Arlington, VA

Long-time local store Classic Cigars and British Goodies in Clarendon (2907 Wilson Blvd) is closed for good, but a new smoking accouterment vendor is planning a move into the same location with an inventory that will pay respect to the late Anglophile establishment.

Smoke Source Tobacco and Vape is excited to open their fifth location on the highly populated Clarendon Blvd,” Kelsey Sharp, a spokesperson for the regional chain, told ARLnow.

Smoke Source Tobacco and Vape has other locations in Northern Virginia, including in Manassas, Chantilly and Fairfax, but the new store will be a little different in an homage to Classic Cigars and British Goodies, which closed in March and never reopened.

“Not only will the new store provide tobacco and vape products and accessories but also offer a variety of cigar brands including Padròn, Montecristo and Davidoff and continue to stock specialty British goods as well as an assortment of craft beer and wine,” Sharp said. “The store is under new ownership but, in an effort to please the current customer base, Smoke Source Tobacco and Vape will continue to stock the British goodies as well as expand their inventory.”

The store is currently still stocked with the remaining Classic Cigars and British Goodies supply — including bottled drinks, teas, biscuits and candies imported from the UK — but that could change over the new few months.

“The new store is currently undergoing a full refresh and hopes to be open by the end of this summer,” Sharp said.

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Once upon a time, there was an Arlington restaurant called Buena Vida. It sat on the second floor of 2900 Wilson Blvd, but like many meals once served there, it has been devoured.

Buena Vida has been subsumed into TTT — an abbreviation of Tacos, Tortas and Tequila — the restaurant that inhabits the first floor of the building.

Both dining options have the same ownership and opened together last year. Buena Vida had focused on “traditional, indigenous fare that incorporates recipes that have been handed down through generations,” while TTT on the first floor was fast-casual, serving quick Mexican fare like tacos and and enchiladas. The third floor of the complex is a rooftop bar that was dubbed Buena Vida Social Club.

Now, both the Silver Spring and Arlington locations of Buena Vida are being rebranded to just TTT as part of a focus on the fast-casual option, Bethesda Magazine first reported.

Locally, staff said there was another reason.

“It’s a little misunderstanding with the guests,” an employee at TTT in Clarendon said. “We had three floors and people kept getting confused about that. They’re rebranding to change the whole thing to TTT.”

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, StartupMonday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties is proudly featuring Shirlington Gateway. Say hello to the new 2800 Shirlington, which recently delivered a brand-new lobby and upgraded fitness center. Experience a prime location and enjoy being steps from Shirlington Village, a large retail hub with a variety of unique restaurants and shopping options. Spec suites with bright open plans and modern finishes are under construction and will deliver soon!

Ballston startup HyperQube recently announced a new batch of funding that will help boost its growth efforts.

The startup specializes in taking a company’s digital infrastructure, cloning it, then throwing every hack and virus imaginable at the clone to see what gets through. Once those weaknesses are found, HyperQube helps companies review, document, and fix their code to be more secure.

HyperQube raised $2.5 million in seed funding, primarily from Leawood Venture Capital, a fairly small Kansas-based investment group that also recently financed Sorcero, a language intelligence startup based out of D.C.

Craig Stevenson, HyperQube’s founder and CEO, said that more companies moving towards working from home as a result of the pandemic will result in an increased necessity to maintain safe and stable online infrastructure.

“With the growing remote workforce necessitating a rush to the cloud, HyperQube is poised to accelerate and manage that process while simultaneously reducing costs and enhancing security,” Stevenson said in a press release.

Beyond cybersecurity, HyperQube’s cloned structures allow companies to test and alter code on their websites safely to see what the results look like without compromising their main website.

The press release said HyperQube plans to use the funding to expand the sales, marketing, and engineering teams.

Photo via HyperCube

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On Tuesday, Grace Abi-Najm Shea — a co-owner of Lebanese Taverna — was one of those watching in horror as an explosion tore through Beirut. She said they took the day to cry and grieve at the loss that happened in the country her family left years ago. The next morning, they got to work.

The regional Lebanese restaurant chain that started in Arlington in 1979 has since raised nearly $30,000 for the Lebanese Red Cross on GoFundMe.

This weekend, the company is planning to start a deal where $1 from every hummus order at Lebanese Taverna and LebTav locations will be going to the World Central Kitchen. Dany Abi-Najm, Grace’s brother and another co-owner, will be traveling to Beirut with D.C. celebrity chef Jose Andres as part of the World Central Kitchen team to deliver supplies and offer food to those who have been displaced by the explosion.

