Cucina Vivace, at 509 23rd Street S. in Crystal City, has closed.
The restaurant closed last month, to the disappointment of regular customers. Chef/owner Gordon Vivace suggested that the restaurant row on 23rd Street was no longer drawing in the customers he needed in order to stay open.
“That strip is not in good shape and is simply no longer a location where an upscale restaurant can survive,” Vivace told ARLnow.com. “I was presented with an opportunity to leave on short notice, and chose to take it.”
Vivace said he does not plan to reopen.
“I’m going to stick to catering and personal chef services where my food can be my food without compromise to the price people are willing to pay to walk in the door,” he said.
The liquor store “will close sometime around April 20,” Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control spokeswoman Carol Mawyer confirmed to ARLnow.com. She said the store will not be renewing its lease.
“We are closing this store because it is in a leased property and our lease expires April 30,” said Mawyer. It’s the second high-profile business to close in the historic Colonial Village Shopping Center so far this year. In January, Ray’s Hell Burger and Ray’s Hell Burger Too closed due to a landlord-tenant dispute.
ABC customers in the area will now have to find another store to shop at, such as the Virginia ABC store at 1001 N. Fillmore Street in Clarendon, in the Clarendon Self Storage II Complex. That store is about a mile away.
“ABC operates seven other stores in Arlington for our customers’ convenience,” Mawyer said. “There are another three stores (for a total of 10) within a 5-mile radius of the Wilson Boulevard property.”
Photo via Google Maps
World Gym Now ‘Exercise Nation’ — The poorly-reviewed World Gym at 1058 S. Walter Reed Drive has changed hands and is now “Exercise Nation,” a small low-cost gym chain with existing locations near Baltimore. Memberships start at $10/month. [Washington Business Journal]
Metro Ramps Up Anti-Harassment Campaign — This month Metro began tracking all forms of sexual harassment, one additional step in the agency’s ongoing anti-harassment campaign. [Greater Greater Washington]
Four Mile Run Watershed Cleanup — Arlington County is organizing a watershed cleanup for Four Mile Run on Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Volunteers will be asked to help clean up at one of several sites along Four Mile Run, Arlington’s largest watershed. [Shirlington Village Blog]
Forum to Feature Streetcar Supporters, Opponents — On April 10, the Arlington Committee of 100 will hold a forum about the proposed Columbia Pike streetcar. A streetcar supporter, Arlington Chamber of Commerce chairman David DeCamp, will face off against a streetcar opponent, “Peter’s Take” columnist and former Arlington County Democratic Committee chairman Peter Rousselot. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Mall owner Forest City Enterprises has been in the planning stages for major renovations to the 26-year-old, 580,000 square foot facility since at least 2010. Today (Wednesday) the Washington Business Journal reported that that the company revealed preliminary plans and renderings for the renovations at an industry conference in National Harbor.
“The rebranded Ballston Center at 4238 Wilson Blvd. would include more than 300 apartment units, three levels of office space and a significantly reconfigured retail space,” WBJ reported.
Tina Leone, CEO of the recently-formed Ballston Business Improvement District, said her organization is looking forward to the positive changes the redevelopment could bring to the area.
“It is very exciting and we are so pleased to be working with Forest City to further improve our wonderful neighborhood,” Leone said. “The design calls for an exterior renovation that will complement the recent developments that have occurred here, such as Shooshan Company’s Founders Square and JBG’s gorgeous 800 N. Glebe building. This change, along with the BID’s plans to beautify Wilson Boulevard, will make for a much improved, more inviting streetscape to our main street of Ballston.”
Forest City has not yet submitted its plans to Arlington County for approval.
Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
Wakefield Captures District Championship — On Friday, the Wakefield High School boy’s basketball team defeated Mount Vernon 69-60 to become the National District champions. Wakefield is now competing in the Northern Region regional tournament. Yorktown, which fell 42-82 to Wakefield in the National District tournament, is also competing as a lower seed in the Northern Region tournament. [Northern Virginia Sports]
Neighbors Want Security Guard at New Homeless Shelter — Residents of the Woodbury Heights Condominium in Courthouse are pressing Arlington officials to place a 24-hour security guard at the county’s planned year-round homeless shelter at 2020 14th Street N. Residents say they’re worried about an increase in crime as a result of the shelter moving next to their building. A resident’s Freedom of Information Act request revealed that there have been just under 6 police responses to the existing shelter per year, on average, between 1994 and 2011, mostly for alcohol-related incidents. [Arlington Mercury]
Arlington Tourism Tax Bill Passes General Assembly — A bill that would restore Arlington’s 0.25 percent hotel tax surcharge is destined for the desk of Gov. Bob McDonnell. The state legislature approved the bill, which will restore the tax authority — which is used to fund tourism promotion — for three years. [Sun Gazette]
Conservative Tech Biz Booming in Arlington — Business is booming for a small Arlington-based conservative digital advocacy company. The co-founder of Red Edge, which is based above an antique shop in Lyon Park, says he expects the business to double or triple this year as Republicans look to make up ground lost to Democrats in the online sphere. [New York Times]
Registration Open for Ballston LaunchPad Challenge — Registration is now open for the Ballston LaunchPad Challenge. The contest challenges entrepreneurs to come up with the “next great idea,” for a chance to pitch their innovation to billionaire Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis. [Ballston BID]
On Thursday the store wrapped up a move from its former location at 3924 Wilson Blvd to the new location at 4501 N. Fairfax Drive. The new running store is located next to a FedEx office location, across from the Marymount University “Blue Goose” building at the corner of Fairfax Drive and Glebe Road.
