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TechShop Opens in Crystal City

by Ethan Rothstein | April 22, 2014 at 9:50 am | 1,360 views | No Comments

TechShop, a subscription-based, high-tech workshop, has opened its 20,000-square-foot space at 2110-B Crystal Drive, in the Crystal City Shops.

The shop opened last Wednesday after eight weeks of construction. It offers its members access to millions of dollars worth of equipment to use to build prototypes, new inventions or anything else they can dream up.

“There’s a deficit in people knowing how to make things with their hands,” TechShop’s interim general manager Isabella Iglesias Musachio said. “We’re giving people access to the tools to build their dreams.”

TechShop has computers uploaded with $20,000 of software, a high-powered water jet that can cut through several inches of steel, a fully-equipped wood shop, 3D printers and its most popular item, a laser cutter and etcher.

Memberships cost $349 for three months, $1,095 for a year and $7,500 for a lifetime. TechShop offers corporate memberships for companies, either startups or larger firms, that need to use the equipment to develop new products. TechShop also offers classes to teach how to operate each of the machines, but the classes are sold out until May, according to Iglesias-Musachio.

More than 250 people have purchased memberships so far, Iglesias-Musachio said, and more than 100 military veterans have gotten free memberships through TechShop’s partnership with DARPA.

“Our typical member is anyone,” Iglesias-Musachio said. “You could be sitting next to an engineer, an art teacher or a 12-year-old kid. For a few dollars a day, really, you can have access to more than $1 million worth of equipment. That sort of thing appeals to everyone.”

Crystal City is TechShop’s eighth location nationwide and its second on the East Coast, after its Pittsburgh location, which opened in 2013. Several technology and equipment companies, like the mobile transaction company Square, have been helped along by TechShop’s equipment, Iglesias-Musachio said.

“Crystal City was perfect for our next location because it’s extremely innovative and creative,” she said, noting how many people have peered into the window during buildout. “We were looking for a creative and educated community, and one that is accessible by transit.”

Made-to-Order Ice Cream Shop Coming to Clarendon

by Ethan Rothstein | April 17, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 2,702 views | No Comments

An ice cream shop that takes customers orders, then literally makes the ice cream as the customer watches, is preparing to open in Market Common Clarendon next month.

Nicecream Factory was founded last year by Sandra Tran and her boyfriend, Gil Welsford, as a Kickstarter-funded pop-up shop. The 24-year-old Tran, a JMU grad, makes the ice cream using liquid nitrogren and fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. They’ve operated so far as a pop-up shop in farmers markets and restaurants around the D.C. area, including at the Diner in Adams Morgan.

Last week, Nicecream Factory signed the lease to take over the former Red Mango space at 2831 Clarendon Blvd and Tran, who worked at Living Social in the District for a year before starting her own business, told she hopes to open the store in the second week of May. In addition to the ice cream, which she takes about as long to prepare “as a Starbucks drink does.”

“When you think of an ice cream, you think mom and pop shop,” Tran said. “We value a lot of the pieces of that, being a small business and entrepreneurs and working with our community. We want to modernize those ideas, spice up the ice cream factor. When you’re paying to get desserts, you want the experience. Scooping out of an ice cream cabinet isn’t so much of an experience.”

The shop will also offer coffee, locally sourced pastries and, Tran said, will be designed to accommodate business meetings much like a coffee shop; she said they’ll even wheel a chalkboard to a table if need be. Tran said she also plans on inviting local artists to use the space to display their work.

“That’s something I think Clarendon can use a little more of,” said Tran, a Falls Church resident. “It’s a huge bar scene, but it needs a place to take a date.”

Tran sources many of her ingredients, like apples for one of her favorite recipes, apple pie, from local farmers she’s met working her pop-up shop at farmers markets. She said because of the fresh ingredients and the fact that the ice cream isn’t sitting in the freezer, she can make a thick, smooth treat without the high-fat creams most premium ice cream has.

“You don’t have to use coloring, preservatives or chemicals to make your ice cream delicious and beautiful,” she said. “A lot of people like the concept, but it’s not until they eat it when they realize it tastes more delicious than any ice cream they’ve had before.”

