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by Ethan Rothstein — January 23, 2015 at 11:00 am 1,060 0

2209 Pershing Drive, the potential site of Spring Mill Bread CompanyWhole wheat bakery and cafe Spring Mill Bread Co. might be the latest local retail chain to make the Pershing Drive section of Lyon Park its new home.

Spring Mill Bread has locations on Capitol Hill and in Bethesda and Gaithersburg. It’s in discussions to move into a vacant retail space at 2209 Pershing Drive, ARLnow.com has learned.

The leasing documents have not been signed, we’re told, but the property owner, Equity Residential, has filed for building permits with the county in anticipation of a deal getting done.

If Spring Mill Bread signs on the dotted line, Pershing Drive would be in line for a shop that sells fresh-baked breads, baked treats and soups and sandwiches, in addition to coffee and sodas.

The baker would join Paisano’s Pizza, Bonchon and Streets Market among the retail options on Pershing Drive between Route 50 and N. Cleveland Street.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt (@alongthepike)

by ARLnow.com — January 21, 2015 at 6:10 pm 538 0

Crystal Tech Fund in Crystal CityWe’re less than a week away from ARLnow.com’s fifth anniversary party. If you like ARLnow.com and you like fun, presumably you have already reserved your tickets — if not, check out the trivia question below for a chance to get 20 percent off.

As part of the lead-up to the party (hosted at the Crystal Tech Fund offices, pictured, in Crystal City), we’re taking a trip down memory lane to the year we launched.

That year, 2010, featured lots of memorable local stories, some of them downright weird. Do you remember…

Now, for the trivia question: what was the original name of the new-for-2010 rooftop deck at Whitlow’s? (It was renamed “Wilson’s” prior to opening.)

If you know the answer, enter that as a promo code (without spaces) on our Eventbrite page for 20 percent off. You’re welcome!

Our fifth anniversary bash will be held on January 27, from 6-8 p.m. at Crystal Tech Fund (2231 Crystal Drive, 10th floor). The price of admission includes craft beer, wine and heavy appetizers from Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

The event is hosted by the Crystal City BID and sponsored by the Arlington County Federal Credit Union.

by Ethan Rothstein — January 21, 2015 at 1:30 pm 1,575 0

Kona Grill, an Arizona-based sushi and seafood restaurant chain, is planning to open its next location in Rosslyn, across from the Colonial Village Shopping Center.

Building permit applications were filed in November and are undergoing review by county planning staff. If it opens as planned, the location could be Kona’s second in Virginia and first in the D.C. area. The chain has one restaurant near Richmond and one in Baltimore.

Kona would move into 1776 Wilson Blvd, alongside 100 Montaditos, in a previously vacant retail space. Calls to Kona’s corporate office have not been returned.

Kona’s menu features its sushi and cocktails, but also has gluten-free, vegan and “skinny” options, as well as fusion dishes like beef bulgogi tacos, Hawaiian ribeye steak and, for “Pulp Fiction” fans, a Big Kahuna cheeseburger.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt (@alongthepike)

by Ethan Rothstein — January 20, 2015 at 5:00 pm 1,953 0

ABC sign in Courthouse (photo courtesy Andy Bailey)An ABC liquor store is under construction at 1919 Clarendon Blvd, in the ground floor of a new apartment building on the block.

ARLnow.com reported in July that the state Alcoholic Beverage Control department was in lease negotiations for one of the new retail spaces in the building, just a few blocks from the site of its former location in the Colonial Village Shopping Center.

Signs are already up in the windows of the new space, on Clarendon Blvd between N. Rhodes and Troy Streets, for construction. When contacted, an ABC spokesperson could only confirm the store will be opening in the future, but said there is no available information about when the store might be open.

The site of a possible new ABC store in CourthouseWhile the ABC store is undergoing their interior buildout, so, too, is Shawafel, a “quick served” Lebanese restaurant, next door. The location of Shawafel will be the H Street NE business’ second brick-and-mortar shop.

