Arlington, VA

A pie shop owner says an ongoing county construction project has cost her tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

About six weeks ago, Heather Sheire arrived to work at Livin’ the Pie Life at 2166 N. Glebe Road to find bulldozers tearing up the pavement in front of the shop.

“That’s how much notice I got from the county that there was going to be a disruption,” owner Sheire tells ARLnow, who opened the shop in 2016. She is now seeking financial compensation from county.

The construction was due to the ongoing Lee Highway and Glebe Road intersection improvement project which isn’t set to be substantially completed until the fall.

“Our parking was getting blocked and, then, 21st Road [N.] was getting blocked and, then, the sidewalk was getting blocked,” Sheire says, frustration rising in her voice. “Then, I started to notice our sales were down.”

The shop relies on walk-ups, she says, with about 90% of sales coming from walk-in orders.

Sheire even bought one of those feather-like flags as a way to catch people’s eyes from the road, but it was removed by construction crews.

March 3 was a tipping point. Again, Sheire saw a construction truck parked across the entrance of the shop’s driveway. So, she finally reached out to the county.

“[They] were sympathetic, but I need more than sympathy and friendlessness,” Sheire says. “This was having a very substantial economic impact on my business.”

She tells ARLnow, after comparing numbers from years past, that she believes the business has lost “tens of thousands of dollars” as a result of this construction project.

“I have a historical record from [March] last year to this year… we went from being down 10% to 46%,” she says.

Eric Balliet, spokesperson for Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services, confirms that Sheire did reach out.

“Once we were made aware of the pie shop owner’s concerns, the project team responded by making every effort possible to accommodate the business during streetscape construction along their store frontage,” he writes to ARLnow.

According to Balliet, this included scheduling construction mostly on Mondays and Tuesdays (when the shop is closed), upgrading bike racks, installing a curb along parking spaces to prevent vehicles from damaging the building, and relocating street signs to improve visibility of the storefront.

Also, as part of the project, the county has upgraded the pie shop’s front walkway to concrete and expanded access to the store’s parking spaces for those driving northbound along N. Glebe Road.

Sheire agrees, for the most part, that the county has either already done the things promised or she believes they will — except for improving access to parking.

“It is trickier to get into the parking now than before. They added a short wall along the sidewalk on Glebe that now must be navigated to get into and out of the parking from Glebe,” she says. “It’s become a maze, a puzzle to get in there.”

But even fixing all of that will not change the financial damage that has already occurred to her business.

“[We] deserve some kind of financial compensation because they were literally blocking access to our business,” Sheire says. “It’s wrong for the county to initiate a project like this without taking into account the economic impact it has on a small business.”

In March, she received her business license tax bill from the county, which set her off.

“That was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” she says. “I felt like Arlington County had not given me value for my business license.”

She contacted the Arlington County Treasurer Carla de la Pava and other top local officials about waiving the tax, or offering some sort of compensation, but was told that could not be done.

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A new farmers market may be coming to Pentagon City.

On Saturday, April 17, the County Board is planning to hear a permit request from the National Landing Business Improvement District about holding an open-air farmers market at the plaza area in the northern portion of Metropolitan Park, about 2-3 blocks from the Pentagon City Metro station.

The farmers market would take place on Saturdays, April through November, from 8 a.m.-noon. However, the market would not start until June this year, National Landing BID spokesperson Ashley Forrester tells ARLnow.

The reason for the delay, writes Forrester, is so that the BID can do more planning in advance and set themselves “up for success in future years” for when there’s a new park.

Metropolitan Park is on the verge of getting a $14 million makeover courtesy of Amazon and its new, adjacent HQ2, with design work from James Corner Field Operations of New York’s High Line fame. That project is expected to be completed in 2023.

The market will be operated by Freshfarm Markets, which runs nearly 30 markets in the D.C.-area including four in Arlington.

If approved, the market would be able to accommodate up to 20 vendors, who would park along 13th Street S. and S. Fair Street.

