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Arlington Runners Compete in Boston Marathon

by Ethan Rothstein | April 22, 2014 at 4:05 pm | 1,895 views | No Comments

Boston Marathon logoOn Monday, 102 runners from Arlington crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon.

It was the first running of what many view as the world’s premier distance race since last year’s race was marred by the bombings that killed three and left hundreds injured.

Michael Wardian was the top finisher from Arlington, finishing in 2:23:32, good for third in the 40-44-year-old men’s division and 44th overall. Wardian, who turned 40 on April 12, won the North Pole marathon by nearly an hour less than two weeks ago and completed two other races — the GW Parkway 10 Miler and a 5K — between then and Monday.

Michael Wardian in the 2014 Boston Marathon (photo courtesy Jenna Downey)Wardian is an elite runner who runs dozens of races each year, but he said this year’s Boston Marathon was unique – the excitement level among the spectators was off the charts.

People are screaming and the energy is so amazing,” he said. “For me it was super emotional coming down the final stretch and crossing the finish line. I couldn’t ask for anything more. It was such a special day and a great day to be a runner.”

“The whole reason I got into running 20 years ago was to get into the Boston Marathon,” he said. “It’s an honor to just be a part of it.”

Arlington’s top female finisher was Clarendon resident Kayley Byrne, 26, who finished in 3:09:05, putting her in 322nd among all women and 267th in her division.

Kayley Byrne and her fiancee at the 2014 Boston Marathon (photo courtesy Kayley Byrne)Byrne, a William and Mary alum who’s getting married in August, ran the marathon for the third time in a row — and for the second time with her mother, Carol. The two ran the Boston Marathon last year and Carol finished just 7 minutes before the bombs went off. Carol was uninjured, but shaken up.

Afterward, Byrne recalls watching the news coverage in their hotel room, stunned at how such a joyous event had turned so tragic so quickly. Then they made a pledge.

“We were like — we have to go back,” she said.

Byrne said running the 26.2 mile course this year “was completely inspirational.”

“There were people lining the course the entire way,” she told ARLnow.com. “Everyone was wearing Boston Strong shirts. It wasn’t so much about the race but a celebration of Boston and of running. There was a huge sense of community throughout the entire race and the entire weekend.”

Wardian’s next race will be the picturesque Big Sur marathon in California on Sunday. Byrne said she’s “feeling pretty beat up today,” but is looking forward to some day competing in the two World Marathon Majors she has yet to run, London and Berlin.

After the jump, in order of finish, are Arlington’s top 20 finishers in Boston from Monday.

(more…)

Photos: Tulips in Bloom at the Netherlands Carillon

by ARLnow.com | April 22, 2014 at 10:45 am | 1,233 views | No Comments

Springtime is here and the tulips are in bloom at the Netherlands Carillon near Rosslyn.

Thousands of colorful tulips bloom every year in front of the carillon, which was a gift from the Dutch in appreciation for the sacrifices the United States made during World War II. 

Dedicated on May 5, 1960, the carillon consists of fifty bells, which play various military hymns and anthems at noon and 6:00 p.m. daily. The bells occasionally play other songs for special occasions, like Auld Lang Syne on New Years Eve.

Photos by ARLnow.com and Flickr pool contributors Nathan Jones, Starbuck77 and BrianMKA as noted

TechShop Opens in Crystal City

by Ethan Rothstein | April 22, 2014 at 9:50 am | 1,360 views | No Comments

TechShop, a subscription-based, high-tech workshop, has opened its 20,000-square-foot space at 2110-B Crystal Drive, in the Crystal City Shops.

The shop opened last Wednesday after eight weeks of construction. It offers its members access to millions of dollars worth of equipment to use to build prototypes, new inventions or anything else they can dream up.

“There’s a deficit in people knowing how to make things with their hands,” TechShop’s interim general manager Isabella Iglesias Musachio said. “We’re giving people access to the tools to build their dreams.”

TechShop has computers uploaded with $20,000 of software, a high-powered water jet that can cut through several inches of steel, a fully-equipped wood shop, 3D printers and its most popular item, a laser cutter and etcher.

Memberships cost $349 for three months, $1,095 for a year and $7,500 for a lifetime. TechShop offers corporate memberships for companies, either startups or larger firms, that need to use the equipment to develop new products. TechShop also offers classes to teach how to operate each of the machines, but the classes are sold out until May, according to Iglesias-Musachio.

More than 250 people have purchased memberships so far, Iglesias-Musachio said, and more than 100 military veterans have gotten free memberships through TechShop’s partnership with DARPA.

