Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring Three Ballston Plaza.
An organization founded by Wakefield High School alumna is returning to its stomping grounds this September to give back.
Founded in 2004 by Latina students and Wakefield school counselor Madeline LaSalle, Latinas Leading Tomorrow (LLT) offers young women in the D.C. area free camps and programs focused on STEM as well as professional and leadership development.
Fresh from running a STEM summer camp that targeted first-generation Latina middle-schoolers in July, LLT will next offer an after-school program for girls at Yorktown High School, Wakefield and the Arlington Career Center.
“This program focuses on leadership development, mentorship, community service and creating a safe space for the girls that breaks down barriers many of them are facing,” board chair of LLT Rebecca Singhavong said.
Likewise, the summer camp last month also showed Latina girls what they are capable of, dispelling stereotypes about who can pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math, Singhavong said. About 70% of campers were first-generation and Hispanic students.
“It was pretty amazing,” said Singhavong. “At LLT, one of the main things we strive to do is break down barriers and stereotypes that Latina girls often grow up hearing, including the idea that STEM fields are only for men.”
Every day, campers participated in activities such as painting flowers, coding and 3D printing. They also met with women who have careers in STEM.
“All our programs are big on having role models, so the girls can see people who they can aspire to be,” Singhavong said.
Singhavong credited Marymount University professor Diane Murphy for her help ensuring this year’s camp was in-person, after it was held virtually for a few years during Covid. The camp was also made possible by a grant from a NASA program, NASA Inspires Futures for Tomorrow’s Youth.
In addition to camps and after-school activities, LLT offers a virtual professional development program that teaches personal branding and provides LinkedIn profile training and resume help, Singhavong said. Every LLT program is completely free.
“We are often dealing with families who would normally not have access to programs like ours because of funding concerns or accessibility,” Singhavong said. “Many of our campers came from fairly far distances each day to get to Marymount because their communities do not have any type of program like this.”
Singhavong — who is first-generation herself — said she has only been with LLT for a year, however, the organization has been running multiple programs for young Latina women for over 10 years.
Its mission, she says, is to combat a common stereotype that she has seen and faced herself: one that Hispanic women are meant to be caregivers and not dream of having professional careers.
“We focus on just girls because many Latina women are taught to be caregivers from a young age, but we want them to focus on themselves and what they want to do in their future,” Singhavong said.
Get your stomachs — and wallets — ready for Summer Restaurant Week, which is coming to Arlington in two weeks.
From Monday, Aug. 28 to Sunday, Sept. 3, eateries around Arlington will be dishing out three-course lunches, brunches and dinners for prices that only come around twice a year. Brunches and lunches will cost $25 and dinners either $40 or $55.
“This bi-annual event invites diners to experience Washington’s top restaurants at an affordable price point,” a press release said.
Here is what some participating local spots have on the menu:
- Ambar Clarendon, a small-plates restaurant celebrating Balkan cuisine, will serve lunches and dinners with spreads, charcuterie, flatbreads and slow-roasted meats and dessert.
- Clarendon Mexican restaurant Buena Vida will offer a lunch and dinner menu.
- Pentagon City barbeque joint Epic Smokehouse will have breakfast, lunch and dinner options.
- Shirlington Italian restaurant Osteria da Nino will have a dinner menu featuring pizzas, pastas and more.
- The Crystal City location of a global steakhouse chain, Morton’s Steakhouse, will have a dinner menu.
- Potomac Social Tavern, an American restaurant in Crystal City, is offering guests a dinner menu.
- The award-winning Ruthie’s All-Day, an Arlington Heights standby for Southern fare, will offer lunch and dinner menus this year.
- For its dinner menu, WHINO in Ballston Quarter will serve modern small-plate dishes fusing American and international flavors and ingredients.
Other local participants include Bar Ivy in Clarendon, Cheesetique in Shirlington, Circa in Clarendon, La Cote d’Or Cafe in East Falls Church, Lyon Hall in Clarendon, Matchbox in Pentagon City, McCormick & Schmick’s in Crystal City, Rustico in Ballston, SER in Ballston, Sfoglina in Rosslyn, Spice Kraft in Clarendon, Liberty Tavern in Clarendon, The Melting Pot in Ballston, Salt Line in Ballston, and a number of restaurants inside National Airport.
Many restaurants will pair their courses with wine or a cocktail.
The event is happening across the D.C. area. A rewards program gives guests the option to access discounted meals and the chance to win gift cards to participating restaurants.
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ALRnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring Three Ballston Plaza.
When Covid hit, online learning became the new normal for students across the globe.
Not everyone fared well, however, and some students struggled to stay focused and understand the material, says Arya Rashidian, the CEO of a local online tutoring company, TutorDudes.
