Kavenchy Spa Salon Closes in Clarendon

by ARLnow.com October 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm 5,850 62 Comments

(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) A high-end salon has closed its doors in Clarendon.

Customers of Kavenchy Spa Salon received an email from owner Sam Kavenchy last night stating that the glitzy salon was closing effective immediately.

“We certainly enjoyed having you as part in [sic] Kavenchy’s success for the past two years,” the email said. “But now it’s time to say goodbye.”

“I wish that your dreams may come true as did mine with opening Kavenchy,” the email continued. “But life goes on and new ventures are waiting for each of us. As for me I will pursue full-time my other passion and dream, which has always been art.”

“I’m shocked that he’s gone out of business,” one customer told ARLnow.com. “I thought the place was a real success.”

The salon was located at 1025 N. Fillmore Street, on the ground floor of the ZOSO Flats building. The salon was located next to the former American Flatbread restaurant, which closed last December.

  • Tyler Durden

    Perhaps if they weren’t charging $60 for a man’s haircut… Also, poor foot traffic on that street.

  • bredmond

    +1 on the poor foot traffic and high prices for a guy’s cut.

  • JamesE

    the more hair I lose the cheaper and easier haircuts become.

  • Tre

    Agree w/ poor foot traffic, but I’m guessing rents are too high as well.

  • Novanglus

    I think that landlord misjudged the economics of that location and made the rents too high, and the tenants fell for the lie.

    That’s a great place for neighborhood services (dry cleaner, bank, affordable walk-in barber shop or nail salon, coffee shop). But it’s a bad place for high-end destination stuff — too far a walk from the main strip, and too hard to park.

    What tenants are left there?

    • Clarendon

      I have a feeling that the rents were actually pretty low for Clarendon based on how fast all that space leased up. I think there was some provision in the sale of the building that incentivized having the ground floor fully leased. But, maybe there was an increase built in or something.

      There are going to be more shakeups in Clarendon as the area just grew too fast. Also, based on the demographic numbers I think landlords and the businesses have an expectation that “high-end” will work in Clarendon. Some will, but not as much as we have.

      As far as what’s there –

      Bake Shop – A wonderful business, but I worry about them given the location and competition

      Screwtop – A well-run, awesome Clarendon business that seems to be doing well (at least when I’ve been by there).

      Artisan Chocolates – Unique, very high end custom chocolates. Great for gifts.

      There’s some other stuff too (dentist maybe ?). The problem with the Clarendon side streets is there are not coherent. Side street retail is often the best in an area (because the rents are lower) but the execution of development on Clarendon’s left isolated pockets of retail across from loading docks or inactive frontages and it suffers.

      • Lou

        “Rents” are a tricky concept for commercial tenants. It is a lot different from an apartment someone might rent. It’s not as simple as “the rent was high/low”

        The landlord may have deferred several months rent to help get people in. They also typically include money for the new tenant to put towards their construction costs, softening the financial impact to help tenants move in. By adjusting that allowance, you can hook a nervous business owner and get your revenue stream locked up. That’s the name of the game, and all the leasing agents care about.

      • CW

        I too am curious as to if we’ll see a bit of a contraction/normalization in response to the explosive growth we saw over the past few years as everyone raced to get their hogs to the trough. From the article earlier this week, it looks like the owner of Pete’s is getting a bit antsy about paying the bills. Can four frozen yogurt places make it through the winter? How many cupcakeries can we sustain? The market will tell.

      • CEW

        Bakeshop should be fine. A lot of his business is weddings, bdays, etc…Frankly, I don’t think Justin cares much about Crumbs, Red Velvet, etc…they get the uninformed riff-raff and he gets the devoted customers who know quality goods when they eat/see them.

        • Clarendon

          I figured he did a lot of non-in-store business but then the more of that you do the less you need to be located in an expensive district – may as well move to an industrial site.

          But I hope it’s working out for them, and he stays. The more business you do the more on-site product you can have (like cakes). For work events when it’s last minute I get cakes from Landmark Bakery because for their most popular stuff they have one ready to go and it’s good stuff.

      • ArlGuy

        Dr. Dudley the Dentist- well hidden in the Zoso building but a great (and insanely modern) dental practice.

