.

“Two weeks ago, you wouldn’t have even thought this was going to happen, it just comes along so quickly, it’s easy to just get kind of swept up in it,” Dougherty said.

Edwards, between sips of coffee, told The Wash that he is feeling hopeful and good about life, given the current state of his favorite team.

When asked how he’d feel if the Nationals won the Series, Edwards said:

“I’d feel happy for the whole city and myself. I finally get to see our turn to have a championship baseball team after all these years. To even make it this far, even if we lose, still, we came this far, we made it to the World Series.”

A “pedal saloon” in Clarendon, filled with pregaming Nats fans. (Jamie Benedi / The Wash)
Jamie Benedi

Jamie Benedi

My name is Jamie Benedi. I'm a graduate student at American University, studying Investigative Journalism.

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