Sunday, November 08, 2009

Reviving Dr. Dremo's

Long-time beer bar Dr. Dremos closed its doors in the Clarendon district of Arlington, Virginia, in January of 2008.

Dremo's totem

Originally opened in the early 1990s as a brewpub, called Bardo Rodeo, Dremo's became a victim of the neighborhood's gentrification. The landlord, deciding to redevelop the land, razed the building and replaced it with ... an empty field. Poor timing: business conditions would soon go south.

Demolished Dr. Dremo's

Owner Andrew Stewart auctioned most (but not all) of the paraphernalia and went south as well, literally. South to Columbia, South Carolina, where he opened a bar —Elbow Room— in October of this year.

Dremo's was known for its adventuresome beer list but also for its funky devil-may-care 'tude and decor (and, when it was Bardo Rodeo, its home-brewed beers and a brawl involving a Kennedy family member). When it closed, Dremo's took a lot of local beer history from that now vacant field.

Now, Andrew has plans to come back, and to bring back Dr. Dremo's. He would like to open in spring of 2010 in a new location in Clarendon. I talked with him about his plans.

What will you call the new place?

Dr. Dremo's!

Where will it be?

In Clarendon, near the Metro station. The building exists already, but it's essentially a shell that will need a kitchen, bathrooms, HVAC, etc. The building is 2,400 square ft but has the ability to be expanded to roughly 4,500 sq ft. There will also be another 3-4000 square feet for outdoor seating.

Will you be brewing on-site? (as did Bardo Rodeo —Dr. Dremo's predecessor, opened in the early 1990s by Andrew's father brother Bill Stewart.)

No, there won't be a brewery, but we will be a multi-tap with 25-40 taps (depending on how big of a walk in I can get in there). I would like to have some house brews contracted for me (I still have the Bardo recipes) —if I can find someone who brews in small enough batches. I can't take 100 kegs at a time.


No plans for a cask ale system.

What's your idea of the look of the place? And the food?

It'll be a Dr. Dremo's clone, recreating many facets of the previous location, including some of the old decor. The main attractions will be an extensive lineup of draft beer and an unpretentious atmosphere. The state of Virginia requires restaurants with a beer and liquor license to sell fifty per cent food, but an establishment with a beer-and-wine-only license needs to to sell five percent food. So, no liquor and 'quick' food such as burritos, sandwiches, nachos, hummus, chips and salsa, and the like.

UPDATE 2010.03.05: reports that negotiations for this location have proved unfruitful, and that a different, larger, again undisclosed, location is planned.
  • Per Andrew Stewart's request, you can get more information here.
  • History of Dr. Dremo's and Bardo Rodeo here
  • YFGF covered Dremo's closing here.
  • More photos of the original location here.
  • A reader pointed out my typo. It was Andrew's older brother Bill who opened the original Bardo Rodeo. Their father, Bill, did however help out, and was still often seen at Dremo's before it closed.


  1. This is the best news ever. I literally got chills reading this. Do you know what building they are planning on using?

  2. That's great news. Honestly, the original location, while funky and unique, was in need of a sprucing up, in my opinion. I hope they don't look for the original couches, let's put it that way. Also, they'll benefit from the upcoming smoking ban. Well, I will...

  3. Something original going in Clarendon? Amen. The Potter Barn, Barnes&Noble, Cheezecake Factory, tons of tanning salons and all the other dreck have made that area Anywhere U.S.A. But of course it's Arlington so that's understandable.

  4. As a longtime fan of Dremo, the short lived Ningaloo and Bardo I have to point out that neither Bill the father nor Andrew Stewart opened this place. It was Andrews brother, also named Bill, a brewer who originally began the Bardo.
    Good luck with the new spot, Arlington is lacking without it.

  5. Thanks for catching that. Here's a link to a story about Bill Stewart (the younger) written in 1995 by Jim Dorsch:

  6. Anyone know the location?? Everyone I've spread the news to can't figure out where a large enough vacant building is near the metro...

  7. I met so many DC beer folks at the old Bardo in the early 90s, before I got into the business, what a place. Great memories of White LIghtning, James Brown Ale, and so many others.

  8. This has made my day!!! I loved Dr.Dremo's and will always tell people how that was the best place to go.

  9. I actually was just thinking of that Irving address. A condo/apt was supposed to go in the bulldozed area behind it; I'm not sure if the sign for it is still there. Also, what about where murkey coffee use to be? maybe even 1st floor of Zoso if there's any room left there

  10. As someone who has recently crossed over the half-century mark, I was probably one of Bardo's older customers back in the day. I think I was only in Dr. Dremo's once or twice, having moved out into the western suburbs by then. But if Bardo/Dremo's gets up and running again, and brings back a couple of the old recipes, hopefully they will let this old-timer come in and quaff a few once in a while. Clarendon keeps getting younger and younger...

    I recently found out that my wife tossed out a Bardo "growler" (big old clear glass jug with a screw top cap) that was one of my favorite possessions (I can't even explain why I liked it!) I wouldn't mind seeing those come back as well.

  11. I hear he's asking for "investors" to help him raise $10,000 for this. What happened to the "Dr. Dremo Relocation Fund" that he was collecting from patrons before Dremo's closed? I wish someone would ask him about that.

  12. I did in fact ask him...

    "The relocation fund went with all the rest of the Dremo's money. With Bill (the owner) to the 3 restaurants he bought in MD. That "relocation fund" was only about 10K."


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