The eyes have it. A new art installation featuring interactive LED-lit eyes launched today at the final Ballston Farmers Market of the season.
The display is called “The Eyes of Ballston” and users interact with it through their mobile device. The concept is that five characters live in the tree in the middle of Welburn Square — the baby, the grannie, the flirt, the grump and the raver — and they look at users through the interactive eyes.
Visitors stand near the tree and answer a character’s questions on their mobile device, to which the character responds via the eyes. The character will display different emotions depending on the user’s answer. They can perform numerous actions, including crying, winking and blowing a kiss. Each character has a circadian rhythm, so they’re not all awake and interacting with people at all hours of the day.
“I want them [users] to have fun and interact and enjoy public art, and understand that a great piece of public art is great for place-making and bringing people together,” said artist Lola Lombard, who came up with the eyes concept. “It’s showing them it’s OK to have a little fun. I like my artwork to always have a sense of humor and I think this does that.”
More than 3,000 LED lights, hundreds of feet of wiring, a metal structure and a Linux-based computer make up the project’s technical components.
“It’s really nice to make this stuff as art,” said Branden Hall, whose role focused on the electronic aspects of the art display. “It’s nice to make people smile, I really enjoy that.”
The display is part of the Ballston BID’s “Public Displays of Innovation” series, which also includes the lifeguard chairs placed throughout Ballston.
“We want to bring the amazing creativity and imagination of the people who live and work in Ballston to the street level,” said Ballston BID CEO Tina Leone. “We weren’t even sure at first if it could be done. I didn’t realize it was going to be this cool. It makes you stop to think about how you interact with your neighborhood.”
Sen. Tim Kaine showed up at the farmers market, campaigning for County Board candidate Alan Howze. He checked out the electronic eyes and said he likes the idea of having more public art in communities.
“Why not make communities beautiful?” Kaine said. “I think art, and it doesn’t have to be expensive, I think it makes people feel better about the place where they live.”
The interactive eyes will be in Welburn Square through November.
Lucky Pot opened last Thursday with its storefront on the Wilson Blvd side of the building, across the street from the Colonial Village condominiums. It’s owner Zhong Lin’s first restaurant after working in Chinese restaurants for more than 20 years, he said.
“I always liked to cook,” Lin said with a smile. “My friends were always very happy to come over to eat.”
In the first week of business, he’s sent out 12,000 menus to try to draw attention to his business, the second to open in the building, after a nail salon a few doors down.
The restaurant delivers and encourages online ordering (with a $15 minimum and $1 delivery charge). Lin said the Thai dishes, like Pad Thai and curry shrimp, are the most popular things on the menu, but he doesn’t have a specialty. “Everything’s good,” he said.
Lucky Pot opens at 11:00 a.m. Monday-Saturday and closes at 10:00 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It’s open from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Sundays.
(Updated at 1:10 p.m.) Bistro 360 quietly opened its doors two weeks ago for a soft opening, but word already has spread quickly.
Customers have trickled in to check out the new restaurant at 1800 Wilson Blvd, in the former Cafe Assorti space, while staff work to get operations running smoothly. The grand opening will be next Wednesday, November 5.
Long time Arlingtonian Art Hauptman owns the new restaurant, as well as Cassatt’s Kiwi Cafe on Lee Highway. He noted the Bistro 360 space combines three different settings: a gourmet market, a bistro for more elegant dining and a wine bar for casual drinks and snacks.
“We’re trying to build on the success of Cassatt’s, but in a different format,” Hauptman said. “We want to bring some of the best items from many of the world’s cuisines to Arlington, just as we brought the idea of a New Zealand style cafe 12 years ago. One of the basic ideas is that travel affects food and we want to show that as well.”
Art’s brother, Bob Hauptman, said the diverse menu emphasizes Art’s world travel and includes something for everyone, at a good value.
“We like to say we’re ‘world’s fare at your door.’ You have stuff from around the world right here,” Bob said. “We know it’s different and we think it will work.”
