Steadfast Supply in Ballston will be closing this Saturday, June 27.
Last week, a handwritten sign was spotted on the glass doors noting the store’s last day and reduced, weekend-only hours. The store is located in an open-air section of Ballston Quarter mall.
Steadfast Supply’s founder and creative director Virginia Arrisueño confirmed the store’s closing in an email to ARLnow, noting that ownership made the decision to not to renew the lease.
“We have sincerely enjoyed our time at Ballston Quarter! We met so many new and wonderful customers. Sadly, we decided to not renew our lease and will be closing our doors on Sunday June 27,” Arrisueño wrote. “We are incredibly grateful for the warm welcome that we received in Arlington, and forever thankful for your support. Please feel free to visit our Washington, DC location at The Yards or online at www.steadfastsupplydc.com.”
The D.C.-based boutique shop opened in Ballston Quarter in July 2019, offering handmade goods from small vendors, including jewelry, home goods, clothes, and leather bags.
When Steadfast Supply opened two years ago, Arrisueño told ARLnow that she hoped the shop would be a supportive space for artisans to test out products and learn.
“My goal with Steadfast Supply was to create a cool retail setting where talented creatives can grow their brands,” she said. “As a designer myself, I know how tough and competitive the retail industry is, and I wanted to provide a supportive space where brands can ask us questions about line sheets, packaging, etc., receive direct feedback and suggestions on how to improve their products.”
Ballston Quarter has had plenty of comings and goings just in the past month. Sloppy Mama’s BBQ closed earlier this month, while a 6,200-square-foot combination restaurant and art gallery opened just last week. A new dog daycare, grooming, and veterinarian business opened in late May.
Whitlow’s, the long-time watering hole on Wilson Blvd, is closing its doors for good on Saturday, June 26.
But first come the parties.
On Wednesday, June 23, there’s a “jam session” featuring members of the Grammy-nominated reggae band SOJA. The group hails from Arlington, with several members graduating from Yorktown High School. More live music is scheduled throughout this week and next, according to Whitlow’s website.
“One final blowout… Get here early,” says the website. “No one cuts the line unless you are Dave Grohl.”
An employee confirmed to ARLnow on the phone that Whitlow’s last day at 2854 Wilson Blvd is set to be June 26. They also noted that management was looking for a new location but haven’t found anything yet.
ARLnow has reached out to management about any further updates on the future of Whitlow’s, but has yet to hear back.
In late March, the restaurant announced it was closing after efforts to renew its lease were unsuccessful.
Whitlow’s had attempted to negotiate an extension on a lease expiring at the end of June, a social media post said, but talks proved fruitless. So, instead, it is set to close its longtime Clarendon space while “actively looking for a future home.”
Whitlow’s opened in 1946 as a greasy spoon eatery and bar in D.C. before closing in 1989 and relocating to Clarendon six years later. Opening in 1995, it has remained a neighborhood mainstay for more than two and a half decades. That is, until now.
ARLnow first reported in August 2019 that the space would be available for lease starting July 1, 2021 but management seemed confident that a deal would be brokered.
“We plan on being here for years to come,” manager Jon Williams told ARLnow at the time.
Currently, 2854 Wilson Blvd still appears to be available for lease at an undisclosed price.
“We don’t necessarily see this as a goodbye, but more of a see you later,” the March social media post read. “In the meantime, there are three months left and we are going to make the best of it!”
With now less than two weeks left, Whitlow’s does seem to be partying hard before the music stops.
“We are asking Arlington Co (and DMV) residents to bring their bird feeders inside for the time being. Due to the unknown illness in local birds, we are looking to take as many precautions as possible to keep illnesses from spreading (and bird feeders can be a common source of illness),” reads the social media post from late last week.
Local authorities in Virginia, Maryland, D.C., and West Virginia remains stumped as to why so many birds have turned up dead in recent weeks. Reports from across the region cropped up in late May about birds littering local roads and sidewalks.