Video via Washingtonian

Former Lee Highway 7-Eleven Now a TitleMax

by Ethan Rothstein | April 15, 2014 at 4:45 pm | 2,963 views | No Comments

TitleMax in the former 7-11 location on Lee Highway (Updated at 4:50 p.m.) The retail space at the corner of Lee Highway and N. George Mason Drive that once housed a 7-Eleven store is now a location for a car title loan company.

TitleMax, which lets individuals with poor credit borrow against the title of their automobile, moved into the space a few weeks ago, according to representatives of Virginia Hospital Center, which owns the building.

The 7-Eleven closed Oct. 21 of last year after the convenience store chain’s corporate arm declined to continue its month-to-month lease. In the months between 7-Eleven’s closing and TitleMax opening, Virginia Hospital Center Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Adrian Stanton said there was little interest in the property.

“It’s an odd parcel in that it’s kind of at an angle,” Stanton told “It doesn’t allow for a lot of parking and the vehicular access is very limited. Retail operations are not interested in that space.”

Stanton said members of the nearby civic associations — the property is at the edges of the Leeway Overlee, John M. Langston and Tara-Leeway Heights neighborhoods — have been watching the property to see what business will go in there, and he plans to meet with representatives of some of the civic associations soon to explain why TitleMax moved in.

An tipster questioned whether TitleMax’s location, on the edge of the Yorktown neighborhood, is “in keeping with the area.”

“TitleMax has locations around Northern Virginia in areas just like this,” Stanton said. “There’s obviously something TitleMax sees in the areas they place their services in.”

Investment Fund Launches in Crystal City

by Ethan Rothstein | April 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm | 821 views | No Comments

Crystal City will soon be the home to dozens of early stage technology companies, housed in the just-opened Crystal Tech Fund coworking space.

Located on the 10th floor of 2231 Crystal Drive, the $50 million Crystal Tech Fund — founded by Paul Singh, an early partner in the venture capital firm 500 Startups – provides office space to companies while also giving each of them significant capital investments and entrepreneurial mentorship.

The fund’s office space opened this week with six companies inside, and partner Brooke Salkoff said the floor — which has an acre of space — can fit up to 30 or 40 companies. The idea isn’t to bring in new startups and be an incubator or accelerator, she said — the startups eligible for space must already have an average of $1 million in annual revenue.

“These startups need more money in order to grow,” Salkoff said. “We fund startups to scale nationwide, and it’s scalable because once they grow, there’s more space around Crystal City.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D) toured the space this morning and Gov. Terry McAuliffe will do the same tomorrow morning, meeting the companies, some of whom are D.C.-area natives and others that moved to Crystal City from other tech hotbeds like Austin, Texas. Warner was briefed on the concept by Singh and Vornado/Charles E. Smith President Mitchell Shear. Vornado contributed $10 million in investment capital as well as the space.

“The combination that’s taking place here is the kind of thing I want to see all over Virginia,” Warner told a group of reporters. “I think Crystal City is being remade. If we could create a tech entrepreneur hotbed here, that would be great for Virginia.”

Among the space’s first tenants are Power Supply, a platform that allows chefs to deliver healthy meals directly to customers, and SupplyHog, an e-commerce platform for contractors. Warner, a former tech investor and one of the founders of Nextel, asked each company to give him “an elevator pitch.”

“We’re going to find the best companies from around the world,” Singh said, “and bring them to Virginia.”

Another Barre Studio Opens in Clarendon

by Ethan Rothstein | March 20, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 1,363 views | No Comments

Saffron Dance's studio, where Barre Tech is located(Updated at 4:05 p.m.)A new barre studio is opening in Clarendon, replacing one barre studio and just a few blocks from a third.

Barre Tech is open in a studio at 3260 Wilson Blvd, the home of Saffron Dance‘s belly dancing school. It’s the second location for Barre Tech after less than a year of being open in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria. Barre is a fitness class that combines elements of ballet, pilates and yoga.

Saffron Dance used to be the home of Lava Barre, which has expanded and moved to 1510 Clarendon Blvd. At the corner of N. Garfield Street and 11th Street, a location of the national barre chain, Pure Barre, is set to open.

Saffron Dance’s owner, who goes simply by Saphira, said Lava Barre was more interested in being “just a gym” than they were in being part of a community. Saphira said her beliefs and Barre Tech owner align better.

