Caucus Date Set for Treasurer, School Board — Arlington Democrats will hold a caucus the evening of Monday, Aug. 4 to determine the party’s nominees in the special elections to replace Treasurer Frank O’Leary and School Board member Noah Simon. The caucus will be held from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. [InsideNova]
Comeback for Crumbs? — The Crumbs store in Clarendon and across the country closed this week, but could a comeback for the cupcake company be imminent? A group of investors is planning to provide financing for the bankrupt Crumbs Bakeshop Inc., and that could revive some of the company’s stores. [Washington Business Journal]
Clarendon Art Festival to Return — The “Arlington Festival of the Arts” will return for a second year in Clarendon. The art festival is scheduled to take over part of N. Highland Street for two days on the weekend of Saturday, Sept. 20. [ArtFestival.com]
Last Day for Cheaper Tickets to ARLive — After today, tickets to the upcoming ARLive Startup Smackdown will increase from $15 to $20. The event — which is being held after work on Tuesday, July 22 — will pit about 20 Arlington-based startups against each other in a bid to collect the biggest “investment” from attendees, who will be given play money to dole out to their favorites. Beer, wine and food are included in the price of admission. [nVite]
Held at the Crystal Tech Fund (2231 Crystal Drive) space in Crystal City, the event will arm attendees with Monopoly money and invite them to check out more than a dozen local startups. Attendees can invest the faux funds in their favorite startups, and the company with the most fake money at the end wins lunch with venture capitalist and Crystal Tech Fund founder Paul Singh.
For those attending, there’s no need to bring real cash — we’ll provide all the food and drink you need. Just bring business cards and network as much or as little as you want.
Tickets for the event are just $15 through July 11 and $20 thereafter.
Local startups interested in participating should contact Meghan McMahon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Updated at 9:30 a.m.) New Arlington Chamber of Commerce President Kate Roche, 29, knows she will face questions about her age, but she and the Board of Directors that promoted her view it as an asset.
“My age is a positive,” Roche told ARLnow.com, days after her new promotion was announced. “It’s a change for the business community. When people traditionally think of business, they think of older men, not younger women. Appealing to more demographics makes it a more welcoming place.”
Roche replaces now-retired President Rich Doud, 71. Doud hired Roche as the chamber’s director of member services and development in 2007 after she worked at D.C. nonprofit Women in Government. Roche called Doud “a great mentor and leader,” and said Doud was in tears when they spoke last Friday after she was officially given the job.
The chamber’s Board of Directors Chairman Tim Hughes, an attorney in the Bean, Kinney and Korman law firm, said the search committee for a new president agreed that Roche’s youth was a good thing for the chamber in the midst of changing times.
“She has had just unparalleled enthusiasm, energy, passion and commitment,” Hughes said. “I would say that Kate brings a really interesting and intriguing mix of continuity and experience, along with obvious youth, energy and a change in the face of an organization.”
Roche said she’s focused on partnerships she’s already been building as vice president — her last position. That means working with the Ballston Business Improvement District, Arlington Economic Development and other business and community groups. Roche said leveraging those partnerships will allow the chamber to attract new members, a crucial mission in the changing economy.
“Chambers are being pushed harder to prove why people should join and to demonstrate their value,” Roche said. “There was a time when you joined the chamber just because that’s what you do.”
Hughes said that means attracting more of the tech businesses sprouting up seemingly every week in Arlington and enticing them to join the chamber.
“You think about the people starting businesses and developing software products doing all kinds of great and interesting things,” Hughes said. “We’re attracting these types of folks to the county, so they see why membership in the chamber helps them be effective in their business.”
Coming up, Roche plans to roll out a “Shop Chamber” initiative — member businesses will encourage their customers to shop at other member businesses, with the chamber ultimately keeping track of how much additional money a business can earn from being a chamber member.
Roche said she’s also focused on retaining and engaging current businesses, which includes seeing which members haven’t been to a meeting or event in six months, and reaching out to them. She said the chamber should play a big role in helping local businesses, whether it’s via networking events or by helping to shape county policy.