“It feels good to be doing something,” Shea said. “We mobilized pretty quickly on Wednesday morning. We just needed to do something. It was heartbreaking. My father lives there, he moved back 12 years ago, and the scenes on TV were just too much. I know so many people wanted to help.”

Shea said Lebanon has a history of corruption leading to mistrust of organizations and the government, so she said Lebanese Taverna wanted to be sure the money got to the right places.

“There was the immediate need with the Red Cross and [we’re] addressing the ongoing need starting this weekend with World Central Kitchen,” Shea said.

Shea said while there’s global empathy for Lebanon as it goes through this crisis, many people locally have felt connected to it indirectly via the restaurant that has served Arlington for 41 years.

“We all grew up here and have so much support from so many people,” Shea said. “For them to want to do something for the country we left is very touching.”

Shea said she and her family have concerns about their brother traveling internationally during the pandemic, but that it’s a risk they have to take.

“There’s a thing called COVID going on,” Shea said. “You can’t help other people without taking a risk, really in anything that you do. I think it’s something much bigger than us. There are 300 people displaced from their homes in a minute. One of them being my cousin, but thankfully he has a support system. His home was completely demolished.”

For many Lebanese, Shea said growing up during the civil war left them prepared for the risks.

For those who have donated, Shea had one message to share.

“Thank you,” Shea said. “The number of people who donated and the number of shares is incredible.”

File photo 

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After being closed for months, Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) is planning to reopen this weekend, but with restrictions.

Owner Tim Clark said this week’s reopening is a test drive to gauge public interest in attending the entertainment venue while the rate of coronavirus cases is still going up.

“It feels weird, but good,” Clark said. “There are a lot of unknowns, but we’re excited to get back up. [We’ll be at] 33% capacity for everything, and with social distancing probably under that… We just really want to see how the room flows and how people react.”

Clark said he recognized that the prospect of reopening the venue, which has been closed since March 13, is likely to concern people.

“At this point, we feel pretty confident in how we’re going to reopening,” Clark said. “We’re keeping to all of the mandates and recommendations. We’re doing everything we can. We still have bills and have everything going forward, so having zero revenue was going to be detrimental to the business. We’re seeing a small window and this is really a test.”

Clark said the venue will be run by what’s left of his staff. Many people have moved out of the area or found other jobs. While recognizing that it wasn’t exactly environmentally friendly, Clark said in the interest of public health the venue is also going fully disposable containers and utensils for its limited menu.

“Excited to see if people come out,” Clark said. “I think people are itching for it.”

According to the theater website:

Mask or facial covering will be required for entry into theater and must be worn while moving around inside the theater, no exceptions.   Once you are seated the masks may be removed for eating/drinking.  Seating will be in compliance with social distancing Virginia phase 3 mandates.  Full menu will be available for purchase tableside.   High touch areas will be sanitized regularly during and between events.  No one with a fever, COVID 19 symptoms or know exposure to COVID 19 with in the last 14 days will be permitted in the establishment.

This weekend, comedian Sarah Tollemache is scheduled to perform stand-up shows at 7 and 9:30 p.m. on Friday (Aug. 6) and Saturday (Aug 7). Tickets will be $20.

The venue will also be showing The Goonies on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. Tickets are $5.

Photo via Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse/Facebook

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(Updated 8/10) Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is substantially less crowded than it used to be — particularly the food court, back in the heyday of Popeyes chicken sandwiches — but it is busier than might be expected during a pandemic.

In the mall’s food court, while some fast food options are open, others remain closed. Gyro Wrap and Charley’s Philly Steaks are locked up, with a sign on the metal shutter for the latter saying the closure is temporary and the eatery will be returning at some point.

The space that had been Subway is closed, with the Fashion Centre website saying it will eventually be replaced by a new restaurant called Flaming Cajun. The Fashion Centre website says the location is scheduled to open Sept. 4.

Dining in the food court is spaced out, with the crowded booths cordoned off and the handful of diners spaced out across scattered tables. Security guards at various entrances offer protective equipment and sanitary supplies.

Despite officially reopening in late May, the rest of the mall is a similarly mixed bag, with some stores like Gamestop open with limited numbers of guests allowed inside while others remain closed.

