Cucina Vivace, at 509 23rd Street S. in Crystal City, has closed.
The restaurant closed last month, to the disappointment of regular customers. Chef/owner Gordon Vivace suggested that the restaurant row on 23rd Street was no longer drawing in the customers he needed in order to stay open.
“That strip is not in good shape and is simply no longer a location where an upscale restaurant can survive,” Vivace told ARLnow.com. “I was presented with an opportunity to leave on short notice, and chose to take it.”
Vivace said he does not plan to reopen.
“I’m going to stick to catering and personal chef services where my food can be my food without compromise to the price people are willing to pay to walk in the door,” he said.
Adam’s Corner, a hookah lounge and bar at 2319 Wilson Blvd in Courthouse, closed its doors over this past weekend.
It’s unclear why the local watering hole, which also served as a Red Sox and Patriots bar, closed. One business owner on the block said Adam’s Corner was evicted, though that could not be independently confirmed. The interior of the restaurant appeared to be largely empty this afternoon.
The building in which Adam’s Corner was located is set to be torn down to be replaced with a new 8-story office building, displacing the three remaining restaurants on the block: Listrani’s, Thai at Corner and Taste of Tunisia. The business owner said he does not anticipate moving out to make way for construction until next year. A construction timetable could also not be independently confirmed.
One tipster suggested that Adam’s Corner, which opened in 2010, lacked a core brand identity.
“I guess the Red Sox theme coupled with jazz and hookah didn’t pack them in,” the tipster said.
Earlier last month, before the closure, one customer lauded Adam’s Corner on its Facebook page, calling it “probably the only bar in Arlington that even knows how to chill the hell out and relax.”
The restaurant, at 2155 Crystal Square Arcade, was not visible from the outside; it was entirely inside the underground Crystal City Shops, and thus got most of its business from lunch-goers who work in the area. The closure comes as Crystal City faces higher office vacancies and fewer workers as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC). As of January, almost 20 percent of Crystal City’s 12.5 million square feet of office space was vacant.
The McDonald’s space is expected to be used as art studio space as part of the Crystal City Business Improvement District’s new “Art Underground” initiative. The project, set to launch on March 16, is intended to transform “five blocks of Crystal City’s interior retail space into a vibrant arts and cultural destination with galleries, studios, interactive exhibits and activities, performance and classroom spaces, and a host of special events.”
The space will be run by the Arlington Artists Alliance and will be open to local artists who are looking for a space “to create, practice and showcase their talents.”
“We’re extremely excited to transform the underground in a way that we think is active and fresh, and really activates the retail space and gives people a reason to come to Crystal City,” said BID president Angela Fox.
Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
(Updated at 1:05 p.m.) Ray’s Hell Burger and Ray’s Hell Burger Too (1713 & 1725 Wilson Blvd) has closed in Rosslyn.
The closure is the result of a landlord-tenant dispute between restaurateur Michael Landrum and his landlord, the historic Colonial Village Shopping Center. Court records show that Landrum filed a lawsuit against the shopping center on Nov. 16. Yesterday afternoon, the shopping center locked Landrum and his staff out of both storefronts.
“Landlord has changed the locks,” said signs on the door. “Do not unlock this door under penalty of damages.”
Handwritten signs in the window, posted by Landrum, direct customers across the street to Ray’s to the Third (1650 Wilson Blvd).
“Please visit us at Ray’s to the Third while we take a quick break,” said one of the signs. “Please do not leave your car in this lot if you come across the street… towing is very likely.”
Reached via phone, Landrum declined to elaborate on his complaint against the landlord, citing ongoing litigation. He did, however, vow to continue to serve his famous burgers, which in 2010 drew President Obama and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to Rosslyn eatery.
“We continue to serve the Original Hell-Burger and all of our famous signature items, at Ray’s To Third, which has been temporarily reformatted to allow for counter service and to go for convenience and extra value, as well as full-service, sit-down table service,” he told ARLnow.com. “And yes, credit cards are accepted.”
“We’re fighting to the last man and cooking to the last burger… nothing’s going to stop us from doing that,” a defiant Landrum added. “This is a very minor blip.”
In an emailed statement, Landrum spoke generally about the relationship between landlords and tenants.
I am not saying this is the case here, but landlords abuse their power and violate the rights of tenants with near-total impunity all the time, because tenants rarely have the means or the ability to defend their rights This is something all of us, or very nearly all of us, have experienced. What often times gets me labeled as a “firebrand” (or worse) is simply my refusal to allow my rights to be violated, my insistence on fair treatment, and my willingness to suffer and challenge the consequences when those things are violated.
Landrum said he’s currently planning an inauguration-related
event special at Ray’s to the Third. He’s not currently looking for a new space for Ray’s Hell Burger.
The restaurant has “closed for reorganization,” according to its website, and as pointed out in the ARLnow.com Forums earlier this week. The restaurant’s phone number has been disconnected and its owner could not be reached for clarification.
