73°Scattered Clouds

by Adrian Cruz — August 12, 2016 at 3:05 pm 0

Arlington fielded some of the country’s top youth athletes in water polo last month.

Capital Water Polo has two of the top 25 youth water polo teams in the United States after competing in USA Water Polo’s 2016 Junior Olympics in San Jose, Calif., from July 22-30.

The club, which trains at the pools at Washington-Lee, Yorktown and Wakefield high schools, sent more than 50 athletes ages 10-18 from five teams to the tournament.

The under-14 girls’ and under-12 boys’ teams were Capital Water Polo’s top squads, finishing 22nd and 24th, respectively. The under-18 boys’ team finished 44th in its fifth appearance in the tournament and the under-16 and under-14 boys’ teams finished 76th and 79th, respectively.

“I am incredibly proud of all our athletes for their dedication during the tough 10 months of training leading up to this championship tournament, as well as for their formidable play against the top teams in the nation,” coach Leslie Enwistle said in a statement. “Many of our competitors’ programs have been ranked nationally for over 20 years. We demonstrated that our coaches’ commitment to effectively develop all our athletes was successful at the highest level.”

Photos courtesy of Teresa Byrne

by Omar DeBrew — August 11, 2016 at 4:45 pm 0

Back in the 1970s, Clarendon was known as Little Saigon, a hotbed of Vietnamese businesses. Now, only a few holdovers remain.

Reminders of Clarendon’s Little Saigon past continues to fade. Minh’s Vietnamese Restaurant, a favorite of some foodies, closed last month. While newer Vietnamese restaurants have opened recently — Four Sisters Grill in Clarendon, Pho Deluxe in Courthouse — there’s no denying that the character of Clarendon has changed significantly over the past decade.

The original reason for the disappearance of most of the original Vietnamese businesses in Clarendon was the construction of Metro’s Orange Line up Wilson Blvd. After the Clarendon station opened in 1979, the neighborhood started to be redeveloped and rent prices skyrocketed. Before the Metro expansion, real estate rental costs were as low as $1.50-$5.00 per square foot. After its opening, prices rose as high as $25-$30 per square foot in some buildings.

The construction of Metro was another contributor. Many businesses fled Clarendon because they thought the construction would deter potential customers. By the 1990s, much of the Vietnamese community had left Clarendon en masse for Falls Church and the Eden Center.

Out of the dozens of Vietnamese businesses that once existed in Clarendon, one restaurant has remained over the past few decades: Nam-Viet. The restaurant has been family owned and operated since 1986 and it continues to attract loyal customers to its slightly off-the-beaten path location on N. Hudson Street, not far from the CVS Pharmacy and Don Tito.

The restaurant has hosted well-known public figures like Bill Clinton and for years, it hosted an annual Tet dinner honoring American prisoners of war from the Vietnam War.

The restaurant’s new manager, Richard Nguyen, has witnessed a lot of changes after growing up in the area helping to run the Nam-Viet with his parents.

“Clarendon has gone through many metamorphoses,” he said. “It used to be a general collection of small businesses to newer commercial shops opening. I remember growing up there was a flea market where Northside Social is. It’s gotten younger, but  at the same time the residents have gotten older and aged with us. Regardless of the change they’ve embraced Arlington as home especially the natives of Arlington.”

Richard remains optimistic for the future Vietnamese restaurants.

“I think Vietnamese restaurants are here to stay they just have to stick to traditions and keep to culture as much as they can,” he said.

Video by Omar DeBrew. Some photos in the video were sourced from Arlington’s Echoes of Little Saigon Project.

by Adrian Cruz — August 11, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

A fast-casual eatery in Pentagon City gave select locals a taste of its noodle, rice and salad bowls and its automated ordering and payment system today, ahead of its scheduled opening next week.

Honeygrow, which is slated to make its official debut Monday in the recently-expanded Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall, served up samples of its sesame garlic and Philly roast pork stir-fry bowls and other food during an RSVP-only preview lunch.

The restaurant follows a Chipotle-style ordering model that allows customers to pick between its suggested salad and stir-fry noodle or rice options, or create their own meals. Diners also can order a “honeybar,” a dessert with fresh fruit, honey and other toppings, such as coconut flakes and granola.

But unlike Chipotle, customers use touch screens to order and pay for their food, which they can eat in the restaurant or take away with them.

Honeygrow’s Arlington outpost is the Philadelphia-based company’s ninth restaurant and its first location in the D.C. area. The chain is slated to open a location in the District’s Chinatown neighborhood later this year, along with two other outposts in Baltimore.

by Jackie Friedman — August 10, 2016 at 4:45 pm 0

Arlington County Police Department officers gave out free ice cream and helped save some locals from a tent that tried to fly away in Clarendon this afternoon.

The “Cones with a Cop” event at Goody’s (3125 Wilson Boulevard) gave officers and Arlington residents the opportunity to get to know each other over frozen treats.

