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After a myriad of controversies, Purple Lounge is set to vacate the property at 3111 Columbia Pike.

Property owner Jorge Escobar confirmed that the lease for the business runs out in January, at which point the Purple Lounge will leave the premises. A “for lease” sign currently hangs from the second story of the building.

Purple Lounge has repeatedly been in hot water with state alcohol regulators over the last few months. The business lost its liquor license on Oct. 9 after violating a settlement it reached with Virginia ABC on Sept. 16 to resume alcohol sales with a number of restrictions.

The October suspension came after Arlington County police officers recovered a gun and charged two people with narcotics offenses. Arlington County police notified Virginia ABC, which determined that Purple Lounge was not complying with two restrictions set by the settlement:

  • Restriction #4: The licensee agrees to have at least four (4) clearly identified Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) certified security personnel on duty every day of operation between the hours of 9 p.m. and closing with at least one (1) guard assigned to patrol and monitor the parking lot, who will begin monitoring the parking lot no later than 8:30 p.m. and will remain on duty after closing until the parking lot has been cleared or until at least thirty (30) minutes after closing (whichever is longer).
  • Restriction #5: The licensee will not permit any loitering, loud music or drinking in the parking lot at any time.

The settlement came after the business had its liquor license suspended earlier in September after multiple shootings at the location. The September suspension immediately followed a double shooting on Aug. 30, and a triple shooting in June that resulted in one death.

The Purple Lounge had its live entertainment permit revoked by Arlington County last December amid local safety concerns. The business was also the site of violence the previous September when a man was shot outside the venue.

Purple Lounge’s nightlife predecessors at the same location have had similar controversies in the past. Pines of Italy restaurant previously occupied the building and had its live entertainment permit revoked in 2014, with a restaurant manager calling County Board members a vulgar term after the vote.

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Ryan Miller is a familiar face on ABC 7 as its fill-in meteorologist, but he has garnered a new following over the last several months as the host of ABC 7 On Your Side’s Outside the Classroom.

When schools closed in March because of COVID-19, Miller — a Washington-Liberty High School science teacher — made a simple inquiry at the station where he works about recording a few lessons that students can watch at home to keep learning.

The response was a simple, according to Miller: “Go for it.” From that point, Miller set to work on Outside the Classroom, an educational program for kids, from his home in Arlington’s Bluemont neighborhood.

“I did the lessons, that morphed into the idea for the show and now we’re 118 episodes and 116 hours of live television deep into Outside the Classroom,” Miller said.

Miller uses more than 18 years of teaching experience to answer questions and help with homework on the show. Over the course of hosting the program, Miller said he’s received a positive response from viewers.

“Meeting new people, virtually or in person, and learning along with the viewers has been the best part of this experience,” Miller said.

The show features a bevy of guests appearing on it, like coworkers from the station, local teachers and volunteers that have included local parents, Arlington firefighters, and musicians from the National Symphony Orchestra and military bands.

Each week, Miller comes up with a different theme for the program. He then brainstorms lesson plans and activities with his photographer Rich Guastadisegni, producer Kyle Ridley and meteorologist Rachael Kaye. The goal is to keep kids interested in and learning science while at home.

“I’m very lucky to be able to work, usually from the front or back yard of my house, with the incredibly talented and patient co-workers from the station, as well as my APS teaching colleagues,” Miller said. “Bringing together all of these phenomenal people to cover a range of topics is the most endearing component of all of this adventure.”

The show airs live at 3 p.m. on weekdays can be seen locally on the WJLA 24/7 News cable channel, online at WJLA.com or streamed on Facebook Live.

Images via ABC 7

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Columbia Pike is home to a new restaurant option.

Supreme Hot Pot, located at 2301 Columbia Pike, held its grand opening this week. The restaurant is on the ground floor of the Siena Park Apartments, along S. Adams Street.

The Chinese hot pot restaurant specializes in authentic Szechuan hot pot, Chinese kebabs and Cajun seafood. The dine-in experience includes an electric cooktop on each table, allowing customers to cook their own soup pot and an array of ingredients.

Options include a variety of meats or seafood, tofu, noodles, rice and vegetables to cook in the hot pot. The menu also includes options for kebabs, meatballs and Louisiana-style seafood.

The restaurant is complete with a sauce bar so customers can create their own hot pot dipping sauce.

The restaurant is open seven days a week, from noon-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. It is open from noon-11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

COVID-19 safety practices are in place at the restaurant as masks are required for entry, tables are spaced apart and sanitized, and the staff will check the temperature for customers dining in. The restaurant will also provide three-layer masks and sanitizer to customers who need them.

