Lower 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.
Among 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.”
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.”
(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.”
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Crystal City will soon be the home to dozens of early stage technology companies, housed in the just-opened Crystal Tech Fund coworking space.
Located on the 10th floor of 2231 Crystal Drive, the $50 million Crystal Tech Fund — founded by Paul Singh, an early partner in the venture capital firm 500 Startups – provides office space to companies while also giving each of them significant capital investments and entrepreneurial mentorship.
The fund’s office space opened this week with six companies inside, and partner Brooke Salkoff said the floor — which has an acre of space — can fit up to 30 or 40 companies. The idea isn’t to bring in new startups and be an incubator or accelerator, she said — the startups eligible for space must already have an average of $1 million in annual revenue.
“These startups need more money in order to grow,” Salkoff said. “We fund startups to scale nationwide, and it’s scalable because once they grow, there’s more space around Crystal City.”
Sen. Mark Warner (D) toured the space this morning and Gov. Terry McAuliffe will do the same tomorrow morning, meeting the companies, some of whom are D.C.-area natives and others that moved to Crystal City from other tech hotbeds like Austin, Texas. Warner was briefed on the concept by Singh and Vornado/Charles E. Smith President Mitchell Shear. Vornado contributed $10 million in investment capital as well as the space.
“The combination that’s taking place here is the kind of thing I want to see all over Virginia,” Warner told a group of reporters. “I think Crystal City is being remade. If we could create a tech entrepreneur hotbed here, that would be great for Virginia.”
Among the space’s first tenants are Power Supply, a platform that allows chefs to deliver healthy meals directly to customers, and SupplyHog, an e-commerce platform for contractors. Warner, a former tech investor and one of the founders of Nextel, asked each company to give him “an elevator pitch.”
“We’re going to find the best companies from around the world,” Singh said, “and bring them to Virginia.”
Several cherry trees were chopped down this week, while fully flowered, for a new landscape design in Rosslyn.
The trees were several of about a dozen planted in front of the Colonial Village Shopping Center, home to the new Ben’s Chili Bowl, along Wilson Blvd. Xtra Care Landscaping & Design was hired by the strip mall’s property manager to remove the trees, according to an Xtra Care employee.
“The manager just wants the shopping center to look better and to cut some trees down,” the employee told ARLnow.com. “There are going to be a lot of new plants going in and the whole center is going to be landscaped.”
The employee estimated the landscaping work will be completed by Friday.
Rosslyn has a cameo in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which opened to a record-setting $96.2 million in box office sales this past weekend.
The superhero flick is set in D.C., but much of the action centers around the high-rise headquarters of the spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D., which oddly appears to be built on Roosevelt Island. As a result, Rosslyn can be seen in the background of many shots.
“The filmmakers did an excellent job of showing off the Rosslyn skyline and waterfront (along with the National Mall) throughout the film,” one local moviegoer told ARLnow.com. “Most movies that take place in D.C. rarely get it right, but you can clearly see a number of Arlington landmarks like the Rosslyn skyline, River Place Apartments, and the Key Bridge Marriott.”
Some of that Rosslyn skyline is visible in the screenshot above, taken from a television commercial for the film.
As the weather has warmed up, Arlington’s box turtle population is coming out of hibernation and making its way onto roads and lawns. That has led county naturalists to ask for the community’s help in helping to protect the shelled reptiles.
While turtles have effective defensive mechanisms against predators, Arlington’s only native land turtle species is vulnerable to cars and lawn mowers, Long Branch Nature Center naturalist Cliff Fairweather wrote in an email to neighborhood newsletter editors.
“A box turtle’s shell can protect it from many dangers in nature, but danger from humans is another story,” Fairweather wrote. “Roads and traffic pose a particularly difficult challenge; even the box turtle’s portable fort is no match for a sedan. They are also vulnerable to lawn mowers; if you have box turtles in your neighborhood, check for them in your lawn before you mow. Sick and injured turtles can find help at the Long Branch Nature Center but we need your help to provide that care.”
Park Naturalist Rachel Tolman says there is no estimate on how many box turtles that live in Arlington, but said they are most common in meadows, parks and lawns, especially those that border forests.
“It’s difficult to get a good estimate for how many we have,” Tolman told ARLnow.com. “They are just hard to find. You can’t catch them on a game camera or bait for them. I’ve released a box turtle and have turned around five minutes later and couldn’t find it anymore.”
Tolman said the nature center rehabilitates about 40 injured turtles a year that residents bring in. To raise money for those efforts, the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation organizes an annual Turtle Trot 5K. This year, the race is on May 17 at 10:00 a.m. at Bluemont Park. The race is $30 for adults and $15 for children ages 12 and under.
Photo courtesy Rachel Tolman