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by Ethan Rothstein — February 19, 2015 at 10:00 am 3,290 0

Toscana Grill(Updated Feb. 23 at 9:45 a.m.) A new Vietnamese restaurant plans to take over the space currently occupied by Toscana Grill in Courthouse.

The owners of Pho Deluxe, which has locations in Fairfax and Tysons Corner, told ARLnow.com that Toscana Grill is closing April 1, after which they will move in.

They hope to be open a month afterward at 2300 Clarendon Blvd, facing Courthouse Plaza.

Owners Hue and Dan Nguyen said the restaurant will specialize in the beef noodle soup, as well as rice dishes and noodle dishes. It will also have a full bar.

Toscana Grill had briefly closed in fall 2013, but reopened under new management.

Next door, meanwhile, Velocity Five’s conversion to Courthaus Social is about to get started. Co-owner Fito Garcia said this morning that the sports bar will be closing “in the coming week” to begin its remodeling to an “American beer garden.” Garcia said he expects the remodeling and staff training to be complete in time to open in April.

A previous version of this story stated Toscana Grill would close March 1. That has been corrected.

by ARLnow.com — February 11, 2015 at 2:30 pm 3,309 0

Update at 2:50 p.m. — The Courthouse station will be reopened shortly. A “test train” is being used to see if it’s safe for Metro to start using the affected stretch of track again. Metro and fire department personnel tell ARLnow.com that there were no communication or coordination problems during the incident response.

The Arlington County Fire Department and Metro personnel are on the scene at the Courthouse Metro station due to an electrical issue on the tracks.

The fire was reported just before 2:00 p.m. It’s said to be an insulator fire in a tunnel just outside the Courthouse station, similar to the electrical malfunction that caused smoke to fill a Yellow Line tunnel last month, killing one person.

The station was evacuated and riders exiting the station said it was moderately smoky inside but not stifling. A slight haze and an electrical smell of something burning was also present outside the station for a period of time.

Firefighters were “working with WMATA to shut down power and extinguish” the fire, according to the ACFD Twitter account. Numerous Metro and fire personnel are on the scene. Police have shut down 15th Street near the station.

As of 2:32 p.m., ACFD said the track fire was extinguished there were “light smoke conditions” inside the station. Some fire trucks have started leaving the scene.

Orange and Silver Line trains are single-tracking past the station, according to Metro.

No injuries have been reported.

Fort Myer and Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority firefighters also responded to the incident.

by ARLnow.com — February 11, 2015 at 8:00 am 5,392 0

Jerome King (photo courtesy ACPD)An apartment concierge helped stop a registered sex offender from attacking a woman Tuesday morning, according to police.

The incident happened around 8:00 a.m. at the new 19Nineteen apartments, on the 1900 block of Clarendon Blvd in the Courthouse area.

Police say a man grabbed a woman as she came to the front door of the building to see if her Uber driver had arrived. He allegedly threw the woman to the ground, at which time the building concierge tackled the man and held him until police arrived.

“The victim did not sustain physical injury but was clearly shaken when interviewed by our detectives,” said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

Washington resident Jerome King, 32, was charged with abduction with the intent to defile. He was held without bond.

Photo courtesy ACPD

by ARLnow.com — February 5, 2015 at 10:45 am 4,194 0

(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) A new 2.17 acre apartment development is likely coming to the Courthouse area.

Gables North Rolfe Street is planned as a two building, 400,000 square feet, 395 unit apartment complex on the 1300 block of N. Rolfe Street, in the Radnor / Fort Myer Heights neighborhood, just off of Route 50.

The tract of land on which the project will be built is steep, wooded and also includes a handful of older single family homes and small apartment complexes. Because Arlington County owns three parcels of land on the site, it has been able to work with developer Gables Residential on a number of public benefits.

Among the the benefits, to be paid for by the developer:

  • A new, 8,000 square foot public park that will include a 200-year-old tree
  • LEED Gold certification for the apartment complex
  • Thirty-nine units of committed affordable housing
  • A stand-alone, 14-unit transitional living facility, for those recovering from substance abuse. This will replace the existing Independence House facility on the site, according to Arlington Dept. of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick.

The project is expected be considered by the County Board at its February meeting, in two weeks.

Discussing the project at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting, County Board Chair Mary Hynes said the benefits from such projects represent key Democratic values.

“Affordable housing furthers diversity, inclusivity and sustainability, all of which are values… that have driven this community,” she said.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story reflected County Board Chair Mary Hynes’ remarks that the planned transitional living facility was for those who were just getting out of jail. A county spokesman says that is incorrect, and that the facility will be for substance abuse recovery.

by Ethan Rothstein — February 3, 2015 at 2:30 pm 1,228 0

2013 Clarendon Mardi Gras paradeThe annual Clarendon-Courthouse Mardi Gras parade is back this year after a snow-induced hiatus in 2014.