Customers can also order from Supreme Hot Pot through DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub for contactless delivery.

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The season of giving is upon us, and with that, so too is the season of shopping.

The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is offering new shopping opportunities as a few new stores dot the interior of the mall.

Patrons can now sample spicy items at Pepper Palace or take on a new look at All Star Sports, and will soon be able to buy elevated business casual at Bonobos.

Pepper Palace opened last week on the first floor of the mall. Billing itself as “The Planet’s #1 Hot Shop,” the Pepper Palace is a chain store that offers “small batch, handcrafted, natural, and award winning products,” according to its website.

The store offers a variety of items that include hot sauces you can taste test, plus salsa, jerky, barbeque sauce and seasonings. The specialty retail outlet already has a D.C. area location at National Harbor.

All Star Sports opened at the end of October. The retail chain store offers sportswear as well as licensed apparel for men, women and kids. Items include a variety of items from high school jerseys of NFL and NBA players, to movie apparel, to hats, shorts, hoodies, jerseys and more.

The company has one other local location at Tysons Corner Center.

Finally, Bonobos is slated to open Dec. 20, according to the Fashion Centre’s website. The New York City-based men’s fashion store — noted for its khakis — stakes its claim as a “painless” shopping experience to help men find clothing that “should actually fit.”

Bonobos already has five other “Guideshops” in the region, including two in D.C. — in Georgetown and Columbia Heights — as well as two in Bethesda and one in Tysons.

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Patrick Moran, a 1990 Yorktown High School graduate, is reaching astronomical heights in his career.

Moran is one of two new pilots appointed by Virgin Galactic into its Pilot Corps on Oct. 27. He joined Jameel Janjua as one of eight pilots in the space flight program.

Virgin Galactic bills itself as “the world’s first commercial spaceline and vertically integrated aerospace company,” according to the company’s website.

A former fighter pilot, Moran will be part of the preparation for commercial service in a test pilot capacity. He and the Pilot Corps will eventually transition to being spaceship pilots, responsible for the commercial flying of passengers.

Moran and Janjua will train to fly SpaceShipTwo, what the company’s site refers to as “the world’s first passenger carrying spaceship to be built by a private company and operated in commercial service.” Moran will also be assigned other responsibilities while based at Spaceport America, New Mexico.

“I am excited to join this fantastic team of talented pioneers leading the charge for commercial space travel and now in the final stages of its flight test program,” the Arlington native said in a press release.

“As a flight instructor, I loved to take people flying in the F/A-18 for the first time, to see their huge smiles as they climbed out of the cockpit. I can’t wait to share the experience of going to space with our Future Astronauts and to see their reactions as they step out of the spaceship and describe their views of Earth from space.”

A 1995 graduate of the University of Virginia’s engineering school, Moran served as a pilot in the Marine Corps for 20 years before retiring in 2015 as a lieutenant colonel. He served in multiple roles while in the Marine Corps, including as a test pilot and test pilot school instructor, and also served as the lead government test pilot for Navy and Marine Corps variants of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Moran currently lives in Henrico, Virgina, with his wife and son.

Photo (above) via NASA on Unsplash, (below) via Virgin Galactic

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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 Shirlington Gateway. The new 2800 Shirlington recently delivered a brand-new lobby and upgraded fitness center, and is adding spec suites with bright open plans and modern finishes. Experience a prime location and enjoy being steps from Shirlington Village. 

There is a new way for teachers and students to sharpen their Spanish and English skills online.

More than 20 years after SpanishDict.com came online, the Rosslyn-based company behind the site, Curiosity Media, announced a free online program called SpanishDict Classrooms to help with remote teaching.

The program caters to high school and college instructors who are teaching Spanish to English speakers as well as English to Spanish speakers. Over the span of just a month, more than 3,000 teachers across the United States and the world signed up for SpanishDict Classrooms.

The program’s planning came about as lockdowns began in March and remote learning became nearly ubiquitous for teachers and students.

Chris Cummings, CEO of Curiosity Media, said that SpanishDict has historically been used for reference materials, but lately the company has seen more individuals utilize the site “as supplementary learning and a primary learning application for learning Spanish and learning English.”

“We doubled our focus on helping teachers help their students, and that was the inspiration for building SpanishDict Classrooms,” Cummings said. “We launched at the start of the school year and we’ve seen a pretty incredible response so far.”

