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Ballston Planters Replaced To Prevent Sitting

by Ethan Rothstein | July 25, 2014 at 3:00 pm | 350 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 | 394 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 | 1,812 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 | 1,616 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 | 1,595 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 | 1,536 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 | 3,307 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 | 1,128 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.

Renovations Coming to Iconic Clarendon Office Building

by ARLnow.com | July 16, 2014 at 12:15 pm | 3,927 views | No Comments

It’s arguably the most recognizable office building in Clarendon, and it’s currently vacant.

The office building at 3100 Clarendon Blvd, across from the Clarendon Metro plaza, was built in 1987 and, until recently, housed the high-security Defense Intelligence Agency. Now that the DIA has moved to Reston, property owner Piedmont Office Realty Trust is reportedly planning exterior and interior renovations to the building in an attempt to attract new tenants to fill its 250,000 square feet of space.

The renovations will include adding more glass to the building — on the second floor, above the ground floor retail that runs along the entire block, and down the middle of each side of the tower, according to an individual familiar with the plans who spoke to ARLnow.com on the condition of anonymity. Also set for a refresh: the street-level courtyard that currently includes outdoor seating for Mad Rose Tavern.

The exact plans and timeline for the renovations are not clear — a representative of the leasing agent, Avison Young, declined to comment, saying that additional information would be made available within “the next few weeks.”

‘Orangetheory Fitness’ Plans to Open in Rosslyn

by Morgan Fecto | July 16, 2014 at 10:00 am | 1,375 views | No Comments

Orangetheory Fitness, an interval-training gym with heart rate-focused workout sessions, plans to open a location at 1776 Wilson Blvd by the end of the August.

Orangetheory employees have been signing up passersby for discounted memberships this week in the storefront next door to its planned location, near Ray’s to the Third restaurant. The gym is offering specials ranging from $8 to $17 per session to those who sign up for a month of group classes between now and its planned grand opening opening at the end of the summer.

Franchise owner Mark Steverson told ARLnow.com that the gym plans to have a soft opening the week of August 18, and will offer free sessions to curious parties. The gym will also celebrate its grand opening with a weight loss challenge, with a $2,500 cash prize, in early September.

The group workout sessions with Orangetheory combine cardio and strength training by using blocks of treadmills, indoor rowing machines and weight-training. Steverson said the goal is for members to reach between 81 percent and 94 percent of their maximum heart rate for 12-20 minutes of their workout, to maximize calorie burn for 36 hours post-workout.

“So you’re still burning calories when you go to Ray’s next door or Ben’s Chili Bowl or wherever,” Steverson said.

The closest current Orangetheory location of its 110 U.S. gyms is in Fairfax. Orangetheory says those interested in pre-sale memberships should call 571-431-6140.

New Farmers Market Planned for Arlington Mill

by Ethan Rothstein | July 14, 2014 at 2:00 pm | 1,145 views | No Comments

Arlington Mill Community Center pre-opening Flickr photo(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) The western portion of Columbia Pike in Arlington is likely going to be home to the county’s newest farmers market.

The Arlington County Board is expected to approve a proposal to create an open air market in the plaza of the Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street) at its meeting this Saturday.

The market, if approved, would take place from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Wednesdays and be run by the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization. The Arlington Mill plaza, in the middle of its first summer since the community center opened last fall, is already hosting half of CPRO’s outdoor summer movies, including showing several Spanish-language films.

CPRO already operates one farmers market on the east end of the Pike, next to the Rite Aid parking lot (2820 Columbia Pike), but CPRO Executive Director Takis Karantonis has spoken about expanding the use of public spaces all along the Pike to engage the community.

“We try to think of how to activate as much public space as possible,” Karantonis told ARLnow.com last month. “We want to do many small events that strengthen the idea of Columbia Pike as one corridor.”

Karantonis said the market will focus on “fresh vegetables and produce” and will start small. If approved as expected, Karantonis expects the first market to be held on July 30.

“The western end of the Pike has had less than favored access to fresh food and choices in general,” he said. “We want to remediate that. We want to have a farmer’s market that caters to a large population that needs more affordable choices, so we will try our best to make it as affordable as possible.”

