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by ARLnow.com — October 7, 2014 at 3:45 pm 1,900 0

Bloomers in Shirlington closesAnyone who wants to pick up some ladies’ undergarments and loungewear will have to look somewhere other than Bloomers in Shirlington. The store at 4150 Campbell Avenue has closed its doors for good.

When ARLnow.com stopped by today, the store had been cleared out except for some display cases and mannequins. It’s unclear exactly why the store shut, but an employee speculated it might have been a lack of foot traffic. The original store in Old Town Alexandria will remain open.

Bloomers had been in Shirlington since January 2012. A representative for The Village at Shirlington was not able to give any clues as to what might move into the former Bloomers space.

by ARLnow.com — October 6, 2014 at 5:00 pm 2,952 0

Squirrel in ArlingtonA sure sign autumn has arrived is the number of squirrels scampering around the county collecting nuts. But residents in many parts of Arlington will notice a lot less squirrel scampering than in years past.

It appears most parts of the county have fewer squirrels this year. Arlington County Natural Resources Manager Alonso Abugattas confirms that from spring through October – although no hard numbers yet are available — there have been “reports of fewer squirrels and anecdotal evidence” of a smaller population.

Abugattas said although many people immediately point to last year’s cold winter as the culprit, that’s probably not directly the cause. He said it would be very unlikely for large numbers of squirrels to die here by freezing to death.

“These animals, squirrels and so forth, if they have an adequate food supply, their little motors can keep them going and they can survive. If they have food they can keep their metabolism up and the cold won’t affect them as much,” he said. “Remember, we have squirrels way up in Canada, so they’re used to that weather. These animals are remarkably resilient.”

A more likely scenario, according to Abugattas, is that last year’s small acorn crop negatively affected the squirrel population. Many squirrels probably struggled to find adequate food with the decrease in acorns, but the problem is very localized. Certain neighborhoods where the animals managed to find other sources of food – such as bird feeders or berries — didn’t see the sharp decline other neighborhoods experienced.

“Places where they’ve been able to find an alternate food source, those may have been able to bounce back. It really depends on local conditions at that site. I still don’t think there are many places where there are extra squirrels, which we saw a few years ago,” said Abugattas.

Because it is the beginning of the season, so far the robustness of the 2014 acorn crop is not known. Researchers have begun analyzing acorn production but won’t have a better idea of the crop specifics for another couple of months. It’s something naturalists are paying close attention to due to the amount of wildlife that oak trees support.

“I don’t think I’ve come up with a more important tree in our woods, as far as its importance to wildlife,” said Abugattas. “More than 600 different species depend on oaks. Caterpillars, birds, bears, turkeys, deer.”

And of course, the squirrels. Although this year seems to have been an overall down year for the local squirrel population, Abugattas offers a reminder of how quickly it could see a resurgence.

“Squirrels are rodents, so like other rodents they can reproduce fairly quickly. If they have an adequate food supply they can reproduce twice or three times per year,” he said. “In fact, we’ve probably just had another batch born. Again, it’s all anecdotal at this point, but we could see the population bounce back in many areas rather quickly.”

by Ethan Rothstein — October 6, 2014 at 12:15 pm 2,330 0

Becca Premo is likely Arlington’s only clothing maker who specializes exclusively in baby shoes.

Premo, 25, runs The Bashful Elephant, an online baby moccasin seller through the website Etsy. Premo has been selling “baby mocs,” as she calls them, on Etsy since March.

Premo moved to Arlington when her husband got a job in the D.C. area, but she had already set the wheels in motion for her new career path, designing patterns and styles in the Windy City. She had been studying psychology at Roosevelt University when the artistic side of her started to get restless.

“My parents encouraged me to pick a practical career path, so I picked psychology and stifled my creative self,” she told ARLnow.com over coffee at Cosi in Rosslyn. “I felt like I was in a box.”

Premo started to look for ways to express herself and turn it into a business. Sewing and crafts “have always been in my family,” the Chicago area native said, so she decided to make shoes. Baby shoes were a natural choice, since less material makes it cheaper to get started.

