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by Aaron Kraut — July 31, 2012 at 9:45 am 3,361 28 Comments

(Updated at 10:05 a.m.) The Karamara Ethiopian restaurant (3205 Columbia Pike), set for a late-August grand opening, is about 10 years in the making.

Owner Selamawit Belete emigrated from Ethiopia to the U.S. a decade ago. Establishing a restaurant, such as the one her family owned in Ethiopia, was always in the back of her mind.

She’ll have plenty of competition.

The nearby Dama Cafe has earned praise as one of the Washington area’s best Ethiopian eateries. Then there’s Harar Mesob at 542 S. 23rd Street in Crystal City and Meaza just over the Fairfax County line at 5700 Columbia Pike.

Karamara had a soft-opening last Wednesday and will be open with an abbreviated menu until Belete can get her liquor permit approved. She expects that process to take a few more weeks.

by Aaron Kraut — July 30, 2012 at 11:05 am 2,734 25 Comments

Dog Paws ‘n Cat Claws dog daycare (940 S. George Mason Drive) is moving out of Arlington.

The move, to a bigger space at 5818 Seminary Road in Falls Church, will allow the five-year-old business to serve as a dedicated pet adoption center, says owner Ryan Folcher.

The current space, just off of Columbia Pike, allows only for standalone pet adoption events, said Folcher, who also cited concerns about Arlington County’s move away from the type of light industrial zoning his business uses.

“We want to kind of reconstruct the building. But I don’t have the money or time to do that and risk that Arlington just says, ‘No, we’re not going to approve it,’” Folcher said. “The only thing that is zoned for Arlington is high-rise apartments and condos. I was interested in staying but my business model really can’t adopt. Financially, I just need to let the business evolve and that’s not where it’s going to happen.”

Daycare manager Lisa Niel said the current space holds between 50 and 60 dogs a day. Folcher and another employee showed off the new 7,400-square-foot daycare and retail store to clients in an open house on Sunday.

“We’ve already heard feedback from clients dropping off dogs that they love the new space,” Niel said. “We think it will broaden our client base into Alexandria, Bailey’s Crossroads and Fairfax.”

Folcher also cited Arlington County signage restrictions as an issue. Last year, the county told him he could not post temporary signage advertising holiday sales.

He hopes to have the new location ready to open by late August.

by Aaron Kraut — July 27, 2012 at 3:45 pm 9,383 118 Comments

Seoul Food truck co-owner J.P. Goree got a citation and a court date from Arlington County Police on Wednesday.

His crime: Keeping his Korean cuisine food truck in one Clarendon Courthouse parking spot for longer than the county’s 60-minute limit for mobile food vendors.

“We feel like we’re being treated as a second-class business,” Goree said Friday. “We’re a micro-business, aspiring to be a bigger small business and it seems like that’s something that would be fostered by the community.”

Goree said police told food truck owners a few weeks ago that they would soon start enforcing the regulation. In May, Jill Griffin, a commercial development specialist for Arlington Economic Development, said she had heard enforcing the time limit “has been challenging.”

Griffin also said officials hoped to talk with stakeholders this summer to form recommendations for updating Arlington’s vending ordinance this fall.

“If you open at 11 [a.m.] or 11:30 [a.m.] that hour is only going to get you to when you have the longest line right in the very middle of your lunch rush,” Goree said.

Goree said he thinks ongoing tension between food truck owners and brick-and-mortar restaurant owners is behind Wednesday’s enforcement. Also in May, ARLnow.com obtained an internal document from the Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID) that said “the number, location and type of operation” of food trucks and carts is “inadequately regulated by Arlington County.”

The Rosslyn BID is funded by the property owners who rent space to the neighborhood’s restaurants, delis and cafes.

The Bada Bing truck also reported receiving a ticket Wednesday on its Twitter page. Ice cream food truck Sinplicity tweeted out a similar message. Goree’s court date is Aug. 21. There was no fine listed on the citation.

“If a truck or a car parks at a metered spot, it can stay there for as long as the meter allows,” said Rob Frommer, an attorney with the Institute For Justice, a Ballston-based libertarian public interest law firm. “It doesn’t make any sense to arbitrarily limit how long one particular type of vehicle can remain in one spot.”

Two years ago, the Institute for Justice began a National Street Vending Initiative to help legalize food trucks and vendors. Frommer said Arlington’s own experience with the growing food truck industry helped inform the organization’s goals.

“It seemed like Arlington was doing a good job of embracing the vendors and letting these businesses start up,” Frommer said. “This change in enforcement is an unfortunate and surprising development.”

by Aaron Kraut — July 27, 2012 at 2:30 pm 1,405 4 Comments

Local “contemporary opera” company UrbanArias will put words from Craigslist ads to opera music during a 90-minute program on Aug. 5 at IOTA Club and Cafe in Clarendon (2832 Wilson Blvd).

The performance also includes three “mini-operas” about blind dates and Opera Improv, in which the four UrbanArias singers take audience suggestions to create scenes on the fly.

