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Water & Wall Offers ‘Pop-Up’ Chinese Menu

by Morgan Fecto | July 30, 2014 at 4:15 pm | 419 views | No Comments

Virginia Square restaurant Water & Wall, located at 3811 N. Fairfax Drive, is offering a “pop-up” Chinese menu for lunch until Aug. 29.

The “Uncle Paul’s Kitchenmenu, named for Water & Wall co-owner Tim Ma’s uncle, debuted almost three weeks ago at the restaurant, Ma said. It includes Chinese-inspired dishes, like Kung Pao Pork Belly, and more traditional Chinese fare, like “Uncle Paul’s Zha Jiang,” with prices ranging from $6 to $10.

The Zha Jiang is like a Chinese ragu, which Ma said the Chinese community jokingly calls “Marco Polo noodles, because Marco Polo came to China and took the recipe back, and that’s where Italian pasta comes from.”

The dishes from Uncle Paul’s Kitchen are smaller than regular entrees, reminiscent of dim sum, which allow customers to order two or three at a time. The lunch menu is available daily from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

“We are essentially running two restaurants here,” Ma said. “We have the kitchen divided for the Chinese stuff and then the rest of the storage space and refrigeration is for the regular restaurant stuff.”

Water & Wall opened eight months ago for dinner, and served only its French-inspired dishes. In mid-June, Ma, his parents, their “old school Chinese” air conditioner repairman, and some Chinese cooks were having a Chinese dinner and had the idea for the pop-up menu, Ma said.

“We were joking around, saying ‘Well this is more like a Chinese restaurant than an American or French place,’” Ma said.

From the idea’s inception, it took Ma two weeks to create the menu, which drew from dishes that his uncle served at his traditional Shandong restaurant “Paul Ma’s Kitchen,” in New York in the 1980s, Ma said.

“He had incredible success there with these homemade recipes,” Ma said. “It was like impossible to get a reservation there.”

The food Paul Ma cooked for his nephew, while living with him at Tim’s Virginia home, also inspired Ma’s lunch menu for Water & Wall.

“He continues to tell me things that I should tweak and things that I should add,” Ma said.

Ma also owns a restaurant serving American food in Vienna called Maple Ave Restaurant. For now, Ma is not sure whether Water & Wall will debut its planned lunch menu of French fusion dishes at the end of the month, or create something else closer to the pop-up menu’s choices.

“This has been really well received thus far,” Ma said. “We have a better response with the dishes my uncle created back in the day.”

Southern Restaurant Coming to Courthouse?

by Ethan Rothstein | July 30, 2014 at 1:15 pm | 2,304 views | No Comments

Tupelo Honey Cafe, a North Carolina-based restaurant chain, is looking to move into the new apartment building at 2001 Clarendon Blvd in the Courthouse area.

Representatives from the restaurant and the building’s retail office have confirmed the two sides are finalizing negotiations, but aren’t prepared to announce a deal. The restaurant has locations in North Carolina and Tennessee, but an Arlington location would be its first in Virginia.

According to officials with the building’s retail and residential leasing firms, exterior construction is expected to be finished in mid-August, after which build-out for the retail properties will begin and take “about three to six months.” Apartment tenants are expected to begin moving in by September.

If Tupelo signs, it would join 7-Eleven, Hair Cuttery, Olive Oil Boom and a nail salon as retail spaces moving into the ground floor of the 154-unit apartment building.

Tupelo’s website says it cooks “just about everything Southern – from fried chicken to sweet potatoes to catfish.” It says its menu items are “scratch-made” with “farm-fresh produce.”

Va. Sales Tax Holiday This Weekend

by ARLnow.com | July 30, 2014 at 10:30 am | 896 views | No Comments

Money(Updated at 11:00 a.m.) The Commonwealth of Virginia will be holding its annual school supplies, clothing and footwear sales tax holiday this weekend.

From Friday, Aug. 1 to Sunday, Aug. 3 eligible purchases will be exempted from Virginia’s sales tax, which is 6 percent in Northern Virginia. To be eligible, each school supply item must be $20 or less and each article of clothing or footwear must be $100 or less.

Generally, computer equipment, clothing accessories, protective equipment and sporting goods are not exempt from the tax.