Additionally, these reports do not seem to be decreasing and are remaining steady, writes Megan Kirchgessner, State Wildlife Veterinarian with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, in an email to ARLnow.
Symptoms usually include the swelling of eyes, a crusty discharge, and neurological signs, according to a Virginia DWR statement from Friday (June 11).
“We have continued to send out specimens for further testing but have not received any conclusive test results,” writes AWLA Animal Control Chief Jennifer Toussaint in an email to ARLnow. “We will immediately alert the public once we know what is going on and are making these additional suggestions just to lessen the possibility of this illness spreading from bird to bird at this time.”
Kirchgessner is also asking residents to remove their bird feeders and baths.
“Although we are not able to confirm at this time that an infectious disease is the cause of this mortality event, we have recommended removal of bird feeders and baths to be on the safe side,” Kirchgessner writes to ARLnow. “Feeders congregate birds and will facilitate transmission of disease from sick to healthy birds.”
DWR’s statement additionally advises residents, if removing a feeder or bath is not possible, to clean it with a 10% bleach solution.
There are still no definitive lab results as to the cause, but “at least three wildlife health labs are involved so hopefully we will have results soon,” Kirchgessner notes.
The labs that are investigating include the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, the University of Georgia Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, and the University of Pennsylvania Wildlife Futures Program.
“We are very saddened by this ongoing issue and are hopeful for more finding soon,” said Toussaint. “These birds are federally protected for a reason, they are a national treasure and vital to our ecosystem.”
Photo (1) courtesy of Erinn Shirley/Flickr
The Arlington 9-11 Memorial 5K will once again be in-person after going virtual last year.
This will be the 20th anniversary of the race, which is run in honor of the Arlington first responders who helped at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and in support of 9/11-related charities.
The race is organized by members of Arlington’s public safety agencies, including the police department and sheriff’s office.
The event is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 11 and around 3,000 people are expected to participate this year, Race Director and Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Jose Quiroz tells ARLnow. That’s in line with previous years.
Over the last two decades, the event has raised about $800,000 for charity. This includes HEROS, which helps local families whose loved ones have died in the line of duty, as well as the Pentagon Memorial Fund, which is still looking to build a new visitor center for the memorial.
The website doesn’t specifically exactly where the funds will be going this year but does note that “all proceeds will be donated to official charities that focus on the healing of military personnel and civilians directly affected by the war on terrorism and the attacks against America on September 11, 2001.”
The race will start at the Doubletree Hotel in Pentagon City, follow Army Navy Drive, passing the Pentagon Memorial, making its way along Washington Blvd, before hitting Route 110, and circling back to the hotel.
ACPD Officer Harley Guenther, who is is on the 9/11 Memorial Race Board and part of the outreach team, says the event has deep meaning to her. When the airplane hit the Pentagon two decades ago, both her mother and father worked for ACPD and were among the first on scene.
At the time, she was only six years old and was sent to live with relatives for several weeks while her parents aided in rescue efforts and evidence recovery at the Pentagon.
For her, this race is about them.
“Mom and dad were my heroes growing up. When disaster struck, they went to help,” says Guenther.
She isn’t much of a runner, she says, but she makes it a point to jog past the Pentagon Memorial.
“You can’t help but be affected. It’s an introspective time. You just run with your thoughts.” says Guenther.
Certain protocols could still be in place come September, the website notes, including capacity restrictions, social distancing, and masks. This could mean staggered start times and impact the post-race festival. All of this is currently being evaluated, Quiroz says.
There’s a virtual option for those not yet feeling comfortable with running in the race in person.
Every person who registers will receive a long sleeve commemorative t-shirt.
It’s important to hold the race in-person this year, Quiroz says, because there are still so many in the community who were significantly impacted on that day. For Quiroz, 9/11 was actually his second day on the job with the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office.
“We need to always honor those that responded that day,” he said. “It’s sacred and this event helps to remind the new generation.”
(Updated 4:30 p.m.) Tend, a company that says it treats going to the dentist as a spa-like experience, will be opening in Ballston later this year.
