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by Ethan Rothstein — May 12, 2015 at 2:00 pm 4,959 0

A towing standoff outside Ray's Hell BurgerIt has been nearly a month since ESPN reporter Britt McHenry’s tirade against an Advanced Towing employee went viral — and the company says business is booming.

John O’Neill, Advanced Towing’s owner, said he has received between 10 and 12 inquiries and new clients since the video leaked April 16, about double the company’s normal rate.

“New customer inquiries and acquisitions do increase when parking space poaching receives media notoriety,” he told ARLnow.com in an email. “Every new residential or commercial highrise being built in Arlington and surrounding areas engage towing services and there are a fair number of new projects being constructed. There are often more vehicles than available spaces in residential or multi-use settings causing parking to be an ongoing, popular topic.”

While Advanced Towing trucks may be getting busier, they won’t be towing cars away from the Hunan One Restaurant parking lot in Clarendon, at 3033 Wilson Blvd, where McHenry’s car was towed.

The parking lot sign at 3033 Wilson BlvdHunan One General Manager Dale Jin told ARLnow.com yesterday that the restaurant’s building — a seven-story mixed-use structure with offices on top of ground floor retail — was recently sold to Carr Properties. When Carr Properties bought the building, it brought in Henry’s Wrecker Service to patrol the lot.

“We’re much happier now,” Jin said. “We complained for years about the towing company.”

O’Neill confirmed that Advanced no longer serves the lot, but said the change had “no connection whatsoever” with the McHenry incident

Hat tip to @6number6

by Ethan Rothstein — May 11, 2015 at 4:30 pm 3,440 0

The old Extra Virgin space in Shirlington (photo via Google Maps)A new restaurant that puts a focus on the arts is planning to move into the Village at Shirlington, in the former Extra Virgin space.

The venture, called Palette 22, was announced by Village at Shirlington’s owner, Federal Realty Investment Trust. The new restaurant, at 4053 Campbell Ave., will be the first business in the corner storefront since Extra Virgin closed in March 2013.

In between, Italian restaurant La Tagliatella had signed a lease to move into the vacated shop, but the international chain’s planned U.S. expansion fizzled out, and it never moved in. It has since closed its location in Clarendon.

It’s unclear when Palette 22 will open, or who will be running it when it does. Multiple calls to Federal Realty today have not been returned.

“Palette 22 combines food, art and fun, focusing on modern street food small plate dishes with an international flavor,” The Village at Shirlington’s website says. “It will integrate local art and artists into the whole dining experience.”

by Ethan Rothstein — May 11, 2015 at 11:30 am 2,662 0

Arlington Mill Community Center(Updated at 1:20 p.m.) The cafe space in the Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street) is likely to remain vacant for even longer, after Arlington County is planning to terminate another signed lease.

After signing coffee shop and eatery “Root” to a 10-year-lease in January, the Arlington County Board will vote this weekend to terminate that lease. County staff say the cafe’s owner, Alami Abderrahim, said he could no longer operate the restaurant after paying for an emergency surgery for his mother.

Root is the second cafe the county had signed to fill the restaurant space, and the second that has had to back out. Pan American Cafe was originally signed as the tenant for the 1,875-square-foot space in summer 2013, but asked out of its lease that November, citing family and personal health reasons. The County Board terminated its lease in April 2014.

"Root" cafe logoIt took nine months to sign another restaurant tenant in Root, and again took less than six months before the tenant backed out. Abderrahim never received keys to the space, the county said, and never paid his rent or security deposits. Staff says he has not returned calls since March.

If the County Board signs off on the lease termination this week, staff will again look to court a tenant for the cafe space it envisioned as a healthy, fast options for users of the community center, which opened in September 2013.

When Abderrahim signed the lease in January, the county estimated Root would open in late 2015, partly because of nearly $300,000 in HVAC services the space still needs. There’s no estimate for when it could sign another tenant, or when that would open.

by Ethan Rothstein — May 8, 2015 at 4:30 pm 1,843 0

Fresh Bikes in BallstonThe popular Tuesday Night Rides that take hundreds of cyclists from Ballston to N. Military Road during the summer will not be canceled and were only postponed because the organizer applied for the permit too late, county officials say.

