(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.”
“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.”
(Updated on 4/10/15) Velocity 5 in Courthouse has been closed for weeks, but this month it will be reborn as Courthaus Social.
The “American beer garden” concept at the sports bar space at 2300 Clarendon Blvd has been in the works for years, but owners Fito Garcia and Nema Sayadian are completing the final buildout now, preparing to open by the end of April.
“Courthaus Social is the perfect spot for a happy hour, a pit stop en route to the city or a final destination to spend an entire evening,” Garcia said in a press release. “Our beer garden is dedicated to remaining an establishment that delivers unforgettable experiences to every guest. Whether you live in Arlington or are here for a few days… Grab a boot and sip, savor, and share in the spirit of beer and great food.”
The opening has been pushed back from its original April 13 date, but the owners hope that by the end of the month Courthaus Social will be ready to go, serving two-liter boots and steins of 30 beers on tap, with long benches for social seating.
Sayadian told ARLnow.com that the interior will look wildly different from the Velocity 5 the area has come to know.
“It’s night and day, a 180-degree difference,” he said.
Garcia said the beer garden will have “life-size games” and will be community-focused, focusing on Virginia breweries and “humanely raised, free range” meats. It will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. daily.
Photo (top) via Facebook
Rosslyn Skyscraper Still Empty — The D.C. area’s tallest building, 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn, is still empty a year and a half after its completion. Owner Monday Properties, however, is feeling good about the regional economy and about Rosslyn specifically. The company is reportedly not planning to lower its asking rent for the building. [Washington Post]
Deaf Man Suing Arlington County — Updated at 9:20 a.m. — A homeless deaf immigrant who was wrongly jailed for six weeks, allegedly without access to an interpreter, is suing Arlington County in federal court for failing to meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The man, Abreham Zemedagegehu, is originally from Ethiopia and was unable to communicate with his jailers via written English. [Associated Press]
Advertising on ART? — The Arlington County Board on Tuesday briefly discussed the possibility of adding advertisements to the side of ART buses — but no action was taken. It was also revealed that the cost of a Metrobus route is about 2.5 times more expensive than the equivalent ART bus route. [InsideNova]
Local Business 40th Anniversaries — Two local businesses are celebrating a 40th anniversary this month. Heidelberg Pastry Shop (2150 N. Culpeper Street) celebrated its 40th year in business this past Saturday, while the Crystal City branch of Navy Federal Credit Union (2450 Crystal Drive) is celebrating its 40th with cake, refreshment and giveaways to those who stop by the branch.
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
The electric bicycle shop has moved into the former PetMAC space at 822 N. Kenmore Street, and is planning to open on Saturday, April 4, at 11:00 a.m. Store owner Alan Levine told ARLnow.com that, in the meantime, he is selling bicycles at Big Wheel Bikes around the region, including its 3119 Lee Highway location.
When Hybrid Pedals does reopen, its new location will be bigger than its old shop at 925 N. Jackson Street, and have better visibility to Wilson Blvd.
“It’s going to allow us to display bikes much, much better, and we have a great test track along N. Kenmore Street” Levine said. “We kind of made lemonade out of a lemon.”
The bikes that were destroyed were about half of Hybrid Pedals’ inventory, but Levine said insurance was able to cover the cost. The other half of the inventory was already at the Big Wheel Bikes locations so “we didn’t skip a beat,” Levine said.
“The grand opening … gives everyone a chance to see and try our exciting products,” Levine said, especially encouraging veterans and the disabled to come try out the products that can go 20 mph without pedaling, and up to 35 mph with “pedal assist.” “People must try an e-bike to appreciate the fun factor, and we are the only company where someone can try them all before making an educated and informed decision.”
Bob and Edith’s Diner, the iconic 24-hour eatery on Columbia Pike, is expanding with two new locations, including one in Crystal City that’s expected to open later this month.
Bob and Edith’s has taken over the space vacated by the former Cesar’s Diner, at 539 23rd Street S., after the end of February. Owner Greg Bolton says he hopes to open a new 24-hour Bob and Edith’s location there, serving the same diner fare as the Pike location, by March 25.
