(Updated at 3:25 p.m.) Ben’s Chili Bowl opened its second Arlington location at Reagan National Airport this morning with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
In the pre-security section of B/C terminal of the airport, a crowd gathered to hear the Chuck Brown Band, listen to speakers and watch the Ali family, which owns Ben’s, cut the ribbon on the new restaurant. The Ben’s Chili Bowl location in Rosslyn opened in March as the first standalone, brick-and-mortar Ben’s to open since the original in 1958.
“We have a lot of visitors to our original U Street location that come from all over the country, so now people who don’t have time can stop here on their way in or out of the city,” Virginia Ali, the widow of Ben’s founder Ben Ali, said. “It’s a very attractive location.”
Ben’s historian and former Marion Barry aid Bernard Demczuk was the MC of the opening, and handed out pamphlets detailing a history of Ben’s as well as instructions on how to “properly eat a Ben’s Chili Bowl Classic chili dog.” He spoke about the late “Godfather of Go-Go” Chuck Brown — who was a famous Ben’s customer along with Bill Cosby and President Barack Obama — before introducing the band.
He also remarked on Reagan’s number of annual visitors; according to the airport, more than 20 million passengers flew in and out of the airport last year.
“That’s pretty good traffic for Ben’s Chili Bowl,” Demczuk said.
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board Member Warner Session spoke briefly after the band played its first set of songs. He said that MWAA is elated to have a Ben’s airport location.
“I live in the neighborhood and as you can see I’ve probably eaten one chili dog too many,” Session joked.
Kamal Ali was the last to speak before he and his family cut the ceremonial ribbon. Ali thanked the airport and the ceremony’s event planners, and also mentioned his late father.
“I know dad is looking down on us,” he said.
The band continued to play while Ben’s employees served their first customers, and those waiting in line to get their half-smokes and fries danced and clapped along. The band also promoted its new single and album “Beautiful Life,” which was released today.
Inside Ben’s, two flat-screen monitors played a slideshow of the Ali’s family pictures, pictures from other Ben’s locations and footage of the U street location’s appearance on the Travel Channel show “Man Versus Food.”
“They are going to do very well here, trust me,” one woman waiting in line said. “There’s going to be a line forever.”
Although the location plans to have a grand opening event within the next two weeks, it opened today with lease specials, finance specials and discounts on certain cars. The sticker prices on the dealership’s website start at $132,999, but General Sales Manager Alex Macatuno said at least one model is being offered for less than $70,000.
Macatuno said the location, an affiliate of Maserati of Washington in Sterling, opened next to I-395 in Arlington in order to better serve customers closer to the District.
“We wanted to be closer to Washington, so that’s one of the reasons why I think it’s a great location,” Macatuno told ARLnow.com. “There’s an Audi store here, there’s a Porsche store here, there’s a BMW store two exits up and a Mercedes store right down the street, so it’s perfect.”
Macatuno said the dealershop, at 2710 S. Glebe Road, will cater to people “right around the Beltway” and from the Pentagon. It is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Maserati owners can drop their cars off at the dealership for service, he said.
As of 1:00 p.m. today, the location hadn’t sold any cars, according to salesman Tate Attia.
The storefront, as it stands presently, is a “temporary facility,” according to Macatuno. Within the next two to three months, construction is expected to begin on a new 18,000 square-foot facility that will accommodate more cars and more employees. The dealership will remain open during the construction, Macatuno said. Afterwards, the existing building is expected to be knocked down.
In the next two weeks, Maserati of Arlington plans to hold a “grand opening” event. Community members and “those in the area who own luxury brands” are among those the dealership is hoping will attend the event, Macatuno said.
