Arax Cafe (5852 Washington Blvd) in the Westover neighborhood has closed its doors for good.
A sign in the window of the now-empty coffee shop reads: “To our extended family… we are sorry to announce we are closing at the end of the month. Thank you for 11 fabulous years!”
Arax Cafe enjoyed generally positive reviews on Yelp, where patrons raved about the shop’s Armenian specialties, including pastries and meat pies.
Hat tip to Megan F.
For the first time in nearly two years, amplified music has returned to the beer garden at Westover Market (5863 Washington Blvd).
Market manager Devin Hicks says Arlington County, at long last, granted an amplified music permit to the beer garden on Saturday, June 16. This past Saturday, June 23, about 90 people came out to see the Front Porch Rockers play the first full amplified set at the beer garden since 2010.
It has been an arduous journey for music at the beer garden, according to Hicks. The Market has “bent over backwards” to fulfill the county’s requirements for a live music permit — including building a restaurant within the Market, since only restaurants are allowed to have live music permits in Arlington. The beer garden was allowed to have non-amplified music this past April and May, but Hicks said it doesn’t compare to the full experience of amplified music.
“It was great having the music back, but you couldn’t really hear it,” he said.
Hicks said that so far, he hasn’t received any complaints about the music from neighbors. Per the terms of its music permit, the Market has hired an acoustic engineer to try to ensure that excessive noise from the concerts doesn’t disturb local residents. One of the methods being used to keep noise pollution to a minimum is a “sound curtain” around parts of the beer garden.
“It’s working out well,” Hicks said of the noise-muffling curtain.
Amplified music will continue at the beer garden every Saturday through the end of October. This coming Saturday, local soul and rock group lower case letters will perform. Non-amplified music will still be performed at the beer garden throughout the summer and into fall, on Wednesdays and Fridays.
“We have a lot of great bands on the agenda, so it’s going to be a great summer for everybody,” Hicks said. A full music lineup is available on the Market’s website.
When the Westover Market’s live music permit comes up for renewal in January, Hicks says he plans to ask the Arlington County Board for permission to host amplified music on more than just one day per week.
In addition to music at the beer garden, Hicks said he’s also excited about a new addition to the Market’s restaurant: Sunday brunch. From 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sundays, the restaurant is now serving brunch, using meats from the Market’s butcher shop. Hicks said the decision to add brunch service was made thanks to the new Westover Farmers Market, which has brought large crowds to Westover on Sundays.
Despite initial fears that it might hurt businesses in the area due to a scarcity of parking and competition from farmers market merchants, Hicks said the farmers market has been a net positive.
“I’ve never seen so many people on a Sunday morning around Westover,” said Hicks.
Building Boom in D.C., Arlington — In 2011, an otherwise slow year for residential construction, Arlington and the District of Columbia captured a disproportionately large portion of local building projects. According to the Washington Post: “… while the District and Arlington County have historically accounted for only about 8 percent of the region’s residential building permits over the past two decades, these two jurisdictions accounted for 36 percent of the building activity in 2011.” [Washington Post]
Moran Horse Slaughter Ban Passes Committee — A bill championed by Rep. Jim Moran (D), which would effectively ban the slaughter of horses for food, has passed the House Appropriations Committee. Moran tried to insert language banning horse slaughter in an agriculture bill last year, but the provision was ultimately removed. [Office of Rep. Jim Moran]
Mid-Week Movie at Westover Library — Looking for a way to beat the heat today? The Westover branch library (1644 N. McKinley Road) will be screening the film Pride as part of its summer mid-week movie series. The series features movies with “sporting themes,” in honor of the Summer Olympics. [Arlington Public Library]
Flickr pool photo by ddimick
May Day — It’s the first of May and, after a relatively cool April, the weather is finally expected to warm up today. [Capital Weather Gang]
Worries Over Westover Farmers Market Parking — As part of a compromise between the organizers of the new Westover Farmers Market and the Arlington County Board, the market will close at noon (instead of 1:00 p.m., as originally proposed) and will provide attendants to direct patrons to designated parking areas. Still, some businesses and residents are worried that market-goers may cause parking woes in the neighborhood. [Arlington Mercury]
Defense Contractor Relocating to Arlington — DRS Technologies, a military contractor, is relocating its corporate headquarters to Crystal City from New Jersey. The move is expected to bring at least 75 new jobs to Arlington, on top of the 26 employees who already work in an existing DRS office in Crystal City. Gov. Bob McDonnell reportedly initiated talks with DRS about moving to Virginia while attending an air show in England. [Washington Business Journal]
Photos: Children Reading to Dogs — The library has posted some photos from a recent Paws-to-Read session at Westover Branch Library. The Paws-to-Read program, which is now in four Arlington libraries, gives children an opportunity to practice reading aloud to a cuddly, non-judgmental audience. [Arlington Public Library]
Westover Farmers Market Approved — The County Board on Saturday unanimously approved a use permit for the proposed Westover Farmers Market. The market will operate on Sundays starting on May 6. [Arlington County]
Complaints About Parking Meters at New Park — The Arlington Soccer Association has raised concerns about parking meters at the recently-opened Long Bridge Park. It’s expensive for parents and referees to park their cars in the Long Bridge Park lot, Arlington County Board members were told over the weekend. Board members asked county staff to study the impacts of allowing free parking on Saturdays. [Sun Gazette]
‘Earth Day Every Day’ in Arlington – Sunday might have been the nationally-recognized environmental awareness day known as Earth Day, but to the county government “every day is Earth Day in Arlington.” In a press release, the county touted some recent environmental initiatives, including obtaining LEED Silver certification for Fire Station No. 3, reducing county government electric and natural gas use by 3 percent, and work in progress to install 153 energy-efficient LED streetlights along Columbia Pike. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Alex
The Arlington County Board is set to consider a proposal for a new farmers market in Westover Village at its Saturday meeting.
