Potbelly has leased a 2,525 square foot space, according to Liz Wainger, a spokeswoman for real estate firm CBRE. An opening date has not been decided, she said.
There’s no word yet on which storefront Potbelly will occupy. There are at least three vacant or soon-to-be-vacant ground floor retail locations in the building:
- The former FroZenYo frozen yogurt shop, which recently closed
- The Wilson Florist shop, which had a moving sale sign outside today
- A retail bay between Chop’t and the building lobby
The new store will be the third Potbelly in Arlington. The company also has a location by the Ballston Metro and in Crystal City.
CBRE’s D.C.-based retail leasing team tweeted out the news about Potbelly’s lease on behalf of Beacon Capitol Partners, a real-estate firm in Arlington.
For much of this summer, combat-injured Marine veteran and double-amputee Toran Gaal has been on a cross-country cycling trip to Arlington.
On June 1, Gaal set off from San Diego on his “Ride Across America,” an almost 4,000 mile trek which he will complete entirely on a hand-cycle.
Gaal embarked on the journey to raise money and awareness for the Semper Fi Fund, the charity that helped him recover after he was severely injured in an IED explosion in Afghanistan in 2011. Following the explosion, Gaal was comatose for two months and lost both legs and part of his hip.
“[The Semper Fi Fund] is doing so much good for every branch,” said Gaal. “I wanted to pay it forward to the next generation.”
Gaal will have been on the road for 65 days by the time he’s expected to arrive in Arlington this Sunday, Aug. 2. He will have stopped in close to 50 other towns and cities along the way. At the end of his ride, he will place a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.
Brian Riley, fellow combat-injured Marine veteran, is accompanying Gaal on the road in a support vehicle.
Photo via www.hisshoesmove.com
The Arlington Food Assistance Center has been exploring ways to serve hungry families in Arlington by partnering with local businesses and larger corporations.
To that end, AFAC recently started Sponsor Purchased Food, a program through which corporations can buy produce, package it and donate it to AFAC as a team-building exercise.
“That helps us in a lot of different ways,” said AFAC executive director Charles Meng. “It certainly gets our name out in the public more. It engenders a donation. And it involves a lot of individuals who then tend to become donors once they find out what we do.”
Meng says the program has been “very successful,” with over 50 corporations participating in the past few months. AFAC plans to continue the program well into next year.
Currently, AFAC serves 2,100 families in the area and dispenses about 86,000 pounds of food per week at 18 distribution sites across Arlington. According to Meng, the number of people AFAC serves has doubled since 2013 and is currently increasing at a rate of about 25 families per month.
Last Friday, July 24, AFAC and Spotluck, a Bethesda company that created an app to connect people with local restaurants, worked together to put on a potluck dinner for 130 Arlington residents in need at the Gates of Ballston apartment complex (4108 4th Street N.)
Twenty-two restaurants around Arlington donated food to the potluck, including Sushi Rock, Don Tito, The Boulevard Woodgrill, Faccia Luna and Whitlow’s on Wilson.
Meng said that the event with Spotluck — documented in the video above — was a success.
“All of those restaurants [that donated] did a fantastic job, and the Spotluck people were really great to work with, and they were really enthusiastic,” said Meng. “When people actually get a chance to hand out food to somebody and see the people they’re helping, it gets the message across a lot easier and a lot more directly to the individual, so it’s really great to have a company like Spotluck working with us.”
Currently, about half of AFAC’s money and food come from individual donations. Of the remaining 50 percent, about eight percent comes from Arlington County, 10 percent come from local religious congregations and the rest come from local businesses, foundations and larger corporations.
“We’ve got tremendous support from a lot of the businesses here in Arlington,” said Meng.
Photos courtesy AFAC. Disclosure: Spotluck is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
The restaurant is envisioned as following in the footsteps of ARP-managed restaurant Cafe Tu Tu Tango in Orlando, Florida, a small-plates eatery which boasts the theme of “Food, Art, Fun.” The company describes Palette 22 as Cafe Tu Tu Tango designed “for the local, millennial crowd,” and says the restaurant will emphasize authentic international street food, street art and a creative craft bar program.
According to Paul Beckmann, the architect on the project, the building permits for the restaurant were submitted on July 13 and are currently under review. Beckmann anticipates that construction will start mid to late August and last about three months.
Palette 22 is opening in the space formerly occupied by Italian restaurant Extra Virgin, which closed in 2013.
