The Italian Store that is coming to Westover is now under construction, and the owner hopes to be open in time for the holidays, before the end of 2014.
Construction was delayed for several months due to permitting issues, owner Robert Tramonte told ARLnow.com, but has been underway for three weeks. Tramonte announced last December that he was planning on opening a second location of his popular Lyon Village shop in the former 7-Eleven space at 5839 Washington Blvd.
The store will be 6,000 square feet, not including an outdoor café, Tramonte said. As opposed to the current Italian Store, at 3123 Lee Highway, the new location will have an on-site liquor license, so customers can drink the beer and wine sold on the premises.
“There are a lot of breweries coming up in Italy,” Tramonte said. “It will be a very eclectic beer list. Wine is kind of my specialty, and we’re going to have about three times as much space for wine as we do now. It’s the Italian Store on steroids, basically.”
The Westover location will have another feature the original does not: an Illy espresso bar, which will also serve gelato, and fresh-baked Italian pastries like cannoli and cornetti.
“I’ve always felt like even in my own store, if somebody asked me where can I get a good Italian pastry, and there’s no real answer to that in this area,” he said. “We have a lot of good sources right now and some that we cook ourselves, but I’ve never marketed them well in a display case. Over in the other store at Westover, we’re going to have the space to merchandise really well and people would see them fresh out of the oven.”
A store selling civilian and military-grade weaponry and tactical gear is planning to move into the ground floor of a condominium building in the Nauck neighborhood.
SpecDive Tactical, which currently operates out of an apartment building on S. Abingdon Street in Fairlington, hopes to move into the ground floor of 2249 S. Shirlington Road, next door to Pizzoli Pizza. When contacted, SpecDive Tactical’s owner Gerald Rapp confirmed an agreement was in place to move into the space, but otherwise declined to comment on the record.
SpecDive’s initial building permit application was rejected, according to Arlington Community Planning, Housing and Development spokeswoman Helen Duong, “because there were no parking spaces available for the new retail.” CPHD has asked for a new plan with parking provided, Duong said.
The shop has been in business since 2012, according to the owner profile section of SpecDive’s Yelp page. It has a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Federal Firearm License, according to ATF records. On the Yelp page, Rapp says he was in the Marine Corps from 1985 to 1994 and a U.S. Navy deep sea diver after that.
“SpecDive, LLC., a veteran owned small business, was created in direct response to the need for the Military and federal law enforcement to partner effectively with private industries to meet the current and future needs of a citizen-centric government and world leader,” the Yelp page reads.
The shop was the subject of a petition from Nauck residents back in March, who were hoping to prevent it from moving in.
“We, the members of the Nauck Civic Association Executive Committee are very concerned about locating this business in our community,” an email announcing the petition stated. “Although, we are attempting to solicit businesses to locate within our community, we are not convinced that this type of business fits the description of what the residents seek.”
Reached for comment last week, Nauck Civic Association President Alfred Taylor said nothing has changed regarding the NCA’s position on the gun shop. He noted that Rapp is expected to attend the September NCA meeting.
“The position of the Association has not changed in that they would rather not have a facility of that sort at that location,” Taylor wrote in an email, “but realize it is a by-right retail business in accordance with all zoning regulations.”
Rapp has already met with representatives from the county and Arlington Public Schools and members of the community, including Drew Model School Parent Teacher Association President Evan Thomas. Thomas said the PTA has no formal position on SpecDive’s planned move, and may or may not take one when its membership reconvenes after the school year begins.
“The general tone of the meeting was pretty cordial,” Thomas told ARLnow.com today. “What Jerry spent most of his time discussing was their security protocols, what they do, their process for selling firearms, answered questions in regards to how a person could go about obtaining a firearm, what types of firearms they could purchase and the difference between the requirements for a shotgun or rifle or pistol. Those are the items you can buy off the street, assuming you can pass the background check they do.”
Thomas, speaking as a parent and resident of the area, said Rapp assuaged some of his trepidation about a gun dealer moving into the neighborhood.
“I have two kids who attend Drew… so you’re always concerned about the safety of the area where there school is,” Thomas said. “At the end of the meeting I felt as comfortable as you can with a business like that. He’s very cognizant of the perils, the need for security and the implications of what could happen to him in terms of losing his business, losing his license, facing potential jail time if he slips up. I felt comfortable with him as a business owner.”
A new “Catholic gift store” is getting ready to move into Cherrydale next month.