        That street is always going to be rough for retail or restaurants- there are way too many other options on the main thoroughfares.

  • Laura

    I went there once but was not impressed. They send out emails all the time though, so when I got this one, I deleted it because I figured they were trying to sell me some $200 hair treatment.

  • Swag

    I’ve heard nothing but bad things about that building.

    • Johnny Utah

      What ‘bad’ things have you heard?

  • mbstiger

    They sold me a gift card for a pedicure without telling me they did not employ a pedicurist. My friend hasn’t used the gift card yet, and now we’re just out of the money with no recourse? What terrible business practices…

  • CW

    Seems like a tough spot to operate. The street is weird, with how it magically becomes one-way there, and the storefronts are set back into the building, like caves. The road has an industrial alleyway feel, as it’s mostly loading docks. Also, since it’s isolated on all sides by residential development, it’s just not a block where people expect to find any retail (there’s the ABC store but then loading docks). Just poor visibility, I’d figure.

  • MC 703

    Somehow I have no problem finding the ABC store

    • Clarendon

      It’s such a cute little liquor store too.

  • M Smith

    Screwtop in that building is excellent. Great food, great wine. Went to a meet the winemaker event that was a really good event.

  • Individual

    That strip would probably do better if that hulking monstrosity across the street had some street-level retail.

    • Clarendon

      That’s what I was trying to say above but in a more general way – there are many isolated pockets of retail on side streets in Arlington. The County’s response (at least AED) seems to be that well, retail on side streets doesn’t work. But, often the best, independent retail is off the main drag simply because rents are (or at least should be) lower.

      As far as that building across the street, in case you didn’t know, there was a huge outcry when it was approved by the zoning administrator (it was a by-right) due to the way they treated the frontages along the street with that iron fence and the “moat”. The words in the zoning ordinance seemed pretty clear that they couldn’t do what they did, but the zoning administrator disagreed and the zoning appeals board agreed with the ZA (although it was a close vote).

      Now, the residents of that same “moat” building object to the way the proposed office building on the other side was proposing to locate their loading dock across the street from them. Not that the residents had any say in the way their building was built but its ironic.

  • Michelle

    Small claims! Just $50 for a judgement you will never collect on.

    • Michelle

      Yikes. that was meant in reply to the person who had issues w/ their gift certificate.

      I’m not happy to see anyone go out of business but they had a photo of Naomi Campbell & linda evangelista in their window (which I promise you neither lady endorsed). I wouldn’t want anyone using my photo for business promotion without some sort of financial compensation and more importantly approval.

      • McCarthy

        FYI – Sam was an amazing hair stylist. I don’t care what the price is when it comes to a great haircut…$10 or $100. The service provided by him and his staff was unparalleled. As for the photo in the window…Sam did a lot of work with celebrities and I wouldn’t be surprised if he did in fact have permission to use that photo. Either way, who are you to be so critical? I for one, am shocked and sad that his salon is no longer open. The ZOSO building certainly knows how to get rid of businesses…you’d think with how much they charge for rent that they’d be able to clean up the vomit on the sidewalk in front of their leasing office…disgusting.

        • N. Shirlington

          If you only knew…Zoso is definitely not to blame…don’t want to put his business out there…but Zoso had no idea he was leaving.

        • Ryan

          Honestly I really do not think you know the true secrets of that salon. That business had high turn around, they had horrible business practices, employees were constantly mistreated. For god sake half the time he did not even used barbicide and my head got infected after my 50 dollar haircut (which is not much to start with. There were also issues with the ABC Board as well. I just believe that for the economic times people in this area are really not trying to spend so much on a haircut because with the high rent and other expenses usually premium haircuts are the first to go.

  • Bender

    We will continue to see a lot of this as the development bubble pops.

    Just as there is too much population density in our “urban village,” there is too much business density. Businesses cannot be sustained for long in this “smart growth.” There are simply too many businesses chasing after too few consumers’ dollars.

  • BakeShop friend

    Hey All, personal friend and some might say, teammate of Justin’s here. The ‘Shop is alive and doing well, in particular thanks as some of have alluded to: repeat customers, neighborhood support, and large-scale orders.