“The space right now is pretty rough,” said Beckmann. “Much of the equipment has more than lived out its life span. We’re having to clear out the entire space.”
Once completed, the restaurant will be able to seat 168 inside and an additional 34 on an outdoor patio running along Campbell Avenue.
This will be ARP’s first restaurant in Arlington. The company currently owns Old Town Alexandria restaurant The Majestic, manages Virtue Feed & Grain, and has plans to open Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap in Alexandria in September.
Photos via Beckman Architects
A new restaurant on Lee Highway is looking to serve customers a hug, in the shape of a bowl of ramen.
Gaijin Ramen Shop (3800 Lee Highway) opened its doors last week on Tuesday for its soft opening and already the restaurant has had repeat customers, said co-owner Nicole Mazkour. On Friday, three days after opening, the restaurant had a waitlist of 65 people hoping to try its various ramen recipes.
The restaurant’s success so far is a bit surprising because it is summer and ramen is a hot soup, Mazkour said. It is also shocking because the Mazkour and co-owner Tuvan Pham have no prior restaurant experience.
“We’ve been best friends, and something we’ve dreamed of independently is owning our own restaurant,” Mazkour said.
The two pulled together their savings to build their restaurant, despite many people telling them they wouldn’t be successful. They originally looked to open in Georgetown but the landlord pulled out at the last minute. When they got the space in Cherrydale, four different construction companies refused the project, Pham said.
“This is our shot. This is our dream,” Mazkour said. “It is literally our skin, bones, sweat and tears. We’re positive that God has helped us.”
The two set out to bring an authentic, friendly ramen experience to Arlington. They traveled to Japan to learn how to make ramen and South Korea to learn the art of making kimchi.
“If you could describe us in one word, it’s passion,” Mazkour said. “That’s all it takes.”
Everything is made fresh at the restaurant, the owners say, and the ramen soup can take eight to 10 hours to make. The owners and their staff hand shuck the corn and peel the fuji apples that go into the ramen broth, and Mazkour said the amount of organic waste they produce from the fresh vegetables and meat is “unbelievable.”
A bowl of ramen costs between $10 and $11, which does not include extra toppings that one can add. Mazkour and Pham said that the soup is a bit expensive, but it’s the best price they could set in order to afford the fresh ingredients and preparation.
The restaurant offers traditional ramen like a miso ramen or spicy miso ramen, but also more creative ones like BBQ chicken ramen. Mazkour said that she hopes to get more even creative and is playing with the idea of a lobster ramen or a kobe beef ramen.
In addition to the ten types of ramen currently served, customers can also purchase chicken, pork or beef “buns.” Buns are similar to sliders, but the buns are a white, thick and doughy instead of a traditional bread. The restaurant is a family business, with Mazkour’s son making the buns.
Without a financial backer, Mazkour and Pham have been somewhat limited in their operation. They both have full time jobs outside of the restaurant, and can only open from 4-10 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. They want to expand the hours, either in the afternoon or late night Friday and Saturday, but they are seeking customer feedback to help them make their decision.
During the restaurant’s soft opening, the two owners want to hear customer feedback. They did a soft opening because they are currently training the staff to make the ramen and they are still hammering out other details.
When hiring, the two owners kept all the staff from the Kite Runner Cafe, which was previously in the spot. The two paid the employees for two months while the restaurant was being built because they knew the staff relied on the paychecks, Pham said.
“We’re not about business,” she said. “We’re about heart.”
They are also still working to accept credit cards and get their liquor license, but they expect to have both in the next few weeks.
The restaurant can seat 44 people and there will be about 17 seats outside as well. Mazkour and Pham want to give the restaurant the kind of friendly feel that they found in Japan, instead of the hip and exclusive feel that some other trendy ramen places have, Mazkour said.
Their light attitude is reflected in the restaurant name. Gaijin in Japanese means foreigner, and neither Mazkour nor Pham are Japanese, but they respect the culture and the food, so the name is a bit of a light-hearted joke.
“[Japanese people] love it,” Pham said.
Mezeh, an assembly-line-style Mediterranean lunch and dinner joint, has opened a restaurant in Crystal City at 2450 Crystal Drive.
Mezeh replaces a similar restaurant in the space: Black Lime, which closed last year.
The restaurant officially opened for business on June 29, and is now in its fourth week. Director of Marketing Patrick Mika said that lines were out the door on opening day, and in the three weeks since then “business has been really good.”