Organizers are asking the County Board to approve a market that will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Sundays along the 1700 block of N. McKinley Road. The street location is temporary — organizers are hoping to eventually hold the market on the adjacent Walter Reed School property, but are still awaiting approval from Arlington Public Schools.
Taking vendor setup and breakdown times into account, the street will be closed from 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. That has drawn criticism from the owners of some businesses in the Westover Shopping Center, since it will limit access to the shopping center’s driveway and parking lot. However, county staffers are recommending the open air market request be approved, stating that “the market should not have a substantial adverse impact on neighboring properties.”
As part of their application, market organizers agreed to encourage market patrons to park along Washington Boulevard and in the Reed School’s McKinley Road parking lot, instead of in the nearby residential neighborhoods.
Should the application be approved, organizers are hoping to kick off the farmers market’s inaugural season on May 6.
It’s been a contentious couple of weeks for the Westover Market and Beer Garden. Upon receiving a warning from Arlington County, it suddenly declared the beer garden would shut down until April 1. Today, the saga continues as management has decided to re-open the beer garden against the County’s wishes.
Owner Devin Hicks said he’s tried working with the county on the matter but his efforts have not been successful. Now he’s going to do what he believes Westover Market is entitled to do by law — operate a year-round patio area.
Bob Brosnan, Director of the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development, clarifies that Hicks did not receive an actual citation — as stated in a previous article — but rather a courtesy letter requesting compliance. A violation notice will likely be sent out on Monday and Westover Market will have 10 days to bring itself in compliance, or face fines, Brosnan said.
The goal is not to hinder businesses or to collect fines, it’s to keep businesses in compliance with county ordinances, according to Brosnan.
“We’ve been trying to work with them to make them understand how we can work with them legally, that is our goal,” he said. “Our goal in these cases is always compliance.”
Arlington County has developed a web page specifically relating to the beer garden at Westover Market. On the page, it states that establishments with outdoor patios must have ample parking for the number of people being served, but that parking requirement is reduced if the establishment is near a Metro stop. The County allows establishments to get around the parking rule by becoming “seasonal” and closing for three or more months each year.
Because the Westover beer garden isn’t deemed as having enough parking, it’s supposed to be seasonal. However, Hicks points out the rule is technically a “guideline” and not an actual “ordinance.” He believes the county has been enforcing a measure that was never officially put in the books.
The County’s web page for Westover Market links to another County page, titled “Guidelines for Outdoor Cafes.” On that document it states: “Unless otherwise required by the County Board, outdoor cafes shall be exempt from any parking requirement.” It goes on to say: “There is no explicit requirement in the Zoning Ordinance that requires them to be temporary or seasonal.”
Of his long-running trouble with the county, Hicks said relations have improved over the past year or so, but he believes he’s currently being unfairly targeted with the enforcement of the seasonal rule.
“We’re just going to go ahead and do what’s legally right,” Hicks said. “There’s nothing in the rules that says it has to be seasonal.”
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.”
Bill Would Open Classrooms to Parents — Del. Patrick Hope (D) has proposed a bill that would require local school boards to “ensure that the parent or legal guardian of a student or prospective student enrolled in the school division may, subject to reasonable notice and with minimized disruption, act as an observer in the child’s classroom.” The bill is in response to a Washington Post column about a couple whose request to observe a class at Arlington Traditional School was denied by school officials. [Washington Post]
Lyon Hall Named ‘Best Beer Bar’ — Lyon Hall (3100 N Washington Blvd) has been named one of America’s 100 Best Beer Bars by Draft Magazine. “Its bartenders have a passion for of-the-moment beer, and no one will care if you drink your 21st Amendment Back in Black straight from the can,” the publication said. [Draft Magazine]
Board Wants Speedier Farmers Market Permit Process — The County Board asked Arlington County staff to speed up the permit approval process for the planned Westover Farmers Market. Organizers — who would like to open the market in May — have said that the permitting process has been proceeding at a slower-than-hoped-for pace. [Sun Gazette]
The proposed Westover Farmers Market is getting closer to becoming a reality.
A group of local volunteers has incorporated a nonprofit company to run the farmers market, and have applied for recognition as a charitable organization from the IRS. The nonprofit is currently seeking donations and vetting applications from farmers market vendors.
