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Made-to-Order Ice Cream Shop Coming to Clarendon

by Ethan Rothstein | April 17, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 2,667 views | No Comments

An ice cream shop that takes customers orders, then literally makes the ice cream as the customer watches, is preparing to open in Market Common Clarendon next month.

Nicecream Factory was founded last year by Sandra Tran and her boyfriend, Gil Welsford, as a Kickstarter-funded pop-up shop. The 24-year-old Tran, a JMU grad, makes the ice cream using liquid nitrogren and fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. They’ve operated so far as a pop-up shop in farmers markets and restaurants around the D.C. area, including at the Diner in Adams Morgan.

Last week, Nicecream Factory signed the lease to take over the former Red Mango space at 2831 Clarendon Blvd and Tran, who worked at Living Social in the District for a year before starting her own business, told ARLnow.com she hopes to open the store in the second week of May. In addition to the ice cream, which she takes about as long to prepare “as a Starbucks drink does.”

“When you think of an ice cream, you think mom and pop shop,” Tran said. “We value a lot of the pieces of that, being a small business and entrepreneurs and working with our community. We want to modernize those ideas, spice up the ice cream factor. When you’re paying to get desserts, you want the experience. Scooping out of an ice cream cabinet isn’t so much of an experience.”

The shop will also offer coffee, locally sourced pastries and, Tran said, will be designed to accommodate business meetings much like a coffee shop; she said they’ll even wheel a chalkboard to a table if need be. Tran said she also plans on inviting local artists to use the space to display their work.

“That’s something I think Clarendon can use a little more of,” said Tran, a Falls Church resident. “It’s a huge bar scene, but it needs a place to take a date.”

Tran sources many of her ingredients, like apples for one of her favorite recipes, apple pie, from local farmers she’s met working her pop-up shop at farmers markets. She said because of the fresh ingredients and the fact that the ice cream isn’t sitting in the freezer, she can make a thick, smooth treat without the high-fat creams most premium ice cream has.

“You don’t have to use coloring, preservatives or chemicals to make your ice cream delicious and beautiful,” she said. “A lot of people like the concept, but it’s not until they eat it when they realize it tastes more delicious than any ice cream they’ve had before.”

Video via Washingtonian

Arlington County Board to Explore Curbing Pub Crawls

by Ethan Rothstein | April 16, 2014 at 5:45 pm | 4,369 views | No Comments

Shamrock crawl (photo via Groupon)The number and popularity of bar crawls in Arlington has increased, and it’s caught the attention of the Arlington County Police Department and county government.

At the Arlington County Board’s budget mark-up meeting this afternoon, the County Board approved an addition $42,000 to the police specifically for “pub crawl support.” Pub crawls in Clarendon, Courthouse and Ballston have drawn crowds close to 5,000-6,000 people, County Board Chair Jay Fisette said.

“I’m becoming a pub crawl expert, not by choice,” Arlington Police Chief Doug Scott told the Board Wednesday. “We are receiving crawl requests at a very escalated pace because they’ve been very popular. We thought we were going to have three, that went to nine, and it’s growing.”

Scott said he’s planning a meeting with the Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Association on April 30, but told ARLnow.com a time and a location have not been finalized yet. He and the Board discussed the potential for regulatory measures for potentially reining in the crawls, or requesting the restaurants and/or organizers provide the funds for the police support.

“There are a lot of legal issues around some of the choices the manager and board will have in terms of how we address these crawls in the future,” Scott said.

Board Member Libby Garvey asked Scott if the crawls were “a little like Mardi Gras except all year long.” Board Member Mary Hynes, who lives near Clarendon, said she has had a hard time wading through the revelers when she wants “to go to the grocery store.”

Lines for bars extend far down the sidewalk for many of the bar crawls, which include crawls on St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween and other holidays. A bar crawl in late June last year led to 13 alcohol-related arrests, and one reveler during this year’s Shamrock Crawl showed up naked to the Arlington County Jail while trying to visit her husband, who was arrested during the crawl.

“Our level of disorderliness really escalates on days where we have pub crawls,” said Scott, who told the Board he’s reached out to law enforcement in cities around the country to ask how they’ve handled bar crawls. “I just signed off today on a comprehensive ground response. I think there’s no aspect of the community, especially around some of these bar locations, that are not impacted.”

The April 30 meeting appears to be the first step toward the Board possibly setting new policies regarding pub crawls. Board member Walter Tejada, however, cautioned against taking too harsh a stance against the events.