“Same menu, everything’s the same,” said Bolton. The new Crystal City location will have 20 booths, while the original has 17.
Bolton said he’s been eyeing the location — which is within easy walking distance of huge office and apartment buildings, not to mention hundreds of hotel rooms — for 10-12 years, but it only recently “dropped in my lap.”
“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “This place is a gold mine.”
Bolton and colleagues have been busy thoroughly cleaning the interior and preparing to install new equipment, including new grills, refrigerators and a new counter. Much of the diner, including its blue booths and its gleaming metal exterior, will remain. Bolton said he’s also planning on taking advantage of the outdoor seating area in front of the diner, when the weather allows.
The Crystal City location is the first of two new locations Bolton is planning to open this spring, after years of running Bob and Edith’s as just one single diner. Another location, in the former Tommy Thai restaurant at Springfield Plaza in Springfield — “next to the Christian store,” Bolton noted — is expected to open as soon as April.
Bolton said he’s expanding “more for my kids than myself.” The Pike diner was first opened by Bolton’s parents, Robert and Edith, in 1969. It’s remained a family affair ever since, with Bolton, his wife Victoria and more recently his two children, Tammy and Chris, helping to run the restaurant alongside a couple of close family friends.
“I can go to the Gulf and [water] ski and play golf all day long, you don’t have to tell me twice,” Bolton said. “But I want to set them on another level.”
There was a second Bob and Edith’s location for a while, situated on Columbia Pike a mile and a half west of the original, but it closed in 2007. Bolton explained that it ultimately just wasn’t a good fit.
“It was just too big, it was really more of a restaurant, I felt, not a diner,” he told ARLnow.com. “I just sold it, put a few dollars in the bank, and moved on.”
The former restaurant is now slated to be torn down and replaced with a four story condo building.
As for whether Bob and Edith’s might take advantage of the Crystal City nightlife and start serving beer, Bolton didn’t hesitate with his answer.
“No liquor, just a real diner,” he said. “I don’t want the responsibility, to be honest with you. There’s enough responsibility just running a business 24 hours.”
Bolton said he’s perfectly content to let other bar owners on 23rd Street serve the booze.
“They get them drunk and I’ll sober them up,” he said.
Ten months after first-time restaurateurs Au, Di and Hac Dang, Terrell Wilbourn and their three other partners opened Chasin’ Tails in Westlee, they weren’t sure they’d be in business much longer.
“We thought it was over,” Wilbourn admitted. He said he would have gone back in time and told himself, “Don’t open a restaurant. Just don’t do it.”
That was back in February 2013. A bumpy opening in April 2012 didn’t stop customers from coming in all summer, but once the winter rolled around, the Cajun seafood restaurant whose mantra is “No Plates. No Forks. No Rules.” started struggling to fill tables. Waiters were getting antsy because they would work six-hour shifts and make less than $30 in some cases. Things were looking bleak.
“That winter was brutal,” Au Dang said. “The honeymoon period was over. We weren’t getting the same amount of customers. We knew things weren’t going well.”
The ownership group didn’t do themselves many favors. When they opened, some menu items took more than an hour to be prepared. The veteran general manager the restaurant newcomers hired to help guide them was fired after two months because he didn’t fit. Dang remembers giving a customer a free lobster meal after it had come out late. The customer took to Yelp to blast him, saying he didn’t know what he was doing giving away free lobsters.
“We tried to do whatever we could to make customers happy,” Dang said. It didn’t matter; Chasin’ Tails was floundering. “We took responsibility. It was our fault. It’s our job to make the experience as good as possible.”
Then, spring hit. Any restaurant specializing in replicating Louisiana crawfish boils, complete with paper tablecloths, corn on the cob and seafood bibs is destined for a slower winter season. Customers started to come back. Prep times shrank from an unacceptable 45 minutes or more to a reliable 15-20 minutes.
Next month, Chasin’ Tails will celebrate its three-year anniversary. The business is doing well enough that the owners are launching three spin-off restaurants in Northern Virginia, including another Chasin’ Tails in Centreville.
