At 10 p.m. Friday, architect Jerry Yantis and his buddies were still nursing their last beers at the Main Street Pub in Clifton, Va., howling and high-fiving as they recounted a night of joy-riding on sleds towed by a truck in 2010, the last time it really snowed in this tiny historic village.
By 10 a.m. Saturday, Kevin Hutto, 55, a financial planner, was having steak and eggs at the bar. He had just brought over his snowblower to clear a space outside the front door, where a chalkboard said “BLIZZARD” and noted that on this date in 1981, John Lennon and Yoko Ono were on the cover of Rolling Stone.
The owners of the pub, a lively watering hole and general store in a converted Texaco station, had vowed to remain open all weekend as long as the power didn’t fail. On Friday night, they left pitchers of hot coffee on the porch for the snowplow drivers whose trucks rumbled by every half-hour or so.
As the snow kept falling, the customers kept coming, many of them walking from home in the woodsy area of winding roads, horse pastures and country houses tucked in a corner of southwestern Fairfax County. Almost all were regulars, and many were characters, too.
On Friday night, the mood grew increasingly boisterous as the snow intensified and more hardy souls arrived. Yantis and his friends, all middle-aged family men, gleefully relived their sledding exploits on that one crazy night. Doug Fourney, 61, a retired engineer, ordered a drink named for him, with lemonade and two shots of vodka.
“This is the hub and the heart of Clifton,” Fourney said. “Everyone here knows each other. Everyone here helps each other. Everyone knows what you like to order. And they even have a drink called ‘The Dougie.’ ”
Pub owner Judy McNamara, 64, was determined not to miss the fun. Instead of commuting from Arlington, she packed an overnight bag and wangled places to stay with friends in exchange for nips from a special bottle of whisky. After a late-night escapade Friday involving lost keys, security alarms and police cars, she was back at the pub first thing Saturday.
“Welcome to all the brave souls that came out,” McNamara called from the kitchen to a swelling brunch crowd that included three snowplow drivers, a family with three bundled-up kids, and a couple who had stayed Friday night until last call.
“You know us,” she reassured everyone. “As long as we have electricity, we’ll still be here.”
The rest of the town — official population less than 300, but bustling with tourists on most weekends and holidays — was dead quiet and thickly blanketed with white. Even the annual Christmas tree bonfire had been canceled. But the pub’s phone kept ringing, and bartender Brigette Keen, 24, kept encouraging people to make the trip.
“If you can get out of your driveway, we’ll see you soon,” she said cheerily to one caller. The bar featured winter drinks including an Irish whisky toddy. On the wall, a giant screen showed monster drifts and driving winds across the D.C. region, and an announcer solemnly warned people to stay home and safe.
Customers shared snow sagas and winter woes. Jeff Van Allen had tested his brand new Toyota 4-Runner and reached the pub without incident. Carlos Palomino, 55, who has been plowing Virginia roads for 30 years, said the trick was to be “patient, precise and stay alert. But the main thing is that you have to love the snow.”
Right behind him came Dawn Van Dyke and Bryan Taylor, pink and perspiring as they peeled off mittens, hats, scarves and layers of wool. They had walked half a mile from home after shoveling out their goat pen. Van Dyke, 33, who works for a health-care nonprofit, was not enthralled with the weather.
“I hate winter. I want to be inside eating chocolate chip cookies,” she said, and then compromised and ordered a beer. She said she and Taylor moved from Arlington in 2012, in part because “it’s also a community where you can walk to a pub Even in a snowstorm.”