Before launching SpanishDict Classrooms, the company polled more than 220 teachers about some of their primary concerns and needs with remote learning. Using that feedback and information gleaned from its 20 million monthly student users, the company was able to launch the classrooms site.

Through the classrooms program, teachers have a range of options to integrate into their lesson plans. Among those options are creating vocabulary and grammar assignments, and teaching grammar concepts using videos and stories that feature native speakers. Beyond assigning lessons through the program, teachers can also track students’ progress with it.

To be more user friendly to teachers and students alike, the program automatically syncs with Google Classrooms. It’s also compatible with laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones without the need of any specific program downloads.

Curiosity Media has experience with teaching programs, having launched Fluencia in 2013. However, while Fluencia is a subscription-based learning program focused on the individual, SpanishDict Classrooms is free and based on the “experience for teachers and students,” Cummings said.

“This launch takes a lot of the things we’ve done on SpanishDict and makes it really easy for teachers to use them with their classrooms,” Cummings added.

“It gives them this huge library of very high quality content that they can pick from for the lessons. Then it also lets them customize content that’s relevant to their curriculum.”

As the program grows and the company continues to receive feedback, Cummings says SpanishDict Classrooms hopes to add more value to the experience. He also said that the company is excited about the value that native speaker video can add to the learning experience.

“We want more people to succeed in learning Spanish and in learning English, and our goal is to provide the best possible products to do that,” Cummings said. “So we hope to continue to improve how we can serve teachers and students, and we hope that translates into more teachers and students using it on a daily basis to help them learn the language.”

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(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) Many businesses have been forced to shift their expectations and approaches this year, and Kinder Haus Toys in Clarendon is no exception.

The toy store, located at 1220 N. Fillmore Street, already faced the test of keeping up with online competition before the pandemic. Its business challenges were exacerbated by the pandemic and state mandates that required the store to temporarily close earlier in the year.

But Kinder Haus has begun to return back to normal, albeit with stringent COVID-19 safety precautions. The store implements social distancing, has hand sanitizers ready, requires customers and employees to wear masks, and has installed a sneeze guard at the register.

Owner Sue Pyatt and the store’s employees have made the adjustments in stride, and it’s starting to pay off.

“It’s getting better. Little by little, week by week, we’re seeing an improvement in sales,” Pyatt said. “And that’s very encouraging.”

Once the store reopened, sales initially shifted to curbside service, online advertisements were heavily utilized, and Pyatt leaned on the business drummed up by an email newsletter.

Though some things have changed, others have stayed the same. The store’s focus has remained on some essentials Pyatt feels are synonymous with small independent business, such as offering free gift wrapping and the “knowledgeable suggestions” from the staff.

“We have a number of loyal customers, and they were so pleased we were open,” Pyatt said. “And they had such nice things to say, such as, ‘It gives us hope that you’re continuing,’ and ‘We appreciate being able to have a store like this that we can turn to when we need gifts for children,’ and things along that line.”

Kinder Haus has managed to maintain its normal hours since it reopened, and according to Pyatt has been able to meet its expenses and ensure payroll was consistently met for employees.

Though the store is open and business is slowly getting better, there have been some additional cuts due to safety measures. The store’s regular events like Tunes 4 Tots music class, arts and crafts activities, Lego Play Day, and others have been suspended until further notice, for instance.

Pyatt hopes to be able to offer the activities again “as soon as we feel it’s safe.”

The store has been able to maintain its charitable efforts with the help of the “very generous community that we’re blessed to be in,” Pyatt said.

The store maintains a donation box to support the Arlington Food Assistance Center and continues to provide support to the Educate the Girls organization that provides financial assistance to girls in rural Uganda to attend primary or secondary school.

“I’d just like to say how much we appreciate our customers and more than anything, it’s the customers and the support we’ve received from them that has made it possible for us to continue and give us the encouragement that we needed,” Pyatt said. “That words that occur to me are kind of cliché, but we’re all in this together. Our staff, our wonderful customers, we’re all in this doing the best we can. And I think that’s why it works.”

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Arlington is getting a little greener.

Affordable housing developer AHC Inc., in partnership with Arlington County, introduced 342 solar panels at The Apex complex (2900 and 2910 S. Glebe Road) last week. The nonprofit touted the undertaking as “the largest solar panel array on a multifamily apartment building in Northern Virginia.”

