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by Ethan Rothstein — April 28, 2015 at 3:05 pm 4,569 0

S.H. “Doc” Friedman is a man of few words and less nostalgia. The 82-year-old pragmatist will be closing Public Shoe Store in Clarendon sometime this summer, closing the doors on one of the oldest businesses in Arlington.

Will “Doc,” a former podiatrist, miss the store that’s been a part of his life since he was five years old?

“No. It’s just a matter of time marching on,” he said. “Nothing stays the same.”

Friedman’s father, Sam, opened the business in 1938 across Wilson Blvd from N. Hudson Street, before the building was taken over to build the Clarendon Metro station in the late 1970s.

Friedman doesn’t remember exactly when his father’s store had to move, but when it did, it replaced a cadre of six Vietnamese businesses occupying the less-than-5,000-square-foot space. Before that, it had been a Kay Jewelers; Friedman still has the sign, well-preserved hanging over the stairs that lead to the basement.

When the store moved across the street, Friedman was still working as a podiatrist, with an office just a few blocks away. But when his father could no longer work in the store, he took it over. Doc had been working as a podiatrist in the neighborhood.

When asked where specifically his office was, he shrugged and replied “I don’t remember that far back.”

But keepsakes around the store provide more clues about its, and Doc’s, past. Friedman has photos from the original shop the year it opened, with employees dressed in suits and the shelves immaculately organized. He brings out a picture of his father, standing proudly in front of a Cadillac he won, pointing out that the car was the inspiration for a jingle his wife wrote for the store, long ago.

His memory extends to the surrounding community. Few, if any, are as familiar with the changes in Clarendon over the last three-quarters of a century. At one point, when it was considered the “Downtown of Northern Virginia,” there were a half-dozen shoe stores in the area, he said.

Public Shoe Store is the only one left standing, and soon it will be gone.

“That’s one stage in life,” he said. “But things change.”

Before the Metro came in, the area was known as “Little Saigon.” Now, as the years have gone on, Clarendon has transitioned again to the food and nightlife hotspot it is now.

“It just changed from clothing-type stores and furniture-type stores to alcohol,” he said. “There’s a bunch of restaurants because kids around here don’t cook, and they go out to eat, and they all have money.”

He doesn’t know what the storefront will become next. He owns the building and is working with a real estate agent to lease the space. He assumes a restaurant is likely, but doesn’t have a preference as long as it’s someone “who looks like they’ll stay and not give any trouble.”

Next door, the owner of Kabob Bazaar, Mohammed Kafi, said that’s exactly the type of neighbor Friedman has been for the 20-odd years he’s owned his restaurant.

“He’s a very nice gentleman, never had any problems with him,” Kafi said. “It’s been very nice knowing him. Once he’s gone, he’ll be missed.”

Friedman has children and several grandchildren, but none of them wanted to take up the mantle of Public Shoe Store the way he did from his father. His children are all at or near retirement, and the next generation are aspiring teachers and scientists.

“They don’t seem to be interested in it,” he said. “Kids today are into different things, it’s a different world.”

Although his loyal customers will miss coming into the shop and seeing him every day, shuffling deliberately across the store and trying his hardest to find the perfect shoe for each foot problem, he hasn’t thought much about what his next step will look like.

First, he said: tending to his Lyon Village home, which is just a few minutes ride from the store via his motorized red scooter.

“I’m going to clean out all my junk,” he said. He smiles when he’s asked what he’ll miss most about the store, and said only, “I don’t know yet.”

by Ethan Rothstein — April 28, 2015 at 12:45 pm 1,453 0

Neighborhood Day: Fairlington DayNeighborhood Day, when many neighborhoods around the county hold celebrations of their little pocket of Arlington, is May 9 this year.

Next Saturday, neighborhoods like Clarendon, Bluemont, Westover and Barcroft are each holding events intended to bring neighbors together and celebrate their immediate surrounding area.

In Clarendon, county officials will gather to celebrate the now-upscale neighborhood’s time in the post-Vietnam War 1970s and 1980s when it was known as “Little Saigon” for its high population of Vietnamese immigrants. At 1:30 p.m., former Little Saigon residents and historians will narrate a tour of the area, displaying historic and still-standing businesses from the era.

