Washington restaurant maven Don Rockwell is reporting via Twitter that American Flatbread in Clarendon will be closing for good on Christmas Eve.
In an article about the pizza restaurant published earlier today, Rockwell discussed the lack of customers at Flatbread, which sits two blocks away from Clarendon’s main Wilson Boulevard drag.
American Flatbread is too honorable for the Clarendon neighborhood, quite frankly. They walk the walk when it comes to honoring sustainable agriculture, local farming, and quality ingredients. Unfortunately, without a critical mass of customers, American Flatbread itself may not be sustainable.
Flatbread suffered a major setback this summer when the county board denied its request to open an outdoor dining patio (limited sidewalk seating was approved instead).
Reached by phone this evening, owner Scott Vasko refused to confirm or deny Rockwell’s reporting.
Update at 5:30 p.m. — Vasko sent the following email to customers tonight:
Dear Friends & Loyal Guests,
It is with a heavy, heavy heart that I need to let you know that we will be ceasing operations at American Flatbread Clarendon Hearth as of Christmas Eve. The forced closing is the result of a number of factors including, but not limited to: severe issues with the environmental system, the dramatic loss of business from the outdoor seating debacle, and; a poor relationship with a very adversarial landlord.
Unfortunately, we do not have any options. The landlord has forced us out. The fact that they are doing it before Christmas – gives you an idea of what it’s been like to deal with them. We are hoping to get the word out quickly so we can go out with a bang. We are hoping to generate as much revenue for the staff as possible before we close – starting tonight! So please come out and send us out BIG! We plan on maintaining regular hours until we close next Friday. So, please come out to say good-bye, share some stories, share a laugh and share a tear, and a drink or…
Thank you for loyal support.
Janice, Evan, and I are deeply appreciative.
Hat tip to EatMore DrinkMore
It will now be a lot harder to hear “Reveille” and “Tattoo” being played outside of Ft. Myer.
For the past two or three weeks, bugle music from the base could be heard clearly from more than a mile away, thanks to a new public address system. According to the following press release from the base’s public affairs office, the PA system has been fixed.
Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall recently upgraded its early warning and emergency mass notification sound system to a new “giant voice” sound system. The same sound system is also used to sound the military tradition of daily bugle calls, which include Reveille at 6:30 a.m., Retreat at 5:00 p.m., Tattoo at 10:00 p.m., and Taps at 11:00 p.m. While working to adjust the sound levels, it was discovered that the volume had inadvertently been left on the highest level, which had prompted many complaints from neighboring communities primarily to the north of the installation.
The volume has now been lowered to a more acceptable level and will only be raised in emergency situations. Continued adjustments to the sound system will be made to ensure the installation’s emergency notification requirements are met without disrupting neighbors.
The installation’s Command has expressed its appreciation to all neighbors for their patience as the installation worked through the adjustments of the new system and respectfully regrets any inconvenience.
Out of the more than 15 accidents that have been reported in Arlington since the snow started falling, we haven’t heard of one on any of the major highways that criss-cross the county. Instead, it’s hilly side streets that are proving the biggest challenge so far today
Earlier we reported that North Veitch Street had been shut down near Lee Highway due to slippery conditions on a hill that led to a minor accident.
Now we’re hearing of big problems on at least three other hilly roads.
Five cars are stuck on Army Navy Drive just before South Joyce Street. Police are on the scene awaiting a salt truck.
Washington Boulevard is blocked at Kirkwood Road, according to a tipster, due to a car that can’t get up the hill. (Update at 2:15 p.m. — It’s back open “but still unplowed and slippery,” our tipster says.)
And at North Pollard Street and 30th Street North, near Military Road in the Bellvue Forest neighborhood, police have blocked off a couple of ice-covered roads. The ice reportedly caused a FedEx truck and a Arlington County school bus to slide down a hill. The FedEx truck struck and seriously damaged a car, we hear. No word on damage to the school bus, but crews have been spreading sand in an effort to allow the bus to get back up the hill.
Update at 3:55 p.m. — One or two school buses have been involved in a collision at Kirkwood Road and 14th Street North, according to police radio traffic. No injuries have been reported.
Arlington County Board Vice Chairman Chris Zimmerman, who will soon take over as chairman of the county board, has resigned his position as a board member of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, according to WTOP’s Adam Tuss.
Zimmerman has represented Arlington on the Metro board since January 1998. He also serves on several other regional transportation boards.
