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Hee Been Asian Bistro Buffet Has Closed

by ARLnow.com — July 13, 2012 at 3:05 pm 4,789 67 Comments

Hee Been Asian Bistro Buffet (3600 S. Glebe Road) has closed after less than 7 months in business.

The family-owned restaurant opened on the ground floor of the Eclipse condominium building, near Potomac Yard, on Christmas Day 2011. No word on why the restaurant closed, but a tipster tells us it didn’t seem to be attracting enough customers. Hee Been was closed yesterday, according to another business owner at the Eclipse, and a property manager was seen changing the locks today.

Hee Been’s original Alexandria location, at 6231 Little River Turnpike, is still open, according to an employee who answered the phone there this afternoon.

When it opened, Hee Been featured an 80-foot-long dinner buffet with some 85 different items representing three different types of cuisine: Korean, Japanese and Thai. The restaurant was an ambitious undertaking for the development, at the far southeast corner of Arlington. Though the Eclipse and the nearby Camden Potomac Yard apartment complex both have residential tenants, the large National Gateway office complex, across the street from the Eclipse, is still awaiting an office tenant.

This is the latest in a string of bad news for the area. In May the Harris Teeter grocery store at the Eclipse closed due to flooding caused by a sewage backup. It has remained closed since. An Irish bar, McGinty’s Public House, closed late in 2010.

McGinty’s was replaced by Melody Tavern last year.

  • Westover

    Has Been

  • CW

    “No word on why the restaurant closed, but a tipster tells us it didn’t seem to be attracting enough customers.”

    Reads like a line from an Onion article.

    • ArlForest

      The tipster reportedly eats only at restaurants that serve food.

  • VaGurl

    yeah – a buffet there wasnt the best of ideas. if they had been a regular asian restaurant where you could do take out or whatnot, or even if it had been more like the one in alexandria, it probably would have done better. :(

  • Aaron

    Might have been nice if their Groupon (or LivingSocial or whatever it was ) had been valid at THAT location.

    Oh well, bye-bye bad business.

    • VaGurl

      it was? i used two of them there….

    • Aaron

      Same. A few friends of mine used one here as well.

  • Jerry Seinfeld

    And if I remember correctly, there was a Jerry’s Subs & Pizza in one of the other buildings that also closed after a year or so.

    • Ali

      Yup but unless you knew it was there, it was pretty much hidden and had no parking.

  • Cletus Van Damme

    This place was over priced and until they get the Melody Tavern tenants out of there, no big name chain or anything of interest is going to move in.

    • VaGurl

      +1 on the melody tavern comment – they just need an affordable neighborhood bar, im sure the tenants in the eclipse and camden can easily keep them in business.

      • Aaron

        Does anyone know how Melody Tavern is doing? Last I read they did not have a lot of business. Anytime I’m over there I witness this, but i’m not over there at night, usually.

        • WeiQiang

          So-so food. Too loud. Bad service. Was nice to hear a couple live jazz acts, but the place just comes across as second-rate.

          • Sake2u

            Horrible service. Food was ok. If you go there to get a drink you are automatically charged $10 for “entertainment” fee. Said fee is not mentioned until you get your bill and inquire about it. When asked, the owner says it’s stated on the menu. Well, i didnt look at the menu when i sat at the bar to get a couple of drinks. I live at the eclipse but will not return to melody tavern. There are lots of places to go that have better service, food and attidue.

        • VaGurl

          the service isnt great, and basically they only do well on days they have promoted parties (which have been several in the past month – frat reunion parties, special guest artist parties, etc) any other time, its kinda dead.

          but then again, check yelp. theres a reason for the emptiness.

  • FedUp

    Not a good location. The commercial area has no visibility from the street.

    • Arlingtonian

      +1

      The development is designed for… well, I’m not sure what they were going for. The restaurants and even the Harris Teeter are somewhat hidden from the street. It’s almost like a walled-off castle.

      Re Hee Been, the prices were way too high. The food seemed good, but not worth $40. (Pretty easy to rack up $40 or more on the buffet if you weren’t careful.)

      • Ali

        That’s why no one went there without a coupon.

    • Tabby_TwoTone

      And why drive there when there’s the threat of being towed from the garage?

  • Mary-Austin

    An 80-foot Asian buffet belongs in Myrtle Beach not Arlington.

    • MeLikeBuffet

      or in Annandale

  • karzai

    A lack of customers is usually the reason that a business closes.

    Let’s us Clarendonians count our blessings. We might not always agree on the quality of the businesses in Clarendon, or what businesses should be in Clarendon. But at least there is a healthy amount of foot traffic that should keep the neighborhood vibrant, unlike this example presented above.

    Yes, Market Tavern and Restaurant 3 have closed, but they have closed after being bought out by new buyers. Hopefully by fall we will have well managed new businesses in those locations.

    • Sam’s Corner

      Or sometimes they close by choice, keeping irregular hours and only opening when they feel like it.