While the new store doesn’t have the surface parking lot of the former location, it is validating parking at the building’s underground garage off of N. Vermont Street.
Store co-owners Ray and Cathy Pugsley told us last month that the move was prompted in part by the former location’s lack of street visibility, concern that the single-story shopping center they used to be in would be redeveloped, and the new location’s better proximity to the Custis Trail.
Arlington Economic Development (AED) has announced plans for a new program to help out local entrepreneurs with questions regarding the launch of a new business.
AED is launching an “Entrepreneur in Residence” (EIR) program, which will allow Arlington business owners to get advice, specifically tailored to their startups, from fellow entrepreneurs. Each EIR will serve for six months to one year and will provide regular office hours for counseling other startups in exchange for office space at AED.
That this is a county-sponsored program is unique, AED says. EIR programs are more commonly found in universities and large corporations.
“Having entrepreneurs on hand who’ve faced the same issues and succeeded to guide business leaders of tomorrow is just the type of program that has helped Arlington gain its reputation as the place for startups to succeed,” said Jennifer Ives, Director of Business Investment for Arlington Economic Development.
Will Fuentes and Cary Scott, co-founders of Arlington based tech startup Lemur Retail, will serve as the first EIRs.
“We’ll be able to help with non-traditional questions, like pitching to venture capitalists or how to effectively use social media,” Scott said. “We’ve been there.”
In addition to providing office hours to meet with entrepreneurs, Fuentes and Scott will host quarterly workshops and panel discussions on topics relevant to the entrepreneur community. Possible topics include raising money, pitching to investors, pitching to the media, business strategy and branding, among others.
“We’ve learned. We’ve made the mistakes, and we’re looking now to share that with other exciting startup companies,” said Fuentes.
In addition to AED’s efforts, the new Ballston Business Improvement District is also making a push to attract startup firms and entrepreneurs. Last month the BID announced an entrepreneurship contest that will provide mentorship and other resources to budding business owners. Later, at a launch event announcing the contest, billionaire and BID supporter Led Leonsis said that encouraging entrepreneurship can create jobs and stimulate economic activity in the area.
AED believes the Entrepreneur in Residence program will complement its existing services, such as the BizLaunch small business assistance network. It reports helping as many as 4,000 startups and small businesses each year.
A new Indian restaurant recently opened in the Lyon Park neighborhood.
Masala Express, at 2622-A Pershing Drive, just celebrated its first month in business. The restaurant, which offers carry out service and a small section of cafe seating, has enjoyed favorable reviews on Yelp since it opened on Christmas Day (Dec. 25).
The restaurant is owned by Vinita Chawla, a veteran of the hotel industry. Also helping out is her husband, Naresh, who has run a catering business focusing on Indian cuisine for the past 20 years. Both Vinita and Naresh are natives of India.
One restaurant patron told ARLnow.com that Masala Express offers Indian cuisine that’s spicier and “more authentic” than several of the other Indian restaurants in the Clarendon and Courthouse areas.
Masala Express opened in what used to be a portion of Gala Futons and Furniture. The furniture store remains open, albeit with a smaller storefront.
The restaurant is open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Sunday.
The demonstration, organized in part by the Laborers International Union of North America, will protest the “use of immigration status against workers” by Corinthian Contractors, Inc. Arlington residents and local immigration groups are expected to protest outside the company’s Shirlington-area headquarters.
Tejada will “stop by the event,” according to a spokeswoman.
In a press advisory, protest organizers accused Corinthian Contractors of threatening laborers with deportation after they complained about not receiving a fair wage.
On December 2, a group of workers sent a letter to their employer, Corinthian Contractors, Inc., asking to be paid the legally required minimum wages for their work on a DC Water project. On December 6, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested the workers at their usual meeting spot as they waited for their ride to work. Two bystanders were also arrested.