Restaurateurs Eye Rosslyn — Rosslyn has been long neglected in the restaurant and bar department, primarily because it has been viewed as a place where only fast casual lunch places can be successful. That may be changing thanks to Heavy Seas Alehouse, which has been doing boffo beer and dinner business since it opened last month. [Washington City Paper]
Streetcar Battles Continue — Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey continued her one-woman campaign against the Columbia Pike streetcar from the County Board dais last week. Garvey used her time in the County Board meeting to do a slideshow of streetcar systems that have well-exceeded their budget or which have performed poorly in wintery weather. Meanwhile, the streetcar remains the central issue in April’s County Board special election. [InsideNoVa, Greater Greater Washington]
Tribute to Terry Holzheimer — Acting Director of Arlington Economic Development Cindy Richmond has penned a tribute to her former boss, Terry Holzheimer, who died of a sudden heart attack on March 1. [Arlington Economic Development]
Grand Opening for Arlington Mill Residences — A grand opening ceremony will be held tonight from 4:00-6:00 p.m. for the Arlington Mill Residences, at 901 S. Dinwiddie Street. The four story, 122-unit apartment complex, located next to the new Arlington Mill Community Center, is 100 percent committed affordable. There was a long waiting list for those hoping to live in one of the units.
Arlington Woman on Jeopardy Tonight — Arlington resident Nancy Akerman, who works as a science policy fellow, will compete on Jeopardy tonight. The game show airs at 7:30 p.m. on WJLA (ABC 7).
A grand opening celebration is scheduled for the new location, at 1725 Wilson Blvd, at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 6. Cosby is “100 percent confirmed” for the event, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District was told today by the restaurant’s owners.
Cosby is arguably the biggest celebrity fan of the landmark U Street eatery, and counts the owners, the Ali family, as friends. The comedian is expected to give a few remarks with the family before the store’s opening.
Arlington County Board members are also expected to be in attendance.
Photo via Facebook
The Harris Teeter store near Potomac Yard, which has been closed since May 2012 after being flooded with raw sewage, will hold its grand reopening in two weeks.
The store, at 3600 S. Glebe Road, will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 23. Events will also be held that weekend in honor of the reopening.
The store will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
From a Harris Teeter press release:
The 44,000 square foot store, part of The Eclipse luxury mixed-use development, underwent a complete renovation including: all new flooring; new drywall and paint; updated equipment; wooden display cases; new fixtures; an expanded seating area; an expanded floral department; new prepared food stations including pizza, an Asian hot bar, and a made-to-order sandwich bar; and sustainable décor elements. The Company also re-designed its pharmacy to feature an open floor plan that will allow our pharmacists to better serve their customers.
In each of its stores, including its location at Potomac Yard, Harris Teeter considered sustainable building design throughout its re-design process. The refrigerated cases will feature motion detection lighting; the company will also install doors with LED lights on the refrigerated cases as well as LED spotlighting throughout the store to reduce energy consumption. Harris Teeter originally installed both an energy management lighting system and a heat reclamation system in this store and will continue to utilize these technologies to reduce energy waste.
Harris Teeter’s insurers are currently suing Arlington County for more than $1 million to recover losses caused by the sewage backup.
The new $32.6 million facility, on the opposite side of N. Moore Street from the current entrance, will feature three high-speed, high-capacity elevators.
The entrance will be able to serve up to 2,000 riders per hour, according to Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services. Officials have said that they hope the entrance will help keep pace with the station’s soaring ridership, which has increased 23 percent in the past decade and is expected to increase even more with new office and residential development in the area.
Arlington County will be holding a grand opening ceremony for the new entrance — at 1811 N. Moore Street — on Monday, Oct. 7 at 9:30 a.m. The event will feature members of the County Board and will be open to the public.
In addition to the elevators, the station improvements include an emergency evacuation stairwell, a mezzanine passageway, a new station manager kiosk and new fare collection equipment. The Rosslyn Metrorail station is the busiest in Virginia, servicing more than 36,000 passengers per day, according to DES.
Arlington Boy Drowns in Shenandoah — A 3-year-old Arlington boy drowned in a Shenandoah County creek over the weekend. The boy had been seen playing with other children about 200 yards downstream from where his body was found by a search and rescue team. His death has been ruled accidental. [NV Daily]
Jail Hosts Mother’s and Father’s Day Visits — Earlier this month, the Arlington County Detention Facility held a special event for the children of female inmates, in honor of Mother’s Day. Next month, the jail will host a similar event for the children of men for Father’s Day. [Sun Gazette]
Road Closures for Parade Near Shirlington — The westbound lanes of S. Four Mile Run Drive will be closed between Shirlington Road and Walter Reed Drive on Saturday for the Corso de Santa Cruz Parade. The closure is expected to be in place from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. [Arlington County]
Grand Opening for Bluemont Fitness Facility — Though it has been open for several months, Bluemont-based Phoenix Fitness (5130 Wilson Blvd) will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday with free food, classes and giveaways. [Phoenix Fitness]
Flickr pool photo by Alex
Red Parrot Asian Bistro will be celebrating its grand opening next week.