“Everything’s painful at first,” Wilbourn said today, sitting down with ARLnow.com in the restaurant at 2200 N. Westmoreland Street. “Like riding a bike or overcoming a social anxiety. I know it’s a cliché, but it gets better.”
That’s not always the case in the restaurant business. Chasin’ Tails defied low expectations of its lifespan when it opened. Dang said he reads Yelp reviews every day and early on, they were “destroying us,” he said. “But it was all true.”
“Great food and very cool set up,” one Yelper wrote in May 2012. “Worst service I have had in years.”
“Overall, the food is good,” another reviewer wrote that month. “The downside is the service. Our server was very nice but he placed our order and then entered the witness relocation program.”
Fast-forward three years, and Chasin’ Tails has an average four-star rating, and most of the recent reviews are five stars. The restaurant, which opens only for dinner on weeknights and at noon on weekends, is so busy that a reservation is considered a must, unless one has at least a half hour to spare. (more…)
The Chinese restaurant that has become known around Clarendon for serving giant mugs of beer for cheap is closed for now.
Hunan Number One (3003 Wilson Blvd) has a sign on the door that says it will reopen on Friday, Feb. 20. The business has been closed since last week, it appears.
An employee who answered the phone Wednesday morning said the restaurant was closed “for a bit of remodeling” and confirmed that it’s expected to reopen Friday. When ARLnow.com stopped by this morning, workers were inside getting the business ready for the reopening.
The closure comes at an inconvenient time for those who might have wanted to toast the Chinese New Year, which is Thursday.
It’s unclear at this point what changes are being made to the interior.
Update at 12:05 p.m. — An earlier version of this story reported that Hunan One’s website automatically redirects to an online store that sells only Air Jordan sneakers. It appears that the problem has been fixed and the restaurant’s website is working properly again. Some users, however, may still be experiencing the redirection under certain circumstances due to browser caching.
Police Investigating Apartment Break-In, Fire — A man has been arrested and accused of breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s apartment and starting a small fire. The incident happened on the 1200 block of S. Scott Street, just off of Columbia Pike, Monday morning. [Washington Post]
Arlington Trying to Keep TSA — After losing the National Science Foundation and the Fish and Wildlife Service to Alexandria, Arlington County officials are stepping up their efforts to keep the Transportation Service Administration. The TSA currently has offices in Pentagon City, but at least one office owner is trying to lure the agency to Alexandria. [Washington Business Journal]
Name Chosen for New Park – The future, 8,000 square foot park next to the new Gables North Rolfe apartment complex, which is expected to be approved by the County Board this weekend, now has a name. Various community groups and county commissions have approved “Three Oaks Park” as the park’s name, in honor of the three large trees on the site. [InsideNova]
Building Over I-66 Would be Pricey — A new report has found that building office and apartment buildings over I-66 in Rosslyn would be expensive, but might eventually be worth considering. As much as 2.5 million square feet of new development could be possible by decking over open-air portions of the highway around Rosslyn. [Washington Business Journal]
‘How Arlington Are You?’ Quiz — A questionable, 10-question web quiz on the website of a Crystal City apartment building attempts to answer the question, “how Arlington are you?” Questions include “how many people do you know who work in the defense industry?” and “how often do you go to Starbucks?” [Crystal Square]
Photo courtesy @TheBeltWalk
The much-anticipated opening of The Italian Store‘s location in Westover has been pushed back again.
Owner Robert Tramonte told ARLnow.com today that delays in getting utilities installed in the 75-year-old building — water, gas, electric and Verizon FiOS — have been the cause of the delay. Now, he hopes the 6,000-square-foot location on Washington Blvd opens this spring.
“There is no competition for those companies,” Tramonte wrote in an email, “so they schedule as they see fit.”
When Tramonte announced that a second location of his popular grocery/takeout restaurant business would take over the Westover 7-Eleven in December 2013, he planned to open May 2014. Permitting issues held up the start of construction until the summer, when Tramonte said he hoped to be open before the holidays.
Construction was in full swing on the interior when ARLnow.com looked in on the shop this morning. When the new store does open, it will feature a seating area for customers to eat and drink, an expanded grocery section and an Illy espresso bar. Last August, Tramonte described his plans for the location as “The Italian Store on steroids.”
