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The co-owner of popular Clarendon nightlife spot Spider Kelly’s is planning a new restaurant for the base of a Crystal City office building.
Restaurateur Nick Freshman is launching “The Freshman” at 2011 Crystal Drive, he announced today (Tuesday). He hopes to have it open by sometime in 2020.
Freshman hopes to offer “high-quality coffee, teas, and craft cocktails” at the restaurant, in addition to “breakfast, lunch and dinner options made in-house with fresh local ingredients.”
The Freshman will set up shop in a 3,400-square-foot space that was once home to a Noodles & Company location, which shut down last fall. The restaurant will have room for 120 diners and a 50-seat outdoor patio.
“I’ve seen firsthand how much the neighborhood has changed over the years and I knew I wanted to be a part of the growth,” Freshman, who lives in the area, said in a release. “When Amazon announced that they were coming to town, I knew that the opportunity to be part of this story was just too good to pass up, especially considering this is my backyard.”
Like most of the other office buildings across Crystal City, developer JBG Smith owns the property, and is trumpeting The Freshman as the first retailer to sign a lease in the area since Amazon tabbed the neighborhood for its massive new headquarters.
The company is planning an expansive new redevelopment of other retail offerings nearby, and it’s envisioning The Freshman’s arrival as one in a series of big changes on the way for the newly dubbed “National Landing” neighborhood in the coming years.
“The Freshman is a perfect fit for National Landing given Nick’s longstanding ties to the neighborhood and his concept’s natural appeal to the neighborhood’s residents, office workers and daily visitors,” Amy Rice, senior vice president at JBG Smith, said in a statement.
Freshman is launching the eatery in tandem with Mothersauce Partners, a restaurant advisory and investment firm he launched in 2016. The company has helped found The Eleanor and Takoma Beverage Company in D.C., with similar offerings as Freshman’s plans for the new Crystal City establishment.
In this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast, we talked with Nick about the current state of Arlington’s restaurant business, why so many restaurants are closing, and why he’s decided to start investing in and advising new restaurants. Nick also discusses the ups and downs and strategy behind running a bar and restaurant.
The beer garden, which is located in the back patio of the Clarendon watering hole, first started serving customers last Thursday. With the sun finally shining after some not-so-nice weather this month, hopes are high for big crowds.
“We are really happy it’s here and our hope is that it will be something that our customers want,” said co-owner Nick Freshman.
“The goal in building it was to create a new outdoor space sort of supplemental to the space that we have inside,” Freshman said. “We kept a lot of the theme from the inside to the outside.”
A local graffiti artist, Andrew Funk, was hired to do a custom graffiti mural to add color to the space and to match the graffiti art inside.
The casual outdoor space offers seating for small and large groups. There is a combination of communal style seating with picnic benches and seating around two fire pits. There is also hightop seating at the bar. The large space offers a capacity of up to 300 people.
Beers, sangrias and ciders are served in the beer garden, and the beer list has been substantially expanded. There are 30 offered cans and 16 tap lines. There are also three homemade sangrias: red, white and sparkling.
For those arriving after work, there is a $4 happy hour drink special. The entire food menu is offered outside.
It’s being billed as a beer garden — arguably the first or one of the first in Clarendon — and within about a month it will start serving Clarendon bar-goers who want to want to enjoy their brews outside.
Spider Kelly’s (3181 Wilson Blvd) is currently putting the finishing touches on a new, 2,500 square foot outdoor patio. It’s located to the right of the Clarendon watering hole’s back door, behind Don Tito and across N. Hudson Street from Brixx Pizza.
No opening date has been set yet, but co-owner Nick Freshman says he’s hoping planning to open “sometime before Memorial Day weekend.”
“It’s an extension of existing SK with same style and atmosphere,” Freshman tells ARLnow.com. The beer garden will feature:
- Capacity for 300
- 20+ foot concrete bar with canvas awning
- Two fire pits
- Bar tables, communal picnic style tables, benches and other types of seating
- A large, commissioned graffiti-style mural
- Six-foot fence around the patio
- Lots of beer: 16 taps, 30 cans, ciders, sangrias, etc.
- Large, telescoping umbrellas for shade
- Tivoli-style string lighting
Freshman said Spider Kelly’s is also adding new bathrooms inside, doubling the existing restroom capacity.
The concept for the original Spider Kelly’s was “a neighborhood hole in the wall,” says general manager and co-owner Nick Freshman. But the former hole in the wall has knocked down a few walls to become one of the biggest bars in Clarendon.
Spider Kelly’s has quietly taken the paper off the windows and opened for business, attracting about 100 customers last night, its first night open since renovations began in December. What would have been a big crowd at a normal bar was well under a quarter of Spider Kelly’s certified capacity of 455.
Pool tables, shuffleboard tables, dart boards and arcade-style video games have been brought in to add “more fun” to the neighborhood hangout. The well-received, value-priced menu has been expanded (more on that after the jump). Outdoor sidewalk seating for about 32 people will be added once the weather is warm enough, probably by the beginning of May.
The motivation for the new Spider Kelly’s was part vision, part opportunism. Just as the original Spider Kelly’s opened in 2008 by taking over the lease of a struggling restaurant, the new Spider Kelly’s came about largely because two neighboring businesses were looking to move or close up shop.
“We like to think of it as a natural evolution,” Freshman says. He and business partner Nick Langman — who also co-owns Clarendon Ballroom and Eventide Restaurant — dreamed up the idea of a “neighborhood spot, no pretension, just relaxed” back in college, a genesis that perhaps explains the obscure Hemmingway reference (Spider Kelly was a very minor character in “The Sun Also Rises”).
“It wasn’t without a certain amount of trepidation that we decided to expand,” Freshman said. Despite the lagging economy, Freshman says he Langman were impressed by Clarendon’s “resiliency,” including its ability to support the host of new food and nightlife options that have popped up in the past two years.
“I wouldn’t want be in any other neighborhood,” Freshman said, quipping that, in the end, “we figured someone has to get the economy going again, so we decided to quadruple in size.”
Spider Kelly’s will open at 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and at 11:00 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Lots of photos, and a first look at the new food and drink menus, after the jump.
After acquiring two small, adjacent storefronts, Spider Kelly’s in Clarendon is aggressively expanding inside and adding sidewalk seating outside.
Based on a floor plan filed with the county (below), the new Spider Kelly’s will feature three pool tables, five shuffleboard tables, five video game machines, four darts stations, two old school basketball arcade games, a big island bar, sidewalk seating for 32 and indoor seating for at least 150.
Permission for the outdoor seating and a new outdoor sign will be discussed and is expected to be approved at Saturday morning’s county board meeting. If all goes well, the new Spider Kelly’s could open as soon as next weekend.
We got a peak inside yesterday as job candidates trickled out the door, and there’s only one word to describe the interior: massive.
Check back here on Tuesday for interior photos. In the meantime, check out the floor plan, so big it had to be broken up into two separate images.
The Freshman is, both figuratively and literally, a little underground.
The restaurant comes from Nick Freshman, who’s also behind Spider Kelly’s in Clarendon. The Freshman is not planned to fully launch in its permanent home at 2011 Crystal Drive until 2020, but in the meantime the eatery has had a quiet “soft launch” across the street in Crystal City Shops.
The pop-up officially opened this morning (Thursday), at the north end of the shops at 2102 Crystal Plaza, in the former Au Bon Pain space
“We’re in plans and permitting across the street,” said Freshman, “but that process… it takes a long time, even opening in a place that used to be a restaurant. You plan and design and it could take a year.”
The plans to open The Freshman got pushed further back as the building underwent both interior and exterior renovations. Freshman said he had the equipment and a team ready to go but nowhere to set them up.
Their main location and the former Au Bon Pain are both owned by JBG Smith, so when Freshman approached the company about the idea of opening a pop-up in the empty space, the property owner was on board.
The pop-up does not offer The Freshman’s full menu. Freshman estimated it was about 40 percent of what’s to come, with dinner and cocktails planned for the main site, but the pop-up currently serves up coffee and breakfast and lunch options that Freshman said the area seemed in desperate need of.
“There’s no point in doing it if we don’t do it well,” Freshman said. “The challenge is worth it because the community is dying for a viable alternative to [existing] breakfast and lunch options.”
The breakfast and lunch offerings include a tofu scramble with vegan cheese, plus sandwiches or salads for lunch. Prices range from $6 for an egg and cheese sandwich to $14 for a Reuben sandwich.
“We’re underground, so for a while it looked like we might be underwater, but we stayed totally dry,” Freshman said. “We saw more of a surge [of customers] than expected. But even in dry weather, people use this corridor. If you don’t work or live here, you don’t know about it, but if you do it’s a critical part of your movement.”
Currently, Freshman says the pop-up is planned to stay open through the end of the year, but the stay is largely dependent on how fast or slow progress is across the street.
“Right now, we’re meeting people and listening,” Freshman said. “Every night, we’ve been making tweaks to the menu, but that’s normal opening stuff.”
It’s been a week full of snow, but spring-like conditions are possible this weekend.
Once the snow flurries finish tapering off, the forecast calls for temperatures to rise into the 40s and 50s for the weekend, with even warmer days possible next week.
Swing by our event calendar if you need some suggestions on how to enjoy the nice weather this weekend, or where to watch the Patriots and the Rams square off Sunday.
Or you can catch up on our most popular stories of the past week:
- Person Struck by Train at Courthouse Metro Station
- Arlington Must Open Up Single-Family Neighborhoods to Different Housing Options, Advocates Argue
- ACPD Investigating Shooting in Nauck
- Spider Kelly’s Co-Owner Launching New Restaurant ‘The Freshman’ in Crystal City
- Long-Vacant Ballston Office Building Could Soon Lure New Tenants as Part of Revitalization Bid
Head down to the comments to discuss these stories, your weekend plans or anything else local. Have a great one!
This year, the Jewish holiday begins at sunset on Sunday (Dec. 2) and ends the following Monday, Dec. 10.
Arlington is ready for the festivities to begin, with seven events planned in the area for locals to attend during Hanukkah.