“The momentum is really exciting,” Saphira said. “Dancers are taking fitness classes, Barre students are taking dance classes. It’s a nice collaboration of two women-owned businesses.”

Barre Tech is holding a grand opening celebration this Sunday at 6:00 p.m. with free classes and refreshments.

Photo courtesy Elena Faye

‘Micro-Juicery’ Coming to East Falls Church

by Ethan Rothstein | March 11, 2014 at 4:30 pm | 2,099 views | No Comments

The South Block Smoothie & Wrap Co. storeWhile microbreweries are popping up all over the D.C. area, East Falls Church could soon be home to a “micro-juicery,” from the owner of South Block Cafe.

Amir Mostafavi says South Block Juice Company will open at 2121 N. Westmoreland Street in the next few months. The facility will produce the juice served at South Block and will be available for pickup around the area and for home delivery.

Mostafavi said he wants customers to be able to look into the location and see how the juice is made, and perhaps take tours like visitors do at microbreweries. The juice will also be sold fresh next door at Urban Pantry, which opened last week.

“It’s going to be our new production facility,” Mostafavi said. “We needed a larger space for our kitchen. The space we’re making the juice at right now, we’ve just outgrown it. We’re getting a larger juicer that’s going to greatly increase our volume and capacity. It’s something we’ve been looking into for a little while now as we’ve grown in the juice part of the business.”

South Block has been getting its juice from Mostafavi’s kitchen at Campus Fresh on George Washington University’s campus. Mostafavi opened that store 10 years ago and South Block Cafe opened three years ago, but when he bought a cold press a year ago to sell juice in bottles, the business exploded.

“Once I bought the cold press, that’s when the business took off,” he said. “We’ve already been getting a lot of customers throughout the area coming to our shop for the juice for juice cleanses.”

South Block Juice Company will get a revamped website around when the micro-juicery opens, Mostafavi said, which will make it easier for customers to order juices for delivery. That includes the three-day juice cleanse, which includes 18 bottles of juice, to be drank in specific order, for $150.

Mostafavi also said South Block is looking into ”satellite locations” in the next year or so, and he hopes to soon begin national distribution.

Pure Barre Studio Coming to Clarendon

by | January 10, 2014 at 12:05 pm | 1,935 views | No Comments

A Pure Barre studio is coming to N. Garfield Street in Clarendon.

The exercise facility will be located near the corner of N. Garfield Street and 11th Street, on the ground floor of the 3001 Washington Blvd office building that’s currently under construction.

Pure Barre will be located next to another exercise-related business, Down Dog Power Yoga. No word yet on when either will open.

Pure Barre utilizes a fast-paced, ballet-inspired “total body workout,” set to music, and advertises itself as “the fastest, most effective, yet safest way to change your body.” The company has more than 150 locations nationwide, including studios that are expected to open soon in Bethesda and in Reston.

Two Companies Win Ballston Startup Competition

by Ethan Rothstein | December 5, 2013 at 11:00 am | 903 views | No Comments

Some of today’s big names in local business gathered in Ballston Wednesday night to decide who will be the big names of tomorrow.

Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, former United States Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) were among the judges for the Ballston Business Improvement District Launchpad Challenge Finale. One company was supposed to go home with $15,000 in cash, office space and furniture and free legal advice.

After hearing four presentations, the judges couldn’t narrow it down to just one, so they chose two companies — BuilDatAnalytics and Carsquare — to each go home with the grand prize.

“Both companies made a lot of sense to us,” Leonsis said after the ceremony. “We liked the teams and entrepreneurs. In horseracing, sometimes you bet the jockey and not the horse.”

BuilDatAnalytics is a business intelligence company aimed at solving inefficiencies in construction projects. Founder Tiffany Hosey Brown worked two years in construction for her family’s construction company before deciding the day-to-day operations needed radical improvement. Her company guarantees a 1 percent savings on all construction projects for its clients; considering her pilot clients’ projects cost more than $1 billion combined, she said she’s already saving them $10 million.

“It was kind of surreal, but it was exciting,” Brown said of when Leonsis called her name. She donned a hard hat during part of her presentation, and strode about the stage with confidence. When asked if there was a point during her speech if she knew she was going to win, she answered, “when [Leonsis] asked me ‘what are you going to do with the money?’”

