Monday Properties, the owner of 1100 Wilson Blvd, is asking the Board for permission to extend the outdoor cafe seating in front of both restaurants further out into the public right-of-way. The new sidewalk cafe will be about 732 square feet. County staff has recommended the Board approve the request.
In a staff report, it’s revealed that Monday is planning to combine the two restaurant spaces into one, larger space.
“The proposed outdoor seating area will be adjacent to a future restaurant, which will be located in the spaces previously occupied by Baja Fresh and Zpizza,” staff wrote. “The applicant plans to combine two restaurant spaces… to create a new restaurant space of approximately 3,750 square feet.”
It’s unclear what exactly will happen to Baja Fresh and Zpizza. No mention is made of which restaurant is proposed for the combined space.
Zpizza was not open today. A manager at Baja Fresh told us that he was not aware of the proposal, but said that the restaurant’s lease is up in November.
That’s what one resident told ARLnow.com in a letter to the editor. “John Henry” — not his real name — says that he has seen unsuspecting families walk into the establishment, which features semi-nude dancers.
“The embarrassed looks I’ve seen from parents quickly ushering out their young children bring tears to my eyes,” he wrote. “There should be some requirement or warning sign on the door of the club or a doorman that warns those entering that it is a sexually-oriented business… certainly not a generic ‘Crystal City Restaurant.’”
(A longer excerpt of the letter can be found below, after the jump.)
Bayne says he has taken steps to make sure the nature of the business is clear to those walking in the door, including a sign on the door that contains the words “gentlemen’s club” and “must be 21 to enter,” but he can only go so far before the county or nearby businesses would object.
“Obviously we don’t want people coming in that are underage… [and] we don’t want people coming in here that don’t know what it is,” he said. But “the county is not going to let us put pictures of women outside.”
Bayne says that he’s willing to put a sign up saying “gentlemen’s club” or “live entertainment” in larger letters outside, if there seems to be a call from the community for it.
“I would have no problem in doing that,” he said, adding that he’s not aware of any other formal complaints about the restaurant’s name. The restaurant does serve a full lunch and dinner menu.
Bayne, a life-long Arlington resident who has three children in Arlington Public Schools, says Crystal City Restaurant first opened at The Arlington Luncheon in 1941. Back then, it was just a normal restaurant.
His father, William Bayne, Sr., purchased the restaurant in 1963 and then renamed it Crystal City Restaurant around 1970, when the neighborhood was first dubbed Crystal City. A relatively short time thereafter, Bayne Sr. added topless dancing to bring in more customers.
The name of the restaurant “wasn’t changed to disguise anything,” Baynes said. “It’s the name of the place.”
The restaurant was closed yesterday after a county food inspector discovered that the restaurant did not have any hot water, according to Michael Peter of the Arlington County Dept. of Human Services.
“The restaurant was closed by one of our food inspectors due to an imminent health risk,” Peter told ARLnow.com. “It was reported and confirmed that Union Jack’s had no hot water in the restaurant.”
“With no hot water, there is no way to properly clean and sanitize utensils and dishes,” he continued. “In addition, with no hot water, employees are less likely to wash their hands properly as they engage in food preparation.”
Red “Notice of Food Establishment Closing” signs were posted on the doors of the restaurant, located within Ballston Common Mall. So far, the restaurant has not reopened.
“The Arlington County food inspector left instructions for Union Jack’s to contact her once hot water was running again and she would immediately come to confirm and lift the closure order,” Peter said. “As of 11:18AM, no contact had been made.”
Courtesy photo (bottom)
Scot Harlan, owner and chef of Green Pig Bistro in Clarendon, has been honored with an award from the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.
At a swanky ceremony in a D.C. hotel last night, Harlan was announced as the winner of the RAMMY award for “Rising Culinary Star of the Year.”
In his acceptance speech, a visibly emotional Harlan thanked his staff, “who make me look good every day;” his family, who ”believed in me to do my best;” and “every chef and cook I’ve ever worked with.”
An Arlington native, Harlan worked at notable restaurants and with famous chefs like Gordon Ramsay before opening Green Pig Bistro, in the former American Flatbread space at 1025 N. Fillmore Street, to generally favorable reviews last year.
The other four nominees in the Rising Culinary Star category were Tim Ma (Maple Avenue Restaurant and the future Water and Wall in Virginia Square), Marjorie Meek-Bradley (Ripple), John Melfi (Blue Duck Tavern) and Nathan Shapiro (Ashby Inn and Restaurant).
Other Arlington restaurants nominated for RAMMY awards – including Bayou Bakery (1515 N. Courthouse Road) and Cocina y Tequileria (2800 Clarendon Blvd) — went home empty-handed, aside from the honor of the nomination and the copious amount of food and drink at the reception after the ceremony.
As the Sun Gazette reports, the higher rate is due to a 1 percent increase in the state sales tax — a tax hike that’s earmarked for transportation projects. In all, half of the 10 percent tax will go to the state, while the other half will go the Arlington County.
Arlington’s restaurant tax revenue includes 4 percent for the county meals tax and 1 percent for the county’s share of the sales tax.
While a 1 percent tax hike is relatively tiny, there may be a psychological impact from the tax line on your check hitting the double digit mark. Will you be less likely to go out to eat once the total tax on meals hits 10 percent?
Arlington Popular With ‘Echo Boomers’ — Those between the ages of 25 and 34, also known as “Echo Boomers,” have increased in population by 10 percent in Arlington over the past two years. Such residents say they’re attracted to Arlington’s mix of urban amenities and suburban comfort. Instead of moving further out into the suburbs upon having kids, many Echo Boomers are opting to stay in Arlington and other areas around D.C.’s urban core. [Washington Post]
Bloomberg BNA Faces Snack Abuse — Crystal City-based Bloomberg BNA sent a memo to employees on Friday threatening to install surveillance cameras to monitor the snack pantry, after some employees were observed taking a copious amount of snacks home. Managers rescinded the threat after pushback from the employees’ union. [Jim Romenesko]
Federal Tax Credits for Housing Projects — Two affordable housing projects in Arlington have qualified for financing through the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits program. [Arlington County]
Toscana Grill Reopening — Courthouse restaurant Toscana Grill (2300 Clarendon Blvd) is reopening today. The restaurant closed for repairs last month after a water pipe burst and caused some flooding. Before it closed, in an effort to not let the food in the kitchen go to waste, Toscana gave away hundreds of free meals to those willing to wait in line. “We were thrilled by the turnout of our free food event and look forward to serving the community with our full dining, takeout and catering services,” owner Joe Smith tells ARLnow.com.
Great Food Truck Race Stops in Clarendon – The Hawaii-based Aloha Plate food truck stopped by the Arlington Festival of the Arts yesterday. Aloha Plate is a current contestant on the Food Network show The Great Food Truck Race. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
A fire broke out at the USA Print & Copy store at 2044 Wilson Blvd in Courthouse late Saturday night.
Firefighters responded to the family-owned store around 11:30 p.m. for a report of black smoke coming from the one-story structure. Upon arrival, firefighters forced entry into the store and discovered an active fire in the back of the building. It was extinguished by 11:45 p.m.
Parts of Wilson Blvd, Clarendon Blvd and Courthouse Road were shut down during the incident.
Extensive smoke and water damage was reported in the printing store. Summers Restaurant, located next to the store, filled with smoke and required ventilation. A health inspector was called to the scene to inspect the restaurant before it could be allowed to reopen.
Photos courtesy @ClarendonScene
Sietsema Skewers La Tagliatella — Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema has delivered a devastating half-star review of La Tagliatella, the European-based Italian restaurant chain that recently opened in Clarendon and is planning to open in Shirlington. The restaurant “makes a strong case for hazard pay for restaurant critics,” Sietsema wrote, and future locations (like Shirlington) “have my condolences.” In a subsequent online chat, Sietsema said that La Tagliatella was several notches below the Falls Church Olive Garden in terms of the overall dining experience. [Washington Post]
AAA Predicts Lower Gas Prices — Gas prices in Virginia will fall 6 cents after July 1 thanks to the bipartisan transportation package that passed the state legislature this year, AAA predicts. Another byproduct of the legislation: the state sales tax in Northern Virginia will rise from 5 to 6 percent. [Sun Gazette]
Forum on Transportation Projects — Arlington’s Transportation Commission will hold a public forum next week to review projects under consideration for funding by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. Projects proposed by Arlington County include the Columbia Pike Multimodal Improvement Project, the Crystal City Multimodal Center, ART fleet expansion (Silver/Blue Line mitigation), and a new Boundary Channel Drive interchange. [Arlington County]
Fish and Wildlife Office to Leave Arlington — On the heels of the decision to move the National Science Foundation from Arlington to Alexandria, the General Services Administration is expected to announce soon that the Fish and Wildlife Service is leaving, as well. The Dept. of the Interior agency, which occupies three office buildings in Ballston, is “seeking a less expensive space option outside Arlington.” [Washington Business Journal]
Restaurant Fire in Crystal City — A fire broke out in the kitchen of Cafe Manna in Crystal City around 5:30 last night. The restaurant is located on the ground floor of the office building at 2345 Crystal Drive. A sprinkler system helped to extinguish the flames before they spread, but the restaurant suffered smoke and water damage.
Mary Marshall Scholars Announced — Arlington County has named the eight local high school students who will receive $1,500 college scholarships as part of the Mary Marshall scholarship program. The scholarships, awarded to those who are pursuing careers in public service, are named after former House of Delegates member Mary Marshall. [Arlington County]
Teen Battle of the Bands This Weekend — Artisphere (1101 Wilson Blvd) will host a teen battle of the bands competition on Saturday. The competition, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., will feature at least 8 local teen bands. The concert was organized by D.C.-area high school seniors as part of a month-long internship at Artisphere. Tickets are $5. [Artisphere]
Army Celebrates Birthday — Today (Friday) is the U.S. Army’s 238th birthday. The occasion will be marked with a wreath-laying ceremony from 2:30 to 3:00 p.m. at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. [U.S. Army]
Flickr pool photo by Martin Humm
Police are investigating a hit-and-run involving a minivan that crashed into the front of the Popeyes at 5007 Columbia Pike this afternoon.
The incident happened around lunchtime at the Columbia Pike Plaza strip mall. After running into the front of the restaurant, the van backed into an SUV and then sped away, according to police and witnesses.
The collision caused minor damage to the Popeyes, including scrape marks on a brick column and a broken front window pane. The restaurant was briefly evacuated, according to scanner traffic, but then reopened and continued to serve lunch patrons. Nobody was hurt.
The SUV driver told ARLnow.com that the van backed into his vehicle as he was trying to leave the parking lot. The collision dented the front of the SUV but did not cause any injuries or significant damage. The SUV driver said the striking vehicle was a gray minivan, and the driver — who he caught a glimpse of as the van fled the scene — was a Hispanic male. He said it was his first crash in his 46 years of driving.
“I just hope they catch the bastard,” he said as he surveyed the damage to the SUV. “They better find him before I do.”
As of 1:00 p.m. police were still looking for the van and its driver. This was at least the third time a vehicle has crashed into the front of a business at the Columbia Pike Plaza shopping center since May 2011.
Yorktown Girls’ Soccer Advances to Final — The Yorktown High School Girls’ soccer team defeated No. 1 Stone Bridge on Wednesday to advance to the regional finals. Yorktown will face Chantilly in the finals today at 4:00 p.m. Next week, Yorktown will play in the state tournament. [Yorktown Sports, Washington Post]
Metro Work This Weekend — Metro riders in Arlington should expect some delays this weekend due to ongoing “rebuilding” work. Trains on the Orange, Blue and Yellow lines will operate every 22 minutes throughout the weekend. [WMATA]
Hundreds Served Free Food By Toscana — Courthouse restaurant Toscana Grill served “hundreds” of free meals Wednesday, many to ARLnow.com readers. The restaurant was giving away food for free before closing for emergency renovations. [Bartender Blog]
Flickr pool photo by Keith Hall
Courthouse restaurant Toscana Grill is giving away free food tonight (Wednesday) before closing for emergency renovations.
On Friday, the Italian restaurant suffered a busted pipe that left three inches of water on the floor. Owner Joe Smith says the restaurant will have to close until mid-June for renovations, including a new dining room floor, new ceiling and new paint.
Not content to let the remaining food in the kitchen go to waste, Smith says he and his staff will be cooking it up and giving it away for free tonight. The free food giveaway will take place from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.
“We will be giving away everything on the menu,” Smith told ARLnow.com via email. “One dish per person, to go only (but there is a patio to enjoy).”
There will also be tip jars set up for the restaurant’s staff. Smith said he’s hopeful that insurance will pay their wages while the restaurant is closed.
Toscana Grill will celebrate its second anniversary under current ownership in mid-July. The restaurant is located in the courtyard area of Courthouse Metro Plaza (2300 Clarendon Blvd).
Photo courtesy Joe Smith
There are certainly some tips you can take home that will improve your cooking, but it is important to note that technique will not replicate that amazing meal you had last week. Nor will the exact recipe, or even the top of the line commercial equipment in your kitchen (though that really helps).
The fact is that your meal was made wonderful by much more than the food. Eating out is as contextual as any experience — it is all about the moment. It was the setting, your mood, your companion and many other things that worked together in concert with the food to make the meal special. That is why we go out, and it can’t be copied at home. Home is for different moments.
Okay, having got that out of the way, let me also throw this one out to you: I did not go to culinary school, and thus I am not a trained chef. I have spent plenty of time ‘behind the line’ in professional kitchens, but I am not a pro. I know how to cook, however, and I know what to look for in food. I also ran these ideas by the real pros that I work with for their approval before I submitted them. Given those disclaimers, take this advice for what you think it is worth.
These are some simple tips and strategies that should help your cooking at home. The most important tip I have is that the more you can approach cooking without anxiety or fear, the better your food will taste. Many people see recipes as intimidating and hosting as nerve-racking. I can guarantee you it comes out in your food. The more fun you have and the more relaxed you are, the more sumptuous your meal will be. Many chefs and cooks chose this line of work because it is their passion. It isn’t ridiculous to suggest that their passion as much as their expertise is what makes their food taste so good.
I cannot walk by the range in my kitchen when my wife is cooking without dialing up the burner. Whatever it is set at, it should always be higher. She used to put in the oil and the vegetables in the cold pan and then turn on the burner. Now she heats the pan, adds the oil and waits until it is hot. I hear it sizzle and pop, and I know dinner will be good.
Many home cooks are too tentative with temperature. Life in a restaurant is always hot; 350 is a minimum, 500 is lots of fun. Of course, there is simmering, slow cooking and baking, but most of your food benefited from a red hot skillet, grill or pot. Heat makes flavor — not only do you get that wonderful texture from a charred steak, but the marking also enhances the flavor tremendously.
Smoke in your kitchen is a good thing. Next time you ‘cook’ a chicken breast, try ‘searing’ it first: Turn the burner up and wait for the oil to almost start smoking. Drop in the chicken and listen to that sound. You’ll never go back. Just turn on the fan or open a window.
If so, Chick-fil-A has just the event for you.
Chick-fil-A’s Ballston mall and Crystal City locations, along with the chain’s 49 other D.C. area restaurants, are hosting a “Date Knight” for mothers and sons from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, May 6.
“During this special medieval-themed evening, moms and their sons are encouraged to spend some time together while they enjoy dinner, great conversation and several special activities,” the company said in a press release. “Every Mother-Son pair will also receive a place mat with fun questions and topics to get the conversation started, and a take-home booklet that provides ideas for future dates and questions that both moms and their sons can ask each other.”
The “special activities” are free, but diners still have to pay for the food.
“One of Chick-fil-A’s goals is to promote community connections and enrich the lives of everyone we come in contact with,” Erik Amick, a Chick-fil-A franchise operator, said in a statement. “We understand the importance of mother-son relationships and want to encourage area moms to come to Chick-fil-A, enjoy their son’s company over a meal and have fun!”
Interested customers can make “Date Knight” reservations online. Currently, the Ballston Chick-fil-A has 53 reservations available, while Crystal City has 49 reservations remaining.
(Updated at 1:20 p.m.) Vice President Joe Biden stopped by Liberty Tavern (3195 Wilson Blvd) in Clarendon this morning to film a segment for a TV news show.
Biden was one of the guests on the MSNBC show Morning Joe, which filmed a roundtable discussion on gun reform at the restaurant.
It’s not the first VIP visit for the Clarendon restaurant. President Obama dined at Liberty Tavern on October 27, 2011. Biden, for his part, is no strangers to popular Arlington eateries. He had lunch at Metro 29 Diner on Dec. 7, 2012.
Biden and his security detail arrived at Liberty Tavern around 11:00 a.m., Clarendon Patch reported via Twitter. The Vice President left at 12:15 p.m., flashing a big smile and a thumbs up to a crowd that had gathered across the street. Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski stood outside O’Sullivan’s, across from Liberty Tavern, to see Biden’s departure.
Liberty Tavern co-owner Mark Fedorchak said Biden and the other guests were served pastries and coffee from Northside Social, which he and his brother Stephen also own.
Fedorchak said Biden “was very conversational” and talked with him about their mutual northeastern Pennsylvania roots. As it turns out, Biden used to enjoy going to the Scranton-area Circle Drive-In Theatre, which is owned by the Fedorchaks’ uncle.
That wasn’t the only incidental connection between Biden and Liberty Tavern’s ownership group. Restaurant co-owner and local developer Brian Normile got a chance to apologize to Biden for accidentally driving a ball into his golf foursome during a recent trip to Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
The Vice President apparently didn’t mind. According to Fedorchak, Biden wrote a gracious note on a menu before leaving the restaurant.
“Next time lunch, thanks for the hospitality,” it said.
Photos by ARLnow.com except as noted