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by Ethan Rothstein — August 27, 2014 at 1:00 pm 1,340 0

Tina Leone and Casita owner Christina Campos at the Ballston BID's annual meeting 06/23/14Christiana Campos, the new restaurateur who won the Ballston Business Improvement District’s Restaurant Challenge this year, plans to open her new restaurant this winter.

Originally branded as “Casita,” Campos’ project at 1110 N. Glebe Road, next to The Melting Pot, will now be called “SER,” an acronym for “Simple, Easy, Real,” and a play on words with the Spanish verb “to be.”

As part of the Restaurant Challenge prize package, SER received a year of free rent from the building’s owner, Brookfield Properties, and a $245,000 interest-free loan. Campos told ARLnow.com that the restaurant needs “a bit more,” than the loan, so she has launched a Kickstarter campaign for another $15,000.

“The money we raise here [will] be used for the design and renovation of the place,” the Kickstarter says, “for an open kitchen where you can watch the cooking magic happen before your very own eyes, patio furniture… tables, chairs, lighting, a new dishwasher… an indoor herb garden, frames for our walls (with photos of friends, family and neighbors), linens, plates, glassware.”

As of this morning (Wednesday), SER has raised $2,925 of its goal. The fundraising round will close on Oct. 20. Among the perks that donors can receive:

  • For pledging $2,500, a donor will receive a five-course tasting dinner party for eight people and an invitation to SER’s soft opening.
  • For $800, the donor and a guest will get to shadow SER’s chef for a day, plus a five-course tasting meal for two and an invitation to SER’s soft opening.
  • For $500, the donor and a guest will be given a blind tasting menu; they will be given dishes by SER’s chef while blindfold, and receive an invitation to SER’s soft opening

The restaurant will specialize in “authentic, comfort Spanish food that goes beyond tapas,” Campos said in her email, adding that it is planned to be a casual, neighborhood spot, but the food will be “a gastronomical journey and cultural adventure throughout every region of Spain.”

File photo

by Ethan Rothstein — August 26, 2014 at 3:00 pm 1,784 0

Crockett and Tubbs may be long off the air, but two men are trying to bring the flair of the “Miami Vice” TV show to their new Arlington-based food truck.

Miami Vice Burgers opened its window for the first time last Thursday on N. Stuart Street in Ballston. Owner Santo Mirabile and his partner, Gary Romain, have manned the truck in matching Hawaiian shirts on weekdays since then. Mirabile said he plans to continue to park in Ballston this week before circulating to Courthouse, Rosslyn and Crystal City.

“We have something nobody else has,” Mirabile said about his menu, which includes a Tubbs Burger, Sonny’s Burger and a Don Johnson Special — a 6-inch roll with Italian or Chorizo sausage, Chimichurri sauce and grilled onions and peppers. “We’re trying to bring a South Beach taste to Northern Virginia.”

Mirabile owned the El-Chaparral Meat Market in Clarendon for 27 years before he closed it and moved back to Florida; he grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and he said he’s always been a huge fan of the TV show. He said he couldn’t sit around the house all day, and his children always encouraged him to try to sell his burgers, so he decided to give it a whirl.

“I worked for Marriott for many years and I learned to love the food business there,” he said. “I love working with food and people. The food truck is a fun job.”

The burgers have eclectic toppings and sauces — Sonny’s Burger is a quarter-pound angus beef patty with guacamole, grilled onion, jalapeño relish, cilantro sour cream with a “Sonny” side up egg on a brioche bun. Mirabile could neither confirm nor deny the inclusion of an Edward James Olmos burger in the future.

by Ethan Rothstein — August 25, 2014 at 5:00 pm 2,882 0

Streets Market and Café, a new grocery store in Lyon Park, is now open.

The boutique grocery opened Friday at 2201 N. Pershing Dr. Though the store is small, “this is not a bodega,” said company vice president Campbell Burns.

The store carries beer, wine, toiletries, produce, sandwiches and sushi, which is made fresh every morning at the company’s D.C. outpost on 14th Street NW. (The Pershing Drive location is Streets Market’s second.)

“It’s a full-on Whole Foods in 3,000 square feet, minus the kitchen,” Burns said. “It’s all geared toward the surrounding community. We’re flexible. If consumers prefer a different brand or more variety of a product, we can adjust as needed.”

Burns said the company was thrilled to be in Arlington is already thinking about expanding.

