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by ARLnow.com — January 22, 2014 at 10:00 am 1,799 0

Outdoor seating at Velocity 5A county staff proposal that could have crippled Courthouse bar and restaurant Velocity 5 has been scaled back after some County Board intervention.

In December, county staff recommended that Velocity 5′s popular outdoor patio be forced to stop serving food and drink at 11:00 p.m., in response to “community concerns about noise.” That’s despite a report from the police department saying that noise complaints were down by 50 percent.

The owners of Velocity 5′s Courthouse location, which changed hands in early 2013, rallied supporters via social media after learning of the staff recommendation. Dozens showed up at the Dec. 17 County Board meeting where the proposal — part of the renewal of Velocity 5′s live entertainment permit — was under consideration. The Board ended up deferring the proposal until January to allow staff more time to work with the owners.

Co-owner Matt Rofougaran says the early serving cut-off could have put the restaurant, which employs about 30 people, out of business. Some 30-40 percent of Velocity 5′s revenue comes from the patio, he said.

“I would be shocked if we would be able to stay open… if they close that patio,” Rofougaran told ARLnow.com in December. “It’s not fair, they’re trying to punish us for something that we improved on.”

Rofougaran contended that the majority of the noise complaints came from one or two residents of the next-door Archstone Courthouse Plaza apartments.

“Most of the complaints were from one guy… who had problems with the previous owner,” he said. “A lot of customers live in the building and say they don’t hear anything from their apartments.”

Rofougaran said one complaint was for a barking dog on the patio, another was for a group of people singing “happy birthday,” and yet another was for boisterous people — who weren’t customers — walking by the patio.

After making their case, Rofougaran said the Board was “actually helping us” sort through the issues.

As a result, at its upcoming meeting on Saturday, the Board is slated to consider a new live entertainment permit renewal that does not place restrictions on Velocity 5′s outdoor serving hours. The patio will still be allowed to stay open and serve customers until 1:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday and until midnight Sunday through Thursday.

Velocity 5 will, however, face some new restrictions. It will need to hire a security guard to monitor the patio after 8:00 p.m. when it’s at capacity. Also, it will need to turn off any outdoor music at 10:00 p.m. and will have to turn off outdoor televisions at 11:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.

“Staff is not recommending that the outdoor seating area be closed at any specific time; instead, it is expected that the additional security presence outdoors will mitigate the impacts of the use,” the new county staff report. It adds that complaints about noise have been made by “a few residents” of the apartment building.

“The staff has agreed to work with us and has recommended changes to the entertainment license that we will gladly abide by,” Rofougaran said via email Tuesday. “We thank everyone for all their help, including the staff and the community that helped support us.”

Velocity 5 is still slated to be rebranded as “Social Haus,” as earlier reported. Rofougaran says they’re planning close the restaurant in early February for renovations. It’s expected to reopen as Social Haus in early March.

by Ethan Rothstein — September 5, 2013 at 10:35 am 5,163 0

Doggie dining placard (photo via Arlington County)Arlington County has given the go-ahead to 27 restaurants and cafes to host dogs in outdoor dining areas.

The restaurants were approved for variance permits to allow dogs, in a program first announced in April, according to the county’s Public Health Division. Previously, it was against county code to allow pets to hang out in all restaurant dining areas.

“Public Health staff has worked closely with restaurants to ensure that the restaurants’ operating plans comply with all health and safety requirements, and staff will continue to work with restaurants on an ongoing basis,” the county said in a press release. It “is left to the restaurants with variances to decide which outdoor tables are reserved for patrons with dogs.”

Below is the list of restaurants approved for canine dining:

  • American Seafood
  • Arlington Capital View Renaissance & Residence Inn
  • Arlington Capital View Renaissance – Illy
  • Asia Bistro
  • California Pizza Kitchen
  • California Tortilla (Crystal City)
  • Chasin’ Tails
  • Elevation Burger
  • Faccia Luna
  • House of Steep
  • Jay’s Saloon & Grille
  • La Côte D’Or Café
  • Lyon Hall
  • Mexicali Blues Restaurant & Bar
  • Nando’s Peri Peri
  • Rappahannock Coffee
  • Rhodeside Grill
  • Rockland BBQ and Grill
  • Saigon Saigon
  • Samuel Beckett’s Irish Pub
  • Sine Irish Pub & Restaurant
  • Thai at Corner Restaurant
  • THAI Shirlington
  • The Green Turtle
  • The Liberty Tavern
  • William Jeffrey’s Tavern
  • World of Beer

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by ARLnow.com — May 20, 2013 at 11:15 am 0

Sewer relining work in North ArlingtonThe Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a $1.8 million project to rehabilitate aging water mains.

