Meridian Pint’s move to the suburbs is complete. The former Columbia Heights bar and restaurant that catered to young families and craft beer obsessives officially opens tonight at 4 p.m. in its new home in the Dominion Hills neighborhood of Arlington (6035 Wilson Boulevard).
The building on 11th Street NW that housed Meridian Pint for the past nine years shouldn’t be vacant for long. Owner John Andrade told Eater upon closing the original location in April that he’d already sublet the remainder of the D.C. lease for a yet-to-be-announced restaurant. The incoming business is likely to benefit from the nightly crowds vying to land a table a recently opened Queen’s English next-door.
Andrade says the food menu is mostly unchanged, but executive chef Logan McGear has tweaked toppings and presentation styles for the nachos (Monterey Jack, Cotija, guacamole, pico de gallo, chipotle sour cream, pickled jalapenos) and some of the specialty burgers.
One new item is a bucatini with meatball bolognese that Andrade says was a popular item at Rosario, his short-lived pasta place in Adams Morgan. There’s also cacio e pepe and a blue crab ravioli.
Moving from D.C. to Virginia comes with a whole new set of local regulations to navigate, which has freed up business in some areas and constrained it in others.
For example, Andrade said D.C.’s liberal distribution laws meant he could drive a cargo van up to Michigan or Wisconsin, buy a boatload of beer from a small brewery, and start selling it at Meridian Pint as soon as it arrived. In Virginia, Meridian Pint has to be careful about sourcing from state-licensed distributors. Beverage director Jace Gonnerman is still in charge of curating the beer list.
In Arlington, Meridian Pint is now selling beer to-go. There’s a fridge behind the host stand with a selection of cans, and Andrade says the bar will fill up growlers.
Loyal customers will notice several changes at the new Meridian Pint, most notably the more modest size. Meridian Pint downsized from a 6,000-square-foot space that spanned across two stories to a one-level, 2,400-square-foot venue.
A new mural repurposes a character from an art piece in the old place, depicting a Rosie the Riveter lookalike with a beer in her hand. The giant metal gear wheel from Columbia Heights made the trip to Arlington. The fireplace from the old location has been moved to a 12-seat private dining room dubbed the Living Room, a nod to its new cross street, N. Livingston Street.
To start off, Meridian Pint will be open daily from 4 p.m. to midnight with a flexible closing time to accommodate drinkers on the weekends. Once the restaurant hires more staff, weekend brunch and weekday lunch will become available. Andrade says a patio is pending neighborhood approvals and expects that it won’t be open until next spring.
He says when the bar announced it was closing in Columbia Heights last month, he saw all kinds of comments on blog posts asking, “who would want to drive down to Virginia visit?”
He had a nice laugh at that because he lives a quarter mile from the new location, and he insists customers will come from the neighborhood, even if they’re a little less hip than they used to be.
“The beer consumers here are more middle-aged than what we’ve had in the past,” Andrade says, “which is exactly what we knew was here and what we were targeting.”