Mika believes Mezeh distinguishes itself from similar businesses like Roti and Cava because of its emphasis on offering a wide variety of Mediterranean cuisine and its use of fresh, local produce.
“We really feel that if a customer comes in one time, they’ll taste the difference and keep coming back,” said Mika.
The restaurant has had locations in Annapolis and Wheaton for the past two years, but both are located in mall food courts. The Crystal City Mezeh is the first stand-alone restaurant, and can seat about 60 people.
Mezeh is open daily from 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
What do jello, lava, Britney Spears and a bunch of words from Urban Dictionary have in common?
They are all words that audience members may shout out during a Porkchop Volcano improv show at the Arlington Drafthouse. Jon Milstein, Seth Alcorn, Conor O’Rourke and Matt Stephan, the four members of the Arlington-based troupe, then have to take these suggestions and turn each into a scene or character, all in the hopes of a good laugh from the audience.
“My favorite part of improv is the thrill, is the rush of a real audience you’ve never met before, you don’t know them, blowing them away, and having them laugh, a good and hearted, genuine laughter,” Milstein said.
While their group does not perform any single “typical” show, each performance will consist of a combination of guessing or scene improv games. The show starts at 9 p.m. in the Arlington Drafthouse’s Green Room — its side bar — and begins with a game that will interact with the audience.
“It’s usually packed by the end of the first game,” Stephan said.
By the time the game is done, the members will also know what the audience will like, and whether their suggestions will be more along the lines of kittens or sex positions, Alcorn said.
A favorite finale is “Dating Game,” where the troupe pulls an audience member up to play a bachelorette or a bachelor hoping to find his or her perfect match. The catch is that each of three improv members involved in the game are in characters suggested by the audience and the bachelor(ette) has to guess what the character is. O’Rourke plays host.
“It’s a high risk, high reward game,” Stephan said. “If we can hit a home run with that one, that’s been a good day.”
Suggestions can get wild. One of the members once had to play someone missing a chunk of his body after a tragic swordfish accident. Ideas also range from family friendly to adult only and even uncomfortable.
“I had a couple of friends who would basically go on Urban Dictionary and the come to the show,” Alcorn said. “So they would shout out all kinds of very disgusting sex acts that nobody actually performs, and then I would have to then explain to the audience what they meant and then work it into a scene.”
The four guys have a couple tricks up their sleeves, though, as they don’t want to go for the gross out, which gets awkward, Stephan said. Even when audience members suggested something dirty, the performers could take it in a different direction that made it cleaner.
“Being able to take an inappropriate or a cliche suggestion and then do something with it that they weren’t expecting, but still works with the suggestion, is pretty great,” Alcorn said.
One example is “Twilight,” a series that both Alcorn and Milstein despise, Alcorn said. It turned into a scene of Milstein playing a human who wanted to be a vampire and Alcorn playing a very reluctant vampire.
“It was just Jon throwing himself at me saying, ‘I want to feel the night rushing through my veins, bite me,'” Alcorn said.
The group tries to keep the suggestions new and challenging, O’Rourke said. To prevent common suggestions, which can happen when they ask for B-list celebrities, the members will use one of the common ones as an example. Even with common suggestions the group can work together to take a boring suggestion and create a new, fun angle.
“What’s always a lot of fun is taking a suggestion, but not taking it too literally, and jumping off and doing something weird with it. Because just because you get the suggestion vampire does not mean you have to come out as a vampire,” O’Rourke said.
The chemistry the group may be its biggest strength, they said. The four men can create a funny scene even if they are not sure where the other is going right away.
Milstein and Alcorn were doing a scene with tweezers last week. It started out with Alcorn giving Milstein a haircut with tweezers.
“And then he came to me with with a bad tooth and I was going to pull it out with tweezers,” Alcorn said. “And the third time we came around in this game, he didn’t say anything, but I knew I was going to do surgery and he put his hand on his appendix, and that was it.”
Once they formed the group, and spitballed until they randomly came up with the name “Porkchop Volcano,” the troupe needed a place to perform. Milstein was friends with the owner of Arlington Drafthouse who offered them two Saturdays. They now are performing up to four shows a month at the bar.
“The Drafthouse is our place,” O’Rourke said. “It’s our home.
(Updated at 3:25 p.m.) The beginning of a mural has appeared on a wall along Lee Highway from the corner of N. Uhle Street to N. Veitch Street.
