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Morning Poll: New Clarendon Businesses

by ARLnow.com August 3, 2011 at 9:13 am 4,086 113 Comments

By the end of the week, at least 10 new eateries will have opened in Clarendon since February.

Pinkberry will open its doors on Friday, joining other new food destinations including Burapa Thai, Circa, South Block Smoothie & Burrito, Rabbit, Pete’s Apizza, Larry’s Homemade Ice Cream, BGR: The Burger Joint, Cava and Mad Rose Tavern.

We’ve remarked on Twitter that the new restaurants seem to be doing boffo business at night, especially the businesses in the new Clarendon Center buildings. We’re wondering if they’re merely taking business from older restaurants in the area, or if they’re driving business by making people more likely to go out in Clarendon.


  • LA

    If you simply base it on the lack of available parking spaces, I’d say Clarendon’s new eateries are a definite draw! I drove around for half an hour last night looking for a place to park so I could go to an “old” eaterie.

    • CarsSuck

      you wasted a half hour trying to park?? On a TUESDAY night? That’s pretty pathetic. My hourly rate for private jobs is $70, so that’s $35 of wasted productivity. There are plenty of garages that barely cost a few bucks. Quit being a cheapskate and pony up a couple bucks.

      • MrCar

        Your screen handle is troublesome. Cars are only here on Earth to make to happy. We should talk…

        But, to your point – you are correct – there is a ton of garage parking in Clarendon. Never had trouble finding a space, myself. LA is probably referring to street parking which does tend to fill up a half hour before it turns to free (5:30PM) and stays that way for the rest of the night. Street parking is good for those who want to run in for takeout or to do a quick shop at Kinderhouse or Shoefly. They need to make some of the meters extend to later hours so people won’t stay there all night – and the people that do want to stay all night can park in the garages.

        • CW

          A “quick shop at Kinderhouse [sic] or Shoefly”? How pretentious can one sound?

          • Kettle

            One can, if one tries. How does one know if one is pretentious enough though.

          • John Fontain

            I’m not clear on why that comes across as having pretense. We routinely stop by the toy store for a quick shop before a birthday party. I don’t think there is anything unusual or outlandish about it.

            If the shopping were done more slowly, would that make it less pretentious?

          • Josh S

            Yeah, this is definitely one of the more hard to understand posts around here recently. I guess CW doesn’t shop at these stores and thinks only pretentious people do?

          • MrCar

            I took it as CW was influenced by my phraseology – “a quick shop”. Sounds rather British, perhaps ? Kind of like my friend from London who describes a shot of Mezcal as having “a bit of the Maggot”.

          • CW

            Lol, no I was just thinking that if someone’s default go-to when they want toys or shoes is some small, family owned boutique (in a very high-rent area and thus with prices to match) as opposed to to, say, Toys-R-Us or Macy’s, they must be pretty rich and pretentious. Though the phrasing didn’t help.

          • Josh S

            Pretentious to support local businesses?
            This is what we get from all the MBAs in marketing out there. Convincing people that it’s pretentious to support local businesses.

          • CW

            I don’t have an MBA in marketing, but I do understand that I can buy the same products in other venues for much less of my hard-earned money. Those boutique owners are probably ex-lawyers driving Range Rovers in the vein of Georgetown Cupcake. You can choose to give them your money if you wish.

            I support local businesses every day. Just not ones that sell commodity goods at inflated, market-specific prices.

          • Josh S

            “Probably?” So you don’t know? What is it – the font of their signs? The color scheme? The narrow entranceway? No parking lot?

            BTW – those are all rhetorical questions.

          • CW

            Right, they are, but it’s a pretty common theme that someone who has the money to open up a cutesy little boutique with pretty low throughput in an area with astronomical rents probably got that money somewhere. Think about it. Shoefly has probably 2/3 the space of Galaxy Hut. Do you think Shoefly makes 2/3 the revenue?