Meanwhile, organizers say they hope to hold the first farmers market in May, on the grounds of the Westover Branch Library and Reed School on N. McKinley Road. The start date could potentially be held up, however, by the arduous process of applying for county permits and permissions.
“The County recently changed the application process for open-air markets to one requiring issuance of a use permit by the County Board,” farmers market organizer Robert Swennes noted in an email. “The details of implementing that change are still being worked out, and that is creating more delay for us than a well-established approval process would. Also, the site selected for the market is property owned by the Arlington County Public Schools, so permission from ACPS must also be obtained.”
When it finally does clear all regulatory hurdles, the market will operate from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Sundays.
“Many people within County government and generally in Arlington have expressed their support for a farmers market in the Westover area, so we are confident that one will be launched this year,” Swennes noted. “The question is how soon that can be done.”
Photo via Arlington Green Party
The shop — which offered gourmet cuts of locally-sourced meats — closed last week after butcher shop proprietor Bruce Saunders decided to call it quits. Now, we’re told, the shop is coming back with many of the same meat options, but under new management.
The Westover Market Facebook page says the shop will be offering a $16.99 special tonight on two cuts of beef and two sides, in celebration of the re-opening.
We were unable to reach anybody at Westover Market today to formally confirm the news, despite multiple calls to the store’s listed phone number.
Photo via Facebook
To the dismay of its loyal customers, the butcher shop at Westover Market (5863 Washington Blvd) will be closing this week.
Via an early-morning announcement on Facebook, butcher shop proprietor Bruce Saunders said that he had made the difficult decision to close up shop.
After much thought and soul searching, I’m sorry to inform everyone that as of this week, the Butcher Shop at Westover Market will be closing. Cody and I extend our heartfelt thanks to all of our friends and neighbors in and around Arlington for your support and patronage over the past year and a half. It’s been great to serve you and to have supported our local farmers and their families. Please continue to support these fine farm families and the hard work they do. See ya around town!
Since it launched in 2010, the Saunders-run butcher counter at Westover Market has specialized in premium, locally-sourced meats.
Hat tip to EatMore DrinkMore
A car rammed into the Grand Hunan Chinese Carry-Out restaurant in the Westover Shopping Center last night.
The accident happened around 7:45 p.m. The car hopped a curb and slammed into a low brick wall, coming to rest across the sidewalk. Amazingly, no one was hurt.
The brick wall was damaged, but there was only minor damage inside the restaurant.
Photo (top) courtesy Anne W.
The Shirlington Branch Library will be screening family-oriented movies all summer, starting this week. At 2:00 p.m., every Friday through the end of August, the library will show a different kid-friendly flick. The selections include Tangled, How to Train Your Dragon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, The Sword in the Stone, Cars, Shrek Forever After, Aladdin, Alice in Wonderland (1951 version) and The Tale of Despereaux.
For adults, the Westover Branch Library will be taking moviegoers on a cinematic tour of the world. The library will screen the “mid-week movies” every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., starting on July 6 and ending on August 10. The schedule includes Chariots of Fire, Motorcycle Diaries, Out of Africa, the Joy Luck Club, Under the Tuscan Sun and Enchanted April.
Westover will also be screening three family movies this summer: Princess and the Frog, Ponyo and Ratatouille. See the library blog for dates and times.
County staff is recommending that the County Board approve AT&T’s request to put new cell phone antennas in a pair of North Arlington church steeples.
Last month the company went before the board to request permission to replace older antennas and equipment at 15 existing cell sites around the county. The equipment will allow AT&T to offer high speed ‘Long Term Evolution’ (LTE) data service to cell phone customers in Arlington. The board approved the replacement at 13 of the sites, but withdrew two for further consideration after a number of neighbors voiced opposition.
The two sites in question are both churches: the Westover Baptist Church (1125 Patrick Henry Drive) and Walker Chapel United Methodist Church (4102 N. Old Glebe Road). AT&T already has cell phone antennas in the steeples of both churches, but neighbors objected to what they saw as the possible health risks of the new antennas. Those opposing antennas at Walker Chapel also cited the historic nature of the 140-year-old church, even though the building itself is just over 50 years old.
Ultimately, county staff sided with AT&T, which argued that the new antennas will not be substantially heavier than the existing antennas — thus posing no anticipated structural problems — and will remain compliant with FCC regulations regarding radio frequency exposure.
“AT&T will contribute less than five percent of the maximum permissible exposure allowed,” staff wrote in the board report. The company agreed to annual, independent electromagnetic emission tests at all 15 sites to ensure compliance.
Last week’s revelation that the World Health Organization now considers cell phone use to be “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” however, will likely only serve to increase the resolve of antenna opponents. Even if the County Board wanted to decide the matter on the basis of health concerns, however, it is legally prohibited from doing so. According to the board report, federal law “prohibits localities from basing decisions on the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions if the facility complies with FCC regulations.”
The board is scheduled to consider the cell antenna requests on Saturday.