Washington Business Journal has today’s scoop that Ben’s Chili Bowl will be opening a new location in Rosslyn.
The new Ben’s will be located in at 1725 Wilson Blvd, in the former Ray’s Hell Burger space, WBJ reported.
But will the idea of scarfing down a chili half smoke closer to home be enough to drive Arlington residents to the new restaurant? Or is part of Ben’s allure tied to the original U Street NW location — whether it be the location’s history or proximity to popular bars?
After it opens — early next year, according to WBJ’s Rebecca Cooper — which Ben’s Chili Bowl will you be more likely to go to?
Photo via Facebook
Equipment and furnishings from the former Ray’s Hell Burger and Ray’s Hell Burger Too restaurants in Rosslyn have been removed and placed in the parking lot of the Colonial Village Shopping Center.
The move is part of an on-going dispute between restaurateur Michael Landrum and the shopping center’s owner. Both restaurants closed in January after the landlord locked Landrum and his staff out, alleging unpaid bills.
Landrum has since directed diners seeking his famous burgers across the street, to his Ray’s to the Third restaurant at 1650 Wilson Blvd. But the kitchen equipment, tables, chairs and other accoutrements remained in the two shuttered restaurants, at 1713 and 1725 Wilson Blvd.
This morning, the landlord began removing the contents of the restaurants and placing it in the parking lot. Landrum, who otherwise declined comment citing ongoing litigation — he’s suing the shopping center in Arlington Circuit Court — said most of the equipment will be donated.
“The majority of this equipment we’re going to donate to either the Boys and Girls Club or a church or non-profit that deals with feeding the homeless and the hungry,” Landrum said.
Shopping center owner Ominex could not be reached for comment. In February, Washingtonian reported that both storefronts were being offered for lease. It’s unclear if any new tenants have been signed.
Audrey Batcheller contributed to this report
Gas Tax Hike Passes State Senate Committee — On Tuesday, a state Senate committee backed a five cent increase on the gas tax, which is expected to generate $4.5 billion for road work over the next five years. The measure is an alternative to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s transportation plan, which would eliminate the gas tax and increase the state sales tax. The gas tax increase is expected to pass in the full Senate today. [Washington Examiner]
Same Sex Marriage Demonstration — On Valentine’s Day (Thursday), same sex marriage supporters will gather in front of the Arlington County Courthouse where two same sex couples will request marriage licenses. A similar demonstration occurred last month, when Paul Ferguson, the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Arlington County and the City of Falls Church, had to deny licenses to more than a dozen couples because gay marriage is not legal in Virginia. The group will gather around 10:00 a.m. and includes supporters from five Arlington churches.
Ray’s Hell Burger Officially for Rent — “For Rent” signs have been posted on the spaces previously occupied by Ray’s Hell Burger and Ray’s Hell Burger Too in Rosslyn. As ARLnow.com first reported last month, the restaurants closed due to a landlord-tenant dispute. At first, the closing appeared to be temporary, based on a sign posted in the window that read: “Please visit us at Ray’s to the Third while we take a quick break.” [Washingtonian]
Tropical Smoothie Cafe Begins Delivery Service — The Tropical Smoothie Cafe restaurant (3811 N. Fairfax Drive) in Virginia Square has started offering delivery of its food and drinks. Owner Marcus Barnett says this is the first Tropical Smoothie Cafe in the country to offer the service. Orders must be at least $15 and there is a $2 delivery fee.
Absentee Voting Bill Passes State Senate — The state Senate passed legislation that would allow residents age 65 and older to vote by absentee ballot without having to give an excuse. Currently, Virginians can only vote absentee if they meet one or more of the requirements on a list of reasons for not being able to make it to the polls on election day. Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) introduced similar legislation that failed in the House of Delegates. [Washington Post]
Water Main Issues Continue — Repairs on the broken 30 inch water main at Arlington Blvd and S. Irving Street are expected to take several more days. While draining the pipe on Sunday, a significant pressure drop occurred. Customers may experience low water pressure during peak times (6:00-9:00 a.m and 5:00-9:00 p.m.) and are asked to minimize water use during those times.