          • Venn Diagram

            Sorry – I was tied up in meetings all day and couldn’t get around to posting. Here is what I think was meant on this thread:

          • Richard Cranium

            +100

          • Josh S

            By the way, if we ever do have an ARLNow social meeting, Mr. Diagram should stay anonymous, IMHO. It just adds to the effect.

            Keep it up!

  • Rosslynite

    The Mad Rose Tavern is doing “boffo” business?

    • LP

      Hah – that place is a complete flop!

      If boffo = 10 patrons a night, then yes, they’re doing boffo business.

  • Louise

    We recently had delicious sushi at Burapa. The pizza from Pete’s is REALLY good.

  • YTK

    Trendy trendy Clarendon – where the joggers use the sidewalks as their private race track, and the parking spaces are eaten up quicker than Pac Man dots.

    • Jen

      Joggers are on the sidewalk legally, get over yourself.

    • Arrrrrlington

      Agreed, get over yourself.

      Now cyclists who use the sidewalk when there is a perfectly good bike lane through most sections of the boulevards….they need to be castrated.

      • Richard Cranium

        And the women?

      • CW

        Be careful with the comments on the “perfectly good bike lane”. Please keep in mind that, for most of that distance, the “perfectly good” bike lane is not perfectly good in that it is right next to a lane of street parking, with cars backing in, flying out, and doors opening left and right as people hurry to get to and from their cars. I usually ride in the traffic lanes of the boulevards in sections like this because the bike lane co-occupies the door zone. And I can keep up with traffic, so don’t give me any crap. I respect the fact that the county provided bike lanes, and to show that, I use them in segments where it’s safe. But safety comes first.

        • CW

          (Forgot to add one point, which is that riding on the sidewalk is never a good idea. Duh. Which is why the Pete’s Segway sucks.)

        • CarsSuck

          don’t forget about the delivery trucks that block the bike lane and half of the right car lane. What the hell does that accomplish?? absolutely nothing. Not just impeding the bike lane, but forcing cars to not stop and merge, but some to change lanes and others to dangerously hug both lanes and squeeze through. ACPD needs to crack down on trucks using bike lanes as unloading zones.

          • R.Griffon

            +1

            This situation is dangerous for everyone, cyclists and drivers alike. ACPD needs to step up with some aggressive enforcement along Clarendon and Wilson Blvds. I’d even be OK with having an unwritten rule that they let them slide in the wee hours, or on side streets. But the main arteries during the day? It’s a bad, bad situation.

        • Robert

          Yes, riding in the bike lane can be dangerous.. Actually witnessed a woman riding her bike in the lane just in front of WSC on Clarendon Blvd. A parked car door opened just as she approached. She went down tumbling into the travel lane. You could loudly hear the thump and a collective gasp from bystanders as it happened. Fortunately for her there was no car in that lane at that moment and the first car at the light at the corner happened to be a police cruiser. The officer immediately pulled up to block the lane so she wouldn’t be hit. Her bike was damaged and she walked away with a limp. On a positive note, bystanders – and the driver – went over to assist.

          • CW

            That’s my worst fear – riding in the bike lane, knocked into the travel lane, smush. I was in the bike lane in Rosslyn this morning and there was a garbage truck about 20 feet behind me in the travel lane…if I’d been doored I would have been dead.

          • BeachCruiser

            I ride my bike on Clarendon’s sidewalks whenever it’s convenient to me, and convenient to people on the sidewalks. I slow down. I avoid people with a generous margin of safety. So get over it. Or cite for me a statistic on this horrible menace to society of bicycles injuring pedestrians.

          • Maria

            CW, how did you manage to turn this into a cyclist vs car (vs pedestrian argument)?? Amazing!

          • CW

            One can turn almost any discussion into such an argument.

        • three20three

          Maybe we need something like this: http://dvice.com/archives/2011/08/badass-lithuani.php [Mayor enforces strict bike lane laws by crushing cars with tanks]

    • JamesE

      Gotta take your shirt off to get your bronze on

  • Aaron

    Street parking in Clarendon is next to impossible now. Since they re-did the parking restrictions on the residential streets, I am much, much less likely to go to Clarendon. 10mins to get there, 30 to find a spot.

