Lebanese Taverna, which began as a single storefront in Arlington operated by an immigrant couple and their five children, is celebrating its 35th anniversary with events and specials over the next two months.
On July 28 and 29 at the Westover location (5900 Washington Blvd) and Aug. 6 and 7 at Pentagon Row (1101 S. Joyce Street), Lebanese Taverna will serve dishes from its 1979 menu with the original prices to commemorate the year the restaurant opened.
The restaurant is also currently taking submissions for a social media contest, in which longtime customers can email the restaurant their favorite Lebanese Taverna memory and then vote on their favorites by liking them on the restaurant’s Facebook page. A limousine will chauffeur the winners to different Lebanese Taverna locations for a five-to-six course meal, Shea said.
“We’re celebrating our uniqueness,” said Lebanese Taverna Vice President Grace Shea, the youngest child of founders Tanios and Marie Abi-Najm. “Thirty-five years is a long time for a restaurant to be open.”
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) will present a congressional proclamation of congratulations to the Abi-Najm family at a private event Friday evening, Shea said. The Westover restaurant will be open Friday at 6:30 p.m. for a kickoff event with the 1979 prices for invited guests from local civic associations and members of the public who happen to stop by.
“I’m proud of my family and what they’ve accomplished over the years,” Shea said. “When my parents came here they had five kids, $500 and spoke no English.”
The Abi-Najm family came to Arlington in 1976 to escape the civil war in Lebanon. Marie Abi-Najm worked as a teaching assistant and Tanios Abi-Najm did odd jobs and painted until they saved enough money to open their own restaurant in 1979, in the same storefront they still occupy just down the street from their house, Shea said.
“My dad always loved food and it was a way for him to bring a piece of Lebanon here to us,” Shea said. Her mother came from Dfoun, Lebanon, a village famous for producing chefs.
At first, Lebanese Taverna served pizza and subs and operated under “Athenian Taverna,” the name used by the previous tenants. Shea’s parents and her four siblings in high school were the only employees during the first year, causing business to suffer, she said.
In 1979, the restaurant only offered shish kabob and hummus as menu specials because they were novelties for most Arlington residents. However, their traditional food starting piquing customers’ interests after their first year in business, inspiring the Abi-Najm’s to change the restaurant’s name and put Lebanese fare on half their menu, according to Shea.
“We’d sit down for our family dinners at the restaurant and customers would say, ‘Wow, what is that? We want some of that,’” Shea said. The restaurant kept its half-Italian menu until 1983.
Once the restaurant was officially Lebanese Taverna, a second location opened in 1990 on Connecticut Avenue in D.C. It later expanded to include the Lebanese Taverna Market in D.C., catering division, six restaurants and four cafés it has today.
The event, starting at 8:00 p.m. on June 13, is free and open to the public. It will be the first-ever evening event held at the cemetery’s Memorial Amphitheater, according to organizers.
“‘Arlington at 150′ is an hour-long live military show featuring musical performances by ‘The President’s Own,’ U.S. Marine Band and a Joint Chorus made up with singers from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force; a wreath ceremony and historical vignettes that showcase how military conflicts have shaped our nation and the cemetery,” according to a press release.
“Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis in the amphitheater,” the release continued. “Attendees are encouraged to arrive early to ensure access and should plan to be seated no later than 8:00 p.m.”
The Arlington Cemetery Metro station will remain open until 11:00 p.m. to accommodate the event.
Arlington at 150 is one of a number of special events taking place over a 5 week commemoration of the cemetery’s sesquicentennial.
When we started our original coverage on Jan. 30, 2010, literally no one knew about the site other than family and friends. Today we’re glad to count all 200,000 of you among our friends.
Here’s looking forward to another four years of growing and serving the community.
Sometimes it seems like Arlington is a revolving door for small businesses and restaurants, but one store owner in Crystal City is bucking the trend and holding an anniversary party. Gossip (566 23rd Street S.) is holding its “5 Year Anniversary Festa and Fashion Show” tomorrow (November 10).
