Dinners and Rec

Fine dining and sports dives collide.

Fine dining and sports dives collide.

By Jennie Tai

Chris Bukowski of "The Bachelorette" season 8 and "Bachelor Pad" season 3. / Courtesy of Sal Bolanos

Sports bars are known for beer, microwaved food and flat screens, but an emphasis on interesting food, bright atmosphere and upscale flair is now trending in Northern Virginia’s pubs.

“It’s not going to be your typical dark, rugged sports bar,” says Chris Bukowski, who hopes to open his version of a sports bar in Clarendon this spring. “It will have a softer ambiance, more like a lounge.”

Bukowski, the “Bachelor Pad” season 3’s cut-throat runner up and notorious game-changer (fans remember his role in dethrowning the leader of the house alliance) parallels his mission to redefine sports bars.

“Clarendon has a lot of fine dining options,” Bukowski says, “but not a fine dining sports bar.” At a party last September, Bukowski celebrated his 26th birthday by announcing plans to open, what he calls, a “ladies style” sports bar.

“I can’t think of the perfect or exact woman I’d like to see at the bar. … I wish I could think up a perfect woman for myself!” laughs Bukowski, hoping to woo women there with small plates.

“The creative team of women I’m working with will help me choose food and décor that will be more comfortable for females,” says the six-foot, three-inch, Bukowski. “I’ve also been reaching out to people on Facebook and Twitter.”

“There’s going to be healthier options on the menu,” Bukowski explains. “It’s not going to be your typical fried menu with chicken tenders.”

The concept evolved from a theme he noticed while working in Vegas’ nightclub industry while he was a student at the University of Nevada.

“I was used to the typical fried food at the bars I went to, and it would be busy on game days—but I wanted a place where, if there wasn’t a game on, you could still stop by and enjoy some good food,” says Bukowski.

If the women are there, the guys are going to show up and that’s the whole Vegas mentality we’ve incorporated.”

In Sterling, restaurateur Keith Early has a similar vision. “This isn’t your same old sports bar food,” Early says about the menu at The Bungalow Lakehouse, which opened in October. Debuting with seared foie gras, charcuterie and lettuce wraps, Early discovered the void his restaurant fills as a fine dining option and a sports bar.

As the owner of The Bungalow bars, The Lakehouse is the largest and the first chef-driven concept. Chef Jason Maddens, who previously worked at Michel Richard’s Central in Washington, D.C., brought his French-training with him.

Sports bars Joe Theismann’s Restaurant in Alexandria and A-Town Bar & Grill in Arlington also offer more than wings.

But it’s still all about the sports. Or, maybe just competition. Bukowski hopes his sports bar becomes a place where women can meet every Monday night to watch “The Bachelor.”


Keep up with the Twitter life of this “Bachelor” restaurateur: 


#50ThingsAboutMyGirlfriend Her life expectancy is fourteen years and she has four legs.

God is GREAT! #Sunday

When Taylor Swift comes on the radio and you realize how profitable breakups are for her and how depressing they are for you.

#NobodyLikes HATERS!

I feel bad for the socks that get lost behind the dryer.

I should be getting ready to go out, but I can’t seem to stop watching Toy Story 3. #Woodyismyhero


 (January 2013)