Courthouse restaurant Toscana Grill is giving away free food tonight (Wednesday) before closing for emergency renovations.
On Friday, the Italian restaurant suffered a busted pipe that left three inches of water on the floor. Owner Joe Smith says the restaurant will have to close until mid-June for renovations, including a new dining room floor, new ceiling and new paint.
Not content to let the remaining food in the kitchen go to waste, Smith says he and his staff will be cooking it up and giving it away for free tonight. The free food giveaway will take place from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.
“We will be giving away everything on the menu,” Smith told ARLnow.com via email. “One dish per person, to go only (but there is a patio to enjoy).”
There will also be tip jars set up for the restaurant’s staff. Smith said he’s hopeful that insurance will pay their wages while the restaurant is closed.
Toscana Grill will celebrate its second anniversary under current ownership in mid-July. The restaurant is located in the courtyard area of Courthouse Metro Plaza (2300 Clarendon Blvd).
Photo courtesy Joe Smith
The owners of Cantina Mexicana have opened a new location just off of Columbia Pike.
The new restaurant, at 922 Walter Reed Drive, took over the space previously occupied by Senor Pan. It joins the existing location at 515 23rd Street S. in Crystal City, which has been in business since 1974.
Last year, owner Gloria Arias told ARLnow.com that she had hoped to open the new restaurant in November. It just celebrated its grand opening this past Friday, however.
The restaurant will serve the same “fine Tex-Mex cuisine” as the Crystal City location. In addition to bottled beer, wine and cocktails, the restaurant offers Dos Equis, Pacifico, Modelo Especial and Negra Modelo on tap.
The new Hot Hot Bakery food cart is spending its first day on the streets of Arlington today, featuring freshly baked croissants and other French inspired fare.
Chris Deutsch and his wife Amy Fuller spent a year baking and training in Paris in preparation for opening a food business in Arlington. Deutsch, who is part French, grew up eating the type of pastries featured in his food cart.
“I used to work for the State Department but it wasn’t for me. I wanted to follow my passion and get into the food industry,” he said. “My mother is French so I’ve always loved this kind of baked goods, baguettes, croissants. I just felt that there was a need in this area for that kind of baking.”
“I signed on for that knowing that Enzo (Algarme) and Anastasiya (Laufenberg) would kind of allow me to run my own business at some point with their help, and here we are,” said Deutsch.
Algarme and Laufenberg even allowed Deutsch to use the old cart that helped them get their start in 2007, eventually leading to the opening of a brick and mortar location in 2010.
“This is their old cart that they used. It takes a lot of work to run the restaurant so they couldn’t really use the cart and they offered it up to me,” said Deutsch.
Hot Hot Bakery operates out of a cart and not a truck, so it can stay in one location for most of the day without being required to move. Deutsch plans to spend most of his time serving customers in the Ballston area because it’s so close to Pupatella, where he bakes his pastries in the wee hours of the morning.
Customers can enjoy sandwiches on house made breads baked with organic flours. Eventually there will be lunch specials and perhaps a few different donuts added to the menu. For now, Deutsch says he’s sticking to the basics, such as the croissants he has spent so much time training to make.
“It’s not rocket science but it’s tricky dough. I really wanted to bring the kind of croissants I grew up eating in Paris here. No offense to any bakers or bakeries in this area, but it’s hard to find this kind of baked goods,” said Deutsch. “What I do with the process of making these baked goods is that I let the dough take its time. When it’s ready to move on to the next step, that’s when I’ll go ahead. A lot of bakers will pump stuff full of yeast and put it in a hot chamber to make the process go really fast. But to get nice bread and nice croissants, you have to let it just hang out, basically.”
As far as the name Hot Hot Bakery, that also stems from Deutsch’s time in France.
“My grandmother lived in the south of France along the beaches. Along the beach is a guy who sells hot peanuts. He would go around screaming ‘Hot, hot peanuts!’” Deutsch said. “I was telling my twin brother and sister-in-law that I swear it’s the same guy doing it for the past 25 years. That’s how it came up and it kind of stuck.”
In order to cater to both the lunch and the breakfast crowds, the cart will be open from 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., earlier than many of the other mobile food options. Customers can follow Hot Hot Bakery on Twitter to find out the cart locations on Tuesdays through Fridays.
An Arlington resident is in the running to become the next Miss USA.