Landrum Extends Ray’s Free Burger Special — Owner Michael Landrum has decided to extend the Inauguration special he had been offering at Ray’s to the Third (1650 Wilson Blvd) after closing Ray’s Hell Burger across the street. Customers can get one free “Li’l Devils” burger from 11:30 a.m. until the last burger is given away. “We realized that our office neighbors didn’t get a chance to participate, so we wanted to extend it another day to give them a chance,” Landrum told ARLnow.com. It is suggested that customers receiving a free burger donate $5, which will go to local Boys and Girls Clubs.
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
(Updated at 1:05 p.m.) Ray’s Hell Burger and Ray’s Hell Burger Too (1713 & 1725 Wilson Blvd) has closed in Rosslyn.
The closure is the result of a landlord-tenant dispute between restaurateur Michael Landrum and his landlord, the historic Colonial Village Shopping Center. Court records show that Landrum filed a lawsuit against the shopping center on Nov. 16. Yesterday afternoon, the shopping center locked Landrum and his staff out of both storefronts.
“Landlord has changed the locks,” said signs on the door. “Do not unlock this door under penalty of damages.”
Handwritten signs in the window, posted by Landrum, direct customers across the street to Ray’s to the Third (1650 Wilson Blvd).
“Please visit us at Ray’s to the Third while we take a quick break,” said one of the signs. “Please do not leave your car in this lot if you come across the street… towing is very likely.”
Reached via phone, Landrum declined to elaborate on his complaint against the landlord, citing ongoing litigation. He did, however, vow to continue to serve his famous burgers, which in 2010 drew President Obama and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to Rosslyn eatery.
“We continue to serve the Original Hell-Burger and all of our famous signature items, at Ray’s To Third, which has been temporarily reformatted to allow for counter service and to go for convenience and extra value, as well as full-service, sit-down table service,” he told ARLnow.com. “And yes, credit cards are accepted.”
“We’re fighting to the last man and cooking to the last burger… nothing’s going to stop us from doing that,” a defiant Landrum added. “This is a very minor blip.”
In an emailed statement, Landrum spoke generally about the relationship between landlords and tenants.
I am not saying this is the case here, but landlords abuse their power and violate the rights of tenants with near-total impunity all the time, because tenants rarely have the means or the ability to defend their rights This is something all of us, or very nearly all of us, have experienced. What often times gets me labeled as a “firebrand” (or worse) is simply my refusal to allow my rights to be violated, my insistence on fair treatment, and my willingness to suffer and challenge the consequences when those things are violated.
Landrum said he’s currently planning an inauguration-related
event special at Ray’s to the Third. He’s not currently looking for a new space for Ray’s Hell Burger.
In November, Ray’s Hell Burger Too was transformed into a restaurant that only served steak and cheese sandwiches (and tater tots). A month later, the restaurant was quietly re-re-branded as Ray’s Hell Burger Too.
Yesterday (May 30) the Michael Landrum-owned eatery at 1713 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn changed identities again — to “Nice ‘N’ Greasy Steak ‘N’ Cheesy.” Nothing about the interior has changed, except the menu.
The menu of the new restaurant include three entrees, two sides, and a curated selection of soda, beer and wine. Two of the entrees are steak and cheese sandwiches: the $7.99 “Shock G” — one-third pound of sliced rib-eye, a generous helping of American and Provolone cheeses and grilled onions on a toasted 8-inch Lyon Bakery sub roll — and the $11.99 “Biggie,” which is the same as the Shock G but with two-thirds of a pound of rib-eye.
Both sandwiches are cooked using what’s being called “groove grease.” Optional toppings include lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms and charred jalapenos.
The other entree is a $2.00 “mini hell-burger” called the “Little Minion.” The burger comes cooked to order with grilled onions, American cheese and “heck sauce” on a toasted, buttered potato roll. The Little Minions also come in quantities of 3 for $5.25, 6 for $9.00, and a “devils dozen” (13) for $18.00.
Sides at Nice ‘N’ Greasy Steak ‘N’ Cheesy are greasy, but not cheesy. The two sides offered are tater tots and onion fries, both $2.50.
The eight beers on the menu include Budweiser and Bud Light ($3), Bells Oberon ($4) and Lucifer ($6). The house wine (pinot grigio, merlot and cabernet) is offered at $4.
Nice ‘N’ Greasy Steak ‘N’ Cheesy will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, according to a handwritten sign on the door.
Update at 3:05 p.m. — In an email to ARLnow.com, owner Michael Landrum explains that he never gave up on the idea of running a steak and cheese-focused eatery.
“I never truly abandoned it,” Landrum said. “In fact, originally, I was so excited to do the steak and cheese joint that I rushed it out a little too early as soon as Ray’s To The Third opened. Now I am a bit better prepared and have fine-tuned our offerings a bit.”
Landrum also addressed the mysterious “Groove Grease” ingredient that’s unique to his steak and cheese creation.
“The magical “Groove Grease” is, and will remain, a secret — except to say that it was inspired by the amazing Jimmy McGriff album of the same name (warning, cover art not suitable for work or minors),” Landrum said.
Ray’s Hell Burger in Rosslyn was the scene of an armed robbery on Thursday night. The well-known restaurant was robbed by three men dressed in ski masks and sunglasses, we’re told.
From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
ROBBERY, 12/08/11, 1700 block of Wilson Blvd. On December 8 at 9:30 pm, three unknown men entered a restaurant and demanded money while brandishing a handgun. They fled through a rear door after receiving cash. The suspects were men of average height and weight, wearing all black clothing, black ski masks and sunglasses.
Initial news of the robbery was first reported by an ARLnow.com commenter last week. A police spokesperson was unable to elaborate on which Ray’s Hell Burger was robbed; both the original Ray’s Hell Burger and Ray’s Hell Burger Too are located in the same shopping center. Ray’s Hell Burger does not accept credit cards and operates as a cash-only business.
One month after opening, “Ray’s Steak and Cheese” (1713 Wilson Blvd) is no more.
The eatery, which featured a $10.99 half-pound steak and cheese sandwich, has been replaced by its predecessor, Ray’s Hell Burger Too. Owner Michael Landrum said the table service version of his famous Ray’s Hell Burger is back by popular demand.
A sign on the door (pictured) summed it up this way: “Oops, we goofed. You let us know how much you wanted Ray’s Hell Burger Too back and we listened!”
“People don’t like change,” Landrum lamented over the phone this morning, while acknowledging that the surreptitious switch to “steak and cheese” was “a little more confusing in reality than was warranted.” Although he felt that the steak and cheese sandwich was so good that it “deserved and needed its own showcase,” Landrum admitted to having some doubts when making the switch last month.
“Why mess with something that works?” he asked, rhetorically.
Landrum said the hefty steak and cheese sandwich will now be permanently placed on the menu of Ray’s to the Third, located across the street at 1650 Wilson Boulevard. In the meantime, he hopes that his loyal Ray’s Hell Burger Too customers don’t hold the ordeal against him.
“We’ve restored order and natural harmony,” he said. “Over the holiday season you hope that people have a little forgiveness in their hearts.”
The still-unnamed restaurant currently serves but one main dish: the “steak and cheese.” A sign next to the cash-only ordering station sums up the difference.
“WARNING: We absolutely do not serve ‘Philly’ or anything ‘cheesesteaks!!!’ We do not claim or attempt to be anyone’s idea of ‘authentic,” the sign reads.
Located at 1713 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn, in the former Ray’s Hell Burger Too space, the restaurant interior and furnishings are little changed from what it looked like when ‘Too’ closed less than a month ago. What is new is the menu.
The eatery — we’ll unofficially call it Ray’s Steak and Cheese — serves a $10.99 steak and cheese sandwich made with a half-pound of ribeye and top sirloin steak (the same steaks used in Ray’s the Steaks in Courthouse) between a hearty, custom-made roll from Lyon Bakery. By default, the sandwich comes with American and Provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato and grilled onions. Green and red peppers, sauteed mushrooms and charred jalapenos are also available, for 50 cents each.
Landrum says a vegetarian sandwich — the exact ingredients haven’t been decided yet — will be added to the menu tomorrow (Thursday). Otherwise, the only other food item on the menu is a $2.00 side order of tater tots. The drink menu consists of sodas (Coke products plus boutique sodas like Ale 81 and Cheerwine), water, iced tea and beer.
As for the name, Landrum says he’s not sure what the restaurant will eventually be called.
“I haven’t really thought about it yet, to be honest,” he said today, after taking the Ray’s Hell Burger Too sign down from the front window. In its place, Landrum taped a printer paper-sized sign to the door, with “STEAK AND CHEESE HERE! NOW OPEN” written in Sharpee.
Already, Landrum has won a fan, in the form of the first paying customer who randomly wandered in around lunchtime today.
“Best steak and cheese I’ve ever had,” the man said, on his way out the door.
The restaurant is expected be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.
Restauranteur Michael Landrum is up to his mysterious ways again.
Less than a month after the quiet opening of Ray’s to the Third across the street, Ray’s Hell Burger Too (1713 Wilson Blvd), the sit-down table service version of the more casual Ray’s Hell Burger concept, has closed. A sign in the window declares: “Coming Soon… Big New Surprise!”
Even more surprising, the sign also says: “Stay tuned to ARLnow.com for details.” That was news to us — we only found out about the sign from a reader seeking more details. Luckily, we were able to catch a rain jacket-clad Landrum at the flagship Ray’s Hell Burger in Rosslyn to clear things up.
“That was a little dig,” Landrum said with a smile. He noted that ARLnow.com seemed to publish details about Ray’s to the Third before he even knew what he was going to ultimately do with the space.
Landrum said he’ll be opening a new concept restaurant in the Ray’s Too space, but was short on details. Asked if seafood — the long-rumored Ray’s the Catch — was to be the new concept, Landrum said it “isn’t currently in the works.” Instead, Landrum says he’s currently content to be expanding the seafood offerings at Ray’s to the Third.
So what will the new concept at 1713 Wilson be?
“I can’t tell you what I’m doing here,” Landrum said. “With my restaurants, I don’t know when they’re going to open, or what’s going to be on the menu, until the day before… Honestly, everything works, but I sort of just make stuff up as I go along.”
Landrum did volunteer, however, that he’s hoping to open the new restaurant within a month — perhaps by Nov. 1. There won’t be any construction involved, so he expects a “quick turnaround.”
Landrum added that the eatery, whatever it is, will be quick, casual, “down and dirty” and at a “working-man-friendly price point.”
Interior construction on the new restaurant, located at 1650 Wilson Boulevard, appears to be complete. A permit for 22 outdoor tables and 44 outdoor seats was approved by the county late last month. And “now hiring” signs (for managers, bartenders, servers and hosts/hostesses) are currently posted in the windows.
The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is still processing an application to serve wine, beer and mixed drinks at the restaurant. According to the permit application, “Ray’s Hell Burger III” will seat at least 150 people.
Little else is known about the restaurant, which is located a block away from Ray’s Hell Burger I and II. “Ray’s Hell Burger III” is now the name on all of the restaurant’s permits, but the ABC permit used to list the name as “The Lobster Pot” — hinting at a possible seafood restaurant. A Washington Post article from 2010, however, may shed some light on the true plans.
“[Ray's Hell Burger II] will move across the street to an even bigger location that will accommodate more people more comfortably,” the article said. “It will also have a kitchen large enough to turn out house-made french fries, instead of the frozen ones customers largely have deemed unworthy of the burgers.”
At the time, the article predicted that the move would take place within a matter of months, which obviously hasn’t happened (yet). This afternoon, Ray’s Hell Burger employees told us that they had not been told anything about the plans for the restaurant across the street, whatever it may be.
What’s coming to the ground floor of 1650 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn?
We know it’s a restaurant, and that Michael Landrum of Ray’s the Steaks fame is behind it — his name is on the ABC permit, after all — but at this point it’s hard to tell what kind of restaurant it will be.
Previously, we reported that the establishment’s name, per the ABC permit, was “The Lobster Pot.” That led to speculation that Landrum was building his long-talked-about “Ray’s the Catch” seafood restaurant. But now there’s a new name on the permit: “Ray’s Hell Burger III.”
So will the brown walls of the space at 1650 Wilson soon house an expanded Ray’s Hell Burger? And will the existing Ray’s Hell Burger location across the street turn into Ray’s the Catch? Or is 1650 Wilson actually going to be Ray’s the Catch? Or is the real answer none of the above?
Either way, we’re told that the restaurant — whatever it may be — will open in “a few weeks.”
ACDC Kicks Off Campaign Season — Last night, the Arlington County Democratic Committee officially launched its campaign to maintain electoral dominance in the county. But looking forward to November contests that include a challenge to incumbent county board member Chris Zimmerman, Democrats aren’t counting their chickens quite yet. “We are not going to take anything for granted [this] fall,” ACDC chair Mike Lieberman tells ARLnow.com. The Democrats’ campaign season will kick into high gear on Monday at the party’s annual Labor Day Chili Cookoff.
Dems, GOPers Swipe Each Other’s Swag — Stop us if this starts sounding like symbolism. In an effort to appease their respective constituencies, the local political parties decided to start stealing from one another. The petty political thievery took place at the recent Arlington County Fair. The Sun Gazette has the details.
Another Week of Chess – Shirlington’s Signature Theater has extended the rock musical Chess for an additional week. The show will now run through October 3. Tickets for the bonus week will go on sale Tuesday, according to Playbill.
The Pit of Hell Burger – Workers have dug up part of the parking lot in front of Ray’s Hell Burger in Rosslyn, but don’t worry, President Obama — your favorite diplomatic lunch spot is still open during the construction. Other affected businesses include Guallijo, Greenberry’s Coffee, and a Virginia ABC store. More from TBD.
Korean Burger Joint Looks To Arlington — Kraze Burger is coming to the D.C. area, and the Korean company has its sights set on Arlington. So far, though, no leases have been signed in the county. More from the Washington Business Journal.
BBC Visits Ray’s Hell Burger — President Obama’s burger summit with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev continues to pay publicity dividends for Ray’s Hell Burger. BBC News recently came calling and got a tour of the über-busy burger joint from owner Michael Landrum.
Meet Ballston’s Twenty-Something Civic Leaders – TBD profiles James Schroll, 25, and Conor Marshall, 24 — roommates, recent University of Mary Washington grads, and the newly-elected president and vice president of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association.
Home Sales Volume Falls, Sale Prices Up — The Sun Gazette has the latest real estate stats for July.
President Obama and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev had lunch at the recently-reopened Ray’s Hell Burger on Wilson Boulevard around noon today.
Obama ordered a cheddar cheeseburger with onions, lettuce, tomato and pickles, according to White House pool reports. Medvedev had a cheddar cheeseburger with onions, jalapeno peppers and mushrooms and a Coke.
Lunchtime crowds gathered on Wilson Boulevard to watch as the two presidents returned to the District via motorcade around 12:30.
Two couples visiting the area from North Carolina were seated at a table right next to the two world leaders.
“We were able to meet [President Obama] and shake his hand — it was just an awesome experience,” said Ricky Wadford, who also talked to Medvedev had his baseball cap signed by Obama.
President Obama is apparently quite a fan of Ray’s. He dined there last year with Vice President Joe Biden.
Two of the photos below are courtesy of Barry Skidmore of People Powered Arlington. See video of the motorcade after the jump.