The restaurant, at 1110 N. Glebe Road in Ballston, quietly opened for business on March 1. But next Wednesday (May 22) the restaurant will hold its official grand opening event, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
The event will feature free food tastings and happy hour specials, said owner and chef Wendy Cheung. There will also be a DJ, ribbon dancers from Dance Asia, and a ribbon cutting ceremony, we’re told.
Red Parrot, which has two existing location in Hanover and Baltimore, Md., serves Thai, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese cuisine for dine-in, carry-out and delivery.
The new Washington-Lee High School softball field will open for its first game on Monday.
The $1 million field, under construction since last summer, is located on the corner of Washington Blvd and N. Quincy Street. It was built after parents of softball players threatened to file a Title IX complaint if the school system did not upgrade the no-frills field they were using at the time to include the same amenities of the boys baseball field.
The new softball field has “seating for 280 people, lighting, a press box and a removable fence so that the space can serve multiple uses,” according to Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia.
A grand opening was held for the newly renovated Barcroft Baseball Field #6 over the weekend.
The field’s $3 million renovation was paid for by George Washington University. Under an agreement with Arlington County, the school’s baseball team will be able to call the field home for the next 20 years, while the public will still be able to use the renovated facility when it’s not otherwise reserved for GW games or practices.
The new artificial turf field was open for GW’s baseball season last year, but major renovations — including the 500-seat grandstands, heated press box, concession stands, permanent dugouts, GW Colonials-branded entry plaza and reconfigured parking lot — were still under construction during and after the season.
Among those taking part in a ribbon-cutting and first pitch ceremony on Saturday were Arlington County Board Chair Walter Tejada, GW President Steven Knapp and GW Athletic Director Patrick Nero. GW played Quinnipiac after the grand opening festivities, but lost 4-2.
In addition to serving as a home for the GW baseball team, Field #6 will provide Arlington’s recreational youth baseball leagues “with a near major-league experience,” the county said on its website. GW and Arlington County officials say the long-awaited renovations will provide a big boost to the school’s baseball program and to recreational baseball in Arlington.
“Having played baseball at this university, I can speak firsthand about the incredible strides that have been made from where GW Baseball used to call home to this immaculate facility that ranks among the best in the region and in our conference,” GW Head Coach Gregg Ritchie said in a statement. “For all of the ballplayers that have come through GW over the years, Barcroft Park should serve as a nod of thanks for paving the way.”
“This is a great day for baseball in Arlington,” said Tejada. “Through our very successful partnership with GW, Arlington now has its first turf baseball diamond. I want to thank GW baseball for working with us for nearly two decades in what has become a great partnership with our community. We look forward to enjoying many years of great play on this field by both the Colonials and Arlington baseball leagues.”
A grand opening is planned for one of Arlington’s newest public parks.
Henry Wright Park, located at 4350 4th Street N. in the Buckingham neighborhood, is holding a grand opening celebration from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24. The free event will feature a ribbon cutting ceremony and a moon bounce and face painting for the kids.
Construction on the park, named after the chief architect of the Buckingham Village I garden apartments, began late last year. The oval-shaped park has a fenced-in playground for two to 12-year-olds, picnic and game tables, two grassy areas, a number of benches, and a sign commemorating the history of the Buckingham Village Garden Apartments.
(Updated at 4:50 p.m.) Two and a half years after we first reported that Arlington Public Schools was planning to close the aging David M. Brown Planetarium (1426 N. Quincy Street), the planetarium officially reopened today (Friday) with a flourish.