“I want to be careful not to be the hardheaded government keeping people from having fun,” he said. “I want to strike that balance, but it’s an issue of safety. If you have data that it could be leading to bad things, then we can’t ignore it.”

Photo via Groupon

Clarendon Named Washington’s ‘Best Neighborhood for Millennials’

by ARLnow.com | April 14, 2014 at 3:25 pm | 4,666 views | No Comments

Two people talking on a Clarendon sidewalk (Flickr photo by Ddimick)Clarendon has been named the Washington, D.C. area’s “best neighborhood for millennials.”

The rankings were published by Niche.com, a website that provides information and analysis about colleges, K-12 schools and places. The website looked at factors like median rent, median income, the percentage of the population between 25 and 34 years old, and the percentage of the population with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The D.C. area itself was named the third-best city for millennials, after New York City and Austin, Texas. Chicago and San Francisco followed, ranked fourth and fifth respectively.

Flickr pool photo by Ddimick

Four Sisters Grill in Clarendon to Open Next Week

by Ethan Rothstein | April 7, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 4,017 views | No Comments

Four Sisters Grill, a Vietnamese fast-casual restaurant coming to the former Fat Shorty’s space in Clarendon, is planning to open next week.

Owner Hoa Lai, the executive chef at Four Sisters Vietnamese Restaurant in Merrifield and owner of the new venture, said he plans to open the restaurant to the public on April 17. After holding a soft opening last month, Lai told ARLnow.com he pushed back his planned opening date to “iron out some of the kinks.”

The restaurant will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Sundays. There will be about 20 menu items ranging from $4 to $14 and Lai said the restaurant plans to serve beer.

Crime Report: Clarendon Apple Store Robbed, Perp Flees in BMW

by ARLnow.com | March 27, 2014 at 11:50 am | 4,895 views | No Comments

On Monday afternoon, an alleged thief stole two items from the Clarendon Apple Store and fled the scene in a customized BMW coupe.

From this week’s Arlington County crime report:

ROBBERY, 140324046, 2700 block of N. Clarendon Boulevard. On March 24 at 4:10pm, an unknown suspect fled the Apple Store with two items without paying. He fled the scene in a early nineties model dark blue BMW coupe, with a slightly faded bumper and lower body kit. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, approximately 35 years old, and was wearing blue jeans, a light grey hooded sweatshirt with a black jacket on top and tan Timberland boots at the time of the incident.

Early Saturday morning, two men at Darna Lounge (946 N. Jackson Street), near Clarendon, allegedly flashed badges and claimed to be police officers.

IMPERSONATING A POLICE OFFICER, 140322003, 900 block of N. Jackson Street. On March 22 at 12:43am, police responded to a report of two bar patrons displaying badges and claiming to be officers. Samuel Wesley Aples, 40, of Alexandria, VA was charged with impersonating a police officer and private security violations. He was held on a $5000 bond. Austin James Jones III, 30, of Woodbridge, VA was charged with private security violations and was released. Both were banned from the establishment.

The rest of the crime report, after the jump. All named suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty.

(more…)

New Sandwich Shop Opens in Clarendon

by Ethan Rothstein | March 24, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 4,230 views | No Comments

(Updated at 7:00 p.m.) A new sandwich shop has opened in Clarendon at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Garfield Street.

Le Sandwich, a venture started by Mehdi Ben, opened yesterday at 3033 Wilson Blvd, replacing Street Corner Cafe, which had replaced Paciugo Gelato at the end of 2012. Ben said he signed the lease in early 2014 and was able to open so quickly because the eatery is focused on simplicity.

“We believe that simplicity wins,” he told ARLnow.com today. “That’s why I didn’t want to choose some extravagant [concept]. Sandwiches are what we sell here.”

Ben said the concept for the restaurant is just “a regular guy” who decided he didn’t like the sandwich offerings in the area, so he opened his own restaurant. Instead of creating a list of signature sandwiches, Ben offers customers a list of meats and toppings to put on a baguette or croissant — baked daily in-house — or on a salad with a house vinaigrette.

Among the meats are roasted Wagyu roast beef, fresh herbed ham, gourmet spicy salami. The add-ons included imported dry sausage from France and brie cheese. Ben said the restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner and until 3:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

Another Barre Studio Opens in Clarendon

by Ethan Rothstein | March 20, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 1,363 views | No Comments

Saffron Dance's studio, where Barre Tech is located(Updated at 4:05 p.m.)A new barre studio is opening in Clarendon, replacing one barre studio and just a few blocks from a third.