The restaurant opened in December 2011. It’s owned by Memphis native and restaurant veteran Chris George, who recruited Redrick Rayborn, formerly the manager of a Memphis-area barbecue restaurant, to serve as “pit master.”
The 5,500 square foot space included a 54-seat bar and a 170-seat dining room. Rock ‘n’ roll and Memphis-related memorabilia adorned the walls.
“When I walked past the shop earlier this week they had moved the planters out of the way and it looked like they had removed some stuff already,” a tipster told ARLnow.com today.
The Memphis Barbeque website asks customers to “please check back for future developments” but doesn’t otherwise say definitively whether the restaurant will re-open.
At least one remnant of the restaurant is still alive and well, though. The Memphis Barbeque Facebook page has not yet mentioned the closing and today asked its 55 followers what they would rather be doing at the moment instead of work.
The restaurant has already taken down the “Lime” sign above the entrance and posted a notice on the door. Customers are being encouraged to go to Lime’s remaining location at Pentagon Row (1101 S. Joyce Street).
Ruby Tuesday, the owner of the Lime chain, closed two company-owned stores after announcing disappointing financial results on Wednesday.
Hat tip to @zippychance
Dick Visconti’s family owns the chain of stores, which is based in New Jersey. He said his brother had wanted to open a store in Arlington, but suddenly lost interest.
“My brother was operating the store and chose not to be involved anymore, and it got in the run down condition you saw,” Visconti said. “I came back in October 2011 and kept the store operational until now.”
When Visconti revived the store a little more than a year ago, the intention all along was to keep it open only until the lease expired, which happens this month. There is no plan to open a new Arlington location due to logistics.
“Unfortunately I’m done with Arlington. I’m a New Jersey based company and to operate in Arlington is logistically not feasible,” said Visconti. “I regret it because I think Arlington is beyond an awesome place to live and have a business, Market Common is an awesome location.”
Visconti said he hopes the store’s employees will be able to quickly find new jobs.
“They’re an outstanding staff. I wish I had them here,” Visconti said. “I told them that if any of them wanted to move to New Jersey, I’d hire them in a second.”
The Papery is holding a 50% off sale on everything in the store until it closes on January 13. Visconti reiterated that he wishes he didn’t have to close, but he doesn’t see any other option.
“I just live in New Jersey and can’t do it, that’s the bottom line,” said Visconti. “I’m really sorry that we have to go.”
Tagolio Pizzeria & Enoteca (549 23rd Street S.) in Crystal City has closed after its owner pleaded guilty to charges of assault and battery against an employee.
Tedros “Teddy” Tzehaye, a 40-year-old Springfield resident, was accused of rape by a female employee in September. The alleged incident took place at the restaurant between 2:30 and 3:00 a.m. on a Thursday, according to a police report. Alcohol was involved, we’re told.
The woman was brought to the hospital for an examination and Tzehaye was arrested on Sept. 27 and charged with forcible rape. The charge was later amended to assault and battery, to which Tzehaye pleaded guilty. The plea was an Alford plea, ARLnow.com has learned, which means that Tzehaye asserted his innocence while admitting that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict.
Tzehaye’s attorneys declined to answer questions about their client’s side of the story. Prosecutors also declined to comment on the record.
Tzehaye is out on bail, awaiting a final sentencing hearing scheduled for May 7, 2013. Prosecutors have recommended one year of probation and no jail time.
A tipster says Tagolio has been closed “for several weeks.” The restaurant’s phone number has been disconnected.
Tagolio was noted for its coal-fired pizza and earned generally positive reviews on Yelp.
The restaurant opened in February 2011 but served its final diners last night. Owner Prat Uthes says Burapa struggled to find a steady customer base in a very competitive area, despite running a number of Groupons and other “daily deals.”
“The reason is tough economy and I can not compete with this location,” she told ARLnow.com. “Too many restaurants in the area and rent is too high.”
Still, Uthes said closing was a tough decision.
“I am so sad to leave this area,” she said. “I love all customers.”
Uthes said the Burapa Thai location in Lansdowne will remain open, and she’s planning to open a new location in Haymarket.
Hat tip to @dcrants
“This location is far more challenging than anticipated so we have decided to close the doors,” the Facebook post said. “We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause some. Thank you and God Bless.”
This is the latest in a lengthening line of business closures at the off-the-beaten-path retail cluster, located on the ground floor of the Eclipse condo building between Crystal City and Potomac Yard, just off Route 1.
Melody Tavern had replaced McGinty’s Irish Pub, which closed in December 2010. Hee Been Asian Bistro Buffet closed there in July after just 7 months in business. Harris Teeter has yet to reopen after a major sewage backup in May. (No word yet on a reopening date.) Meanwhile, across the street, a Jerry’s Subs and Pizza closed last year.