French-born chef Jacques Imperato is an Arlington resident and helped develop the seasonal menus. The bistro menu includes items like Asian glazed duck, tuna tempura, Turkish pide and a lemongrass pork chop. The wine bar serves nibbles like tomato and cheese croquettes, bay scallops ceviche and Georgian cheese bread with egg. Cheese and charcuterie are available in both the bistro and wine bar, as well as the market. The market also will sell some of Bistro 360′s freshly baked breads and small dishes that can be taken home.
The restaurant should add lunch and brunch soon, but right now will focus on dinner. There will be outdoor seating in the spring. Bob noted management also is interested in the possibility of delivery down the road — both for food and wine.
“Come in and give us a try,” Bob said. “Come and enjoy!”
A digital consultant in Arlington will be giving answers in the form of questions on national television tonight.
Matthew LaMagna will be on Jeopardy! tonight on WJLA (channel 7 for Comcast subscribers) at 7:30 p.m. LaMagna works as a data science and research manager for Targeted Victory, a campaign consultant firm.
On LaMagna’s company biography page, he claims to have “a near-encyclopedic memory of 80s and 90s song lyrics, which helps him to win numerous rounds of pub quiz throughout the Washington metropolitan area.” He’s a Georgetown graduate and a native of Freehold, N.J., almost 50 miles south of Hoboken.
LaMagna is far from the first Arlington resident to compete on Jeopardy! in recent years. One woman, Liz Murphy, advanced to the semifinals of the Tournament of Champions in 2010. Lawyer Melissa Jurgens competed on the game show last year.
Photos courtesy Jeopardy Productions, Inc.
It wouldn’t be October if there weren’t some creepy creations crawling onto lawns around Arlington.
We encountered residents who surrendered their yard to frightful grave-dwellers on N. Jackson Street, in Ashton Heights, and in two yards within a block of S. Joyce Street in Aurora Highlands.
Have you seen other ghoulish Halloween decorations around town? If so, snap a photo or two and post it in the comments section.
Halloween takes place on Friday, Oct. 31 this year. There is no official time for trick-or-treating in Arlington County.
A number of Halloween-themed events are taking place over the next two weekends, including the Howl-O-Ween dog walk, the Douglas Park Halloween Trail of Terror, a family-friendly Halloween party at Potomac Overlook Regional Park, and a Halloween bar crawl in Clarendon.
Inner Ear Studio doesn’t have a neon sign on its door, a flashy building with modern designs or gold records on the wall.
What the Shirlington-area studio has is decades of experience recording D.C. artists, nurturing the local punk and independent music scenes, and, now, the cachet of being one of the eight studios in the country the Foo Fighters recorded in for their new album and TV show on HBO, Sonic Highways.
This Friday night at 11:00 p.m., on HBO, you can watch the Foo Fighters and Springfield, Va., native Dave Grohl record a song for the album at Inner Ear Studio (2710 S. Oakland Street), along with interviews and stories of Grohl’s time growing up around the D.C. punk rock scene. You can watch the preview for the episode on HBO’s website.
Inner Ear started in founder Don Zientara’s basement in the 1970s, when Zientara was in a band and needed somewhere he and his friends could record.
“I was in a band, and we needed to record a demo tape,” Zientara said while sitting at Inner Ear’s mixing board last week. “I had always had tape recorders, but I had a decent one at that time. I borrowed microphones, bought a basic mixer. People started to hear that I had equipment, which was not typical at the time.”
Zientara traveled around D.C. with the recording equipment in his backseat, bringing it to different independent musicians’ houses, or hosting them in his basement. “I happened to drop into the indie music scene at the right time, because it was really not supported by major studios here.”
In 1979, Zientara started the business, doing it as a side project until 1985, when it was successful enough to do it full-time. It was in his basement that Grohl recorded with the band Scream, before he joined Nirvana.