“Our typical member is anyone,” Iglesias-Musachio said. “You could be sitting next to an engineer, an art teacher or a 12-year-old kid. For a few dollars a day, really, you can have access to more than $1 million worth of equipment. That sort of thing appeals to everyone.”

Crystal City is TechShop’s eighth location nationwide and its second on the East Coast, after its Pittsburgh location, which opened in 2013. Several technology and equipment companies, like the mobile transaction company Square, have been helped along by TechShop’s equipment, Iglesias-Musachio said.

“Crystal City was perfect for our next location because it’s extremely innovative and creative,” she said, noting how many people have peered into the window during buildout. “We were looking for a creative and educated community, and one that is accessible by transit.”

Made-to-Order Ice Cream Shop Coming to Clarendon

by Ethan Rothstein | April 17, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 2,702 views | No Comments

An ice cream shop that takes customers orders, then literally makes the ice cream as the customer watches, is preparing to open in Market Common Clarendon next month.

Nicecream Factory was founded last year by Sandra Tran and her boyfriend, Gil Welsford, as a Kickstarter-funded pop-up shop. The 24-year-old Tran, a JMU grad, makes the ice cream using liquid nitrogren and fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. They’ve operated so far as a pop-up shop in farmers markets and restaurants around the D.C. area, including at the Diner in Adams Morgan.

Last week, Nicecream Factory signed the lease to take over the former Red Mango space at 2831 Clarendon Blvd and Tran, who worked at Living Social in the District for a year before starting her own business, told ARLnow.com she hopes to open the store in the second week of May. In addition to the ice cream, which she takes about as long to prepare “as a Starbucks drink does.”

“When you think of an ice cream, you think mom and pop shop,” Tran said. “We value a lot of the pieces of that, being a small business and entrepreneurs and working with our community. We want to modernize those ideas, spice up the ice cream factor. When you’re paying to get desserts, you want the experience. Scooping out of an ice cream cabinet isn’t so much of an experience.”

The shop will also offer coffee, locally sourced pastries and, Tran said, will be designed to accommodate business meetings much like a coffee shop; she said they’ll even wheel a chalkboard to a table if need be. Tran said she also plans on inviting local artists to use the space to display their work.

“That’s something I think Clarendon can use a little more of,” said Tran, a Falls Church resident. “It’s a huge bar scene, but it needs a place to take a date.”

Tran sources many of her ingredients, like apples for one of her favorite recipes, apple pie, from local farmers she’s met working her pop-up shop at farmers markets. She said because of the fresh ingredients and the fact that the ice cream isn’t sitting in the freezer, she can make a thick, smooth treat without the high-fat creams most premium ice cream has.

“You don’t have to use coloring, preservatives or chemicals to make your ice cream delicious and beautiful,” she said. “A lot of people like the concept, but it’s not until they eat it when they realize it tastes more delicious than any ice cream they’ve had before.”

Video via Washingtonian

RedRocks ‘Relaunches’ On Columbia Pike

by ARLnow.com | April 16, 2014 at 4:45 pm | 2,586 views | No Comments

RedRocks Neapolitan Pizza on Columbia PikeLower prices, more burgers, a new delivery service and parking validation. Those are among a series of recent changes made by RedRocks, the pizza-centric restaurant on Columbia Pike, to help boost business.

The restaurant, located in the Penrose Square shopping center at 2501 Columbia Pike, is “relaunching” after a year in business due to lower-than-expected sales, according to co-owner Doug Baj.

“It’s been a little bit challenging, the whole Columbia Pike corridor,” Baj said. “I’m probably not the only business owner to voice that.”

Before its February 2013 opening, RedRocks’ owners thought the Pike would be similar to Columbia Heights in D.C., their first location, which had been a smash hit thanks to strong neighborhood support. They have since come to a realization that the Pike is a significantly different market.

“We saw a lot of similarities,” Baj said, citing young families he’s talked to who have moved from Columbia Heights to the Pike. “What’s lagging a bit is a bit of the sense of community in the Penrose neighborhood so far. It’s getting there, but you still see a lot of people on weekends going up to Clarendon, going in to the city, instead of staying here. We’re trying to make it more enticing for people to stay home and not go to the District” or the R-B corridor.

RedRocks delivery flyerAmong the enticements being rolled out are a revamped menu, which subtracted small plates and added burgers and other pub fare “that we wouldn’t [serve] at our other location.” Two weeks ago RedRocks added a delivery service that serves a two-mile radius around the restaurant. And RedRocks will have an expanded outdoor seating area when the weather finally warms up.