Following their arrest, Corinthian Contractors continued to threaten the workforce with immigration enforcement. Finally, on December 31, 2012, Corinthian Contractors announced that it suddenly discovered that the I-9s of the entire workforce needed to be immediately “re-verified.” Corinthian took the opportunity during the “re-verification” process to fire almost half of the workers working on DC Water projects. The vast majority of those fired had signed a letter complaining of Corinthian’s failure to pay the legally required wages.
These workers have had their lives torn apart. Some have been deported. Others who remain have seen family members deported. All are still awaiting a determination of their status. And all of this turmoil to is due to the ruthlessness of a contractor who was offended that workers would try to hold him accountable to pay legally required wages.
On Tuesday, these workers will tell Corinthian Contractors that they cannot be intimidated out of their rights and will request the public and public officials to join them in demanding justice for Corinthian’s workers!
The protest is scheduled to take place at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday at 3126 S. Abingdon Street.
In 2010, Corinthian Contractors completed work on a $1.5 million contract for the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services, according to its website. The company has not responded to a call seeking comment.
Ted Leonsis, the billionaire owner of the Washington Capitals and Wizards, says Ballston could soon be known as a haven for entrepreneurs and the “creative class.”
Leonsis made the remarks at a launch event Thursday night for the new Ballston Business Improvement District, which has announced a new campaign to brand Ballston as “home to some of the world’s brightest minds and most innovative industries.” The campaign will capitalize on the fact that the community is home to the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Virginia Tech Research Center, and various science and technology-related companies.
Leonsis, whose Capitals practice at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston, said he’s encouraged to see the BID unifying Ballston’s public agencies, private companies and academia around the theme of innovation.
“The community is really coming together to try to stimulate everything about the creative class,” he said.
As part of the BID’s campaign, Leonsis, a former AOL executive, is helping to conduct and underwrite a business competition for entrepreneurs called the Ballston LaunchPad Challenge. He said the winning business idea may receive funding from the $450 million investment fund he set up with AOL co-founder Steve Case.
“We’re here to help and mentor and to help find the next great companies that will start their businesses here and will create employment for residents in Northern Virginia,” Leonsis said.
“Right now there’s this mythology that the only great companies that can get started happen out in Silicon Valley, and that’s not what we adhere to or we believe,” he continued. “We think that there’s a creative class, that there’s unbelievable gifts, talent and infrastructure in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. and Maryland — and we want to help stimulate that. We think that there are great young entrepreneurs walking among us.”
Leonsis said the contest, which is just one component of the BID’s overall branding and business improvement effort, will pay dividends in terms of stimulating economic activity in the area.
“This is a small part of this overall branding and outreach program, but I think it can be a very important part, because jobs are still the number one issue facing our country,” he said. “There’s no more noble, higher calling for an individual to create a company, see your vision come to life, and to employ people. Families get supported, kids get to go to good schools in the community, you start to shop in the mall, you start to eat in the restaurants, and the money stays within the community.”
“This is very strategic not just for Ballston, but for our country,” Leonsis added. ”If we are to make an investment… we want a commitment that you’ll stay in this community that’s treating you and supporting you so well.”
Leonsis said that small business in particular can help ”get young people get back to work” and out of their parents’ homes.
“We should never lose sight of the importance of small business,” he said. “Big companies right now retain earnings and shed jobs. Small businesses are creating all of the new opportunities and all of the innovation that’s keeping us competitive against global competition.”
Leonsis started and ended by addressing a topic that was on the minds of many — one concerning the return of dozens of wealthy individuals to the Ballston area.
“Thank you, and let’s go Caps,” he said, concluding his remarks.
Disclosure: The Ballston Business Improvement District is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
A Harris Teeter spokeswoman said the store will not reopen until the company can be assured that measures are in place to prevent another catastrophic sewage incident.
“We are actively working with both the county and our landlord to discuss solutions to make sure that which happened does not happen again,” said company spokeswoman Danna Jones. “Once those solutions are implemented, we are ready to start work on the interior of the store, and at that point, Harris Teeter will make various public announcements to share the good news with everyone.”
An Arlington County spokeswoman would not comment on whether the county was working with Harris Teeter to reduce the risk of another sewage backup or mitigate the effects of the May incident. The county did say that, so far, no lawsuits have been filed against the county in response to last year’s sewage backup.
“I can confirm that no civil lawsuits have been filed,” said Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius.
Photo courtesy Douglas Wendt
The BID, formed last year after the Arlington County Board approved its creation in December 2010, is busy shaping Ballston’s identity around the area’s strength in the science and technology sector. It’s emphasizing entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity as part of its new branding campaign.