“It’s easier to make baby sizes,” she said, “and you can be more creative. You can make a bright pink shoe with bows and people love it.”

It took her months to get an array of patterns and designs she was happy with, she said. Even though making the shoes is “super user-friendly,” she admitted she was nervous to actually hit the market.

“I was scared to start for a long time,” she said. “I felt I needed to present it as a serious business, but I found out people want a personal touch. They want to know your story.”

Once Premo launched the store, she got immediate interest and drew a following on Instagram, where she says she attracts a majority of her customers.

More than six months in, she offers shoes for newborns up to size 7, which she says is approximately for toddlers 2-and-a-half years old. Because her customer base is constantly growing, she said she’s considering growing along with it; she is looking into purchasing rubber soles and making bigger shoes.

“There’s a huge market for people who are willing to spend,” she said. “Lots of people have a lot of money, and they would rather spend it on their children than on themselves.”

While she was making her point, a male stranger walked by and asked about the dozen or so shoes laid out on the table. He was a new father, and just like that, Premo’s point was made, and she had another customer.

“I’ve never gotten any negative feedback, thank goodness,” she said. “When you put yourself out there, people see you’re just a girl trying to do something, and they really latch onto that.”

by Ethan Rothstein — October 3, 2014 at 1:45 pm 2,304 0

White flag flying outside Ballston's Office of Naval Research (photo courtesy Lori Klein) White flag flying outside Ballston's Office of Naval Research (photo courtesy Lori Klein)

Update at 2:15 p.m. Office of Naval Research spokesman Doug Abbotts said that the flag is that of the building’s property manager, and it was left up overnight this week while the American flag was taken down. Abbotts said that while it looks like a plain white “surrender” flag, the logo is “faded, but it’s there.”  The white flag has since been taken down.

For two days this week, the Office of Naval Research building, at 875 N. Randolph Street in Ballston, was flying a white flag on its flagpole, not its usual stars and stripes.

Lori Klein lives in the building behind ONR’s headquarters, and she said the flag was up Wednesday and Thursday nights before she talked to a security guard last night. This morning, the white flag was nowhere to be seen and the American flag was back in its normal place.

“I was walking my dog when I saw the flag, so I stopped a security guard and told him about it,” Klein told ARLnow.com over the phone today. “He had no idea it was up there.”

A spokeswoman for the ONR was not aware of the flag when first contacted by ARLnow.com.

The flag was seemingly reminiscent of the work of German artists this summer, who replaced two American flags on the Brooklyn Bridge with white flags.

If it was a prank “somebody really pulled something off… considering there are cameras and security guards all over the place, and how high alert they must be on,” Klein said.

The Office of Naval Research is an agency within the Dept. of Defense that “coordinates, executes, and promotes the science and technology programs of the United States Navy and Marine Corps.”

Photos courtesy Lori Klein

by Ethan Rothstein — October 2, 2014 at 3:30 pm 1,233 0

Future Highline bar in Crystal City (photo courtesy Robert Mandle)The newest food and drink option coming to Crystal City, Highline, hopes to open by the end of the year.

The bar is opening in the former Bailey’s Pub space at 2010 Crystal Drive. It’s owned by Bedrock Bars, which also owns the Continental in Rosslyn, CarPool in Ballston and Buffalo Billiards, RocketBar and Penn Social in the District, among others. Highline would be Bedrock’s 25th restaurant.

“The number one thing people want in their community is a place beyond work and home — what we call the ‘Third Space,’” said Geoffrey Dawson, one of the bar’s co-owners. “We want Highline to be a place where people can literally and figuratively get outside of their box either to hang with friends, collaborate with colleagues or meet new people.”

Highline will consist of 7,300 square feet of indoor floor space. It is being imagined as a “neighborhood meeting house,” with whiteboards and post-its for business lunches and coffee meetings, and the capability to shift to a happy hour, relaxed feel in the evenings.

The concept isn’t yet complete, however. Dawson and his co-owner, Peter Bayne, said they plan on hosting “pop-up happy hours” throughout Crystal City to solicit ideas for the bar from the community. Bayne calls it a “crowd-sourced social space.”

“Highline will be uniquely designed for and unique to Crystal City,” Bayne said in a press release. “We want to hear from the people who work and live in Crystal City — find out what they want our space to offer.”

Highline plans to offer a selection of craft beers and cocktails, but there’s no word yet on how many taps the bar will have or if it will have the games like shuffleboard and skeeball that have become Bedrock’s other D.C.-area offerings’ signatures.

File photo courtesy Robert Mandle

by Andrea Swalec — October 2, 2014 at 11:00 am 477 0

 

Arlington’s top chefs beat out the county’s best firehouse cooks at a reality TV-style charity competition fought in Clarendon Wednesday night.

Professional cooks won two out of three “Golden Eggplants” awarded at the Arlington Food Assistance Center‘s third annual Chiefs vs. Chefs benefit.

Given ingredients found in AFAC pantries that serve a growing number of hungry Arlington residents, Arlington County Fire Department Lt. Richard Slusher and Firefighter Anthony Westfall of Station 4 in Clarendon took the first award of the night. They whipped up potato and zucchini latkes with a Mediterranean salsa and lemon-basil sour cream. The firehouse cooks bested chef Tim Ma of the Virginia Square eatery Water & Wall. Ma made a hot dog salad with avocado, corn, fish sauce and palm sugar.

“[The latkes] were elegant, well-seasoned and artful,” judge David Guas of Bayou Bakery said after he announced his vote by hoisting a red sign with a fire hat. “Do you have any more?”

Making a vegetarian chili with crispy chicken confit, chefs Kate Jansen and Tracy O’Grady of the Ballston restaurant Willow won the soup round of the food fight. They beat out Capt. Bosephus “Bo” Bennett of ACFD headquarters and Firefighter David Harrison of Station 5, who made a fall harvest root vegetable soup topped with curry whipped cream.

“It’s creamy and delicious, and the texture is lovely,” ruled judge Shannon Overmiller of Alexandria’s Majestic Cafe.

Bennett, a 14-year veteran of the department, said county firefighters were honored to help AFAC fundraise for needy people.

“It’s for the cause. That’s what we’re here for,” he said, noting that firefighters on calls regularly refer people with empty refrigerators to AFAC’s 18 food distribution sites across the county.

The nonprofit has seen a 40 percent uptick in the number of families it serves, executive director Charles Meng said. AFAC gave food to 1,452 families on average every week from Sept. 2012 to Sept. 2013. At the end of last month, that average had risen to 2,036 families every week.

“The number of families we’re seeing is just going up,” Meng said, explaining that Arlington residents say they’re struggling after sequestration cuts and reductions to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

The competition showed that simple foods can be turned into delicious dishes, Capt. Claude Conde of Station 9 said.

“If you use some imagination, you can get some good, healthy meals out of basic ingredients.”

Conde and Firefighter Joaquin Ibarra of Station 1 competed in the competition’s last round, making an entree of creamy risotto with chicken thighs and eggplant. They faced off against chefs William Morris and Peter Smith of Vermilion in Alexandria, who made a rolled chicken ballotine with chicken mousse, tomato ragu with corn and sweet potato, and charred onion.

The Vermilion chefs won the final Golden Eggplant of the night, after the judges ruled the ACFD dish to be under-seasoned.

AFAC, which is primarily run through donations, raised more than $45,00 from the event, Meng said. He said he was happy to highlight the firehouse-cooking tradition.

ACFD Chief James Schwartz explained why firefighters are such good cooks.

“The secret of firehouse cooking is you either cook or clean up. Either you’re a cook when you get here, or you learn fast,” he said.

by Ethan Rothstein — October 1, 2014 at 1:30 pm 1,139 0

Knightsbridge Trading Company, one of just a handful of small business retail shops in Clarendon, is celebrating its one year anniversary this weekend.

From noon to 4:00 p.m., customers and passersby can walk into the shop at 2871 Clarendon Blvd and enjoy free wine, cheese, tea and hors d’oeuvres, according to shop owner Murat Etili. The celebration comes after a year he says met his expectations when he opened his shop with national retailers like Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn and Orvis all just steps from his doors.

“The first year is always where you build your business and pay your dues,” Etili said. “We’ve been extremely well-received. We’re a family business and we’re local, so people seem to appreciate that.”

The shop offers a wide array of gifts and knick knacks, with a consistently changing selection “at surprisingly attractive prices,” it says on its website.

Etili, a graduate of Washington-Lee High School, closed Knightsbridge’s other location in Rockville last year when its building was demolished, but plans to reopen in the same spot when the new development is complete. Until then, Clarendon will be Knightsbridge’s only location.

Despite some criticism for his business model when he first opened, Etili said the people who have come into the shop have been nothing but positive.

“When I was negotiating for the space, there were a few chains ahead of me and I didn’t think I was going to get it,” Etili said. “People have loved it. They were saying there was a huge need, and they were happy it was not another huge chain.”

by Ethan Rothstein — September 29, 2014 at 2:30 pm 2,413 0

Accident involving ART bus near Ballston

(Updated at 3:00 p.m.) A 4-year-old boy was separated from his mother after an ART bus drove away with him on it and her still at the Ballston Metro station this afternoon.

The mother was folding up her infant’s stroller and preparing to get on the ART 52 bus when the boy and an adult male boarded. The bus driver assumed the man was the 4-year-old’s father, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The bus driver then “took off” without the rest of the small child’s family.

The driver told police that she didn’t see the mother outside, preparing to board.

The mother, distressed, called the ART bus hotline, which told her the next bus would be waiting for her at its next stop — Virginia Hospital Center — Sternbeck said. The mother and infant boarded the next ART bus, but there was no bus and no son waiting at the hospital.

At that point, police were called and responded to the hospital and to the bus’s next stop, the East Falls Church Metro station, where the bus with the boy turned around and drove back to the hospital, ending a stressful afternoon for the young family. The separation was deemed accidental and no charges were filed.

“It was a scary moment for the mother and child,” Sternbeck said. “The mother and child were very thankful for our assistance in reuniting them.”

File photo

by ARLnow.com — September 29, 2014 at 12:05 pm 3,713 0

Sidewalk closure on Army Navy Drive (photo courtesy Ted Billings)

A resident’s complaint about a sidewalk closure led to action by county officials on Friday.

Arlington Ridge area resident Ted Billings snapped the photo above, showing a woman pushing a double stroller in the northbound lane of Army Navy Drive. The woman and her children were in the path of fast-moving traffic due to the closure of the only sidewalk on the long stretch between S. Nash Street and 20th Street S.

Billings talked to county staff members and also contacted ARLnow.com about the closure. Officials responded to the scene and determined that the construction crew that put the closure in place did not apply for the proper permits.

From Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jennifer Heilman:

This work is being performed by private contractor who is involved with a residential build project in that vicinity. The sidewalk closure shown in the photo below did not go through the proper DES permitting review process nor were they issued the proper permit to close the sidewalk. County staff has informed the contractor of the violation and has directed them to get proper permits if they need to close the sidewalk again. The sidewalk has since re-opened. We appreciate the information provided by the resident.

Though pleased that the sidewalk was finally reopened, Billings said it required persistence — multiple county staff members initially told him nothing could be done about it, he said.

by Ethan Rothstein — September 29, 2014 at 10:00 am 3,554 0

Chick-fil-A Coffee (photo via Facebook)Customers at Chick-Fil-A’s two Arlington locations — in Ballston Common Mall and at 2200 Crystal Drive in Crystal City — can get a free coffee this week along with their chicken and waffle fries.

The fast food chain is offering its customers either a free small hot coffee or a medium iced coffee with their meal to promote its “new specialty-grade THRIVE Farmers Coffee,” and for International Coffee Day today (Monday).