The parade is scheduled to start at 8:00 p.m. on Fat Tuesday, Feb. 17, on N. Barton Street. About 40 floats and parade participants have already signed up to take part in the hourlong event, which will run up Wilson Blvd to N. Irving Street.

A snowstorm on Mardi Gras forced the Clarendon Alliance — which organizes the event — to push it back to St. Patrick’s Day. Yet another storm that March forced the 16th annual parade to be canceled altogether.

“Normally it’s a rain or shine type deal,” Clarendon Alliance Executive Director Matt Hussmann said. “But the snow banks were so big on the sidewalks, nobody could watch the parade.”

This year, if the weather cooperates, Hussmann said the “family-friendly” parade should continue to be the biggest and best-attended Mardi Gras parade in the D.C. area. The Ballou High School marching band is back, the Louisiana State University alumni group will again have a big presence, and beads and candy will again be flying around.

“The parade’s got a great feel to it,” Hussmann said. “It’s really a local event. The people in the parade are businesses people go to. Everybody’s yelling and waving and dressed up and they’ve got costumes. The floats are really creative. There’s a lot of music, they’re throwing beads and candy. It’s just home-grown fun.”

Before the parade, Courthouse’s Bayou Bakery will be hosting a “Bayou Gras Block Party.” The New Orleans-themed bakery, at 1515 N. Courthouse Road, is offering $30 tickets for three cajun dishes — like jambalaya and chicken and sausage gumbo — $20 tickets for Mardi Gras-themed cocktails and $15 tickets for three pours of Abita Amber Ale. Children under 12 years old will get a free mac and cheese.

The block party will run from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Tickets can be bought online or at Bayou Bakery.

File photo

by Ethan Rothstein — January 30, 2015 at 2:35 pm 2,191 0

Snow began to fall as developers and Arlington officials broke ground this morning at the future site of the Hyatt Place hotel at 2401 Wilson Blvd.

The hotel was approved last spring and is expected to be finished by summer 2016, according to the Schupp Companies, which owns the site. What now sits at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Adams Street — where Wilson Tavern and Northern Virginia Mixed Martial Arts used to be — is a large, empty foundation with graffiti on the sides.

What will be built, starting on Wednesday, is an eight-story, 161-room hotel that will be the first LEED Gold-certified hotel in Arlington, and the first LEED Gold certified Hyatt Place in the country. Ray Schupp, the owner of the Schupp Companies, planned on building a hotel when he first bought the property in 2007.

“I told Ray, ‘that’s a great idea, the county’s going to love that,’” Schupp Development Manager Jim Villars said. “We got site plan approval in May. It’s been a long seven years.”

The plan for the development fluctuated from a hotel, to a planned apartment building, before its final status as a hotel with four single-family houses behind it, as a buffer to the adjacent community. As part of the site plan approval, the developers will donate $1.54 million for a Courthouse Metro elevator and will install a piece of public art at the corner of Wilson and Adams.

“This is a fabulous example of how we can do this moving forward,” Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes said. “The community wanted a hotel here and county staff just needed to find a way to make this work.”

The hotel will be the first Hyatt Place in Arlington, but the brand’s portfolio is rapidly expanding. According to Hyatt Place’s vice president of real estate and development, Jim Tierney, a Hyatt Place is expected to open every other week in the U.S. by the end of the year.

Along with the hotel, the building will have space for a first-floor restaurant — potentially a reincarnation of Wilson Tavern — and two floors of underground parking.

by Ethan Rothstein — January 26, 2015 at 4:45 pm 4,324 0

Summers in Courthouse planning to reopen Summers in Courthouse planning to reopen

Salt and pepper shakers are still on the tables at Summers Grill and Sports Bar, which closed at the end of last month, and customers will soon join them.

The restaurant, which opened in 1982 and rose to prominence as a haven for soccer fans before the sport became popularized in the U.S., terminated its lease because of a big dip in business, according to the Washington Post. Just weeks after it closed, a sign appeared on its door this weekend announcing it would soon reopen.

“Back by popular demand of our loyal customers,” the sign reads, “and the generosity of our landlord (JBG Cos.), Summers Sports Bar will re-open soon!”

Summers’ owner and JBG representatives did not return requests for comment. Looking through the windows of the restaurant — which sits at the corner of Clarendon Blvd and N. Courthouse Road — it appears that it shouldn’t take long to prepare for a reopening.

by Ethan Rothstein — January 20, 2015 at 5:00 pm 2,038 0

ABC sign in Courthouse (photo courtesy Andy Bailey)An ABC liquor store is under construction at 1919 Clarendon Blvd, in the ground floor of a new apartment building on the block.