    Then you sit in all the traffic on Wilson/Clarendon and by Whole Foods. Not worth the hassle, at all. Arlington drove me out — I just head to Fairfax County now instead where parking is easy.

    • R.Griffon

      You know there are garages, right? They’re cheap and always have spaces. And the traffic’s never that bad. I’ve yet to wait more than one light cycle at any intersection, even during rush hour.

      If you’ve “sworn off” Clarendon, my guess is that you weren’t really coming in the first place. But no matter – the place is booming with or without you.

      • CW

        +1. Haters gonna hate, and you’ve gotta pay to play. I bet those sourpusses living out in Fairfax and hating pay more in gas and parking each month than the premium I pay to live right in the middle of everything.

    • yrb

      good riddance!
      don’t come here (or take the metro)

    • CarsSuck

      pay for a garage spot, stop being a cheapskate. Nevermind, you can have Fairfax County, Prince William County, and all that other car dominated crap that goes with it.

      • Baloney

        You don’t have to go that far to get free parking. There’s Potomac Yard, Eden Center, the Outback shopping center on Route 50/Park Drive, Lee Highway, many others in Arlington or just over the border.

    • CarsSuck

      on another note, everyone too cheap to pay $5 to park and would rather circle the block for 30 minutes…. you can have the outer suburbs if you feel like boycotting Clarendon is your way of making a point. If you’re that hard up to pay to park, I can only imagine some of the lousy tips you’re leaving for your servers and bartenders. We’d rather not have your business then, have a nice day at Potomac Mills or Tysons Corner.

      • JamesE

        You don’t have to pay to park in Tysons and will be able to metro there in a year.

        • Lou

          Which is pretty cool. I rarely go to Tyson’s anymore because of the traffic. Being able to hop on the train and be out there in 15 minutes is going to be pretty neat.

    • normal

      Really? You’d rather drive way the hell out to Fairfax to avoid paying a few dollars to park in a garage? That’s pathetic. And you actually complain about traffic too?

  • Your not supposed to DRIVE to Clarendon. It’s supposed to be a walkable neighborhood. If you don’t get there by Metro, bike or walking your not supposed to be there.

    • YTK

      Aaron, I’m with you. Much better stuff going on elsewhere, whether you walk, drive, take Metro or teleport..

    • JamesE

      I go to Lyon Hall and that is about it, it allows me to be a pretentious yuppie without hitting up a froyo or cupcake place.

    • normal

      There is plenty of parking in Clarendon. You just have to pay a little more for it than you do on the street.

    • LuvDusty

      FINALLY! Thank you for posting what to me is obvious. Their are more than enough residents in Clarendon to keep the new Clarendon business busy year round 24/7.

      Why on EARTH would anyone from Fairfax County or elsewhere drive into Clarendon for retail/restaurants that they can find very close to where they live.

      I live on Clarendon Blvd and Fillmore St. I never use my car to get to any of those places…and when friends/family visit, they park in the parking garages for $3 for the whole night.

      Also, there is plenty of street parking just 2-3 blocks away, it’s called WALKING. : )

      • Landshark

        Sorry Luvy,

        It is not true that with all the new residential construction that their are enough residents now to support the businesses unless everyone went out to eat every night only in Clarendon. One owner of one of the first modern (post 1990) restaurants here told me that there are nearly 70 eateries from Courthouse to Clarendon. For all these businesses to be successful, they need non-residents to come and spend. And I hope that they do so that we don’t end up with the Clarendon of the 1970s.

  • CW

    You ain’t seen nothing yet. Wait until the temperature drops below 90, outdoor dining becomes bearable, and there’s college football to watch and Oktoberfest beers to drink. Come September, I’ll be out every night.

    • JamesE

      my dream is for Rustico to do an entire wall of pumpkin beers

      • Tabby

        Sweet, syrupy beers, yuk.

    • david

      Wish I would have hung on to my condo a little longer. I dealt with all the hassles of the Clarendon Center construction but got none of the benefit.

    • BerryBerryCold

      and TJ opens.

