CarPool Beer and Billiards, a beloved sports bar that spent two decades in Arlington before leaving for the suburbs in 2017, will return to Ballston in a new location this year.
The pioneering Arlington bar plans to move into 900 N. Glebe Road, replacing now-shuttered Filipino restaurant Bistro 1521, developer KLNB announced. The 6,382-square-foot space is located just half a mile from CarPool’s old outpost near the Ballston Metro station, and owner Mark Handwerger promises the new locale will offer the same billiards, pinball, and extensive draft beer selection as before.
“All the same vintage furniture is making its return, save for the pool and shuffleboard tables,” says Handwerger. “Twenty-five years is a long time for a pool table, so we figured it was time to upgrade.”
Its comfort menu plans to stay almost exactly the same, he adds, with no-frills bar food like burgers, chicken and waffles, and wings coated in mumbo sauce. New on the menu, however, will be select in-house beers brewed off-site in partnership with Handwerger’s other Arlington venture, Board Room.
CarPool originally opened its doors in 1995 at 4000 Fairfax Drive and enjoyed a 20-year run as a go-to Arlington watering hole. Handweger says even though they didn’t want to leave, his team got a buyout offer from development company Penzance that was “too good to refuse” in 2017. He relocated the business to Fairfax, where it billed itself as the “only sports bar in the Fair Lakes, Virginia area.”
Even though some regulars would make the trek out to the suburbs, Handwerger says the energy wasn’t the same and he began looking into the possibility of an Arlington return. When local real estate and brokerage firm KLNB reached out, he says, it was a perfect fit.
Similar to the original location, CarPool’s exterior will feature a large garage door. This time around, however, it will open up to a sizable outdoor patio.
“We had fairly small outdoor patios at both the original location and at Fair Lakes,” says Handwerger, “But we’re excited to have a much bigger one now. With COVID, there are some dining practices people have adopted over the last 18 months such as outdoor dining that are going to stay with us for a while, so we’re glad we can accommodate.”
In CarPool’s absence, several similar bars have made their way to the Ballston area. When CarPool 2.0’s doors open, it will be the third new bar in a one-block radius, joining the likes of Crafthouse and Ballston Local. Mussel Bar & Grille, World of Beer, and Bronson Bier Hall are also just a couple blocks away, as well as Peter Bayne’s forthcoming destination for pints and pizza called Quincy Hall.
Despite the plethora of new bars in the area, Handwerger isn’t deterred. Ever since CarPool shut its doors in 2017, he’s heard the same question, over and over again: “When are you coming back?”
“A number of places have tried to do it like us, but they’re not CarPool,” he says. “I’m not worried. We’re just thrilled to be back in a space where we know we’re going to be there for 10, 20 years and give the people what they’re looking for.”