“Ballston is home to an impressive roster of influential, innovative organizations including DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Project Agency], NSF [National Science Foundation], Accenture and Virginia Tech,” the BID said in a press release. “Ballston is the place where innovation and entrepreneurship converge. Where the best ideas are discovered and thrive with the support they need to flourish.”
To help launch the branding campaign, the BID will be holding an innovation competition. The “Ballston LaunchPad Challenge,” as it’s called, will allow entrepreneurs to compete for a chance to pitch ideas to Ted Leonsis, the billionaire owner of the Washington Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. (The Capitals practice at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston.)
After soliciting applications this month, a panel will select 10 finalists who will the work with mentors to “develop their ideas into saleable business plans.” The winner of the competition will be announced in November and will be eligible to potentially receive seed money, donated workspace and “continuing mentorship.”
On his blog, Leonsis said the competition will help Ballston become known as “a haven for startups.”
“This is a smart way to incentivize businesses to open and grow in Arlington,” he wrote.
The competition will be formally announced Thursday evening at the former Chevy’s Restaurant space (4238 Wilson Blvd) at Ballston Common Mall, which for the next 10 months will host some events connected with the contest. In addition, the BID will provide free public Wifi and seating in the restaurant’s former outdoor dining area.
Other initiatives planned by the BID include business networking events like breakfasts, lunches and happy hours; “public labeling” at the Ballston Metro station, restaurants and in the Ballston Common Mall food court; a “digital/virtual statue to showcase the innovators already working in Ballston”; public art and light installations; and the creation of mini-parks and 4-5 additional Wifi hotspots around the neighborhood.
Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
The new Tutti Frutti store is located in Pentagon City on the 1300 block of S. Fern Street, near the U.S. Post Office and Epic Smokehouse. The store is the second Tutti Frutti in Arlington, after a location at 2439 N. Harrison Street, in the Lee Harrison Shops.
“I feel very confident in the product,” owner Geoff Trout told ARLnow.com. “I don’t think Pentagon Row is close enough.”
Tutti Frutti serves dairy- and gluten-free, soy-based frozen yogurt made with no artificial sweeteners. The stores typically have a rotating menu of flavors and 35 to 40 fruit and candy topping options.
A sign in the window says the store is “now hiring.”
Firefighters battled a small but smoky fire at Highland Shoe Repair (2020 14th Street N.) Thursday night.
A fire broke out around 7:15 p.m. in the back room of the shop, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Gregg Karl. The blaze was quickly extinguished after firefighters arrived on scene, but not before it generated a considerable amount of acrid-smelling smoke.
Highland Shoe Repair offers off-site dry cleaning services in addition to repairing footwear and performing garment alterations. Numerous Arlington County police and sheriff uniforms can often be seen awaiting pickup at the shop, as police headquarters and the county jail are located across the street.
The fire and the firefighting effort also impacted the deli and lobby on either side of the shop. A light haze could also be seen inside the next-door Courthouse Deli, and the lobby of the office building that houses both shops — recently purchased by Arlington County for use as offices and as a year-round homeless shelter — was flooded by about an inch of standing water.
No injuries were reported as a result of the fire, Karl said. The fire response prompted police to shut down busy Courthouse Road between 13th and 15th Street N.
No word yet on the exact cause of the fire or on when the shop might reopen. The Arlington County Fire Marshal is investigating the incident.
Photo of ladder truck (above) courtesy @acsjacobson
Caffe Aficionado is hoping to open at 1919 N. Lynn Street, near the main entrance of the Corporate Executive Board building, at some point in April or May 2013. Owner Adiam Berhane, who spent part of her childhood in Italy, says she’s going for an Italian vibe, eschewing the laid back “Northwestern” vibe of Starbucks and other coffee chains, while serving American coffee.
“America beats Italy in coffee,” Berhane said. “I probably won’t be allowed back in the country after saying that.”
Caffe Aficionado will serve Handsome Coffee, which is roasted in downtown Los Angeles, and Steven Smith Tea, a high-end artisanal tea from Portland, Oregon. The shop will also offer hot chocolate, Liege waffles and locally-made patries.
Berhane, who speaks Italian, moved with her family from Italy to D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood later in her childhood (her parents own restaurants in Adams Morgan). Most recently, she was working in music management and magazine publishing in New York City, before deciding to open a coffee shop and “live a more Italian life” closer to her parents.
“I wanted to open a business I really like and that I’m passionate about,” she said.
The cafe is being designed by the same architects who design Taylor Gourmet restaurants. Berhane said she wants the cafe to emphasize ”elegance and service” while also being a welcoming “third place” for people to hang out.
Photo via Facebook