“The chamber is the only all-county business organization,” she said. “The chamber’s role is to help businesses do business well. When business issues come up, we’re not part of the government, so we can do the lobbying that you can’t do if you’re a part of the county.”
New Homeless Shelter to Open in March — Arlington County’s new year-round homeless services center is now expected to open in March. That means the existing emergency winter homeless shelter in Courthouse is likely to be open much of the winter. [InsideNova]
Competitors Agree on Sign Change — Competing commercial real estate companies have joined together in support of a proposal for Arlington to allow rooftop signs on two new Rosslyn office buildings, one already built and another set to be built if the signage is approved. Company officials say that Arlington’s reputation with the business community is at stake, especially at a time of increased competition with areas like Tysons Corner. [Washington Business Journal]
Silver Line Opening Date Set — The Silver Line is set to open to riders on July 26. A ride from Rosslyn to Tysons Corner will take about 22 minutes, while a ride from Rosslyn to Reston will take 34 minutes, according to Metro. [Reston Now, Twitter]
District Taco Expanding to Alexandria — District Taco, which started in Arlington as a tiny taco cart, has just signed a lease to open a new location at 701 S. Washington Street in Alexandria. When it opens, District Taco expects to reach a count of 200 employees. [Twitter]
Moran on Iraq Situation — Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) says of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and the current threat of invading Islamists in that country: “if you break it, you own it, and we broke it… we should have never gone into Iraq.” Moran said isolated air strikes might be warranted to help combat the jihadist militants. [WJLA]
Flickr pool photo by Rob Cannon
Arlington Wages, Employment Falling — The average weekly wage in Arlington was $1,588 in the fourth quarter of 2013, the eighth-highest wage among large U.S. counties. However, the average wage was down 2.4 percent compared to one year prior, and the number of people employed in Arlington was down 1.1 percent. [InsideNova]
No Arlington Winners at RAMMY Awards — Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington held its annual RAMMY awards gala at the D.C. convention center last night. No Arlington restaurants were among the winners, although three were among the nominees: Bayou Bakery, The Curious Grape, and Lyon Hall. Water and Wall’s Tim Ma was nominated for Rising Culinary Star of the Year.
Flickr pool photo by ArlingtonPhotos
(Updated at 9:55 a.m.) As it approaches its third anniversary of opening in Clarendon, South Block Cafe (3011 11th Street N.) have unveiled plans for growth. The juice, smoothie and wrap shop will expand into the spot next door previously occupied by Clarendon Alliance, which moved to 3033 Wilson Blvd. earlier this week.
Owner Amir Mostafavi explained he decided to expand because South Block’s line of raw, unpasteurized, cold pressed juices — called South Block Juice Co. — has enjoyed a tremendous response from customers. South Block opened in 2011 and the juice line launched more than a year ago.
“This brand has sort of taken on a life of its own. So we have decided to give the juice its own space, and we are putting our first South Block Juice Co. location in the Clarendon Alliance Spot next door to us,” Mostafavi said. “I refer to South Block Juice Co. as a ‘micro-juicery,’ so we are having a little fun with this and taking on some traits of a microbrewery.”
Similar to beer flights at a microbrewery, South Block customers soon will be able to sample “juice flights.” Visitors also can take home a growler of juice and get information on juice cleanses.
“In general, this will allow us to expand on what has become a very good part of our business,” said Mostafavi. “South Block Juice Co. will be a brand whose focus is on nutrition, community, art and charity.”
The new juice store is expected to open in September.
The company plans to begin construction later this month on a new juice production kitchen in East Falls Church, which will allow for producing a larger volume of juice. South Block also intends to offer more juice varieties after the expansion.
(Updated at 5:50 p.m. on 6/19/14) Cafe Caturra (2931 S. Glebe Road) is expected to close in order to be converted into a Tazza Kitchen restaurant.
The restaurant opened in the Arlington Ridge Shopping Center in September 2011. It is expected to close for renovations in the near future, though no timeline has yet been set, according to co-owner Jeff Grant, the founder of Cafe Caturra. The restaurant has applied for but has not yet been granted building permits.