Barre Tech is open in a studio at 3260 Wilson Blvd, the home of Saffron Dance‘s belly dancing school. It’s the second location for Barre Tech after less than a year of being open in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria. Barre is a fitness class that combines elements of ballet, pilates and yoga.

Saffron Dance used to be the home of Lava Barre, which has expanded and moved to 1510 Clarendon Blvd. At the corner of N. Garfield Street and 11th Street, a location of the national barre chain, Pure Barre, is set to open.

Saffron Dance’s owner, who goes simply by Saphira, said Lava Barre was more interested in being “just a gym” than they were in being part of a community. Saphira said her beliefs and Barre Tech owner align better.

“The momentum is really exciting,” Saphira said. “Dancers are taking fitness classes, Barre students are taking dance classes. It’s a nice collaboration of two women-owned businesses.”

Barre Tech is holding a grand opening celebration this Sunday at 6:00 p.m. with free classes and refreshments.

Photo courtesy Elena Faye

Clarendon Parade Canceled Due to Snow

by ARLnow.com | March 17, 2014 at 9:45 am | 1,989 views | No Comments

Drummer at the 2011 Clarendon Mardi Gras paradeTonight’s planned Mardi Gras/St. Patrick’s Day parade in Clarendon, rescheduled due to snow on Fat Tuesday, is now canceled due to snow.

The Clarendon Alliance, which organizes the annual parade, made the announcement via Twitter. “What are the odds?” the organization asked rhetorically.

No word yet on whether the parade will be rescheduled again.

Westover Beer Garden to Open Second Location Near Clarendon

by ARLnow.com | March 11, 2014 at 1:20 pm | 6,556 views | No Comments

Westover Market Beer Garden(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) The Westover Beer Garden (5863 Washington Blvd), which once struggled to stay open under onerous Arlington County regulations, plans to open a second location near Clarendon next year.

The new beer garden will open on the ground floor of the new Garfield Park apartment building (925 N. Garfield Street). It will features a “beer garden and haus,” a “butcher shop with emphasis on local farms,” and an on-site brewpub that will offer “Arlington County’s first local brew,” according to owner Devin Hicks.

The new beer garden will also serve as a music and event venue and will offer food similar to the current location, but with an expanded menu.

“Our present Beer Garden and Haus utilizes the local, grass fed meats of our in-house butcher shop,” Hicks noted. “Menu items include burgers with house-cured bacon, brisket, pulled pork, house made roast beef, corned beef, sandwiches, salads and a vast array of sides.”

The brewpub will initially offer a double IPA, an IPA, a German-style pilsner and seasonal beers, all brewed on-site, according to Hicks. The brewpub will utilize a 10-15 barrel system, he said, and a brewing line may be made available for select local homebrewers. (A 30-barrel system is typical for a new, production craft brewery.)

“Arlingtonians love their beer and… I think the area’s excited about having a local brew,” said Hicks. “We wanted to stay in Arlington and this seemed like the appropriate spot. The area is begging for a venue like this.”

The outdoor beer garden, in the semi-circular area in front of the Garfield Park building at the corner of Washington Blvd and 10th Street N., will have a 122-person capacity, according to Hicks. The venue’s indoor capacity is 210.

Hicks says he hopes to open the new location by March of 2015.

Clarendon Mardi Gras Parade Rescheduled for St. Patrick’s Day

by ARLnow.com | March 10, 2014 at 11:00 am | 2,256 views | No Comments

Mardi Gras parade poster(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) The annual Clarendon Mardi Gras parade, which was postponed this past Tuesday due to snow, will now be held on St. Patrick’s Day.

The parade has been rescheduled for 8:00 p.m. on Monday, March 17. It will still run along Wilson Blvd from N. Barton Street to N. Irving Street in Clarendon.

“Approximately 90% of the original Mardi Gras entries are able to participate on the rescheduled date,” according to the Clarendon Alliance, the parade’s organizer. “The Mardi Gras Parade registration period is being extended, to allow additional entrants to participate in the parade. New registrations will be accepted by the CA through 5pm on Wednesday March 12.”

In 2010, when snow forced the cancellation of the Mardi Gras parade, it was transformed into a St. Patrick’s Day parade, complete with Irish dancers, a leprechaun and green beads. For now, the 2014 version is still being called a “Mardi Gras parade.”