Located at 4201 Wilson Blvd, in the Ballston Exchange complex across the street from Ballston Quarter mall, the new location is targeting a fall 2021 opening, a company representative tells ARLnow.
Tend is a New York-based luxury dentistry practice start-up that’s quickly expanding. It claims to be the first dentist that people actually look forward to. Appointments are booked through an app, offices are Instagramable, and patients can watch Netflix with noise-canceling headphones while getting their teeth cleaned.
The company recently raised $125 million for their further expansion in New York as well as the opening of several locations in Boston and the D.C. area.
Four D.C. locations are listed on Tend’s website as coming soon, but the Ballston office is not listed as of yet, nor is any other location in Virginia.
“We’re excited to kick off our ARL expansion in Ballston and are in active negotiation for additional locations throughout NoVA,” writes co-founder Andy Grover in an email to ARLnow.
Grover says that the reason Tend is expanding to the D.C. area is because there are similarities to the New York market, where the company already has found success.
“We know how successful our offering has been in NYC and we see a lot of parallels to D.C. — an urban, educated and sophisticated population that isn’t being served by an ecosystem of patient-centered dental care,” writes Grover. “Because of the commuting patterns of D.C. residents and the way the D.C. population has grown, we knew the [Rosslyn-Ballston] Corridor was a natural fit. Ballston Exchange has attracted top-tier restaurants and services to serve nearby residents and workers and we’re proud to be a part of it!”
The company is currently hiring for on-site jobs at the Ballston location, including dental care staff (dentists, hygienists, and assistants), studio managers, and associates for the “Welcome Bar.”
Ballston has seen a plethora of buzzy business announcements and openings in recent weeks. WHINO, an “experiential” restaurant and art gallery combination, is opening on Friday, June 18. Grilled chicken restaurant Farmbird starting serving customers this week, Salt Line is aiming a summer opening, and plant shop REWILD is looking at a July opening, among others.
While more Arlington County libraries are re-opening for express service next month, there’s still no set date for a full reopening.
This is due to staff shortages and the lingering effects of the hiring freeze enacted last March, library spokesperson Henrik Sundqvist tells ARLnow. The library system is having trouble hiring amid a “very competitive job market,” which just today set a new record for job openings in the U.S.
“About 20 percent of permanent public service jobs are vacant and in the process of being filled,” Sundqvist said this morning. “The recruiting, hiring and training process takes time.”
“Only 38 percent of temporary employees employed by the library last year have returned or plan to return for the [re-opening],” he added.
The Aurora Hills branch and the newly-renovated Columbia Pike library branch are both re-opening for the first time since March 2020, offering express service starting on Tuesday, July 6. Central Library will expand from holds pick-up only to express as well. The Shirlington and Westover branches reopened for express service back in March.
While express service allows browsing of up to 30 minutes, meeting rooms, seating, and public PCs will remain off-limits. Operating hours, which have yet to be announced, will also continue to be limited.
The Cherrydale and Glencarlyn library branches are currently expected to reopen for express service in the fall.
Arlington’s more gradual reopening, officials insist, is related to “an unprecedented staff shortage” rather than COVID-related restrictions.
The lack of available labor is affecting other aspects of library operations, according to a press release.
“The Library is no longer quarantining returned items. However, due to staffing shortage, items may not get checked in for several days after they have been returned in a book drop,” the press release says. “If over 7 days have passed since you returned your library items and they remain on your account, please contact the Library to update your account.”
All branches will stick with express library service until the system “is closer to normal staffing levels,” notes the release.
There’s also no set date yet for the resumption of indoor storytime, though there’s a new outdoor storytime series at Central Library. Additionally, the Center for Local History at Central Library will be by appointment-only starting later this summer.
A number of services and resources that the library normally provides will remain closed.
This includes the Shed — the library’s seasonal garden-tool lending service — which will remain so for the entirety of the 2021 season, but plans to reopen in 2022. Arlington Public Library’s “makerspace” will also remain unavailable until staffing increases.