After renovations, it would then reopen as Tazza Kitchen, which serves cuisine inspired by the Mediterranean coast and Baja California. Tazza Kitchen currently has locations in Richmond and Raleigh, N.C., with another coming soon to Columbia, S.C.
As of December, dinner entrees ranged in price from $9.50 to $16.50, according to a glowing review by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“No one is really doing that kind of food here at that price point,” said Lawrence Blake, a Cafe Caturra employee in Arlington.
Hat tip to @alongthepike
Update at 12:00 a.m. — Following a half hour of public comments both for and against A-Town, and some tongue lashings from Board members, the Arlington County Board voted Tuesday night to renew A-Town’s live entertainment permit for three months, as recommended by county staff..
Earlier: A-Town Bar and Grill is facing scrutiny over noise and crime as it seeks to renew its live entertainment permit tonight (Tuesday).
The restaurant, located at 4100 N. Fairfax Drive in Ballston, has been drawing the ire of neighbors who complain about loud, drunken patrons. It’s also the subject of an investigation by Arlington County police and the Virginia Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), over a violent episode at an employee-only party on Feb. 12.
“The Arlington Police Department considers A-Town to be the most troublesome establishment in Ballston,” according to a report by county staff.
The Arlington County Board will decide tonight whether to renew A-Town’s live entertainment and dancing permit. County staff is recommending that it be renewed for three months, with additional restrictions on the establishment’s outdoor cafe area.
“Late night disturbances make it an unpleasant community experience and thus directly impact the value of all our homes,” said Roger Lindberg, president of the condominium association for the nearby Berkeley building, in December. “Late night outdoor partying even on weekends, is not a reasonable expectation of any homeowner.”
To help combat that, A-Town has voluntarily agreed to close the patio at 9:00 p.m. on Sundays, 10:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Previously, the restaurant had only agreed to close the outdoor bar early — at 10:00 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Those provisions will be overwritten by the new patio closing times.
County staff noted that noise complaints to the police department declined from 25 between August and November, 2013, to nine between January and April, 2014. However, staff opined that “the long unusually cold winter (when the outdoor patio was not used and patrons refrained from lingering outside the establishment) may be at least partially responsible for a decline in noise-related calls.”
Non-noise police calls to A-Town declined by one — from 25 to 24 — during the same period. The 24 non-noise calls from January to April included four calls for fights, one for an assault, and one for a stabbing (the Feb. 12 incident). Separately, there were eight arrests for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) from January to April where the suspect reported coming from A-Town, according to county staff.
County staff says that A-Town should remain on thin ice even should the live entertainment permit be renewed.
“Staff recommends a three month County Board review in order to monitor progress with these issues, and if there is no substantial reduction in the number of police calls or reduction in the evidence of over serving patrons, staff is not likely to recommend renewal of the use permit for live entertainment and dancing,” the staff report says.
A-Town is facing possible disciplinary action from Virginia ABC pending the outcome of the Feb. 12 malicious wounding case. After the incident an ABC agent “issued an administrative charge to A-Town stating that ‘[t]he Licensee has failed to take reasonable measures to prevent the licensed premises… from becoming a place where patrons of the establishment commit criminal violations… and such violations lead to arrests that are so frequent and serious as to be reasonably deemed… a continuing threat to public safety.’”
The disciplinary action could range from a fine to suspension or revocation of its beer, wine and liquor license.
A restaurant called “The Celtic House,” from a company called “Green Brigade LLC,” has applied for a permit to serve wine, beer and mixed beverages at 2500 Columbia Pike, in the Arlington Village Shopping Center. That’s the current home of Manee Thai restaurant, which has been open for 13-14 years.
“Mo,” a man identifying himself as the owner of Manee Thai, told ARLnow.com today that he is in talks to sell the restaurant and retire. But he said nothing has been finalized.
“We have nothing going on yet,” he said. “We are still talking.”
No company phone number was listed for The Celtic House or Green Brigade LLC. The Virginia State Corporation Commission and Arlington County have no record of an LLC by the name of “Green Brigade.”
Another Irish-themed watering hole, P. Brennan’s Irish Pub (2910 Columbia Pike), has been open just down the street since 2010.