Elected officials, school employees, media members and planetarium supporters were on hand for a ribbon cutting ceremony and reception this morning. It was the culmination of a lot of hard work by a dedicated group of planetarium boosters — the Friends of Arlington’s Planetarium — who succeeded not only in preventing the planetarium’s closure, but in raising more than $400,000 to fully renovate and modernize the facility.
The forty-year-old planetarium now features a state-of-the-art Spitz SciDome HD digital projection system, an integrated surround sound system, LED dome lighting, and new seating, carpeting, insulation, plumbing, mechanical systems, restrooms and doors.
Raphael Perrino, a former Arlington Public Schools student who helped lead the charge to save the planetarium, said today’s opening was “surreal” after so many hours spent to make it possible.
“This is a triumphant day for Arlington, and I’m proud to be part of this group and proud of the planetarium,” he told ARLnow.com. Perrino said he hopes the planetarium will continue to inspire budding astronomers and scientists for years to home.
“This is such a wonderful day… it’s similar to my first time coming to the planetarium when I was six years old,” he said. “I remember coming through that hallway and seeing all those galaxies, and supernovae and nebulae and planets. Coming into that room that was full of stars — that to me was one of the most awesome things I’ve ever seen, to see a night sky. Growing up in an suburban-slash-urban environment you’re not used to seeing a sky like that. To have seen that for the first time was very special. So this is almost similar, in the level of excitement. It’s just an exhilarating day.”
About half of the more than $400,000 raised to save the planetarium was donated by small donors — often in $5, $10 or $20 increments — the other half came from large donors, Perrino said. In addition the numerous volunteers, donors and petition signers, Perrino credited Arlington’s unique brand of civic participation for today’s joyous outcome.
“It’s a victory for Arlington children, it’s a victory for science outreach and education, and it’s really quintessential Arlington Way,” he said. “The idea that you see something you don’t like, you get together and do something about it. It’s civic engagement that you see here, and it’s a beautiful part of this community. I feel very privileged to have been a part of this campaign.”
Friends of Arlington’s Planetarium President Dr. Alice Monet, who was among the speakers at the ceremony, said one of the more powerful emotions she experienced today was relief.
“Speaking for myself, I feel happy and relieved that the job has been finished and everything turned out so well,” she said. “It was such a complex effort, involving so many people, all sorts of challenges, roadblocks and opportunities, near disasters and astonishing breakthroughs, personality clashes and camaraderie — and, overall, it was a very humbling and inspiring experience. The new planetarium is sleek, polished, and beautifully functional. I feel sure it will be a great place for teaching and inspiring students, teachers, and the whole community for years to come.”
About 25,000 students are expected to visit the planetarium each year, according to Perrino. That number may increase, he said, as other school systems consider arranging for their students to utilize the facility.
The planetarium is named after the late astronaut and Yorktown High School grad David M. Brown, who perished in the 2003 Columbia disaster.
In addition to hosting today’s ceremony, the Friends of the Planetarium will be hosting a series of grand opening events this weekend.
Among those on hand for the reopening ceremony were: APS Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy, Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez and other members of the Arlington School Board, Rep. Jim Moran, former NASA astronaut William Readdy, former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe, APS Science Department Supervisor Dr. Dat Le, Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Operations Clarence Stukes, County Board member Libby Garvey, Dels. Alfonso Lopez and Patrick Hope, state Sen. Barbara Favola, and WJLA meteorologist Bob Ryan.
Photo (middle) courtesy Frank Bellavia/APS
Officials Prepare for USS Arlington Commissioning — Arlington County Board Chairman Mary Hynes, county treasurer Frank O’Leary and other local leaders traveled to Norfolk on Wednesday to meet with Navy officials to plan for the commissioning of the USS Arlington, a new amphibious transport ship named after the county. The commissioning ceremony is currently planned for April 2013. [Sun Gazette]
José Andrés Food Truck Coming to Arlington — Famed local chef José Andrés (of Jaleo fame) is bringing his new food truck venture in Arlington. The “Pepe” food truck is expanding its service area from the District to Montgomery County and Arlington. The truck serves a rotating selection of flautas — a type of Spanish sandwich. [Huff Post DC]
Arlington Scores Above Average, Below Fairfax on SATs — Arlington Public Schools students in the class of 2012 scored an average of 1641 (out of 2400) on the SATs. That score is above the national average of 1498 and above the state average of 1517, but slightly below the Fairfax County average of 1654. [Patch]
Pentagon Exhibit Seeking Veteran Artists — An organization called the Veteran Artist Program is seeking art submissions from military veterans for a new veteran art exhibit at the Pentagon. Organizers told ARLnow.com that they’ve received numerous submissions from around the county, but not many from the Northern Virginia area. The entry deadline is Oct. 30. [Veteran Artist Program]
Clarendon Salon to Hold Grand Opening — Casal’s de Spa and Salon has been open at 3033 Wilson Blvd in Clarendon since June, but the business will be holding its official “grand opening” ceremony this weekend. The non-tipping salon will be offering food, libations, and music from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29.