    When Crumbs prepared to open, we would constantly answer a barrage of questions that alluded or pointed to our demise. Justin’s response proved prophetic in a humorous way: “Bring it, let the neighborhood experience an alternative”. And to which they did. Feel free and Yelp both establishments to see a common thread that resonates for both stores. Revenues increased after their opening.

    Few know this, but Justin has turned down a few television and media opportunities that would have offered significant publicity. He’s a baker, and not a kitschy promoter. The goods you see produced is what drives him and the bakery. He’s trying to build a local “home” and not an empire.

    Regarding Filmore St., it’s an excellent location. The main strip will be considerably bogged down by major chains that can afford the enormous rent and growth will continue expanding outwardly to side streets. Here’s to continued growth to local businesses…

  • Nicki

    I love Screwtop and even though the outside seating is not ideal–it is a great place. We have been to Bakeshop several times. Every time we go there, they are out of everything so we have crossed them off of our list. Maybe the inventory is low because they are so good and always sold out, but regardless, not a place we frequent anymore. Artisans is good but expensive. We also liked Flatbread but did not like how the owner complained about the neighborhood not giving him the outdoor seating he thought he deserved. That building was never intended for that kind of retail. Agree with the person who said that basic neighborhood services would have been great for that street-not high end establishments. For example, Clarendon desperately needs a hardware store. We lost the one we had a long time ago. Time to get it back. People are able to find the ABC store, believe me they would be able to find a hardware store too.

    • CW

      Who would frequent a hardware store? The apartment dwellers contractually forbidden from physically altering their units? Or do you think a lot of the millionaire lawyers are closet handymen who like to DIY on their BCN McMansions?

      • Clarendon

        Well I would for one. But I probably agree that the mass of apartment dwellers on average wouldn’t need a true hardware store. I think a variety store would be a better fit, sort of like Ayers – a bit of housewares (just bought an iron skillet from Ayers), a bit of hardware – common stuff, a bit of art supplies, and updated for the modern age – cables for AV and computer. In a small space, it would take a bit of inventory management but that’s what running a good hardware store is all about.

        • CW

          OK. Agree with that one. Housewares like what you describe, but beyond what they have at CVS, would probably be in demand. But I doubt there’d be much of a market for lag bolts or reciprocating saws (my idea of a hardware store).

      • LP

        As someone who lives a block from Zoso/Kavenchy, I’d frequent a Hardware store fairly often.

        I usually have to go to Cherrydale Hardware and they seem to do just fine, business wise. I’d love to have a local Hardware store.

  • BakeShop friend


    Email me: [email protected] re: BakeShop.

    • CW

      Does anyone else think that ARLnow should moderate against this kind of thing?

      • AllenB

        No. Why should you prevent a retailer responding to a negative comment and trying to make it right?

        • CW

          Umm, because this is a news site, not a business review or consumer affairs site?

  • BakeShop friend

    “Against this kind of thing”-as in attempting to discern an issue a customer has brought to our attention in a private manner (email)?

    Perhaps throwing in a caveat regarding bars, brown flip flops, and popped collars would be more useful.

    • CW

      No, I’m just suggesting that perhaps the owner of this community news site might wish to not have it hijacked as a forum for business owners (or thinly veiled associates thereof) to advertise directly and free of charge.

      Also, the “reply” link is your friend.

      • BakeShop friend

        Let it go, CW. “Hijacked” is a far exaggeration. The ‘Shop was referenced numerous times, I’m a friend of the owners and shared information that was directly relevant to the discussion. As an attorney, I am very mindful of the moderator’s forum, rules, and asked a poster to directly contact me off-line. How is that a problem?

        Of course, I could always be so informative with substantive replies to the ARLnow’s postings such as yours to the crime report: “Change the description to a 25-year-old bleach-blonde tanning bed abuser with a pomeranian and you’ve got typical Clarendon dog owner behavior.”

        • AllenB


        • CW

          Great ad hominem attack there; you really got me with that one. I was simply asking a rhetorical question, which was as to whether the site wished to allow the comment forums to be used as a place for advertising businesses. This thread is not the only example. My opinion is that it somewhat crosses the line between a news story and interested persons discussing it when a business owner comes on and starts touting his or her business. That was just my opinion.