Many of the changes, however, are value-oriented. There are nightly food specials; a happy hour with $3 beers and half-priced appetizers; a $13.99 all-you-can-eat weekend brunch with 99-cent mimosa and bloody mary refills; a kids-eat-free deal on Sundays; and, starting next week, a pizza, pasta and salad lunch buffet that will run Tuesday through Friday.

“People tend to like value on the Pike, that’s what we’re finding overall,” Baj said.

RedRocks has given up on trying to convince Arlington County to offer free parking after 6:00 p.m. in the Penrose Square garage — instead it is now offering free parking validation.

The relaunch started rolling out in February, and Baj said the results so far are promising. ”It’s good, very good, the neighborhood is responding,” he said.

In a phone interview with ARLnow.com, Baj was reluctant to wade into the “hot-button” issue of the planned Columbia Pike streetcar, but he did point out that his fourth RedRocks location, along D.C.’s soon-to-open streetcar line on H Street NE, is doing well. The area is getting a new Whole Foods – the streetcar helped to bring that and other “positive development” to the corridor, he said.

“I’d love to see that kind of excitement on Columbia Pike,” said Baj. It could potentially help other restaurant owners on the Pike, who are also dealing with lackluster sales.

“It’s been a struggle for many of them,” he said. “There are definitely some growing pains with the neighborhood, but I don’t think anybody’s going to bail on it. They’re going to stick it out, especially with new housing coming in.”

Despite Ridicule from Yelp Reviewers, Ballston Cafe Keeps Phallic Sign

by Ethan Rothstein | April 16, 2014 at 10:35 am | 11,768 views | No Comments

The logo for Market Place & Cafe in Ballston

Yelp reviewers and out-of-town passersby alike see the same thing when they look at the sign for Market Place & Cafe in Ballston: a phallus.

But despite giggles from around the internet and outside the doors, the store at 901 N. Glebe Road has kept the logo plastered on its windows for at least 5 years. And there’s no indication that it will be changing any time soon.

The restaurant’s owner declined requests for comment, demanding that an ARLnow.com employee leave the store after identifying himself as a reporter — but before even getting a chance to ask about the sign.

It’s unclear why the store has stuck with the logo — which seems intended to be a mustachioed figure with an prodigiously tall chef’s hat — for all these blush-inducing years. Commentary about the sign on Yelp dates back to 2009.

“My coworkers refer to the place as CnB Deli,” Steve L. wrote in 2009. “If you look at the picture I’ve attached you’ll see why: the logo for this place is of a huge c— and balls.”

“Welcome to Dong Deli,” Steve T. wrote in 2011. “Despite the ridic [sic] logo, the food isn’t that bad.”

The most recent review on the Yelp page was written last year by Matt R., who gave the deli five stars. Matt wrote: “I have never eaten here but their logo is a PENIS WITH A MOUSTACHE. 5 stars.”

Brandon Kline, visiting the area from his home on Long Island, N.Y., said he didn’t notice the sign at first, until he was walking from the Ballston Metro to the Holiday Inn a block away from Market Place Cafe and saw that a crowd had gathered to take photos.

“It was soon apparent why the crowd was taking pictures,” Kline told ARLnow.com. Kline said it reminded him of the phallic sign for the Austin Motel in Austin, Texas, “but even that isn’t as bad” as Market Place’s.

“They definitely knew it was a [penis] sign when they made it,” Kline’s girlfriend, Abby Koppa, said. “There’s no way it was unintentional.”

Former Lee Highway 7-Eleven Now a TitleMax

by Ethan Rothstein | April 15, 2014 at 4:45 pm | 2,963 views | No Comments

TitleMax in the former 7-11 location on Lee Highway (Updated at 4:50 p.m.) The retail space at the corner of Lee Highway and N. George Mason Drive that once housed a 7-Eleven store is now a location for a car title loan company.

TitleMax, which lets individuals with poor credit borrow against the title of their automobile, moved into the space a few weeks ago, according to representatives of Virginia Hospital Center, which owns the building.

The 7-Eleven closed Oct. 21 of last year after the convenience store chain’s corporate arm declined to continue its month-to-month lease. In the months between 7-Eleven’s closing and TitleMax opening, Virginia Hospital Center Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Adrian Stanton said there was little interest in the property.

“It’s an odd parcel in that it’s kind of at an angle,” Stanton told ARLnow.com. “It doesn’t allow for a lot of parking and the vehicular access is very limited. Retail operations are not interested in that space.”

Stanton said members of the nearby civic associations — the property is at the edges of the Leeway Overlee, John M. Langston and Tara-Leeway Heights neighborhoods — have been watching the property to see what business will go in there, and he plans to meet with representatives of some of the civic associations soon to explain why TitleMax moved in.