“The health, safety and well-being of the community we serve will always be our highest priority, and we have developed a thorough and detailed set of protocols highlighting the exceptional measures we’ve implemented for shoppers, retailers and employees as we reopen,” Jonathan Juricic, General Manager at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, said in a press release. “We also recognize that individuals and families in our community are suffering significant hardship as a result of both COVID-19 and the economic shutdown, and we believe that reopening our property will not only help people get back to work during these challenging times, but also enable us to use our property to further support charitable initiatives.”

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D.C.-based Union Kitchen — a retail shop and restaurant that acts as an accelerator for food and beverage businesses — opened yesterday in Ballston at 4102 Wilson Blvd, next to Compass Coffee.

Inside the business looks like a sleek, modern version of any other convenience store, but much of the food and beverages inside are from small local brands, albeit alongside larger brands like La Croix and M&Ms.

“Why carry big brands?” Union Kitchen said on its website. “We want to build D.C. manufacturing companies that are going to last. This means they need to be so good that they outcompete the national options. Customers need to want to pick up a bag of Snacklins over Doritos, not because it’s local, but because it’s delicious. We need to build products that people want.”

Other offerings at Union Kitchen include coffee, pizza, beer and hard seltzer.

Customers coming by the new store will receive a free Blind Dog chocolate chip cookie, according to the Union Kitchen Facebook page.

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While other restaurants at Pentagon Row have reopened with social distancing, Aabee Express (1101 S. Joyce Street) has closed after nearly two years in business.

The restaurant focused on healthy Mediterranean cuisine with vegetarian options and earned a 4.5-star rating on Yelp.

Staff at the restaurant was packing up the appliances last week as the location was being emptied. Employees said the restaurant is looking at reopening somewhere near their current location, but no plans have been finalized as of yet for when or where that could happen.

Just around the corner, Champps closed earlier this summer as a result of the pandemic.

Staff photo by Vernon Miles

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Ballston Business Improvement District (BID) is hoping to help locals shed their Quarantine 15, keep Arlington as the fittest “city” in the U.S., and provided some timely assistance to local businesses.

BallstonMOVES Fitness Week is a new initiative running this week from the BID that provides free access or certain discounts to the many gyms and fitness centers around Ballston — like the newly opened VIDA Fitness. The program started on Saturday, Aug. 1, and is scheduled to run until Sunday, Aug. 9.

“The health and well-being of the community is the Ballston BID’s highest priority,” stated Tina Leone, CEO, Ballston BID. “Many gyms are currently offering virtual class options, and all are ensuring proper distancing through reduced class sizes, in addition to maintaining enhanced hygiene practices for in-person classes and visits.”

Many local gyms have been taking health precautions as they start to reopen, but going to a gym — or anywhere indoors where people are congregating — still remains a fairly risky pandemic activity. Those who are feeling unwell or uneasy are encouraged to take advantage of some of the virtual training programs offered, the BID said.

Free classes are available at:

  • Ballston CrossFit (1110 N. Glebe Road): Free trial classes are scheduled today (Monday) at 6:45 p.m. and Saturday, Aug 8 at 12 p.m. Online registration is required. The gym is also offering six beginning classes for $99.
  • F45 Training (3865 Wilson Blvd): One free class to anyone who signs up with the code BALLSTONBID, with three more classes available for $10 per class and a 45% discount on the first two months of membership. The first 25 who sign up are also eligible for a free F45 water bottle and sweat towel.
  • Studio Body Logic (4600 N. Fairfax Drive): the pilates studio is offering free virtual classes on Thursday, Aug. 6, from 7-7:50 p.m. and Friday, Aug. 7, from 12-12:50 p.m. with 24-hour advance registration required. In-person, masked tours are also available this week by contacting [email protected]
  • Praxi Pilates (4141 N. Henderson Road): a pilates program in a condo building is offering 30-minute free sessions this week, featuring an orientation to equipment-based pilates. Sessions are held Monday, Aug. 3, at 5 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 6, at 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7 at 12 p.m., and Saturday, Aug. 8 at 11:30 p.m. Sessions are limited to one per person, but special discounts on future classes are offered.
  • Onelife Fitness (4238 Wilson Blvd): the Ballston Quarter gym is offering free Zone4 classes from Aug. 1 to Aug. 8. Class sizes are limited to eight people.
  • Orange Theory Fitness (4201 Wilson Blvd): the training program is offering a free first class, available to be scheduled by contacting 571-257-0050 or emailing [email protected]
  • VIDA Fitness (4040 Wilson Blvd): a complementary SweatBox class at the newly-opened gym, the first of its kind outside of D.C.