Retail Experts Say R-B Corridor Set for Future Success

by Ethan Rothstein | March 6, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 2,714 views | No Comments

Clarendon bars (photo by Maddy Berner)The Arlington retail market is well-positioned for the next decade or so, say several retail and real estate experts.

Those in and around the retail industry say the recent trends toward mixed-use, urbanized development and the growth of “milennials” among consumers in the post-recession years add up nicely for Arlington.

Bruce Leonard, a managing principal at Streetsense, a real estate, retail and marketing firm, gave a lecture at George Mason University’s Arlington campus last month called “the changing face of retail.” He contended that the retail market is catching up to the real estate market in seeking urban, walkable centers.

Downtown areas were the dominant retail markets at the turn of the century, he said, until “construction of the interstates it moved away from the cities.”

“Now, ironically, we’re coming back to more urban- and downtown-focused retail,” Leonard said. “So for the [Rosslyn-Ballston] corridor, that’s really a good thing because it’s really urban. It’s relevant to the consumer in that it has the ability to provide an immersive and engaging environment… which is what [the consumers] are looking for.”

Kevin Shooshan, who oversees the leasing for The Shooshan Company in Ballston, said that’s why Arlington will still have an advantage over Tysons Corner when the Silver Line opens.

“I think specifically in the Courthouse-Clarendon-Ballston area, it’s more that it’s a walkable area, even more than Tysons,” he told ARLnow.com yesterday. “In Ballston, in Courthouse, in Clarendon, you can go on a leisurely four-block, five-block walk, passing ground floor retail with every step, with options to grab a paper, grab coffee, meeting with someone. It’s not just a walk down a Metro access corridor. I do see that as a huge asset.”

As the D.C. area apartment rental market continues to surge, that retail market can be key for attracting tenants. Most of the new buildings have fitness centers, pools, computer lounges and other amenities, but the shops in the neighborhood are every bit as much of the pitch to a tenant these days.

“Retail, in these markets, is really becoming an amenity,” Leonard said. “We’re seeing the conversation is ‘what kind of retail will I get that will match the demands of my tenant?’ Co-tenancy is going both horizontal and vertical, and that’s a really new trend.”

Billy Buck, the vice president of Buck & Associates, said the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor sells itself.

“In a 10-minute conversation, it’s mentioned in the first minute or two by the client before we have to bring it up,” Buck said. ”It’s not something you have to sell. The client or the purchaser or the tenant, they get to us because they’ve already realized that all those things are super important to their use.”

Lastly, the top trend Leonard said the retail market will see, both locally and nationall, is continued downsizing of big retailers. With online shopping and a shift in consumer behavior, chains that had giant, big box stores are looking for spaces sometimes half the size as before.

Most national retailers have square-footage requirements for any space they are looking for, Buck said, but that never prevents them from squeezing themselves in Arlington.

“These retailers are smart enough to realize that it may not fit their corporate mold, they know better than to skip Arlington,” he said. “You’re not going to just pass on Arlington in general, it’s just a bad business decision.”

Clarendon Mardi Gras Parade Returns Next Week

by ARLnow.com | February 25, 2014 at 10:15 am | 2,348 views | No Comments

2013 Clarendon Mardi Gras paradeUpdate on 3/3/14 — The parade has been postponed indefinitely due to snow.

The annual Clarendon-Courthouse Mardi Gras Parade will take place next Tuesday, March 4.

The free, family-friendly parade will start at 8:00 p.m. at N. Barton Street and will make its way up Wilson Blvd to N. Irving Street in Clarendon. The parade features decorated vehicles, marching bands, parade floats, groups with animals, historic fire trucks, school groups and more.

According to Matt Hussman, executive director of the Clarendon Alliance, the parade this year will be the biggest ever in terms of entries. Among the groups that are expected to march in the parade:

  • Ballou High School Marching Knights
  • Batala Washington Drummers group
  • Cherrydale VFD
  • US Park Police Horse Mounted Unit
  • DC LSU Alumni Chapter
  • Krewe of Xenia
  • Kensington Street Builders
  • “The Band” Marching Unit
  • Washington Nationals
  • Corozon de America
  • Sangre Boliviana
  • Morenada Transpeco USA
  • Tinkus Tiatacao USA

Before the parade, at 5:00 p.m., New Orleans native chef David Guas, of Bayou Bakery (1515 N. Courthouse Road), will hold his annual Bayou Gras Block Party in front of the restaurant in Courthouse.

The event will feature Abita on draft, bourbon cocktails, oysters, king cake, jambalaya, and gumbo under a large party tent. Tickets range from $15-30.