Joyful Spirit Gifts is a new business owned by Meg Miller Rydzewski, a parishioner at Saint Agnes Catholic Church, and it says on its website that it plans to open its brick-and-mortar and online store Sept. 1. The shop is located at 3315 Lee Highway, in the Lee Centre strip mall.
On its Facebook page, it describes itself as a “religious book store and gift shop.” Its slogan, posted on the Facebook page and in its window, is “Faith, Home, Sacraments, Holidays.” The store posted an ad on Craigslist seeking part-time employees to staff the shop, and this morning construction workers could be seen entering and exiting the storefront.
Rydzewski is a published novelist who says on her website she has been a stay-at-home mom in Arlington after a career as a “Wall Street equity analyst and portfolio manager.”
The gas leak in Clarendon that caused several buildings to evacuate last weekend was caused by unauthorized construction, ARLnow.com has learned.
Interior construction on the small, vacant space of 3127 Wilson Blvd caused the gas leak, and Arlington County’s department of Community Planning, Housing and Development said they have not approved any permits for work, and ordered the work to stop after the gas leak.
“On Saturday, our Building Inspector issued a notice of violation on the business and posted a stop work order,” CPHD spokeswoman Helen Duong said. “The business was doing major renovation without a permit.”
The small space, next door to Goody’s pizza shop, is owned by Tara Sharma, who also owns Classic Cigars & British Goodies (2907 Wilson Blvd). Sharma, who bought the space two months ago, said he doesn’t know what he plans to put into the space — except it won’t be a restaurant, coffee shop or ice cream store — but plans to make a decision in the next few weeks.
Sharma told ARLnow.com today that Washington Gas, which owns the gas line and the right-of-way for construction work, turned off the gas meter in the space at his request because “we don’t need the gas for the business.”
“I called them and told them there was a pipe there,” Sharma said. “They said ‘do whatever you want, there’s no gas in the pipe.’”
According to county staff, any penalties for unauthorized work in the right-of-way that caused the gas leak would be levied by Washington Gas. Representatives from Washington Gas did not return multiple messages seeking comment. Sharma said he hasn’t had any indication he’d be penalized for causing the leak.
Sharma agreed to stop construction while waiting for the county to approve his permit.
This won’t be a full-service salon offering haircuts and coloring. In fact, the website explains, “We do two things… and we do them extremely well.” Those two things are hair blow outs and extensions.
Cherry Blow Dry Bar offers $35 blow outs every day, regardless of hair length. Extensions are described as “premium, long-lasting, and beautifully blended tape extensions that won’t damage your hair.”
The goal, according to the website, is to transport customers to a world of celebrity-level luxury. Some of that luxury includes the ability to enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne or cocktail, in addition to soft chairs in a modern and relaxing environment.
Blow Dry Bar was founded in Sydney, Australia, in 2008 and now has 23 locations there. The owner began franchising in the U.S. last year under the name Cherry Blow Dry Bar. Currently there are two locations in Florida and one in Tennessee. Four others, including the Arlington location, are expected to open soon. No word yet on an exact date for the Clarendon opening.
Hat tip to @CommonCenser
Orangetheory Fitness, an interval-training gym with heart rate-focused workout sessions, plans to open a location at 1776 Wilson Blvd by the end of the August.
Orangetheory employees have been signing up passersby for discounted memberships this week in the storefront next door to its planned location, near Ray’s to the Third restaurant. The gym is offering specials ranging from $8 to $17 per session to those who sign up for a month of group classes between now and its planned grand opening opening at the end of the summer.
Franchise owner Mark Steverson told ARLnow.com that the gym plans to have a soft opening the week of August 18, and will offer free sessions to curious parties. The gym will also celebrate its grand opening with a weight loss challenge, with a $2,500 cash prize, in early September.
The group workout sessions with Orangetheory combine cardio and strength training by using blocks of treadmills, indoor rowing machines and weight-training. Steverson said the goal is for members to reach between 81 percent and 94 percent of their maximum heart rate for 12-20 minutes of their workout, to maximize calorie burn for 36 hours post-workout.
“So you’re still burning calories when you go to Ray’s next door or Ben’s Chili Bowl or wherever,” Steverson said.
The closest current Orangetheory location of its 110 U.S. gyms is in Fairfax. Orangetheory says those interested in pre-sale memberships should call 571-431-6140.