Before the ABC store opens, the closest spot to pick up bottles of liquor for Rosslyn and Courthouse residents is the store at 1001 N. Fillmore Street, at the intersection with Washington Blvd.

Photo, top, courtesy Andy Bailey. Photo (bottom) is a file photo.

by Ethan Rothstein — January 20, 2015 at 11:00 am 1,596 0

Restaurant week logoWinter Restaurant Week is already underway, and it runs until Sunday, Jan. 25.

At least 14 restaurants in Arlington are participating, offering prix fixe menus for $20.15 lunches and $35.15 dinner. The weeklong special is organized by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington to boost restaurant business after busy times, like the December holidays.

The list of restaurants participating in the promotion — which some argue isn’t a deal at all, but may cost diners more money — appears to have dwindled from previous restaurant weeks. Last August, 15 restaurants were featured on the RAMW website, a dip from 17 restaurants in 2013. This week, however, restaurants that have not previously participated have joined up, including the highly regarded Water & Wall in Virginia Square and Mazagan Restaurant on Columbia Pike.

The list of Arlington restaurants on RAMW’s website, where all of the restaurants participating in the D.C. area can be found, is below. Note: some restaurants may be offering separate specials for the week.

  • Epic Smokehouse – 1330 S. Fern Street, 571-319-4001
  • Fuego Cocina y Tequileria – 2800 Clarendon Blvd, 571-970-2180
  • Fyve at The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City – 1250 S. Hayes Street, 703-412-2762
  • Jaleo – 2250 Crystal Drive, 703-413-8181
  • La Tasca – 2900 Wilson Blvd., 703-812-9120
  • The Liberty Tavern – 3195 Wilson Blvd., 703-465-9360
  • Lyon Hall – 3100 N. Washington Blvd., 703-741-7636
  • Mazagan — 2901 Columbia Pike, 703-566-4173
  • McCormick and Schmick’s – 2010 Crystal Drive, 703-413-6400
  • Me Jana – 2300 Wilson Blvd., 703-465-4440
  • Morton’s The Steakhouse – 1750 Crystal Drive, 703-418-1444
  • Water & Wall — 3811 N. Fairfax Drive Suite 105, 703-294-4949
  • Willow – 4301 N. Fairfax Drive, 703-465-8800
  • Yayla Bistro – 2201 N. Westmoreland Street, 703-533-5600

by Ethan Rothstein — January 13, 2015 at 4:15 pm 2,983 0

Construction on the building that will become Brixx Pizza in ClarendonThe construction site next to Nam Viet on N. Hudson Street in Clarendon is the future home of a North Carolina-based pizza chain.

Brixx Pizza is planning on opening its second location in the D.C. area in a new building next to the alleyway behind CVS. The site is owned by Gene Roberts, who also owns the CVS, and is already under lease to Brixx Pizza.

The restaurant will be the building’s sole occupant and take up 3,700 square feet of space, Roberts told ARLnow.com this afternoon. Roberst is looking at a mid-summer opening.

“I was very impressed with [the owners] when I met them last year,” Roberts said. “It’s good pizza.”

The business offers carryout but not delivery, and its focus is on sit-down customers at the restaurant. The location is expected to serve beer and wine, and, according to the chain’s website, it has a “Masters of Beer Appreciation” loyalty program and offers several craft beer options.

Brixx hopes to distinguish itself from the Clarendon pizza scene already occupied by Goody’s, Pete’s Apizza and Bronx N.Y. Pizza.

by ARLnow.com — January 13, 2015 at 3:15 pm 950 0

ARLnow.com in 2010ARLnow.com launched on Jan. 29, 2010, following a coffee-fueled all-nighter and lots of DIY WordPress tinkering.

What have followed are five years of continuous local news coverage, from tiny articles about potholes that no other news outlet would report on to big scoops that quickly have become international news.

As part of our five year anniversary, we’re looking back (in no particular order) at some of the defining Arlington stories of 2010. Some are weighty and easily remembered. Others, not so much.