The proposal is on the County Board’s consent agenda, meaning it will be approved without discussion unless a Board member has an issue. CPRO anticipates seven or eight vendors per week this summer, but applied for permission for up to 10 vendor tents. The land is owned by Arlington County, so the Board must also approving licensing it to CPRO for use during the market.

The market is proposed to operate until the end of November during its first year, and to operate year-round after that. The Board is voting on a one-year open-air permit, with the option to review and renew after the year is over.

File photo

Bonefish Grill Set for Mid-August Opening

by Jason Hargraves | July 11, 2014 at 3:00 pm | 2,770 views | No Comments

Bonefish Grill on Pentagon Row Bonefish Grill on Pentagon Row

Bonefish Grill is on target to open its first Arlington location around the middle of next month, possibly as early as Aug. 18, according to employees.

The 5,350-square-foot seafood restaurant is located at Pentagon Row (1101 S. Joyce Street), in the space formerly occupied by Desi Innovations. The upscale eatery boasts fresh, wood-grilled fish and other specialties. It focuses on “simplicity, quality and consistency in food, service, ambiance and value,” and “leaves the stuffiness and unpronounceable menu out,” according to promotional materials.

Earlier today workers could be seen constructing the outdoor seating area in front of the restaurant. The chain has three other Northern Virginia locations, in Alexandria, Centreville and Fairfax.

Atlantic 10 Baseball Championship Planned for Arlington

by Morgan Fecto | July 10, 2014 at 4:30 pm | 1,186 views | No Comments

GW baseball game at the newly renovated Barcroft ParkThe Atlantic 10 baseball championship will be held at Arlington’s Barcroft Park next year.

The park, at 4200 S. Four Mile Run Drive, is the home field for the baseball team of George Washington University, an A-10 school. The university announced the news earlier this week.

Barcroft Park underwent a $3 million renovation two years ago that upgraded it to a Division I-caliber field. The renovation included expanding the field’s dugouts and adding bullpens, batting cages and artificial turf. Barcroft Park is now “one of the top collegiate facilities in the region,” according to a GW press release.

Next year will be the first time the Colonials host an A-10 championship, although the team won four past championships and competed at the event in 2013 in Charlotte, N.C. GW has played at Barcroft Park since 1993, and has compiled a 331-230-1 record over 23 seasons, the press release said.

The tournament will be held from May 20 to May 23, 2015.

Arlington to Hold Second Girls’ Firefighting Camp

by Morgan Fecto | July 10, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 1,023 views | No Comments

The Arlington County Fire Department will hold its second free firefighting summer camp this weekend to immerse girls in the demands of fire service.

From Friday to Sunday, 24 campers will stay at Marymount University with six female firefighter “camp mentors” as chaperons. With the guidance of ACFD instructors, the 13 to 17-year-old girls will learn about physical fitness, emergency medical procedures, fire history and fire behavior.

“This is hands on, so it shows them they’re physically capable of doing it,” ACFD spokesperson Sarah Marchegiani said.”Most young girls are not encouraged to join the fire service or any physical career at all.”

Although one of the camp’s goals is to build self-esteem, the camp will encourage girls to consider careers as firefighters by giving them a real taste of the firefighter experience, according to Marchegiani. All campers will complete a CPR training course to become CPR certified, have fire extinguisher training and eat meals in the firehouse with ACFD firefighters. During one of Friday’s activities, ACFD staff will burn a mock bedroom to show campers how a fire acts in such a situation.

Last year, Arlington held its first girls’ firefighting camp. The CPR class is new to the camp this year, and campers will have more opportunities to handle firefighting equipment than they did last year, Marchegiani said.

“We think it’s more important to build confidence in these girls and teach them to not limit themselves,” Marchegiani said. “We anticipate the effects of this are more long term.”

While ACFD is known for hiring the first female firefighter in the U.S. in 1974, it’s comprised of less than 7 percent female, career firefighters on average, which is higher than the national average at 4 percent. The ACFD wants to encourage more young women to see themselves in a fire service career.

The ACFD increased camp registration size from 16 girls to 24 girls this year as a result of more firefighters assisting.The camp’s registration is full, but ACFD plans to hold the camp every summer.

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