ARLnow.com reported in July that the state Alcoholic Beverage Control department was in lease negotiations for one of the new retail spaces in the building, just a few blocks from the site of its former location in the Colonial Village Shopping Center.

Signs are already up in the windows of the new space, on Clarendon Blvd between N. Rhodes and Troy Streets, for construction. When contacted, an ABC spokesperson could only confirm the store will be opening in the future, but said there is no available information about when the store might be open.

The site of a possible new ABC store in CourthouseWhile the ABC store is undergoing their interior buildout, so, too, is Shawafel, a “quick served” Lebanese restaurant, next door. The location of Shawafel will be the H Street NE business’ second brick-and-mortar shop.

Before the ABC store opens, the closest spot to pick up bottles of liquor for Rosslyn and Courthouse residents is the store at 1001 N. Fillmore Street, at the intersection with Washington Blvd.

Photo, top, courtesy Andy Bailey. Photo (bottom) is a file photo.

by Ethan Rothstein — January 12, 2015 at 4:45 pm 5,677 0

Velocity 5 in CourthouseVelocity 5, the sports bar mainstay in Courthouse, is getting a makeover this spring into what its owners call “an American beer garden.”

The restaurant will close down for a month before re-opening as “Courthaus Social,” a beer garden with an expanded patio outside the location at 2300 Clarendon Blvd. The plan to close Velocity 5 and reopen as a beer garden has been around for nearly two years after new owners bought the location of the regional chain, which opened in Courthouse in 2009.

“We were trying to find the perfect concept,” one of the co-owners, Nema Sayadian, told ARLnow.com today. “You realize you have to find your own identity, and that’s what we were struggling with.”

Sayadian and Fito Garcia, also a co-owner, originally had planned to rename the restaurant “Social Haus” and turn it into a Bavarian-style biergarten, serving almost exclusively German beer and food. Courthaus Social, while still configured as a beer garden with “social seating” — long benches inside and out — will focus more on local craft beers from breweries like Starr Hill, Port City and Mad Fox.

There will still be some German beers on the menu and Sayadian says “we’ll still have the biggest schnitzel in town.” The concept will now be more food-centric, with locally sourced meats and sustainable practices Garcia hopes will serve as a model for other local restaurants. At its heart, Courthaus Social hopes to be a relaxed, community business.

“We’re not going to be pretentious about it,” Sayadian said. Garcia added, “Arlington needs beer places. And with Summers closing down, we want to help the area.”

When it opens, the bar will have about 1,000 square feet of patio seating fronting Claredon Blvd, adding to its patio facing Courthouse Plaza’s Wells Fargo Bank. There will be more than 30 beers on tap, and they will still be available in two-liter “boots” as well as steins.

Velocity 5 has served as a registration spot for bar crawls in Clarendon and Courthouse in years past, and while Garcia and Sayadian say they’re not against participating in more bar crawls, the attitude of the restaurant is shifting.

“We love the business that comes with the bar crawls,” Garcia said, “but we want to have a different focus and build a community around us. If Arlington is for the bar crawls, we’re down, but we’re not going to take part in something that’s frowned upon.”

by Ethan Rothstein — December 30, 2014 at 2:30 pm 3,279 0

Java Shack (photo via Facebook)(Updated at 2:35 p.m.) Java Shack, the locally owned coffee shop in Courthouse, will change ownership on Thursday after opening 19 years ago.

The shop, at 2507 N. Franklin Road, is being acquired by Commonwealth Joe, owner Dale Roberts announced on Facebook yesterday.

Commonwealth Joe is an Arlington-based coffee company that sells its roasted beans, coffee-infused desserts and other goods both online and at local farmers markets. It was started two years ago by four Arlington residents and has grown around the community.

Commonwealth Joe’s owners “are passionate about coffee, and dedicated to maintaining and building upon our neighborhood tradition,” Roberts wrote in his Facebook post. “I’ll still be around, but will be less visible on a day-to-day basis.”

Roberts is hosting a going away party of sorts at “The Shack” tomorrow (Dec. 31), when Roberts will be “solo behind the bar” serving coffee in his last day as owner.

Photo via Facebook

by ARLnow.com — December 20, 2014 at 12:45 pm 6,492 0

U.S. Soccer fans gather at Summer's Restaurant 06/26/14Summers Restaurant and Sports Bar in Courthouse will close after Dec. 31.

The restaurant announced on its Facebook page Friday that it is terminating its lease as of Jan. 1, 2015. It did not specify a reason for the lease termination.

“We are very grateful to our loyal customers who throughout the past 30 years have made it possible for Summers to twice be voted as America’s Best Sports Bar,” the restaurant said.

