Metro 29 Diner says it is reopening today (Friday) following a closure that lasted several weeks due to plumbing issues.
Earlier this week, ARLnow reported the restaurant could remain shuttered for up to a month, as it awaited a permit to repair a clogged sewer line located along N. Albemarle Street, adjacent to the restaurant.
The local staple at 4711 Langston Blvd was forced to close after the plumbing issue caused grease and other liquids to flood the parking lot from the restaurant’s grease trap, creating a health hazard.
Arlington’s planning department granted the necessary permit on Tuesday, within hours of ARLnow’s initial story publishing, Metro 29 Diner owner Peter Bota told us.
Construction started Thursday morning and concluded by 1 p.m. Bota said the restaurant has been “given the green light to reopen by the health department.”
“I want to thank the county for their prompt attention and I’d like to thank our loyal patrons and staff for their patience, understanding and well wishes while we were closed,” Bota said.
Bronx Pizza is back in Clarendon under a new name: Big Tony’s Pizzeria & Dive Bar.
Last May, the pizzeria closed its doors with little warning after doing business for more than a decade.
Some thought it might be a hit job, but co-owner and managing partner Katherine Basile tells ARLnow that the owners, Anthony, Mike and Nick Cordero, wanted to rebrand the restaurant.
“They figured they could probably do something a little bit different and a little bit more upbeat in there, since that space was kind of dead at one point,” she said, calling the new space “Bronx 2.0”
Basile says the Cordero brothers approached her and her business partner Kristina Murphy for business ideas. The duo and the brothers go back more than a decade, having worked together on other local Cordero-owned establishments, including Don Tito and A-Town Bar & Grill.
Basile says she and Murphy envisioned a “trendy” 80s and 90s retro theme for the pizzeria, which the Cordero brothers loved. New York City-based designer Yvette Irene was enlisted to design an eye-catching space.
The revamped pizza place is intended to have “a nice, fun vibe where people could really just be who they wanted to be in there,” Basile said. Another new addition: an upgraded outdoor dining space with all-weather booth seating.
While Big Tony’s retains some menu items from its days as Bronx Pizza, there are new options, including “The Snooki” meatball parmigiana sandwich and a pizza topped with mac and cheese and bacon, as well as a full-service bar with craft cocktails.
The restaurant held a soft opening two weeks ago and plans for a grand opening are in the works.
The grand opening date has not yet been confirmed but Basile said it will feature Anthony Cordero’s 4-year-old daughter Quinn, nicknamed “Big Tony,” who plans to sign autographs in crayon.
A large, $18 million stormwater vault underneath Cardinal Elementary School in the flood-prone Westover neighborhood is now complete.
Arlington County will mark the completion of the vault with a ribbon-cutting this Saturday during a neighborhood festival at the school, dubbed Westover Day. Beyond celebrating the completed vault, Westover Day will also mark the completion of the new school building, athletic field and playground with school tours, live music and food trucks.
The 47,000-square-foot vault is part of the county’s strategy, dubbed Flood Resilient Arlington, to mitigate the major impacts of flooding. Located in the Torreyson Run watershed, Westover is one of the communities being prioritized for stormwater upgrades.
The vault is designed to hold just over 4 million gallons of stormwater — “equal to six Olympic swimming pools,” according to the county. Its construction, a joint effort by Arlington County and Arlington Public Schools, took two years and was separated into two phases.
First, underground pipes and junction boxes were installed to divert water from an existing storm sewer beneath the school property to where the newly built vault would be, according to the county website. Then, in December 2021, construction of the vault began. It was substantially completed this June.
A video below shows a timelapse of construction through last December.
The athletic fields atop the stormwater vault were closed for sodding but the county tells ARLnow the work is now complete and the fields open.
The ribbon-cutting for the vault at Cardinal Elementary comes on the heels of another county stormwater improvement project.
In honor of its new breakfast menu, Clarendon eatery Bar Ivy is offering free coffee this week to customers who buy their new bagel sandwiches.