Green Tomato Cars Co-founder and Vice President Jonny Goldstone said the car service launched in Arlington in May and has more than 25 cars in its fleet that are licensed to operate in Virginia, and he plans to add five to 10 more every month, as allowed by Virginia law for operating a car service as opposed to a taxi company.
“We’re looking at getting to 70 to 100 vehicles within the calendar year,” Goldstone told ARLnow.com. “With that sort of number, we’re pretty comfortable we’re going to be able to offer a car in 10 minutes wherever people are. At that point, I think we’re really a viable competitor to Uber for the on-demand rides. Right now we’re most convenient as a pre-scheduled ride service.”
Goldstone said Green Tomato has a “more intimate and personal relationship” with its drivers than Uber and Lyft, and all drivers either rent their cars — all black Prius Vs — from the company or can buy their own. Goldstone said all drivers go through a full criminal check, drug test, have their driving record for the last 10 years reviewed and have to go through a multi-layer interview process.
“About one in seven drivers get through the whole process,” he said. “There’s much more partnership between us and our ambassadors, which we call them because they’re representing the company.”
Green Tomato Cars launched in London in 2006 and is also launching in Paris in the near future. The D.C. area is its first market in the U.S.
Green Tomato charges customers for distance, not time, Goldstone said, except for a $5 rush hour surcharge to account for traffic. A trip from the Pentagon to Dulles International Airport costs $54.99, according to the in-app rate, and from Rosslyn to the Columbia Heights neighborhood of D.C. costs $29.99.
In addition to the app, customers can book trips online and over the phone. Goldstone said each car is equipped with free WiFi for the customers.
While Green Tomato boasts its regulatory approval to operate in D.C.’s Virginia suburbs, Uber and Lyft have submitted requests to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles requesting “temporary operating authority” and a broker’s license, which will “go through the proper channels” to determine if the two ridesharing services can legally operate in the state, a DMV official told ARLnow.com last week.
Goldstone said that even though Green Tomato is a licensed operator, and he believes “everyone is a little bit in the wrong” in the fight between Uber, Lyft and the DMV, that doesn’t mean Green Tomato is without worry.
“There is a concern that even as a legitimate operator, we are still going to be targeted, especially by D.C. regulators,” he said. “The Virginia regulators are perhaps more aware of what we’re doing, but the D.C. regulations are so unclear that it’s going to be difficult.”
Photo (top) via Green Tomato
A Maserati dealership appears close to opening in the former M. Slavin & Sons Seafood site on S. Glebe Road, just south of I-395.
“Maserati” is already displayed on the side of the building, at 2710 S. Glebe Road, and the business says it’s just weeks away from opening the doors of the dealership (and the Italian sports cars inside.)
The dealership has not returned phone calls from ARLnow.com, but the Washington Business Journal reports that it is planning to open by the end of the month, and plans to renovate the 18,000 square foot building within the next year. The dealership will be an affiliate of Maserati of Washington in Sterling.
“For us to have a location on 395 and South Glebe is perfect, so they don’t have to drive all the way out here,” Maserati of Washington General Manager Alex Macatuno told the WBJ.
The building has been unoccupied since M. Slavin & Sons closed in 2011.
Hat tip to Thomas Block
A new grocery store is expected to open in Lyon Park on Pershing Drive within the next month or two.
A boutique grocery store called Streets Market is hoping to open by late June or early July on the ground floor of the new 2201 Pershing apartment complex, at the corner of Pershing and Route 50, according to company official Kathryn Lee. Streets Market just opened its first location, at 2400 14th Street NW in D.C., last month, but they have been undergoing construction for seven months, Lee said.
“We are a more of a healthy, natural store,” Lee told ARLnow.com this afternoon. “We have everything you would need with natural, plus organic, plus generic, instead of just health nut stuff. You won’t have to make another stop.”
The grocery store will be 3,300 square feet of space — about half the size of its D.C. location — and ground-level customer parking will be available at the 2201 Pershing building, Lee said. The grocery store was founded by owner Jimmy Na, who works as a wholesale distributor in Maryland.
“We have a lot of wholesale background, and now [Na] is venturing into retail,” Lee said. “He has a lot of insights into the market, new trends and customer’s needs.”
Streets Market is planning to have a grand opening celebration when it opens this summer. It will sell beer and wine along with its produce and grocery offerings.
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.”
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 ARLnow.com 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
(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 ARLnow.com. “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 ARLnow.com 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.”
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.”
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
While 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.