The 130-kilowatt installation will ultimately generate electricity to offset common area energy usage. The energy will power the lights, elevators, fitness equipment and power to the apartment community’s leasing office.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to reduce our operating expenses while also cutting back on carbon emissions,” AHC President and CEO Walter D. Webdale said in a press release. “Converting a portion of our energy source to renewables is a win for everyone – the community, our residents and for us.”

The Apex is a five-story, two-building affordable housing complex that opened for residents this spring. It replaced The Berkeley, a four-story housing complex built in 1961 and located west of Crystal City, along Four Mile Run. The Apex’s 256 units — including one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments affordable for low- and moderate-income households — replaced The Berkeley’s 137 units.

The Arlington County Board gave a final approval to the project, which received around $20 million in loans from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund, in July 2018. Additional funding came through Low-Income Housing Tax Credits from the Virginia Housing Development Authority.

“The Apex project shows that affordable housing and sustainability can be woven together beautifully to create a climate of change,” said Claude Williamson, Director of Arlington’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development.

“Energy efficient construction and solar power are important for containing the costs of affordable living and to reach Arlington’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050,” he said. “We look forward to working hand in hand with our entire community to create and maintain more sustainable, affordable housing for the future.”

Photos courtesy AHC Inc.

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Arlington businessman Xavier Warren is basing his campaign for lieutenant governor of Virginia on a pledge to lead a statewide economic recovery while focusing on the job market.

Warren is a partner with Congressional Partners, a bipartisan organization that helps nonprofits and corporations secure federal grants. He also works as a sports agent and serves as a NFL Players Association contract advisor.

Warren announced his candidacy for lieutenant governor in September.

He is among a sizable group of candidates vying for the Democratic Party’s nomination for lieutenant governor that includes Del. Elizabeth R. Guzmán (Prince William), Del. Hala Ayala (Prince William), former Democratic Party chairman Paul Goldman, and Fairfax County NAACP President Sean Perryman.

Additionally, Del. Sam Rasoul (Roanoke) filed paperwork Tuesday to allow him to start raising money for a potential lieutenant governor campaign, according to the Washington Post.

Republican candidates include former Del. Timothy D. Hugo (Fairfax), Del. Glenn R. Davis Jr. (Virginia Beach), Fairfax County business consultant Puneet Ahluwalia and Lance Allen, a national security company executive from Fauquier County.

Each candidate is vying for the role that will be vacated by Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), who is running for governor.

Warren points to the state’s current economic condition as his primary reason for running. He specifically seeks to address the unemployment rate that has risen as a result of COVID-19.

“The reason why I am running is to focus on jobs, support small businesses and workers, and helping every Virginian have a job with a livable wage,” Warren said.

“COVID is literally hurting, and has killed, small businesses,” he told ARLnow. “Small businesses are closing on a weekly basis. And hundreds of thousands of people are out of work. Even truthfully speaking, people were hurting pre-COVID, living paycheck-to-paycheck, and now those people are extremely hurt.”

His understanding of the lieutenant governor job is as a “business position” that sets the basis for a platform focused on reviving the job market. If elected, Warren looks to advocate for job growth while working with boards such as the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Virginia Tourism and Virginia Resiliency.

“What I plan to do is to be our spokesperson and really market Virginia for jobs to come in, to bring in high-wage jobs, new jobs, and that will also support small businesses,” Warren said. “When you put money into workers’ pockets, they then go spend it in retail, go spend it in restaurants, spend it at shopping centers.”

Warren lives in Arlington, but he grew up in Danville and attended Hampton University before earning a master’s degree from Georgetown University. With his experience living and working across the state, he acknowledges that each region of Virginia comes with its own unique challenges.

His plans for the position include tailoring the economic efforts for each region based on its specific needs, whether that’s improved health care, education, supporting public schools, or whatever each community may face.

“Obviously, at the state level, economic development is different across the board,” Warren said. “Every person in every region is unique. So it’s not a one-size-fits-all for everyone. You take in a personalized approach to helping get each region together to really uplift all Virginians.”

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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 Shirlington Gateway. The new 2800 Shirlington recently delivered a brand-new lobby and upgraded fitness center. Experience a prime location and enjoy being steps from Shirlington Village. Spec suites with bright open plans and modern finishes are under construction and will deliver soon!

Finding a relationship during the pandemic has gotten a little easier.

George Mason University students Cameron Smith and Dennis Nayandin developed and released a new dating app, SpecUdate, which is currently focused on the D.C. area. Devised as “Online Dating’s Real Game,” the app seeks to offer a new experience for users in “a fun way for people to break the ice online in a way that hasn’t been done before,” according to Smith, the CEO for the project.

