(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) Comedian Bill Cosby joined Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette and other local notables in helping to open the new Ben’s Chili Bowl in Rosslyn this morning.
Cosby’s jokes and antics drew laughs from the large crowd of media and spectators that gathered to see the ribbon cutting for the iconic U Street eatery’s first stand-alone, brick-and-mortar expansion. Other attendees and speakers included the Ali family, which owns the restaurant; the ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago, late founder Ben Ali’s home country; WPGC DJ Shack Nd Pack; and Rosslyn BID President Mary-Claire Burick.
Cosby joked that as an aging Navy veteran, he was glad to have a Ben’s Chili Bowl near Arlington National Cemetery.
“The reason why this establishment has decided to open here is for me,” he said. “I’m 76-and-a-half years old. I’m going to have my 77th birthday in July… I spent four years in the Navy, which means I am eligible for a military funeral. Now, my can ghost make the trip here instead of flying over to U Street.”
“Over in that cemetery there is no cholesterol,” he continued. “There are no triglycerides. Eat as many as you like. Double down on the cheese and fries. A lot of people may not go to heaven, because this is heaven.”
Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette presented Cosby and Virginia Ali, Ben’s widow, with keys to Arlington. Cosby quipped that he would use it to get out of parking tickets.
“Whoa, who put me on stage after Bill Cosby?” Fisette said, to which Cosby shot back: “your mother did.”
“Thanks for choosing Arlington… for your second spot,” Fisette said. “As I’ve always said, chili for breakfast, chili for lunch, chili for dinner and a half smoke for dessert.”
Customers flooded into the the restaurant following the ribbon cutting, leaving a large crowd outside the doors, waiting to get in. Hundreds showed up to the Colonial Village Shopping Center parking lot to see Cosby speak and get some of the first tastes of chili, half smokes, hamburgers and milkshakes after standing outside in near-freezing temperatures.
The restaurant is located at 1725 Wilson Blvd, in the former Ray’s Hell Burger space. It’s owned and operated by three sons, Nizam, Kamal and Sage, and one daughter, Vida. The family said during the ribbon cutting that the restaurant plans to stay open until 4:30 a.m.
“The chili will sober you up,” Cosby said of Ben’s likely late night customers.
Heavy Seas Alehouse in Rosslyn (1501 Wilson Blvd) opened last week and welcomed big crowds immediately.
General Manager Keith Kirkland said the restaurant has done more than $70,000 in business in just five days, including its soft opening last Wednesday. They’ve also gone through more than 50 kegs of Heavy Seas beer, he said.
“That’s much more than we expected,” he told ARLnow.com today. “Those number are even bigger considering we were shut down yesterday [during the snowstorm].”
The restaurant is open every day at 11:00 a.m. (10:00 a.m. on Sundays) and is open until 2:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights. In addition to the seven Heavy Seas beer offered on draft, the alehouse offers six other Virginia beers, eight beer cocktails and lunch and dinner menus.
A new location of the Little Caesars pizza chain is expected to open in the Columbia Pike Plaza shopping center at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. Dinwiddie Street.
The location is in the former AT&T Wireless store at 5025 Columbia Pike, in the shopping center across S. Dinwiddie Street from the Arlington Mill Community Center. There’s no hint of an expected opening date.
The location, when it opens, will be Little Caesars’ second current location in Arlington; its other store is at 5175 Lee Highway and opened late last year.
Paisano’s, the local pizza, pasta and sandwich chain, is coming to the ground floor of the recently-built apartment complex at 2201 N. Pershing Drive.
The eatery plans to sell wine and beer, according to a permit application.
No word yet on an opening date for the new restaurant, which is located in Lyon Park. Paisano’s has one location in Arlington — near Crystal City — in addition to two in Falls Church and one in Alexandria.
Workers erected a sign at the new Ben’s Chili Bowl in Rosslyn this morning.
The sign, advertising the landmark D.C. eatery’s half-smokes, burgers, hot dogs and milkshakes, is now up at 1725 Wilson Blvd, which was formerly the home of Ray’s Hell Burger. (Ray’s moved to a new location across the street.)