The company was founded to combat these downsides to online learning. It offers tools and tutors tailored to individual student needs, such as adding closed captioning and visual cues to lectures for visual learners.
“With this platform, I wanted to create something that isn’t a quick fix, but something that is going to promote real change for online learning,” Rashidian said.
TutorDudes can be used by any type of learner and some students with disabilities, including those with mild autism, Rashidian said. He added that tutors are trained to accommodate different learning styles and in how to improve the online learning experience.
“The company was made so that everyone, regardless of the type of learners that they are can be accommodated by our virtual platform,” he said.
Rashidian, who graduated from George Mason University this past May, took on TutorDudes from its original founders.
After taking charge of the startup, he revised the company’s mission, services and structure to improve and expand the brand. Rashidian said that without the help of his team none of their success today would have been possible.
The startup has expanded and now offers enhanced tutoring services through TDULTRA.com, which can be accessed through a TutorDudes account.
Rashidian said he hopes to continue this growth so that universities and schools can also adopt the services TutorDudes provides. To do this, Rashidian said he and his team are looking for investors to fund this brand and technology expansion.
“We want to make this company the best it can be,” Rashidian said.
In Ballston, regardless of the season, workers have been spotted wielding leaf blowers.
Exactly who pays for this work, however, continues to be a mystery.
At least anecdotally, the continued popularity of remote work after Covid has had at least one downside for some residents: more exposure to the sound of leaf blowers. Former opinion columnist Jane Green noted the nuisance in a widely read piece two years ago, rallying 43% of respondents to the cause of banning gas-powered leaf blowers in Arlington, according to an ARLnow poll.
Then last month, a Ballston resident tipped us off to the noise, and in an ensuing unscientific poll a plurality — 41% — said the Ballston leaf blower issue was the most valid noise complaint among two others received by ARLnow.
In a follow-up interview, the anonymous resident, who lives near Welburn Square, says he has heard the leaf blowers ever since moving to his apartment three years ago. He has typically observed the activity around 8 a.m. near the parking lot for Truist Bank (920 N. Taylor Street).
“I frequently hear two leaf blowers running at the same time. I will look out my window and can see the workers wandering around the block spraying with the machines,” he said. “This occurs when there are no leaves and year-round.”
ARLnow scoped out the parking lot and a bank employee confirmed hearing the leaf blowers sometimes.
The bank branch manager stepped in and told ARLnow that the bank does not employ landscapers who use leaf blowers. He said he has never heard noise from leaf blowers nor, to his knowledge, have customers complained about them.
Next door, at the The Jefferson senior living facility, a concierge and two other employees said they have never heard residents or coworkers complain about noises from leaf blowers.
The concierge told ARLnow that he has only occasionally seen landscape workers blowing leaves and debris in The Jefferson courtyard area.
“They are just doing their job. The ones I have seen have only been within our property and do their work pretty quickly,” he said. “It’s also never early in the morning, I could see if this was happening early on in the day, but when I’ve seen them it has been in the afternoon.”
The Ballston Business Improvement District did not respond to questions about whether it had any insights into the mystery of the leafless leaf blowing.
While the hiring organization and the reason behind year-round leaf blowing in Ballston remains unknown, others, like Green, may sympathize. The former columnist wrote in 2021 that she heard leaf blowers daily while working from her apartment.
“Leaf blowers are a drain on quality of life. Their piercing noise shatters concentration or the enjoyment of the outdoors. They spew noxious gas into the air. They can destroy insect habitats,” Green said in her piece, which became the site’s second most-read article in 2021.
She encouraged residents to sign a petition to help put an end to the excessive noise. The petition is shy of its 2,000 signatures and short of its goal of 2,500 signatures. It was created by Quiet Clean NOVA, which advocates for regulations on gas-powered yard equipment.
For now, the mystery remains.
“It seems like a waste of money that generates noise and air pollution for no reason. It seems to make no sense to me,” the Ballston resident said. “I understand if this was happening in the fall when there are leaves everywhere, but this happens year-round. It’ll be the middle of the winter with snow on the ground.”
The reporter, Hallie LeTendre, is a summer intern. Today is her last day at ARLnow.
A mother-daughter duo, originally from Ukraine, are offering Eastern European beauty services in Clarendon.
Natalia Vyberg and her daughter Anna moved to the U.S. four years ago. Upon their arrival, the duo opened two salons in Northern Virginia: Beauty Bar Lashes and Beauty Bar Nails.
Energized by the success of their original locations, they combined them into one salon, now in Clarendon: The Beauty at 3110 Washington Blvd. It offers eyelash services, facials, manicures and pedicures.
Through a translator, Natalia told ARLnow her Ukrainian techniques draw U.S. customers to The Beauty and keep them coming back.
“In Ukraine, beauty services are held to a high standard. Our clients get those high standards of a Ukrainian service that is focused on perfection at The Beauty. It takes a special technique and materials to do this,” she said.
To meet those standards, Natalia, who owns The Beauty, also orders most of her tools and products from Ukraine.
The Vybergs are originally from Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city and one of Russia’s main targets since invading Ukraine last year 2022. Natalia, a 20-year veteran of the beauty industry, opened five salons in Kyiv before opening salons states-side.
Her daughter Anna followed in her footsteps, opening a salon in New York City after The Beauty in Clarendon took off.
Now, she travels almost weekly from Arlington to New York to help run and work at both salons, noted an employee at The Beauty. The employee said this is partly because some clients only want Anna to handle their beauty regimens.
Her mother requires all her employees go through Ukrainian beauty training courses. Natalia said she mostly hires Ukrainian immigrants to work at The Beauty, though she made an exception for two from Russia.
“They are American citizens and have lived here for many years now,” she said. “We are not involved in politics or interested in political questions. We welcome anyone to work at the salon who can provide good services.”
Now, the mother-daughter duo are looking to hire new employees to handle their Clarendon customer base.
Architecture, art and the sun are all coming together Tuesday morning, August 1, for Dark Star Park Day.
“Each year at 9:32 a.m., actual shadows cast by the poles and spheres align with permanent forms in the shape of the shadows on the ground beneath them,” the Arlington County website says. “The date marks the day that William Henry Ross purchased the land that later became Rosslyn.”
Located at 1655 Fort Myer Drive, the public art installation was restored in 2002. Artist Nancy Holt carefully designed the installation so that the alignment would happen at the same time every year.
“Holt worked with an astrophysicist to make the shadow alignment happen. The time it takes place was chosen simply because Holt liked the light at that hour,” the park’s webpage said.
Dark Star Park, which was formerly a gas station, became Arlington’s first public art installation.
“Encompassing landscape architecture, sculpture, and astronomy, Dark Star Park by Nancy Holt (1938-2014) is among the first major examples of integrated public art,” the county website says.
An event, held each year, marks the annual shadow alignment.
Those planning to attend tomorrow’s free event should arrive at the park around 9:15 a.m. to secure a good viewing spot, according to the Rosslyn Business Improvement District. There is limited parking available near the park.
For those who can’t attend, the Rosslyn BID Facebook page will be live-streaming the event beginning around 9:15 a.m.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Dark Star Park Day — described by Arlington Cultural Affairs as “a deeply moving experience in-person.” The weather forecast calls for sunny skies, perfect for shadow viewing.
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring Three Ballston Plaza.
International startup accelerator ZEBOX is using Arlington office to help bridge the gap between startup companies and large corporations around the world.
ZEBOX connects startup companies with one another and provides them with a space to collaborate and expand within one office building, explained Elizabeth Ward, head of the company’s American operation.
“ZEBOX acts as a connective tissue between large corporations and the supply chain to innovative startups. We want to create new pathways between startup organizations that can benefit by doing business together,” Ward said.
Since its hub in Crystal City opened last spring, the incubator — headquartered in Marseille, France — has opened locations in western Africa, Singapore and the Caribbean, with plans to open a hub in England.
ZEBOX originated from the global company CMA CGM, after ZEBOX’s current CEO found that the gap between startups and large corporate organizations could be at least partially closed by housing startup companies together.
“The facilities are designed as a place for startups to work, but more importantly as a place for companies and startups to co-innovate. We are new to the area, but we view it as a prime spot for a lot of future innovation to take place,” Ward said. “Arlington is opening a lot of doors for ZEBOX to collaborate within our community. A lot of the team has been surprised by the innovation going on in the county.”
The accelerator’s local hub in Crystal City recently started the process of housing its fourth startup. That process is expected to be complete by September.
ZEBOX supports more than 60 startups in the U.S.
The ZEBOX office in Crystal City has hosted several fireside chats, as well as the French American Chamber of Commerce and members of the French embassy.
These events exemplify how Arlington is an ideal place for global innovation, Ward told ARLnow.
“Arlington made a lot of sense. There are so many innovative companies moving into the area with the state of Virginia doing a lot to entice young companies and startups to come to Arlington and set up their businesses here,” Ward said.
ZEBOX is now looking for ways the Crystal City office can better connect startups with federal government resources, to bolster their growth.
George Mason University is mulling a future expansion of its Arlington campus.
To realize that long-term goal, this April the university purchased an $8.25 million piece of property across the street from the its Mason Square campus in Virginia Square, according to county property records.
The acquisition is located at 3300 Fairfax Drive, in a 1960s-era office building that currently has some law and insurance agent offices, as well as a pilates and yoga studio.
In the immediate future, the university does not have plans for the site.
“These properties are strategic investments that provide security and flexibility for the future of the Mason Square Campus,” GMU media relations manager John Hollis told ARLnow.