Disclosure: Clarendon Alliance is an ARLnow.com advertiser

Liberty Tavern Group Hires New Executive Chef

by Ethan Rothstein | January 29, 2014 at 4:30 pm | 1,995 views | No Comments

Liberty Tavern, Lyon Hall executive chef Matt HillLiberty Tavern, Lyon Hall and Northside Social have a new executive chef.

The restaurant group announced today it has hired Matt Hill, former executive chef at Charlie Palmer Steak and, most recently, the chef de cuisine at Range. Hill replaces former executive chef Liam LaCivita, with whom the group “amicably” parted ways earlier this week.

Along with whatever changes Hill brings to the three Clarendon eateries, Liberty Tavern has been planning an American Heritage menu, according to Eater DC. The menu would feature different culinary traditions with American roots, like Polish, Irish and Greek foods popularized in immigrant communities around the country.

Liberty Tavern sous-chef Miljohn Dimaano has been promoted to Chef de Cuisine to serve under Hill. Owners Mark and Stephen Fedorchak announced that the change in the kitchen at all three restaurants is effective immediately.

“[Hill] looks forward to blending his culinary talent experience, and passion in leading these three restaurants to ongoing success,” Mark Fedorchak wrote in a press release.

Photo courtesy Mark Fedorchak

‘Four Sisters Grill’ Coming to Clarendon

by ARLnow.com | January 16, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 5,727 views | No Comments

Fat Shorty's(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) Hoa Lai, the executive chef of the Four Sisters Vietnamese restaurant, will be opening “Four Sisters Grill” in the former Fatshorty’s space in Clarendon.

In November, we reported that permits were filed for a “Thaiger Asian Bistro” in the space at 3035 Clarendon Blvd. Now it appears that those plans have changed and “Four Sisters Grill” will be opening instead.

Lai has been executive chef at Four Sisters, now located in Merrifield, for more nearly 15 years. Arlington Magazine called Four Sisters, which is owned by Lai’s parents, “arguably the most sought-out Vietnamese eatery in the D.C. area” in a profile last year.

Lai tells ARLnow.com that Four Sisters Grill will be a fast casual version of the original Four Sisters restaurant. It will serve about 20 menu items, compared to the nearly 200 items at the Merrifield restaurant.

“It’s been my vision for a couple years now,” he said. “I think this area really likes that. This area’s very quick paced — they want to eat, they want to go.”

Menu items will include “hearty, quick and simple” Vietnamese food like banh mi sandwiches, vermicelli noodles and rice-based dishes like lemongrass chicken. The dishes will be large and will come with lots of vegetables, Lai said. The menu will be budget priced, with entrees ranging from $5 to $12, or about $7-8 on average, he said.

“It should be simple, not crazy over the top,” he said. “At the end of the day you don’t want to pay $15-20 an item just for a chicken dish.”

Lai is hoping to open the restaurant, complete with a brand new interior, by the end of February. A building permit was applied for late last month.

Proposed Bill Would Allow Drinking on Trolley Pub

by Ethan Rothstein | January 14, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 2,217 views | No Comments

Trolley Pub (photo via Trolley Pub Facebook page)

Proposed legislation in the Virginia General Assembly would allow patrons of Arlington’s Trolley Pub to drink alcohol while on board.

Del. Patrick Hope (D-47) has introduced House Bill 423, which would allow passengers on vehicles with a common carrier — which would include limousines and motor coaches, in addition to the Trolley Pub — to consume alcohol.

The Trolley Pub in Arlington launched last year but has been unable to serve passengers alcoholic beverages, as it does in its original market of Raleigh, N.C. Instead, it stops at bars and restaurants in Clarendon and lets passengers debark to drink.

The Sun Gazette, which first reported on the bill, suggested that Hope’s legislation might not sit well with Arlington County Board members.

“Board members last year blasted the entire concept of the trolley pub, and only calmed down (slightly) when they learned that those using it could not consume alcohol,” the newspaper reported. “But they have remained upset about the human-powered trolley’s impact on traffic in one of Arlington’s most congested areas.”

The Trolley Pub debuted in Arlington in March, and at the time owner Kai Kaapro said he believed the business was “perfectly legal.” That was backed up by a preliminary police review. A ruling in April by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, however, later determined no alcohol could be served on board.

Drinking in a vehicle in Virginia is currently only legal on chartered boats. The bill was assigned to the General Laws committee and is now in subcommittee, according to the General Assembly’s website.

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