“We’re excited about the market and the neighborhood,” he said. “We think our concept is going to be well-received.”

by Ethan Rothstein — August 25, 2014 at 10:00 am 1,817 0

Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop opens in Rosslyn at 11:00 a.m. today (Monday), and customers are already lining up to get free sandwiches.

The Delaware-founded and Las Vegas-based chain is opening its first location in Virginia, and to celebrate the occasion, it is offering free sandwiches to the first 100 people in line. The first 50 people in line will, according to a press release, receive certificates granting them free “Bobbies” for a year. The Bobbie is the shop’s most popular sandwich, a hoagie with roasted turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and mayonnaise.

The shop, on the ground floor of 1500 Wilson Blvd, is the chain’s second in the D.C. area after opening a storefront at 1800 M Street NW earlier this year. It offers subs of 9, 12 and 20 inches.

The line started to form at 3:30 a.m., when Jackie Miller parked in front of the building and set up a reclining camping chair. She “went to bed really early, got up at 2:30 in the morning and drove here from Alexandria.” She told ARLnow.com she has never had a Capriotti’s sandwich.

“I made subs when I was younger in Buffalo,” she said. “That’s what I always look forward to when I visit my relatives, going to my old sub shop. I’ve been looking for a really good sub since I moved here.”

As of 9:45 a.m., there were enough spots left for people to walk up and earn free sandwiches, twice a month, for the next year. At 10:30 a.m., the Nationals’ president mascots will be there to greet customers. The shop will open at 11:00 a.m.

by ARLnow.com — August 22, 2014 at 3:15 pm 1,614 0

Slice n Dice, a restaurant that served up salads, sandwiches and pizzas in the Crystal City Shops, has closed.

The restaurant appears to have closed earlier this month. Its entrance, inside the shopping center on the 2100 block of Crystal Drive, is now covered in a plastic sheet.

“We appreciate all our loyal and worderful [sic] customers we have met and got to know of the past years,” said a sign posted inside the restaurant, a photo of which was uploaded to the restaurant’s Yelp page on Aug. 13. “We are sorry [about] the closing of our store. We will miss our customers and neighbors.”

by Ethan Rothstein — August 21, 2014 at 5:00 pm 2,995 0

A new restaurant from a new restaurateur is planning to open at 3001 Washington Blvd by the end of the year.

“Bowl’d,” with its storefront at the corner of N. Garfield and 11th Streets, will specialize in affordable, healthy food that’s made-to-order within five minutes. Owner Allen Reed, who is also the president of local executive recruiting firm Reed & Associates, said he had the idea for the concept while on the road and unable to find healthy, fast food options.

“I wanted something that was hot and satisfying with more vegetables and proteins,” Reed said, “so people could feel good about something they’re eating, but also make it delicious and enticing.”

Bowl’d will start with bases like rice, quinoa or lettuce, then layer in marinated proteins like chicken, beef and tofu, with an assortment of vegetables and “sauces and garnishes to give it a bang of flavor,” according to Reed. The dishes will range in cuisine from Mediterranean, Asian and Tex-Mex.

“We’re going to be working across different flavor profiles and inspirations,” Reed said.

The restaurant won’t serve beer and wine — “there are enough neighboring establishments that serve liquor,” Reed said — and will offer vegan and low-gluten options for those interested.

Reed said he hopes to be open before the holidays, but avoided giving a firm opening date because of the inevitable construction delays most new restaurants face.

by Ethan Rothstein — August 21, 2014 at 3:30 pm 2,352 0

Theater critic Iain Armitage has never given a bad review. Even the shows that aren’t his favorites, he says he tries to focus on the “happy things” in the show.

Most would scoff at a critic who has never given a bad review, but Iain has an excuse: he’s only 6 years old, and he’s been taught it’s not nice to say mean things by his parents, Broadway star Euan Morton and theater producer Lee Armitage.

6-year-old theater critic Iain Armitage“I wish more critics were like him and didn’t give bad reviews,” Armitage said with a laugh.

Iain started reviewing shows on Armitage’s YouTube channel five months ago, reviewing 21 different shows include “Phantom of the Opera” and “Pippin” — his two favorites so far — and, most recently, the Signature Theatre production of “Sundays in the Park with George.” That review has more than 16,000 views and got Iain enough attention to be featured on MTV.com.

It all started when Iain saw Hairspray at Signature and started talking about it. Lee filmed him with her smartphone, and the rest is history.

“I really don’t know why it’s gotten so popular,” Armitage said. “With all the videos, we would have friends in the shows and they’d watch them because he said funny things. We also did it to keep up with what shows he’s seen.”