Ben’s owner Nizam Ali was originally hoping to open the location — the first in Virginia — as early as New Year’s Day. Due to construction delays the opening is now expected to take place in about two weeks.
We’re told a grand opening celebration is planned for 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 6.
Photo courtesy @hilary1121
Heavy Seas says it will open to the public on Thursday, February 27. It’s the Baltimore brewery’s second restaurant location.
A press release from the company notes that it plans to make food, not just beer, a major draw.
For Heavy Seas’ menu, Chef Seeber highlights fresh seafood sourced locally whenever possible. Starters include local oysters, soft pretzels with crab, grilled sausage sliders and Tasso ham hushpuppies. Choose from small plates like chicory salad with a soft poached egg or Prince Edward Island mussels in a broth of Heavy Seas Gold Ale seasoned with fennel, roasted garlic butter, tomato and, in true Baltimore fashion, Old Bay. Larger dishes have their place here as well with options like savory braised rabbit fettuccine and pan roasted sea scallops. Seeber’s bill of fare pushes expectations of Alehouse food overboard. Plated beautifully with bold flavors to accompany their selection of beers, the menu is as purposeful and satisfying as the beer.
Beer aficionados won’t be disappointed with the array of beers able to be paired with any dish. Heavy Seas offers a selection of six year round drafts on tap including their flagship brew, Loose Cannon, a triple-hopped IPA with notes of grapefruit, herbs and pine, as well as the Small Craft Pilsner, Peg Leg Imperial Stout, Gold Ale, Powder Monkey Pale Ale and Cutlass Amber Lager. The bar will have rotating seasonal drafts like the Winter Storm and Riptide White IPA. As advocates for the microbrewing industry, the Alehouse is proud to feature a selection of craft beers local to the DMV alongside Heavy Seas taps. Now food and beer enthusiasts alike can plunder the stores of Baltimore’s best craft brewery just outside of DC.
The restaurant will offer lunch and dinner Monday through Sunday; 11am daily – close.
Interior construction on the restaurant, at the Liberty Center South development (4000 Wilson Blvd), is scheduled to start this month, we’re told.
Construction is expected to take about three months, shortly after which the restaurant will open.
Photo via Facebook
APS Boosts Bus Service to TJ, Kenmore — In response to criticism from parents, Arlington Public Schools has extended bus service to more than 200 additional Thomas Jefferson Middle School students. It has also added bus service for another 28 Kenmore Middle School students. [Sun Gazette]
TV Station Goes on Pothole Patrol in Arlington — WUSA9 has gone on “pothole patrol” in Arlington and found “a plethora of pits along North Harrison Street.” One of the station’s attempts to report the potholes online apparently didn’t work and the county acknowledged there were “a few bugs in the system.” We’ve previously reported on pothole problems on Columbia Pike and elsewhere in the county. [WUSA9]
Annual 9/11 5K Race Registration Open — Registration is now open for the 13th annual Arlington Police, Fire & Sheriff 9/11 Memorial 5K. The race will take place this year on Sept. 6. [9/11 Memorial 5K]
District Taco to Open in Dupont Circle — Arlington’s own homegrown restaurant chain District Taco will be opening a location at 1919 M Street NW in Dupont Circle. The location is District Taco’s fourth brick-and-mortar restaurant. A fifth location, in Vienna, could be coming later this year. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Yayla Bistro, at 2201 N. Westmoreland Street, applied for a liquor license with the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board on Jan. 15, requesting the ability to sell wine and beer on and off premises.
According to an employee at La Côte D’Or Cafe next door, the restaurant will be located in their former private dining room, which was sold recently “to a group that wants to open a Turkish restaurant.”
The owner of Yayla Bistro, listed as Gozukaya Entertainment LLC, did not return messages seeking comment.
