Judging by the deluge of views and comments on our article about the Italian Store planning to open a second location, in Westover, most residents are excited about the opening.
But not everybody thinks the Italian Store will be an all-over positive development for the neighborhood.
Here’s a letter to the editor from former Westover resident Kyle Herchert:
I live in Rosslyn now, but from 2005 to 2012, I lived in the same house in Westover. (Tara Leeway Heights if you want to be a stickler).
I still remember the day I discovered the Forrest Inn. It was like a scientist who haphazardly stumbles upon a whole new species. I couldn’t believe there was a place like that in Arlington! It was amazing to me. I loved the fact that there was still a place that had remained unscathed amid the rapid growth we’ve all experienced living in Arlington over the last decade.
In many ways, all of Westover is like the Forrest. The entire strip had managed to retain its sleepy town feel even amid the hustle and bustle of the biggest little county in America. I’ve always enjoyed that feeling. It’s the feeling you get walking out of Pete’s Barber Shop, where I still get my hair cut, to stroll down to the Beer Garden just to check out the vibe. Westover just felt like home.
On the surface, the introduction of the Italian Store seems like a natural fit to the area – and in almost every way it is. It’s a mom and pop shop opening in the quintessential mom and pop town. However, the undeniable popularity of the Italian Store will undoubtedly attract huge numbers to the area. Once that happens I think it’s just a short time before investors realize that they can have success in the Westover area as well. How long will it be before the Forrest becomes a Boston Market or even worse, and Palm Beach Tan.
Maybe I’m being paranoid, I guess only time will tell.
– Kyle Herchert
A new weekend feature in 2014, ARLnow.com is now publishing letters to the editor. To submit a letter to the editor, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Servers: Do you have 2 years of experience in a high-volume restaurant? Are you team-orientated and guest-focused? Craft beer knowledge is preferred, but not necessary.
Hosts: Are you friendly and outgoing with a great smile? Experience with Open Table is a bonus.
Bussers: Do you have high energy, a great attitude, and like to have fun at work?
If so, stop by for an interview — Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sundays 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
This job post is sponsored by Heavy Seas Alehouse.
The new Bar Louie in Crystal City should bring a lot of holiday cheer, considering it’s expected to open the day after Christmas.
Bar Louie will fill a 5,480 square foot space at 320 23rd Street S. formerly occupied by Memphis Barbecue. This will be the sixth Metro D.C. location for the Texas based chain. Bar Louie is known for signature martinis, but also features small plates, flatbreads, salads, burgers and sandwiches.
To celebrate its grand opening next Thursday (December 26), the bar and restaurant will host a three day celebration next week. From Friday, December 27 through Sunday, December 29, customers can enjoy drink specials and free food. Each customer will receive one free appetizer or flatbread just for stopping by. There are reportedly other surprises planned for the bash that have not been announced yet.
“There’s a lot happening during our opening events that guests are going to be blown away by,” said Bar Louie General Manager Tom Jones in a written statement. “The best part of opening after the holidays is we get to throw an amazing grand opening and roll right into our New Year’s Eve party, which is going to be insane.”
Bar Louie will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. and offers the entire menu until last call. It will host happy hour drink specials as well as half priced flatbreads and appetizers from 4:00-7:00 p.m. every Monday through Friday.
Coming on the heels of the sudden closure of Leek American Bistro last month, a new restaurant is now moving into the space. “Republic at Arlington” should open in Ballston early next year, its managers say.
Executive Chef and operating partner Alan Newton describes the concept as “modern comfort food with some international flair.” He said customers can expect high quality, made from scratch food in a casual setting.
“We want to be known as a great place for drinks and great food. There’s a lot of French influence in the food as well,” Newton said. “You can wear a suit or wear shorts, you’ll feel comfortable either way.”
Republic at Arlington is expected to serve dinner dishes priced at $20 and less, as well as lunch dishes for $10-15. The bar will feature a selection of craft beers and specialty mixed drinks. The owners have a unique idea for how to compile the drink menu — let the patrons decide.
“Since the restaurant is called Republic, we want people voting and picking out what they like,” Newton said. “We’ll either incorporate an online voting system or something when you stop in the restaurant.”