“I remember walking down into that basement as if it were Abbey Road,” Grohl told the Washington Post. “‘Oh my god, Rites of Spring recorded here!’ It was like hallowed ground to me. And then later on, I recorded at the new facility after I was in Nirvana — I recorded some stuff there with my sister and one of those songs ended up on the first Foo Fighters album. But it was cool to see our bass player, Nate [Mendel], walk down the hallways and look at all the albums that had been made there, realizing that the soundtrack of his youth was on the walls.”
If you have a sweet tooth, get ready to spend time hanging out at a new shop coming to Westover. “Village Sweet” bakery is preparing to move in at 5872 Washington Blvd.
Owner Dawn Hart has operated a customized sugar cookie business online since 2006. She had wanted to expand her offerings and to secure a brick-and-mortar location, which would allow her to stop renting commercial kitchen space. It was her dream to open in Westover, the neighborhood where she lives, but she didn’t think any space would open up. It just so happened that the day after she talked to her husband about the prospect of opening a bakery in Westover, he ran into the landlord for the space Village Sweet now will occupy.
“We’re very excited and the location honestly could not be better,” said Hart. “It’s such a happening place.”
Although customers can continue to order the customized cookies Hart made so popular with Monster Cookie Co., the shop will serve a wide variety of sweets. Donuts, guava and cotija cheese pastries, seasonal granolas and dark chocolate cookies with steal cut oats are some of the goodies Hart plans to offer. She’s still playing around with the full menu and will do small recipe taste test events until the shop opens.
“We’re pairing some things a lot of people probably have not had before and opening up some unique flavors,” Hart said.
Something she’s passionate about is making sure the treats taste good, but also are baked on-site each morning with quality, local ingredients. There will be gluten-free and nut-free options for customers with allergies.
“We’re baking foods you’re going to feel good about eating. They’re not loaded with preservatives. They’re the best quality pastries you can possibly get. It’s just an updated version of your’s mom’s baking,” said Hart. “If you’re going to put a doughnut in your mouth, you should feel good about it. It’s so important to me, the quality of what people are eating.”
During the day the shop will have seating for customers, but certain nights will be designated for groups to rent out the space for custom cookie decorating parties. The bakers will come up with custom sugar cookies for nearly any occasion — such as kids’ birthdays, book clubs and holiday parties — and customers get to ice and decorate the cookies however they choose.
Village Sweet does not yet have a firm opening date, but Hart hopes it will be in January. There will be a grand opening celebration once she feels operations are running smoothly.
Amsterdam Falafelshop, a fast, top-your-own-dish D.C. restaurant chain, is opening its newest location in Clarendon this afternoon.
The shop, in the former BGR: The Burger Joint space at 3024 Wilson Blvd, opens to the public at 3:00 p.m. this afternoon, according to CEO Arianne Bennett, who was celebrating the new space with a friends-and-family lunch this afternoon. The location will be open until 3:00 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2:30 a.m Tuesdays and Wednesdays and midnight on Mondays.
The eatery has been in the works for months, and Bennett said her two D.C. locations — in Adams Morgan and on 14th Street NW — were fielding calls every day asking when her first Virginia shop would open.
“When we started doing tastings outside yesterday, there was a flock of people,” Bennett said. “People have been telling us they can’t wait until we open.”
The excitement is over a simple concept: a customer walks in and orders either a falafel sandwich in a regular or wheat pita, or a falafel bowl. They can then load up with toppings like hummus, cucumbers and onions, baba ghanoush, pickled beets and cabbage, cole slaw, imported pickles, pickled turnips and pickled cauliflower. A regular sandwich costs $6.55, a small costs $5.55, and both come with unlimited toppings. A bowl is charged by weight. The shop also serves Dutch-style fries and brownies.
“Our friends moved to Amsterdam years ago, and when we visited, there were falafel shops everywhere, like pizza places here,” Bennett said. “And everyone was topping for themselves, it wasn’t done for you. So we just wanted something like that.”