The rides have been organized by FreshBikes owner Scott McAhren for eight years, growing from a few dozen people to as many as 500, and in recent years they have been accompanied by a police escort. The first ride was scheduled for this week, but it was cancelled after McAhren didn’t secure a permit.

On Tuesday, McAhren told ARLnow.com that he reached out to the county “earlier this year” when a special events staffer told him “there’s almost a zero percent chance we’re going to approve it every week again.”

Now, on FreshBikes’ website, McAhren wrote he applied for a permit April 22, less than three weeks before the first ride was scheduled. Special events permits typically take 90 days to process.

“The May 5 ride was canceled because the County got the Special Event Permit on April 22, which was too short notice to process the event with all the appropriate County departments,” he wrote on the website.

Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius said county staff was surprised to read ARLnow.com’s story on Tuesday, considering their most recent conversations with McAhren.

“He said to us that he woke up in the middle of the night and realized he forgot to file the permit application,” Curtius said. “This is not about if we were thinking about killing the bike program.”

McAhren and the county are planning on holding a permit hearing on May 19, when representatives from the parks department, police, fire and rescue and other counties will weigh in on what support the event will require and how much compensation the county would need from the organizer. The county anticipates approval, with the rides starting up again next month.

“We approve virtually every permit for a special event,” Curtius said. “It has to go through the process, it goes through fire, police, water and streets. That has to all be assessed and then they issue the permit. Almost always permits get issued.

“It is true that there have been complaints about this event, there have been complaints about other events too,” she continued. “But what happens in that case is we work with the event organizer. The whole emphasis and the whole bias is toward finding a way to making these events happen, and that’s certainly true when it comes to bicycling events, because we’re a very bike-friendly community.”

by Ethan Rothstein — May 8, 2015 at 3:00 pm 2,368 0

Sephora is coming soon to 2800 Clarendon Blvd Sephora is coming soon to 2800 Clarendon Blvd

Sephora, the national cosmetics and beauty products chain, is opening its new store in Clarendon next Friday.

The location will be in the 4,533-square-foot former Eastern Mountain Sports space in Market Common Clarendon, next to the Barnes and Noble.

The store will sell more than 13,000 beauty products from more than 200 brands, it announced in a press release. Anyone who buys more than $50 at the store will be able to get a free “mini-makeover” while they’re there.

There is still construction ongoing in front of the store, which is covered in black and white plywood, with the words “Sephora has arrived” painted on.

by Ethan Rothstein — May 7, 2015 at 3:30 pm 2,871 0

Samantha Rios is a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, and her incredible voice has earned her onto the Spanish-language version of NBC’s “The Voice” reality show.

Samantha appeared on La Voz Kids in March and earned all three judges’ approval for her rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” Tomorrow, she is flying to Miami for the next round of performances, according to her chorus teacher, Raifel Faison.

Samantha Rios (photo via La Voz Kids)Faison has taught chorus at the school just off Route 50 near Arlington’s western border since 2003, and he said Rios is one of the most talents students he’s ever had. Since she came into his class as a sixth-grader, she has only improved.

“She’s always had the power, always had a powerful voice,” he told ARLnow.com this afternoon. “She’s never been shy or lacked confidence in her voice, but her tone has grown tremendously since sixth grade, her musicianship has grown. She’s learned so much about her voice, how to control it, and her vocal technique is definitely improving.”

Rios did tell the three judges that she was from Washington, D.C., in her blind audition, but her family calls Arlington home. Faison said Rios isn’t just a talented signer, she’s a well-rounded person.

“She’s a very sweet, loving, intelligent caring young lady,” he said. “She’s very supportive of her classmates, a hard worker. Whatever positive adjective you can think of would probably describe her.”

Rios is on Team “Daddy Yankee” the stage name of one of the trio of judges, one of 10 team members. According to her bio on La Voz Kids’ website, she’s already sung for the president multiple times and is a member of a D.C. gospel choir.

La Voz Kids airs Sunday nights at 8:00 p.m. on Telemundo.

Photo via La Voz Kids

by ARLnow.com — May 7, 2015 at 9:55 am 9,232 0

Jamie Foxx at Don Tito in Clarendon Jamie Foxx with photographer Dixie D. Vereen at Spider Kelly's in Clarendon

Jamie Foxx, the “Django Unchained” star and R&B artist, was spotted hanging out at a couple Clarendon bars last night.

Foxx, who’s lately in the news for his uninspiring rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, spent several hours at Spider Kelly’s and Don Tito, we’re told.

At Spider Kelly’s, he enjoyed a game of pool with locals and took photos with fans, including local photographer Dixie D. Vereen (above). At Don Tito, he sampled the tacos and drinks and posed for a photo with the staff and fans.

Foxx was in town for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Hope Awards in D.C.

by Ethan Rothstein — May 6, 2015 at 3:30 pm 1,450 0

(Updated at 5:25 p.m.) The new Rosslyn fast-casual pizza restaurant, SpinFire Pizza, held its grand opening party yesterday, an event celebrated by co-owner Pierre Garçon and several of his Washington Redskins teammates.

Pro Bowl linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and wide receiver Ryan Grant were among Garçon’s teammates to attend the grand opening at 1501 Wilson Blvd, enjoying the pizza made in SpinFire’s custom oven, cooked in 90 seconds.

The pizza shop opens at 11:00 a.m. every day, and it closes at 10:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and at 11:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Garçon was also filmed by TMZ on the street outside his business, discussing the business and how users of legalized marijuana in D.C. can enjoy the pizza.

Below is the press release announcing the grand opening.

Last night, Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garçon welcomed over 500 guests – including teammates Ryan Kerrigan and Ryan Grant – to the grand opening of his new Rosslyn pizza eatery, SpinFire. Garçon and partner Fouad Qreitem, Paisano’s Pizza founder, opened the doors to their second SpinFire location in Arlington late last month.

Located at 1501 Wilson Blvd in the heart of the bustling Rosslyn neighborhood, SpinFire specializes in made-to-order individual pizzas, gourmet salads and hearty calzones, all freshly served in 90 seconds. Pizza aficionados can choose from over 30 fresh toppings, hand-cut in-house daily. Offerings at the Arlington restaurant include over 12 menu items that range from classic Italian combinations like the Prosciutto Arugula Pizza (arugula, prosciutto, olive oil, fresh mozzarella, ricotta and citrus vinaigrette) to American favorites such as the Hawaiian Pizza (shredded mozzarella, pineapple, smoked ham and scallions). Diners looking for a lighter meal can opt for a specialty salad – Fresh Mozzarella, Chicken Caesar or Prosciutto Arugula – or handpick their favorite ingredients.

With over 70 seats, Garçon and Qreitem’s brainchild also offers sweet tooth patrons the chance to indulge in homemade gelato and sip local brews from Port City Brewing Company of Alexandria, VA.Garçon is thrilled to offer SpinFire’s signature 90-second-service to the Rosslyn neighborhood. “We’re excited to be in Arlington and to provide quick service with an amazing product. Even with a line to the door, you can enjoy SpinFire on a quick lunch break,” confirms Garçon.

by Ethan Rothstein — May 6, 2015 at 11:30 am 2,179 0

Arlington’s dwindling frozen yogurt market will get a boost sometime soon: the Pinkberry in Clarendon appears set to reopen.

The shop closed this winter when its franchise owner, which operated a handful of Pinkberry locations in the D.C. area, filed for bankruptcy. It was put up for auction and has been laying dormant ever since, with the frozen yogurt machines, cups and furniture all in place on the inside.

Last month, the shop started to show signs of life. A “Now Hiring” sign was posted, announcing the shop was looking for workers and managers, and two signs on the doors were posted, saying simply “Swirling Soon!”

There’s no indication of when the shop will reopen, or if a new franchisee will own it or the California-based Pinkberry corporation. A message to the email address listed on the “now hiring” sign was not immediately returned.

by Ethan Rothstein — May 5, 2015 at 12:15 pm 2,312 0

Summers in Courthouse planning to reopen(Updated at 1:05 p.m.Summers Restaurant in Courthouse, a longtime haven for soccer fans, reopened in February after closing at the end of 2014. Now, the sports bar at 1520 N. Courthouse Road will try something new to draw in more customers.

Summers 2, the re-branded back bar, is hosting a grand opening party Friday night, with 1990s cover band The Dial Up. On Saturday, the bar will show the boxing match between superwelterweighs Canelo Alvarez and James Kirkland, with no cover.

The sections of Summers will remain connected and part of the same business, according to a restaurant employee reached by phone this morning. Owner Joe Javidara hired a promotion company, Bar Concepts, to liven up the space.

“We’re just trying to spice up the other bar,” the employee said.

Doors will open at 5:00 p.m. on Friday. The back bar will host events almost every day of the week, with “Draft Night” on Tuesdays, “Drunk Karaoke” on Wednesdays, trivia on Thursdays and live bands on Fridays and DJs on Saturday, according to its website.

The back bar was damaged by a fire in June 2013, and, according to the Washington Post’s Steve Goff, when it was reopened, the business did not return. The Summers employee reached by phone said that business has picked up steadily since the restaurant’s brief closure, and the rebranded bar is another attempt to rejuvenate the 31-year-old business.

File photo

by Ethan Rothstein — May 5, 2015 at 11:10 am 870 0

Images of America Arlington County Police DepartmentThe Arlington County Police Department’s history is the subject of a new book, released yesterday.

Images of America Arlington County Police Department” was released by Arcadia Publishing as part of its ongoing pictorial history series. The author is Janet Rowe, a former ACPD patrol officer who compiled photos from the 75-year history of the ACPD, many of which have never previously been published, according to a press release from Arcadia.

“This photographic history covers law enforcement from the early days of rumrunners to the present day, showing the changes in uniforms, equipment, methods of policing, and the department’s response to the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon,” the release states. “Officers are shown training for the line of duty, investigating crimes, serving in specialized units, and promoting public safety.”

The profits from the book will be donated to the ACPD Friends and Family Fund, which supports the family of officers in times of crisis. The book is available now online and in bookstores for $21.99.

Rowe served in the ACPD for 31 years, from 1981 to 2012, in evening patrol and as a member of the Crisis Negotiation Team. According to her bio, she is a recipient of two meritorious service awards, a life-saving award, the medal of valor and was named officer of the year by the ACPD.

“She hopes that this book will help highlight the police department through the decades and will bring another piece of history to the local community and reviving memories of those that have been part of the community through the years,” her bio reads.

by ARLnow.com — May 4, 2015 at 3:30 pm 16,380 0

2014 All American Bar Crawl in Clarendon (photo via Facebook/Project DC Events)The men’s lifestyle website Thrillist thinks Clarendon is chock full of bros.

Thrillist included Clarendon in its list of “America’s 12 Bro-iest Neighborhoods,” ranked No. 10.

Bros, defined by Urban Dictionary as “obnoxious partying males,” are supposedly attracted to Clarendon as a temporary place of residence right out of college.

From Thrillist:

So, you just graduated from Georgetown and got yourself a job where your boss isn’t also the guy sitting across from you at Thanksgiving dinner. Congrats. Now, where do you go to rock your Vineyard Vines, drink craft beer, and live with your college lacrosse teammate? Clarendon, of course, right across the river from DC in Virginia. It’s where all the fresh-outta-school bros show off the extra cash before moving to Manhattan work in finance and be closer to family in Connecticut.

Ranking higher than Arlington on Thrillist’s bro scale are neighborhoods like Murray Hill in New York City (No. 1), Uptown in Dallas (No. 2), Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, Calif. (No. 3), Wrigleyville in Chicago (No. 4) and Capitol Hill in Seattle (No. 5).

