MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Time now for D.C. Dives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #1
What is a dive bar?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE #1
It's a glorious dump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #2
It's gotta have an interesting staff, and an interesting crowd.
It's got to be dark, it's got to be old, typically, it's got to be cheap.
In the latest edition of our monthly series on local dive bars, Jerad Walker takes us to a favorite neighborhood watering hole in Arlington. One whose days may be numbered.
MR. JERAD WALKER
It's Friday night, and I'm hanging out at Jay's Saloon and Grille on North 10th Street in Clarendon. With its screened-in porch, this dive bar looks like any of the homes just down the street. Owners Kathi and James Moore say there's a simple reason why.
MS. KATHI MOORE
We've been around since 1993. And it was a heating and air conditioning place before that, and before that, it obviously was a house.
MR. JAMES MOORE
I have one customer whose mother I think lived in this house in the 1920s.
Although this building is now the neighborhood bar, customers are still encouraged to make themselves right at home.
It's nothing fancy. You know, you don't get white table cloths. We don't have a wine list. Our wine list is like red or white. It's just very laid back, and you can come in and be yourself.
James says this lack of formality stands out on the rapidly changing block.
Compared to a lot of places in this area, in the Clarendon area, well, the whole northern Virginia area, it's, we're just, well, look around, we're very unpretentious.
To hammer home that point, bar regular Tom, who doesn't want us to use his last name, gives me a tour.
We got bricks down here. We've got plaster over here with holes in it. Usually only has two bathrooms, one for the girls and one for the boys. But it doesn't matter, you go in either one. Missing paint off the walls. Leaks from the roof. If you notice, that's a leak onto the pool table, and onto the world's smallest pool table. This is the world's smallest pool table. This should be a bumper pool table, but here it is in Jay's. And we still have a 13-inch color Sony television set from, probably I would say 1982, and it works. That's a dive bar.
And just when you think the place couldn't get any quirkier...
This is even a reading room, a romance reading room.
In disbelief, I follow Tom to a corner where he shows me the bar's book exchange, which is well stocked with cheap paperback suspense and romance novels of the Fabio variety.
Who knew, you know.
I have -- that's a good question. The best part is, I don't know who's doing them. But somebody's coming in, and they're reading them and taking them out and trading them, so, hey, more power to her. Or him.
Despite the patronage of a horde of loyal regulars like Tom and the unknown librarian, owner James Moore says that Jay's Saloon may soon shutter its doors.
Honestly, it's out of my hands. I don't own the property. I've been told that they're going to tear everything down and put up more condos. So we'll just have to wait and see.
But even if the worst happens, James is at peace with his life's work.
It's been my baby, you know. I never had kids, so this was my kid. And I think 20 years is a pretty good run, you know? We should make it through September, unless they come in and say, hey, we want to tear everything down now, so we want to buy you out of your lease. But we should make it through September, which will be 20 years. So longest I ever held a job in my life. And, who knows, knock on wood, maybe we will be around 20 more years.
Bartender Dan Gallagher says the bar will be missed greatly, whenever it finally closes its doors.
MR. DAN GALLAGHER
It's gonna be sad. And I've heard Jay's referred to as the last bastion of hope in Arlington. It's also been described as the only non-pretentious place left in Arlington. So I think when that time comes, there's gonna be a lot of people looking for the next Jay's.
But there's only one Jay's Saloon. I’m Jerad Walker.
You can see photos of Jay's Saloon on our website, metroconnection.org. And if you have a favorite dive bar you think we should check out, we'd love to hear from you. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
And that's "Metro Connection" for this week. We heard from WAMU's Jacob Fenston, Jonathan Wilson, Martin Di Caro, and Jerad Walker, along with reporters Matt M. Casey and Jocelyn Frank. Speaking of reporters, we say a very fond farewell today to one of the most talented we've ever met.
MR. SABRI BEN-ACHOUR
Fish fly everywhere. Glints of silver flash over the surface as fish of all types start spasming toward...
MR. SABRI BEN-ACHOUR
Wrapped inside wet balls of moss are six endangered frogs. A field team spent weeks searching for them...
MR. SABRI BEN-ACHOUR
...curator at the National Zoo. She says they have to watch these two pandas because basically, they're really bad at getting intimate. Like really, they're terrible.
That of course was the one and only Sabri Ben-Achour, but don't despair, you'll still be able to hear him on our airwaves as a reporter for Marketplace. Sabri, we wish you the very, very, very, very best in all your future reporting adventures.
WAMU's managing editor of news is Memo Lyons. Metro Connection's managing producer is Tara Boyle. Lauren Landau is our editorial assistant. Our interns are Rachael Schuster and Robbie Feinberg. Thanks, as always, to the WAMU engineering and digital media teams for their help with production and the "Metro Connection" website.
Our theme song, "Every Little Bit Hurts" is from the album Title Tracks by John Davis and used with permission of the Ernest Jennings Record Company. All the music we use is listed on our website, metroconnection.org. Just click on a story and you'll find information about its accompanying song. Also on metroconnection.org you can read free transcripts of stories. And if you missed part of today's show, you can hear the whole thing online anytime. You can also find us on iTunes and Stitcher.
We hope you can join us next week when we'll defy those stereotypes about the district being a town of temporary visitors, with a show we are calling "Homegrown D.C." We'll delve into the utopian origins of Langston Terrace, D.C.'s first public housing project. We'll meet a cabbie who doubles as a filmmaker, and we'll meet the members of a D.C. band who weren't just born and bred in the Washington region, they sing about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #3
Whether or not we play or don't play "Jumbo Slice" (sp?) during a set is sort of always a central question in the creation of a set list. It's like, are we doing it tonight or are we not doing it tonight?
I'm Rebecca Sheir, and thanks for listening to "Metro Connection," a production of WAMU 88.5 News.
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