Gordon Linton, a Metro board member representing Montgomery County, also resigned at a board meeting today.
Update at 2:35 p.m. — We have been sent a copy of a letter Zimmerman sent to supporters explaining his surprising and unexpected resignation.
County board member Mary Hynes will be replacing Zimmerman on the Metro board, according to the letter.
Today I announced that I will be stepping down from my role as Arlington’s representative on the WMATA Board of Directors. On January 1st I will assume the Chairmanship of the Arlington County Board. In view of those responsibilities, and my desire to give greater focus to some of the needs within my county, I have decided that this is a good time for me to pass on the day-to-day duties of Metro representation.
I want to assure you that my commitment to transit and to Metro is as strong as ever, and I will continue to work for improvements to rail, bus, and paratransit services in our region. I will continue to serve on the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (which is the governing body for WMATA in Virginia), as well as on the Transportation Planning Board for the National Capital Region, and the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.
One benefit of this move is that another member will have the opportunity to become immersed in the daily issues involved in the system, increasing the level of direct knowledge about Metro significantly on the Arlington Board. And I am confident that my County will be well-represented, and the region well-served, by the member who will succeed me on the WMATA Board.
My colleague Mary Hynes will take over in January. Mary is an exceptional public official, and she is well-prepared for this role. For the last three years she has served on the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, for which she is currently Secretary-Treasurer. Mary has a very personal connection to Metro. For many years, she and her family have lived about a block-and-a-half from the Clarendon Metro station. They have relied upon the system, and seen the changes Metro has brought to the community over the years. Mary is also a very experienced local elected official, having served Arlington since 1995 as a School Board and now a County Board Member. She is known for her responsiveness to constituent’s concerns, and for paying close attention to details. Mary is also highly respected for her command of capital budgeting issues. She will be a strong advocate for riders, and a conscientious steward of the agency.
It has been a great privilege serving on the WMATA Board, and I appreciate all the help and support you have given me over the years in this role. I will be, as I have been, an ardent advocate for Metro, its riders, and the jurisdictions it serves. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you. There is much we need to do for the betterment of public transportation in our region, and for a bright future for Metro.
– Chris Zimmerman
Arlington Public Schools will not be granting an early release to students today. However, the school system is canceling all after-school and evening activities due to the snow.
If students are disappointed about not going home early, they can take solace in the fact that the school board is in the same boat. Tonight’s school board meeting will be held as scheduled.
Unlike Arlington, a number of local school systems including Fairfax and Loudoun Counties are closing two hours early today.
It was just a few short years ago that Arlingtonians had to make lame excuses for why their D.C. friends should trek into the county. In 2006, one DCist writer (and Arlington resident) bemoaned “Arlington’s low bar diversity and mediocre dining choices” while trying to make the case that the Wilson Boulevard Taco Bell was a potential selling point.
“We’ve created a critical mass… we’ve passed some kind of tipping point, where Arlington is kind of a cool place to go,” said Terry Holzheimer, Director of Arlington Economic Development. He said that thanks to new dining and drinking options, Clarendon, Courthouse, Ballston Crystal City and Shirlington have all become destinations that can compete with District.
“If you look back a few years, there wasn’t much happening in Arlington,” Holzheimer said. “People have options now, they don’t have to get on the Metro, they don’t have to try to get downtown and not be able to find a parking spot in Penn Quarter or Adams Morgan.”
Indeed, anecdotal evidence of crowded bars and a long streak of new restaurant openings would seem to suggest that the dining and entertainment industry is doing quite well in Arlington, especially in Clarendon. And a poll we conducted earlier this month backs up the notion that residents are staying here rather than heading into D.C.
More than 75 percent of the 665 people who responded to the poll said “I don’t go out in the District as much as I used to.” Some cited steep parking rates in D.C. and the difficulty of taking Metro at night, but others said that new options in Arlington mean they don’t have to go to the District to have a good time.
Holzheimer says locals aren’t the only ones taking advantage of Arlington’s restaurants and nightlife.
“The demand is coming from throughout Northern Virginia, not just Arlington,” he said. “I think it draws from as far away as Reston and Herndon.”
Enjoy it while it lasts. The snow is expected to end around 7:00 tonight.
Two inches of accumulation is expected.
Update at 11:45 a.m. — Be careful out there. We’ve counted at least 10 accidents on Arlington roads and highways since the snow started falling, including one involving a Metrobus (no injuries reported).