- Dec. 2: Chanukah at Kol Ami — The Northern Virginia affiliate of the Jewish Reconstructionist Movement is set to sing and play dreidel at its potluck. Attendees are asked bring their menorahs, candles and pre-cooked food.
- Dec. 2: Light Up Your Shabbanukkah Table — OneTable will be at the Crate & Barrel on Clarendon Blvd to learn how to get your table ready for the Festival of Lights.
- Dec. 4: Chanukah in Clarendon — Spider Kelly’s will have a menorah lighting and dreidel tournament. The $18 admission includes a drink ticket, latkes and unlimited darts, pool and shuffleboard.
- Dec. 5: Clarendon Chanukah Menorah Lighting — The free event at Clarendon Central Park will include the lighting of a six-foot menorah and hot potato latkes, chocolate gelt and dreidels.
- Dec. 6: Chanukah on Ice — Head to the Pentagon Row Ice Rink for the lighting of a six-foot menorah, a free raffle, ice skating and kosher hot dogs. Tickets, which include the skate rental, bought before Monday (Dec. 3) are $10 and $13 after.
- Dec. 6: Festival of Lasers — Compete in laser tag to celebrate Hanukkah at the Ultrazone Laser Tag in Falls Church. Tickets are $25.
- Dec. 7: Shabbat-Hanukkah Party — The Congregation Etz Hayim’s monthly potluck will turn into a Hanukkah party after Shabbat services at 6:15 p.m. After kiddush and motzi, the group will serve latkes alongside the potluck, sing songs and play Hanukkah games.
Each week, we highlight select deals and events around Arlington, with help from Tim’s Arlington Directory. Some require a coupon or have more instructions, so be sure to click the link for details and any additional requirements.
Saturday, April 28:
- A-Town – Brunch
- BABA – Brunch
- Bar Bao – Bottomless Brunch Soft Opening
- Carlyle – Brunch
- Cheesetique – Brunch
- Green Pig Bistro – Brunch
- Liberty Tavern – Brunch
- Lyon Hall – Brunch
- Whitlow’s – Brunch
- Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse – Chris Redd LIVE
- Ballston Station – Bus Winery Tour 11am
- Bayou Bakery – Crawfish Boil – 4pm
- Celtic House – The Crimestoppers LIVE
- Crystal City – Drab to Fab 10am
- Crystal City Wine Shop – Staff Pick Tasting
- Encore Stage & Studio – 50th Anniversary Bash
- Ireland’s Four Courts – 75 cents wings 10am-8pm & Live Music
- National Airport – Tiger Honor Flight Greeting 930am
- National Prescription Drug Take Back Day
- New District Brewing -A Cure for Ellie Yoga & Beer 1030am
- O’Sullivan’s – Uncle Jesse LIVE
- Rhodeside Grill – Midnight Animals LIVE
- Signature Theatre – Girlfriend 8pm
- Spider Kelly’s – Relay for Life Cornhole Tournament 1pm
- Summers – Comedy Showcase 8pm\
- Theatre on the Run – Complete Dogness 4pm
- TR Island – Weekly Park Run 9-10am
- Wakefield High School – Spring Plant Sale
- West Columbia Pike Food Truck Party
- Westover Market Beer Garden – Gayle Harrod Band LIVE
- Whitlow’s – DJ Freedom
Food & Drink
- Ambar Clarendon – Late Night Menu
- Ireland’s Four Courts – Kids Eat Free 10am-7pm
- Mussel Bar – Give Winter The Boot
- Pepita & Cantina – $19 All You Can Eat Tacos 1130am-3pm
Beyer’s GOP Challenger Holding Arlington Event — “Republican congressional candidate Thomas Oh will host a campaign kickoff on Tuesday, April 24 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Spider Kelly’s, 3181 Wilson Blvd. Oh is the GOP challenger to U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th), who is seeking a third term. He was the only Republican to file for the nomination.” [InsideNova]
Local Scenes on Sale at Arts Fest — Among the artists at the upcoming Arlington Festival of the Arts in Clarendon will be Joseph Craig English, whose “silkscreens and lithographs capture local landmarks and street corners in vivid colors,” including “an architectural juxtaposition of old buildings and new construction in Courthouse; Potomac River vistas; local murals and street signs known to commuters who’ve passed by them for years.” [Arlington Magazine]
Arlington Tourism Surtax Gets Gov’s Signature — “The Arlington County government will be able to continue collecting a surtax on hotel stays to pay for tourism promotion, now that Gov. Northam has signed legislation extending the measure for three more years.” [InsideNova]
Don’t Try This at Home — Per scanner traffic, police officers responding to a call yesterday afternoon were advised that “the suspect is known for using hand sanitizer as an alcoholic drink.”
Nearby: Alexandria OKs More Funding for Metro Station — “Plans to build a new Metro station at Potomac Yard in Alexandria, Virginia, took a crucial step forward Tuesday. Alexandria City Council unanimously approved raising the budget from $268 million to $320 million. The change was made in part to reflect the rising cost of materials and labor.” [WTOP]
Photo by Dwayne Stewart