If you have driven down Arlington’s Division Street at night, one neon sign stands out: Pearl’s Cherokee Inn. Legends abound about this bar Texas Monthly writer John Nova Lomax discovered in late 2016 when he was working on an article about Texas’s dive bars and called it “a haven of good cheer.”
According to manager Lisa Parker, Lomax was on his way to another location for his feature on dive bars but stopped at Marie’s on the way. He spent his morning in Arlington and never made it to his next stop, making this the only North Texas bar in his January 2017 feature.
Pearl’s, which celebrates its 60th Anniversary Bash October 14, is probably much older than that. Arlington Historical Society executive director Geraldine Mills looked into its history, found Pearl’s Cherokee Inn in a 1963 phone book, and the rest, as they say, is history.
As legend has it, a man named Mike lived on the original property, a combination house and bar. Pearl eventually ran the business, and then Marie Williams bought the bar in 1987 from her, running it for 34 years. Today, manager Lisa Parker operates Pearl’s Cherokee, co-owned by veterans and behind-the-scenes partners, one of whom is Marie’s grandson.
Pearl’s answers to many names – Pearl’s Cherokee Inn, Marie’s Pearl’s Cherokee Inn, and these days Pearl’s Cherokee Lounge or The Cherokee. No matter what its moniker, this gathering place, open 365 days a year, is special to many Arlington residents.
“The bar has a strong regular crowd…for most folks, this is a second home to them, and for me that means a lot more than numbers on a piece of paper,” said co-owner David Cowley who first visited the bar in 2012 and became a co-owner in 2018.
“We never close,” said Parker, who credits the atmosphere to the Cherokee’s success. “We’ve always thought of it as a family bar, and we always like to take care of our family.”
Pearl’s hosts the Arlington Dart League and weekly open mic nights. It has hosted a car show and a 9/11 Memorial Ride and Party, among other events and holiday celebrations. They always feature live bands on Friday and Saturday nights. Community outreach is also important to them, and they have supported Meals on Wheels during the holiday season and hosted two recent Arlington Chamber of Commerce events.
“I hope that Marie’s Pearl’s Cherokee stays as a place to have a good time,” said Cowley. “I’ve noticed that no matter who is in there, people feel comfortable to walk up and meet new people or talk about how they feel about current situations. That is what I hope continues for the future, for folks to be friendly and discuss things over cold beer and delicious cocktails.”
“I don’t strive to be the perfect bar,” said Parker. “It’s a dive bar, and we’re very proud of that.”
About the 60th Anniversary Bash:
Saturday, October 14, 5 p.m.
2607 W. Division Street