  • Bluemontsince1961

    It hasn’t impacted me very much; about the only time I drive to Clarendon is to go the Barnes & Noble and I use the parking garage. I usually eat out at places in Westover, Lee-Harrison, McLean or Falls Church.

  • R.Griffon

    These have all been pretty good additions to the neighborhood. I’m happy to say that I’ve been to nearly all of them (all but Mad Rose), and found them all to be pretty good. The biggest problem is that it’s getting harder and harder to eat at home. My waistline keeps getting fatter and my wallet keeps getting thinner. 🙁

  • Lee-n-Glebe

    Burapa Thai is very good, although somewhat inconsistent as far as the spice level goes. Thai hot can be *almost* unbearable (which is perfect) or pretty bland. I don’t even want to know what “John Hot” is on a day when they’re making it hot. I really like their lunch special where you get a half portion of 2 different entrees for something like $8 or $9.

    However, it never seems like there’s more than about a half dozen people in there. Unless they do a rocking happy hour or late night business, I’m afraid they’re not going to make it.

    • R.Griffon

      They seem to do a very healthy business every time I’ve been there for dinner. I think they just have trouble drawing a lunch crowd.

    • LP

      I agree on the spicy comment – seems to fluctuate a bit, but the food is great and so is the owner/workers. Prat is awesome and Peter, the bar tender is great.

      They seem to have a steady crowd every night from 5-8. not packed like Circa, which is a good thing.

  • ArlingtonDweller

    What the hell does ‘boffo’ mean?

    The new stuff in Clarendon is more of the old stuff. They need a real supermarket and an inexpensive deli.

    • Lee-n-Glebe

      Ha – because I’m bored, I went to see if there actually was a definition. I was surprised to find that there is:

      http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/boffo
      ***********
      boffo
      – 4 dictionary results
      bof·fo
         [bof-oh] Show IPA noun, plural -fos, adjective Slang .
      –noun
      1.
      boff.
      –adjective
      2.
      highly effective or successful: He gave a boffo performance as Cyrano.
      Also, boff·o·la  [bo-foh-luh] Show IPA.

      Origin:
      perhaps alteration of buffo or bouffe
      Dictionary.com Unabridged
      Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2011.

    • RosslynBoom

      hell yes. a JEWISH deli/NY Deli. come on clarendon, wake up.

      • Lee-n-Glebe

        A 2nd Avenue Deli equivalent here would be AWESOME.

      • jan

        Yes! Provided of course that it’s a good one.

      • DeliGuy

        Just look at this stuff!

        http://www.downbeachdeli.net/menu.php

        Just copy what they do in Clarendon.

      • CarsSuck

        or a Katz Deli.. “send a salami to ya boy in the Army!”

      • Steve

        Well you know Jim Moran certainly wouldn’t go there to eat nor campaign.

    • Rosslynite

      What about Sam’s Corner for your inexpensive deli?

      • Boffo

        The lines are too long 😉

      • CW

        Is it actually in business? In two years I’ve never seen it open. Granted, I’m not home THAT many workdays between 9 and 5, but my god, to have not seen it open once…

        • normal

          That place is like the empty house on your block where you never see anyone and the kids all say is haunted.

        • Rosslynite

          I am pretty sure it is still open. If you look at the sign on 13th Street with the artist’s rendering of the apartment building slated for that block, it shows the building looming over Sam’s, so it looks like they may be in for the long haul. Maybe they own the building.

          • Clarendon

            Yes, they were holdouts during the approval and sued to retain use of an alley that was on Zom’s property after the approval. That may be why nothing happened there for several years. The case was just disposed of this year. You can see it with a google search:

            SUN YUNG LEE v. ZOM CLARENDON, L.P.

          • John Fontain

            Thanks for the info. The story behind that case is an interesting read. I find it amazing when property owners like Lee don’t seek to maximize the financial return from property. Surely they were offered much more to sell than they will ever get from running a run down deli.

          • Lee-n-Glebe

            Same with that house-looking Chinese restaurant back there behind carpool. They built that whole development around there too, I remember there was a rumor the guy was offered $2 million for it and turned it down.