Carsquare is billed by its founder and CEO, Khurrum Shakir, as the Kayak for cars; an aggregator of different online car shopping sites, brought together in one place. Shakir, who worked under Leonsis at AOL as a business development manager for AOL Cars, is hoping to raise $2 million in funding to fuel marketing to bring more eyeballs to his site.

“Next for us is taking it to the next level,” Shakir said afterward. “We need to finalize the app we have and integrate our new website.”

The two finalists not selected, Changecause and M2 Labs, will join BuilDatAnalytics and Carsquare next month in actual pitch meetings with Leonsis, where they will have a chance to convince one of the D.C. area’s richest people to invest in their company.

Attorney Mark Gruhin, the fourth judge on the panel and a venture investor in his own right, said each company had a strong idea, but it will take more than a 10-minute presentation in a movie theater to convince investors.

“They’re scaling right now. They have to prove their management skills,” Gruhin said. “They need to get ready for the curveballs, because they’re coming.”

There were 14 semifinalists in the field before it was narrowed to four. Before the field was narrowed down, members of the community chose Tomorrow’s Lemonade Stand — a company aimed at fostering entrepreneurship in children in grades 2-4 — for the Customer Appreciation Award. The company was founded by 7-year-old Kylee Majkowski and her mother, Amanda Antico-Majkowski, who were presented with the award on stage.

Ballston BID CEO Tina Leone announced 2014′s LaunchPad Challenge at the event, a different competition than 2013′s startup competition. Starting in January, the BID will accept applications for a new signature restaurant in Ballston. The prize will be a year of free restaurant space and the competition will be helmed by chef Mike Isabella, owner of several D.C.-area restaurants, including an upcoming eatery in Ballston.

Disclosure: Ballston BID is an advertiser

Down Dog Power Yoga Expanding to Clarendon

by Katie Pyzyk | November 5, 2013 at 3:00 pm | 1,156 views | No Comments

Down Dog Yoga logo (via Facebook)A well known D.C. area “hot yoga” business is planning to open a new location in Clarendon.

Down Dog Power Yoga already has locations in Georgetown, Herndon and Bethesda. As first reported by Washingtonian, the Arlington studio is expected to go in at 3001 Washington Blvd.

Down Dog Power Yoga offers several levels of classes and workshops, all of which are are held in studios heated to 90-95 degrees. The website says “heat is primarily used to help the body get healthy by expelling toxins. The heat also makes muscles more pliable in order to prevent injury.”

Employees at Down Dog Power Yoga told that the Clarendon studio should open early in 2014. No firm date has been set, however, because the lease was just signed this week. One of the employees noted that work is already in progress for the new studio and workers are excited for it to open.

Photo via Facebook

High-Tech Workshop Coming to Crystal City

by Ethan Rothstein | October 22, 2013 at 5:20 pm | 768 views | No Comments

TechShop logoTechShop, a workshop that offers access to high-tech equipment like 3D printers and laser cutters, is expected to open in Crystal City early next year.

The Crystal City Business Improvement District announced Tuesday that TechShop would move into the Crystal City Shops at 2100 Crystal Drive in early 2014. Construction is expected to begin this fall.

TechShop, which describes itself as a “membership-based, do-it-yourself creative workshop and fabrication studio,” offers monthly and annual memberships to use its facilities, as well as classes for non-members to learn how to use the equipment. According to TechShop, each location includes more than $1 million of machines, tools and equipment.

In addition to 3D printers and laser cutters, TechShop also offers plastics and electronics labs, a machine shop, a wood shop, a metal working shop, a textiles department, welding stations and a waterjet cutter.

“The arrival of TechShop is a huge win for Arlington County and Crystal City – cementing the community’s role as the region’s center of creation and innovation,” Angela Fox, President and CEO of the Crystal City BID, said in a press release. “TechShop is a catalyst for activity, energy, and excitement offering an incredible amenity to area employees, residents, workers, and businesses.”

The Crystal City TechShop will partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to offer a free membership program to veterans. Currently, there are six TechShop locations across the country.

Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an advertiser

Pier 1 Imports Opens in Rosslyn

by Ethan Rothstein | October 7, 2013 at 4:30 pm | 1,712 views | No Comments

(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) Pier 1 Imports, a national home décor chain, is now open at its new Rosslyn location at 1717 Clarendon Blvd.