The walls are covered in paintings by G. Byron Peck, the lead artist for many wall murals in D.C. There are photographs on the walls and laminated onto the tables — Bennett said they are all vacation photos from her and her husband’s trips to Amsterdam.
The Clarendon shop is the first Amsterdam Falafelshop franchise owned by David Rosenstein, but he said he has a five-franchise deal and is looking more around the D.C. area for his next shops. He’s targeting Georgetown for his second franchise, but said he wasn’t sure about the locations for the other franchises.
“We’re going to take it one store at a time,” Rosenstein said. “We’re looking for the right combination of office, housing and nightlife, and in the right spot with the right people.”
Periwinkle, a women’s clothing boutique in the Village at Shirlington, plans to close at the end of the year.
The shop, at 4150 Campbell Ave., is owned by Elizabeth Mason, who said she has decided not to renew her lease after being in the location for five years.
“Business is down and rent continues to go up, but it was always going to be a 5-year deal, the option to renew was never going to work for me,” Mason told ARLnow.com via email. “The landlord and I did discuss if I wanted to renew, but they wanted too much rent and as I said, this year sales have been down so it worked out to just let the lease end.”
Periwinkle also has a location in Old Town Alexandria, which Mason said is closing in November when her lease is up there. She plans to focus on Periwinkle’s online shop, her affordable online shop The Pink Armoire, and finding a new retail space in the area.
Periwinkle is the third storefront to close in the Village at Shirlington in the last two weeks, following Bloomers and Aladdin’s Eatery. Mason said “business is down” while a Bloomers employee told ARLnow.com the store may have shut down due to “a lack of foot traffic.” A manager in a nearby store told ARLnow.com that both companies have no one to blame for their closing but themselves.
“Bloomers always struggled in its execution,” the manager, who wished to remain anonymous, said. “The average female doesn’t look for lingerie and bras on the sidewalk. Periwinkle has struggled in the past year, but I heard from customers it’s because of the shop’s pricing and sizing.”
The manager, who said she had worked in the Village at Shirlington for more than five years, said foot traffic in the shopping and restaurant district has rarely been better.
“Shirlington has great foot traffic,” the manager said. “People never used to come to the side of the village with Bloomer’s and Periwinkle because they didn’t know it was there. It’s just been getting better and better over the years.”
Photo via Periwinkle
Virginia is one of the states participating in the Great Southeast Shakeout this morning.
The shakeout is a multi-state earthquake drill, set to take place at 10:16 a.m. Residents are encouraged to “drop,” “cover” and “hold on” during the drill and during an actual earthquake.
Schools, businesses, community groups across the Commonwealth are expected to participate in the drill.
The former owner of Kitty O’Shea’s in Courthouse is bringing a new Irish Pub to Arlington, this time along Columbia Pike.
Danny McFadden owned the Courthouse pub until it closed in 2011 and he moved it to Tenleytown after a dispute with the landlord, the Schupp Companies. He no longer owns the Kitty O’Shea’s in D.C., according to his business partner, Mike McMahon, and has thrown his energy into The Celtic House, the pub that is planning to replace Manee Thai at 2500 Columbia Pike.
McMahon, McFadden and a former chef at Ireland’s Four Courts are the three founding partners of the restaurant, McMahon told ARLnow.com today, and he said the pub should be open “within a few weeks.” A new bar is being built and the remaining work is “just cleanup and waiting for permits,” he said.
“We like the area,” McMahon said in his Irish brogue. “It’s upcoming and there are a lot of young people here.”
McMahon said between the three partners, they combine for more than 100 years of restaurant experience, almost entirely in Irish pub-style restaurants. He said the menu will be “very broad,” and feels there’s enough room for customers despite P. Brennan’s Irish Pub being just a few blocks away.
“We’re going for very traditional Irish food with some American dishes, too,” he said. “We want it to be welcoming for everyone, to bring their families, children, grandparents and the like.”