Other establishments around the area are participating in giveaways for the “holiday,” with McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts both offering free coffee today (McDonald’s is giving away a small and Dunkin Donuts a medium). Peet’s Coffee’s new Shirlington location (4115 Campbell Ave.) is also offering a buy one, get one free deal for a coffee or espresso drink.

Chick-Fil-A’s weeklong promotion goes until Saturday, Oct. 4, and is intended to raise awareness for their “farmer-direct” coffee, which is bought from farms in Central America. The company says its coffee farmers are paid directly, up to 10 times more than farmers are paid via standard trade models.

Photo via Facebook

by Ethan Rothstein — September 26, 2014 at 3:30 pm 4,200 0

Beacon at Clarendon West constructionA late night healthy food option could be on its way to Clarendon.

Toss’d, a new salad business, is planning to open in the ground floor of the new Beacon at Clarendon West apartment building near the corner of Washington and Wilson Blvds. The company launched a Kickstarter page this week to raise $50,000 to help with the cost of building the restaurant’s interior.

“I’ve noticed that the fast food salad industry is sort of at its infancy stages of growing, so I thought it was a good chance to enter the market,” Jason James, one of the restaurant’s owners, told ARLnow.com today. “Something we’re really trying to do is not just bring in the healthy concept of a salad shop, but something farm fresh and GMO-free.”

James said he plans to keep Toss’d open until 3:00 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, to serve as a late night option for the bar crowds in Clarendon. The location is less than two blocks from Clarendon Ballroom, Clarendon Grill, Spider Kelly’s, Mad Rose Tavern and O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub, among other popular watering holes.

“In Clarendon, there are 22 bars that are open, and when all those let out at 2:00 a.m., there are two places that people can get food,” James said. “There’s Goody’s Pizza and Bronx Pizza, so we thought we could be a healthy alternative. We’ll change up the atmosphere and music for late night crowd, and give them something different.”

James said the $50,000 Kickstarter goal — the funding round closes Oct. 25 – is just part of the investment that will go into the restaurant; he also has secured bank loans and private investors. He also said he’s using Kickstarter as a way to market the business. Another marketing strategy he plans to use: during Toss’d’s grand opening weekend, he plans to give away salads to residents and office customers in the area for free.

“We just want to get our name out there,” James said. “That way people can be excited for a new alternative to fast food in the Clarendon area.”

Toss’d is still negotiating the lease with the building’s retail manager, Asadoorian Retail Solutions, but once the space is confirmed, James estimates a four-month buildout period.

File photo

by Ethan Rothstein — September 26, 2014 at 11:10 am 1,538 0

Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) is now lending gardening tools to Arlington residents, and all they need is a library card.

This morning, the library held a “vine cutting” to open the toolshed on its east plaza, next to its community garden. The shed, built from cedar for free by Case Design, will be open for lending from March through November on Wednesdays, 5:00-7:00 p.m., Fridays 3:00-5:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Borrowers must be residents of Arlington County and at least 18 years old.

“We want people to dig in and get their hands dirty,” Arlington Central Library Manager Margaret Brown said.

Brown was joined by Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette and Board member Libby Garvey at the toolshed’s unveiling. Brown said the library was inspired to develop the toolshed and its neighboring vegetable garden — with produce going to the Arlington Food Assistance Center — through Fisette’s sustainability initiative when he was Board chair in 2010. The plan and location for the shed was developed by the Urban Agriculture Task Force last year.

“I really think the library has done a great job of taking some of the big picture ideas the county has,” Fisette said, “and to find ways creatively… to further goals of the county and the [Urban Agriculture] Task Force.”

Fisette donated a shovel he was given from the groundbreaking of Virginia Hospital Center’s new wing in 2001. The other tools, available for borrowing immediately, are:

  • Bow rakes
  • Bow saw
  • Bulb planters
  • Dandelion puller
  • Four-tined soil turner
  • Flat blade shovel
  • Garden hose
  • Hand rakes
  • Hedge clippers
  • Hoes
  • Hook and ladder
  • Loppers
  • Long-handled shovel
  • Pick axes
  • Pitchforks
  • Post hole digger
  • Seed spreader
  • Trowel
  • Walk smoother
  • Wheelbarrow

by Andrea Swalec — September 25, 2014 at 10:00 am 1,498 0

Clarendon Animal Care owners Kayleen Gloor (left) and Natasha Ungerer (Photo courtesy of Clarendon Animal Care)A new doctor’s office for cats and dogs is coming to Clarendon.