The whole event, called Echoes of Little Saigon will run from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., and will include displays of Vietnamese art and Lemongrass food truck, a frequent Arlington visitor during lunch hours, will provide the country’s cuisine.

Below is a list of the neighborhood day events from other areas of the county, via the Department of Parks and Recreation (all events are on Saturday, May 9).

  • Bluemont: Bluemont Park (601 N. Manchester Street), 9:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. The annual Walk for the Animals fundraiser for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington is back for Neighborhood Day. The 20th anniversary walk has already raised more than $50,000, and this year will include its first “pet festival.” The festival will include vendors, food trucks, photos with pets, adoptable shelter dogs available to play and more.
  • Westover: Westover Branch Library (1644 N. McKinley Road), 3:00-5:00 p.m. A “family fun afternoon” with activities that include face painting.
  • Penrose: Penrose Park (2200 6th Street S), 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. The south Arlington is hosting “Family Fitness day,” holding activities for nutritional and fitness awareness, a moon bounce and fitness classes for all ages.
  • Yorktown: Chestnut Hills Park (2807 N. Harrison Street), 11:30 a.m. Celebrate the ribbon-cutting on the renovated playground with neighbors. FitArlington will be on hand promoting its new website and fitness initiative. Children can participate in the free scavenger hunt for prizes.
  • Barcroft: Barcroft Elementary School (625 S. Wakefield Street), 4:00-6:00 p.m. The Barcroft Elementary Spring Fair is intended to be an early evening of pure fun, with activities likea bounce house, games and a cake walk, all for prizes.
  • Old Glebe: Gulf Branch Nature Center (3608 N. Military Road), 10:00-11:30 a.m. The north Arlington nature center will join the neighborhood to “welcome back hummingbirds.” Each family will make its own feeders as the birds with the fastest wings in the world migrate back to the county. Register online.
  • Glencarlyn: Long Branch Nature Center (625 S. Carlin Springs Road), 7:00-8:00 p.m. The nature center will host families in the amphitheater for a campfire discussion about snakes. Games, songs and s’mores will all be in abundance.

File photo

by ARLnow.com — April 28, 2015 at 10:05 am 4,074 0

Police car (file photo)A man was bleeding from the head and another lost a tooth after a large fight erupted outside Bronx Pizza in Clarendon over the weekend.

The brawl started around 1:45 a.m. early Sunday morning, in front of 3100 Clarendon Blvd. Police say one of the victims was just trying to stop the violence.

“A male victim sustained a laceration to the head and a second victim sustained a broken tooth when he tried to break the fight up,” according to the Arlington County crime report. “The suspect is described as a white male, approximately 5’9″ to 6’2″, wearing blue jeans and a white button down shirt. He fled prior to police arrival.”

File photo

by Ethan Rothstein — April 22, 2015 at 2:00 pm 730 0

Air Force Cycling Classic Crystal CupThe D.C. region’s biggest cycling race is coming back to Arlington for its 18th running next month.

The Air Force Association Cycling Classic will take place in Clarendon and Crystal City over the weekend of June 13 and. The event will have several races, inviting cyclists of all ages and skill levels to participate in the event most appropriate for them.

The premier race of the weekend is Saturday’s Clarendon Cup, a pro/am race that will take riders up and down Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards in the heart of the neighborhood. That race is part of the National Criterium Calendar, a 13-race tour organized by USA Cycling.

Sunday morning, the Challenge Ride — a 15-kilometer jaunt up Route 110 and around the Pentagon, Air Force Memorial and Crystal City — will kick off, allowing anyone to register and compete.

During the Challenge Ride, staffs from congressional representatives will be invited to compete as teams, racing for their party. There are also races for kids, competitive amateurs and opportunities to compete as corporate teams. The Challenge Ride costs $60 to participate, with a $10 discount for active, reserve and retired military members.

Sunday afternoon, the event will conclude with the Crystal Cup, another National Criterium Calendar race, that will take riders along Jefferson-Davis Highway and Crystal Drive in Crystal City.

File photo

by Ethan Rothstein — April 21, 2015 at 4:15 pm 9,516 0

Jay's Saloon & Grille in ClarendonIn less than a month, Jay’s Saloon in Clarendon will join the long list of Arlington dive bars forced to close to make way for new development.