Iain is homeschooled at the family’s home near Virginia Square, and also likes ice skating, dancing (there’s a video of a dance recital on the YouTube channel) and playing piano. Although being an elementary school-aged theater critic is a rarity, he wishes it were more common.

“I wish there were more little critics like me,” he told ARLnow.com in Ballston this morning with his mother. “Then we could be friends and see the same shows and get famous together.”

Iain said some of his favorite shows are the ones he can watch his father — who was nominated for a Tony award in 2004 for his portrayal of Boy George in “Taboo” — because he likes “the feeling when my dad’s on the stage. If I wave to him after the show, he’ll always wave back to me.”

Armitage said the Signature Theater is a big part of why Iain developed a love for musicals — Signature Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer is Iain’s godfather — and Iain said he wished “more kids in Arlington could see shows.” Iain also wishes he could see more shows. He said he “would like to see every show ever made,” and has gotten frustrated when his parents kept him out of productions that are inappropriate for 6 year-olds, like “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” a show about an East German transgender singer.

Iain said he’s “still mad” about not being able to see the show, but is enjoying the spoils of being a viral video star. He smiled and said “I like it” when he was asked about the trappings of fame, but couldn’t confirm he was practicing his autographs for future fans.

by ARLnow.com — August 21, 2014 at 10:05 am 1,714 0

(Updated at 11:40 a.m.) “Highline R&R,” a new bar that bills itself as the future “social anchor” of Crystal City, is coming to the former Bailey’s Pub space at 2010 Crystal Drive.

A permit application reveals that the establishment will have a seating capacity of more than 150. The company behind the application traces back to the offices of Bedrock Management, which operates numerous well-known local bars, like the Continental in Rosslyn; CarPool in Ballston; and Penn Social, Iron Horse Tavern, RocketBar and Buffalo Billiards in D.C.

“Highline will be an industrial themed, craft beer and signature cocktail bar and restaurant that will serve as Crystal City’s social anchor,” according to the bar’s Facebook page, which was created on July 29.

Multiple calls to Bedrock Management have not been returned.

It’s unclear what the “R&R” in the name stands for, but it might stand for “rock and roll.” Located in a large space above McCormick and Schmick’s, Highline is rumored to be a potential live music venue.

No word yet on a potential opening date. An interior demolition permit for the space was approved on Monday.

by Ethan Rothstein — August 20, 2014 at 10:30 am 3,435 0

The Italian Store that is coming to Westover is now under construction, and the owner hopes to be open in time for the holidays, before the end of 2014.

Construction was delayed for several months due to permitting issues, owner Robert Tramonte told ARLnow.com, but has been underway for three weeks. Tramonte announced last December that he was planning on opening a second location of his popular Lyon Village shop in the former 7-Eleven space at 5839 Washington Blvd.

The store will be 6,000 square feet, not including an outdoor café, Tramonte said. As opposed to the current Italian Store, at 3123 Lee Highway, the new location will have an on-site liquor license, so customers can drink the beer and wine sold on the premises.

“There are a lot of breweries coming up in Italy,” Tramonte said. “It will be a very eclectic beer list. Wine is kind of my specialty, and we’re going to have about three times as much space for wine as we do now. It’s the Italian Store on steroids, basically.”

The Westover location will have another feature the original does not: an Illy espresso bar, which will also serve gelato, and fresh-baked Italian pastries like cannoli and cornetti.

“I’ve always felt like even in my own store, if somebody asked me where can I get a good Italian pastry, and there’s no real answer to that in this area,” he said. “We have a lot of good sources right now and some that we cook ourselves, but I’ve never marketed them well in a display case. Over in the other store at Westover, we’re going to have the space to merchandise really well and people would see them fresh out of the oven.”

by ARLnow.com — August 19, 2014 at 2:00 pm 1,614 0

Bonefish Grill (1101 S. Joyce Street) is now open on Pentagon Row.

After a few “soft opening” days, the seafood restaurant opened to the general public Monday night. Today (Tuesday) is its first full day in business, with lunch and dinner service. While there are other Bonefish Grills in Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland, the new Pentagon City location is the only one inside the Beltway.

The restaurant has a total of 216 seats, with 16 on a sidewalk patio and 54 at the bar. In addition to a newly-revamped menu – with wood-grilled fresh fish and steak along with signature dishes like the Bang Bang Shrimp appetizer — Bonefish offers 45 wines, 15 bottled beers and four draft beers.