The mural is the work of local artist Kate Fleming, a 2014 College of William and Mary graduate who now works for the Smithsonian’s Office of Exhibits Central. Fleming was initially approached in 2014 by John Laswick from Engleside Cooperative, the co-op building behind the 110-foot wall, to paint a mural, according to Fleming’s blog.
Now after a year of designing, planning and waiting for warm weather, Fleming has started to add paint to the once dirty retaining wall.
Painted a muted lime green, the mural has pencil sketches on it depicting buildings and houses. A sketch of the Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery is also depicted.
The finished mural will be an abstract cityscape of Arlington and the District, Fleming said. The mural contains Arlington landmarks, including Arlington neighborhood on the right half of the mural. On the left, she will paint Key Bridge leading to D.C. and multiple District landmarks like the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building.
“It’s more about shapes and color and overlapping than a straight depiction of the city,” Fleming said.
Painting a mural is expensive, especially since the wall needed to be cleaned before Fleming could start, she said on blog. Engleside Cooperative is funding part of the mural, but Fleming also received Arlington Commission for the Art’s Spotlight Artist Grant for 2016. The grant gave Fleming $5,000.
“Getting the funding from the Arlington Commission for the Arts and Arlington Cultural Affairs has finally gotten this project moving in a real way. It’s been a full year in the works, but things are finally starting to pick up speed,” Fleming said in a June 25 post.
However, the project hit a small snag after being selected for the grant. Because the mural is technically on private property, county staff thought she her mural might be considered a sign, and subject to the county’s stringent sign ordinance.
From her blog post entitled “Speed Bump:”
Progress on the mural (and on this blog) hit a bit of a speed bump last week. As I was putting the finishing touches on the design in Illustrator (more on that later), I got a call from Angela Adams over at Arlington Public Arts. Angela was a huge help throughout the Spotlight Grant application process. She was calling to let me know that my project did not fall under the jurisdiction of the Arlington Public Arts Committee. This seemed, at first, a good thing; I would not need to go through the Public Art Committee’s approval process and so I could get started right away. But there was one catch: because it was determined to be a non-public art project, Angela and I concluded that I would have to follow the County sign ordinance.
Fleming was instructed to go to the county zoning office, where she spoke with a staff member. After a few days in which she stopped all work on the mural, she called the staff member and was told that her mural wasn’t a sign after all, it was going to be considered private artwork under county regulations.
“I have the County’s go-ahead and that’s what matters!” Fleming wrote. “I lost a few days of work in the process, but I’m getting back on track,” she wrote in her July 12 post.
It took Fleming a little over a week to pencil mark her mural, and she expects it to take weeks to paint it, she said. Once completed, the mural will have 10 different colors, including shades of blues and greens. The mural will be abstract and won’t necessarily be a day or night scene, though people could consider it to depict Arlington and D.C. during the day, she said.
A lot of thought went into the design of the mural, Fleming said, in order to give it a complex, abstract feel but with identifiable structures. Fleming said she and Laswick want people to be able to look at the mural multiple times and “to see something new every time you looked. So it’s complex and layered that way.”
Fleming’s contract for the mural has a completion date of Sept. 30, but Fleming said she hopes to finish by the end of August or beginning of September.
Pepita, chef Mike Isabella’s new Mexican cantina in Ballston, has announced that it will open Thursday, July 30.
Pepita, located at 4000 Wilson Blvd, will have a “small menu of casual Mexican favorites.”
“About 15 dishes will be featured, including ceviche, Mexican-style corn on the cob, house-made salsas and guacamole, a salad of watermelon, jicama and cucumber, and a Caesar salad dressed with cotija cheese, pepitas and avocado,” according to a press release. “Mexican classics, including a trio of tacos, a torta, enchiladas and a mushroom quesadilla anchor the menu. Dessert items include a Mexican tres leches and frozen, boozy push-pops.”
Despite Isabella’s culinary chops, the cantina’s menu will give a stronger focus to its beverage selection, created by Taha Ismail, Mike Isabella’s beverage director. The 35-item cocktail menu will be a blend of classic Mexican and American cocktails, plus more contemporary creations.
“Tequila and mezcal are two of the main stars, but they share the spotlight with an extensive list of fruit juices that are squeezed in-house daily,” said the press release. “The list includes five margaritas, one of which is frozen, and many classics given a Mexican twist, think old-fashioneds and negronis, plus more contemporary cocktails by Ismail’s bartender friends from around the country.”