Skyscraper construction near the Rosslyn Metro stop may force some food trucks to relocate or scale back their visits to the lunch hot spot.
“It sucks,” Louie Hankins, the co-founder of the Rito Loco truck, told ARLnow.com. “We can only park two or three trucks here where we used to park seven to eight.”
Construction began this winter on the Central Place apartment building, a 31-story skyscraper that’s projected to be completed in 2017, and has resulted in lane closures and parking restrictions on the stretch of N. Lynn Street between Wilson Blvd and 19th Street N.
Hankins said the construction hasn’t drastically decreased his business. Still, he is considering coming to Rosslyn once every two weeks instead of his usual weekly stop.
“It’s taking most of our parking spots,” said Cindy Hernandez, assistant manager of the Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling truck. With the limited space, other food trucks often beat them to a parking place. In that case, the Rocklands truck relocates to Courthouse.
“There’s more parking but fewer customers there,” Hernandez said. Rocklands used to park in Rosslyn five times a week, but they now only come twice.
Some trucks experienced push-back from authorities, like the Korean BBQ Taco Box truck, which received two tickets after parking on N. Lynn Street, according to Yog Noh, who works on the truck. Noh said that they now park on Wilson Blvd outside of Chipotle, where they see less foot traffic. “A lot of the people who buy our food can’t really see where we are.”
The KBBQ truck had at least 80 customers a day on Lynn Street before construction. Now they get 40 daily customers on Wilson. “I think it’s going to affect us because Rosslyn is one of the best spots we come to,” Noh said.
The KBBQ truck is not the only truck officials have asked to move from Lynn Street. According to Urban Bumpkin truck owner John Nguyen, security guards near the Cosi, at the corner of Lynn and 19th Street, started calling the police on his truck this morning. Nguyen claimed he had started parking at a one-hour metered spot, but was forced to move to Ballston for lunch.
“I said, ‘how are you going to write me a ticket if I just got here?’” Nguyen said. “We were parking in a legal spot with no sign. One of the parking enforcers said they were cracking down on food trucks.”
As a result, Urban Bumpkin served 75 customers in Ballston instead of the usual 100 or more they get in Rosslyn, Nguyen said.
Doug Maheu, the Arlington County Director for the DMV Food Truck Association, and owner of Doug the Food Dude food truck, said that parking is always scarce on Lynn Street because “it’s a gateway into D.C.”
“Lynn Street is probably the premiere spot in Arlington right now,” Maheu said. “Hopefully we can find some other places that are close.”
Maheu is speaking with the county about alternative parking and plans to contact the Rosslyn Business Improvement District. Mary-Claire Burick, executive director of the Rosslyn BID, said the organization is working to find a solution.
Arlington CEO Pleads Guilty to Hacking — Ariel Friedler, the 36-year-old CEO of Arlington-based Symplicity Corporation, has pleaded guilty to federal computer hacking charges. Prosecutors say Friedler and his Chief Technology Officer gained access to the customer section of two competitors’ websites using hacked user credentials in order to steal customer and product design information and gain “an unfair business advantage.” [Pacific Standard, USDOJ]
Wizards Player Helping Clarendon Ice Cream Shop — Washington Wizards swingman Martell Webster tweeted last week that he is working part time at Nicecream Factory, the new Clarendon ice cream store. It turns out that Webster is merely helping out with the store’s marketing effort, which is being led by a long-time friend and former collegiate basketball player. [Washington Post]
Arlington Losing Its Urban Village Advantage? — Arlington is known as a leader in transit-oriented development, thanks to its walkable, mixed-use urban villages. But Arlington’s Mobility Lab suggests that Arlington may be losing its advantage. Tysons Corner, Bethesda, Silver Spring, White Flint, NoMa, and the Ballpark District are all “now competing on the Arlington model,” one county official said. [Mobility Lab]
YHS Senior Video — A group of Yorktown High School seniors recorded a song and created a music video in advance of their impending graduation. [Vimeo]
Wakefield Student Get Sheriff’s Scholarship — A Wakefield High School student has received a $1,000 scholarship from the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office. Kiana Carter, a graduating senior, plans to study criminal justice. [Arlington County]