The last day of Jay’s will be May 18, after which the building will be demolished and replaced with a mixed-use development called 10th Street Flats. The building will have 135 residential units, 3,660 square feet of retail, almost 5,000 square feet of office space and nine live/work units.

Two days before it closes, on May 16, Jay’s (3114 10th Street N.) will host an auction for the multitudes of memorabilia that have adorned the walls, in growing numbers, since the watering hole opened in 1993. Among the possible auction items: a sign that says “Our house wine is Jagermeister.”

Jay’s co-owner Kathi Moore wasn’t at the bar when ARLnow.com visited this afternoon, and the manager working said the date of the auction might change. But regular patrons know Jay’s hasn’t changed much in 22 years, still serving $8 pitchers of beer during happy hour and some of the cheapest food in Clarendon.

“You don’t get good food for this price around here anymore,” the manager, Sally, told ARLnow.com. “Everybody’s going to miss us.”

The most sought-after item in the saloon, Moore told us last summer, is the naked woman painting that hangs over the bar. Despite the amount of money that would go for in a customer auction, Moore said it’s not for sale.

File photo. Hat tip to John Fontain.

by Ethan Rothstein — April 21, 2015 at 2:10 pm 2,764 0

Northside Social in Clarendon(Updated at 2:20 p.m.) Three years after the Fedorchak brothers, Stephen and Mark, opened The Liberty Tavern in Clarendon, they were working to open two new businesses within, they hoped, “six months to a year of one another.”

But, as is common in the restaurant industry, the opening dates changed, and the timetables of the coffee shop and brasserie the Fedorchaks were trying to open kept lining up more and more.

“I remember when it happened, it was like a freight train coming down the tracks,” Stephen Fedorchak told ARLnow.com last week. “We thought ‘these things are going to open within days of each other.’ We’re proud that we pulled it off, but we wouldn’t necessarily try to do it like that again.”

Five years ago this month, Northside Social, the coffee house and wine bar, and Lyon Hall, the brasserie, opened seven days apart. Combined with Liberty, they give the Fedorchaks and their partner, Brian Normile, a trifecta of staples in the Clarendon restaurant scene.

“They really are anchors in the Clarendon community,” Matt Hussmann, the executive director of Clarendon Alliance, said. “The three restaurants they have, each are distinctive, they fit in really well with the community.”

That’s not a surprise, since the owners of three of Clarendon’s most celebrated restaurants all live in the neighborhood. They’ve seen it grow, seen it change, and they have had hands in both.

Before Northside Social Coffee and Wine opened, the distinctive red building at the intersection of Washington, Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards was home to Murky Coffee, where Fedorchak said his team “must have met 100 times” when discussing their burgeoning business. When Murky was closing and the space opened up, they felt they had to jump on it.

“It has a legacy of not only a coffee shop but a community gathering place, and the building itself has been a community gathering place for 100 years,” he said. “We wanted to offer a place where you could visit every day if you wanted to. We liked the idea of something versatile, open a lot of hours, and the idea of an old-fashioned coffee house vibe with a cultural center feel to it.”

To ensure business from sunrise to sunset, they installed a wine bar on the second floor, and the idea clicked. “The business has been busy since day one,” Fedorchak said. They also expanded the outdoor patio, which rarely has an empty seat on sunny days, and the food menu, a tricky feat considering the building’s historic status precludes the owners from installing some industrial kitchen equipment.

The building is part of the secret sauce that makes Northside unique. Fedorchak said people ask him all the time if a second Northside Social is in the works somewhere.

“I tell them, ‘when we can find a space we like as much as this one,'” he said. “Between the two floors and the outside capacity, it’s awesome. The visibility is unparalleled, there’s great sunshine, the upstairs during the day is quieter; it allows us to have a variety of ambiences.”

Lyon HallWhile the Northside Social opportunity opened up, Lyon Hall (3100 Washington Blvd) was the product of the ownership team seeking out a new venture.