          Always great to drop the “as an attorney” line. That must really make you stand out around here.

          • Clarendon

            I like how you emphasized that it is your opinion. Unless we are dealing with undisputed facts, that’s all any of us are doing on these forums, but too many people state their opinions as facts.

            Anyway, I disagree… I think it’s great when business owners participate in an open forum. It can be risky for them, so not sure if it is a good business strategy but I like it.

          • McCarthy

            I’m just curious…after reading part of your ongoing comment battle with the bakeshop friend…do you know what PR is? And, no, I’m not referring to Puerto Rico. Also related to your comments…Freedom of Speech. Enough said.

        • In Arlington, who ISN’T an attorney?

          Sigh. You just had to go there, didn’t you? Like the world doesn’t hate attorneys enough already.

          Well then, from one attorney to another, I would suggest that perhaps you may wish to counsel Bake Shop with greater diligence regarding its public persona.

          I attended the Screwtop wine tasting that was jointly held with Bake Shop. Perhaps you remember it – it was the one in which Bake Shop showed up late. All the attendees were seated and waiting, but there were no cupcakes to begin the wine pairings. When Bake Shop arrived, there was no effort at apology; instead, the for the remainder of the event the Bake Shop shop proprietor spent most of his energy flirting with the female attendees instead of explaining the cupcakes he had brought.

          I recall being embarrassed for the wine shop owner, who had been extremely professional throughout, in both demeanor and logistics. As a result, I’ve been back to Screwtop many times…and haven’t set foot in Bake Shop since.

          • MDV

            I’m not sure your one experience with Bakeshop (which actually doesn’t sound that bad to me — you really needed cupcakes explained to you?) constitutes their “public persona”. But hey, I’m not an attorney, so what do I know?

          • In Arlington, who ISN’T an attorney?

            I didn’t say it was my only experience with Bake Shop. I said it was my last. Having previously experienced erratic hours and intermittent inventory, I made a personal decision that enough was enough.

            Which isn’t such a heartache – I’m not much for cupcakes. But if I have the yen, Lavendar Moon in Alexandria is the best by far. [Personal disclaimer – I am in no way affiliated with Lavendar Moon, nor have I ever accepted a free cupcake from this enterprise.]

          • Clarendon

            Being out of stuff is disappointing, but I can’t really be too hard on that for a small shop that wants everything to be fresh. The unreliable hours is more of an issue but I think things have improved on that front. The whole shop was closed for a week or more this year while the owner was on vacation. Very disappointing for me who wanted to buy a dozen for a party but it made me chuckle anyway as that is what small, owner-operated is all about sometimes- the guy needs a vacation now and then.

            I’m actually with you on the cupcakes – I’m the type that likes a little cake with my ice cream, but his cookies are awesome and the coffee he serves is very good as well. I’m very happy that places like Bake Shop are in my neighborhood.

        • N. Shirlington

          like…Bakeshop rocks! Continue to do what you need to do to keep your customers happy. We appreciate you

      • Johnny Utah

        How is Bakeshop ‘advertising’ in this situation? I think the associate is just trying to right a wrong, IMHO. I love how folks that comment on these forums can say whatever they want about businesses, people, etc…,(some true, a lot false) but as soon as the business owner (or associate) writes in it is considered a ‘risky situation’. Seems kind of unfair to me.

        • Lee-n-Glebe

          I think they did exactly the opposite of advertising here. In fact, when they wanted to respond directly to another poster, they went out of their way to provide a non-forum method for doing so. I think BakeShop’s friend is acting perfectly appropriately.

  • ClarendonRes

    Haha! Like!!

  • BakeShop friend

    Thanks to all for their comments. In full disclosure, I do not receive any money from BakeShop..except for a free cupcake or 2. I’m not employed in any capacity by them. I’m a friend of the owners. If you visit the ‘Shop, you may see a group of familiar faces enjoying sweets, coffee, or tea. I’m one of them. If we see the front counter employee (usually a high schooler) overwhelmed by a line of folks, it’s one of us that jumps in and assists. We’re all friends and we want to see this little ‘Shop make it.