“In the near term, Mason expects to continue current or similar operations to the existing tenants, while longer term opportunities include potential developments in support of Mason’s faculty, students, and mission,” he continued.
Although the statement alluded to more than one property, Hollis did not specify any other properties recently acquired by the school.
The Arlington campus of the Fairfax County-based university holds the university’s School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, economics, business and arts departments, the Antonin Scalia Law School and the Schar School of Policy and Government.
Mason Square is currently in the midst of a major expansion, with the under-construction Fuse building set to host labs, classrooms, an innovation center and retail spaces, among other uses. The university estimates the building will be substantially complete in May 2025.
Should the newly-acquired building be redeveloped in the future, it would join a bevy of other projects in the area, including the redevelopment of the nearby YMCA, St. Charles Catholic Church, the Joyce Motors site and the former Silver Diner location.
(Updated at 2:20 p.m.) Fans of the New York-based bakery Mah-Ze-Dahr can now enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner daily at its offshoot in Crystal City.
The restaurant at 1550 Crystal Drive broadened its menu offerings this past Thursday — two years after opening with a more limited menu of pastries, baked goods and coffee drinks.
The Crystal City outpost was initially supposed to serve breakfast through dinner, though those plans were derailed by Covid, co-owner Michael Reginbogin told ARLnow.
Since the bakery opened a year into the pandemic, when most workers were still remote, he and his partners chose to stick to baked goods — including donuts some say are New York City’s best and Oprah-endorsed pastries.
“We scaled the menu to a bakery only because the guests just would not have been there enough to enjoy them,” Reginbogin said.
Thankfully, he said, the café survived Covid and, with the expansion, can cash in on the return to in-person work and the recent opening of the first phase of its Arlington HQ2.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” he said.
Mah-Ze-Dahr, rechristened Mah-Ze-Dahr Café, now serves bread pudding french toast, salads, sandwiches, quiches, steak frites and more, all day long.
Reginbogin said Mah-Ze-Dahr Café had a successful (re)opening day last week.
“Everything has been going well. We have already sold out of a few items. The demand is definitely there,” Reginbogin said. “The all-day flexibility of the new menu seems to be hitting a homerun with locals and office workers returning to the area.”
No changes to the space were necessary beyond hiring more staff to serve more customers, Reginbogin said.
Across the river in D.C., Mah-Ze-Dahr has a bakery and a bistro called Bistro Du Jour, according to its website.
Signs for a new First National Bank (FNB) location are posted across the street from Ballston Quarter.
This new location, at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Stuart Street, is set to open in 2024. The Ballston branch is part of the bank’s plans to expand its presence in Northern Virginia, a spokesperson for the bank told ARLnow.
“This location is ideal to serve residents and businesses in Arlington while also adding convenience for our customers in nearby communities,” the spokesperson said. “The planned Arlington office will be a full-service branch that will leverage our modern layout and innovative technology to facilitate a convenient and consultative banking experience for customers and businesses.”
When it opens, the Ballston branch will also have interactive ATMs that “allow clients to use video chat technology to conduct transactions with a teller during extended hours, including into the evening and on weekends,” the spokesperson said.
Last July, the company announced its plans to expand in the D.C. area with additional branches and at least 11 offices that will serve the D.C. area before 2024, as well as a loan origination center in Richmond.
“Our goal with expansion is to continue adding resources for the markets we serve in D.C., Virginia and throughout our multistate footprint,” bank CEO and President Vincent Delie Jr. said in the release.
Soccer fans can plan to watch and celebrate the Women’s World Cup at several bars in Arlington.
The World Cup kicked off today (Thursday) in Australia and New Zealand and the tournament will run until the final game airs on Sunday, Aug. 20 at 6 a.m.
The festivities start tomorrow evening at 9 p.m., with Quincy Hall hosting a watch party at 4001 Fairfax Drive for the first game for the U.S. women’s team, against Vietnam.
The bar will be serving an IPA from a women-owned, Maryland-based brewing company and host a “steal-the-pint night,” where customers who purchase a pint of beer can take the glass it comes in home with them.
Next Wednesday, the U.S. women’s team will play their second game, against the Netherlands, at 9 p.m. The Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse at 2903 Columbia Pike will open its doors at 8 p.m. for fans to watch the game on the big screen.
The watch party is free but the theater says attendees should reserve a spot in advance to ensure the event is well-staffed.
Many local bars not listed here will likely be showing the games, even if not hosting special events. According to Yelp reviewers, McNamara’s Pub & Restaurant and Crystal City Sports Pub in Crystal City, as well as The Celtic House Irish Pub & Restaurant on Columbia Pike, are also stalwart watering holes for soccer viewing.
Know of other local watch parties? Let us know in the comments.