“We thought it would provide some diversity to what’s out there,” Fedorchak said. The French-style brasserie — with some German influences — serves dishes like a Bohemian sausage platter. It provided variety to a Clarendon restaurant scene which at the time was experiencing an influx of frozen yogurt and pizza restaurants.

“Lyon Hall has been a lot of fun for us because the business continues to improve every year,” Fedorchak said. “It’s kind of worked for us, because it is perceived as distinctive. People wouldn’t normally go to a German restaurant, but we tried to offer a fun bar, we have happy hour there seven days a week, we really love the patio. It worked out great.”

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by ARLnow.com — April 21, 2015 at 9:15 am 3,213 0

Lightning over Rosslyn (Flickr pool photo by J. Peterson)

Australian Restaurant Coming to Clarendon — Oz, a new Australian restaurant, will be opening in the former La Tagliatella space in Clarendon late this summer. The restaurant is owned by Australian native Michael Darby, co-founder of Monument Realty, and his wife Ashley Darby, the 2011 Miss District of Columbia winner. [Washington Business Journal]

New Ballston Apartment Project in the Works — Saul Centers, which developed the Clarendon Center project, is planning a new residential and retail development on the Orange Line. The developer is in the early stages of proposing a 12-story, 431-unit apartment building to replace the Rosenthal Mazda dealership at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd. [Washington Business Journal]

Parking Lot Hit-and-Run Case in Court — A court hearing was held Monday for Alexandra Mendez, the woman accused of running over a man in a Columbia Pike parking lot and then fleeing the scene. Prosecutors showed the court a cell phone video of the incident, which nearly killed 40-year-old Noormustafa “Noor” Shaikh. A doctor testified that Shaikh’s “bones were like shards” after being run over by Mendez in her SUV. [WJLA]

Arlington Highly Ranked by AARP — Arlington County is the 6th most livable place in the U.S. with a population between 100,000 and 500,000, according to a new survey by AARP. Also in the AARP survey, Arlington ranked No. 1 in the “Best Cities for Staying Healthy” category, thanks to an abundance of exercise opportunities. The survey targeted Americans age 50 and older. [WTOP]

VHC and County Considering Land Swap — Virginia Hospital Center and Arlington County have started discussing a possible land swap. The swap would trade soon-to-be-vacated county properties adjacent to the hospital — which would allow VHC to expand — for hospital property elsewhere in the county. Virginia Hospital Center, meanwhile, is getting kudos from the federal government. According to new hospital rankings from Medicare, VHC is the only “four star” hospital in the D.C. area. [InsideNova, Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by J. Peterson

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — April 15, 2015 at 5:00 am 1,442 0

The 3rd Annual Arlington Festival of the Arts returns with an explosion of color, an abundance of talent and a myriad of artistic media.

This two-day art show, produced by Howard Alan Events and hosted by the Clarendon Alliance, features the finest artists from around the country including exceptional local talent, as well as new and emerging artists.

Bold and vibrant paintings, contemporary and whimsical art, life-size sculptures, photography and jewelry are among the many original works of art that will be on display and for sale, transforming Highland Street in Clarendon, into an outdoor eclectic art gallery. A free art giveaway will feature the work of award-winning artist Joyce Stratton, www.joycestratton.com. No purchase will be necessary to register for the giveaway.

The artists are juried by an independent panel of expert judges and hand-selected from hundreds of applicants based on quality and diversity. All of the artwork is original and handmade. “We have a very selective jury process and choose only the finest artists providing festival-goers with an extraordinary experience,” says festival promoter Howard Alan.

All of the artists will be on site for the duration of the show and festival patrons are encouraged to engage the artists as they explore the exhibits. The prices are set to suit all budgets and will range from as low as $25 up to $30,000. The wide array of art will appeal to collectors and art enthusiasts as well as those looking for unique and affordable gift items.

“You have the opportunity to meet many different artists in one location and personally connect with them before purchasing a piece, which makes the investment much more meaningful,” assures Alan.

The artists, local merchants, restaurants and hotels all benefit from the festival, which drives additional guests and dollars to the community.  Howard Alan advocates the importance of supporting the arts and artists because this in turn helps the community.  He believes we can make a difference that will positively impact the local economy.   “We need to invest in each other, investing in our artists and our community will help to fuel the economy,” adds Alan.

