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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.
Something exceedingly rare happened during last night’s County Board meeting.
A broad spectrum of Arlington civic life — including progressives, the Chamber of Commerce, business owners, county commissions and a local civic association — all lined up to speak against an ordinance recommended for approval by county staff — one that was temporarily approved by the Board a month and a half ago.
The Board voted 4-1 against extending the sidewalk crowding ordinance, which was approved on July 31 on an emergency basis and will now expire at the end of this month.
The ordinance was passed in a closed County Board session amid growth in coronavirus cases among younger Arlington residents, and outcry against large crowds lined up outside popular Clarendon bars and outdoor venues, as seen in photos posted to social media. It prohibited congregating in a group of more than three in designated zones in Clarendon, making violations a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of up to $100.
While the county’s health director and other local experts agreed that such crowding presented a risk of virus transmission, it was also not necessarily seen as riskier than other activities that remained perfectly legal — dining inside at a restaurant, driving with a group in a car, etc.
With the rate of new cases now down from the summer peak, the urgency with which the emergency ordinance passed was replaced at last night’s meeting by a more sober assessment of whether enforcement was worth the effort.
A county staff presentation suggested it was.
“Clarendon has seen an influx of patrons 10 p.m.-2 a.m.,” the presentation said. “Efforts to spread out long lines of patrons by officers and restaurant security have been met with defiance, confrontation, and hostility.”
County Manager Mark Schwartz, however, revealed that no fines — “zero… the number between negative one and one,” he said as County Board member Christian Dorsey sought clarification — have been issued so far, despite the posting of signs and an ongoing public education effort.
Community members who spoke before the County Board’s hearing were unanimous in their skepticism of the ordinance.
Gillian Burgess, chair of the Arlington County Bicycle Advisory Committee, started her remarks by listing the names of Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and others.
“There are but a few of the Black Americans who lost their lives due to minor infractions,” Burgess said. “After a summer of reckoning with America’s and Arlington’s racist past, we must acknowledge the role of over-broad laws and ordinances in allowing police a pretext to stop Black people and people of color.”
She went on to say, as also argued by Arlington Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt, that the ordinance prohibits common pedestrian activity, singling out those on foot.
The ordinance “seems to make it an infraction for me to walk down a specified sidewalk with my three young children,” she said. “It almost certainly would be an infraction for the four of us to wait at a bus stop on those sidewalk.”
“I support limiting the spread of COVID and urge the County Board to use every tool in its toolbox to support getting vulnerable children back into schools… this ordinance is not a tool that helps with this problem,” she concluded. “I urge the Board to repeal this.”
Joining in the criticism were representatives from the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, the Arlington Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and the Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Association, as well as local business owners.
Spider Kelly’s owner Nick Freshman, speaking on behalf of business owners in the Clarendon area, said the ordinance is doing little to stop the spread of the virus while hurting main street businesses that are in danger of closing.
While Virginia’s reopening continues, not everyone wants to dine indoors at restaurants.
Just today, Texas closed bars and reduced restaurant capacity to stem a recent surge in new coronavirus cases. For those who want to get out of the house and support local restaurants, however, outdoor dining is generally considered to be safe.
ARLnow’s Turquoise Jackson compiled the following list of Arlington restaurants with outdoor dining areas over the past week. Have any additions or updates? Email her at [email protected].
Tired of making lunch and dinner? Luckily, many of Arlington’s restaurants are still open and ready to serve you via takeout and delivery.
Support a local business during a trying time and get some tasty food. This list is designed to let you call or order online with one tap.
A very special thank you to Arlington Community Federal Credit Union for sponsoring this feature. See anything that needs to be added or changed? Email ARLnow’s Turquoise Jackson at [email protected].
*Asterisk indicates restaurants only open for takeout
Bakeshop (1025 N. Fillmore Street G)
Now closed (temporary)
Olive Express Mediterranean Cafe (1100 N. Glebe Road)
Now closed (temporary)
A new cafe, restaurant and live music venue called “The Renegade” is hoping to open later this month in the former Mister Days space in Clarendon.
Renegade is “eyeing a late October opening” in the 5,500-square foot space that once housed the popular nightlife destination before it closed in April. The new business is run by chef Patrick Crump, who formerly worked at Clarendon Ballroom, Spider Kelly’s and the now-closed Clarendon Grill, and before that cooked at the famed Inn at Little Washington.
“A renegade is someone who rejects the conventional, and I think the neighborhood is ready for something new and different,” Crump said in a statement today (Friday) of his latest, ambitious venture.
The menu itself is set to include an dizzying array of international “stackable bites, skewers, bowls, and housemate dips” from crispy Korean chicken with a moo shu pancake to fried yucca and jalapeño aioli. Other items will be developed from Vietnamese, Thai, Egyptian, and Malaysian cuisine.
Each small dish is expected to cost between $3-5 to encourage patrons to sample several.
“I want spicy, crunchy, bright, and tart. High heat, bold flavors, and something that really grabs you from the first bite,” Crump said.
Pairing with that will be “bright, crisp rosés, rieslings, and sauvignon blancs” on Renegade’s wine list. The bar will also have 12 local craft brews on tap.
The Portland-based coffee may be rare in the D.C., but including a coffee bar also puts Renegade in competition with a Peet’s Coffee across the street, as well as Clarendon’s other coffee mainstays: Northside Social, Starbucks, Waterhouse Coffee, Bakeshop, Oby Lee, Detour Coffee, Dunkin Donuts, Heritage Brewing, and the future East West Cafe and Kaldi’s Social House.
Renegade, which Crump originally called “The Grill on Highland,” also aims to book weekly bands for live music on its 20-foot stage. The chef said he hoped to fill the hole left by longtime music cafe IOTA’s closure two years ago.
Once open, the business will operate seven days a week from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 6 a.m.-2 a.m. Thursday and Friday, and 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
More from a press release, after the jump.
Renegade Coffee and Kitchen is coming to the former Mister Days space at 3100 Clarendon Blvd.
“What we’ve got is full-service espresso with Stumptown Coffee,” said Patrick Crump, executive chef and owner of Renegade Coffee and Kitchen.
The Portland-based Stumptown Coffee is widely lauded, but a rare sight in the D.C. region. Taps are are being set up along the new coffee bar to serve nitro cold brew coffee. The unique offerings could help Renegade stand out, and steady daytime business could help the business afford the high Clarendon rent, but the restaurant faces plenty of competition, including a Peet’s Coffee across the street.
Other coffee competition in Clarendon competition includes Northside Social, Waterhouse Coffee, Heritage Brewing, Oby Lee, Detour Coffee, Bakeshop, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks and the future East West Cafe and Kaldi’s Social House.
Crump is no stranger to Clarendon. He’s executive chef at Clarendon Ballroom, Spider Kelly’s and formerly Clarendon Grill — which closed in October after 22 years. Crump’s vision for Renegade is a full-service restaurant with an international menu — including cuisine from Morocco to Vietnam. The menu will mostly be small bites from around $3 to $5, he said.
Another part of the restaurant’s aim is helping to revive the local live music scene. The coffee bar only takes up one corner of the restaurant, so the rest is filled with seating, with plans to use some of it as a music venue — taking up the crown left unclaimed in the wake of Clarendon Grill and Iota Club and Cafe’s closures.
“We want to replace Iota for live music,” said Eric Anderson, general manager and partner. “We want to bring that back.”
In the evenings, Crump plans to turn the area into a nightclub to help carry on the Mister Days legacy.
The coffee shop is still working through some permit approvals, but the owners said they expect Renegade to open within five or six weeks. In the meantime, the company is currently hiring full and part-time baristas, servers and bartenders.