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by Ethan Rothstein — March 11, 2015 at 2:30 pm 2,569 0

RA Sushi roll (photo via Facebook)RA Sushi, a Japanese restaurant chain owned by Benihana, appears on its way to move into 3001 Washington Blvd in Clarendon.

The location would be RA Sushi’s first in Virginia. The chain’s closest restaurant, in Baltimore, has a seven-page menu and offers hand rolls for $5.50 and specialty rolls from $8.50 to its king crab roll for $17. It also sells sake and sake bombs, as well as a list of cocktails, beer and wine.

The restaurant is hoping to add an outdoor cafe along Washington Blvd, but county staff have deferred their recommendation due to concerns about the width of the sidewalk.

RA Sushi would be yet another new business in the large new office building, following Citizen Burger Bar, Cherry Blow Dry Bar and Pure Barre. A Peets Coffee & Tea is under construction at the corner of Washington Blvd and N. Highland Street

We’re told that the chain has yet to sign a lease, but talks have been going on for some time.

Photo via Facebook

by Ethan Rothstein — March 10, 2015 at 1:00 pm 1,221 0

House of Mandi goes into the former Sultana Grill space in BluemontSultana Grill, the Moroccan restaurant in Bluemont that closed, then reopened, then closed for good last year, could soon be replaced.

Sultana’s sign is gone, and in its place is a sign for “House of Mandi Middle Eastern Grill.” The phone number has been removed from the windows, which are covered in paper.

When Sultana first closed its storefront at 5515 Wilson Blvd, next door to Arlington Pharmacy, some suspected it was due to a lack of any alcohol being served, including beer and wine. When it reopened, the new management dismissed that as the reason. According to our tipster, it closed for good a few months ago.

It’s unclear when House of Mandi will open. It does not have an active application with the state Alcohol Beverage Control Board.

Hat tip to Daniel Manchester

by Ethan Rothstein — March 10, 2015 at 11:40 am 4,075 0

(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) The wait to try the winner of last year’s Ballston Restaurant Challenge is over: SER, the traditional Spanish restaurant, is open for business.

Serving dishes from every region of Spain, chef and co-owner Josu Zubikarai doesn’t shy away from the idea that only “foodies” might try certain items from his menu, like the Txipirones — squid in its ink, tentacles and all.

“Spain is less than half the size of Texas, but the variety of food is incredible,” Zubikarai said from his resturant at 1110 N. Glebe Road yesterday. He’ll cook up baby eels, octopus and barnacles. “I love barnacles and the baby eels are very good, but I know not everyone will order them.”

While some of the dishes suit the more adventurous, the chef who founded D.C.’s La Taberna del Alabardero 26 years ago is also happy to offer up Spanish crowd pleasers like six different kinds of paella, including seafood, duck and rabbit. He’s especially proud of his bacalao al pilpil, a traditional Spanish cod dish made in a salt and olive oil emulsion.

SER — which is both the Spanish word for  “to be,” and an acronym for “Simple. Easy. Real.” — is in the midst of a soft opening the next two days, offering 20 percent off all food. Thursday will be the restaurant’s grand opening. SER will only open for dinner, at 5:00 p.m., until Monday, March 16, when it will start serving lunch at 11:00 a.m.

Happy hour is every day from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the bar, which also features an extensive list of cocktails, three different sangria options and eight different sherries.

Customers will not only be able to enjoy Zubikarai’s traditional seafood options, but they can also order plates of Spanish charcuterie and a “cochinillo,” which is a roasted suckling pig and serves up to three people for $58. It’s safe to say there are not many restaurants in Arlington offering such dishes.

The bold menu is partly a representation of the special circumstance SER — which is co-owned by Javier Candon, whose wife, Christiana, is “the face” of the business — finds itself in. As the winner of the Restaurant Challenge, after the other finalist, D.C. chef Victor Albisu, dropped out, the restaurant was given a year of free rent and an interest-free, $250,000 loan. SER can afford to find a customer base without having to compromise with a more broadly appealing menu.

That’s music to Zubikarai’s ears, because he reminisces about the days back in Spain when restaurant critics wouldn’t write about an establishment until it had been open at least three years.

“In Spain, people love bullfighting and they say a restaurant is like a bull: it has to be 4 or 5 years old before it’s ready to fight,” he said. “With the year of free rent, we can hire more people, spend that money on training and have much more opportunity to find customers.”

by ARLnow.com — March 9, 2015 at 3:35 pm 2,781 0

Matchbox (photo via Facebook)Matchbox, the popular D.C. pizza restaurant, is expected to open a new location in Pentagon City next spring.