The RAMMY-nominated restaurant, which opened last year, announced Tuesday that its doors will now open at 7:30 a.m. from Tuesday through Saturday, with a new menu of bagel sandwiches and specialty coffee drinks.
From open until 3 p.m., patrons can grab sandwiches such as a maple shoyu pork belly bagel with Gruyere cheese and an over-easy egg or a cured salmon bagel with miso scallion cream cheese and an heirloom tomato, per a press release.
Customers can wash these bagels down with new specialty espresso drinks as well as iced chai and matcha lattes. They can take their breakfast order to-go or eat it inside, taking advantage of free Wi-Fi to get some work done.
Lunchtime service at the “West Coast-inspired eatery,” previously limited to Thursday through Saturday, was also extended to include Tuesday and Wednesday, running 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The menu includes a rotating soup of the day, sandwiches and burgers.
Bar Ivy opened in the summer of 2022 on more limited schedule, open for happy hour and dinner on Tuesday-Wednesday and lunch through dinner Thursday-Saturday.
It is not changing its closing hours Tuesday through Saturday, which range between 9:30-11:30 p.m. Nor will it change its 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday schedule, for now.
A spokesperson for Bar Ivy told ARLnow the restaurant is considering longer hours Sunday evening, though no final plans have been confirmed.
Happy hour, which includes $5 “shorty” beers and $11 espresso martinis, now runs all day from open until 6 p.m.
After nearly three years of waiting, the Crystal City Water Park is slated to reopen next week, JBG Smith announced yesterday.
The newly renovated, privately owned 1.6-acre park will feature nine restaurant kiosks, a cocktail and oyster bar, seating areas, public art installations, new water features — including a water wall — and a live performance stage.
“Water Park is a manifestation of our vision for National Landing as a premier 18-hour community that warmly embraces families, workers, students and visitors of all ages,” Kai Reynolds, chief development officer at JBG Smith, said in a press release.
“In addition to creating an urban oasis where people can relax, linger and enjoy time spent together, we have intentionally curated Water Park to serve as a celebration of the region’s rich and diverse culinary traditions,” he continued.
JBG Smith says it plans to host a grand opening ceremony next Friday, Oct. 6, from 6-10 p.m.
While the park previously had a small food and drink kiosk, the new iteration has nine kiosks for a variety of food vendors, with a focus on “local, minority- and women-owned businesses.”
The vendor lineup features:
- Brij, D.C. a café and wine bar by Skyler Kelley, supporting single mothers, the LGBTQ+ community and people who are homeless
- Bubbie’s Plant Burger, a Kosher, plant-based American eatery by the creators of D.C.’s Pow Pow, Margaux Riccio and Shaun Sharkey
- Cracked Eggery, a D.C. food truck known for inventive egg dishes that now has two brick and mortar locations in Cleveland Park and Shaw
- Dolci Gelati, a D.C.-based gelato shop offering over 450 seasonal, artisanal flavors, plus coffee and espresso
- Falafel Inc., a Georgetown-based charitable eatery that offers hummus and falafel dishes
- PhoWheels, a new Vietnamese-inspired food vendor
- Tiki Thai, a Reston-based Thai-Polynesian eatery
- Queen Mother’s, a fried chicken concept created by James Beard Award semi-finalist Chef Rahman “Rock” Harper
In addition to the kiosks, there is be a new cocktail and oyster bar, dubbed “Water Bar,” perched on top of the water wall at the back of the park.
The restaurant, operated by the Atlanta-based hospitality group STHRN, features a raw bar and an extensive cocktail list, according to JBG Smith. STHRN will also be opening an outpost of Crush Pizza, its New York-style pizzeria.
“We are excited to bring the delicious taste of Water Bar to life through unique, tasty cocktails and the deeply immersive flavors of the east coast,” Elizabeth Feichter, a partner at STHRN, said in the release.
The restoration of Ballston Wetlands Park is officially complete and the park is now open to the public.