Other programs are offering discounts, but not free first classes to the general public.

  • BASH Boxing (700 N. Randolph Street): the boxing workout program is offering free first classes, but only to those who sign up for a discounted ten-class pack during their first class.
  • Gold’s Gym Ballston (3910 Wilson Blvd): the popular Ballston Gold’s Gym is offering discounted monthly dues of $29.99 per month for those who sign up this week.

Photo via VIDA Fitness/Facebook

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnowStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties remains firmly committed to the health, safety and well-being of its employees, tenants and community. This week, Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1000 and 1100 Wilson (The Rosslyn Tower).

Rosslyn-based Higher Logic followed up on a recent expansion of its 1919 N. Lynn Street offices with the acquisition of Customer Imperative, a South Carolina-based startup that focuses on building communities and establishing a dialogue between businesses and their customers.

Higher Logic’s focus is on creating online forums for companies, nonprofits and member-based organizations. The company said that the goal of the acquisition was to establish new ways to open dialogues with customers and between community members.

“Communities are a cornerstone of the customer success model,” Higher Logic said in a press release. “Higher Logic enables organizations to establish relationships with and between their customers, providing personalized experiences at scale that drive retention and growth.”

The acquisition will also bring some of the Customer Imperative leadership into Higher Logic. Customer Imperative founder Jay Nathan will join Higher Logic as Chief Customer Officer and lead the “Gain Grow Retain” community. Managing Partner Jeff Breunsbach will become Director of Customer Experience for Higher Logic and oversee day-to-day community operations for Gain Grow Retain, the press release said.

“Today more than ever, the need to clearly understand and drive customer success is a core business requirement,” said Higher Logic Chief Executive Officer Kevin Boyce. “Higher Logic was founded on the principle of personalized engagement at scale. Adding the industry expertise of Customer Imperative and the unique insights of the Gain Grow Retain community to Higher Logic allows us to rapidly advance our mission in the customer success world and further our ongoing commitment to the association space.”

“Together we will continue to bring people together for meaningful conversations and use those conversations to discover key insights and drive better outcomes,” Boyce added

Gain Grow Retain, which is included in the acquisition, is a sort of forum for customer-focused business leaders. The Gain Grow Retain website announced that the acquisition by Higher Logic means that it will be going through a relaunch.

Higher Logic cited the fact that Gain Grow Retain had gained over 3,000 members under six months a marker for success. Members engage in weekly office hour calls, participate in a podcast, and have a back-and-forth dialogue in online forums, according to Higher Logic. The project will continue as an independent program within Higher Logic with access to new tools from the larger company.

“We’re excited to re-launch Gain Grow Retain on the premier community platform, built by Higher Logic,” Jeff Breunsbach, a managing partner for Customer Imperative, said on the website. “There will be a deeper focus on customer experience and connecting all of our channels together in one place.”

Photo via Higher Logic/Facebook

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It may not look very different from the outside, but the Safeway along Lee Highway at 2500 N. Harrison Street has been going through some big changes on the inside.

The grocery store chain has been giving some much-needed love to some stores in the region, which had previously earned nicknames like “Soviet Safeway” and “Un-Safeway.”

The exterior still has a tan, brutalist look reminiscent of the J. Edgar Hoover Building, but interior renovations have given new life to the store’s deli, seafood and produce sections, as well as relocating and renovating the grocery store’s Starbucks.

“In addition to extensive design renovations providing the store with a fresh new look, the store will now have new flooring, new fixtures and cases (including a chilled high-end wine case),” a spokeswoman for Safeway said. “The deli department has expanded its offerings of specialty cheeses and packaged meals. The produce department has expanded its assortment of premium juices as well as its fresh-cut fruit and vegetables, organics and nuts.”

The new interior comes with a slew of new product offerings as well, with a focus on organic, ethnic and specialty items, according to Safeway.

The floorwork, at least, remains half-finished, but ARLnow was able to confirm earlier this week that the store was stocked with ample vegan options and several White Claw variety packs.

Though the store remained open through renovations, a grand reopening celebration is currently scheduled for the afternoon of August 27. Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey is expected to attend.

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