Military Art Therapy Studio Planned for Crystal City

by Morgan Fecto | July 29, 2014 at 4:30 pm | 754 views | No Comments

(Updated at 6:00 p.m) A walk-in studio art facility for veterans and active-duty service members plans to open Oct. 15 in Crystal City.

Alexandria-based The 296 Project launched a Kickstarter on July 24 with a $30,000 goal to fund the 1,100-square-foot space, which it calls “A Combat Veteran’s Healing Place.” The studio will be located in a retail space at the Shops at 2100 Crystal Drive.

Kickstarter proceeds will go toward renovation materials, art supplies and equipment for the facility, which will cater to service members with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to a press release.

“When the suffering is so strong words can barely describe it, when no one understands, when there’s no support system, this new facility allows our men and women in uniform to tell their stories with a paintbrush, clay, pen and pencil, chalk, through music, digital design, 3D design, spoken word or through poetry,” Scott Gordon, executive director of The 296 Project, told ARLnow.com in an email.

The project plans to give service members a place to explore art as well as socialize. It plans to provide art therapists with a space for seminars, art classes and group therapy sessions, although it will not be a therapy-providing entity, according to The 296 Project spokesperson Rebekah Wiseman.

The general public will be allowed in, according to the organization, so it can learn more about the community of service members with PTSD and TBI who are helped by art and expressive therapies.

“With or without a PTS/TBI diagnosis, our facility, our seminars, workshops, etc., will be therapeutic,” Wiseman wrote.

Service members will have to provide records to prove that they are or were members of the military, said Wiseman. The facility plans to be open six days of the week, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. 

“We believe we can save thousands of lives in the Northern Virginia area alone,” Gordon said. “This is just too important not to support.”

The Kickstarter will accept contributions until Sept. 22. Currently, the project has six backers and has raised $710. 

Images courtesy The 296 Project

Amsterdam Falafelshop Plans September Opening

by Ethan Rothstein | July 29, 2014 at 3:15 pm | 1,748 views | No Comments

Amsterdam Falafelshop's future space in Clarendon Amsterdam Falafelshop's future space in Clarendon

Amsterdam Falafelshop, the local falafel and “Dutch fries” chain, is planning to open its Clarendon location by the end of September.

Amsterdam Falafelshop announced in April it would be moving into the former BGR: The Burger Joint space next to Hard Times Café at 3024 Wilson Blvd. Franchise owner David Rosenstein — who also owns a dozen D.C. area Popeye’s franchises — planned a mid-summer opening, but as is the case with many restaurant build-outs, it has taken longer than expected.

The space now has a sign on the window that reads “Amsterdam Falafelshop is landing here this summer… Cause [sic] we love this neighborhood and we think you love falafel… we think you need falafel… we think you crave falafel.”

New Benches to Be Installed Near Ballston Metro Station

by Ethan Rothstein | July 29, 2014 at 12:45 pm | 2,227 views | No Comments

The Ballston property manager that replaced planters to prevent people from sitting says benches will soon be installed in their place.

Stephen Gilbert, the vice president of marketing for Gates Hudson, the property manager of the building adjacent to the Ballston Metro station, said the company plans to install 15 benches near the station and next to the new planters by mid-August.

Additional “street furniture” is also planned for the busy bus stop.

“This is a cross promotion with the Ballston [Business Improvement District] and we are investing nearly $28,000 to improve the seating area,” Gilbert wrote in an email to ARLnow.com. “The bus shelters currently in place and managed by WMATA and Arlington County are not adequate in our opinion.”

Gates Hudson replaced the planters earlier this month because, as an employee told ARLnow.com, “they’re meant to be planters and that’s it… A lot of people were loitering there, damaging the plants and leaving trash.” Gilbert said that the new planters’ capstones “were only a small part” of Gates Hudson’s master plan for improving the space on N. Stuart Street.

“I ensure you that once you see what we have under construction you will see that we are creating a very convenient and comfortable space for commuters and pedestrians,” Gilbert wrote.

Ballston Planters Replaced To Prevent Sitting

by Ethan Rothstein | July 25, 2014 at 3:00 pm | 5,877 views | No Comments

Ballston planter before it was replaced (photo courtesy Jana Lynott)  Ballston planter after it was replaced (photo courtesy Jana Lynott)

Several planters on the sidewalk of N. Stuart Street in Ballston, just outside the Ballston Metro station were recently rebuilt to stop people from taking a seat.

