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Businesses Coming and Going in Arlington’s SE Corner

by ARLnow.com — October 18, 2011 at 1:44 pm 3,608 37 Comments

It’s the far southeast corner of Arlington County — bordered by Crystal City to the north, Four Mile Run and Alexandria’s Potomac Yard to the south, railroad tracks and Reagan National Airport to the east and Jefferson Davis Highway to the west.

On the ground floor of two residential developments, at the intersection of so much transportation, a collection of shops and restaurants have been struggling to gain traction. But several new arrivals at the Market Square shopping center hold the promise of reinvigorating the area, bringing in new diners to Arlington’s last (for now) retail frontier.

Paisano’s Pizza, which serves pizza, pasta, salads and sandwiches, opened over the summer. Boasting a large kitchen but very little seating, the restaurant is hoping to capture take-out customers in an area where there’s only metered street parking and garage parking, and where most of the foot traffic comes from residents of the 465-unit condo building above.

Melody Tavern, located next to Paisano’s, has been courting local residents with “soft opening” events featuring free hors d’oeuvres and drinks. A grand opening is imminent for the “full-service, music themed restaurant,” which is owned by Michel Daley, former owner of southwest D.C. nightclub Zanzibar. Boasting a large, sunny main dining area and bar, as well as a large patio space, Melody is hoping to be a destination in its own right.

In June, Daley said Melody would host live music and comedy acts, and target the more mature “professional set.” A sign in the window warns that t-shirts, shorts and sneakers are not welcome at the restaurant.

Melody will be hosting an open house event from 7:00 p.m. to midnight on Friday, according to the sign.

Another new restaurant, meanwhile, is billed as “coming soon.” Building permits are up at the future HeeBeen Asian Bistro, across from Melody Tavern. The restaurant, which specializes in Korean BBQ and which has an existing location in Alexandria, has been in the works since this time last year. We’re still awaiting word from owner Mike Kim regarding when HeeBeen might open.

While Paisano’s, Melody and HeeBeen hope to attract more diners, at least one restaurant closed recently. A Jerry’s Subs and Pizza, across the street, now has “for lease” signs posted in the windows. That follows the closing of McGinty’s Pub, in the space now occupied by Melody Tavern.

That’s not the only dubious omen. The entire Market Square retail center, of which Paisano’s, Melody and HeeBeen are a part, is for sale. It’s unclear, however, why the owner has decided to sell.

Still, the long-term future for the businesses able to stick around looks bright. The National Gateway development between Crystal City and Potomac Yard promises to eventually attract a number of office tenants — up to 2.5 million square feet worth — and a corresponding number of office workers. And to the south, the redevelopment of Potomac Yard in Alexandria promises to bring a Metro station and even more residents to the area.

  • Lou

    Businesses, aka restaurants.

    This article could just have easily been about the stretch of N Glebe a block or so either side of Fairfax Drive. Lots of long term vacancies in the ground floors of those buildings.

    • Ballstonian

      There’s a Greene Turtle moving into one of those buildings, but im not sure what else (ground floor or in the towers) is going in.

    • Rick

      A lot of that hasn’t had the chance to turn over yet. Like Lou said, there is a Greene Turtle moving in to the VT building (why they didn’t take the metro center space is beyond me… even the tables are set in there!)

      • metro

        Just a thought, but there is already a Green Turtle in Chinatown, maybe a Metro Center location was too close for them?

        • Rick

          Should have specified – Ballston Metro Center.

        • 1234

          There’s one on 23rd street.

          • Rick

            Are you thinking of tortoise and hare or buffalo wild wings? The ballston turtle will be the first in arlington, they’ve been conquering loudoun county lately

  • rick

    T
    he owners of the ellipse (comstock homes) has almost no capital. They areselling retail rights to stay alive

    • Rick

      My mobile typing needs some work it looks like. Either way, doesn’t bode well for comstock if their retail management company wants out too. Paisano’s is good but when people refer to that area as the building “that smells like sewer water” its a tough obstacle to overcome

      • Blech

        Why does it smell like a sewer there? The water-treatment plant across 110?

        • Rick

          It’s downwind from the water treatment plant. Anytime there’s a lot of rain, a breeze, the sun sets in the west etc… everything within nose-shot reeks

          • soarlslacker

            Sometimes the smell is not the Waste Water Treatment Plant, but the Potomac River.

  • info81

    The Harris-Teeter there has always done well as it is the only grocery store for Crystal City. However the smell is bad.

    • Rick

      used to love the safeway on crystal place

  • Logical

    If you’re opening a restaurant in a space with little traffic that just recently was home to another failed restaurant, I don’t think the logical first step is prohibiting anyone from wearing casual attire. Unless the entertainment or food is spectacular and unique, it already faces an uphill battle before deciding to exclude neighborhood residents who just want to partake in a comfortable neighborhood tavern.

    • Ballstonian

      I was thinking the same thing

    • Michael H.

      I agree.

  • novasteve

    No tshirts, shorts and sneakers? Damn, arlington is getting snobbier and snobbier… I bet talking about sports in this place is probably verboten too…

    • JamesE

      No restaurant will stop me from brandishing my bear legs.

      • Rick

        +1. Fight the machine

      • Blech

        Wow–bear legs? You must be one hairy, heavy dude.

        • JamesE

          I don’t shave my legs like other men in Arlington.

          • Bluemontsince1961

            LOL! Good one, JamesE!

      • Johnny Utah

        Chewbacca!

    • novasteve

      I take it there won’t be too many car free diet people going to melody tavern given it’s a bit hard to ride a bike in non casual clothing..

      Will this place even be open on weekends before 8PM or something? I can see people going dressed like that after work, but say if you wanted to see a football game on sunday or saturday? And you’d have to dress up?

      Screw that. Put this on my list of many arlington place I will never set foot in.

      • drax

        It’s not that hard to ride a bike in nice clothes. You should try it some time.

        • Mormon Missionary

          Very true.

      • car free

        I can take a bike or Zipcar or bus or taxi or ride with a friend (designated driver!) or…

  • UnlimitedCustoms

    Is Potomac Ave open across 4 Mile Run? Can one drive from CC to Potomac Yards now without using Jefferson Davis Highway?

    • Josh

      Not yet, but it does look like there is that intention. Over the last year they have been building roads behind the Potomac Yard complex in front of the movie theatre

    • drax

      No but it will connect as soon as they open that road.

      (You can bike it now though).

    • Matt

      The rumor is that as soon as the new townhomes/condos being built on the south side of the Potomac Yard shopping center get issued their Cert. of Occupancy, the barriers will be removed from Potomac Ave and you should be able to drive a non-bike through. Again, “rumor” is the key word.

  • charlie

    Retail: build it and they will come. HAHA

  • TMP

    The businesses that have been closing here are a perfect example of the folly of the Arlington Board pushing development dependent on foot traffic and public transportation. I’ve never gone to this development because I’m not going to deal with meters and paid parking when I can go to Shirlington or Potomac Yards and park for free.

    • drax

      You’re not everyone though. People gladly pay for parking in other parts of Arlington.

  • CCite

    Bikes have been able to get across the bridge for a while now, but not open to cars as of two weeks ago.

  • Doug

    I was there today, and all the signs on Melody Tavern have been taken down. It’s strange that the signs advertising the “open house” this Friday are gone. I can’t tell if they’re just getting the windows cleaned up and ready to open, or if Melody’s launch is cancelled…

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