    CW-I let my defensive instinct take over, I hope no harm, no foul. One has to acknowledge that the comments, though many of them very humorous, at times add little value to the original content referenced. I was only hoping to add a gleam “from the inside” to a comment by a poster.

    To: “In Arlington, who ISN’T an attorney?”: I clearly recall that event, the BakeShop owner had been slammed by wedding orders since 6am and rushed over as quickly as possible. He did acknowledge that he was late and apologized. I was there (I’m female myself) and witnessed numerous ladies approach him in conversation. Are you going to blame him for this? Should he have ignored them? As they say: Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

    • In Arlington, who ISN’T an attorney?

      If you clearly recall the event, then you surely will remember that the Bake Shop proprietor did not act as a cohost of the event and distribute his cupcakes for each pairing; instead, he stood idly chatting while one of the guests who had paid to attend was pressed into service to do this task.

      I appreciate that you are a loyal friend but I don’t think even you would characterize arriving late and shadow co-hosting as putting one’s best foot forward in generating good will for a budding business. But my opinion is just that – my opinion. I wish the proprietor no ill will. Nor you. We are each free to form our own opinions and patronize businesses as we choose.

  • former stylist at kavenchy

    I was a stylist at Kavenchy and I have to comment on this situation.
    The salon was gorgeous but the reason it failed is because it lacked a heart.
    I say this because I have experienced Sam’s salon as first a “friend”, then as a stylist.
    Sam is as cold as the concrete floors in his space.
    He will be better off as a misunderstood “artist” because he lacks the one leadership quality that makes any boss rise above others: humility!
    There is too much attitude on the corner of 11th and Fillmore and who wants to deal with that when paying $100 plus for a haircut?

    • former client of salon

      I am in total shock. I have been going to Sam for almost 10 years when he was at Bubbles at Pentagon City. I was never a fan of Sam’s personality. He is totally full of himself but he is talented and that is why I continued to go to him. I went today for my cut/ color appt and was shocked to see that it was closed. I didn’t get any email from him about his closing. I would be curious to see the email. If you got it please post. Now I have to find another place to go. This sucks!

      • Former stylist at Kavenchy

        Try salon deZEN
        1008 king street
        Old town

    • Ryan

      I totally agree with you . I am also a former employee and I was let go for no apparent reason (no write-ups, no warning, etc.) and replaced with a female who I guess looked better. There was no heart. Stylists were left hanging dry. I remember looking Sam in his face and telling him if he did not start caring and attempting to look at changing some procedure and ops then he could wish his business goodbye. I feel sad and I hope the best for him; however, its karma.

    • Ryan

      I totally agree with you . I am also a former employee and I was let go for no apparent reason (no write-ups, no warning, etc.) and replaced with a female who I guess looked better. He even refused to hire a black massage therapist because he was black! (Straight up that is what he told me). There was no heart. Stylists were left hanging dry. I remember looking Sam in his face and telling him if he did not start caring and attempting to look at changing some procedure and ops then he could wish his business goodbye. I feel sad and I hope the best for him; however, its karma.

  • Former Kavenchy Client

    I followed my Stylist to Kavenchy. While the shop was chic and gorgeous, Sam was a weirdo, 200% selfish and in my opinion medicated! He had a serious staring problem as in the beginning he would look at his non-white clients in a strange manner. I didn’t like him, he was a straight weirdo with multiple personalities. Often he would be painting in the shop rather than doing hair. If you don’t have the passion for the business then don’t do it BUT give your people time to find something else. By the way, I never got an email from his non-professional crazy self! I am blessed to have one of the best Professional, Gifted and Passionate Senior Stylist in the DMV. Hope he doesn’t quit the art thingy….

  • oj

    He was a terrible business man, and robbed from his former employees. I am not surprised that his doors closed. If he was so successful why did his shop have to close after only 2 years.

  • Nicholet

    Crazy to read all of this stuff a year later…I was a client of Sam’s for 3 years, and thought he was a good person until he closed his doors and didn’t include me on the e-mail and my wedding was 10 days away. He was scheduled to do my wedding hair, and left me scrambling… I feel for someone whos business crashes, but hearing this reviews makes me believe he was cold. I had scheduled him for months in advance of my wedding, and we had discussed it in detail so he knew… it’s unfortunate.


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