Smith and Nayandin began work a year and a half ago on the project. The computer science majors — who have completely self-funded the project — went released the app on Friday, Oct. 8, with 1,500 subscribers and 100 active users. SpecUdate is open to anyone interested, but initially has targeted GMU and other area universities.

“Once we’ve made a foothold in the DMV area and the Northern Virginia area, we would like to expand to other areas,” said Smith, an Arlington native who attended Yorktown High School. “We want to be as big as we can, but we also want people to share the idea, share the concept, buy into the app itself.”

The development and direction of the app came as a result of Smith’s personal experiences with online dating apps and after interviews with college students, gauging their experiences with other services. After gathering the insight of students, chief technology officer Nayandin fit Smith’s vision for the app.

“SpecUdate is designed to help find relationships and friendships, but the way it does it is unique,” Smith said. “Unlike other services, we decided to go a route with our app where it’s actually like a real game.”

As a result of the feedback Smith and Nayandin received from their interviews, the primary focal point of SpecUdate is how users interact and develop connections. Before a connection can progress to a conversation, the app requires users to participate in two social games: “two truths and a lie” and a simple true or false question.

The games are meant to be icebreakers that can be used and referenced after a connection has been made and a conversation has opened between users.

The app — which is compatible on iOS and Android devices — has also taken on the challenge of being as inclusive as possible by taking advice from contacts made through George Mason’s LGBTQ office.

“One thing we had to conquer was ‘okay, how can we make this inclusive for everybody,'” Smith said. “I wanted everybody to be able to use the app, no matter gender or orientation.”

While COVID-19 has impacted the app and the marketing for it, Smith and Nayandin have taken the challenge head on. The duo had 1,000 email signups before the pandemic hit and George Mason went to virtual learning, and they’ve added 500 emails as a result of social media marketing. The app has also been adjusted to allow users to increase their search radius from a maximum 100 miles to 300.

“SpecUdate was designed to be a fun icebreaker dating game where people can actually enjoy playing the game more, as well as enjoy the process of dating, which should be a relaxing, enjoyable process,” Smith said.

“There’s a big stigma these days surrounding online dating apps that prevents a lot of people from even trying them just based off of what they’ve heard from other people, that they’re ‘hook-up apps,’ ‘they’re boring.’ We want to be different than that. We want to be the app that people enjoy to play and have fun connecting on, and is less stressful.”

Photo via SpecUdate

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A portion of Virginia Highlands Park, near Pentagon City, is being transformed into a vibrant display of gardening through a new agricultural initiative.

The Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture, National Landing BID, Livability 22202 and Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation collaborated to develop a project that is revitalizing a strip of land in the park for a temporary demonstration garden. The project, called the Highlands Urban Garden (HUG), is located at 1600 S. Hayes Street.

Project HUG will include a display of various irrigation systems, while showcasing how to counter challenging soil conditions and how edge spaces in parks can be converted to functioning gardens. Produce from the garden will be donated to local food pantries.

The garden — which volunteers broke ground on Sept. 27 — utilizes the space adjacent to the tennis court practice wall at the park. This fall marks the initial installation and preparation of this pilot site for a spring planting season.

“Project HUG will revitalize underused land near the park’s tennis courts and illustrate how otherwise fallow spaces can be transformed into productive land that builds a vibrant ecosystem,” said Arlington FOUA Board President Robin Broder. “The Highlands Urban Garden will serve as a model for future community-driven agriculture features throughout Arlington’s urban neighborhoods.”

A team of neighborhood volunteers will maintain and manage the garden. On-site signage will inform community members about the practices used in caring for a planned mix of edible vegetative crops, native plants and pollinators.

The rectangular strip of land HUG occupies will consist of three bays of six fabric grow bags connected to automatic irrigation systems. The garden will also feature smart sensors to track water, light, fertilizer and temperature that can be used as part of a long-term data collection effort for STEM curricula at local schools.

“We are pleased to collaborate with our partners in the community to expand natural elements throughout National Landing’s built environment by transforming land on the margins and in unexpected places,” said Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, Executive Director of National Landing BID, formerly known as the Crystal City BID. “The Highlands Urban Garden will invoke curiosity and joy in passersby, residents and park visitors alike.”

As a part of the temporary design of the garden, there will not be any below grade digging or disturbance of the grounds at the site.

Photos courtesy Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture

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