The staff report notes that the area around Metropolitan Park contains several high-rise, multi-family apartment buildings, so they expect most patrons to the farmers market will likely walk or bike there.

The County Board will review the use permit for the farmers market again in a year, April 2022.

This additional market would give Arlington nine active farmers markets, a number of which have opened or will be opening in the coming weeks.

Pre-ordering is still being encouraged as a safety measure, but all the markets are open for in-person shopping. It’s a change from early last year when markets were briefly shut down due to the pandemic and, then, allowed to reopen only for pre-order sales.

Photo via Flickr/Cliff

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Arlington County is seeking public input about improvements to the portion of S. Eads Street between 12th and 15th streets in Pentagon City.

The public survey focuses on the east (northbound) side of the relatively small section of S. Eads Street running near Amazon’s future HQ2. It asks questions about living and working in Arlington, how individuals travel around the county, and how safe does one feel traveling along this particular segment of S. Eads Street.

The last page of the survey provides an interactive map, asking individuals to leave comments about their difficulty crossing the street, sightlines, and if pavement or sidewalks are in need of repair.

“We’re hoping to gather observations and experiences on how people use the street now across all modes, from biking and walking to taking transit and driving,” writes Eric Balliet, spokesperson for Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services, in an email to ARLnow. “We’d like to know what issues they experience, any safety or access concerns they have, and how they might want to see the street improved. The feedback will be used to guide the development of the concept design, which we will present later for another round of feedback.”

The existing streetscape includes a partially protected bike lane, inconsistent sidewalk, and a lack of street lighting. The layout of the street is also primarily oriented toward cars, according to the project’s webpage.

Improvements being considered include adding physical protection to the bike lane, adding more street lighting, and reconstructing and realigning sidewalks.

“Together, these improvements will create a safer, more accessible, and more comfortable environment for all users of the street,” says the webpage.

The county’s master transportation plan as well as other plans and studies all call for S. Eads Street to be reconstructed into a so-called complete street — one safe for pedestrians, bicyclists, mass transit users, and drivers. This was first implemented as a pilot project back in 2014.

The survey is part of the county’s “preliminary public engagement” process and will be open until Friday, April 23.

The concept design for the changes is set to be unveiled this spring or summer. Afterward, more time will be provided for the public to weigh in.

By the fall, the final concept design should be ready with engineering, design, and procurement of a contractor set to be completed by the spring of 2023.

Construction is scheduled to start in the summer of 2023 and be completed a year later, in the summer of 2024.

S. Eads Street has seen constant construction, planned improvements, and redevelopment in recent years due in large part to Amazon’s arrival to the county.

The other side of S. Eads Street — southbound — is also set to receive improvements as part of later phases of the (Amazon-funded) Metropolitan Park development.

Image (2) via Arlington County

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Ballston Quarter is getting several new businesses, a new art installation, and a weekly bingo night.

The “Beer and Bingo” nights are taking place at the Quarter Market food hall on Wednesdays through the end of May. Registration is free on the shopping center’s website. Individuals or small groups will be sat at tables spaced apart, for safety’s sake.

“Guests can expect a safe and socially distanced night full of fun and amazing prizes for those lucky bingo winners,” says a press release. “The free ticket will guarantee 6-8 rounds of bingo with a prize available for each round.”

Meanwhile, the “Prismatica Kaleidoscope Experience,” fresh from a stint in Richmond, is being installed in the outdoor mews near CVS. It will open May 1 and run until the end of that month.

The art installation is “composed of 25 pivoting prisms standing at more than 6 ft tall, that will make for a colorful photo op,” according to a press release. The “towering rainbow prisms” immerse visitors in “an infinite interplay of lights and reflections,” says the Ballston Quarter website.

In addition to the art, three new businesses are set to open.

Heart + Paw, a full service veterinary center, groomer and doggy daycare, is also opening in the shopping center in May. This is the company’s first location in the area, with most existing locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Large windows will face out as to “allow pet parents to watch their fur babies being groomed,” the press release says.