Hat tip to @EmmaK84
The study, conducted by financial advice company NerdWallet using data from online event platform EventBrite, says Arlington’s “overall score for Halloween parties,” which is a combination of number of RSVPs and affordability, is 83.79 out of 100.
Arlington registered a seven out of 10 for its “party engagement score” and has an average party cost of $12.15, second-lowest in the top 10, behind No. 8 Nashville, Tenn., at $12.11. Washington, D.C., is the 17th-best city in the country for parties with an overall score of 81.73 and an average cost of $25.64.
The engagement score is on a scale of 1-10, according to NerdWallet, with a 10 meaning more than 20,000 people in one city have RSVP-ed to a Halloween party. The only city in the country to achieve a 10 was San Francisco, the top city on the list. Behind San Francisco, which had an overall score of 96.14, on the list are New York City, San Antonio, Texas, and Phoenix.
Flickr pool photo by ddimick
Aladdin’s Eatery, the health-conscious, Lebanese restaurant in the Village at Shirlington, has closed.
The restaurant, at 4044 Campbell Ave., is locked and had all of its furniture removed this week. ARLnow.com has been unable to confirm with the company’s corporate office whether the closure is permanent or for a renovation. There is no indication on the exterior of the building of the nature of the shop’s closing.
The location in the Village at Shirlington was Aladdin’s only restaurant in Arlington. It had recently featured belly dancing shows from Saffron Dance in Virginia Square.The closest location is in Burke, almost 10 miles away.
(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) Disruption Corporation and Crystal Tech Fund founder Paul Singh and Arlington Chamber of Commerce President Kate Roche are among those chosen as Leadership Arlington’s “40 under 40” honorees.
Singh and Roche were among the more than 250 nominations Leadership Arlington received this year for the distinction. The honors go to “40 emerging leaders under the age of 40 who demonstrate impact personally and/or professionally through their exceptional leadership throughout the D.C. metropolitan region.”
Singh, 33, opened his Disruption Corporation headquarters and launched its venture arm, Crystal Tech Fund, in Crystal City in April. Since then, Disruption has become a registered investment advisor focused on investors who want to fund private companies.
Roche, 29, was named president of the Chamber of Commerce in June, taking over for the now-retired Rich Doud, who had served for decades in the position. At the time, Roche said her youth was a positive, and let her bring new energy and perspective to the position. Roche’s focus at the chamber has been to build partnerships, and get businesses working more closely with community organizations around Arlington.
In addition to Singh and Roche, The Shooshan Company’s Kelly Shooshan is also among the honorees. Shooshan leads residential development for the Ballston developer, leading projects like, most notably, the Liberty Center development in Ballston.
Other honorees include Kim Klingler of the American Society of Clinical Oncology; Ron Novak of Segue Technologies; Joe Petty of the Crystal City Business Improvement District; Terron Sims, II of Doug Pollard, LLC; and Kedrick Whitmore of Venable LLP.
The 40 under 40 awards will be presented on Thursday, Dec. 4 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Army Navy Country Club. The lunch is $60 per person if tickets are purchased before Nov. 20.
The complete list of honorees, after the jump.
Bangkok 54′s grocery store has reopened, nine months after a fire tore through the business and forced it to shut down.
The market is connected to the Bangkok 54 Thai restaurant at 2919 Columbia Pike, which was able to open the day after the Dec. 12 fire. Owner Bundit Sookmee said the fire, which was concentrated in the front of the store, forced him to spend eight months rebuilding and restocking the store, which specializes in Asian grocery products.
“Everything was gone,” he told ARLnow.com today. “The ceiling fell down, there was water everywhere. You couldn’t even walk in here. We had to throw everything away.”
The market reopened three weeks ago, Sookmee said, largely unchanged, aside from a different layout of refrigerators and shelving. One change that could be coming soon: a 15-20 seat cafe serving fast meals like Thai noodle soup for customers in a hurry. The new cafe would be connected to the market, not the Thai restaurant, and Sookmee is currently applying for county permits in hopes of opening soon.