Building permit applications show that a business tentatively called “Al-Huda Hookah & Smoothie Bar” is seeking permission to construct a new interior, with a section for hookah smokers and another for smoothie drinkers. The business will replace the former White Birch Traditional Martial Arts kung fu, tai chi and kettlebell gym, located in the back of the small brick-construction strip mall on the 2500 block of Columbia Pike.
Photo via Google Maps
Heavy Seas Alehouse, which has been under construction at 1501 Wilson Blvd for months, is targeting next month for its opening.
“We are aiming for somewhere around the week of Feb. 17,” The Alehouse said last week. “No official date yet, though.”
The alehouse, affiliated with the Baltimore brewery of the same name, was originally targeting a December opening date. In recent months, it has been hiring staff and, last Friday, announced its Chef de Cuisine would be Marc Kennedy, former executive chef at McCormick & Schmick’s in Crystal City.
The 6,000-square-foot alehouse will be at the corner of N. Oak Street at 18th Street in Rosslyn. The bar will have 15 taps rotating primarily with Heavy Seas beers. It will open daily for lunch at 11:00 a.m. and will be able to fill growlers for customers.
A new Indian restaurant recently opened in Crystal City.
Entree prices at Taj of India generally range from $10-20. It also has a $12-13 lunch special.
Taj of India is located next to Bistro 7107, a Filipino restaurant that quietly opened in the former El Pollito space this past summer. Named after the 7,107 islands of the Philippine archipelago, Bistro 7107 is one of the few sit-down restaurants serving primarily Filipino cuisine in the D.C. area.
In November, we reported that permits were filed for a “Thaiger Asian Bistro” in the space at 3035 Clarendon Blvd. Now it appears that those plans have changed and “Four Sisters Grill” will be opening instead.
Lai has been executive chef at Four Sisters, now located in Merrifield, for more nearly 15 years. Arlington Magazine called Four Sisters, which is owned by Lai’s parents, “arguably the most sought-out Vietnamese eatery in the D.C. area” in a profile last year.
Lai tells ARLnow.com that Four Sisters Grill will be a fast casual version of the original Four Sisters restaurant. It will serve about 20 menu items, compared to the nearly 200 items at the Merrifield restaurant.
“It’s been my vision for a couple years now,” he said. “I think this area really likes that. This area’s very quick paced — they want to eat, they want to go.”
Menu items will include “hearty, quick and simple” Vietnamese food like banh mi sandwiches, vermicelli noodles and rice-based dishes like lemongrass chicken. The dishes will be large and will come with lots of vegetables, Lai said. The menu will be budget priced, with entrees ranging from $5 to $12, or about $7-8 on average, he said.
“It should be simple, not crazy over the top,” he said. “At the end of the day you don’t want to pay $15-20 an item just for a chicken dish.”
Lai is hoping to open the restaurant, complete with a brand new interior, by the end of February. A building permit was applied for late last month.
Blue Sea will specialize in “spicy Cajun seafood,” according to its website, offering such dishes as crawfish tails, fried frog legs (called “swamp wings” and tossed in a Creole BBQ sauce), catfish nuggets (served with “chef’s redneck sauce”), lobster mac and cheese, seafood gumbo and “breaded Florida alligator tail.” For the health conscious, there’s also a soup and salad menu.
Blue Sea’s general manager tells ARLnow.com that the restaurant is still hiring and is hoping to open in time for Valentine’s Day.
Ben’s Chili Bowl, the District-based late-night institution, is hoping to open its new location in Rosslyn next month.
News broke that the restaurant would be coming to Arlington in early September, and co-owner Nizam Ali told ARLnow.com he was hoping for a New Year’s Day opening, but acknowledged that was a bit too optimistic.
“The build-out is going well but the holidays got us a bit,” Ali said in an email last week. “Realistically we are about a month out, so early February is the plan right now.”
Ben’s Chili Bowl will be located at 1725 Wilson Blvd, in the old Ray’s Hell Burger storefront in Colonial Village Shopping Center. Ali has said the Rosslyn location will be designed to have the same feel as their U Street restaurant and plans to also be open for late night.