One of the restaurant’s distinguishing features is its all-day happy hour, which has drinks and food specials that will rotate in blocks during the day, as opposed to during a set time each evening.
The space, meanwhile, is intended to be reminiscent of something you might find in a Mexican beach town.
“The design is inspired by Mexican coastal cantinas and highlights light wood furniture with a motif of yellow, light green and marigold tiled patterns adding colorful accents to a charcoal and white design,” according to the press release. “A concrete bar will serve tacos and drinks to the 32-seat dining room. The partially-covered patio will be fenced-in and decorated with greenery.”
Starting July 30, Pepita will be open Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Isabella, who has appeared on the TV shows Top Chef and Top Chef All-Star, is the chef and owner of three restaurants in the District and Kapnos Taverna in Arlington, which is next door to Pepita. He’s also planning an opening for a noodle shop called Yona in the same building.
Flora Wallace had a typical problem for a newly married woman who just moved to a new home. She had many items that she didn’t need but were still in good shape.
Wallace then heard about the Buy Nothing Project, a gift-giving economy where neighbors give away items for free, from her cousin. She decided to bring the project to her neighborhood on Columbia Pike.
“I like the idea of being able to get in touch with a neighbor and give a new home to an item I didn’t need,” Wallace said.
Wallace contacted the administrators of the national Buy Nothing Project who helped her set up the Buy Nothing Project Columbia Pike Corridor group on Facebook. The idea behind the project is to create hyperlocal groups where neighbors can post items they want to give away or post requests for items people might have — and form tighter-knit communities.
“Time and again, members of our groups find themselves spending more and more time interacting in our groups, finding new ways to give back to the community that has brought humor, entertainment, and yes, free stuff into their lives,” says the project’s website. “The Buy Nothing Project is about setting the scarcity model of our cash economy aside in favor of creatively and collaboratively sharing the abundance around us.”
Each group is hyperlocal for areas with less than 50,000 people, meaning that only people in the specific group’s ZIP code can join. Columbia Pike residents in the 22204 ZIP code can join by requesting to Facebook group. Wallace will then contact them and ask for proof of residence before allowing the person to join, she said.
While the Buy Nothing Project helps people find new homes for their items, the project also allows people to connect with neighbors, something Wallace hopes to achieve, she said.
“The focus of the project is getting neighbors to know each other,” she said.
So far the group is small with eight members, but Wallace said she hopes it will grow as more people hear about it. Her goal is to have about 150 members in the next six months.
She has had requests from people outside of the ZIP code, and while she had to reject them, she said she hopes they start their own groups in their neighborhoods.
Wallace recommends residents of other parts of Arlington contact the national Buy Nothing Project administrators to start a new group. They can help a person start the page and go through all the rules that apply to the project, including how posts should be written, how to approve members, etc.
Wallace said she can see people creating a Buy Nothing Clarendon or Buy Nothing Courthouse, as examples. After all, the project helps people meet each other.
“By re-homing items in your community, you get to know who lives there,” she said.
Wallace posted the first item on the group — a CD tower. While no one has taken her up on the offer, she said she thinks it will happen as more people join the group.
“My goal is to find homes for items I might grow out of in the next years and definitely to meet new people,” Wallace said.
Arlington Public Library’s Lynda.com educational video service is now available to any resident with a library card and an internet connection.
The library has subscribed to Lynda.com, a website that offers almost 130,000 educational videos on topics ranging from marketing to graphic design to economics, for the past several years. However, until four months ago, the service was only accessible from a physical library location.
Library spokesman Peter Golkin says that has now changed.
“The Lynda videos can now be accessed anywhere there’s an internet connection — that’s made these much more useful and much more popular,” said Golkin. All library patrons need to do to access the service remotely is sign in with their library card and PIN number, according to the library website.
Golkin said the library had been trying to convince Lynda.com to allow remote access to the service for some time, and expressed excitement that the requests had finally come to fruition.
“It’s like grad school in a box,” said Golkin. “That’s what libraries are for — they’re shared public resources.”
U.S. Women’s National Team defender Ali Krieger is planning to celebrate her World Cup win in Clarendon on Sunday.
We’re told that Krieger will be holding a private rooftop bash for family and friends at Don Tito (3165 Wilson Blvd) on Sunday afternoon.