The work will take place throughout Arlington, and is intended to extend the life of the county’s water infrastructure while forgoing the expense of a complete replacement.

From a county press release:

The Arlington County Board today authorized $1.8 million for the rehabilitation of water mains, many of which have been in service for more than 60 years. The work will take place in neighborhoods across the County and includes the cleaning and relining of aging distribution pipes using a process called Mechanical Cleaning and Cement-Mortar Lining.

“These rehabilitation projects help the County extend the life of water mains and lines, stretch tax dollars, and prevent expensive and disruptive main breaks,” said Arlington County Board Chairman J. Walter Tejada.

Rehabilitation at fraction of replacement cost

Instead of replacing an aging water main, it is possible to rehabilitate the pipe if it is still in good enough condition. Every year, the County selects water mains based on age, frequency of main breaks, and reduction in flow capacity for rehabilitation at a fraction of the cost of new construction and with minimal disruption to the community.

Trenchless rehabilitation means less disruption

Corrosion deposits, known as tubercles, build up naturally over time in older unlined, water main pipes made of iron. The build-up does not normally affect the quality of the water, but it does decrease the capacity of the pipes and can affect water pressure. The trenchless pipe rehabilitation method that Arlington uses involves opening the road at the ends of the pipe segment, instead of cutting the road open along the entire length of the water main, making it less disruptive to traffic near the work area.

Arlington County runs many maintenance programs, such as the water main lining project, to prolong the life and productivity of our infrastructure and facilities. Some other maintenance programs include a distribution valve maintenance program, large valve maintenance program, fire hydrant maintenance program, fire hydrant painting, and annual water main flushing.

The project the Board acted on is part of the Water Main Rehabilitation and Replacement program, which is included in Utilities portion of the FY 2013 – FY 2022 CIP, (Capital Investment Program). D.H.C. Corporation has been selected for the cleaning and cement-mortar lining of Arlington water mains.

When crews work in your neighborhood, you will receive a notice in advance of the project. Temporary service lines are put in service during the work, and flushing is performed to make sure that all water lines are free from any debris that may have entered the system. If you have any questions about your water service in general or as related to one of our maintenance programs, please call 703-228-6555.

Ashlawn Elementary School addition site planAlso on Saturday, the Board approved a new 12-room addition to Ashlawn Elementary School. The total cost of the project is budgeted at about $15 million.

The Ashlawn addition proved controversial thanks to opposition to a plan to create a loop road for student drop-off. In the end, the Board approved the addition with the loop road plan, but not before considerable debate and abstentions from Board members Chris Zimmerman and Mary Hynes, according to the Sun Gazette.

Separately, the Board also approved a technical update to reorganize the county’s Zoning Ordinance, as well as an amendment to the ordinance to allow outdoor cafes on private property to operate year-round.

by ARLnow.com — May 16, 2013 at 1:15 pm 1,129 0

Westover Beer GardenArlington County may soon officially drop its requirement that outdoor cafes close for the winter.

The Arlington County Board is considering an amendment to its zoning ordinance to allow outdoor cafes on private property to stay open year-round. The county was previously enforcing an uncodified interpretation of the ordinance that requires all outdoor cafes to be seasonal in nature — typically only open from April to November.

Sidewalk cafes located on public property will still be regulated under the seasonality requirement, but will only be required to close for three months of the year.

The amendment proposal comes just over a year after the Westover Beer Garden, which is on private property, defied the county’s seasonality requirement, calling it an “imaginary rule.”

The zoning amendment provides other policy tweaks and clarifications for outdoor cafes on private property. Among them:

  • Use of televisions, radios and other electronic media will be permitted at outdoor cafes from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. The outdoor use of electronic media will still be regulated by the county’s noise ordinance.
  • Outdoor cafes “in side or rear yards adjacent to or across an alley from an ‘R’ or ‘RA’ [residential] District” must be closed between 11:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m.
  • Outdoor cafes must have fewer seats than the main restaurant, and cannot be used when the main restaurant is closed.
  • All outdoor fixtures must be removable.
  • Only restaurants may have outdoor cafes

The amendment also carries a new legal definition for outdoor cafes. It’s described as “An area that contains portable seating and tables, intended solely for the consumption of food and beverages that are also included in the standard menu of the restaurant, outside the exterior walls of a restaurant (excluding rooftops).”

The Board is scheduled to vote on the measure on Saturday.

by ARLnow.com — April 2, 2013 at 11:55 am 456 29 Comments

The owner of Pentagon Row announced this morning that major renovations to the shopping center’s plaza are now underway.

The renovations, approved by the Arlington County Board last March, will include an expanded ice rink during the winter, a turf lawn during the summer, revamped outdoor dining areas, 1,500 square feet of new retail and dining space, lighted water fountains and a stone fire pit.

Pentagon Row on 4/2/13Work on the project began on Monday and is expected to run through November, wrapping up in time for the grand reopening of the ice rink. Other parts of the plaza will reopen starting late this summer, according to a rep for Pentagon Row owner Federal Realty Investment Trust.

“The plaza was thoughtfully redesigned to cater to the lifestyle of the Arlington community and customer to create a year-round experience,” FRIT said in a press release, below.

This year’s Rock the Row outdoor concert series will still be held despite the construction, according to spokeswoman Molly Hippolitus, and Pentagon Row stores will remain open.

Federal Realty Investment Trust announces today that the Pentagon Row plaza will undergo a major renovation, which will include an expanded ice rink, enhanced outdoor dining areas, added retail space, and improved public gathering places with an expansive turf feature, new water fountains, and new stone fire pit. Construction began April 1, 2013 and the new plaza will be completed and opened to the public in phases beginning late summer 2013. The final project will be complete by November 2013 in time for the ice rink grand re-opening celebration.

The plaza was thoughtfully redesigned to cater to the lifestyle of the Arlington community and customer to create a year-round experience. The addition of an expansive, functional turf feature will host gatherings in warm weather and events such as the 2014 Rock at the Row Summer Concert Series, and an expanded ice rink will be available in the winter months. The additional 1,500 square feet of retail and dining space will energize the plaza core and feature a defined café dining area. The addition of an interactive water feature and stone fire pit will provide year-round amenities for visitors to enjoy.

“Federal Realty Investment Trust’s investment in the project reflects our commitment to creating public spaces for the community to gather and enjoy public events,” says Robin McBride, Vice President – Mid Atlantic Region COO, Federal Realty Investment Trust. Adding, “We are thrilled to continue our commitment to improving Pentagon Row with this major plaza renovation which will create a true 12-month experience for the community.”

Pentagon Row retailers and restaurants will remain open during construction.

Renderings courtesy Federal Realty Investment Trust

by ARLnow.com — November 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm 4,097 32 Comments

The Arlington County Board is scheduled to consider an expansion of amplified music at the Westover Market beer garden (5863 Washington Blvd).

In June, the beer garden was granted a permit to allow amplified outdoor music on Saturday nights. In response to the market’s request to expand amplified music to three nights per week, county staff is recommending the County Board meet the business half way and grant a permit to allow amplified music two nights per week — on Fridays and Saturdays.

Only one neighbor has complained to the county about the amplified music, according to the staff report.

“No formal complaints have been made to the Zoning or Code Enforcement Offices since amplified entertainment was started one night per week in June 2012,” staff noted. “Staff has received informal complaints and concerns by one neighborhood resident. However, the applicant has been found upon investigation by staff to be compliant with the Noise Ordinance, and compliant with all conditions of approval.”

Westover Market also requested permission to operate the beer garden year-round, but staff concluded that such a move would require a change in the Zoning Ordinance. The ordinance requires all outdoor cafes in the county to be “seasonal” in nature — typically open from April to November and closed in the winter.

The Board is expected to consider the amplified music request at its meeting this coming Saturday, Nov. 17.

by ARLnow.com — May 14, 2012 at 12:40 pm 1,721 25 Comments

William Jeffrey’s Tavern may be adding outdoor seating along Columbia Pike if it can win approval from the Arlington County Board on Saturday, May 19.

The Board is expected to vote on the restaurant’s request to set up 6 tables and 18 seats on the sidewalk along the 2300 block of Columbia Pike. County staff is recommending the request be approved, since it maintains a minimum 6 foot wide clear section of sidewalk for pedestrians to walk by the seating area.

Staff is also recommending, however, that the restaurant’s request to add sidewalk cafe seating along S. Adams Street be deferred to the July 21 County Board meeting. Staff says the Adams Street sidewalk seating request, as is, may not comply with Americans with Disabilities Act access requirements.

William Jeffrey’s Tavern is located at 2301 Columbia Pike, on the ground floor of the new 188-unit Siena Park apartment building.

by ARLnow.com — February 23, 2012 at 4:50 pm 5,141 104 Comments

If you were hoping to enjoy the nice weather with a beer outside at the Westover Beer Garden, you’re in for a disappointment. Westover Market and Beer Garden (5863 Washington Blvd) owner Devin Hicks says the beer garden has been shut down until April 1 due to county zoning rules.

Arlington County requires that certain outdoor cafes, like the beer garden, be closed for three months of the year due to the seasonal nature of the business. Hicks says he wasn’t serving beer outside, but was allowing customers to bring their beers to the garden (which has a fire pit) from his indoor bar area. That, he says, earned him a citation warning letter from the county.

Until it reopens on April 1, the beer garden will be off-limits to customers. Hicks says he’s disappointed with the county’s strict enforcement.

“You would think they’d be on our side but apparently they’re doing everything to make our business less successful and less available to the community,” Hicks told ARLnow.com. “They’re not being business friendly. I don’t know why they keep picking on us.”

When it does reopen, however, music will finally return to the beer garden.

Under a compromise reached between Hicks, neighbors and the County Board, music will be allowed at the beer garden on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. In April and May, only non-amplified music will be allowed. From June 1 to Oct 31, amplified music will be allowed on Saturdays.

Hicks says he’s in the process of booking bands now.

“It’s going to be a ton of fun for everybody, obviously everybody’s been waiting a long time for it,” he said.

Update at 11:40 a.m. on 2/24/12 — Via Facebook, the Westover Market says they will open the beer garden tonight (Friday) in defiance of the county’s orders:

“We tried to cooperate and follow the county’s imaginary rule about outdoor patios required to be seasonal; we took out the tables, chairs, tvs, bar. That apparently wasn’t enough. The county wanted to cripple our business even more so they told us to take out the stumps, turn off the lights, and not allow patrons to go outside. Enough is enough. WBG & Haus in Full Force open 11am-1:30am.”

by ARLnow.com — October 13, 2011 at 3:58 pm 3,510 11 Comments

Green Pig Bistro, at 1025 N. Fillmore Street in Clarendon, will be asking the Arlington County Board this weekend for the same sidewalk cafe seating that its predecessor, American Flatbread, fought so hard for before it closed last winter.

County staff is recommending that the Board approve the small outdoor seating area for another year. Meanwhile, Green Pig Bistro is still waiting to start its build-out. The restaurant only recently applied for building permit.

The space, which used to the cozy digs of American Flatbread, has since been largely stripped and emptied out. The rear patio area that Flatbread had hoped to use for outdoor dining — only to have their request denied — is now home to a construction dumpster.

In July, Green Pig Bistro owner M. Scot Harlan told ARLnow.com that the restaurant would feature “sustainable American comfort food with high-quality ingredients and reasonable prices.” At the time, Harland said he was hoping to open in either November or January.

by ARLnow.com — August 29, 2011 at 10:35 am 2,266 46 Comments

With Labor Day around the corner, the days of shorts, flip flops and outdoor dining are numbered.

Sure, those things are still possible when the weather gets colder, but sitting outside and drinking a Corona while wearing a sweater is just not quite the same as the summertime experience.

Luckily, you can get your outdoor beer sipping and tortilla chip dipping in before it’s too late thanks to our partners at WTD, who are offering 50 percent off at Clarendon’s Mexicali Blues restaurant (2933 Wilson Blvd).

For the next two weeks, you can get $20 worth of food and non-alcoholic drink at the sidewalk cafe-equipped restaurant for $10.

by ARLnow.com — June 22, 2011 at 12:57 pm 3,173 12 Comments

At the annual State of the County address yesterday, Arlington County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman said action on parts of his Small Business Initiative is coming soon.

Zimmerman said that he expects to see an initial draft of a rewritten sign ordinance next month, with final Board approval by the end of the year.

Addressing the substance of the sign ordinance, Zimmerman said he wants an ordinance that “at a minimum, ends the prohibition on A-frame signs [and] relaxes restrictions on the umbrellas used for sidewalk seating.”

Allowing A-frame — or “sandwich board” –signs would be a victory for business owners in Arlington, who have bemoaned Arlington’s strict enforcement of its prohibitive sign ordinance. The ban on sandwich board signs in makes it particularly difficult to promote restaurants specials and store sales to passersby.

Unadorned sidewalk cafe umbrellas are currently allowed under county code, but allowing branded umbrellas would benefit restaurant owners who want to make their eateries more visible during the warm weather months.

In addition to sign ordinance changes, Zimmerman said he hopes the Small Business Initiative will find a way to improve coordination among the various county government units that handle business matters.

“We heard, again and again, a real frustration with the lack of centrality and consistency of information,” Zimmerman said.

by ARLnow.com — May 16, 2011 at 3:52 pm 3,071 23 Comments

Slowly but surely, business has been picking up at Mad Rose Tavern (3100 Clarendon Blvd).

The Clarendon restaurant got off to a rocky start, but thanks to a new chef, outdoor seating and some positive buzz, General Manager Dennis Holland says they’re “starting to get off the ground.”

Over the weekend, the Arlington County Board approved the restaurant’s request for sidewalk seating along Washington and Clarendon Boulevards. The new seats — about 60 of them in total — should arrive either tonight or tomorrow, Holland said. The seating will supplement Mad Rose’s existing outdoor lounge which, according to Holland, seats about 80 patrons.

With approval of a permanent sign at least three months away, Holland hopes that the sidewalk cafe will help provide some much-needed visibility. The additional seating will serve not only to cater to customers who enjoy dining outside, but to attract attention and “let people know this is a restaurant,” Holland said. Mad Rose is located on the ground floor of the Olmsted building which, between the late ’80s architecture and the armed guards (the building houses the Defense Intelligence Agency), makes its entrance look decidedly unwelcoming from a distance.

In addition to getting ready for the new outdoor seats, Holland says he’s been busy planning Mad Rose Tavern’s grand opening celebration, which is scheduled for Saturday. The event will feature a cruise giveaway, 30 percent off all food items and a discount on drinks.

by ARLnow.com — April 12, 2011 at 10:00 am 2,716 60 Comments

“The menu was kind of all over the place,” acknowledged Dennis Holland, the new general manager of Mad Rose Tavern (3100 Clarendon Blvd).

Holland was echoing the thoughts of many who had tried out the new Clarendon eatery and wondered what exactly it was trying to be. It seemed to be a mash-up of several restaurant concepts — a perception that was probably close to reality, given the differing visions of its initial management team and its owner.

The Clarendon eatery has gone through some messy management changes over the past month, including the recent departure of executive chef Johnny Nielson, and the new team is now trying to turn over a new leaf. To that end, Holland has hired a new chef — a fellow veteran of the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in the District — and has embarked upon a complete revamp of Mad Rose’s menu.

With the exception of the pigs in a blanket, don’t expect much to stay the same, food-wise. Among the expected additions to the menu are:

  • Calamari — Fried and tossed with a Thai BBQ sauce, served over rice noodles
  • Roast Pork Rib — Slow-roasted pork, sweet potato hash, and truffle demi-glaze
  • Chicken Zydeco — Chicken sauteed with roasted peppers, scallion, andouille, garlic, crimini mushrooms tossed with penne and Cajun cream sauce
  • Shrimp and Grits — Jumbo Shrimp sauteed with crawfish tails and served over gouda grits and a Creole cream sauce
  • Blackened Sea Bass — Pan roasted and served over rice with sweet chili champagne sauce
  • Seared Scallops — Pan seared and served over mango salsa and micro greens with a citrus sauce

Although the eatery’s lounge business is going well — and they’re happy with the existing beer selection — Holland acknowledged that Mad Rose’s food business needs work. In addition to ramping up the restaurant business with the deployment of a new dinner menu, Holland says he’s hoping to attract lunch customers with $5 burger and chicken sandwich options and weekend customers with a Saturday and Sunday brunch menu.

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