Part of the blame may be the lack of foot traffic from anyone other than residents of the two adjacent residential buildings, and the fact that the businesses are set back from the street and hard to see to people driving by. Another possible explanation: last November, we reported that Melody Tavern had to issue a press release after it was revealed that some GPS navigation systems directed people to a vacant lot several blocks away when trying to find the restaurant’s address.
Hikaru Sushi, at 2200 Wilson Blvd, closed its doors over the weekend, we’re told. The restaurant’s sign has been taken down, the phone lines have been disconnected, and workers could be seen removing kitchen equipment on Saturday.
One resident reported via Twitter that the owner of the Hikaru told customers that he was moving and thus decided to close the restaurant. We were unable to reach the owner for comment.
The Ballston location of the Marvelous Market, a small regional chain of gourmet food stores/cafes, has closed permanently.
Located at 888 N. Quincy Street, the store closed its doors for good on Monday, a tipster said. The contents of the store — including tables, signs, sinks, appliances and electronics — were promptly put up for auction.
The store was owned by a independent franchisee, not the chain’s parent company, according to Ryland Johnson, the director of operations for the Marvelous Market. There are currently 5 company-owned stores and 2 franchise stores open in the D.C. area, he said.
Johnson declined further comment.
The Ballston store is not the only Marvelous Market location to close recently. A McLean location closed in March, a Reston location and a Tenlytown (D.C.) location closed last year, and today it was revealed that the chain’s Capitol Hill franchise has severed ties with the company and reopened as “The Silver Spork.”
According to the company’s web site, the Ballston location was the last remaining Marvelous Market in Virginia.
Hat tip to @zippychance
After 24 years in business, Santa Fe Cafe (1500 Wilson Blvd) will be closing its doors.
The restaurant — the longest-running in Rosslyn — will be closing around Oct. 27 (exact date TBA). Owner Kip Laramie said he made the difficult decision to close after finding out his rent was to increase nearly 30 percent should he renew his lease.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to help people have a howling good time at Santa Fe Café for the last 24 years,” said Laramie. “My staff and I have seen Rosslyn develop from a convenient but somewhat sleepy neighborhood into one of the most vibrant places in the country to live, work, play and learn.”
The news comes as Santa Fe Cafe is in the midst of its annual Hatch green chili harvest festival. During the festival, which runs through mid-October, the restaurant serves special dishes made with the famous green chiles from Hatch, New Mexico. The spicy chiles are flown in fresh from a local grower in Hatch, then roasted and peeled.
Over the years, Santa Fe Cafe has served its New Mexico-focused cuisine for a number of notable people and organizations, including the New Mexico State Society, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, former Governor Bill Richardson, the U.S. Supreme Court and a number of local trade associations and nonprofits. The restaurant has hosted benefits for the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network and BRAVO.
Laramie, who will turn 60 in March, said he would have liked to run the restaurant for a few more years, before retiring and handing it over to his staff. Now, he said his goal is to make sure his 11 employees — three of whom have been with the restaurant since it opened on May 1, 1988 — find new jobs.
“I’m very fortunate to have this wonderful group that i’ve worked with for so long,” he said. “I’m going to do everything I possibly can to find them an even better job than they had here.”
Laramie said he has had a good relationship with the owner of his building — which is now vacant, after some 1,300 Air Force personnel moved out as a result of BRAC — but the extra rent required to renew the long-standing lease was too much for his small business.
“It was just a decision by the landlord that the space is worth more than I can afford,” he said. “I don’t hold those cards, unfortunately.”
Laramie, a former restaurant broker, said it’s tough for a small, locally-owned restaurant to succeed in a high-rent environment like Rosslyn, but added that he’s not alone.
“I think some of the chains that moved in here are even having a tough time,” he said. Still, Laramie thinks Rosslyn will be an even more attractive place to own a restaurant once a few of the large planned or under-construction new buildings open.
“A couple of years from now, it will be a wonderful place to have a business, with all these buildings that are going up,” he said.
The deli, at 1000 N. Randolph Street in the former Upper Crust Cafe space, served Illy coffee and Carnegie Deli-branded meats, but received mixed reviews on Yelp, with customers complaining about the food and the service.
“I had to tell someone three times what was in a Reuben, only to have her slather mayo all over the bread,” wrote one reviewer.
A sign in the window says the restaurant space is now available for lease.
Photo courtesy Bill Colton
Boathouse Meeting Today — A public meeting regarding a proposed boathouse along Arlington’s Potomac River shoreline is being held tonight. The National Park Service is holding the meeting at Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford Street) from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Senor Pan Closes — After just 6 months in business, Columbia Pike-area cafe/bakery Senor Pan has apparently closed, according to the Pike Wire Twitter feed. Senor Pan was located at 922 S. Walter Reed Drive.
Student Production Plays at Fringe Fest — Mindset, a “surrealist rock opera” created, directed and choreographed by H-B Woodlawn students, is currently playing at the Capital Fringe Festival. The show originally featured all Woodlawn students, but now professional actors have been added to the cast. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Damiec