About 10,000 people participated in the online nomination and voting process, according to Arlington Economic Development, which sponsors the annual contest. That’s about twice as many nominations and votes as last year.
Among the big winners were Northside Social, voted Arlington’s Best New Business, and Lost Dog Cafe, the only business to win in two categories.
The winners, which will announced at the county board meeting that’s getting underway now, are:
- Best Boutique: ShoeFly
- Best Brunch: Carlyle
- Best Community-Based Nonprofit: AFAC
- Best Customer Service: Eventide
- Best Dessert: Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe
- Best Late Night Spot: Bob and Edith’s
- Best Performing Arts Organization: Signature Theatre
- Best Place to Care for Your Pet: Ballston Animal Hospital
- Best Place to Dance the Night Away: Clarendon Ballroom
- Best Place to Learn Something New: Arlington Public Library
- Best Happy Hour: Liberty Tavern
- Best Neighborhood Bar: Whitlow’s on Wilson
- Best “Bargain” Restaurant: Lost Dog Café
- Best Family Friendly Restaurant: Lost Dog Café
- Best New Business: Northside Social
The incumbent winners from 2009 had a particularly strong showing. Only the Best New Business, Best Happy Hour, and Best Customer Service categories changed hands this year.
What started out 25 years ago as a small neighborhood eatery in North Arlington is blossoming into a full-fledged local chain.
Lost Dog Café, which last year added a South Arlington location on Columbia Pike, is close to signing a lease for a storefront on Colshire Drive in McLean. And they’re not stopping there.
Lost Dog’s expansion is being undertaken not by the owners of the original restaurant, but by four friends who used to work there as teenagers.
Wes Clough, Mike Danner, Jim Barnes and Mike Barnes are all graduates of Yorktown High School. Their devotion to Lost Dog Café started at age 16, when they started working there as drivers.
That dedication carried over through college, office jobs and marriages, and came full circle when Lost Dog owners Pam McAlwee and Ross Underwood gave their blessing for the friends to start the restaurant’s first franchise.
The Columbia Pike location, across the street from Arlington Cinema ‘N’ Drafthouse, opened in May 2009. McAlwee and Underwood donated the franchise fee to their charity, the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation.
The new venture has been a success, winning awards and gaining customers at a pace well exceeding the friends’ expectations. Even this past weekend, during the height of Snowmageddon, the restaurant was packed.
Part of the success, says co-owner Jim Barnes, can be attributed to Lost Dog’s focus on serving customers. During the snow storm, Barnes personally delivered phone-in orders in his Jeep Wrangler.