By Emma Young | Photos by Mark Gilvey
“Every Bar Louie is a local bar,” explained I.V. Miller, Bar Louie’s director of operations. Even with more
than 110 U.S. locations, three of them in Prince William County (Gainesville, Manassas and Woodbridge), Bar Louie is known for catering to local clientele. “We are anti-chain because [that term]speaks to something being homogenous. And we stay as local and relevant as humanly possible,” Miller said.
What defines the differences in Prince William County locations? “For example, at our Manassas location, we do a Bucket Night every Wednesday, which is $6 for five beers. It speaks to the hard-working folk in Manassas. Stonebridge focuses on martinis, and the guests have chosen us as more of a restaurant, so there is a focus on food. Stonebridge also has live music. Gainesville guests want a DJ, so every Friday and Saturday, we have a DJ playing Top 40 and dance music,” Miller said.
The three commonalities running through every Bar Louie are a relaxed, modern vibe, food made from scratch and premium cocktails. “Our motto is ‘Eat, Drink, Be Happy’,” said Jason Thompson, Bar Louie’s
Woodbridge location general manager. “You can bring your friends and have a great time or meet new people. It’s like Cheers [the long-running television sitcom set in a bar], where everybody knows your name.”
“It’s a warm, friendly environment,” said Teresa Yung of Montclair, who has visited the Woodbridge location. “It’s a great place for meeting friends, they have a great staff, and they make a delicious martini.” Former employee and now regular customer Dalonte Johnson agrees: “It is a relaxed atmosphere, comfortable. You can meet a lot of people. Everybody meshes.”
“Great food is common at all our restaurants,” Miller said. “We are a scratch kitchen. We make our own sauces, marinades and dressings.” “There’s something for everyone,” said Thompson, describing blackened salmon sliders ($12.99) and $5 Tuesday night burger specials.
A popular favorite at the Gainesville location is the Nachos Libre ($15.99). “It is a big ol’ platter of nachos,” described Joe Vega, Bar Louie’s Gainesville location’s General Manager, with the addition of grilled chicken, black beans, cheeses and much more. “It is just ridiculous.”
“As a vegetarian, there are not too many items on the menu for me, but the tater tots with cheese and jalapeños are my go-to,” said Lake Ridge resident Celeste [last name withheld]about the Loaded Tots ($9.99). Yung agrees, “Those tater tots are [popular]! I’ve never ordered them, but all my friends do…
Happy Hour includes half-off select appetizers and flatbreads and special pricing on signature cocktails, wines and draft beer. Late-night specials are offered Sunday–Thursday from 10:00 p. m. until closing at 2:00 a. m.
“We make our own high-end cocktails. We have almost 40 specialty drinks with high-end spirits like Grey Goose vodka and Maker’s Mark,” Miller said. According to Vega, the Pineapple Express Sangria ($10) is the best-selling drink at the Gainesville location. The drink is made with SKYY Pineapple, lime, watermelon syrup, fresh-cut pineapple and La Marca Prosecco.
Investing in People, Giving Back to the Community
“Our biggest asset is our people,” Miller said. “We go to great lengths to hire the best folks. They all live in the county. We believe in true hospitality. People choose a restaurant or bar because great bartenders and phenomenal servers make a genuine connection with them. We take good care of our people. They
love working for us, and they love their guests,” he said.
Dalonte Johnson knows as well as anyone. Only two months into working at Bar Louie, Johnson was in a serious car accident, resulting in the loss of a limb. “I wasn’t there long, but there was lots of support for me,” Johnson said. “They came to the hospital and sent videos. There was so much love and support. They even held a fundraiser at Bar Louie for me. That shows how much a family it is at that place.”
And that support extends to the greater community. “I appreciate that Bar Louie hosts community groups and events,” Celeste said. “They hosted part of a bar crawl fundraiser in March for a local man who has MS and was raising funds for the national organization. The manager was also engaged and
supportive of our group. They gave a donation to MS and offered gift certificates as prizes. They were very accommodating. We had a great time there and felt appreciated as customers and
as community members.”
Thompson said, “We are passionate about every person coming in and leaving happy.” Visit barlouie.com for more information.
Emma Young ([email protected]) is a freelance writer residing in Montclair.