Howard Alan Events develops and produces some of the nation’s finest juried art shows in more than 40 venues each year, many are ranked among the top 100 art fairs in the country by Sunshine Artist magazine.  These shows, which attract locals and tourists alike, include the Alexandria King Street Art Festival (Alexandria, VA), the Downtown Aspen Art Festival (Aspen, CO), the Beaver Creek Art Festival (Beaver Creek, CO), and the Las Olas Art Fairs, (Fort Lauderdale, FL).

The 3rd Annual Arlington Festival of the Arts runs Saturday and Sunday, April 18-19, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm each day, admission is free.  The artists will be set up along Washington Boulevard, Clarendon Boulevard and N. Highland Street.  For additional information about the 3rd Annual Arlington Festival of the Arts and other Howard Alan Events shows across the country, visit www.artfestival.com or call 561-746-6615.

The preceding post was sponsored by Howard Alan Events

by ARLnow.com — April 10, 2015 at 9:40 am 3,063 0

Pentagon City office building at dusk

Arlington Ranks High for Tax Burden — Arlington County has the second highest overall tax burden in the nation, according to stats compiled by the website NerdWallet. Arlington’s high median income and high real estate costs factored heavily in the calculation, which includes federal, state and local taxes. [NerdWallet, Washington Business Journal]

Trevor Noah Performs in Arlington — Comedian Trevor Noah performed his first stand-up comedy show since being named the next host of The Daily Show last night in Arlington. It was the first of seven sold-out shows Noah is performing this weekend at the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse. In writing about the performance, the New York Times described the Drafthouse as “about a half-hour drive outside Washington, with drinks far cheaper than most places in the District.” [New York Times]

Amsterdam Falafelshop Offers Pot PairingsAmsterdam Falafelshop, which has a location in Clarendon, is offering a “pot pairing menu” in time for 4/20. Also on April 20, the restaurant will offer sandwiches for $4.20. [Washington City Paper]

Arlington Resident in Voice Contest — Tara Cannon, an Arlington resident, is among the singers hoping to get a guaranteed audition for The Voice, via an online voting contest on NBC 4’s website. [NBC Washington]

Fairlington 5K Road Closures — Arlington County Police are planning on shutting down a number of roads Saturday morning for the second annual Fairlington 5K race. The roads are expected to be closed between 7:00 and 9:30 a.m. [Arlington County]

Cherry Blossom Race Closures — Police are planning on closing the Memorial Bridge and Memorial Circle to traffic Sunday morning for the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run and 5K. The closure is scheduled to be in place from 5:00 to 11:00 a.m.

by Ethan Rothstein — April 7, 2015 at 11:45 am 1,521 0

Stand With Rand karaoke poster (image via Facebook)Tonight, O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub, at 3207 Washington Blvd in Clarendon, will be the flagship bar for a nationwide karaoke event heralding a just-announced presidential candidate.

#LibertyKaraoke has been celebrating Republican candidates for years in Arlingotn and growing steadily. Tonight’s weekly event coincides with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)’s announcement that he is running for president.

The event is free, but a donation to Paul’s campaign is encouraged. More than 250 people have RSVP-ed so far.

What started as an Arlington-only event, founded by Arlington-Falls Church Young Republicans Chairman Matthew Hurtt, has exploded nationwide. Tonight, there will be more than 60 events across the country, from Vermont to Minnesota to Texas, all free, all karaoke to raise money for the Libertarian-leaning candidate.

Hurtt told the Washington Post that a “special guest” could make an appearance at #LibertyKaraoke Manchester, N.H., implying the senator himself might grab the mic. At previous karaoke fundraisers at O’Sullivan’s, Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) have stopped by.

Image via Facebook

by Ethan Rothstein — April 6, 2015 at 1:15 pm 8,653 0

"Let's Not Do Flip-Flops" sign in Clarendon "Let's Not Do Flip-Flops" sign in Clarendon

Arlington residents have long been teased for their summer footwear fashion sense, but an anonymous, self-appointed member of the fashion police is hoping to change that.

A sign posted on N. Highland Street in front of Delhi Club implores passersby “This year let’s not do flip flops,” and it is signed, ungrammatically: “Thank you, an arlington county services message.”

So far, there is no indication of who posted the sign.

Fashion, however, might not be the only beneficiary of an anti-flip-flop trend; there could be health benefits as well. The flip-flops that can be seen adorning the feet and exposing the toes of many Arlington men and women as soon as the weather gets warm could actually be safety risks.

National Flip-Flop Day is June 19 this year. A smoothie cafe in Virginia Square annually gives everyone wearing flip-flops a free smoothie to celebrate the holiday.

by ARLnow.com — March 27, 2015 at 11:35 am 3,044 0

Police car lightsA man was robbed by a team of thieves on Columbia Pike early Wednesday morning, according to this week’s Arlington County crime report.

Police say a male suspect put the victim in a chokehold while a female suspect went through his pockets and stole a cell phone.

From the ACPD:

ROBBERY, 150325003, 5100 block of Columbia Pike. At 12:38 am on March 25, an unknown male suspect placed the victim into a choke hold while a female suspect went through his pockets and stole his T-mobile cell phone. The male suspect was described as a black male in his 20’s, approximately 6’0 and 230 lbs. He was wearing a dark color baseball cap, dark long sleeve shirt and dark color pants. The second suspect was described as a black female in her 20’s. The suspects fled the scene on foot prior to officers arrival.

Last weekend, police found a man who had been knocked out, lying on the ground in Clarendon. A 49-year-old Woodbridge man was arrested and charged with malicious wounding.

MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 150322006, 3100 block of Wilson Boulevard. At 12:30 am on March 22, officers located a 26 year old male victim on the ground and unresponsive. The victim was transported to George Washington Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Investigation revealed that the suspect assaulted the victim. Ivan Deloria, 49, of Woodbridge, VA, was arrested and charged with malicious wounding. The suspect was held with not bond.

The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump.

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by ARLnow.com — March 25, 2015 at 2:55 pm 1,648 0

Dog up for adoption at Taste of Arlington 2012Market Common Clarendon (2700 Clarendon Blvd) will be holding a pet adoption day on Saturday in conjunction with two animal rescue groups.

The event is being held at the shopping center from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on March 28. It will be followed by a “Yappy Hour” at Zaika restaurant from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.

The pet adoption day is scheduled to be the only D.C. area stop this year for the North Shore Animal League “Tour of Life” bus. New York-based North Shore bills itself as the world’s largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization. Beyond that, it’s perhaps best known nationally as the animal shelter publicly supported by Beth Stern and her husband, Sirius XM host and America’s Got Talent judge Howard Stern.

North Shore Animal League is partnering with Arlington-based Homeward Trails Animal Rescue for the event.

“The Tour of Life bus… will park on the Community Loop and house approximately 50 animals ready for adoption,” according to a Market Common spokeswoman. “The Loop will be transformed into an interactive dog park, where Arlington residents will have the opportunity to bring their pets to mingle with other animals, as well as have the opportunity to adopt from and donate to Homeward Trails.”

Ten percent of the proceeds from the Yappy Hour will be donated to Homeward Trails.

by Ethan Rothstein — March 23, 2015 at 6:00 pm 1,795 0

Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Cowork Cafe, a new coworking concept in Boccato in ClarendonA Monday in Boccato Gelato & Espresso in Clarendon looks vastly different now than it did two months ago, thanks to a new Arlington startup called Cowork Cafe.

Founded by David James and Ramzy Azar, Cowork Cafe is a partnership between the two entrepreneurs and Boccato (2719 Wilson Blvd) owner Christian Velasco in which James and Azar rent out Boccato’s lounge for 9 hours on weekdays, and offer it to members for $200 a month. Those members get souped up WiFi, $50 in food and beverage credits, soundproofed phone booths and, soon, personal lockers for storage.

From 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Velasco puts stanchions through Boccato’s lounge separating a dozen or so tables — including bars that function as standing desks — for Cowork Cafe members, and keeping a small handful for walk-in Boccato customers. During the cafe’s busiest times in the evenings and on weekends, the stanchions are removed and it’s a full-fledged coffee and gelato shop once more.