From the press release:

Craigslistlieder, with music by Gabriel Kahane and text from, well, Craigslist, catapulted the young composer to national prominence several years ago. This is an eight-song set, each of which is an actual, unadulterated ad from Craigslist. Subjects range from the “neurotic and lonely” man looking for a woman who “must have a video game system,” and the crazy woman with an ice cube fetish looking for a roommate, to an advertisement selling “assless chaps.” Kahane’s Mahlerian music is the perfect foil for the hilarious ads.

The show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 and will be sold at the door.

by Aaron Kraut — July 27, 2012 at 10:30 am 4,037 35 Comments

Pupatella Neopolitan Pizzeria (5104 Wilson Boulevard) is expanding its dining area, hours and menu.

Two years after opening the 1,400-square-foot storefront, owner/couple Enzo Algarme and Anastasiya Laufenberg are taking over the next-door space left by Union Halal Butcher & Grocery. The move will almost double the store’s footprint and allow for a total of about 75 seats with a second dining room.

It’s a long way from the made-to-order food cart the two began operating near the Ballston Metro in 2007.

“It’s been really nice to get to know people from the neighborhood and feel their love and their support,” Laufenberg said. “I’m really looking forward to having a more comfortable space for them to come and eat.”

More space will also mean more hours. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the pizzeria is open for dinner only.

Laufenberg said once the couple finishes hiring new staff, they’ll be open for breakfast (coffee, donuts and other Italian morning treats) and lunch (sandwiches and pasta dishes).

“It won’t be as crammed and we’re excited because we think it’ll be more relaxed,” Laufenberg said.

by Aaron Kraut — July 27, 2012 at 9:30 am 1,833 9 Comments

Registration is open for the Arlington Police, Fire & Sheriff 9-11 Memorial 5K, set for Saturday, Sept. 8 in Crystal City.

The event sold out about a week ahead of last year’s race day, said race organizer and retired Arlington County Police Capt. Matt Smith. Registration is capped at 5,000 runners.

The race starts at 6 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel in Crystal City (300 Army Navy Drive). Runners can register online for $25 through Aug. 3, $30 from Aug. 4 to Sept. 7 and $35 on race day. Team registration ends on Sept. 1. Proceeds will be donated to charities including the Wounded Warriors Project and Homes For Our Troops.

by Aaron Kraut — July 26, 2012 at 3:45 pm 1,464 6 Comments

The Lubber Run Amphitheater will host a trio of events this weekend, including a Shakespeare play and a Hawaiian music and hula concert.

Lubber Run’s summer series of free outdoor shows will offer a change of pace with Traveling Players Ensemble’s performance of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 27.

The series, which typically features local music acts, will welcome Baltimore-based band The Project, on Saturday.

From a Lubber Run Amphitheater Foundation press release:

 Selected as a “Summer School in the Arts” by the NEA, Traveling Players Ensemble is a professional theater company dedicated to bringing great theater into the great outdoors through a thriving summer camp and year-round acting classes and workshops

The Project will play at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 28. Also from the release:

Baltimore musicians Bob Goldberg (lead vocals and guitar), Eric McCleaf (guitar), and Jason Wilson (bass guitar and backing vocals) rock the house with everything from classic rock to current pop, with some 80s rock, 90s modern rock, and lots of other stuff in between.

Finally, a group from Arlington-based “native Hawaiian school” Halau O ‘Aulani will take the stage at 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 29:

Native music and dance presented by Halau O ‘Aulani, founded in 1996 for the sole purpose of creating a learning environment for students interested in the preservation of the multi-faceted cultures of Hawai’i with primary emphasis on the Hawaiian culture.

by Aaron Kraut — July 26, 2012 at 2:45 pm 3,159 26 Comments

Is there enough room in Pentagon City for two self-serve frozen yogurt stores?

Tutti Frutti franchise owner Geoff Trout is betting on it. He hopes to open shop on South Fern Street, next to the Post Office in the Millennium at Metropolitan Park apartments, in late August or early September.

The self-serve frozen yogurt trend hit Pentagon Row earlier this year when Yogiberry replaced Maggie Moo’s ice cream. The Tutti Frutti concept is similar — a rotating menu of flavors combined with 35 to 40 fruit and candy toppings.

“I feel very confident in the product,” Trout said. “I don’t think Pentagon Row is close enough. This is a company that has really taken off.”

The Los Angeles-based company claims it’s the largest self-serve frozen yogurt chain in the world, with 584 franchises.

by Aaron Kraut — July 26, 2012 at 1:45 pm 4,530 38 Comments

Crystal City will be hosting an event this fall geared to lovers of both dogs and beer.

The inaugural “Pups and Pilsners” outdoor beer festival will be held on Sept. 23. The Crystal City Business Improvement District and Washington Wine Academy is stocking the event, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 1405 Crystal Drive, with a beer garden of 10 craft brews and food from Crystal City restaurants.