  • Arlingtonian

    The complex is poorly designed. It’s hard for any restaurant or business to succeed in that location because few people, other than the residents of that building, know about those businesses. Why would they want to hide ground-level retail/restaurants from passersby?

    Another problem is the distance from the nearest Metro stations. The Potomac Yard station may or may not be built. But even if it’s approved, it will be years before the station opens. Until then, few people will know about any restaurants at this location. It’s possible that the lack of Metro access is also scaring off tenants from the National Gateway office building. (The view of the bus garage across the Rte. 1 doesn’t help either.)

    Crystal City has used empty office space for successful temporary events like Artomatic, the Wine Walk, Foto DC, etc. National Gateway could try something similar with all that empty space, but again, the lack of Metro access is a problem. Many people went to Artomatic via Metro.

    • Tabby_TwoTone

      I could have spent a week at Artomatic.

      And the fact that it was right by the Metro stop meant that Md and DC people were happy to go there too.

      • WeiQiang

        Wha’ … wait. Isn’t having all those MD & DC people a bad thing?

        • Justin Russo

          MD people are fine as long as they don’t arrive by automobile.

          • WeiQiang

            From what I read here, some Arlingtonians seem to think that some Marylanders depart by automobile, even if they don’t arrive in on.

          • WeiQiang

            … one.

          • Arlingtonian Stuck in an Alexandrian Body

            +1

        • Tabby_TwoTone

          Some of them are my friends.

          As long as they’re not driving.

    • VaGurl

      They try and curb the issue of the walk to the crystal city metro with the metro 9S shuttle bus which works nicely (the walk isnt that bad by the way if you do walk it – its less than a mile, and if you do it underground its half of that underground so seems less too) – if they extended the hours of the shuttle and ran it on weekends, it would help.

      • Crystal Dykey

        It would make more sense to run the 9S all the way to the Target, but then Metro isn’t always known for sensible decisions.

        • VaGurl

          well i think the 9S is partially funded by the DEA and EPA in the area who want to make sure their workers get to work easily from the metro. those are basically the two other stops on the shuttle.

    • G.G.

      It’s not so much relating to the design of the complex. It’s a lot related to the failiure of planning for a downturn in the economy right at the very time when the office bulding was being constructed. According to the commercial literature that was passed out some years ago about what the National Gateway complex would look like, by now the area would practically look like a carnival with festive locales and shops and restaurants. THose earlier businesses like McGinty’s and the smaller shops like Jerry’s and Quiznos…all anticipated a bustling office building environment along with the completed construction (by now) of that last parcel of land to be developed between the office buliding and the hotels. Instead, no one moved into the office building, constructions plans seem undertermined….and yeah, the “crowds” can’t see what’s already there.

      • Faye Jissette

        Hey, at least they finally opened Potomac Ave. through to the theaters.

        • Artie Fufkin

          Be careful. It’s a giant speed trap.

  • Autoexec.bat

    It’s just a Bermuda Triangle of retail. Every city has a few. This is one of them.

    • FrenchyB

      Next tenant – the Dream Cafe.

      • Rick

        I could go for franks and beans. Or afghan food.

    • Rosslyn

      Yeah, but I’M a much bigger one. I’m the Bermuda Triangle King of failed retail in Arlington.

      • Nylssor

        Doesn’t retail have to open before it can be deemed a failure?

  • Ex customre

    Unlike the one in Annandale, this Hee Been SUCKED. The food made me ill after eating there. The buffet wasn’t even kept hot. Nice decor, but the food was very hit or miss.

  • TMP

    We went once on a Groupon and it wasn’t bad. That said, I would have felt ripped off if I had paid full price. The service was attentive and the food better than average for a buffet, but the location was awful. If you didn’t know it was there, you wouldn’t have known about it. It’s also not an area of Arlington I go out of my way to go to.

  • Hello, S. Arlington,

    Meridians POS office buildings there are still empty… 3 years after delivery.

  • T:GEOA

    No Dremos comments? This place sucks now.

    • CW

      I think anybody who cared enough to make a Dremo’s comment wouldn’t want Dremo’s there.

      • John K.

        +1

  • JohnB

    The nearest building to the north is over a 1/4 mile. The nearest building to the south is 1/5 of a mile. If the parcels north and south of 33rd st had dense walkable development then this might not have happened because it would be connected to the rest of Crystal City. As it is now, this development is cut off from the rest of Crystal City. The Eclipse was one of the last gasps of the housing bubble and it shows.