Do you remember…

If you remembered all of those, congrats! You’re officially an ARLnow.com early adopter.

Come reminisce with us at our Fifth Anniversary Bash on January 27, from 6-8 p.m. at Crystal Tech Fund in Crystal City. Through 11:30 tonight tickets are discounted to an “early adopter” rate of $12.90. After that, the price goes up to $20.10.

The event is hosted by the Crystal City Business Improvement District and the price of admission includes adult beverages and delicious finger food.

by Ethan Rothstein — January 13, 2015 at 2:05 pm 1,722 0

(Updated at 3:15 p.m.Vespa of Arlington opened its motor scooter dealership in November 2013, but it has already outgrown its space.

At some point this year, Vespa of Arlington will open a new, flagship location at the corner of 10th Street N. and Wilson Blvd in the former J.K. Auto Parts space, according to Stephanie Rodriguez, who works in the current dealership at 3206 10th Street N., next to the Budget car rental space.

“It’s going to be incredible,” Rodriguez told ARLnow.com today. “I think it’ll be good times. There will be a full demo program and it’ll be fun for all.”

The new space, in the same building as the Goodyear auto repair shop, is about five times bigger than Vespa of Arlington’s current location, and there will be more models available of the Vespa and Piaggio and Ural scooters the store now sells. There will also be a broader selection of accessories, like helmets, the shop can sell with its new space.

Rodriguez said it’s “still up in the air” when exactly the shop will be moving, but she said it’s expected to happen in 2015. The closest Vespa dealerships are in Fredericksburg and Baltimore, Rodriguez said, and Vespa of Arlington pulls its customers from the entire D.C. metro region.

Hat tip to Jeff Hopp

by Ethan Rothstein — January 12, 2015 at 4:45 pm 5,677 0

Velocity 5 in CourthouseVelocity 5, the sports bar mainstay in Courthouse, is getting a makeover this spring into what its owners call “an American beer garden.”

The restaurant will close down for a month before re-opening as “Courthaus Social,” a beer garden with an expanded patio outside the location at 2300 Clarendon Blvd. The plan to close Velocity 5 and reopen as a beer garden has been around for nearly two years after new owners bought the location of the regional chain, which opened in Courthouse in 2009.

“We were trying to find the perfect concept,” one of the co-owners, Nema Sayadian, told ARLnow.com today. “You realize you have to find your own identity, and that’s what we were struggling with.”

Sayadian and Fito Garcia, also a co-owner, originally had planned to rename the restaurant “Social Haus” and turn it into a Bavarian-style biergarten, serving almost exclusively German beer and food. Courthaus Social, while still configured as a beer garden with “social seating” — long benches inside and out — will focus more on local craft beers from breweries like Starr Hill, Port City and Mad Fox.

There will still be some German beers on the menu and Sayadian says “we’ll still have the biggest schnitzel in town.” The concept will now be more food-centric, with locally sourced meats and sustainable practices Garcia hopes will serve as a model for other local restaurants. At its heart, Courthaus Social hopes to be a relaxed, community business.

“We’re not going to be pretentious about it,” Sayadian said. Garcia added, “Arlington needs beer places. And with Summers closing down, we want to help the area.”

When it opens, the bar will have about 1,000 square feet of patio seating fronting Claredon Blvd, adding to its patio facing Courthouse Plaza’s Wells Fargo Bank. There will be more than 30 beers on tap, and they will still be available in two-liter “boots” as well as steins.

Velocity 5 has served as a registration spot for bar crawls in Clarendon and Courthouse in years past, and while Garcia and Sayadian say they’re not against participating in more bar crawls, the attitude of the restaurant is shifting.