Owner Katherine Glorioso, who hails from Falls Church, had known for years that she wanted to open a boutique featuring Southern California fashions. She started off by selling a few items at Eastern Market. After four straight weeks of selling out halfway through the day, Glorioso’s parents pushed her to set up a brick and mortar establishment.
Glorioso originally thought her boutique would fit well in Georgetown, but she discovered that rent prices were too high. Her goal was to keep all pieces of merchandise below $100 each, which would make it difficult to pay Georgetown rents. Her father tipped her off to a potential space in Crystal City. Upon seeing the area her father had suggested, Glorioso had a flashback to being on 23rd Street when she was younger.
“I used to walk down the block my store is now on and thought, ‘One day I’ll have something on this block,’” said Glorioso.
She credits her father, an entrepreneur, for assisting her with opening the store.
“It was so much hard work, but it was the best decision I ever made. I feel very blessed,” Glorioso said. “I worked my butt off, I knew what I was doing and I had my wonderful father to help along the way. I was going to make it no matter what. There was no option of failure.”
Gossip began in a small 450 square foot space, then expanded last summer. In addition to clothing and accessories, the expansion allowed for adding vintage clothing, undergarments, shoes and children’s clothing. Glorioso continues keeping her eyes open for potential areas for expansion, because she would eventually like to open a store in North Arlington.
As part of tomorrow’s anniversary celebration, Gossip will run a sale from 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. Customers who purchase at least $25 worth of merchandise will receive a free goodie bag with a surprise inside.
Additionally, there will be a fashion show across the street at Tortoise and Hare Bar and Grille (567 23rd Street S.) at 8:00 p.m. It will feature items from Gossip’s fall and winter collections. The event is free to attend and there will be complimentary appetizers. Raffle tickets will be sold at the fashion show for five gift bags filled with up to $100 in merchandise from Gossip. The raffle tickets are $2 each and all proceeds will be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The art venue has often been the target of criticism due to a rocky first year in existence, which included low attendance and revenue. However, there’s been a concerted effort to turn things around by following a revamped business plan.
“We’ve had a really successful year and I think if people engage with the arts they understand the value of it. I would certainly encourage people to participate more to understand the value,” said Artisphere Executive Director Jose Ortiz. “Like any new organization or start-up, you go thorough some growing pains. I hope at this point we would have all moved past that.”
On the heels of accolades over this year’s Frida Kahlo exhibit, Drector of Programming Rosanna Ruscetti suddenly departed in April for family reasons. She had been credited with helping to stabilize the struggling art venue. Ruscetti was replaced in August by Josh Stoltzfus.
In addition to the new Director of Programming, Artisphere hired a Chief Financial Officer in April. Ortiz said the new staff is just one of the factors keeping the venue on track with its new goals.
“It’s definitely a team effort, everyone working together toward a common goal,” said Ortiz. “On the programming side we’re having great appeal. Having a CFO there has helped us to manage our money more closely as well.”
Ortiz said one of the challenges Artisphere continues to battle is how to offer art in a way that’s different from all the other local venues.
“In this business this idea that everyone’s presenting music and art, but how do we do that in a way that distinguishes us?” he said. “The ongoing challenge is always, how do we present a program that’s unique and on-brand and appeals to people?”
One example of the unique art, according to Ortiz, is Craig Colorusso’s roaming exhibit “Sun Boxes” which kicks off the anniversary celebration on Thursday, October 4. It is made up of 20 solar powered speakers that create a sonic landscape. The exhibit will be in different locations throughout Rosslyn this weekend; locations and times are listed online.
“It’s a great example of how we’re able to take our art outside of our walls,” Ortiz said. “People who may not come in to visit us will experience art on the street. It’s an example of how we do something and do it uniquely.”