The planters were replaced by property manager Gates Hudson this month, and while the trees are still there, the flat surface around the soil has been converted into a sharply angled corner designed specifically to prevent people waiting for the buses from sitting down.

“They’re meant to be planters and that’s it,” a Gates Hudson employee told ARLnow.com. “There are many benches outside, and the goal was to have people sit there and not on the planters. A lot of people were loitering there, damaging the plants and leaving trash.”

In a letter to the Arlington County Board, Metrobus rider Jana Lynott said the property owners around the Metro station had “vitriol” for transit riders who are perceived as loiterers.

“As a regular Metrobus 1A rider, I was offended by the insinuation that we riders were viewed as dirty loiterers that bring down commercial property values,” Lynott wrote. “I’m not convinced that my fellow transit riders are a scourge upon society that need to be dealt with through exclusive design… Why in Arlington, VA, a community that invests millions of dollars a year into recruiting new riders to our world-class transit system, would we possibly embrace such a backward notion of transit accessibility? Please. Do not let this exclusive design become standard practice in our community.”

Photos courtesy Jana Lynott

Ballston Movie Theater Offering Free Nachos for Selfie-Takers

by ARLnow.com | July 25, 2014 at 2:15 pm | 1,311 views | No Comments

Moviegoers attend the late night Harry Potter screening in Ballston Common MallThe movie theater at Ballston Common Mall is offering free nachos to customers who take “cheesy” selfies and post them to Twitter or Instagram.

The theater’s parent company, Regal Cinemas, is running the promotion through Monday, Aug. 11. Customers can submit the self-taken photo by using the hashtag #RegalCheesieEntry on Twitter or Instagram, or can do so via the a web form.

The nachos are offered while supplies last, Regal says. If there are no nachos left at the theater, Regal will offer a $2 off coupon. Submitted photos will also be entered into a sweepstakes to win a “Hollywood VIP weekend.”

File photo

Lebanese Taverna to Celebrate 35 Years in Arlington

by Morgan Fecto | July 24, 2014 at 5:25 pm | 3,362 views | No Comments

Lebanese Taverna, which began as a single storefront in Arlington operated by an immigrant couple and their five children, is celebrating its 35th anniversary with events and specials over the next two months.

On July 28 and 29 at the Westover location (5900 Washington Blvd) and Aug. 6 and 7 at Pentagon Row (1101 S. Joyce Street), Lebanese Taverna will serve dishes from its 1979 menu with the original prices to commemorate the year the restaurant opened.

The restaurant is also currently taking submissions for a social media contest, in which longtime customers can email the restaurant their favorite Lebanese Taverna memory and then vote on their favorites by liking them on the restaurant’s Facebook page. A limousine will chauffeur the winners to different Lebanese Taverna locations for a five-to-six course meal, Shea said.

“We’re celebrating our uniqueness,” said Lebanese Taverna Vice President Grace Shea, the youngest child of founders Tanios and Marie Abi-Najm. “Thirty-five years is a long time for a restaurant to be open.”

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) will present a congressional proclamation of congratulations to the Abi-Najm family at a private event Friday evening, Shea said. The Westover restaurant will be open Friday at 6:30 p.m. for a kickoff event with the 1979 prices for invited guests from local civic associations and members of the public who happen to stop by.

“I’m proud of my family and what they’ve accomplished over the years,” Shea said. “When my parents came here they had five kids, $500 and spoke no English.”

The Abi-Najm family came to Arlington in 1976 to escape the civil war in Lebanon. Marie Abi-Najm worked as a teaching assistant and Tanios Abi-Najm did odd jobs and painted until they saved enough money to open their own restaurant in 1979, in the same storefront they still occupy just down the street from their house, Shea said.

“My dad always loved food and it was a way for him to bring a piece of Lebanon here to us,” Shea said. Her mother came from Dfoun, Lebanon, a village famous for producing chefs.

At first, Lebanese Taverna served pizza and subs and operated under “Athenian Taverna,” the name used by the previous tenants. Shea’s parents and her four siblings in high school were the only employees during the first year, causing business to suffer, she said.

In 1979, the restaurant only offered shish kabob and hummus as menu specials because they were novelties for most Arlington residents. However, their traditional food starting piquing customers’ interests after their first year in business, inspiring the Abi-Najm’s to change the restaurant’s name and put Lebanese fare on half their menu, according to Shea.