    • VaGurl

      the nearest building south is the Potomac Yards shopping complex, which is .1 miles from the back door of eclipse…? (literally behind the building across the small bridge that goes over the county line) Most people even think its part of potomac yards anyway – so its not like its isolated…. don pablos and hops does plenty of business next door. its advertising and a place people actually want to go to that will thrive there. who doesnt like a good cheap tex-mex place? or a brew house/american food bar? they do well even though they arent “near a metro” or walkable. anything in that building just has to be worth going to – it would do tons of business in pre-movie dinner sales alone. (which is also right behind the building)

      • JohnB

        Well I was measuring from the intersection as there aren’t any pedestrian connections on the south side of the property that I’m aware of or can see via satellite. There also aren’t any vehicle connections to Potomac Yards so it’s not easy to get there from Potomac Yards. Even though it seems like it’s not isolated, these factors significantly limit the traffic available to this development. It’s a great example of how seemingly small design choices can make all the difference in success or failure. Potomac Yards is a destination in and of itself and draws regional traffic due to national anchor stores like Target and the movie theater. Don Pablos and Hops feed off that traffic. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen an add for Hops and only rarely have seen one for Don Pablos. Hee Bean isn’t exactly a regional destination. It (or anything there) either needs to be good enough to become a local destination, or feed off other traffic. The only thing there to generate traffic is the Harris Teeter which is closed right now. There is also little to no foot traffic due to the factors stated above. And from the comments it clearly wasn’t good enough to become a local destination.

        • VaGurl

          there is a very good pedestrian track between them. theres a walking path and sidewalk that goes down potomac ave from eclipse south, and the sidewalks are built up going north as well along crystal drive.
          honestly i think it was the actual restaurants, had it been a sit down place that wasnt overly expensive, or like melody tavern and mcginty’s overly expensive AND niche (not everyone wants to listen to jazz or irish music…) it would do just fine.

          i just dont think that anything that has moved there is worth going to more than a few times, if that. they need something better is all. the traffic is there to feed off of.

          • Whoa

            But no one actually walks in between those places — the bridge and sidewalks are dead. And the reason is that the Potomac Yards complex is auto-oriented, and the Eclipse area hasn’t hit enough density to really do foot-traffic.

            And FWIW, I hardly think an Irish bar is a “niche.” Along with “sports”, it’s pretty much the generic theme for bars these days — the Union Station / Chinatown area in DC alone manages to support 4 different Irish bars.

          • LuvDusty

            the courthouse/clarendon area also has like 10 sports/irish bars within 2 miles, and it’s closer to metro and a nicer ambiance, and hence, that is why it’s thriving.

        • VaGurl

          and potomac ave is open now, has been for months. you can drive from northern crystal city, straight through down to almost braddock rd. near old town.

          • Glen Carlyn NOW

            I use Potomac Ave to bypass Jeff Davis when it’s backed up. Eventually development will begin on Potomac Ave on either side of the movie theater, ultimately connecting up to National Gallery. Then we’ll start seeing viable businesses there.

  • soarlslacker

    The employees of the Harris-Teeter at Glebe and Rt 1 are all working at other local HTs. They say a completely rebulit store is supposed to open sometime between Nov and Jan.

    • Ali

      Seriously? I HATE shopping at Pentagon Row.

    • VaGurl

      say it aint so. :( they told us it was september/october at the latest. the apparently fired the first crew and hired a new crew, stuff is finally happening again down there.

    • Cate

      Nooo, I was hoping it wouldn’t take so long. I know it sounds weird, but I genuinely like that HT – well laid-out and the staff has always been really nice. I don’t even bother with the Pentagon Row one because it is *impossible* to find a parking spot there.

      • Ali

        You have to go at off times (early Sunday morning or 5/6PM during the week have worked for me) or you can park in the garage and get validated in the Teeter by the self checkout registers.

        That being said, again, I really hate Pentagon Row. It’s not just the parking. The staff is surly and the selection is lacking in almost every department compared to the Potomac Yard one.

        • Tabby_TwoTone

          Shirlington.

  • Alex

    I have to say it again but we build “livable villages” here like Papua New Guinean aborigines who build grassy runways in the middle of the rain forest, thinking that planes will magically appear by doing so.

    It’s a fixation on form over function. Do the aborigines ask “Is it built near a city? Are there airlines actually lined up? Just what exactly are airplanes?” No. Do we ever ask, “Is it connected to convenient public transportation? Is it walkable? Just what exactly is a village?” No. Just plop something down that superficially resembles a corner of Ballston, New York, or Paris in the middle of nowhere (or somewhere surrounded by a ring of nowhere) and expect foot traffic, crowds, a vibrant nightlife.

    • ACDC Hack

      It is kind of odd that most “real villages” around the U.S. are dying off.

      I have been kind of sadly watching a number of the small towns around the U.S. that I lived in die off…interesting.

  • Googla

    It’s surprising the Hee Been stayed open this long. I went thre, and had no desire to go back again.

  • Andy

    Looks like Hee Been is a has been.

  • AD

    Not surprised. They charged way too much for their buffet — I think dinner was $30 a person.

    I’ve been there twice, with a ScoutMob coupon and a LivingSocial deal to soften the blow of the unreasonable prices. The food was decent, but the buffet was cold and the selection wasn’t fantastic.

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