Along with Newton, the management team includes owner Thanh Caodac and general manager Anthony Catselites. All three have management experience at McCormick & Schmick’s. Newton also helped to open Sweetwater Tavern in Centreville.
Newton is trying to make sure customers don’t draw parallels between the new restaurant and Leek. So far, the only connection appears to be the location at 801 N. Quincy Street.
“It’s going to have a totally different feel from Leek,” he said. “We’re hoping that no one will recognize the place when they walk in.”
Newton described the restaurant design as “industrial vintage with a slight touch of neoclassic twist.” Unlike Leek, he said, the new restaurant will not have tablecloths.
Currently, there’s not much to see at the restaurant — the windows are covered with paper. However, renovations are underway inside and the owners hope to open in mid-February. They expect to hold a grand opening event in the spring.
“We plan on being there as a member of the community for a long, long time — just a great neighborhood restaurant,” said Newton.
(Updated at 7:00 p.m.) The Italian Store will be opening a second location next year, in the Westover neighborhood.
The store, which sells sandwiches, pizza, wine and gourmet Italian grocery items, has enjoyed considerable success at its Lyon Village location, at 3123 Lee Highway. The new location, at 5839 Washington Blvd, will be about twice the size as the original, according to owner Robert Tramonte, whose family has owned and operated the store since 1980.
“Our square feet is more than double that of the Lyon Village store, approximately 6,000,” Tramonte told ARLnow.com. “We envision doing everything that we currently have at Lyon Village plus a new Illy espresso coffee bar and other surprises.”
The Italian Store will replace a 7-Eleven convenience store, which closed its doors last night (Sunday). Customers are being asked to instead shop at the 7-Eleven at 6730 Lee Highway.
Tramonte says he expects to begin “a total renovation” of the new location next month.
“Our projected opening date is May 18th pending a fast track permitting process,” he said.
Correction: This article previously stated that the new location would be the Italian Store’s first expansion. Tramonte says the family “has had several other stores… over the years” but currently operates only in Lyon Village.
(Updated at 2:05 p.m.) Bonefish Grill will be opening a location in Arlington next year.
The new restaurant will be located in Pentagon Row, not far from Sur La Table on S. Joyce Street. It will fill a 5,350 square foot space where the Desi Innovations furniture store used to be.
Bonefish Grill is a national chain specializing in market-fresh fish and other wood-grilled specialties.
“Pentagon Row’s latest addition will be a dinner, cocktails and brunch destination for the neighborhood, and we’re proud Bonefish Grill chose Pentagon Row for their Arlington location,” said Robin McBride of Federal Realty Investment Trust.
The restaurant is expected to open sometime next summer.
Having launched Maple Ave in Vienna nearly five years ago, husband and wife team Tim Ma and Joey Hernandez are not new to the restaurant scene. Yet with the opening of Water & Wall (3811 N. Fairfax Drive) in Virginia Square almost two weeks ago, they found new challenges to contend with at their Arlington restaurant.
“When you get into a new kitchen, it’s completely new equipment, completely new staff, it’s a completely new space flow,” said Ma. “It’s a completely new restaurant. We want to take the time to make sure we get every step right.”
The restaurant has been preparing to open since July, held its family and friends soft opening event on November 1 and opened to the public the next day. Water & Wall has opened at 5:00 p.m. every day, but hopes to delve into weekend brunch and eventually into lunch. For the time being, Ma prefers the limited schedule in order to perfect the dinner operations, especially considering that most new restaurants have issues to work out.
“Everybody has glitches, we’re no different. The hardest thing was getting used to the new kitchen equipment,” Ma said. “We got here and we’ve got all this new equipment, everything’s high powered, high end. We burned a lot of things really early on just because we weren’t used to it. We had to adjust recipes that we’ve been doing for years just because this equipment is so much stronger. That was one of the most difficult things.”
Ma and the kitchen crew continue to experiment with the menu. They’ve brought over some staples from Maple Ave such as shrimp and grits, mussels and braised beef cheek. There are around 10 small plates, eight main plates and typically four specials per night. The menu should be whittled down to the permanent items within the next few months, but Ma expects it to change fairly frequently.
“We’re happy with the menu but we know how the kitchen gets,” he said. “The kitchen gets antsy. They don’t want to cook the same things over and over, so then we move on to the next thing.”
Although signature dishes like duck confit may sound decadent, the Water & Wall crew works hard to fend off the “fine dining” label.
“I want to stay away from the term fine dining, even though I think our look is a little fancier than I anticipated,” said Ma. “I never want it to really be called fine dining. Contemporary, casual dining I think is what we would call it.”
“I know it looks like it when you first walk in, but we’re definitely not fancy,” agreed General Manager Nick Seo. “We wanted to create an environment where anybody can walk in dressed in any sort of attire and have a really great experience. We don’t have a specific dress code, it’s not very fancy at all.”
Seo also manages the bar and is experimenting with signature drinks for the restaurant. He plans to debut two this weekend — his version of the Moscow Mule, and an olive oil/vodka/lemon cocktail. The bar area will run happy hour specials from 5:00-7:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Five drink items will be available for five dollars during that time. Eventually, happy hour may expand to food items as well.
In addition to the signature drinks and focus on food, Seo believes the ambiance will help Water & Wall stand out from its competitors.
“I think it’s different than a lot of the primary restaurants or bars in this area. It is kind of, I think, a fresh take on Arlington dining,” he said. “We’ve had more and more people who live in the residential areas across the street coming in. They walk in and are blown away.”
While Ma says he takes care of the kitchen operations, he says his wife “basically runs things” at the restaurant. One of the things Hernandez focuses on is getting people in the door. Currently, she worries people won’t know Water & Wall exists due to the lack of outdoor signage for the restaurant. But she was encouraged to hold off on ordering any because the whole building is apparently supposed to get a bit of a facelift with new signs.
“It’ll happen. People will find us,” Hernandez said. “It’s been a little crazy these past couple of weeks. But it’s exciting, too.”
Ma is confident the customer base will continue to grow once people notice the restaurant, try it and spread the word. He said Virginia Square is quieter than some of Arlington’s other restaurant hubs, but that’s how he likes it.
“Give us a shot. It’s one of those things where we’re in a quiet spot,” said Ma. “We’ll need people to come out here and taste what we’re doing. Sometimes it seems like a trek just going from one metro stop to the next. But we hope people make the trek and that we can impress them. All I ask is, if you like it, tell somebody.”
A new restaurant serving Asian cuisine will be opening in the former Fatshorty’s space in Clarendon.
‘Thaiger Asian Bistro’ applied for a permit at 3035 Clarendon Blvd this week. Fatshorty’s closed at that location a week and a half ago, citing disappointing sales.
So far, there’s no word on when the new restaurant will open. A woman answering a phone number associated with the restaurant told ARLnow.com that she was unwilling to divulge any details about the restaurant at this time.
Another Thai-centric but ostensibly pan-Asian restaurant, Burapa Thai and Sushi Bar, closed its doors last year. It was located a block away from the future Thaiger Asian Bistro. Bracket Room, a sports bar, has since opened in the former Burapa Thai space.
Free Clinic Still Needed Post-Obamacare — The Affordable Care Act may help reduce the number of people without health insurance, but it won’t alter the core mission of the Arlington Free Clinic. The clinic will continue to serve the thousands who are expected to remain without health insurance in Arlington even after the health care law is implemented. [Sun Gazette]
Water & Wall to Open Saturday — Water & Wall, a new restaurant in Virginia Square, is set to open on Saturday. The restaurant, from Tim Ma of Maple Ave Restaurant in Vienna, will serve “eclectic American” cuisine. [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Lava Barre Moving to Rosslyn — Fitness studio Lava Barre is moving from Clarendon to Rosslyn starting early next year. [Facebook]
Flickr photo by Ddimick
The Texas-based bar/restaurant chain has started interior construction work that includes core drilling as they work to replace the old Memphis Barbecue restaurant at 320 23rd Street S. Bar Louie applied for a permit in the space this summer, but the company said at the time that it hadn’t made a final decision on a location.
Per an anonymous tipster, management at the Buchanan sent the following note to residents, notifying them of the construction activity.
Please be advised that the contractor working the old Memphis BBQ space has scheduled core drilling for tomorrow and Friday, October 24th and 25th, 2013. They intend to work during the day, starting around 8:00 a.m. each day.
Core drilling can be noisy; however, based on the restaurant being on the first floor, we do not anticipate that you will hear too much noise from this activity.
Thank you for your understanding as Bar Louie continues to construct their new restaurant at The Buchanan.
Representatives of Bar Louie could not be reached for comment on a potential opening date for the restaurant. Bar Louie’s website lists the Crystal City location as “coming soon” with a target date of “Winter 2014.”
Heavy Seas Alehouse, a brewpub affiliated with the popular Baltimore brewery, is expected to open in Rosslyn this December.
The alehouse is currently under construction at the corner of N. Oak Street and 18th Street N. and Director of Operations Vince Cassino said it will open in December “if all goes well.”
The restaurant is 6,000 square feet with capacity for 160 patrons inside, and will have outdoor seating for up to 40 customers, Cassino said. There will also be a private event room with space for 60 people.
The bar will have 15 taps rotating primarily with Heavy Seas beers, but Cassino said there could be beers from other local breweries on occasion. The alehouse will open daily for lunch at 11:00 a.m. and will be able to fill growlers for customers. A Sunday brunch may eventually be offered as well, Cassino said.
Capriotti’s, a fast-casual sandwich shop, will be moving into ground floor retail space along Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, according to Capriotti’s Washington Metro Area Developer George Vincent. Vincent wouldn’t reveal the precise location because the lease has not yet been signed.
Vincent expects to sign the lease in the coming weeks, and is concurrently applying for permits with Arlington County, he said. Once the lease is signed, building the interior of the restaurant will take about five weeks.
“We’ll probably be open right after the first of the year,” he said. “The idea is to open for the Super Bowl or the week before the Super Bowl.”
Vincent said he’s going to push for some outdoor seating during the process with the county. The Rosslyn location will be Capriotti’s second in the region; a shop will be open in a few weeks on M Street NW, Vincent said.
The chain has locations in 13 states, and specializes in large sandwiches and roasting turkey and roast beef in house overnight. Its most popular sandwich, Vincent said, is The Bobbie, with roast turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and mayonnaise.
“Part of what drew us to Rosslyn is you don’t have a ton of sandwich shops here,” Vincent said. “I think we’re going to be a spot where you can go in and pick something new every time and not be disappointed.”
Image via Facebook
A restaurant called Blue Sea Cajun Seafood and Bar has applied for permits for the space at 4251 Campbell Avenue. A search did not reveal any details about the restaurant online.
Blue Sea will be located in a 3,547 square foot space that once was home to Bear Rock Cafe. The cafe closed in 2010. In 2011, it looked like a vegan restaurant would be opening in the space, but those plans apparently fell through.
No word yet on when the restaurant is planning to open.
(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) A Little Caesar’s franchise is expected to open near the intersection of Lee Highway and N. George Mason Drive before the end of 2013.
The pizza shop, at 5175 Lee Highway, will be the only Little Caesar’s location in Arlington, according to Little Caesar’s spokesman Gray Reynolds. Little Caesar’s has one location in Alexandria and three in Fairfax County. The space was formerly occupied by Sana Jewelers.
There is already a Little Caesar’s banner on the roof of the storefront and a “Now Hiring” sign on the window. The owner of the Garden City Shopping Center — the strip mall in which the future Little Caesar’s is located — was approved for an interior alteration building permit Sept. 24.
Hat tip to Jim Sweetman
The 5,700-square-foot, “cabin-style” restaurant will feature more than 20 beers on drafts, 30 craft whiskeys and some southern Virginia white whiskey, more commonly known as moonshine.
Owned by Reese Gardner, who also owns Wilson Tavern in Courthouse, Copperwood Tavern seats 218 people and features a seasonal, small-plate menu sourced from local farms. The restaurant also has a 56-seat, dog-friendly patio.
The restaurant is open from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. weekdays, and 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. weekends.
Photo by Daniel Swartz