The big events inside Artisphere take place this Saturday, October 6, and Sunday, October 7. The party begins at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday with Brazilian music from New York City’s Forro in the Dark, followed by the D.C. Metro’s own Alma Tropicalia at 9:00 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online.
The festivities culminate on Sunday with the Free Family Day Open House, which runs from 12:30-4:30 p.m. Activities are largely hands-on and allow visitors to interact with artists by participating in storytelling, theatrical workshops and creating a commemorative mural.
“It’s a great day for people to engage with the arts in a different way than you would customarily,” said Ortiz.
The nature center was saved from potential closure and demolition in 2009 when supporters rallied to have it removed from a list of county budget cuts. Now, the nonprofit Friends of the Gulf Branch Nature Center organization is throwing the wooded outpost another birthday party.
The free event is scheduled from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 16. The program includes:
- Live music by the New Old Time String Band
- Live animal encounters and nature fun for everyone
- “Open forge” with the Blacksmiths’ Guild
- Birthday cake
Photo via friendsofgbnc.org
The sister establishments will be holding a joint anniversary event at Liberty Tavern (3195 Wilson Blvd) tomorrow night (Thursday, April 12). From 4:00 p.m. until close, the restaurant will be offering two specialty cocktails from its opening menu — the “Pursuit of Happiness” and the “Industrial” — for $5. Starting at 9:00 p.m., at the bar and lounge, Liberty Tavern will also be offering complimentary Liberty pizza, Lyon Hall frankfurters and Northside Social confections.
Soccer Field to Close for Summer – The synthetic turf field at Virginia Highlands Park, used extensively for soccer games, is expected to be closed for much of the spring and summer so that the turf can be replaced. [Sun Gazette]
Church to Celebrate 50th Anniversary — St. Peter’s Episcopal Church (4250 N. Glebe Road) will be holding a concert next weekend to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The concert, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 12. [Falls Church News-Press]
Arlington Man Killed by Dump Truck — Prince George’s County Police are investigating the death of an Arlington County man who was hit by a dump truck in Capitol Heights on Wednesday evening. [Gazette.net]
Parks Department Shortens Name — The Arlington County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources is now just the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation. The “Cultural Resources” part of the name was dropped after the Cultural Affairs Division (and Artisphere) was moved over to the county’s Arlington Economic Development department.
Doctor Threatens Suit Against VSP for ‘Racial Slurs’ — A Florida doctor is contemplating a lawsuit against Virginia State Police for alleged civil rights violations following an accident. The incident started on July 3, 2011, when Dr. Maria Ferrer crashed her car into an HOV gate on I-395 in Arlington. Dr. Ferrer says two VSP troopers arrived on scene and, at one point, used racial slurs before citing her for traffic violations. [NBC Washington]
ARLnow.com Reaches 100,000 Comments — At some point yesterday afternoon, ARLnow.com recorded its 100,000th published comment. That’s an average of about 137 comments per day since ARLnow.com first launched on Jan. 29, 2010.
The library, which was built in 1961, will host a event on Saturday that will include face painting, balloons, vintage photographs and free birthday cake.
Before the family-friendly fun kicks off, there will be a performance by a local singer from 10:30 to 11:00 a.m., and a brief ceremony featuring a talk by Arlington and Cherrydale historian Kathryn Holt Springston from 11:00 to 11:30 a.m.
The library is located at 2190 Military Road. For more information call the branch at 703-228-6330.
Flickr photo via Arlington Public Library
If you haven’t seen it already, Nathan took out an ad on our homepage today to say “Happy Anniversary” and “I love you, always and forever” to his lovely wife. The ad links to a YouTube video of the Etta James classic “At Last” — the first song they danced to at their wedding.
Happy anniversary to both of you.
The annual Lyon Park-Ashton Heights house tour will be held this weekend.
This year’s event will mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of Ashton Heights. The tour will feature homes built between 1904 and 2009. Along the way there will be antique cars, retro costumes, old documents and demonstrations of green technology.