Firefighters Battle Three-Alarm Blaze — Firefighters from Fairfax County and Arlington battled a three alarm fire at a senior living community Friday night. The facility, Lockwood House, is located on the 600 block of N. Madison Street, just across the Arlington border in Fairfax County. The building’s nearly 100 apartments were evacuated as the fire spread from an electrical transformer to a utility room containing a diesel generator and fuel tanks. [WUSA 9]
Three More Schools to Get FLES — Updated at 1:45 p.m. — Three additional schools will be getting Arlington Public Schools’ Foreign Language in Elementary School program, starting this fall. Tuckahoe, Nottingham and Oakridge will be getting the program, which provides Spanish language education to elementary students. The program also eliminates early release Wednesdays at schools that have it. Parents have been pushing Arlington elected officials to fund FLES at all elementary schools; the school system is planning to do so, but over a period of a couple years. [InsideNova]
Beyer Endorsed By WaPo — Former Va. lieutenant governor Don Beyer has been endorsed by the Washington Post in the Democratic primary to decide who will be the party’s nominee to succeed Rep. Jim Moran in Congress. “Mr. Beyer is, simply, an excellent candidate,” the Post’s editorial board opines. “He would make a first-rate addition to this region’s unusually effective congressional delegation.” [Washington Post]
Business Soaring for Arlington Bird Seed Store — Business continues to grow for the 23-year-old Wild Birds Unlimited store at the Lee Harrison Shopping Center (2437 N. Harrison Street). This winter’s frigid temperatures actually resulted in a sales boom, as birds sought food sources that weren’t iced over and bird-watching customers sought seed in order to attract those birds to their backyards. The store — No. 66 of the chain’s nearly 300 stores in North America — recorded $800,000 in sales last year and is hoping to crack the $1 million mark soon. [Washington Business Journal]
There are barrels, buckets, plastic bags and containers all over the Lyon Park headquarters of No. 1 Sons, a company that sells fermented pickles, kimchi and other products at farmer’s markets and stores around the D.C. area.
No. 1 One Sons has occupied a tiny space underneath the 2720 Washington Blvd shopping center — which houses the new Mocha Cafe & Pastry – since 2012. That’s when No. 1 Sons was founded after owner Yi Wah Roberts, drinking with a friend, decided to make pickles on a whim. Later, he built the “factory” himself with a group of friends.
Roberts decided to ferment the pickles rather than soak them in vinegar, the common method for mass-produced pickles. The result was so good, Roberts said, that he decided to try selling them at a farmer’s market.
“I did it kind of on a lark,” Roberts told ARLnow.com yesterday. “People really liked it, so I rented a kitchen in Alexandria and started making them. When the winter rolled around, I decided I’d give [the company] a shot.”
By last summer, No. 1 Sons was in more than half a dozen farmer’s markets in the D.C. area and, Roberts said, they made a profit by the end of the year. He roped in his sister, Caitlin, to be co-owner and they’ve grown steadily since.
The company expanded its product line, and it now makes four different kinds of pickles — dill, half-sour, super sour and “Kicky Kosher” a spicy pickle that’s the company’s best-seller — as well as four types of sauerkraut, kimchi, “kale-chi,” fermented beets, onions, salsa verde and a ginger and cauliflower concoction called Ginger Giardiniera.
“The common thread of everything is fermentation,” Roberts said. “There are microbes everywhere, and they make things delicious.”
Roberts gets cucumbers and other produce from local farmers and this season will be selling his products at the Crystal City Tuesday markets and the Westover, Courthouse and Columbia Pike farmer’s markets on the weekends. No. 1 Sons is also selling pickles at the Clarendon Whole Foods and some “mom and pop” grocery stores in the area.
No. 1 Sons produces about five, roughly 2,000-pickle barrels per week, and its small space is bursting both in and out of the hand-built refrigeration system with bright blue barrels sealed with garbage bags.
Roberts has a small full-time team but hires lots of part-time help on the weekends — “and I’m always looking,” he adds . The former food-service industry worker said he likes “to keep quiet,” not seeking too much attention for his homemade pickle factory. He was characteristically understated when talking about niche company’s growth.