Also opening is REWILD, the popular and trendy D.C.-based flower and plant shop. That’s expected to open between July 1 and August 1, the shop tells ARLnow.

“We also hear a lot of our clients who visit us at our D.C. locations say they’ve traveled to see REWILD in person, and many of those clients are coming from Virgina,” owner Lily Cox wrote in an email to ARLnow. “We pride ourselves on our selection of unique houseplants, and find that there’s a space to fill in Virginia for a shop like ours. We have already received so much positive feedback from some of those Virginia-based residents, that we’re anticipating a very engaged community in Ballston.”

Beyond selling house plants, REWILD also does consultations and workshops.

Finally, after being first announced in August 2018, Art Whino appears to be planning to finally open soon.

The D.C.-based art gallery, which once had a presence at Tysons, is opening up a new 6,000 square foot venue that will bring “art, food, cocktails and events under one roof.”

There will be a seating area for more than 150 guests, three bars with “full immersion mural installations,” and an art retail space. The venue is being described as a “multidimensional experience.”

The opening date is listed as “late spring 2021.”

Two other Ballston Quarter businesses have reopened or appear poised to reopen soon.

Cooking school Cookology “has finally reopened its doors to welcome those who want to learn everything about cooking in-person,” according to the press release.

“They will be hosting teen nights every Friday night and CRAVE @Cookology which will be a series of culinary experiences allowing visitors to drop in and participate in fun activities like making their own sushi & sake or competing in cake decorating competitions,” the press release notes. “CRAVE will begin April 3 and will be open Wednesday-Friday from 5-9 p.m. and Saturday 1-9 p.m.”

As ARLnow reported last week, three-story food, drink and entertainment complex Punch Bowl Social is also expected to reopen in the coming weeks or months. The company recently started hiring ahead of an expected reopening, after remaining closed during much of the pandemic and going through bankruptcy.

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After first announcing their move to Crystal City in September 2019, Rasa is finally planning to open this summer.

The D.C.-based, fast-casual Indian restaurant applied for a Virginia ABC permit to sell beer, wine and mixed drinks earlier this month, typically a prelude to an opening within a few months. A restaurant spokesperson confirms to ARLnow that the Rasa Crystal City location is, in fact, planning to start serving customers this summer.

We asked why the nearly year-long delay — the pandemic seems a likely culprit — but have yet to hear back as publication time.

“Rasa National Landing” will be located at 2200 Crystal Drive, near a Sweetgreen, a Chick-fil-A, and an Amazon-assisted COVID-19 vaccination clinic.

While Crystal Drive’s row of restaurants have always been popular with the lunch-time crowd, that crowd has thinned during the pandemic. Still, new residential development and hopes of turning National Landing into a “vibrant 18-hour environment” raise the possibility of a more robust dinner crowd down the line.

Rasa was founded by locals Rahul Vinod and Sahil Rahman. There are currently two other restaurant locations, one in Navy Yard near Nationals Park and the other on K Street NW in the Mt. Vernon Triangle neighborhood that opened in August 2020.

The menu and design of Rasa’s Arlington location is expected to mirror the D.C. restaurants.

The menu is bowl-based, featuring punny names like “Caul Me Maybe” (which features tofu, cauliflower, peanut sesame sauce, rice, and spinach) and “Goa Your Own Way” (featuring spicy beef, coconut ginger sauce, green beans, and lentils).

The restaurants’ colorful interiors have basket swingsets, bookshelves stocked with titles by South Asian authors and paintings from local artist Nandita Madan (who happens to be co-founder Rahman’s aunt).

Photo courtesy of Rasa

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Grab a basket and brush up on your produce-scoping skills, it’s farmers market season once again.