The tour will take place on Sunday between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. Here’s how organizers are describing it:
Ninety years after real estate developer Ashton Jones created the subdivision he named after himself and appealed to Washingtonians to move to one of the first commuter neighborhoods in Arlington, the Ashton Heights Civic Association kicks off its anniversary celebration with the annual Lyon Park-Ashton Heights Villas & Vistas house tour showcasing the area’s history and charm.
This year’s Villas & Vistas house tour will celebrate Ashton Heights’ 90th anniversary with proceeds benefiting the renovation of the Lyon Park Community Center, a 1920s historic structure. The tour features twelve houses spanning 1904-2009, from bungalows to colonials, and the way residents have adapted them over nine decades through remodeling and green opportunities. Tour participants also will experience some fun vintage surprises–old cars, retro costumes, and original house documents–along the way. Owners will be on hand to demonstrate aspects of green technology, display building materials, point out original details, describe renovation/design parameters, and share product information (as well as fascinating stories about former owners.) A limited number of the Ashton Heights Style Guide, an illustrative how-to on planning additions to period houses, will be available.
See a list of homes on the tour here.
Other events being held this year in honor of Ashton Height’s 90th anniversary include a neighborhood picnic, lectures on neighborhood history and “a celebration of long-time residents.”
Today is the 235th birthday of the United States Marine Corps.
Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote the following on his blog to mark the occasion:
For 235 years, United States Marines have earned a privileged place in our hearts. For we know that when there is a tough job to do, we can “send in the Marines,” knowing that they will get the job done.
From Iwo Jima to Inchon, from Khe Sanh to Kandahar, Marines have always been ready to respond whenever and wherever the Nation calls … prepared to meet any challenge or foe … from sea to shore and beyond.
As long as the world is an unstable place, Marines will continue to fight and prevail with the high standards befitting their title … and with the spirit of the Corps that is in the DNA of every warrior privileged to wear the eagle, globe, and anchor.
To every Marine I say thank you. Thank you for your willingness to make the most profound commitment someone can make—to dedicate yourself completely to your service and your country. I also want to extend a special thanks to your families as well. The Marine Corps simply couldn’t be what it is without the extraordinary love and support of our Marine Corps families.
This week, in gatherings large and small, you will come together to honor the rich heritage of the Corps and the proud legacy of the Marines who have gone before you. On this occasion, a grateful Nation commends your service and joins you in celebration.
On behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Happy Birthday and Semper Fidelis!
Marines, what are you doing to celebrate?
McGruff the Crime Dog has been encouraging kids to “Take a Bite Out of Crime” for 30 years now. To celebrate McGruff’s big anniversary, the Crystal City-based National Crime Prevention Council has spruced up the old dog’s look.
Perhaps sensing that a mascot who talks to children while wearing a trench coat with nothing underneath is a bit suspect, the new McGruff now sports a shirt and tie, along with less frumpy-looking slacks and shoes.
In addition to a new look, McGruff has a new mission: to help prevent bullying. And who better to talk about bullying than someone who got punched in the face by a Metrobus driver?
Just don’t expect McGruff to get “too preachy.”
“We knew that if our audience caught us talking down to them, we wouldn’t be effective,” said Adam Kline, who wrote the screenplay to McGruff’s new animated video. “So while we treated the subject earnestly, we always tried to inject some comedy.”
You heard right, kids — get ready for a wisecracking but earnest crime dog wearing business casual, coming to a school/computer screen/bus stop near you.
Shortly after the market opens at 8:00 a.m, county board member Mary Hynes will host a ceremony honoring the founders of the market.
There will also be giveaways, kids’ activities, gardening demonstrations, and appearances by local chefs, who will be sharing cooking tips.
In the wake of several farmers market vendors being shut down by health inspectors two weeks ago, safety-minded county officials will also be distributing flyers to market customers and vendors.
The content of those flyers, after the jump.