Founded in Florida in 2001, Bonefish Grill is now owned by Bloomin’ Brands, the owner of Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba’s Italian Grill. Most of its nearly 200 locations are in the south and eastern United States, although it has recently been expanding to the western U.S. as well.

by ARLnow.com — August 19, 2014 at 10:25 am 7,166 0

North Arlington ZIP codesThree Arlington ZIP codes have made a list of the top 50 wealthiest ZIP codes in the Washington area, but none cracked the top 10.

The list, published in the latest print edition of the Washington Business Journal, includes the 22207 ZIP code at No. 14, 22213 at No. 21 and 22205 at No. 31. All three encompass parts of north Arlington.

The average household income for each, respectively, is $193,292, $183,484 and $171,153.

The ZIP codes in the top 10, meanwhile, include parts of Vienna, Cabin John, McLean and Potomac, among others. The No. 1 wealthiest ZIP code, according to the list, was the Great Falls ZIP code of 22066, with an average household income of $225,311.

The “wealthiest ZIP code” rankings are determined by factors like home values, net worth and disposable income.

Last year, Arlington as a whole ranked as the richest county in America by median family income and the seventh richest by median household income.

Map via unitedstateszipcodes.org

by Ethan Rothstein — August 18, 2014 at 1:45 pm 1,544 0

Arlington's "Bikeometer" in RosslynThe bicycle counter on the Custis Trail in Rosslyn passed 200,000 trips earlier this month, a milestone for the first device of its kind on the East Coast.

As of last night, the counter was up to 204,899 trips since it was unveiled on April 1. There were 706 trips recorded today at 12:43 this afternoon, and 24,907 trips this month. The “Bikeometer” has been getting good reviews from the community, according to county Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel.

“Many people have said that previously they had no idea how many other cyclists bike through Rosslyn,” she said. “County staff did not have a precise understanding of how many bicyclists were using the Custis Trail through the Rosslyn Circle area. With the installation of the Bikeometer counter and display we now know a lot more about the number of bicycle travelers on an average day, and how that number changes over the course of the year and by the day of the week. We’re also learning more about how factors such as weather can impact bicycle travel.”

The data should help the county as it designs safety improvements to the “Intersection of Doom” — where the trail, N. Lynn Street and the I-66 offramp combine in one of the most accident-prone intersections in the county, especially for cyclists and pedestrians. The improvements are in the design and engineering phase after being approved by the Arlington County Board in May, and construction is expected to begin next spring.

“Knowing the number of bicyclists and at what times they cross through the intersection is useful information in evaluating traffic signal timing at the nearby Lee Highway intersections,” McDaniel said. “We are currently evaluating if and how signal changes could be made to reduce bicycle and vehicle conflicts that occur at the trail crossing of Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street. Staff will also conduct a study of the feasibility of constructing an underpass or bypass of the Custis Trail at the Rosslyn Circle location.”

by ARLnow.com — August 18, 2014 at 11:55 am 4,212 0

A Jimmy John's delivery vehicle is towed

It took less than a minute, according to the witness who snapped the photo, above, last week.

An SUV with a Jimmy John’s delivery sign on the top pulls into the private parking area of an Arlington office building around noon. The delivery guy quickly makes his way to the lobby, dropping off a sandwich for a hungry cubicle dweller and hoping for a buck or two in return as a tip.

During the brief moments the delivery guy is inside, a tow truck from Ballston-based Advanced Towing swoops in, hooks the rear tires of the SUV and begins to drive off. The delivery guy is able to flag down the tow driver at the last second and pay the $25 “drop fee,” thus avoiding the $135 it would have cost to get his SUV back had it been impounded.

The witness is sympathetic to the delivery driver – “I worked in that industry in college and its already
hard enough to make money off tips” — and seems to think that this is an instance of a private towing company going rogue. It’s not. According to an Advanced employee, it’s legal and actually fairly common.

“In Arlington… we probably tow a delivery vehicle from just about every major food delivery business in the area at some point in time,” Paul Anderson, an administrative employee for Advanced Towing, told ARLnow.com. “There is no exemption for delivery vehicles… unless property owners ask for those to be exempted.”

In other words, if you park without authorization on private property — even if you’re delivering food, you leave your flashers on, go inside for just a few seconds, etc. — you can be towed. That is, unless the building owner specifically asks for an exemption.

Anderson said Advanced only “occasionally” gets complaints about towing delivery drivers. When they do, an employee explains ” that they were parked in an area they were not allowed to [park].”

So why would an office building owner want the poor fellow delivering sandwiches, pizza or Chinese food to one of the building’s occupants to be towed? Sometimes, Anderson said, it comes down to security — it wouldn’t be hard for someone with nefarious intentions to put a fake delivery sign on the roof of their car.