A number of Arlington farmers markets have or will be opening for the season in the coming days, including:

  • Crystal City on Tuesdays, from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. (starting tomorrow, April 6)
  • Ballston on Thursdays, from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. (opened on April 1)

Several other farmers markets will be opening in the weeks to follow, including:

  • Lubber Run on Saturdays starting April 17, from 8 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • Fairlington on Sundays, starting May 2, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Rosslyn on Wednesdays, starting May 5, from 3 p.m.-7 p.m.

Three Arlington farmer markets are open year-around, though with shifting hours depending on the season including:

  • Westover’s Sunday winter hours of 9 a.m.-1 p.m. will remain until May 2, a market representative confirmed, when it shifts 8 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • Courthouse’s Saturday farmers market shifts their hours to 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on April 17.
  • The Columbia Pike market on Sundays is now in the parking lot of the Fillmore Shopping Center and keeps the hours of 8:30-11:30 a.m. year around.

The Courthouse farmers market is the oldest in Arlington, selling produce since 1979. All of the markets will have modified operations, including limited capacity, as a result of the pandemic.

In total, Arlington has eight farmer markets.

The Marymount University farmers market closed last year and is not currently operational, a county official confirms. It opened in 2016, billing itself as the only Arlington market north of Lee Highway.

Despite being encouraged to offer pre-ordering, markets are open for in-person shopping. This is a change from early last year, at the start of the pandemic, when markets were briefly shut down and then allowed to open for pre-ordered sales only.

File photo

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A store selling electric bikes appears to be moving into Crystal City.

According to window stickers, Leafy Bikes will be opening soon at 570 23rd Street S., next to Burn & Brew. It is moving into the former Vintage Dress Company space, after the store moved completely online.

Leafy Bikes, according to the company’s website, sells two-seat electric bikes.

“The Leafy Classic II,” says the website, “is designed to be half bicycle and half motorcycle without the contribution of gasoline.” A tutorial video on YouTube explains more about the bike’s features.

ARLnow has reached out to the email address listed on the website for confirmation, construction timeline and opening date, but has yet to hear back as of publication.

The property owner did confirm that the company has a lease and opined the electric bike store is “a cool idea.” Building permits were issued by the county to company founder Yoseph Assefa in early January for the space.

While the company has a presence in Miami, Florida, there also seems to be a local office in Potomac, Maryland.

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A new local business owner is taking over the troubled, former Purple Lounge location and is pledging to make it family-friendly.

Layth Mansour will be opening a restaurant and hookah lounge called “Eska” at 3111 Columbia Pike, the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) announced earlier today.

Mansour also owns Legend Kicks & Apparel several blocks down at 2609 Columbia Pike.

This new restaurant will be an “authentic celebration of Arabic culture,” featuring decor, seating, and a menu inspired by Mansour’s roots. He tells ARLnow that he’ll make the new establishment “more family-friendly” and won’t be serving alcohol.

“I just want to provide a different vibe to the Pike,”said Mansour, who was born in America to a family originally from Jerusalem. “Also, that’s just not me. I’ve never drunk liquor… It’s against my religion.”

Plus, he says, the customer base at Legend Kick is predominantly 19 or younger, so he wants an establishment that complements his other business.

“Literally, five feet from our back door are houses,” he says. “‘It gives the community a peace of mind as well. There’s not going to be a lot of chaos.”

Mansour noted that, instead of alcohol, traditional Arabic teas, coffees, and desserts will be served. In fact, he’s bringing in a chef from Ramallah to help build out the menu.

“The Chef is well known in the village of Ramallah,” Mansour said, as quoted by CPRO. “He’ll be here for six months to help us build the menu.”

Mansour is working on repainting the exterior from purple to a “beige, brick-color.” Interior renovations are ongoing, as well, but the work has been challenging since the building was not kept in good shape.

“The last people here really, really screwed this place up,” Mansour says. “The exterior of the building is damaged, the plumbing is messed up… they were never up to date with any type of inspection. They didn’t even have fire extinguishers in the place.”