The store opened this morning, Monday, offering the first 200 customers through its doors a free Pier 1 Imports bag and backscratcher every day through Oct. 13.

The location is the only one in Arlington — there is one in Potomac Yard just on the other side of Four Mile Run. It has 11,000 square feet of retail space. The store is on the ground floor of the 1776 Wilson Blvd office building that opened last year.

Crystal City Wine Shop’s Second Location Now Open

by Ethan Rothstein | October 3, 2013 at 5:00 pm | 576 views | No Comments

Crystal City Wine Shop at 20th Street S.Crystal City Wine Shop’s second location, at 220 20th Street S., is now open, less than two years after its first location opened its doors.

Located next to McCormick and Schmick’s, the new location is “officially open” after holding a “soft opening” on Tuesday, according to owner Jim Barker.

“It’s in the heart of Crystal City, in the heart of the retail district,” Barker said. “We expect that it will be a very good location for us and for Crystal City.”

Barker said the interior will look similar to the first store at 401 12th Street S., but the building’s architecture will be different, and the store’s inventory will vary slightly.

Crystal City Wine Shop at 20th Street S.“We have a premium wine selection in our new shop,” Barker said. “We’ll have more expensive and higher-end wines.”

Barker, who also owns the Washington Wine Academy, said the 1K beer and wine walks the organization has been organizing in recent years will now be more tightly tied-in to the physical stores.

The 20th Street location of Crystal City Wine Shop has an outside entrance — it’s not part of the indoor Crystal City Shops — and will open at 11:00 a.m., an hour earlier than when the 12th Street location opens. It will host tastings from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays.

Photos courtesy of Jim Barker

Bank to Fill Former Ruby Tuesday Space

by Katie Pyzyk | September 17, 2013 at 1:30 pm | 1,463 views | No Comments

Bank of America moving in at 901 N. Stuart Street Bank of America moving in at 901 N. Stuart Street

(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) A space that sat vacant for years near the Ballston Metro station is about to get a new tenant.

According to permits filed with the county, Bank of America plans to open a branch in the former Ruby Tuesday space. The new bank will occupy one of the first floor commercial spaces in the building at 901 N. Stuart Street, just feet away from an existing Presidential Bank.

A representative for Bank of America said it is relocating its branch at 3625 N. Fairfax Drive to the new space. Extensive construction has been underway at the new site for several weeks, and it is expected to open sometime in December.

New Rosslyn Coffee Shop To Open Next Month

by Ethan Rothstein | September 12, 2013 at 1:30 pm | 1,365 views | No Comments

Caffe Aficionado, at 1919 N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn, is making its final preparations to open “within a month,” says owner Adiam Berhane.

Caffe Aficionado will specialize in American gourmet coffee and tea with an Italian flair. Berhane, who spent part of her childhood in Italy, will be shipping in coffee from Handsome Coffee in Los Angeles, which she thinks is better than many of the coffee brands other specialty shops in the area offer.

Berhane will also offer frozen drinks and blended beverages, made with a “Stealth” blender that’s quieter than comparable blenders, allowing a more serene coffee shop experience.

“I used to like to collect purses and stuff,” she said. “Now that I own a coffee shop, I like to collect equipment.”

The final month of preparations will include finishing the interior and hiring and training a staff, Berhane said. The store has already received its occupancy permit.

Berhane says the cafe will be open from early morning until 4:00 p.m. on weekdays, and will be open on Saturdays as well. Caffe Aficionado will sell only drinks and pastries at first, but Berhane plans to add sandwiches to the menu shortly after opening.

Pentagon City Mall Adds C. Wonder

by Ethan Rothstein | September 6, 2013 at 4:30 pm | 1,274 views | No Comments

The Pentagon City mall food courtPentagon City Mall is adding a women’s lifestyle store to its offerings this October.

C. Wonder, which sells women’s clothing, jewelry, home décor and personal electronics, will be opening on the ground floor of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, occupying half of the space formerly occupied by Sephora.

The Pentagon City location is C. Wonder’s second in Virginia after its Tysons Corner location. The New York City-based brand launched in 2011.

C. Wonder’s store will be separated into what it calls “an emporium of themed rooms” – American Dream, Jewelry, English Garden and Contemporary Prep — and allows for mobile checkout throughout the store.


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