“We love the business that comes with the bar crawls,” Garcia said, “but we want to have a different focus and build a community around us. If Arlington is for the bar crawls, we’re down, but we’re not going to take part in something that’s frowned upon.”

by Ethan Rothstein — January 9, 2015 at 4:30 pm 4,078 0

At least three dogs rescued from a South Korean meat farm will soon be available for adoption at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

The AWLA is partnering with five other local rescue organizations in the D.C. area to find new lives for 23 dogs rescued earlier this month by Humane Society International. It’s the first time the organization has negotiated the rescue of dogs raised for slaughter. The farmer who owned the dogs was compensated with $2,500 and will use that money to start growing blueberries.

Three dogs were taken from the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria — where all 23 have been housed since arriving at Dulles International Airport earlier this week — to AWLA’s headquarters at 2650 S. Arlington Mill Drive: A shih tzu named Billy, a corgi mix named Abi and a mother dog whose puppies were taken to other shelters. AWLA Executive Director Neil Trent says he expects Billy and Abi to be available for adoption in about two weeks.

“Some of the animals are going to have behavioral issues for a while, they’re not used to a kind hand,” he told ARLnow.com as his staff helped load Billy and Abi into their van. “They’re nervous, they’re stressed in a new environment, so it’s going to take some time.”

The mother might “have some health issues,” Trent said, and he’s still not sure when or how many puppies AWLA will receive. The dogs will be available for adoption on a first-come, first-served basis.

The AWLA has worked with the Humane Society of the United States before, but this was their first interaction with HSI, Trent said. Trent, who is British, is a former executive director of HSI and said it’s been a recent initiative of the organization to curb the Asian dog meat trade. Trent was notified last month that dogs may be coming to the D.C. area from South Korea.

“We’ve taken dogs from HSUS before, so we said ‘absolutely, we’ll be on alert,’” he said.

HSI’s hope is the 23 dogs rescued will be a symbol in fighting the dog meat market. HSI director Kelly O’Meara told the Washington Post that between 1.2 million and 2 million dogs are eaten in South Korea every year.

by Ethan Rothstein — January 9, 2015 at 1:00 pm 2,092 0

Fox (Flickr pool photo by wolfkann)It may be frigid outside, but those willing to brave the cold may be able to spot one of Arlington’s more elusive mammalian inhabitants — local wildlife watchers have some of their best chances to spot a red or gray fox in the winter time.

Foxes were a recent topic of discussion in an Arlington neighborhood email list.

“Although foxes are primarily nocturnal, it’s not unusual to see one out hunting during the day in winter,” wrote Long Branch Nature Center Natural Resources Specialist Cliff Fairweather. “Nonetheless, foxes are elusive and seeing one is an uncommon treat.”

Red foxes are all over Arlington but hard to spot, according to another county naturalist, Alonso Abugattas. They are not native to the county, but they have since “naturalized.”

“The bottom line though is that we do not know exactly how many red foxes we have in Arlington, though they are very plentiful and inhabit almost every one of our neighborhoods,” he told ARLnow.com.

Gray foxes are native to Arlington, but much less prevalent and stick mainly to the areas around the Potomac, Abugattas said.

So how does one know if a fox is in their midst if there’s no red or gray bushy tail in sight? Fairweather says foxes tend to leave their “scat,” or feces, in “obvious” places to mark their territory, and their urine can smell like a skunk. Their scat “is usually dark and often twisted to a point at the ends and the contents reflect seasonal variation in fox diets. In winter, it is usually composed of hair from small mammals,” according to Fairweather.

Although foxes are peaceful animals and tend to be afraid of humans, they are omnivores and talented scavengers, according to Abugattas.

“They get to know the trash days and routes and stake out restaurants for the leftovers, unsecured trash, and rodents they attract,” he said.

If you do spot a fox and it approaches you or “acts unusually tame” — as opposed to running away — it might be a sign of rabies and should be avoided, Fairweather cautioned.

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by Ethan Rothstein — January 9, 2015 at 11:00 am 1,973 0

Sweet Leaf Cafe is preparing to open its second location in Arlington next month in the county’s most popular spot for new restaurants.

The location, at 650 N. Quincy Street, will be one building over from 4000 Wilson Blvd, which houses Taylor Gourmet, which opened in July, and upcoming restaurants Kapnos TavernaPepita Cantina and ramen restaurant Yona.

Sweet Leaf’s fourth cafe will have the same menu as the others — the original was in Vienna and there’s another in McLean — but owner Arita Matini said the menu for all of her restaurants will change next week.

Matini has been planning on opening in Ballston for a while — the Courthouse location surprised her with how quickly it became a popular lunch destination — and is excited about the other restaurants coming in.

“We welcome the competition,” she told ARLnow.com today. “It’s crazy, the whole area is really changing. The more that’s there, the more that people will be attracted to the area.”

Matini said she’s exploring opening more locations in Great Falls or potentially D.C.

by Ethan Rothstein — January 6, 2015 at 2:00 pm 2,009 0

Wet Seal, the national young women’s clothing store chain, has closed its location in Ballston Common Mall amid serious money trouble at the corporate level.

The Ballston location closed over the weekend, and pieces of merchandise were still strewn about the store despite most of it laying empty yesterday.

According to a tipster, there was a handwritten sign in the window that read along the lines of, “check the internet if you want to know why we are closed. wet seal sucks! liars!” (Update at 6:30 p.m. — BuzzFeed has a photo of the sign and an interview with its creator.)

Other Wet Seal stores around the country were closed abruptly, and employees of the location that closed in Durham, N.C., also posted a sign complaining about the fashion in which the store closed and how it treated its now-jobless employees.

Bloomberg News reported last week that Wet Seal received a notice of default and owes its creditors $28.8 million by Jan. 12. The financial news site says the company’s stock price has plummeted to 5.7 cents a share, having lost 97 percent of its value in the last year. If the company’s projections hold up, it will have lost almost $240 million by the end of the fiscal year.

According to the Dayton Daily News in Dayton, Ohio, 350 Wet Seal stores nationwide are in line to be closed. Employees in many of those stores were give just one day’s notice.

The Wet Seal location in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City remains open, and a store employee told ARLnow.com today that the Ballston location’s closure and any problems at the corporate level are “news to me.”

by Ethan Rothstein — January 5, 2015 at 1:30 pm 2,706 0

A new store specializing in upscale Swiss watches is the newest tenant in Ballston Common Mall.

Watchstyle opened in November because, as owner Eric Kim said, he was “desperate to get open for the holiday season.” He found, however, that the Ballston Mall didn’t experience quite the holiday rush that he expected. Business was steady, and remained steady after Christmas passed.

Kim offers Swiss-made watches that aren’t the most recognizable brands, but, as a former Liljenquist & Beckstead watch buyer, he says the products he offers are the “equal or better” quality and more affordable.

“The watch market has changed so much,” he told ARLnow.com last week, “Swiss watch prices have gone up a ludicrous amount with no real increase in quality.”

Watchstyle’s watches start at around $200 with Mondaine styles and go up from there. Kim said he’s the only Mondaine dealer in Virginia. He also offers watches from brands like Ball and Maurice Lacroix. Despite the Ballston Mall’s negative perception and imminent redevelopment, Kim thinks he found the right place to start his business.

“It was definitely risky, but this mall is surrounded by the right demographic for luxury watches,” Kim said. “The mall may not be ready, but the market is.”

by Ethan Rothstein — January 2, 2015 at 3:30 pm 4,193 0

EMS in Clarendon, expected to close after January 2015Eastern Mountain Sports, the outdoors outfitter store next to Barnes & Noble in Market Common Clarendon, is expected to close at the end of the month.

There’s a storewide clearance sale going on now, and the store has signs posted inside and out announcing that the location will be closing at the end of January. According to a store employee, EMS’ lease is up at the end of the month.

The closest EMS location is in Dulles, Va., 20 miles away. A similar retailer, Orvis, is another Market Common tenant and is at 2879 Clarendon Blvd.

Hat tip to Bill Colton

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