“Especially commercial buildings with government agencies, sometimes it’s a security issue,” he said. Given the number of government buildings in Arlington County, Anderson said Advanced has had meetings with the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security to discuss that very issue.

by Ethan Rothstein — August 14, 2014 at 5:00 pm 1,568 0

The D.C. Department of Transportation has removed the dozens of “love locks” that started popping up on the Key Bridge this year.

“We have [the locks] in our storage facility,” DDOT spokesman Reggie Sanders said in an email. “The locks are in reasonably good condition. At some point [couples] will be able to make arrangements to retrieve them.”

ARLnow.com first reported the plan to remove the locks last week.

The locks — padlocks with the names or initials of couples written on them — are put there to commemorate relationships, and the trend has been popping up on bridges around the world. On Paris’ Pont des Arts bridge, thousands of couples attached locks to the bridge’s fencing, much like more than 50 couples did on the Key Bridge. The fencing collapsed in June under the weight.

Sanders said he’s unsure of how the locks were removed, and was also unable to say if locks have popped up on any other bridge in the city. DDOT officials will inspect other bridges for locks in the coming weeks, Sanders said.

Asked if DDOT will do anything to prevent couples from placing more locks on the Key Bridge in particular, he simply replied: “DDOT will take measures to protect the integrity of the bridge structure.”

by Ethan Rothstein — August 14, 2014 at 3:30 pm 3,608 0

A store selling civilian and military-grade weaponry and tactical gear is planning to move into the ground floor of a condominium building in the Nauck neighborhood.

SpecDive Tactical, which currently operates out of an apartment building on S. Abingdon Street in Fairlington, hopes to move into the ground floor of 2249 S. Shirlington Road, next door to Pizzoli Pizza. When contacted, SpecDive Tactical’s owner Gerald Rapp confirmed an agreement was in place to move into the space, but otherwise declined to comment on the record.

SpecDive’s initial building permit application was rejected, according to Arlington Community Planning, Housing and Development spokeswoman Helen Duong, “because there were no parking spaces available for the new retail.” CPHD has asked for a new plan with parking provided, Duong said.

The shop has been in business since 2012, according to the owner profile section of SpecDive’s Yelp page. It has a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Federal Firearm License, according to ATF records. On the Yelp page, Rapp says he was in the Marine Corps from 1985 to 1994 and a U.S. Navy deep sea diver after that.

“SpecDive, LLC., a veteran owned small business, was created in direct response to the need for the Military and federal law enforcement  to partner effectively with private industries to meet the current and future needs of a citizen-centric government and world leader,” the Yelp page reads.

The shop was the subject of a petition from Nauck residents back in March, who were hoping to prevent it from moving in.

“We, the members of the Nauck Civic Association Executive Committee are very concerned about locating this business in our community,” an email announcing the petition stated. “Although, we are attempting to solicit businesses to locate within our community, we are not convinced that this type of business fits the description of what the residents seek.”

Reached for comment last week, Nauck Civic Association President Alfred Taylor said nothing has changed regarding the NCA’s position on the gun shop. He noted that Rapp is expected to attend the September NCA meeting.

“The position of the Association has not changed in that they would rather not have a facility of that sort at that location,” Taylor wrote in an email, “but realize it is a by-right retail business in accordance with all zoning regulations.”

Rapp has already met with representatives from the county and Arlington Public Schools and members of the community, including Drew Model School Parent Teacher Association President Evan Thomas. Thomas said the PTA has no formal position on SpecDive’s planned move, and may or may not take one when its membership reconvenes after the school year begins.

“The general tone of the meeting was pretty cordial,” Thomas told ARLnow.com today. “What Jerry spent most of his time discussing was their security protocols, what they do, their process for selling firearms, answered questions in regards to how a person could go about obtaining a firearm, what types of firearms they could purchase and the difference between the requirements for a shotgun or rifle or pistol. Those are the items you can buy off the street, assuming you can pass the background check they do.”

Thomas, speaking as a parent and resident of the area, said Rapp assuaged some of his trepidation about a gun dealer moving into the neighborhood.

“I have two kids who attend Drew… so you’re always concerned about the safety of the area where there school is,” Thomas said. “At the end of the meeting I felt as comfortable as you can with a business like that. He’s very cognizant of the perils, the need for security and the implications of what could happen to him in terms of losing his business, losing his license, facing potential jail time if he slips up. I felt comfortable with him as a business owner.”

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