John Bayliss, owner of the George and Dragon in Fremont, hopes to christen the taps at his new Ballard bar, the Market Arms, before the end of this weekend. Bayliss said he always loved the space at the corner of Market and 24th—but until January of 2009 it was the home of Mandrakes Antiques. (Ballardites may recall a banner reading “uncle” in the window of Mandrake’s last year. Never a good sign, so to speak.)

Bayliss, who had already asked a few agents to scout spots around town for a new pub, heard the store was going out of business from a friend, and went over immediately to talk to the owner. “I said ‘I don’t want to step in your grave or anything but I love this space,’” recalls Bayliss.

More upscale in decor than his Fremont soccer bar, the Market Arms will nonetheless show all sorts of sports both American and European—if you’re looking for a World Cup-watching venue, it might just be your place. Classic British pub grub—fish and chips, shepherd’s pie—will be served. Bayliss said he based the menu on that at George and Dragon, but added a few new salads and such since, he figures, Ballard is more of a dining-out destination than Fremont. There will be early evening and late night happy hours, including a special food menu.

All in all, Bayliss sounds rather thrilled with the place. “We used brick and oak and brass,” he told me. “It’s a classy pub.” With Hazlewood and Ocho just up the block and La Isla across the street, the Market Arms is certainly in good bar-crawl company.