“We have a bunch of crappy minivans,” he said, looking over his fleet of a handful of beat-up vehicles. “I guess we’ve made it.”
Adams Morgan watering hole Black Squirrel may be coming to Rosslyn.
Leasing agents at the Sedona Slate apartment complex, on the 1500 block of Clarendon Blvd, have been telling prospective residents that Black Squirrel will be opening in a ground floor space at the building.
Black Squirrel bills itself as an “old-school neighborhood gastropub.” It boasts an extensive draft beer selection and a food menu that includes spruced-up versions of standard pub fare.
So far, no building permits can be seen on the windows of the would-be bar space. Reached by phone, Black Squirrel co-owner Tom Knott declined comment.
One business that’s confirmed to be coming soon to the Sedona Slate ground floor is Lava Barre, which was formerly located near Clarendon. Interior construction is underway on the future Lava Barre space and “coming soon” signs are posted on the windows. No word yet on an opening date.
One of the region’s first “micro-unit” apartment buildings is coming to Crystal City.
A new apartment concept is planned for a vacant Crystal City office building, one that would bring the office trend of co-working spaces to the residential real estate market. The project, called WeLive, is being developed by co-working space company WeWork in partnership with Vornado. The building planned to be redeveloped and repurposed is 2221 S. Clark Street, at the corner of 23rd Street S. and Jefferson Davis Highway.
The plan calls for the former office building to be turned into 252 apartment units and 5,848 square feet of ground floor retail. Many of those apartments will be “micro-units,” with fully-furnished studio apartments between 300 and 360 square feet. There are also three- and four-bedroom units, each under 800 square feet.
Although the apartments are tiny, the company plans to make up for that by placing common areas in the middle of the floors. WeLive aims to create two-floor “neighborhoods,” connected by a flight of stairs, with common space in the center of each floor. Each neighborhood would have a commercial-grade kitchen, a dining area, and a common area that may include a living room, a garden, or other amenities.
The idea is that residents — younger tech workers, mostly — would be more interested in hanging out together outside or in common areas than in their individual apartments.
“The idea behind this residential concept is really an extension of WeWork,” said Vornado Senior Vice President of Residential Development Toby Millman. “It’s taking this communal aspect of a work environment and applying it to a residential concept… There’s a lot of great things happening in Crystal City, like TechShop and Crystal Tech Fund, and this really works well in bringing that entrepreneurial spirit to Crystal City.”
Each unit is designed to have its own bathroom and a kitchenette with a small refrigerator, microwave and sink, but no oven or stove. County staff said they’ve studied the designs and said it complies with both code and zoning for a residential building.
The building is known as Plaza 6 — part of the six-building Crystal Plaza development that includes the Shops at 2100 Crystal Drive and has interconnected underground parking — and it’s now vacant after the last federal government tenant moved out a few months ago.
The building is in the path of the future alignment of S. Clark/Bell Street and is set to be demolished and redeveloped by 2050, according to the Crystal City Sector Plan. That gave pause to some members of Arlington’s Site Plan Review Committee at the group’s meeting last might.
Millman assured the SPRC that the lease with WeWork — which would control the entire building, including the ground floor retail — would last 20 years and the apartments would serve as simply an interim use.
“It’s completely vacant right now,” he said. “And there’s little or no prospect of ever re-leasing this building. It’s an obsolete office building for today’s standards.”
The 12th and top floor of the building, slightly smaller than the others, will feature standard apartments. The ten floors beneath it, however, may serve as a model for future residential development, aimed squarely at the young entrepreneurs and millennials who work in the co-working spaces that are popping up all over the D.C. area.
“[WeWork] essentially said, ‘we like Crystal City, but we’re not ready to do WeWork there because we’re concerned the people who we want in WeWork don’t have a place to live,’” said Mitchell Bonanno, Vornado’s Director of Development. “You can price these at a point where the young entrepreneurs can afford it and become a part of the community. That’s one of the reason the units are small: to keep the units market-affordable.”
Photo via Google Maps