Arlington County officials and community members marked the occasion today (Tuesday) with a ribbon-cutting.
The rain-soaked event marked the end of a $4 million renovation project that transformed what was formerly known as Ballston Beaver Pond — until the departure of the beavers — from a sludge-filled area into a natural stormwater filtration system and wildlife refuge.
“Over the years, sediment, trash, and invasive plants essentially filled the pond,” County Board Chair Christian Dorsey told a crowd of attendees. “Now, cleared of that sediment and other debris, this retrofitted wetland system not only improves stormwater flow and filtration but also captures trash, serving as both a wildlife refuge and a natural respite within our urban village of Ballston.”
Initially built in 1980 as a stormwater detention facility for runoff from I-66, the pond gradually evolved into a haven for local wildlife. By the 1990s, species such as beavers, muskrats, geese, herons, egrets, red-winged blackbirds, fish and turtles had migrated to the area.
Dam-building activities by the beavers, however, interfered with the site’s original drainage systems. When the beavers eventually left, the county took the opportunity to make necessary improvements.
Planning for the renovations dates back to 2011 but it took a decade for the work to kick off in December 2021. Acquiring the necessary easements took about eight years and Covid further delayed the project.
The site now features new informative signage, educational exhibits and thousands of native trees and plants. Logs for turtles to sun themselves, dubbed “basking stations,” have also been added.
There is also a hidden feature to manage beaver activity going forward. The county installed a secondary, concealed pathway for water to flow out and bypass their dams, a solution known as a “beaver baffle.”
That may be prescient, given some reported beaver sightings, Lily Whitesell, a stormwater outreach specialist with Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services (DES), told ARLnow. Perhaps the beavers moved back to enjoy the upgrades to their old habitat.
Jason Papacosma, a DES wetlands project manager, said the project extends beyond local restoration efforts and contributes to the broader clean-up of Chesapeake Bay.
“This is a project that gives us credit for our obligations to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. And in terms of all the progress we’ve made to date, this project gives us at least 10% of that overall progress,” Papacosma said.
Demetra McBride, bureau chief of the county’s Office of Sustainability and Environmental Management, acknowledged that while the site was not originally an “environmental asset,” it has now become one.
“I realize that this is not a natural asset… But the community, going back as far as 10 years, wanted more. The leadership of Arlington inspired more. And your public servants and their contractors delivered more,” she said during the ceremony.
Metro 29 Diner will remain closed for at least another week, and possibly upwards of a month, due to a serious plumbing problem.
Peter Bota, the owner of the nostalgic New York-style diner, says it all started a few weeks ago after the restaurant’s grease trap — a plumbing device that separates grease, oil and excess food from wastewater — started malfunctioning.
“The stuff that was in the grease trap, the liquid and the grease started flowing into our parking lot. Fortunately, as nasty as it was, it didn’t come back into the building,” Bota told ARLnow.
Since that incident, Bota says the diner’s been stuck in “a holding pattern,” waiting on the green light from Arlington’s planning department to replace the sewer line along N. Albemarle Street adjacent to the restaurant.
“We are just waiting for our permits to be approved so we can do the [construction],” he said. “There will be a road closure on the side street Albemarle, and then there’s excavation to get to the sewer line and replace it.”
Permits filed with Arlington County indicate the work is slated to take place over the course of three days and cost about $15,000. The construction zone is expected to stretch about 20 feet, resulting in partial closures of the roadway and sidewalk along N. Albemarle Street.
Until the sewer line is fixed, Bota emphasized he can’t reopen.
“There’s nothing that we can do… We’re not allowed to operate since everything that goes out of the business in terms of liquid… is going to come back towards the building,” he said.
As for when the county might approve his permit, Bota remains hopeful but uncertain.
“Everything’s been submitted and is in the review process,” Bota said. “So, hopefully, [the county will] fast-track us since we’re an existing business and allow us to get reopened as soon as possible.”