Photo via Facebook/Project DC Events

by Ethan Rothstein — May 4, 2015 at 1:30 pm 727 0

Specs New York in Pentagon Row Specs New York in Pentagon Row

A new sunglasses store is getting ready to open in the Pentagon Row shopping district in Pentagon City.

Specs New York, which sells designer sunglasses and has locations in New York City, Montgomery Mall and Springfield, Va., is occupying a small, standalone space along S. Joyce Street. The shop carries brands like Ray Ban, Luxottica and Oliver Peoples.

The store appears just about ready to open, but it’s unclear when an opening date will be. A call placed to Specs New York’s corporate number in New York was not answered, and the voicemail system “is not set up,” according to the recording.

The boutique’s website lists the Arlington store as “coming soon,” but says it’s opening up in the nearby Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall.

by Ethan Rothstein — May 4, 2015 at 11:20 am 8,497 0

Despite a weekend where neighbors came by and were served free pizza, The Italian Store isn’t opening in Westover for another two weeks.

Owner Robert Tramonte said the two soft openings were meant as a “thank you” to the neighborhood– and a chance to break in the new pizza ovens — but the store, at 5837 Washington Blvd, is far from fully stocked. Many of the shelves are still bare, waiting for deliveries from Italy.

“People were so excited this weekend, I don’t want to say I couldn’t believe it, but I almost couldn’t believe it,” Tramonte told ARLnow.com this morning. “The sidewalk was like a boardwalk, there were so many people out there.”

The second location of the popular Lyon Village shop has been in the works since December 2013, when Tramonte announced he was taking over the former 7-Eleven space and turning it into an “Italian Store on steroids.” The wait has been long because of construction and permitting delays, but Tramonte said it was all positive responses this weekend.

“The thing I surprised me was a lot of people were thanking me,” he said. “I said, ‘What are you thanking me for?’ Maybe I’m hitting Westover at the perfect time. They felt this was maybe the little push they needed. They felt like the Italian Store kind of raised the neighborhood up a notch.”

The interior of the new store is warmly lit, with wood shelving and brick walls. There are three separate stations where customers can get sandwiches and individual pizza slices, pizza pies and Illy espresso. Construction project manager Leon MacMullen, giving a reporter a tour this morning, said everything was designed to keep people moving freely throughout the store, which is 6,000 square feet.

“When people come in, you want them to know it’s the Italian Store,” MacMullen said.

The artwork on the wall is vintage Barilla advertisements from Italy. A refurbished, antique meat slicer is by the checkout counter, ready to slice prosciutto and other high-end, cured meats “as thin as paper.” In the back, there’s a separate room for wine tastings, outfitted with a “secret enclave” that can be used to store wine.

Tramonte’s son Michael, freshly graduated from Gonzaga University — the alma mater of NBA legend John Stockton, Robert’s brother-in-law — will manage the front, market part of the store, while restaurant veteran John Koltisko will be running the back of the house. Michael Tramonte spent his last semester in college living in Florence, and is hoping to use that experience to give the store an even more authentic feel.

Tramonte is still hiring, and applicants can stop by the location to inquire about positions. When the store opens, it will allow for seating on the patio, with the potential for more outside seating along Washington Blvd.

by Ethan Rothstein — May 1, 2015 at 3:45 pm 3,914 0

Just over 13 months after opening with a mini-sandwich giveaway, 100 Montaditos in Rosslyn is now closed.

The Spanish-style restaurant at 1776 Wilson Blvd specialized in serving all different kinds of mini sandwiches, with a variety of ingredients like pulled park, Iberican ham, brie and chocolate. Its parent company declared bankruptcy back in March, which appears to have been the Rosslyn location’s death knell.

An anonymous tipster tells us that 100 Montaditos packed up the interior overnight last night, coinciding with the end of the month. The interior is bare and the door is now locked — there are splotches of missing paint on the walls where artwork used to hang.

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