Entry to the “dog-friendly festival” is free — and bringing Fido is optional. The beer garden will cost you, though. Tickets will be available at washingtonwineacademy.org.

Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser

by Aaron Kraut — July 26, 2012 at 12:09 pm 6,043 50 Comments

Police on Thursday identified the man and woman killed in Tuesday’s murder-suicide at the Park Shirlington Apartments on the 4500 block of 31st Street South, near the Fairlington neighborhood.

Xiomara Aracely Benitez, 30, of Arlington was pronounced dead at the scene along with Juan Carlos Mox Mox, 30, of Arlington, according to a press release from the Arlington County Police Department. Police identified Benitez as the victim and Mox Mox as the subject. They were married with two children.

Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said a family member took in the two children after the incident, which police have officially ruled a murder-suicide. The cause of death has not yet been determined, according to police.

A family member discovered the victim and subject in a back bedroom of their apartment and police received a 911 call at 2:43 p.m. on Tuesday.

This last homicide in Arlington County happened on March 14, 2010, when a man was stabbed to death in the Lyon Park neighborhood.

by Aaron Kraut — July 26, 2012 at 10:30 am 2,781 46 Comments

Earlier this month, the 2012 National Conference on Ending Homelessness recognized Arlington County as one of 15 communities nationwide that are “on track” to end homelessness among the medically vulnerable within four years.

The claim is based on a benchmark set by the National Alliance to End Homelessness — cities or counties that moved 2.5 percent of their chronically ill homeless population into permanent housing each month made the list.

Arlington’s “100 Homes” campaign, a partnership with the nonprofit A-SPAN, put about 30 homeless people with life-threatening medical issues into permanent, federally-funded supported housing since starting up last October.

“It does actually cost the community a lot more to leave them homeless,” said A-SPAN Director of Development Jan-Michael Sacharko. “If you can keep people out of the emergency room, out of shelters, out of jails, you save a lot more money.”

The initiative, an outgrowth of the national “100,000 Homes” campaign, was cost-free, Department of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick said.

And it rallied significant volunteer support. About 180 volunteers went out at 4 a.m. for three days last fall to survey the homeless and check for those with hypothermia, chronic kidney disease, AIDS, HIV or other diseases.

“We’ve always had data on people who were homeless in Arlington,” Larrick said. “This was the most specific.”

Larrick said the survey found 113 “extremely vulnerable” homeless people. The 30 who moved into permanent housing did so with existing county and federal housing programs. Many are clients of A-SPAN, which provides individual case managers to track progress.

As of Arlington’s last count, which came in January, there are 451 homeless people on the streets and in homeless shelters, Larrick said.

Flickr pool photo by Chris Rief

by Aaron Kraut — July 24, 2012 at 10:35 am 3,851 338 Comments

Rep. Jim Moran (D) called for the renewal of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban and the closing of the “Gun Show Loophole” in an interview Monday afternoon on MSNBC.

Moran spoke with Martin Bashir guest-host Thomas Roberts about gun control laws in the wake of last week’s movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., in which 12 were killed and dozens were injured.

Moran referred to “more than 60 multiple shootings” nationwide after the Jan. 8, 2011 shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

“We shrug our shoulders and come up with all kinds of pious, remorseful rhetoric. We ought to do something,” Moran said. “And we haven’t done anything about this. To some extent, we are complicit in these crimes if we don’t stand up and speak out.”

Moran also said that lawmakers have been “politically castrated” by the National Rifle Association.

by Aaron Kraut — July 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm 1,537 8 Comments

Updated at 1:55 p.m. The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved $6.5 million in contracts for a new water main project on Williamsburg Boulevard and a sewer pipe upgrade at the intersection of Lee Highway and John Marshall Drive.

The Williamsburg Boulevard Water Supply Main project is the second phase of the county’s effort to connect the Ethan Allen pump station to the Minor Hill Reservoir. Part of the water main, from the pump station to north Glebe Road, was completed in 2003.  The segment from North Glebe Road to 34th Road North is under construction.

The $5.6 million project was awarded to Alexandria-based contractor Martin & Gass Inc., which will lay the 36-inch water main in Williamsburg Boulevard beginning at 35th Street North and ending at the reservoir. The new water main will provide water supply to Minor Hill, which will allow for maintenance on existing water mains without service disruption, according to an Arlington County press release.

The entire water main should be completed by September 2013, according to Shannon Whalen McDaniel, spokeswoman for the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services. The new phase of the project will begin in December.

About $900,000 of the approved funds will go toward sewer improvements at John Marshall Drive and Lee Highway, an area the county deemed as prone to flooding in a 2011 analysis. Flooding during a June 2006 storm damaged area homes, which prompted the stormwater study. The project is scheduled to begin in September, McDaniel said.

“As our County continues to grow and age, it is critical that we make ongoing, prudent investments in our infrastructure,” said County Board Chair Mary Hynes. “The upgrades that the Board approved today will help improve the operations of our essential water and sewage systems, protect against flooding and allow us to continue delivering first-class services to our residents.”

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