The Plaza branch remains shuttered due to ongoing renovations and its expansion, making it the only library location out of eight that will not offer express service by this fall.
WHINO, a 6,200-square-foot combination restaurant and art gallery, is set to open its doors at Ballston Quarter next week.
First announced in August 2018, the venue will combine a 150-seat restaurant and craft cocktail bar serving dishes that “meld American and international flavors” with a pop-art gallery that invites patrons to “inhabit large-scale mural installations.”
WHINO is located on the second floor of the shopping center, at 4238 Wilson Boulevard. It is set to open on Friday, June 18.
It comes from Shane Pomajambo, the D.C.-based art curator who ran Blind Whino and other prominent galleries in the region. Arlingtonians may know him as the person behind the massive street art show in Crystal City a decade ago.
Pomajambo tells ARLnow he picked Ballston as the location for his next venture because of the “great foot traffic” and the neighborhood’s residents are its “core demographic.”
It will serve a late night crowd, at least during the latter half of the week. Thursday through Saturday, WHINO will stay open until 2 a.m.
The venue’s murals encompass a dozen different genres and focus on a new art movement known as “lowbrow/pop surrealist,” according to a press release.
A number of the murals will be rotated out regularly with new art coming in every month creating a “living art gallery,” as Washingtonian reports. The current roster of muralists includes an artist, Dragon76, who just finished a massive mural in Houston in conjunction with a United Nations project.
There will also be a retail component to the venue, with a number of limited-edition sculptures from artists across the world on sale, with prices ranging from $50 to $300.
The restaurant is set to hold 152 diners in an open floor plan that will have six different areas, including a 25-seat kitchen bar, a 51-foot craft cocktail bar, and a 11-seat beverage tasting bar.
The small plate menu comes from executive chef Eleftherios (Terry) Natas, a New Jersey-born Greek American who previously worked for El Centro in D.C. and Mike Isabella’s Graffino. A number of items are influenced by Natas’s Greek background, including smoked octopus and gyro meat wrapped in phyllo dough. There will also be handmade ricotta gnocchi, porchetta sliders and scallop aguachile.
“The menu is designed to encourage exploration as small plates afford guests the opportunity to experience more flavor profiles,” Pomajambo says.
A number of other much-anticipated businesses are planning to open in Ballston in the coming months, including The Salt Line, looking at a summer debut. The popular plant shop REWILD is planning a July opening while chicken restaurant Farmbird is starting to serve this week.
Heart + Paw, a combination veterinarian, pet groomer and dog daycare, just opened last month as well.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is planning to open its Crystal City location about a year from now.
Set to be located at 1660 Crystal Drive, the nine-screen, 50,000-square-foot Alamo Drafthouse National Landing will be near a new CVS, Solidcore, and likely linked to a specialty grocery store (perhaps Amazon Fresh).
Just last week, the Texas-based movie theater chain announced it was emerging from bankruptcy and poised to open a number of new theaters, including two in the D.C-area. The Crystal City location is currently expected to open in May or June 2022, theater representatives confirm to ARLnow.
The other new theater will be in Northeast D.C.’s Edgewood neighborhood. That one is planning a November 2021 opening.
Founded in 1997, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has nearly 40 locations while marketing itself as a movie-lover’s oasis, complete with craft beers and locally-sourced snacks.
The theater in Crystal City will be operated by a franchisee, Cojeaux Cinemas. The company operates three other Alamo Drafthouse franchises in Virginia as well as the new D.C. location.
Cojeaux Cinemas has had an eye on the Arlington market for the better part of a decade, but jumped at a deal a few years ago amid an opportunity presented itself.
“We signed this deal in 2017 when JBG Smith gained control of Crystal City,” Joseph Edwards, co-owner Cojeaux Cinemas, tells ARLnow. “We had confidence in their vision and their people to transition the market by bringing tenants like us in to rebalance the overall mix of office, residential, retail and entertainment, creating a more modernized urban area that will draw from all the surrounding areas.”