For years, the nightlife venue Purple Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge was the site of a number of incidents, including multiple shootings. The situation got so dire that a bill was passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Ralph Northam that gives communities greater say over the issuance of liquor licenses.

Despite the building challenges, Mansour expects Eska to open by June 1, a prospect that excites local business boosters.

“CPRO is thrilled to have a new business coming to this location that embodies the spirit of Columbia Pike — a celebration of community, family, and the diverse cultures that make up our amazing corridor,” Kim Klingler, Executive Director of CPRO, tells ARLnow. “And we are proud to see a Columbia Pike small-business owner continue to grow and invest in our community.”

Mansour’s other business Legend Kicks & Apparel, a popular store focused on reselling high-end athletic gear, was a victim of arson and theft back in 2018. Later that year, the store reopened in a new location, a few doors down from the original one, which was severely damaged in the fire.

Mansour says that he’s currently looking for a new location for Legend Kicks, since a multi-use development is being planned for that block. He says his lease runs until January 2022, but expects to keep Legend Kicks in the Columbia Pike corridor

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The first time Matt and Vicky Eichler saw Jazz, she was in a crate coming out of baggage claim at Reagan National Airport.

“They sounded the big siren at Reagan National and she came through the little cargo thing,” says Matt. “And she was born to us.”

That was in 2002.

Today, Jazz (short for “Jazzmatazz”) is a newly-turned 19-year-old, toothless, miniature dachshund who lives with her caretakers in the Arlington Forest neighborhood. And this birthday girl (her birthday was March 19) has gone Arlington viral.

As ARLnow’s Pet of the Week last week, Jazz made quite an impression. On Facebook, Jazz’s story have received more than 250,000 impressions, 16,500 likes, 650 shares, and 1,300 comments — and counting.

It’s the most viral Pet of the Week post on social media that anyone here can remember. (In terms of readership on the ARLnow website, Jazz was unable to overtake the all-time Pet of the Week pageviews leader, a pet rock named Steven.)

It’s not totally clear why Jazz has stolen the hearts of an NHL arena’s worth of Facebook users, but her caretakers think it’s because she’s lovable, cute, and alive.

“All of our neighbors when they see her say ‘Oh, she’s still alive?’ and we say ‘Oh, yeah!,” says Matt.

Nineteen years ago, the newly-married couple was looking for a dog to carry on the family legacy.

“My family has had dachshunds in their family since 1980,” says Matt. “And Vicky really wanted a dog, so [she] emailed a number of breeders.”

They found a match, but the dog was all the way in Louisiana. So, the young pup took a flight by herself to meet her new family.

“She came with the name ‘Jasmine,'” says Vicky. “But I didn’t like it. It was too girly.”

So, they named her Jazzmatazz. With her Louisiana origins, Vicky says that the name “totally fit her.”

That first day with her new family was full of surprises.

“We brought her home, went to the backyard, and she instantly knew how to play ball,” says Matt. “It was pretty amazing. She was more than eager to play and push [the ball] back with her nose and chase it down.”

Jazz also didn’t bark in her first days, but that changed, oddly, once she saw herself for the first time.

“She was really quiet. And then she saw herself in the mirror and started to bark for the first time,” says Matt. “Then, we couldn’t shut her up after that.”

A few years later, the Eichler got another addition to their family.

“When we brought [our son] home from the hospital, Jazz welcomed him to the house,” says Matt. “She would pop up on her hind legs and look into the cradle.”

On walks, Jazz was protective of the baby, barking at passers-by.

“She was a good older sister,” Matt says.

As the years have passed, Jazz has slowed down a bit. Her eyes have gradually gotten worse, her hearing is going, and her mobility isn’t great. But she still has a great sense of smell, always tracking down her treats.

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(Updated at 10:55 a.m.) After a pandemic winter, the region’s annual rite of spring is finally here: The cherry blossoms have bloomed.