Update at 11:50 a.m. — North Veitch Street has been shut down at Lee Highway due to slippery conditions on the hill, which led to a minor accident.
Update at 12:15 p.m. — Seventh Road South has been shut down at South Dinwiddie Street.
The beer-wings-and-sports joint, with its large expanse of flat screen TVs, is sure to attract a nights and weekends crowd. Today we’ll get our first taste of what the buttoned-up Crystal City workday set thinks of it as a lunch destination. The restaurant will open at 10:00 a.m.
While today is the official opening, some lucky customers were able to sneak in for a free meal this week. The restaurant quietly opened its doors for two hours at a time for employee training. Anyone who happened to wander by got their food for free.
The county’s meals tax delinquency list is sort of like a health meter for local restaurants. If the amount owed to the county keeps going up, bad things may be happening for the restaurant financially — or at least managerially.
(The county collects a 4 percent “meals” tax on all prepared foods and beverages sold in Arlington. Often, this tax is passed directly on to the consumer.)
A new meals tax delinquency list dated Dec. 14 shows mostly stagnation when compared to the list released on Aug. 31. The amount owed by the three biggest debtors has increased slightly in the past three and a half months, likely the result of the 10 percent interest the county charges on such debts.
- Arlington Catering Company owes $75,556.76, compared to $74,304.59 in August
- Extra Virgin of Shirlington owes $72,352.56, compared to $71,435.96 in August
- Wall Street Deli, located in National Airport, owes $60,338.49, compared to $58,988.14 in August
The above list excludes chef Roberto Donna, who has so far been faithfully making court-mandated $500 monthly repayments to the county, according to officials.
Three restaurants near the top of the delinquency list have seen significant increases in their debts.
- Front Page of Ballston owes $23,037.00, compared to $17,113.52 in August
- Kora Restaurant in Crystal City owes $10,624.41, compared to $5,517.03 in August
- Market Basket, a store in the Pentagon complex, owes $16,564.89 compared to no debt in August
In some good news, three local favorites have been paying off their debts.
- Tortoise and Hare in Crystal City has no debt, compared to $19,508.46 in August
- McGinty’s Public House, in the Market Square at Potomac Yard development, owes $19,751.18, compared to $25,226.64 in August
- Bob and Edith’s Diner owes $5,468.95, compared to $12,841.15 in August
Santa Claus is coming to Arlington County’s historic Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Station on Sunday, Dec. 19, bringing with him gift bags for children and good cheer for all. Santa’s appearance between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. marks the 80th time he has arrived courtesy of the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department, the oldest organization of its kind in Arlington County.
Santa’s appearance will be particularly meaningful this year, as the Arlington County Fire Department’s Engine Co. 3 is preparing to depart for new Lee Highway quarters in 2011. The Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Station at 3900 Lee Highway will remain as a community resource; it is listed on both the state and national historic landmark registries.
The Cherrydale station’s holiday celebration has changed over the years, even as it has grown in popularity. Up until 1960, Santa brought refurbished toys to give away. Following several years of a gift exchange, the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department in 1964began buying gifts for distribution. Typically, several hundred children show up for the afternoon festivities.
Organized in 1898, the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department includes members who are cross-trained as both firefighters and emergency medical technicians. The volunteer department owns and operates Light and Air 103, which provides emergency lighting, salvage and other services. The volunteers also own a general services vehicle called Utility 103.
Winter Weather Advisory in Effect — Expect 1-2 inches of snow today, says the National Weather Service. The flakes should start falling between 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. The advisory is in effect until 9:00 p.m. More from Weather.com.
John Boehner Likes Guapo’s — House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) apparently enjoys drowning his sorrows at the Guapo’s in Shirlington. Boehner, who famously called the Bush administration’s immigration reform bill a “piece of s—,” reportedly dined at the Mexican restaurant on Tuesday. It was his second visit in a month, according to Shirlington Village Blogspot,
Arlington Sign Ordinance Update to Start in January — County officials will begin the process of updating the county’s 60-year-old sign ordinance in January. The ordinance has attracted considerable controversy this year, including a high-profile lawsuit from one business owner. More from TBD and the Sun Gazette.
Free WiFi coming to DCA, IAD — Reagan National and Dulles airports will both be offering free wireless internet service as soon as this spring. More from the Washington Examiner.
Flickr pool photo by Chris Rief