Just last week, JBG Smith released an investor relations video detailing its ambitious plans for National Landing.
JBG Smith has nearly finished its portion of the work on the building that will house the movie theater, and Cojeaux Cinemas will start the interior build-out within the next couple of months, Edwards said. The theaters will all have laser projectors, large recliners with individual tables, and call buttons to request service (“quietly and seamlessly during the show”).
There will also be a themed bar with the exact concept still in development.
As the operator of other Virginia theaters, the last year has been an immense challenge, Cojeaux co-owner Anthony Coco concedes. But they are confident that folks are ready to go back to the movies.
“Having seen some fantastic box office numbers, like we saw last weekend, it is clear that movie goers are ready to get back in cinemas,” writes Coco. “And enjoy the craveable, one of a kind experience that Alamo Drafthouse provides its guests.”
Less than a week before the primary, gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, Del. Alfonso Lopez, and Virginia Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn paid a visit to Acme Pie Company on Columbia Pike.
All three Democrats are running for office in the upcoming primary, set for Tuesday, June 8 — with early voting happening now. (Filler-Corn is unopposed in the primary.)
Around slices of blueberry and lemon curd pie, joined by Acme’s owner Sol Schott, they discussed small businesses, economic recovery, and their love of pie.
“The best pie in America,” Lopez said about Acme’s offerings. A few moments later, McAuliffe bought a whole pie.
“I got five kids,” the McLean resident and former governor said as his reasoning.
The campaign stop was intended to highlight the plight and hoped-for recovery for Virginia’s small businesses.
“Almost 41% of Black and Brown [owned] businesses have closed. How do you rebuild? How do you bring small businesses back?,” McAuliffe asked. “We do microloans, access to capital, and working on the regulatory structure.”
While Acme Pie has found ways to survive over the last year, it’s been rough going with the shop losing a large slice of its wholesale business.
The business did get a Paycheck Protection Program loan and Schott said that one of the most frustrating aspects was dealing with paperwork and navigating the legalese.
“I would like to see some more hands-on help with paperwork,” Schott told ARLnow. “I did get help from Alfonso personally on that.”
Lopez, who is facing an intra-party challenger in his run for re-election in the 49th District, agrees that the paperwork and amount of work that small business owners need do to gain access to loans and capital can be a barrier.
“What we need to be doing is dealing with procurement reform… and changing the definition of what a small business is,” Lopez said in an interview with ARLnow. “There’s so much more we could do to help these folks who are literally putting everything into their dream of a small business and be able to take care of their family.”
McAuliffe, who is seen as the front-runner for the competitive Democratic gubernatorial nomination, told ARLnow in an interview that the Commonwealth needs to be directly involved in providing access to capital to small businesses.
“We as a state should stand up our own, basically, investment bank structure to help small businesses, to get them off their feet, and work with them,” he said. “The state being involved in micro-financing and other lending opportunities, I think is very important for us.”
The four spoke about other issues impacting residents in Arlington and across Virginia, including education and affordable housing.
“We’ve got to invest in education… You’ve got to have the best education system if you’re going to recruit businesses in the 21st century,” McAuliffe said. “Today, [Virginia] is 50 out of 50 states in average teacher pay. That’s disgraceful… so, raising pay above the national average.”
(Updated 4:35 p.m.) A 140-year-old historic home in Arlington owned and built by Harry Gray, who was formerly enslaved at Arlington House, is for sale with an asking price of $915,000.
“A masonry D.C. row house with the convenience of an Arlington location,” reads the real estate listing. “As soon as you walk in from your front porch the home shines with its exposed brick and tall ceilings & windows, giving it a spacious, cozy feel.”
Located at 1005 S. Quinn Street, right off of Columbia Pike, the building is on the National Register for Historic Places and is protected by the county under the “historic district” designation. This means that certain exterior alterations have to be approved by the county’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB).