          • Clarendude

            I could understand not maximizing the financial if it was a local institution or a family tradition that at least made some money. That place doesn’t seem to fit either but what do I know?

            Until the project gets underway there is always the chance that Zom is renegotiating the incorporation of that land now that the lawsuit is done. They would just need a site plan amendment.

            It is a good place for a “Corner Deli”, just not one that’s never open. How about a Corner Authentic Philly Cheesesteak place ?

  • JamesE

    Maybe the increase in foot traffic will migrate some of the ballston homeless over there, it has gotten increasingly bad since I moved here 4 years ago. I am thinking of hiring some mercenaries since ACPD won’t do anything.

    • CW
      • JamesE

        I am almost at the breaking point man, I am about ready to write caps-lock emails to county board members.

        • normal

          To help the homeless? Oh, no to get rid of them.

          • JamesE

            round them up and force them into being Columbia pike street car drivers.

          • CW

            I think the comments regarding the Ballston homeless are not so much predicated upon people being heartless Scrooges who hate the poor, but rather upon the fact that some of the homeless there can be quite aggressive and also litter and perform other activities that make the area seem less nice. Would you like to be accosted every day when leaving your home?

          • normal

            Are the homeless in Ballston so bad that people are routinely accosted though?

          • CW

            I wouldn’t say it’s quite as bad as Gallery Place, but I’ve seen plenty of accosting. And, as CarsSuck mentioned, they contribute to the general dirtiness level of the place. I think you’d be remiss to not agree that Ballston is significantly dirtier than, say, VA Square.

          • Maria

            I walk around Ballston a lot, and I’ve only ever been asked for money a few times. I just smile, say no, and move on with my life. It’s really not that big a deal.

          • CarsSuck

            most of the problem seems to be loitering and public drunkenness immediately around the bus transfer and metro station. I think the problem falls on Metro Transit Police more than ACPD. Can’t even find a bench that’s not stained with booze, piss, feces, or vomit.

          • normal

            I use that station, and I haven’t seen much of a problem with disgusting benches or drunkenness or people getting accosted.

          • Lou

            I’m not sure which is more annoying around the Ballston metro: the homeless or the hyper-aggressive Express paper guy that runs up and tries to jam a paper in your hand.

  • Rick

    If BGR did not have the coke freestyle I would just go to the Lyon Village one. Nothing there is a “draw” to me personally

    • BerryBerryCold

      agreed. I have been there once and that machine is awesome.

      • CW

        The Coke machine there is awesome. The burgers taste like burnt, gristly fat.

  • JimPB

    Who eats at home anymore?

    • JamesE

      M-F I eat at home every night, but I am trying to get jacked.

    • Steve

      Can I take a wild guess you don’t even clean your condo? Someone else does it for you, right?

  • SaveDaveMcKenna

    The Roy Rogers in Frederick has one, and plenty of parking. The only downside is you have fend off the crotch rocket gangs on 270.

    • Rick

      Yeah there’s a few scattered around but that’s the closest to me. Elevation Burger in FC has one but I feel like a pizza pan full of fries from BGR needs egregious amounts of sugar mixed into coke. Coca Cola charges 200/month to rent those whereas they give away standard fountain machines on unlimited lease to restaurants so don’t expect to see those everywhere anytime soon

    • Mixologist

      The BGR location in Old Town Alex also has the magic Coke machine. Of course parking near King and Washington is about the same as around Clarendon.

  • Suburban Not Urban

    A more balanced article would explain how many of the places take the place of old establishments and how many are in new locations from new development.

    • John Fontain

      I don’t know why that factoid would make the article “more balanced,” but none of them replace old dining establishments.

      • Clarendon

        I don’t think ‘balanced’ is the correct term either. You could argue that Clare&Dons and Little Viet Garden were replaced due to the project containing a couple of those new places. Where Circa is would have been a great place for the new Little Viet Garden, but I guess people like Circa too.