A string of warm weather days got the famed Tidal Basin cherry blossoms to hit peak bloom a few days earlier than initially predicted. While there were fears that peak bloom would result in crowded conditions that would prompt the National Park Service to shut down access, that has yet to materialize.

As of now, the Tidal Basin remains open with peak bloom expected to last about a week.

If blossom peeping is what you’re after, then Arlington National Cemetery is another possible destination, with numerous cherry blossom trees. However, it’s currently only open to the public on a limited basis.

Here in Arlington, our cherry blossoms aren’t as famous as those across the river, but there are still plenty to see elsewhere around the county. Clusters of cherry trees and blossoms can be seen in various Arlington neighborhoods, heralding the arrival of spring without the fanfare of their Tidal Basin brethren.

ARLnow staff photographer Jay Westcott traveled around Arlington over the past week to capture some of the blooms, as seen in the gallery above.

There are other ways to participate in the cherry blossom festivities that don’t require venturing across the Potomac.

In National Landing, where dozens of cherry trees are being planted, two “Art in Bloom” sculptures are now on display. Relatedly, Amazon is now a top-level sponsor of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Arlington restaurants are included in the annual “Cherry Picks” program, which highlights cherry blossom-inspired dishes.

A new addition to the festival is the “Porch Parade and Pedal Procession,” in which area residents and businesses decorate their porches, yards, and windows with a cherry blossom theme. Arlington is home to numerous such displays, according to a map.

Some Arlington neighborhoods, including the Aurora Highlands community near National Landing, are even organizing their own cherry blossom activities this year.

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The upcoming Arlington County Board primary will see a rematch between two former Democratic rivals.

County Board member Takis Karantonis, who is serving a partial term after being elected in a special election, is facing Chanda Choun, who is hoping the third time is the charm as he again seeks a seat on the Board.

Karantonis and Choun previously ran against each other in the Democratic primary for the special election last year to fill the late Erik Gutshall’s seat. Karantonis won while Choun finished third in the ranked-choice voting. Then, Karantonis went on to win the general election.

The winner of this year’s June primary will move on to November’s general election, where there’s already an opponent waiting for one of them.

The Arlington elections office confirmed to ARLnow that Audrey Clement has filed her paperwork and will once again be on the ballot in November.

Clement, who has run unsuccessfully for office in Arlington nearly a dozen times over the past decade — most recently in November — is again running as an independent.

Karantonis, the former executive director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO), was an ardent supporter of the planned Columbia Pike streetcar project, which was scuttled in 2014. His current term in office expires on December 31.

“I am running for re-election to the Arlington County Board because I believe that Arlington is resilient, and it has the capacity to adapt to challenges in ways that will provide a great quality of life for all of its residents,” Karantonis wrote in an email to supporters. “My experiences as an immigrant, planner, economist, environmentalist and affordable housing activist have proved critical in my work to build an Arlington that works for all Arlingtonians.”

Additionally, he noted that his top priorities would include safely reopening schools, supporting small businesses, making Arlington a leader in environmental resilience and sustainability, tackling “our housing affordability crisis,” and advancing equity and racial justice.

Chanda Choun is a military veteran and a technology professional who has also run several times for the County Board. In 2018 he lost to Matt de Ferranti and last year he initially was going to oppose Libby Garvey’s re-election but dropped out to run in the special election.

In a campaign email, Choun wrote that he has a “Freedom and Justice Plan” for the county. This includes, according to the note, “securing the local economy amidst the remote work revolution,” reducing residential taxes, closing the digital divide, and making Arlington’s government more representative and responsive.

“Arlington’s current path is not sustainable: financially, environmentally, and socially,” he said. “Arlington needs an elected representative with managerial experience, technical skills, a thoughtful heart, and unique tenacious leadership to make sure we have a fair and livable community 20 years from now.”

Choun notes that, if elected, he would be the first Asian American to serve on the Arlington County Board.

The Democratic primary is June 8 with early voting beginning 45 days before the election, on April 23.

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