The son of Selina Gray, Harry was born at Robert E. Lee’s Arlington House estate and was enslaved there until he was 12 years old. According to Virginia law at the time, he was property of George Washington Parke Custis, George Washington’s step-grandson and the father-in-law of Robert E. Lee.
After that, he lived at nearby Freedman’s Village and worked at local brickyards where he honed his skills as a mason. Later, he became an employee of the U.S. Patent Office and, inspired by the rowhouses he saw while working downtown, built one for his family in Arlington, near Freedman’s Village.
Constructed in the fashionable Italianate style of the late 19th century, the home is two stories tall with a solid brick foundation and standing-seam metal shallow-pitched shed roof. To this day, the home is a rare example of a brick rowhouse in the county.
“It’s a visible relic of a formerly enslaved person from Arlington House and Freedman’s Village, who went on to become middle class,” local author and historian Charlie Clark tells ARLnow about the house.
However, owning a historic home of this nature comes with a unique responsibility.
In 1984, the Harry Gray House became one of the first buildings in the county to be given the historic district designation. Currently, there are 13 single-family homes with this designation in the county, with only a handful of those remaining private residences (the rest are owned by the county or state).
This protects the Harry Gray property from “insensitive alterations,” says Cynthia Liccese-Torres, Program Coordinator for Historic Preservation in Arlington County.
“It’s not owned by the county, but we are tasked with the responsibility of helping any owner be the proper steward of the house,” she says.
While the exterior is protected, that doesn’t mean alterations and changes can’t happen. Liccese-Torres explains that the county has no purview on what happens with the interior, hence why the listing notes the extensive work that’s gone on inside — one of a number of interior renovations over the years.
If the owner notices a rotting front column or a leaky roof, says Liccese-Torres, replacement with the exact same materials and with the dimensions are allowed to happen without approval.
These are known as “in-kind” replacements.
If the owner wanted to build an addition or enclose a front porch, that’s an example of something that would need to go through the HALRB. Requests of this nature have been approved in the recent past.
“Those approvals show this property continues to be adapted,” says Liccese-Torres. “Here we are in 2021 and changes are still allowed to happen. It’s not a static museum piece. It is a home that has been adapted to serve people’s needs over time.”
The house last went on sale in 2011 and was purchased by Cameron and Catherine Saadat.
“We [lived] in Old Town before that, so we had already kind of gotten the appreciation for older homes,” says Cameron. “We happened to see this come on the market and just kind of fell in love with the D.C.-style rowhouse.”
They paid about $387,000 for the house, which was in foreclosure. The couple says that, over the last decade, they’ve poured about $300,000 worth of work into the home, including a complete renovation of the interior.
(Update 5/25) The Salt Line in Ballston is now planning a “closer to summer opening,” restaurant representatives tell ARLnow.
First announced more than two years ago, in January 2019, the seafood spot initially was set for a spring 2020 opening but that was delayed by the pandemic. Then, sights were set for spring 2021 (as the website notes).
Now, representatives say that the restaurant’s opening date is being pushed back at least slightly. The restaurant group recently opened their new New Orleans-style eatery Dauphine’s in D.C. and cite “construction delays” as the reason for pushing back the Ballston opening.
The Salt Line, from D.C-based restaurant group Long Shot Hospitality, will be located at the base of the office building at 4040 Wilson Blvd in Ballston.
Photos show construction is well on its way — though, not complete — including on its open air back patio, near the entrance to Vida Fitness. Back in April 2019, the Arlington County Board approved the building of a permanent outdoor cafe, patio, and fixed bar with seating for 100. Approval was needed since the plan was for the outdoor space to be permanent, as opposed to temporary.
This will be the restaurant’s second location, following the one in Navy Yard which opened in 2017 across the street from Nationals Park. It gained some local fame in the fall of 2019 as the Washington Nationals’ unofficial party spot during their run to being World Series champs. Nats’ first baseman Ryan Zimmerman is an investor and part-owner of the restaurant.
When completed in late 2019, 4040 Wilson Blvd was the tallest building in Ballston.