    • Josh S

      What the h*ll does “balanced” mean? A more “balanced” article? We’re not discussing how to raise the debt cieling here. People aren’t relying on this article to tell them how to vote or invest their retirement. A lot of new restuarants opened. It’s a blog post. News. This isn’t the freaking NYTimes. Have you noticed any posts on ARLNow that involve in depth investigative reporting?
      “Balanced.”
      Jesus.

      • Jesus

        Yes?

        Sorry, just had a Mel Brooks moment.

    • LuvDusty

      A Pilates studio (Studio Body Logic) used to be where the Pete’s Pizza is now. I loved how close it was (it’s since moved to Ballston, in the Randolph Towers ground floor area), but actually I enjoy the 15 min walk now to class and back.

      I welcome the new businesses…so far, I don’t see any negatives except for maybe increase traffic and noise, particularly on Thursday nights and weekends.

      But it’s a trade-off I am willing to live with, to have more convenience and the ability to walk everywhere. I hardly use my car anymore, am considering selling it and renting out my parking spot.

  • roquer

    I don’t believe that Clarendon can do anything wrong relating to eating a drinking and young people. I think it’s great that this is happening.

  • Christina

    I was thoroughly unimpressed by Burapa Thai the couple times I was there. Granted, both times were within 1-2 months of their opening. In particular, I thought the service was terrible. Is it worth another try – has their service improved at all? I’m willing to give it another go if others out there have had great experiences lately. Otherwise, I’ll stick to Thai at Corner in Courthouse!

    • LuvDusty

      I’ve been to Burapa Thai 2x. Both were just “eh”. I don’t plan to go back.

      Circa I liked and Pete’s Pizza is delicious! I don’t like Red Mango’s yogurt, but will try PinkBerry to see if I like that better.

      Am gonna try Rabbit and Larry’s Ice Cream soon to see how I feel about those.

      I’ve never been to Mad Rose Tavern…but I have been to Liberty Tavern (too frat boyish for me downstairs, upstairs is ok), and Eventide (ok for a nice dinner, but nothing special–the roofdeck is nice).

  • G20

    How about some comments on your experiences with the local establishments.
    Mad Rose SUCKS!

    Pete’s Apizza is really good, I’ve become a weekly regular.
    Their sausage/mushroom is my favorite.

    I’ve gone in Larry’s Ice Cream once a week in the early morning for a bakery item. Each time the young lady working there tells me they will have the bakery up and running “next” week. I tried 3 times over a 4 week period, still no bakery. I doubt if I’ll go back.

    I tried Rabbit Grill last week. I couldn’t resist the attraction of a grilled PB&J sandwich. Could it be as good as the one’s Grandma made when I was growing up? It came with a side salad which was probably the worst salad I’ve ever had. The only way I knew the sandwich had any jelly on it was being able to see it, I couldn’t taste it. It tasted like a grilled peanut butter sandwich, which wasn’t bad but not quite what I was looking for. Not sure if I’ll go back.

    • Next time at Rabbit, try the nutella and banana sandwich. It’s amazing!

    • CW

      Burapa Thai is decidedly mediocre, Circa is like one would expect – good quality but pretty expensive (a good deal for happy hour), South Block tastes good but is something I can make at home (I do wish to try their burritos), and BGR is gross, burnt fat.

      Haven’t done Cava yet. Everyone raves about how good it is, but, can someone who has been there tell me if it is actually a good value, or if they’re selling to the hype? When it comes to tapas/mezze places, I usually walk away hungry and very light in the wallet.

  • LA

    Holy cow, some of you guys are vicious! I post an observation about not finding a parking spot on a Tuesday night, and immediately I’m pretentious, stupid, a cheapskate, a lousy tipper, and should move to Fairfax. Do we need a definition of “non-judgmental” here?

    • Maria

      Non-judgmental? You haven’t been around here very long, have you? 🙂

      Oh, and don’t worry; YOU were just called pathetic and a cheapskate. The other names were directed at a variety of other people, so really, it’s not so bad… right?

      • LA

        LOL— let’s just say, I understand why no one uses a picture of themselves as an avatar here!

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