Summers said it is looking for a partner to help it move to a new location.

by Ethan Rothstein — December 10, 2014 at 5:10 pm 1,119 0

A retail space at 1800 N. Kent Street that has been vacant for six yearsFour vacant retail spaces — three in Rosslyn and one in Courthouse — could be converted into medical or office space following action by the Arlington County Board this weekend.

The Board has four items in Saturday’s consent agenda dealing with the conversion of space mandated to be retail, based on building’s site plans, to office or medical uses. One of those items is for a dentist’s office already in operation in Courthouse Plaza under a temporary site plan amendment.

The other three agenda items are for:

  • Two vacant retail spaces, totaling 3,696 square feet, at 1800 N. Kent Street. One space (pictured above) was a private school space that has been vacant for six years. The other had been occupied by dry cleaners, but has been vacant for 10 years, according to the staff report.
  • A 2,830-square-foot vacant space on the ground floor of 2001 15th Street N., in the Odyssey Condominiums. The space fronts Clarendon Blvd, but it has been vacant for five years, other than serving as a temporary leasing office for the now-opened apartments across the street, the staff report states. Since the leasing office has relocated, the owner reports difficulty finding a tenant for the space.
  • A 1,520-square-foot space at 1600 Wilson Blvd, the former site of the Sir Speedy Printing Center, which has been vacant since July. The space, according to the staff report, “has a history of retail vacancy and poses some location challenges for retail attraction.”

County staff identified no issues for any of these sites, suggesting a “medical/physical therapy office, will help activate the street and pose no adverse impacts to the neighborhood,” in all of the reports.

The county seems to be taking a softer line on mandated ground floor retail spaces, in recognition that some storefronts are just not viable for traditional retail. For instance, 1800 N. Kent Street is well hidden from Rosslyn’s main N. Lynn Street drag, resulting in a relative paucity of the foot traffic that could bring customers to a small business.

County staff, in recommending approval of the motions, used the draft Arlington Retail Action Plan as guidance in its decisions.

The draft action plan, which would replace and expand upon the 2001 Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor Retail Plan, includes a map that specifies which type of retail can go where. According to the county’s planning staff, all four locations on Saturday’s agenda are considered appropriate for medical or office use under the draft retail map.

by Ethan Rothstein — December 8, 2014 at 10:00 am 1,704 0

The new 7-Eleven in the 2001 Clarendon Blvd building is now open for business.

The shop officially opened its doors last Monday on the ground floor of the building that will also house a specialty oil store and a body sculpting studio. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The store is corporate-owned, but the manager told ARLnow.com last week that if the store doesn’t carry something a customer wants, all someone has to do is ask “and I will get it for them.”

The new location is just a few blocks away from an existing 7-Eleven at 1625 Wilson Blvd.

by Ethan Rothstein — November 10, 2014 at 1:30 pm 1,211 0

A new “lifestyle studio” focused on aesthetic skin and body improvements using high-tech, non-invasive techniques is planning to open a studio at 2012 Wilson Blvd, in the new 2001 Clarendon building.

The studio is called Radovà Lifestyle, named for its owner, Gabriela Radovà. Radovà, a “Master Aesthetician” according to her website, said the studio is currently under construction in the new space, and she plans on opening by Thanksgiving.

“We specialize in customizing face and body treatments for each of our clients so that you are assured of achieving your specific goals,” Radovà’s website reads. “Radio Frequency, Ultrasound, next generation Intense Pulsed Light (AFT) and Coolsculpting are a few of our advanced technologies used to remove body fat and tighten the skin without the risk of needles and downtime. Our customized skin and body sculpting treatments are expertly applied by Master Estheticians following proven European techniques and proprietary protocols developed by Gabriela Radová.”

Although the studio is not yet open, Radovà is already taking appointments for services like chemical peels, body fat and cellulite reductions, skin tightening and nutrition and weight loss consultations.

Radovà joins Southern restaurant Tupelo Honey Cafe, a 7-Eleven, a Hair Cuttery, Olive Oil Boom and a nail salon as retail businesses moving into the ground floor of the recently opened building.

by Ethan Rothstein — November 4, 2014 at 1:30 pm 3,498 0

California Tortilla in Courthouse will be offering free burritos to customers on Thursday to celebrate a transition to a new franchise owner.

The restaurant, at 2057 Wilson Blvd, has been closed for renovations and sports a new look inside. On Thursday, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 5:00 to 7:30 p.m., all customers can get a free burrito and a drink. The first 20 customers in line get a “Burrito Elito” loyalty card with free burritos for a year.

California Tortilla also has locations at Reagan National Airport and in Crystal City. Those, along with all other “Cal Tor” locatons, are offering free chips and queso sauce to any customer who tells the cashier they voted. The promotion is valid today only.

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