Shannon McAnally, who lives in Courthouse, is the reigning Miss Virginia USA and will compete for the national title live on NBC on Sunday, June 16.
Though she will be representing Virginia, McAnnally is actually a native Texan. She moved to Arlington just over a year ago to help her family expand its construction business to Virginia.
The company, MCC and Associates, specializes in restaurant construction and renovation. McAnally is the company’s marketing director and a licensed contractor — the latter being an exceedingly rare accreditation for a young beauty pageant contestant.
“It is very unique… I don’t know many women my age who are involved in the commercial construction industry,” she said. McAnally noted, however, that the Miss USA pageant has featured women who are attorneys and doctors.
“That’s one of the misconceptions you find in beauty pageants, is that you think it’s just about being a pretty face, when it has more to due with the substance of a person,” she said. She said her involvement in pageants started as a fun hobby, but grew into a serious goal and drive to become Miss USA.
McAnally said she picked Arlington and the Courthouse neighborhood as her home above every other locality in Virginia because of the county’s urban amenities, which for made an easier transition from her hometown of Dallas.
“Everything is so convenient,” she said. “You can walk to restaurants and stores, it’s just a perfect area to live in.”
McAnally says she’s an appreciator of museums, dining out, shopping, and music. Her favorite shopping destinations are Georgetown and Tysons Corner, but she can often be spotted at the Courthouse farmers market on Saturday mornings, or two favorite Clarendon food destinations: Whole Foods and Circa restaurant.
Just don’t expect to see her out much between now and June 16. McAnally says she’s been busy training for the pageant, working with walking coaches, interview coaches and other advisers. A vegetarian, McAnally has also been eating extra healthy and “exercising like crazy,” so she can be in top shape for the swimsuit competition.
If you do see McAnally out and about, it may be as she tours the Commonwealth in her role as Miss Virginia USA. She has been able to crisscross the state in style, thanks to the silver 2013 Mercedes Benz C250 that she received as part of her statewide pageant win this past November.
The motorcycle cops who escort motorcades, meter maids, crossing guards and the SWAT team — all of these all under the auspices of the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Operations Section.
The county’s Arlington TV channel recently took a look at ACPD’s special ops section and the various roles it plays in the community. (Video, above.)
The three parks — Drew Playground (3514 22nd Street S.), Hayes Park (1516 N. Lincoln Street) and Lyon Village Park (1800 N. Highland Street) — will open on Saturday will remain in service until Labor Day weekend. Hours of operation can be found online.
All three parks will be open from noon to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Memorial Day, according to Arlington County Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish. (On holidays, like Memorial Day and July 4, normal hours are preempted and the parks are open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.)
The new sprayground at Virginia Highlands park is expected to open “in a couple of weeks,” Kalish said.
(Updated on 5/24/13) The annual motorcycle rally known as Rolling Thunder will rumble into Arlington tomorrow (Friday) afternoon.
As in previous years, residents who live along I-395 and Route 1 can expect to hear the roar of motorcycle engines as hundreds of bikers make their way to the rally’s official hotel, the Hyatt Regency at 2799 Jefferson Davis Highway in Crystal City.
According to the event’s official schedule, Rolling Thunder participants are expected to arrive at the hotel around 3:00 p.m. Friday.
Also on the event’s Memorial Day weekend agenda: a candlelight vigil at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C. at 9:00 p.m. Friday, music and speakers at the Reflecting Pool from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, and a rally in the Pentagon parking lot from 7:00 a.m. to noon on Sunday.
Drivers can expect some road closures around the Pentagon on Sunday morning as a result of the rally. From Arlington County:
The Arlington County Police Department will close part of Washington Boulevard near the Pentagon on Sunday, May 26, 2013, for the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally. From 7:00 a.m. to approximately 4:00 p.m., Washington Blvd. (Route 27) will be closed from I-395 to the Memorial Bridge.
In addition, Arlington National Cemetery will only be accessible from southbound George Washington Memorial Parkway or northbound Route 110.
Motorists should expect large numbers of motorcyclists in Northern Virginia and the entire Washington Metropolitan area this weekend.
Rolling Thunder is now in its 26th year.
The restaurant began serving food over the weekend for both its soft opening and grand opening. Owner Homayon Karimy is originally from Afghanistan and has lived in Pakistan, but Arlington is where is heart is.
“This is home, Arlington is home,” he said. “We’re very happy to be here. Every foreigner says America is the land of opportunity and we want to have that opportunity.”
Prior to opening his own restaurant, Karimy worked at the Lebanese Taverna Market (4400 Old Dominion Drive). His years of experience there helped prepare him for his new venture. Plus, he grew particularly fond of the Cherrydale area.
“I’ve worked in this area only a quarter mile away so I know everyone here. I know people at the Cherrydale Hardware store, I know people at the bank, at the Safeway. I know a lot of people here and Arlington is very close to me,” Harimy said. “Cherrydale in particular because I notice that there is a very neighborhood type of feel. People care about each other, it’s a great community.”
Kite Runner Cafe mainly focuses on Afghan food but also has some Lebanese and Indian dishes. The menu is still being tweaked while employees figure out which dishes will and will not work well in the given kitchen space, which Karimy originally anticipated would be larger.
“The first month is always crazy. In the beginning when you open, there’s a lot of stuff that can go wrong. The other day our A.C. unit started leaking, the day of the grand opening, so I’m like, great. Today the soda machine stopped working,” he said. “Everyday there’s something new, but these are the challenges that come with a business. But we’re very positive.”
Another challenge is that immediately upon opening the doors, Kite Runner Cafe was packed. That, Karimy says, is a welcome problem.
Karimy notes that the restaurant is a family based business. A number of his family members help out there including his parents, sister and cousin.
“It’s a family effort, it’s a family business that we all want to share with the rest. We come from a different country with a different culture but we want to bring that to the people,” he said. “Afghanistan has great food. We don’t just want to hold onto that, we want to share it.”
Eventually, plans for Kite Runner Cafe include delivery service and catering. Until then, employees will focus on providing delicious food and friendly service.
“Come and give us a try. We’re very open to feedback,” said Karimy. “We’re here to serve, we’re here to delight people.”
Tonight the restaurant will team up with its neighbors in the 3800 Lofts building, Subway and House of Steep, for a mixer event from 7:00-8:00 p.m. There will be food samples paired with House of Steep’s tea and snacks from Subway.
The Office Depot at 1515 N. Courthouse Road is closing next month.
Signs and flyers inside the Courthouse store say it will close its doors on June 29. Customers are being encouraged to instead shop at the Alexandria store at 6211 N. Kings Highway or the Falls Church store at 3536 S. Jefferson Drive.
Flyers being handed out by employees offer a $10 discount on purchases of $50 or more at the Alexandria or Falls Church stores. Those who need office supplies in Arlington also have the option of going to the Staples store at 3804 Wilson Blvd in Virginia Square.
Employees told us they’re not sure what will be replacing Office Depot once it closes.
Hat tip to Rob Stern
The new Sweet Leaf Cafe in Courthouse quietly opened its doors this past weekend and handed out free food to customers who stopped in. Now, the restaurant is officially open for business.
Sweet Leaf Cafe moved in at 2200 Wilson Blvd, formerly occupied by Hikaru Sushi. It is the third location, with others in McLean and Vienna. Owner Arita Matini said she’s been wanting to expand into Arlington for a while.
“I love the young environment here, it’s so refreshing,” she said.
Matini believes the cafe stands out because it doesn’t specialize in just one food item. Customers can pick up a little bit of everything, including sandwiches, smoothies, coffee or all day breakfast items. There is also a kids menu and a variety of freshly baked treats.
“We try to do a little bit of everything but also try to keep it simple. We care about providing really good quality food and being part of the community,” said Matini. “Customer service is really big for me. I want to be sure that everyone who comes in is really happy when they leave.”
Matini grew up in Northern Virginia and was an interior design major at Marymount University. She was inspired to get into the restaurant business during her commute to and from Marymount because she felt there were too many chain restaurants in the area. She sought help from her mom, who owns Sweet Stuff in McLean. Matini says all the members of her family now play some role at Sweet Leaf Cafe.
“It wasn’t really something that we thought we were going to do, it was one of those things that kind of just happened. We all loved it and it was successful and we wanted to open another one,” said Matini. “My parents definitely helped me out. Without them, this probably wouldn’t have happened.”
From the couches in the lounge area to the doorknobs functioning as coat hooks to the pieces of an old chicken coop serving as a holder for bags of chips, Matini’s interior design education shows through. She travels around the area searching for unique antiques to adorn the restaurant. She describes the vibe as “farm fresh, country, like your mother’s home.” The free sunflower seeds placed on the table for customers to munch on also add to the country feel.
If things go well with the new location, Matini would like to expand into other areas of Arlington, such as Rosslyn. She hopes to have a grand opening celebration in a few weeks. Until then, the staff will continue serving the curious customers who have been steadily coming in.
“It’s been a good welcome to the neighborhood,” said Matini. “Everybody’s been really nice and welcoming.”
(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) Thousands flocked to Ballston Sunday afternoon for the 26th annual Taste of Arlington festival.
Lines to sample food at the more than 40 restaurant booths seemed generally shorter than in years past, perhaps helped by an effort to expand the footprint of the event in order to reduce congestion. Though cloudy weather and the closure of the Ballston Metro station might have played a role in keeping people away, Ballston Business Improvement District CEO Tina Leone tells ARLnow.com that about 20,000 people attended — which would be a record.
The most tightly-packed crowds could be found in the beer and wine garden, where the over-21 set sampled various brews, ciders and wines. Leone says the beer and wine area will likely be expanded next year as a result.
Three awards were handed out to participating restaurants. Rustico (4075 Wilson Blvd) won for best appetizer, Willow (4301 Fairfax Drive) won for best entree, and Mac’s Donuts, a food cart, won for best dessert.
Disclosure: Taste of Arlington organizer Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
Which Wich, a new sandwich shop at 4300 Wilson Blvd in Ballston, is planning to open its doors on Tuesday.
The store is the chain’s first in the D.C. area, and the
third fourth in Virginia. Which Wich touts its selection, with over 50 sandwich varieties and more than 60 toppings — offering some 56 trillion possible combinations. There’s also a Coke Freestyle machine at the store, with more than 100 drink and flavor combinations.
“The eatery offers a wide variety of options, from flavorful BLTs to offbeat offerings like the honey-banana-peanut butter-bacon-laden Elvis Wich,” said a press release. “Those seeking a healthy spin can choose from over 30 Wiches and Bowlwiches that contain fewer than 400 calories and 6 grams of fat.”
The store officially opens on Tuesday, May 21, according to the press release. It held a “special VIP Preview Party” on Wednesday night.
Which Wich will be open Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Saturday through Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Photos courtesy Joy Asico/Which Wich (as noted)
Red Parrot Asian Bistro will be celebrating its grand opening next week.
The restaurant, at 1110 N. Glebe Road in Ballston, quietly opened for business on March 1. But next Wednesday (May 22) the restaurant will hold its official grand opening event, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
The event will feature free food tastings and happy hour specials, said owner and chef Wendy Cheung. There will also be a DJ, ribbon dancers from Dance Asia, and a ribbon cutting ceremony, we’re told.
Red Parrot, which has two existing location in Hanover and Baltimore, Md., serves Thai, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese cuisine for dine-in, carry-out and delivery.
If the Washington Capitals win tonight against the New York Rangers, the new Z-Burger in Virginia Square will offer free burgers tomorrow.
The Capitals are facing the Rangers tonight in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The game is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. at Verizon Center. The winner will advance to the semifinals, against the winner of the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs series, and the loser will go home for the summer.
Should the Capitals win, the Z-Burger at 3325 Wilson Blvd will give away free burgers during lunchtime on Tuesday.
“If the Caps win tonight, the Z-Burger location in Arlington will be offering free burgers for fans during Tuesday’s lunch from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.,” Z-Burger said in a press release. “All the fans have to do is show up during these hours and say the secret password — ‘CAPZ’ and they will be treated to any single hamburger, veggie burger, turkey burger or single cheeseburger of their choice.”
The offer is only valid at the Arlington Z-Burger location and is good for one burger per person.
A new video produced by Arlington County explains how the local Office of the Magistrate works.
Magistrates are independent judicial officers who determine whether probable cause exists for criminal complaints by law enforcement officers and members of the public.
“Magistrate duties include issuing various types of processes such as arrest warrants, summonses, bonds, search warrants, and medical detention orders,” according to the county’s website. “Magistrates also conduct bail hearings in instances in which an individual is arrested on a warrant charging him or her with a criminal offense. Magistrates provide services 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.
The Arlington magistrate’s office is located at 2020 15th Street N., on the ground floor of the county jail.
The young woman seen being arrested and locked up in the video, for the record, was an intern in the police department’s media relations and public affairs office, not an actual criminal.