The bar originally opened in 1979 on Cooper Street before moving to its current location in a 1920s-era house along Abrams Street in 1995. In 2013 a fire broke out near the attic; no one was there at the time, but the fire caused enough damage that most of the interior had to be completely renovated.
Then, of course, the pandemic hit. One blow after another, and the owner put the pub on the market. It limped out of the pandemic on a small staff and curtailed hours. Despite all that, it's a great space. For the past few years, we'd sit in Bentley's and often wonder why the place wasn't packed. No good answer for that still, but the space has good bones and the kitchen has always been stellar.
Andrew Ireland and a group of investors took over the spot the week before St. Patrick’s Day, which with a laugh he says he doesn’t advise anyone to try to do. They made it through one of the busiest drinking days of the year and are now breathing new life into the space, expanding staff, hours and adding things like karaoke under the stars on the patio (Thursdays), and they’ll continue with trivia nights (Tuesdays). Ireland is also looking for local musicians for live music.
The menu has changed a bit. First, let’s just rip this Band-Aid off: no, the Barron Burger is no longer on the menu. But, the new burgers are solid, like the Californication Burger ($14) with an Angus patty, guacamole, bacon and pepper jack cheese. It hits all the marks for a great pub burger, meaty, with a hint of smoke, thick slices of bacon held together on a substantial bun and cooked to a perfect medium, as requested.
Ireland and his partners have also tweaked the name too. It’s now just JR Bently’s Pub, minus the English before the Pub. Ireland is a soccer fan and hopes the space will eventually become a local spot for the other kind of football fans to enjoy a properly poured pint of Guinness while watching games. In the meantime, they're hosting events out on their large patio and may even expand the space soon.
Not sure about all of these changes? Well, for the entire month of May, which is National Hamburger month, Bentley's will offer a free Royale cheeseburger every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. "No strings attached," Ireland wrote in an email. Not a bad reason to go check them out if you haven't in a decade or two.
JR Bentley's Pub, 406 W. Abram St. (Arlington), 11 a.m. - 12 a.m. Tuesday - Thursday; 11 a.m. - 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday