Bangkok 54 restaurant (2919 Columbia Pike) was open for lunch and is now open for dinner today (Thursday) as usual, despite a fire that ripped through the business’ next-door market early this morning.
We’re told the Thai restaurant only suffered minor smoke damage as a result of the fire, which caused significant damage to the market. The heaviest damage was in the ceiling of the market, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Bill Shelton.
Fire investigators are still on the scene, trying to determine the cause of the fire. So far, there’s no estimate of the cost of the damage.
Update at 4:30 p.m. — The restaurant portion of Bangkok 54 was open for business today.
Arlington County firefighters battled a two-alarm fire at Bangkok 54 on Columbia Pike early Thursday morning.
The Thai restaurant is located at 2919 Columbia Pike, next to the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse. The fire appeared to be in the Asian market portion of the business, not the restaurant itself. However, it’s likely that smoke from the blaze spread throughout the business.
The emergency response to the fire shut down Columbia Pike in both directions for about an hour and a half.
The Asian fusion restaurant opened in March and held its grand opening celebration in May. However, owner Wendy Cheng said she found Arlington to be too far from Maryland, where she lives and runs the other two Red Parrot locations. She said the long commute was causing too many problems with maintaining the Arlington location.
Cheng confirms the Arlington location “is closed as of this week.”
The bakery was announced as the food service tenant for the center this past summer. As we reported at this time, the 1,875 square foot location on the center’s ground floor was to serve healthier foods, specialty coffee, gelato and salteñas.
Rent on the seven-year lease was to start at $56,250.00 per year and rise to $67,165.44 at the end of the seven year term. For reasons as of yet unknown — its owners could not be reached for comment — Pan American is now trying to back out of the lease.
“We have recently received a request from Pan American Bakery asking to terminate their lease,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jennifer Heilman told ARLnow.com. “Ultimately, this decision whether or not to terminate the lease will be made by the County Board as they approved the lease. There is no date set for this review by the County Board. We are currently exploring alternative options in the interim.”
No word yet on what might replace Pan American at Arlington Mill. The bakery has existing locations at 4113 Columbia Pike in Arlington and 650 S. Pickett Street in Alexandria.
In announcing the bakery as Arlington Mill’s restaurant tenant in July, county officials said its owners were chosen because of their “business experience, local presence, financial strength, willingness to accept the county’s monetary terms, and readiness to proceed.”
The community center will holding an open house on Friday, Dec. 6 and Saturday, Dec. 7.
Disclosure: Arlington County is advertising the Arlington Mill Community Center open house on ARLnow.com
Tipsters report the restaurant has looked deserted for several days. ARLnow.com staff stopped by today (Wednesday) and noted that the restaurant is dark, the doors are locked and the tables have been removed from the dining area.
Leek opened one year ago this month in the former Thai Terrace space.
Last week, Eater DC posted an article saying Leek closed briefly for renovations. The article included a photo of a sign in Leek’s window indicating the restaurant would re-open last Friday, November 8. That sign was not in the window, however, when ARLnow.com staff stopped by today. Nobody could be seen inside the restaurant, performing renovations or otherwise.
Leek’s Facebook page has not been updated since August. The restaurant’s owner could not be reached for comment.
But when it comes to restaurants, there are a few things Arlington doesn’t have. In terms of eateries dedicated to certain cuisines, Arlington is lacking some varieties that our neighbors in D.C., Fairfax and Montgomery County have.
Less than 7 months after opening, Fatshorty’s in Clarendon is set to close.
The restaurant, which specializes in sausages, mussels, beer and cupcakes, will close on Sunday, Oct. 27, according to an email sent to Groupon customers who previously purchased a coupon for Fatshorty’s.
The restaurant was a collaboration between local restaurateur Aaron Gordon (of Red Velvet Cupcakery and other restaurant concepts) and Hell’s Kitchen winner Rahman “Rock” Harper. It opened in April.
“Yes, we are closing,” Gordon confirmed to ARLnow.com this morning. “Our reasoning is that we were not making enough revenue and are being bought by another restaurant group.”
Additional details were not immediately available.
Fatshorty’s offered a “sausage blow out” this past weekend, offering half-off all sausage sandwiches, according to a Facebook post.
Hat tip to Benjamin M. and Richard H.
Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.
Anyone who’s worked in a restaurant remembers the struggles when they first started — remembering orders, doing side work and learning when to check on a table — knows every experience pales in comparison to learning the restaurant computer system.
Brett Guidry has been investing in restaurants for years, and he, with his co-founders Bill Schafer and Bill Draper, knew that the “point-of-sale” (POS) systems in restaurants were ripe for new ideas. So Guidry, Schaffer and Draper launched Dovetail, now known as Gusto, a POS system beginning to roll out in Washington, D.C., restaurants.
Gusto held its launch party in late September, and they’re already in one area business, the Embassy Suites in Chevy Chase. Guidry said when they installed the Gusto system, it took less than a day to train the servers.
The Gusto system took more than a year to design — the business was founded in early 2012 — because Guidry and his coworkers knew that full functionality and an optimal design were keys to get restaurants to switch from entrenched industry giants, such as Micros and NCR.
Paramount to the development were the user experience, navigation, ease of use and ease of learning, Guidry said. Gusto also runs on a “hybrid cloud” system, meaning it runs wirelessly over the Internet, but it’s fully capable if the Internet in the restaurant goes down. Managers and owners can also access their financial systems and real-time information from anywhere, a wrinkle that Guidry said has drawn rave reviews.
“The amount of dissatisfaction and frustration in restaurants was stronger than we thought,” Guidry said. “After talking to restaurateurs, it’s much higher than you would expect.”
“If someone’s not in pain, it’s hard to sell them on someone else coming in and solving a problem,” he said.
Although it’s early, Gusto claims it has pinpointed the most profound pain felt in restaurants and found a solution. The next step is curing what ails more and more restaurants. While not ready to announce their next partners, Gusto is ready for any challenge, Guidry says.
“We’ll be able to handle scale,” he said. “From one small restaurant to several thousand locations. We’re an open platform for restaurant technology. Our goal is to be the platform for serious restaurateurs.”
A James Beard award-winning chef has agreed to use Gusto in his upcoming restaurant, but Guidry said he can’t reveal who the chef is or where and when the restaurant will open. There is also discussion with some national chains, but those are preliminary.
Although New York is generally hailed as the food capital of the country, Guidry said D.C.’s burgeoning restaurant industry is the ideal spot for his team’s young business.
“The food scene is expanding in the D.C. area, and there’s lots of new thinking,” Guidry said. “We want to be associated with those new thinkers.”
Two men tried to rob a fast food restaurant in Rosslyn last Thursday night.
According to police, the armed men demanded cash, but fled the scene after they were told that the restaurant had no money. From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
ATTEMPTED ROBBERY, 09/12/13, 1700 block of N. Lynn Street. At 10:46 pm on September 12, two subjects attempted to rob a fast food establishment at gunpoint after hours as employees were cleaning. The subjects fled the scene on foot when they were told there was no money. The suspects were described as black males, wearing all black clothing and masks.
The rest of the crime report, after the jump. All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
I’ve seen this question come up a lot in other online forums, and we also get it in person at the bar from time to time: You like a place, it seems to fit you, and you wonder how you get to be recognized.
The truth is, it’s pretty easy. Each place is different, and some are frankly not interested in you being a regular — they’re too busy or they just don’t care — but most bars and bartenders love their regulars.
To that end, I offer a few easy tips. If they seem like common sense, that’s because they are — there’s no secret password or handshake. Well, maybe at some of the speakeasies in the city, but you’re on your own there.
- Be nice. Yep, that’s it. Be friendly, patient if it is called for, and use basic courteous language. It’s a sad statement about our society that being nice often causes you to stand out, but it does. Customer service is a tough business, and bartenders have to endure a lot of people that forgot all the rules we learned in kindergarten.
- Come often. I know, you don’t feel like you’re learning anything here, right? Again, it’s basic. You have to show up to be recognized. Not every day, but once a week or so is good enough for a good bartender to easily remember what you like to drink and where you like to sit. Also, and this is important, you can’t only come when it’s packed. When there are 400 people in the place, all surging to the bar, the bartender doesn’t have any time to get to know you.
- Tip generously. Feel like you know all this already? Great, you’re perfectly qualified to be a regular, so come sidle up to the bar and get started. Honestly though, bartenders work for tips, so you’ve got to show some love when you pay your tab. I don’t mean 50%, but if you had a good experience, maybe even got a free cocktail, and you leave only 15%, the bartender probably won’t make space at the bar for you the next time you come in. (See “How to Tip,” below, after the jump.)
Five Ways To Never Be A Regular
This part could be even more helpful, and it comes to you by popular request. Popular request from bartenders across Arlington, that is. Remember that for the most part, bartenders love their job and love taking care of you, but as I said earlier, a lot of people forgot what they learned in Kindergarten.
- No touching. Keep your hands to yourself, even if you’re just trying to get their attention.
- No yelling. That also includes whistling, slapping the bar and — the most condescending of all moves — snapping your fingers. The bartenders will get to you, they are not ignoring you. Please be patient.
- No fighting. Crazy that I have to write this, right? Just relax. If someone bumps you or says hello to your girlfriend, take a deep breath and chill out. Fighting is the best way to not be welcome at the bar. In fact, it will get you instantly banned from Spider Kelly’s.
- Put your phone down. When it’s your turn, just put your phone down. The call or the text can wait, but the bartender won’t. It’s just basic courtesy. I see this at coffee shops all the time, and it makes me nuts.
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
Red Velvet cupcakes are coming to Clarendon sausage-and-beer eatery FatShorty’s (3035 Clarendon Blvd).
Cupcakes disappeared from the restaurant when it was converted from Rabbit Salad and Grill to FatShorty’s earlier this year. Aaron Gordon, who owns FatShorty’s and the Red Velvet chain, says cupcakes are returning due to customer demand.
“We found that so many people came back to FatShorty’s asking for Red Velvet that we had to bring it back,” he said.
The cupcakes are slated to be offered starting on Wednesday, Sept. 4. Red Velvet cupcakes will be sold “alongside Fatshorty’s in the same way we did with Rabbit,” Gordon said.
FatShorty’s and Red Velvet will maintain the same hours. Brian Scott, the restaurant’s Director of Operations, says eight cupcake varieties will be offered.
“We will feature our 8 most popular flavors… Red Velvet, Vanilla Bean, Devil’s Food, Peanut Butter Cup, Cookie’s and Cream, Carrot Cake, Black Velvet (Gluten free and Vegan) and our weekly feature cupcake,” he said.
Two Arlington Dunkin’ Donuts stores were broken into overnight.
The Courthouse and Cherrydale Dunkin’ Donuts locations, on the 2200 block of Wilson Blvd and the 3500 block of Lee Highway, were closed this morning while police investigated the crime.
According to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, two suspects forced entry to the restaurants via the front door, then broke into the cash register and took cash. The store safe was tampered with, but was not opened, Sternbeck said.
Police are currently reviewing surveillance footage as part of the investigation.
Hat tip to Bill Everingham
Concern Over License Plate Readers — Automated License Plate Readers, or LPRs, are mounted on Arlington County Police cruisers, allowing cops to see instantly if a car driving by is stolen or if its owner is wanted. The police department also stores the data collected by the LPRs for six months, to aid in investigations. The American Civil Liberties Union, however, is concerned about the data storage, saying police departments are “storing everybody’s time, place, and location.” [Voice of America]
Meat Returns to Galaxy Hut — Nine months after switching to an all-vegetarian menu, Galaxy Hut in Clarendon is again offering bacon, pulled pork, beef chili and other meat dishes. While veggie dishes will still be offered, owner Lary Hoffman blames lack of sales for his decision to ditch the vegetarian-only menu. [Washington Post]
No More Playboy at the Pentagon — Army and Air Force Exchange stores, which operate at the Pentagon and Fort Myer, among other military installations, have stopped carrying a third of its magazine collection. Among the magazines no longer available, due to declining interest, are Playboy, Penthouse and American Curves. [Sun Gazette]
NewsChannel 8 to Be National Model — Sinclair Broadcast Group, which is buying WJLA, plans to use NewsChannel 8, the station’s 24-hour local cable news channel, as a model for markets across the country. Sinclair will create a “hybrid” channel that airs local news produced by local stations and national news produced by WJLA. [Baltimore Sun]
Mobility Lab Wins Award — Arlington County’s “start-up think-tank,” Mobility Lab, has won a top award from the Association for Commuter Transportation. Mobility Lab “researches and creates solutions for transportation options that are cool, healthy, fun, and efficient.” [Arlington County]
Claim: County Erroneously Booted Car — A D.C. resident named Rebecca Jones says she parked her car at her fiance’s private residence in Arlington and was surprised to come back from a trip and find it booted. The county claimed she owed nearly $4,000 in unpaid taxes but, Jones says, later admitted that the enforcement computer system targeted her car only based on name association with a different Rebecca Jones. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Native Makes ‘Most Beautiful’ List — Arlington native Carolyn Walser, 28, has made The Hill newspaper’s annual 50 Most Beautiful People list. Walser, a Democrat, is a scheduler for Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) was a staffer for the former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.). [The Hill]
Military Appreciation Night at Chick-fil-A — On Saturday, from 3:30 to 7:00 p.m., the Chick-fil-A restaurant at 2200 Crystal Drive in Crystal City will hold a Military Appreciation Night. Active and former military personnel and their immediate family members are eligible for free food and drink with valid identification. [Facebook]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick