Popular Mister Days sports bar set to return to Clarendon 5 years after closing

Mister Days Sports Rock Cafe will return to the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia, in a few weeks — five years after the popular sports bar, dance club and restaurant closed, WTOP has learned.

Bobby Lee opened the original Mister Days in 1977 south of D.C.’s Dupont Circle. The lunch counter served only a roast beef sandwich. Soon after, Mister Days moved to 18th Street Northwest between L and M Streets Northwest, and eventually moved to Clarendon in 1999.

Lee said he’s in the process of securing the appropriate permits and hopes to be open in May at 1101 N. Highland Street.

“It’s across the street from the old Mister Days,” Lee said.

“The reason we were called Mister Days is because we were only open during the day,” he said.

In the years that followed, the alley that housed Mister Days became home to other businesses owned by Lee: Captain Days Seafood Restaurant and Happy Days Diner, which operated in the evenings as Back Alley Cafe.

In 1999, Mister Days moved to Clarendon, on the corner of Washington Boulevard and Highland Street. As Mister Days Sports Rock Cafe, near Courthouse Metro, amid the blossoming Clarendon neighborhood, Mr. Days was a popular place for people to watch a sporting event, eat and drink or dance.

“We’re very excited,” Lee told WTOP, who said his decision to close the Clarendon business in April 2019 was in part due to health reasons.

“I’ve beaten that back, and I’m ready to go,” he said.

Why get back in the demanding business?

“I’m old enough to collect Social Security, but not ready to die,” Lee joked. “And a space opened up, so I figured, why not?”

The Alley moving to Clarendon

During Mister Days’ stay in the District, Lee introduced a concept that he’ll bring to newly opened location.

“Originally, on a St. Patrick’s Day we had live music in the alley, and people loved it. But I noticed that when the band stopped, and the spinners started playing recorded music, people were dancing,” Lee said.

He realized the idea of dancing in the alley could be popular, even without the St. Patrick’s Day crowd.

“So, we’d do the Rally in the Alley the weekend before or after St. Patrick’s Day, depending upon the calendar each year,” Lee said.

He said the new Mister Days Sports Rock Cafe in Clarendon will occupy two floors and have a section called The Alley. He envisions getting permits for outdoor alley events after opening.

While “we didn’t do much renovating — it’s mostly lipstick and rouge,” Lee said the sports viewing experience will be state of the art.

“The huge screen we got just cleared customs, and may be the biggest one in Northern Virginia.”

Lee said the menu of the new place will include new touches, “but we’re not throwing the baby out with the bath water — we’ll still have great bar food.”

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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