An ARLnow.com tipster questioned whether TitleMax’s location, on the edge of the Yorktown neighborhood, is “in keeping with the area.”

“TitleMax has locations around Northern Virginia in areas just like this,” Stanton said. “There’s obviously something TitleMax sees in the areas they place their services in.”

Emergency Responders Honored for Mental Health Service

by Ethan Rothstein | April 15, 2014 at 12:00 pm | 727 views | No Comments

Four Arlington emergency responders were honored with Crisis Intervention Team awards earlier this month for handling emergencies with mentally ill patients.

Arlington County Police Officer James Joy was named Officer of the Year, Deputy Jeffrey Nowak was named Deputy of the Year, Officer Samuel Sentz was honored with the Intervention of the Year and Emergency Communications Technician Shanika Stewart was named Dispatcher of the Year.

Joy was recognized for three incidents as examples of his work responding with compassion and responsibility for patients struggling with mental illness. In one of those cases last April, Joy responded to a call for trespassing and, upon finding out the suspect was a military veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and going through a divorce, Joy contacted the Wounded Warrior Project, which helped the veteran get the proper care.

Nowak was honored for responding to a December crisis in the Arlington County Detention Center in which an “actively psychotic and delusional” inmate started banging his head against his cell wall. Nowak, according to the Office of Emergency Management, diffused the situation by relying on his past relationship with the inmate. Nowak remembered the inmate had heard voices in the past, and spoke is short, simple sentences so his message could get through.

Sentz responded to a call in December at the Marriott Residence Inn in Crystal City during which a soldier “was intoxicated, creating a disturbance and trespassing at the hotel,” according to OEM. Sentz responded not by sending the soldier to the “drunk tank,” but by getting him medical assistance. In a letter to the OEM, Director of the U.S. Army Physical Disability Agency Col. Carl M. Johnson credited Sentz with “saving the soldier’s life.”

The awards ceremony was held April 2 at Virginia Hospital Center.

Photos courtesy Arlington County

Clarendon Named Washington’s ‘Best Neighborhood for Millennials’

by ARLnow.com | April 14, 2014 at 3:25 pm | 4,666 views | No Comments

Two people talking on a Clarendon sidewalk (Flickr photo by Ddimick)Clarendon has been named the Washington, D.C. area’s “best neighborhood for millennials.”

The rankings were published by Niche.com, a website that provides information and analysis about colleges, K-12 schools and places. The website looked at factors like median rent, median income, the percentage of the population between 25 and 34 years old, and the percentage of the population with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The D.C. area itself was named the third-best city for millennials, after New York City and Austin, Texas. Chicago and San Francisco followed, ranked fourth and fifth respectively.

Flickr pool photo by Ddimick

County Releases Bakery from Arlington Mill Lease

by ARLnow.com | April 14, 2014 at 2:05 pm | 1,602 views | No Comments

Arlington Mill Community Center sneak peekThe new Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street) will remain without a full-time food vendor for the foreseeable future.

The County Board on Saturday voted to release Pan American Bakery and Cafe from its seven-year lease at Arlington Mill. Rent on the 1,875 square foot retail location, on the ground floor of the community center, was to start at $56,250.00 per year and rise to $67,165.44 at the end of the seven year term.

The eatery was supposed to serve healthy fare, along with coffee, gelato and salteñas.

The owners of the restaurant, which has existing locations at 4113 Columbia Pike and at 650 S. Pickett Street in Alexandria, asked the county to terminate the lease “because of personal and family health problems.” One owner’s mother, who lives in Bolivia, was said to be seriously ill, and the other owner has been battling two serious illnesses, according to the staff report.

County staff “continues to pursue a replacement tenant,” but the county is not projecting any lease revenue in its Fiscal Year 2015 budget.

Flashback: Rep. Moran Gets Interviewed By Stephen Colbert

by ARLnow.com | April 11, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 855 views | No Comments

Stephen Colbert will take over from David Letterman as the host of “The Late Show” next year.

News of Colbert’s “Late Show” hiring prompted Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) to send out a Tweet congratulating the comedian. Moran also made reference to the time he was interviewed by Colbert for his “Colbert Report” segment “Better Know a District.”

“Congrats @StephenAtHome!” Moran Tweeted. “I still remember the day I put your show on the map.”

In the segment (starts after 1:00 in the video above), Colbert calls Moran a “poor man’s Ted Kennedy” and mocks his Irish heritage, famed temper and verbal gaffes until Moran delivers a staged haymaker to Colbert’s self-described “punch-able” face.