Arlington Named No. 3 Best Place to Live — Arlington has been named the No. 3 “best small to mid-sized city” to live in the U.S. The county scored high marks for civic engagement, education, amenities and diversity. Topping the list were Madison, Wis. and Rochester, Minn. [Livability.com]
County Still Winding Down Streetcar Project — Arlington County still is on the hook for about $60,000 worth of contract work associated with the canceled streetcar project. Most of the county staff members working on the project have been transferred to other departments, County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in an update to the County Board regarding the project wind down. [InsideNova]
Fmr. Rep. Moran to Lobby — Recently retired congressman Jim Moran has been hired by the Washington law firm McDermott Will & Emery. Moran plans to join the firm’s lobbying practice, lobbying primarily for defense contractors. [Washington Post]
Development Tracking Report — Arlington County has released its quarterly development tracking report for the fourth quarter of 2014. Notably, no new office construction was approved or started during the time period, although 761 new residential units were started and another 73 were approved. [Arlington County]
Drone Company Disables Flight in Arlington — Following a recreational drone’s crash landing at the White House, drone manufacturer DJI has pushed out a firmware update for its robotic vehicles that prohibits flight within a 15.5 mile radius of downtown D.C. [Engadget]
Making Business Easier in Arlington — Arlington County is taking some small steps toward making it easier to do business in the county. Arlington recently introduced online business license registration and a streamlined process for paying building permit fees. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen
Drs. Natasha Ungerer and Kayleen Gloor have recently opened Clarendon Animal Care, located at 3000 10th Street N., Suite B.
The location previously housed Ellen’s Futons, but has been transformed into a state-of-the-art veterinary care facility. Build-out renovations were completed just before the New Year and the hospital has been open since January 5. Drs. Gloor and Ungerer have been delighted by their new professional home and the warm reception they have received from clients and neighborhood residents.
“We really wanted to open in Arlington, and in Clarendon specifically, because there was a local need, and folks around here are very invested in the human-animal bond, which is something we aim to foster by providing the highest quality veterinary care… and I have the added benefit of being able to walk to work!” said Dr. Gloor, who is a neighborhood local.
“We’ve bucked the standard 15-20 minute appointment norm, and have made 30 minute appointments our minimum” said Dr. Ungerer. Both veterinarians emphasize client communication and education as the foundation of their practice.
“I don’t ever want a client to walk out the door not knowing why I chose the tests or treatments I did — or to feel confused about what they’re supposed to do for follow up” said Dr. Gloor, who takes pride in her diagrams, client handouts, and use of non-medical jargon in appointments to ensure clients have the necessary tools and information to make informed decisions about their pet’s care.
The vets’ approach to their clients and patients can be summed up by one of their clients, Stephen Harris.
“[Drs. Gloor and Ungerer] have been taking care of our four legged kids for years and we are so happy they have their practice together now,” Harris said. “They are thorough and thoughtful, they have always made sure we understand everything going on with our kids when they were not well. They have gone out of their way to check up on the pups when they were sick, even calling on the weekends. We just got a chance to check out their new state-of-the-art veterinary clinic and wish them the best of luck with the Clarendon Animal Care!”
Hospital services include: comprehensive medical exams (wellness/preventive care, domestic & international health certificates, and sick pet/urgent care exams), as well as general soft tissue surgery, dentistry, digital radiology, and in-house and reference laboratory diagnostics.
Clarendon Animal Care is open:
- Monday – Thursday from 7:30am – 7:30pm
- Friday from 7:30am – 5:30pm
- Saturday from 7:30am – 12:30pm
Check out their website www.clarendonanimalcare.com, or visit them on Facebook. Appointments can be made by phone at 703-997-9776, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via website request. If you happen to be in the area, feel free to stop in to say “hi,” meet the doctors and staff and get a tour of the clinic.
Reference this ARLnow article and receive $25 off your first veterinary visit.
The preceding article was sponsored by Clarendon Animal Care.
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.
The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news website, is moving its headquarters from D.C. to Rosslyn.