Two locals are opening a veterinary clinic on N. 10th St. between N. Garfield and N. Highland Streets. Set to open in early 2015, Clarendon Animal Care will provide a range of treatments.

“We’ll be a full-service general practice doing everything from wellness care to geriatric treatments to management of chronic conditions,” co-owner Kayleen Gloor said.

Gloor, 32, and co-owner Natasha Ungerer, 34, will also perform basic dentistry and have X-ray machines. The office will focus on making both human and animal clients comfortable and helping pet owners understand how to keep their companions healthy.

“I can’t count the number of times people have told me they wish I were their own medical doctor because I explain things so clearly,” Gloor said.

Clarendon Animal Care will replace Ellen's Futons on N. 10th Street.The 3000 N. 10th St. storefront was previously home to Ellen’s Futons, which has locations in Alexandria, Laurel and Rockville.

Gloor, an Arlington resident, and Ungerer, a McLean resident, met during an internship at a veterinary emergency office in Gaithersburg. They believe Clarendon Animal Care will be the only all-woman-owned veterinary clinic in Arlington. The majority of veterinary students are women, yet few own their own practices, Gloor said.

“It’s a bit of an old boys’ club.”

by Ethan Rothstein — September 24, 2014 at 4:30 pm 857 0

Ben's Chili Bowl opens in Reagan National AirportReagan National Airport is not done adding outposts of popular D.C. restaurants; El Centro, Cava Mezze Grill and Lebanese Taverna are among the eateries expected to open by next summer.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates DCA and Dulles International Airport, announced today that it would be opening five new restaurants, including Kapnos Taverna, a Greek restaurant also planning to open in Ballston, and Clarendon’s upscale sports bar, Bracket Room.

The five eateries will go with recently opened Ben’s Chili Bowl, Legal Seafood, Vineyard Vines, American Tap Room and Pinkberry, plus under construction Taylor Gourmet, &pizza and Grille District as part of MWAA’s efforts to spruce up the airport’s food options.

“From the beginning of the Concessions Redevelopment Program at Reagan and Dulles, the Airports Authority has been committed to enhancing the passenger experience at both Reagan and Dulles,” Steve Baker, MWAA’s vice president of business administration, said in a press release. “Whether passengers are looking to recharge themselves or their cell phones, we are providing bright, enticing opportunities with exceptional service for our customers’ shopping and dining pleasure.”

In addition to the new food options, MWAA is planning to overhaul three food courts, at Terminal B (gates 10-22), Terminal B/C (gates 23-34) and Terminal C (gates 35-45). Each food court will offer “grab and go snacks,” alcohol and express eating options, like Say Si Bon Gourmet Market, crêpe shop Magic Pan and Asian shop Wow Bao. The food courts will be similar, MWAA says, to the larger redevelopment that is underway at Terminal A.

File photo

by Andrea Swalec — September 23, 2014 at 12:00 pm 2,489 0

Ballston residents and workers can now get a hot Korean meal in a flash.

The 900 N. Stuart St. deli Mike’s Cafe opened a walk-up window last week that serves the rice, meat and vegetable dish bibimbap.

Owner Mike Kim said he wanted to offer a healthy, “trendy” lunch option.

“From the offices, they’re looking for something original,” said Kim, a 56-year-old Fairfax resident who opened the deli five years ago.

Bibimbap will be served from the window daily from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The meal costs $8.19 and is available with marinated beef bulgogi or less traditional options including pastrami, corned beef and ham.

Kim said he prefers serving customers sandwiches, salads and more in Ballston over his previous work in the steel industry in his native Seoul.

“This is more interesting,” he said. “I like so much to meet new people.”

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