Born in Alexandria and raised in Dumfries, Krieger posted a photo of a Virginia welcome sign on Twitter Sunday, saying it was the “best feeling” to be home. That followed a ticker tape parade in New York City and an on-stage appearance at a Taylor Swift concert in New Jersey earlier that week.
Though not yet finalized, Krieger is likely to hold a meet and greet with fans at Don Tito between 4-5 p.m., according to Don Tito partner Scott Parker.
The pizza store applied for a permit to operate a delivery business from a new store to the Camden apartments at 3535 S. Ball St. The spot was previously occupied by a Jerry’s Subs and Pizza.
County staff is recommending the County Board approve the permit at its meeting on Saturday.
The store would be open from 10 a.m. to midnight on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekends, according to the permit application. The store also asked to be able to deliver within a 1.5 mile radius.
At this time it is unknown when the new store, which will have 11 seats inside for dine-in customers, will open.
While the location is currently empty, there is still equipment and decorations leftover from when Jerry’s was in the space.
A new yoga studio is coming to Courthouse.
CorePower Yoga, a Denver-based yoga studio, plans to open its new studio at 1929 Clarendon Blvd on July 31. The studio will be the company’s first Arlington location and its third in Virginia — it has existing studios in Falls Church and Fairfax.
In a press release, the company erroneously said it was opening in Clarendon.
“Clarendon’s vibe goes hand-in-hand with the lifestyle of the CorePower yogi. It’s a perfect mix of city and suburb, so you get everything: culture, shopping, great restaurants and, of course, fitness,” said Tess Roering, the company’s Chief Marketing Officer. “We could not be more excited to be a part of this community’s fitness culture.”
The new studio will have two yoga rooms and will have classes for different experience levels. It will also have changing rooms, showers, locker rooms and “a full retail boutique featuring products to meet students’ yoga and lifestyle needs.”
“The beautiful, spa-like Clarendon studio has been built with green building practices in mind, using recycled products, sustainable materials and the latest technology to efficiently heat practice rooms,” the press release noted.
Studio memberships start at $115 per month, if customers sign up before the studio opens. After the opening, the memberships increase to $155 per month.
East Falls Church residents can now grab an energizing cold-pressed juice before heading off to work in the morning, following the opening of a new South Block Juice Company store at 2121 N Westmoreland Street.
The micro juicery’s factory and test kitchen had been located in the neighborhood since last summer, according to company owner Amir Mostafavi. When the cafe next door to his factory closed down, Mostafavi took the opportunity to expand.
The East Falls Church store will be able to seat 30 people inside and up to 15 outside, significantly more than either of South Block’s other locations, on 11th Street N. in Clarendon and at George Washington University. Mostafavi hopes this extra space will allow the store to expand its repertoire to include fundraisers, neighborhood events and maybe even some tours of the factory next door.
A grand opening celebration is planned for this Saturday (July 18) from 9-11 a.m. If the lure of a brand new micro juicery isn’t enough, the store will be offering free half pints of juice and $25 gift cards to the first 25 people to come out.
Although business is booming now, Mostafavi says his juices weren’t always so popular. He opened his first smoothie and health food shop at GW in 2004, when he was three years out of college, but the store just didn’t kick off the way he expected it to. It wasn’t until 2011, when Mostafavi opened his Clarendon location and bought his first cold pressed juicer, that things finally began to take off.
“I took a big risk when I changed to all cold press because no one in this area had heard of it — we tried to educate them on why it was better. It was a risk, but I really thought it was a better product,” said Mostafavi. “At first, people would say, no, I don’t want bottled juice, I want fresh juice, but we tried to educate them on why it was better and better for you. Six months later, that’s all anybody wanted.”
Mostafavi says he believes South Block has been successful partially because it is such a small company.
“I try to have things that people want, that are good for you, and I try to have it before anybody else and do it better than anybody else. I think that’s a benefit of being a smaller company — the bigger corporations catch on a little bit late, and they cut corners to cut cost, and it just isn’t the same quality product.”
In addition to their juices and smoothies, the East Falls Church store has trendy products like nitrogen-infused cold-brew coffee. Mostafavi tries to keep South Block ahead of the curve by paying attention to the products being introduced in California and New York, and then bringing those products to the D.C. area.
“I try to continue to evolve the products and the menu,” said Mostafavi. “I think that’s one thing that’s made South Block successful.”
Mostafavi says the business is still expanding, with plans for future stores in both Vienna and Georgetown.