In addition to being a North Arlington dining staple, Metro 29 Diner has had some famous visitors over the years, including then-Vice President Biden in 2012 and Guy Fieri for a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives taping in 2010.
Costs are creeping up for a courtroom makeover in Arlington.
County Board members approved an extra $200,000 this past Saturday to complete renovations in Courtroom 10B, a project ambitiously dubbed the “courtroom of the future.”
The Board had initially approved a $1.9 million budget for the project, encompassing not only tech enhancements and layout modifications but also administrative costs and a $755,000 fee for Michigan-based contractor Sorensen Gross Company. A $135,000 contingency for unexpected construction hiccups was set aside, bringing the contract’s total value to $890,000.
The contingency is nearly gone, county staff said, prompting County Board action. Damaged stonework, deteriorating fabric wall panels and worn-out carpeting all brought unexpected costs and, as a result, additional funding was sought as the project enters its final phase.
Once completed, the oft-used courtroom will feature new capabilities, such as enabling police to upload and display body-camera and smartphone footage, simplified equipment mobility, and compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
Arlington courtrooms have not had a major renovation since 1994, per a 2022 county report.
While construction was initially slated for completion in July, ARLnow saw signs of ongoing work during a recent courthouse visit, including plastic tarp over doors and covered windows.
A county spokeswoman said construction is now expected to wrap up in November.
Several events are scheduled to take place across Arlington on Saturday, bringing both festivities and road closures.
The events celebrate everything from the neighborhood of Clarendon to Bavarian and Irish culture.
Kicking off at 11 a.m., Clarendon Day will offer live music, food, craft beer, Virginia wines, art and inflatable obstacle courses. The event, which is one of Arlington’s largest street festivals, ends at 6 p.m.
Metro riders can take the Orange Line to the Clarendon station, the entrance to which is in the middle of the multiblock festival area.
Stretches of Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd will be closed from 3 a.m. to 10 p.m. to accommodate the event, according to Arlington County police.
The complete list of street closures for the event is below.
- Wilson Blvd, from Washington Blvd to N. Highland Street
- Clarendon Blvd, from Washington Blvd to N. Garfield Street
- N. Highland Street, from 11th Street N. to Wilson Blvd
- N. Herndon Street, from Wilson Blvd to the alleyway behind CVS
- N. Hudson Street, from Wilson Blvd to the alleyway behind CVS
Samuel Beckett’s Celtic Festival
Samuel Beckett’s Irish Pub in Shirlington is hosting its annual Celtic Festival this Saturday from 12-7 p.m.
The event will highlight traditional Irish music and dance and feature a pop-up market, food and beverages.
Campbell Avenue, from S. Randolph Street to the parking garage entrance in front of Harris Teeter, will be closed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
National Landing Oktoberfest
Additionally, the National Landing Business Improvement District is holding an Oktoberfest event from 1-5 p.m. this Saturday at the corner of 22nd Street S. and S. Fern Street, behind what is dubbed “Restaurant Row” in Crystal City.
The beer-centric, Bavarian-ish event includes live music from the Alte Kumpel Band and The Pilgrims of Deep Run. Food and drinks, including offerings from Crystal City Sports Pub, will be available for purchase.
Activities include a stein-holding competition, a best-dressed contest, lawn games and crafting stations for kids featuring hat-making and clove decor. Attendees can register online ahead of time.
Police will close 22nd Street S. between S. Eads Street and S. Fern Street from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) A local nonprofit specializing in job placement for disabled individuals is drawing on federal funding to expand its services.
Melwood Disability Services, a Maryland-based organization that operates a facility in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood, has received a $307,000 federal grant aimed at expanding enrollment in its 14-week neurodiverse job training program, abilIT, by subsidizing associated costs.
On Friday, Sen. Mark Warner (D) and Rep. Don Beyer (D) visited Melwood’s facility near Pentagon City and presented the nonprofit with a ceremonial oversized check.
Jewelyn Cosgrove, president of Government and Public Relations at Melwood, told ARLnow that 78 individuals participated in the abilIT program from July 2022 to June 2023. She noted, however, that the newly acquired federal grant, in combination with ongoing fundraising efforts, will enable Melwood’s Virginia facility — acquired in 2017 through a merger with Linden Resources — to double its enrollment of people with disabilities in the job training program.
“We will serve an additional 80 people next year with just what we have in normal funding available,” she said. “The [federal] grant allows us to add 30 people, so next year, because of the grant funding…we’ll be hitting, I think, 110 to 115 total people served.”
Melwood, which also provides a range of services from affordable housing to horticulture therapy and family support services, also received a $500,000 federal grant in July to support its neurodiverse job training program in Maryland.
Cosgrove clarified the two grants are separate and the $307,000 will go exclusively toward helping offset the costs, such as curriculum, of operating abilIT.
Within the last year, abilIT has helped dozens of people secure employment through several prominent private and public sector employers, Cosgrove said, such as MITRE and Falls Church-based Enabled Intelligence.
“It’s a program that really blends [professional and personal skills training] together to help job candidates… get an industry recognized certification and then go on to employment,” she added.
Amid fears of a government shutdown, Rep. Don Beyer (D) is urging colleagues to remember the federal workers who would lose their paychecks if no spending plan is passed.
Yesterday, House Republicans recessed for a week after failing to pass a bill to stave off a shutdown. That could happen if lawmakers on Capitol Hill do not reach a deal before the federal government runs out of money next Saturday, Sept. 30 at midnight.
If that happens, essential workers — including military personnel, federal law enforcement and air traffic controllers — would continue working, possibly without pay.
Some 2.2 million permanent, civilian, non-postal employees could also miss their paychecks, Beyer said in a statement Wednesday. This includes more than 140,000 in Virginia, according to federal workforce data.
The last time this happened, in 2018, Beyer received letters from Virginia federal workers describing how they and their families were hurt by lost wages and benefits. He shared snippets of these letters this week.
“I am a single mother to three small children. My ability to provide for my children stops the moment the government goes into shutdown,” wrote one constituent in a 2018.
Another federal worker underscored the uncertainty a shutdown causes.
“It is the undefined length of this shutdown, the not knowing, that is the worst part,” the letter said. “Nevertheless, we continue to go to work each day without pay and without knowing what the future holds.”
Millions of government contractors also stand to lose their pay and benefits. Beyer shared a 2019 letter describing the lengths to which one owner of a small federal contracting business went to keep paying staff.
“I have expended out available cash and have taken loans against my home to keep paying our employees,” wrote the business owner and disabled veteran. “I am now at a decision point. Do I borrow more money, or do I lay off my hardworking employees?”
Unlike federal employees, contractors are not guaranteed back pay from missed wages. Around 10,000 companies with government contracts were affected by the 2018-19 shutdown, the Washington Post reported.
With the funding deadline looming, Beyer says his colleagues should remember these 2018 shutdown testimonies and consider most Americans live paycheck to paycheck.
“Many are caught up in palace intrigue and legislative drama right now, but I urge my colleagues to remember that there are a lot of real people out there who will be hurt if there is a government shutdown,” he said. “These letters and emails show how shutdowns are a disaster for my constituents, our region, and millions of Americans across the country.”
The shutdown may also affect everyday Americans who do not rely on a paycheck from the federal government, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D) says.
Kaine emphasized in a press release that the 2018 shutdown led to delays in everything from flights to tax refunds and mortgage approvals due to the absence of thousands of furloughed employees, including air traffic controllers and IRS agents.
“While I will continue working with my colleagues to prevent a shutdown, we should never be in this position to begin with,” Kaine said.
Earlier this month Kaine and Beyer introduced the End Shutdowns Act, which would have initiated an automatic continuing resolution on Oct. 1 if no appropriations bill was passed by that time. Additionally, the will would have”stop[ped] the Senate from moving forward with any other legislation, outside of an emergency scenario, until Congress reached an agreement on a long-term spending deal.”