“We’d sit down for our family dinners at the restaurant and customers would say, ‘Wow, what is that? We want some of that,’” Shea said. The restaurant kept its half-Italian menu until 1983.

Once the restaurant was officially Lebanese Taverna, a second location opened in 1990 on Connecticut Avenue in D.C.  It later expanded to include the Lebanese Taverna Market in D.C., catering division, six restaurants and four cafés it has today.

(more…)

New Bikeshare Stations Open, Bike Path On Its Way

by Ethan Rothstein | July 24, 2014 at 10:15 am | 1,846 views | No Comments

The new Capital Bikeshare station at Arlington Blvd and N. George Mason Drive (photo via Twitter) The new Capital Bikeshare stations at N. Cleveland Street and Lee Highway (photo via Twitter)

Two new Capital Bikeshare stations became available for public use yesterday in Arlington, and a new bicycle path shouldn’t be too far behind.

Capital Bikeshare announced on Twitter yesterday that it had installed a 15-dock station at Lee Highway and N. Cleveland Street in Lyon Village and an 11-dock station at the intersection of Arlington Blvd and N. George Mason Drive at the edge of the Buckingham neighborhood. The two stations are the fourth and the fifth to have opened in Arlington this year, according to Paul DeMaio, Arlington’s program manager for Capital Bikeshare.

“This makes 72 stations in Arlington and 323 in the region,” DeMaio told ARLnow.com in an email. “Thirteen stations are in planning with another 17 stations recently funded with the start of fiscal year 2015 this past July.”

DeMaio said Capital Bikeshare is on track to have 133 stations around Arlington by 2020.

Rendering of westbound Rt 50 shared use pathIn other bicycle-related news, the shared-use path being constructed by the Virginia Department of Transportation as part of the Route 50/N. Courthouse Road/10th Street interchange project is projected to open next month, according to David Goodman, the county’s bicycle and pedestrian programs manager.

The trail will run along the highway’s eastbound side from the intersection with N. Pershing Drive, at the Fort Myer gate, to the N. Rolfe Street offramp.

On the other side of Route 50, the shared use path has been realigned and extended under the 10th Street bridge. These paths are expected to open when the construction on the project is complete, projected to be the end of August.

Photos via @bikeshare

Photos: Ben’s Chili Bowl Opens at DCA

by Morgan Fecto | July 23, 2014 at 2:40 pm | 1,800 views | No Comments

(Updated at 3:25 p.m.) Ben’s Chili Bowl opened its second Arlington location at Reagan National Airport this morning with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

In the pre-security section of B/C terminal of the airport, a crowd gathered to hear the Chuck Brown Band, listen to speakers and watch the Ali family, which owns Ben’s, cut the ribbon on the new restaurant. The Ben’s Chili Bowl location in Rosslyn opened in March as the first standalone, brick-and-mortar Ben’s to open since the original in 1958.

“We have a lot of visitors to our original U Street location that come from all over the country, so now people who don’t have time can stop here on their way in or out of the city,” Virginia Ali, the widow of Ben’s founder Ben Ali, said. “It’s a very attractive location.”

Ben’s historian and former Marion Barry aid Bernard Demczuk was the MC of the opening, and handed out pamphlets detailing a history of Ben’s as well as instructions on how to “properly eat a Ben’s Chili Bowl Classic chili dog.” He spoke about the late “Godfather of Go-Go” Chuck Brown — who was a famous Ben’s customer along with Bill Cosby and President Barack Obama — before introducing the band.

He also remarked on Reagan’s number of annual visitors; according to the airport, more than 20 million passengers flew in and out of the airport last year.

“That’s pretty good traffic for Ben’s Chili Bowl,” Demczuk said.

Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board Member Warner Session spoke briefly after the band played its first set of songs. He said that MWAA is elated to have a Ben’s airport location.

“I live in the neighborhood and as you can see I’ve probably eaten one chili dog too many,” Session joked.

Kamal Ali was the last to speak before he and his family cut the ceremonial ribbon. Ali thanked the airport and the ceremony’s event planners, and also mentioned his late father.

“I know dad is looking down on us,” he said.

The band continued to play while Ben’s employees served their first customers, and those waiting in line to get their half-smokes and fries danced and clapped along. The band also promoted its new single and album “Beautiful Life,”  which was released today.

Inside Ben’s, two flat-screen monitors played a slideshow of the Ali’s family pictures, pictures from other Ben’s locations and footage of the U street location’s appearance on the Travel Channel show “Man Versus Food.”

“They are going to do very well here, trust me,” one woman waiting in line said. “There’s going to be a line forever.”

County to Hold Ribbon Cutting for Parking App

by ARLnow.com | July 22, 2014 at 10:45 am | 1,551 views | No Comments

Parkmobile app on an iPhoneArlington County, which rarely misses an opportunity for a ribbon cutting event, will be holding one this week to kick off the county’s first pay-by-cell parking system.

Arlington will be rolling out the smartphone parking app Parkmobile over the next year — with the service first available to pay for street parking in Shirlington and Crystal City starting later this month.

The service will be expanded to Pentagon City this fall, Ballston and Clarendon this winter, and the rest of the county in the spring.

(Parkmobile is also currently used for pay-by-cell parking in the District of Columbia.)

The county will be holding a ribbon cutting to mark Arlington’s Parkmobile launch on Thursday, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m., in front of Charlie Chiang’s Restaurant in Crystal City (320 23rd Street S.).

Those expected to help wield the giant pair of scissors include County Board Chair Jay Fisette, Arlington Director of Transportation Dennis Leach, Crystal City BID President and CEO Angela Fox, and Parkmobile CEO Cherie Fuzzell.

S. Glebe Road Market Sells Powerball Winner

by ARLnow.com | July 18, 2014 at 9:35 am | 3,361 views | No Comments

1607 S. Glebe Road (via Google Maps)

A tiny grocery store at the corner of S. Glebe Road and Walter Reed Drive has sold a winning $1 million Powerball ticket.

Mia’s Market and Deli (1607 S. Glebe Road) sold one of three $1 million winning Powerball tickets nationwide for the July 16 drawing. The lucky winner matched all five numbers – 5-15-18-26-32 — but not the Powerball, 35.

The winner has 180 days to claim the prize.

Photo via Google Maps

Arlington 7th Grader Qualifies for North American Track Championship

by Ethan Rothstein | July 17, 2014 at 10:30 am | 1,147 views | No Comments

Bowen Shuttleworth (photo courtesy Bruce Shuttleworth)A Shuttleworth ran and won last month. But it wasn’t Bruce and it wasn’t a political race. It was his son, Bowen, running in the Virginia Hershey Track and Field state championship and reportedly capturing the fastest 400 meter time in the southeastern United States.

Bowen, a 12-year-old rising seventh-grader at Williamsburg Middle School, finished the 400-meter dash in 1:04.52, almost a full four seconds ahead of the second place runner at the event. The time was the fastest in the U.S. Southeast, according to Bruce Shuttleworth, and qualified him for a spot in the Hershey’s North American Championship on Aug. 2 in Hershey, Pa.

It wasn’t the only time Bowen has found the top of the podium at the state championships. He teamed with his twin brother, Reece, and fellow Arlington pre-teens George Brown and Sean Conley, to take home the 4×100-meter relay title in 55.84 seconds, again almost a full four seconds before the next closest team. In 2010, as a 10-year-old, Bowen Shuttleworth won the 100-meter dash at the same meet.

It’s the 37th running of the Hershey’s North American championships, but, according to Bruce Shuttleworth, Bowen is the first ever runner from Arlington to qualify. Boys and girls between ages 9 and 14 are eligible to compete, with age groups divided between 9 and 10 year olds, 11 and 12 year olds and 13 and 14 year olds.

Photo courtesy Bruce Shuttleworth

Dunkin’ Donuts Now Open in Ballston

by Ethan Rothstein | July 16, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 3,033 views | No Comments

The new Dunkin’ Donuts in Ballston, at the corner of N. Stuart and 9th Streets, is now open for business.

The small donut shop replaced the former Quizno’s in the corner of the National Science Foundation building at 4201 Wilson Blvd. Dunkin’ Donuts signed its lease for the 1,000-square-foot space in April.

The location — Arlington’s sixth, not including locations in the Pentagon and Reagan National Airport — opened yesterday. It doesn’t have any seating inside, but has a small handful of outside tables.

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