The restaurant, noted for its wood-fired pizza and craft beer selection, will be located in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, in a yet-to-be-built two-level expansion near the mall’s current S. Hayes Street main entrance.

The new Matchbox will be a whopping 11,000 square feet, with outdoor seating along Hayes Street.

Also expected to open in the spring of 2016 is Sugar Factory, a “famed candy and sweets purveyor.”

Rendering of changes to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon CityThe Sugar Factory location will have both “retail features and an upscale dining area.” The dining area will serve “classic American fare and incredible sweet treats, including the King Kong Sundae, a dessert with a whopping 24 scoops of ice cream, two cupcakes, heaping of toppings, lollipops and sparklers.”

Matchbox is in the midst of an expansion and now has half a dozen locations in D.C., Maryland, Virginia and California. Sugar Factory has stores and restaurants in New York City, Las Vegas, Miami and Orlando.

Fashion Centre owner Simon Property Group announced the new retail and restaurant additions this afternoon, along with several other store changes. The mall is currently undergoing a $70 million renovation project that includes the new S. Hayes Street storefronts.

The full press release, after the jump.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — March 2, 2015 at 4:45 pm 4,823 0

Eventide Restaurant in Clarendon (file photo)(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) Don Tito is expected to open next week in Clarendon.

The “tacos, tequila and beer” spot will be opening in the former Eventide space at 3165 Wilson Blvd. Scott Parker, one of five partners in the business, says Don Tito should officially open to the public on Sunday, March 15, with a “soft opening” starting perhaps as soon as Wednesday, March 11.

Interior work is still underway, but should be wrapping up before the soft opening. The establishment’s exterior sign is expected to arrive this coming Thursday.

Parker says Don Tito will be different than A-Town Bar and Grill, the popular but sometimes rowdy Ballston bar that’s owned by the same group.

“[Don Tito] will have more of a lounge feel to it,” Parker said. “It will be a good place to have a good time and drink but it won’t be as much of a party atmosphere.”

He added that Don Tito will have a bit more of an emphasis on food compared to A-Town.

Parker said retrofitting the former Eventide space went “as well as could be expected.” Patrons can expect a “cantina look” inside, with a lot of exposed brick, wood grain and two bars on the rooftop.

The roof will open when the weather allows, he said.

File photo

by ARLnow.com — March 2, 2015 at 1:30 pm 2,977 0

The former Blanca’s Restaurant at 2900 Columbia Pike may be getting a makeover in an attempt to attract a new restaurant tenant.

The aging, two-story structure sits on the corner of Columbia Pike and Walter Reed Drive, dwarfed by the adjacent Halstead apartment building. It has been vacant for years, despite the high-profile location across from the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse.

In recent years, the building has been toured a couple of times by potential tenants, including the owners of a popular north Arlington coffee shop and gathering spot, but the poor condition of the interior and other expensive challenges have been viewed as obstacles to opening in the space.

Now, we’re told, the siblings who own the building are planning to renovate in order to jump start the process of finding a tenant. Since December, Ramon and William Darcey have been applying for various building, electrical and other permits. So far, most of those permit applications have been rejected.

The permits detail ambitious plans to renovate the interior, expand the second floor, install an exterior staircase, set up a rooftop seating area near the rear of the building and remove landscaping in order to install ground-level outdoor seating. In September, the county’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board was briefed on the plans and offered design suggestions for keeping potentially historic elements of the Spanish Revival-style building in tact.

The building and property was assessed at $765,200 for 2015. Several “for lease” signs have already been placed outside the building and inside its windows.

by Ethan Rothstein — March 2, 2015 at 11:00 am 4,291 0

The future location of Park Lane Tavern on N. Irving Street in Clarendon The future location of Park Lane Tavern on N. Irving Street in Clarendon

A tavern serving European dishes, European beers with imported European furniture and European lighting fixtures plans to open in Clarendon this summer.

Park Lane Tavern has leased space at 1200 N. Irving Street, in the new Beacon at Clarendon apartment building. Owner Greg Knox said the third location of his restaurant — following openings in Hampton and Fredericksburg farther south — will be 5,000 square feet and unlike anything else in the neighborhood.

“I think it’s going to be pretty unique in that area,” Knox said. “There are a lot of quality places up there, but we’re going to stand out a little bit.”

All of the décor is imported from Europe and the menu items read like a tour through a culinary travel magazine — there’s fish and chips, Jagerschnitzel, salmon beurré blanc, bangers and mash, florentine stuffed mushrooms and pizza. Park Lane will serve a variety of European craft beer and have a “very extensive, high-end scotch and bourbon section.”

“We don’t call it a gastropub, but that’s what most people would identify it as,” Knox said.

Knox said Park Lane Tavern plans to open by August or September.

by ARLnow.com — February 26, 2015 at 11:15 am 2,481 0

"Grilling canceled today" (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Peter Chang Fast Casual Restaurant in Arlington — Chef Peter Chang, who has a large following in Northern Virginia, is in lease negotiations for the Oriental Gourmet space at 2503 N. Harrison Street. Chang hopes to open Peter Chang Wok, envisioned as a fast casual Chinese restaurant. Chang only plans to make “a few cosmetic changes” to Oriental Gourmet, which is still open, after taking over the lease. [Washington Post]

Cherrydale Plan Passes — Cherrydale has a new Neighborhood Conservation plan. The plan, approved by the County Board on Tuesday, calls for protecting trees, ensuring sidewalks are wide enough for strollers and those with disabilities, timely utility maintenance, more daycare opportunities and infrastructure for residents to age in place. [Arlington County]

Top County Staff Gets Raise — The Arlington County Board on Tuesday voted to give a 3.4 percent raise to the three county employees it’s permitted by law to hire directly: County Manager Barbara Donnellan, County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac and Clerk to the County Board Hope Halleck. The annual salary for Donnellan — who’s in charge of the county government and its more than 3,800 employees — will increase to $269,742. [InsideNova]

Abundance of Busted Pipes — This week Arlington County firefighters have responded to a steady stream of calls for busted water pipes in buildings around the county. “Please make sure you know where your water shut off is in case it happens to you,” the fire department tweeted. [Twitter]

Abingdon Street House Fire — Firefighters extinguished a small fire in the basement of a home on the 100 block of N. Abingdon Street on Wednesday morning. One person had to flee the home, reportedly while only wearing shorts and a t-shirt, but no injuries were reported. [Twitter]

Court Ruling May Cost Arlington Millions — A ruling by the Virginia Supreme Court on a tax dispute in Arlington County may cost Arlington and other Virginia localities millions of dollars in lost business license tax revenue. The court ruled that companies with offices in multiple states may deduct certain out-of-state earnings from their license tax. [Washington Post]

GW Baseball Blanks Georgetown — In a chilly game at Arlington’s Barcroft Park that we previewed Wednesday, the George Washington University baseball team defeated Georgetown in a 3-0 shutout. [GW Sports]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

by Ethan Rothstein — February 19, 2015 at 10:00 am 3,290 0

Toscana Grill(Updated Feb. 23 at 9:45 a.m.) A new Vietnamese restaurant plans to take over the space currently occupied by Toscana Grill in Courthouse.

The owners of Pho Deluxe, which has locations in Fairfax and Tysons Corner, told ARLnow.com that Toscana Grill is closing April 1, after which they will move in.

They hope to be open a month afterward at 2300 Clarendon Blvd, facing Courthouse Plaza.

Owners Hue and Dan Nguyen said the restaurant will specialize in the beef noodle soup, as well as rice dishes and noodle dishes. It will also have a full bar.

Toscana Grill had briefly closed in fall 2013, but reopened under new management.

Next door, meanwhile, Velocity Five’s conversion to Courthaus Social is about to get started. Co-owner Fito Garcia said this morning that the sports bar will be closing “in the coming week” to begin its remodeling to an “American beer garden.” Garcia said he expects the remodeling and staff training to be complete in time to open in April.

A previous version of this story stated Toscana Grill would close March 1. That has been corrected.

by ARLnow.com — February 12, 2015 at 9:20 am 2,717 0

The Pentagon

Long-Time Clarendon Shoe Store to Close — Public Shoe Store, at 3137 Wilson Blvd in Clarendon, is expected to close in May. The store, which primarily sells “comfort shoes,” has been in business for 75 years. Its owner, 82, is retiring and is looking for a new tenant for the building, which his family owns. [Washington Business Journal]

Home Sales Continue to Rise — The number of home sales in Arlington in January was up 10 percent and the average sales price up 18 percent compared to one year prior, according to new data. The average sales price for all properties is $621,242. For single family homes, it’s $932,253, a hike of nearly 25 percent compared to 2014. [InsideNova]

Highline Now OpenHighline RxR, Crystal City’s newest bar, is now open for lunch, dinner and drinks at 2010 Crystal Drive. [Twitter]

Arlington Store Makes Top Chocolate Shop List — Artisan Confections, at 1025 N. Fillmore Street in Clarendon, has been named one of DCist’s “favorite local chocolate shops.” The shop “specializes in handmade truffles formed into impeccable squares and imprinted with delicate geometric or nature-inspired patterns.” [DCist]

More Metro Issues — Due to a “medical concern” at East Falls Church, there were delays on the inbound Orange Line this morning. The delays resulted in a very crowded platform at Clarendon. Some delays were also reported on the Blue Line. [Twitter]

by ARLnow.com — February 11, 2015 at 10:15 am 1,327 0

Apartment building in Pentagon City at sunset

Same-Sex Marriage Stats in Arlington — One in nine marriage license applications in Arlington — 11 percent of the total — have been from same-sex couples since October, according to Circuit Court Clerk Paul Ferguson. The first legal same-sex marriage in Arlington took place on Oct. 6, 2014. [InsideNova]

Disease False Alarm at Lubber Run — County officials were informed last week that two children in a preschool program at Lubber Run Community Center had been diagnosed with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. In response, parents of children in the preschool and a daycare program at the center were notified, toys and surfaces in facility were disinfected, and toys that could not be disinfected were thrown away. Within a day, however, county officials say they were told that the diagnosis was wrong and that the children did not, in fact, have the disease.

Sweet Leaf Now Open in Ballston — The Sweet Leaf Cafe at 650 N. Quincy Street in Ballston opened last week. The cafe is open Monday through Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and on Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., according to owner Arita Matini.

Storytime with Caps Player at Library — Washington Capitals forward Eric Fehr stopped by the Westover Branch Library Monday night for a reading of his new children’s book, The Bulliest Dozer. Fehr signed books, hockey sticks and at least one library card. [Arlington Public Library]

by Ethan Rothstein — February 9, 2015 at 3:30 pm 4,434 0

Citizen Burger Bar, at 1051 N. Highland Street, is now open for business.

The restaurant, which is the second location for the Charlottesville, Va.-based business, officially opened on Thursday. It will remain open seven days a week, serving dinner until 10:30 p.m. and drinks until last call on the weekends.

Citizen’s specialty is locally-sourced ingredients, like buns from Sterling’s Baguette Republic bakery, cheese from Mountainview Farm in Fairfield, Va., and beef from a farm near Charlottesville.

“The idea is to broaden people’s horizons when it comes to simple, ‘classic American’ fare,” said owner Anderson McClure, an Alexandria native, told ARLnow.com in November. “We want to serve great food and drinks, and do it in a way that might also change people’s perception and standards.”

Among its menu items is “The Executive,” a $24 burger topped with foie gras, bacon, black onions, a fried egg, garlic aioli and truffled brioche. The other menu items range from $6-$15, and burgers can come with an assortment of toppings, like Maine lobster (for $8), fried pickles, chili and one of seven cheeses.

Hat tip to @ChrisKinard

by ARLnow.com — February 3, 2015 at 9:15 am 3,620 0

Balloons at a Giant store (Flickr pool photo by Jim Webster)

New Chinese Restaurant?Noted chef Peter Chang appears to be planning to open a new Chinese restaurant at the Lee Harrison Shopping Center on Lee Highway. [Washington Business Journal]

Rosslyn: Hub of Hillary Intrigue — Rosslyn is home to an organization devoted to helping Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects, an organization that spends much of its time trying to dig up dirt on Hillary, and a news organization that is covering the 2016 presidential race. This has created some awkward moments at Rosslyn’s few after-work watering holes. Concludes a magazine article: “The epicenter of the country’s great Hillary debate remains a small, charm-deficient enclave across the river from D.C.” [National Journal]

State Legislators Pass Uber Bill — Both houses of the Virginia General Assembly have passed a bill that would allow ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft to operate legally in the Commonwealth. [Washington Business Journal]

Bachelor Contestant Is From Arlington — Jillian Anderson, a now-former contestant on this season of ABC’s “The Bachelor,” is an Arlington resident. Anderson, 25, is described as a competitive weightlifter and an “outspoken gym junkie.” [WJLA]

Crystal City: City of the Future? — Paul Singh, founder of Crystal City-based Disruption Corporation and its Crystal Tech Fund, says he wants to model a “sustainable model for an American city of the future” in Crystal City. “Our efforts in the city should be a 100-year legacy,” he said. [Technically DC]

Flickr pool photo by Jim Webster

by Ethan Rothstein — February 2, 2015 at 3:50 pm 2,709 0

(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) All that stands between Crystal City’s newest bar and its future, thirsty patrons is an Alcohol Beverage Control Board inspector.

Highline RXR, on the second floor of 2010 Crystal Drive, is built out with reclaimed wood and windows from barnhouses and industrial facilities across the country. Co-owner Peter Bayne said once the ABC inspector comes, he must order about $30,000 worth of beer and liquor and set them all up before opening. He predicts the bar will open this weekend.

Walking up the staircase — designed to look like an industrial train car and painted by a local artist — to the entrance of the large space, you’re greeted with several arcade games, including Monopoly pinball. In a back room, there’s Big Buck Hunter, Golden Tee and Ms. Pacman. The space is open and lined with giant windows.

The bar is broken into a front and back area. The front, where patrons enter, has a space for a stage and the major tap system, which includes 24 standard taps and six beer taps on a separate system that will be rotated more frequently and feature rarer beers. There will also be four red and four white wines on tap. Next to the bar is a custom-built shelf that will have 20 to 30 board games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan.

To enter the back area, patrons must cross through a floor-to-ceiling “window wall,” built with windows from an old factory. The wall can open to create one big space, or close for private parties or when the back room’s windows are open. The windows in the back room can open enough to make it feel “almost like you’re outdoors,” Bayne said. People on the street will be able to see and hear the activity in the bar above.

“Part of the challenge of this place was finding a way to get people up to the second floor,” Bayne said. “By opening this window, it lets us engage with the street so people can really see that activity.”

There are 72 total beer taps — with two dozen in the back area as well — and if Bayne decided he didn’t want to duplicate, he could offer more distinct draft beers than any other restaurant in Arlington. But “that would take a lot of coordination.” He paused for a second, “maybe we could do it for an Oktoberfest party. That would be amazing.”

Bayne is the co-owner of Bedrock Bars, which also owns the Continental in Rosslyn, Carpool in Ballston and Penn Social and Buffalo Billiards in D.C. Despite his wealth of experience opening bars in the area, Bayne oozes enthusiasm over his newest venture.

“We just want to be the best bar in the area,” he said. He looks across the street at Disruption Corporation and the new startup economy beginning to breathe life into Crystal City and can’t help but get excited. “They’re bringing a creative, young energy to this area. We hope to give them a fun bar to go to.”

by Ethan Rothstein — January 26, 2015 at 11:45 am 3,234 0

“Top Chef” contestant Mike Isabella’s first restaurant venture in Arlington is finally opening its doors tomorrow (Tuesday).

Kapnos Taverna was announced September 2013 and planned for summer 2014. As most openings in the local restaurant industry go, delays pushed Kapnos Taverna’s debut back significantly — Isabella said they were waiting for the building at 4000 Wilson Blvd to finish construction.

The two-story 165-seat restaurant will feature small plates of largely southern and coastal Greek food. (Kapnos in the District, sister eatery to the new Ballston location, specializes in northern Greek fare.)

Isabella said he wants people to think beyond gyros and souvlaki when they think of Greek food.

“My goal is to tell people what Greek food is,” he told ARLnow.com while taste-testing dishes last week. “I want to show people aspects of the cuisine people aren’t aware of. There’s so much more to it than people think.”

The menu for Kapnos Taverna includes shellfish “platters” and “towers” for $75 and $125, respectively, and Isabella said the sauces and spreads are being brought over from Kapnos. The small plates range in price from $6 to $15 and tables can also order spit-roasted chickens — one of Isabella’s favorite menu items, along with the swordfish kebabs — and full lamb shoulders.

There will be a full cocktail program, four beers on tap as well as a moschofilero white wine on tap.

Two more Isabella-owned restaurants in Kapnos Taverna’s building will soon be opening. Pepita, the Mexican cantina that Isabella calls more “drink-centric” is in the pipeline for this spring. Yona, a restaurant that will specialize in ramen, won’t have Isabella behind the menu and plans to open this summer.

“We’re going to focus on these three concepts for a while,” Isabella said. “This is going to be our hub, and after opening these, we’re probably done in Arlington for a while.”

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