The company, founded in February 2012, has signed a lease at 1000 Wilson Blvd, one of Rosslyn’s silver “twin towers.” About 25 employees are expected to move into the new office this spring, according to Free Beacon president Aaron Harison.
“I thought we were getting a lot more bang for our buck in Rosslyn,” Harison told ARLnow.com. The publication, described by its soon-to-be Rosslyn neighbor Politico as a “pot-stirring, hyper-conservative news and opinion site,” previously had offices on K Street NW in the District.
“We’re getting this great panoramic view of the whole city,” Harison said. “That’s something you don’t get in D.C.”
The Free Beacon recently transitioned from being a nonprofit organization, founded as a project of another conservative nonprofit, to being a for-profit entity. Harison said the new office will allow the publication to continue to grow.
“We really want to increase our footprint,” he said.
Harison, a Ballston resident, said the expanding Rosslyn restaurant and bar scene should help to ease the transition from D.C.
“We’re certainly going to be looking for a couple of new bars and restaurants to make our local haunts,” he said.
Rosslyn has become something of a minor media hub. Among the media organizations calling Rosslyn home are WJLA-TV, Politico, Washington Business Journal, ARLnow.com and Graham Holdings (owner of Slate, theRoot and Foreign Policy).
In addition to the Free Beacon, twin towers owner Monday Properties on Wednesday announced two other new leases at 1000 Wilson Blvd: Cobro Ventures, an investment and management company, and Riveron Consulting, a financial firm.
Monday will go before the Arlington County Board this weekend to seek permission to build a new roof deck on 1000 Wilson Blvd. That roof deck will be used by Sands Capital, an existing tenant, according to a spokeswoman.
Disclosure: Monday Properties is an ARLnow.com advertiser
Another Early Morning Fire — Arlington County firefighters rescued a man from an early morning house fire on the 2100 block of S. Randolph Street. This is the second day in a row that Arlington firefighters rescued someone from a house fire. [WJLA]
Association Moves from Alexandria to Arlington — The American Diabetes Association is moving from Alexandria to Arlington. The association has signed a 78,000 square foot lease for a building in Crystal City. The building, owned by Vornado, has been vacant since the previous military moved out due to the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Act. [Washington Business Journal]
Snow Total for Arlington — Yesterday’s afternoon snowfall resulted in an accumulation of 0.4 inches in Arlington, according to a measurement at Reagan National Airport. In the Great Falls section of Fairfax County, 1.8 inches was recorded. [National Weather Service]
Va. Considering All-HOT Lanes I-66 — Virginia is considering a plan to convert I-66 to HOT lanes only during peak periods. That would mean that transit and carpools of three or more people are allowed to use the highway for free during rush hours, but anyone else has to pay tolls. Construction could begin as soon as next year, with the goal of starting HOT lane service by 2017. [Washington Post]
Opening Date for Kapnos in Ballston — Kapnos Taverna, the new 165-seat Greek restaurant from chef Mike Isabella, has set an official opening date of Tuesday, Jan. 27. The restaurant is located at 4000 Wilson Blvd in Ballston.
Photo via @The_Old_Guard
Assessments county-wide rose 3.4 percent over 2014 values. The 4.9 percent rise in residential values (including condos, townhouses and single-family homes) was paired with a 4.7 percent rise in the assessments of existing apartment buildings.
Dragging down both was a 4.5 percent decline in existing office property assessments. Arlington County has been struggling with an office vacancy rate north of 20 percent.
“Arlington’s overall real estate market remains resilient,” Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a statement. “The strength of our residential market balances the tremendous pressures we see in the office building market due to the effects of BRAC and regional competition.”
Real estate assessments are being mailed to all Arlington property owners today. The 2015 assessments will also be posted online and made available at 11:00 tonight.
Unless the Arlington County Board decides to lower the property tax rate, the rise in assessments will mean higher tax bills for homeowners. Either way, it should mean lower tax bills for commercial office building owners. Despite the rise in assessments, the county is still facing a multi-million dollar budget gap for its FY 2016 budget.
The full press release from Arlington County, after the jump.