“I totally understand the challenges of a food establishment; it’s dependent on volume,” Azar told ARLnow.com over coffee at the cafe. His parents own restaurants, he said, which is party of why old friend James asked him to cofound the venture. “As soon as I understood what coworking was about, it seems like a great way to contribute to the establishment.”

James came up with the idea after years of working at home as an independent software developer left him feeling “a little isolated.” He ventured to coffee shops with his laptop, but those started to become too crowded, too noisy and too distracted. Walking by Boccato’s empty lounge space on a weekday spawned the idea.

Cowork Cafe co-founders Ramzy Azar and David JamesNow, Cowork Cafe has 20 paying members, and two other restaurant businesses have reached out to become the home of the next Cowork Cafe.

“It’s something that could be a lot bigger than here,” James said. “We’re excited about the ability to scale quickly. Restaurants already have space, and we can just plug in and go. That means we can try out a place with low risk.”

Of course, some might raise their eyebrows at the idea of charging $200 a month to work in a space that was previously free, but James said the advantages to membership and the price hit a sweet spot for teleworkers and self-employed professionals.

“Most of the people that work here don’t need to go to a place to work,” James said. “But people can see the benefit of being around a community. If you haven’t worked form home a lot, it’s probably hard to understand.”

The 20 members are a hodgepodge of writers, developers, self-employed professionals and teleworkers, James said. Some have routines and come in most of every weekday. Others float in and out and use it more like a regular coffee shop. With the $50 in food credit, any member can go to the counter and get a coffee or empanada without taking out their wallet; Azar called it a country club-like system.

“Self-employed folks come to these spaces anyway,” he said. “It’s not an office. It has a rustic feel and a great sense of community.”

“A place like this encourages abstract thinking,” James added.

James and Azar didn’t just show up and launch the cafe on Feb. 2 — they put in some key infrastructure, like four soundproofed phone booths for phone calls and video conferencing. James said they installed about 50 plugs and business-class WiFi. They also didn’t quite know what to expect — they put a sign on the retail storefront on Wilson Blvd, held a few open houses and hoped for the best.

The expansion plans are underway sooner than either expected, but James and Azar aren’t saying yet where or when the next Cowork Cafe will be.

by ARLnow.com — March 23, 2015 at 11:00 am 3,577 0

Some 3,700 people participated in Saturday’s Shamrock Crawl, an annual St. Patrick’s Day-themed bar crawl in Clarendon, according to police.

That’s down from nearly 5,000 attendees for last year’s crawl. Unlike last year, however, this one resulted in relatively few arrests.

Police say they arrested two people in direct connection to the crawl — one for assault and battery, and the other for drunk in public. That compares to more than two dozen arrests during last year’s event, including a bar crawl attendee who was arrested for allegedly showing up naked at the Arlington magistrate’s office in search of her incarcerated husband.

The Arlington County Police Department credited planning and cooperation among police, bars, event organizers and neighbors for the largely drama-free afternoon.

“It was a lot smoother of an operation,” said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “We have to credit the bars that participated as their staff refused to let people who were highly intoxicated in. There was a great working partnership for this event between police and the participating businesses.”

“It was a year-long planning process… there were constant meetings among county staff, the civic associations, the businesses and the bar crawl hosts,” Sternbeck added. “It showed positive results in terms of behavior.”

Sternbeck said police “could have arrested quite a bit more for drunk in public” but instead focused on getting those individuals home safely via taxicabs. New this year, Sternbeck and another police department employee live-tweeted the bar crawl and set up an outdoor photo booth — complete with props including a McGruff the Crime Dog mascot head — where they mixed fun with a bit of public outreach.

“We definitely spoke to them directly about responsible partying, appropriate behavior and transportation usage,” he said.

Despite helping to drastically reduce crime, police did take note of one area for possible improvement.

“The biggest problem I saw was people darting into the street before waiting for the appropriate time to cross,” Sternbeck said. Several police department tweets showed attendees dressed in green crossing in the middle of busy roads, in front of cars.

Per new bar crawl regulations that were approved last year, bar crawl organizer Project DC Events was to pick up the tab for police overtime associated with security for the event. Sternbeck was unable to say what the bill was for this weekend, though the Washington Post previously reported that the cost to police was between $15,000 and $20,000.

Photos courtesy Arlington County Police Department

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