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
It turns out we were wrong to assume that a Weezer concert that was said to be taking place “near The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City Microsoft Store” next weekend, in honor of the store’s grand opening, will be taking place at the mall. Or in Virginia, for that matter.
A PR rep emailed us today to let us know the concert — scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 11 — is actually taking place at the Warner Theater in D.C. The original media advisory (which omitted the Warner Theater detail) said the concert will be taking place at 2:00 p.m., though the band’s website says it’s scheduled from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Weezer fans can get tickets to the event by visiting the Microsoft Store’s Pentagon City mall grand opening on Thursday, Aug. 9. Starting at 10:00 a.m., the store will distribute free wristbands for admission to the event, in pairs of two, according to the Microsoft Store website. The first 200 people in line will also reportedly get a wristband for a meet and greet with the band.
A few lucky people who get in line early on the 9th will also have the chance to play Microsoft Kinect with Washington Wizards star John Wall later that day.
ARLnow.com apologies for the error in our previous article.
Photo by “James” via Wikipedia
Update at 2:25 p.m. on 8/17/12 — Bronx Pizza is now expected to open on Wednesday, Aug. 22.
Local restaurateur Mike Cordero is planning a culinary one-two punch next week, with official openings scheduled for two Arlington restaurants in successive days.
First up is A-Town Bar & Grill, the renovated successor to Caribbean Breeze in Ballston (4100 Fairfax Drive). Cordero says the restaurant will likely start serving customers this coming Wednesday as part of a quiet “soft opening,” but will hold its official opening on Friday, Aug. 10.
A-Town will feature an expanded beer list; an “eclectic” menu including sushi, sandwich creations, flatbread pizzas and steaks; a redone outdoor patio; a birchwood bar; historic photos of Arlington on the walls; and lots of flat screen TVs.
Cordero says former Caribbean Breeze patrons “are not going to recognize the restaurant” when they walk in. He acknowledged that he’s taking a risk by replacing the successful Caribbean Breeze, but insists “the odds are in our favor to succeed here and increase our sales.”
“One of the reasons we switched from Caribbean Breeze to A-Town is that Caribbean Breeze was more of a specialty operation,” he told ARLnow.com. “I figured we could support the locals and cater to Arlington, not just to Miami… It will be a place you could eat at every day.”
Bronx Pizza (3100 Clarendon Blvd), which has been “coming soon” to Clarendon since February 2011,
will open the doors to its first customers on Saturday, Aug. 11, according to Cordero.
Cordero, who grew up in the South Bronx and started working in a mom-and-pop pizza place at the age of 13, says the opening will feature something unique to Arlington: actual Bronx pizza makers.
“Old friends of mine who have been in the pizzeria business for 20 years, they’re going to come down and help [with the opening],” he said. “The reason we call it Bronx Pizza is I am from the Bronx, two blocks from Yankee stadium.”
In addition to bona fide Bronx natives, the shop will feature plenty of other touches from the northernmost New York City borough, including photos of the Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Michael Corleone (from the filming of The Godfather), and the George Washington Bridge.
Cordero is expecting late night food to be a big component of the shop’s business.
“It will be a big bang,” he said of the planned Saturday opening, “considering all those bars and clubs are going to get out at 2:00 a.m. and we’ll be open until 4:00 a.m.”
Interior construction on both restaurants is expected to wrap up by Monday.
Flickr pool photo (top) by Maryva2