Farmers Market Could Come to Fairlington

by Ethan Rothstein | April 11, 2014 at 12:00 pm | 863 views | No Comments

Crystal City Farmers MarketResidents of Fairlington may soon have a farmers market in their backyard, if they want one.

Field to Table, an Arlington-based nonprofit dedicated to coordinating farmers markets to encourage people to eat locally sourced foods, is eyeing the open space around the Fairlington Community Center (3308 S. Stafford Street) as a location for a farmers market.

The Fairlington Citizens Association has also expressed interest in using the site for a market, according to county staff.

The county’s Department of Parks and Recreation is hosting a community meeting on April 21 at the community center from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. to gauge residents’ feelings and possible concerns on bringing a farmer’s market to the neighborhood. Another meeting is scheduled for May 13 at the same time to discuss the findings from the first forum and a survey, which will be posted online.

“The County needs to evaluate the appropriateness of the use at the Center,” Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation Jennifer Fioretti told ARLnow.com in an email. “The purpose of the meeting at Fairlington on April 21 is not to evaluate any specific proposal, but rather to seek input from the community regarding their interest, concerns and general feedback about this potential use of the space at the community center. The first meeting will include presentations from staff followed by a facilitated break-out session with meeting participants.”

There are currently seven regular farmers markets in the county, on varying days in Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, Ballston, Crystal City, on Columbia Pike and in Westover Village.

File photo

New 7-Eleven Now Hiring in Nauck

by ARLnow.com | April 11, 2014 at 10:50 am | 1,071 views | No Comments

A new 7-Eleven store is opening on the ground floor of The Shelton apartments in Nauck.

The store, located on the corner of Shirlington Road and 24th Street S., is now hiring, according to signs posted in the window. Interior construction appears to be wrapping up and equipment is being brought in. A Slurpee machine was visible inside the store as of Thursday morning.

The 7-Eleven may present a bit of competition to the 62-year-old Green Valley Pharmacy, which sells similar convenience staples just a block away. Green Valley Pharmacy received a historic designation from Arlington County last year.

No word yet on an opening date for the 7-Eleven.

Hat tip to @RahulG86

Cajun Seafood Restaurant Opens in Shirlington

by ARLnow.com | April 10, 2014 at 4:30 pm | 2,251 views | No Comments

A new cajun seafood restaurant has opened in Shirlington Village at 4251 Campbell Avenue.

The restaurant is called Blue Sea Seafood and Bar, and it’s located in the former Bear Rock Cafe space. The concept behind it is “to make sure people were getting a great portion, great price and great food,” general manager Jonathan Theriault told ARLnow.com.

The restaurant opened to the public yesterday. Its menu features Cajun classics like pecan-crusted catfish and crab cakes, with entrees ranging from $18 to $31. The food and drink menu will change seasonally.

Theriault, who comes to Arlington from the Miami restaurant scene, said his team worked hard to create a cool, welcoming ambiance.

“I would like to think the restaurant has [a Miami vibe,]” Theriault said. “You walk in, you get the blue on the floor on the walls, so you feel a little Miami-ish but with a New Orleans background, too… The ambiance is hard to find something done this nicely anywhere around.”

Theriault said he hopes Blue Sea’s Shirlington restaurant is the first of multiple locations. The restaurant will eventually have outdoor seating and host live music on Saturday nights. Blue Sea plans to offer specials like all-you-can-eat shrimp and crab events and raw bar nights.

Rosslyn Helps Grant 5-Year-Old’s Pop Star Wish

by Ethan Rothstein | April 10, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 2,450 views | No Comments

A street corner in Rosslyn transformed into a red carpet scene for an hour this morning, all to make a little girl’s wish come true.

Five-year-old Addy — who is suffering from a Wilms Tumor, a form of kidney cancer that affects young children — wished to become a pop star. Through the efforts of the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Mid-Atlantic chapter, Addy’s wish played out in front of the WJLA building in Rosslyn, on the corner of N. Lynn Street and Wilson Blvd.

There, Addy shot a scene for a music video as part of her pop star wish. Make-A-Wish, with an assist from the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, asked people in Rosslyn to hold signs, cheer for the starlet and hold out photos for Addy to autograph.

The proceedings started a little later than anticipated because, as the director told the gathered crowd, the pop star was suffering from “stage fright.” Once Addy emerged from her stretch limousine gripping her mother’s hand tightly, the crowd softly cheered, bringing an immediate smile to the purple-wigged 5-year-old. After that, Addy strutted in front of the crowd for multiple takes.

The music video is set to be released in May.

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