During the gathering, locals had the chance to sit in the driver’s seat of a police car and see the cops in action.

Officers saved some people from being buried underneath an outdoor tent that was about to fly away due to the wind.

No injuries were reported, just smiles.

by Jackie Friedman — August 10, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

(Updated at noon) Columbia Pike has a new restaurant serving an authentic and lovingly crafted version of a college dorm staple: ramen.

Boru Ramen opened in the former Maruko Sushi space at 2915 Columbia Pike on Thursday, July 21.

Customers can choose from five Japanese noodle soup dishes, such as the spicy miso ramen or buta kakuni (braised pork belly) bowls, according to the eatery’s menu. Unlike the ramen you cook on the stovetop for four minutes, the broth at Boru Ramen is simmered for more than eight hours.

“For something we love so much, we could never follow the easy path,” the menu says.

The restaurant also serves rice bowls, edamame, Japanese fried dumplings called gyoza and a sticky rice dessert known as mochi ice cream.

Although Boru Ramen has a bar, no booze is for sale. Diners can have non-alcoholic drinks, including Japanese soda called Ramune and iced green tea made with matcha, instead. The restaurant applied for a wine and beer license on Monday.

Boru Ramen is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

by ARLnow.com — August 9, 2016 at 5:00 pm 0

Bankruptcy filing rates (image via NerdWallet.com)Arlington County has the eleventh lowest personal bankruptcy rate among U.S. counties, according to newly-compiled statistics.

The website NerdWallet says that Arlington had only 72.67 personal bankruptcy filings for every 100,000 people between 2015 and 2016. That’s about 160 total bankruptcies in Arlington over a one year period.

Arlington’s rate compares to Ector County, Texas, which has the lowest rate in the country with 34.5 filings per 100,000 people, and Shelby County, Tennessee, which has the highest rate with 1,285.83 bankruptcy filings per 100,000 people. The median rate among the 587 counties that NerdWallet examined was 224 filings per 100,000 people.

“Even with bankruptcy filings declining across the nation, Americans living in some parts of the country have a much higher bankruptcy rate than in other places,” Nerdwallet wrote. The south and parts of the midwest, in particular, had the some of the highest rates of bankruptcy filings, while the northeast U.S. stood out as a region for having rates mostly below the median.

by Adrian Cruz — August 9, 2016 at 3:50 pm 0

The Century Center office and retail complex in Crystal City is expected to sprout a new 22-story residential building in the next few years.

Property owner Lowe Enterprises submitted a preliminary site plan application in June, outlining its plans: a 286-unit residential building, located at the busy intersection of Crystal Drive and 23rd Street S.

The new building will be built above existing ground-floor retail, including California Tortilla, Buffalo Wild Wings and Mezeh Mediterranean Grill. The building will have 327,396 square feet of floor space, connected with an existing underground parking garage with 1,620 spaces.

In a letter to the county’s zoning division, the new development is described as “architecturally created to establish a distinguishable, contemporary, and elegant presence that will bring modern prominence to the southwest quadrant of the intersection.”

The building, with an address of 2351 Jefferson Davis Highway, is expected to contain modern amenities including an rooftop patio, a fitness area, a club room, an outdoor courtyard and bicycle storage room. Also, an existing second floor roof will be cleared of the mechanical equipment there now and will offer open space for residents. As part of the plan, the building will achieve a minimum LEED Silver certification.

The developer has included a transportation management plan to encourage residents to use alternative forms of transportation. The location is 0.4 miles from the Crystal City Metro station. Elements of the plan include placing transportation information displays in the building, offering new residents their choice of a $65 SmarTrip card or one-year bikeshare or carshare memberships, and distributing information about transit to residents and employees.

Century Center is currently home to restaurants, a Post Office branch and other small businesses. All existing tenants are expected to be able to continue operations during the property’s redevelopment, the plan states. There will approximately 17,500 square feet of ground floor retail space after construction, with nearly 10,000 square feet dedicated to existing restaurant tenants, it says.

The surrounding streetscape is also expected to be improved. The plans contain provisions for retail and food service kiosks along with a Capital Bikeshare station. It also includes new open space at the corner of 23rd Street S. and Crystal Drive that will be home to kiosks, outdoor seating and other activities. While the existing parking garage will continue to be used, the current four entrances will be reduced to one in order to better fulfill the vision of 23rd Street as a pedestrian-oriented street.

by Jackie Friedman — August 9, 2016 at 2:40 pm 0

Arlington resident Jeff Spugnardi’s interest in woodworking began with skateboard ramps he built in grammar school. Decades later, after retiring from a career in the Marine Corps, he turned his hobby into a business in his Leeway Overlee home.

Since 2008, the 46-year-old craftsman has sold wood chairs, tables and other furniture he’s designed and built in his personal workshop.

“So many people can’t believe that someone builds something in Arlington because it seems like everybody is a professional and going to D.C., and here I am building things,” Spugnardi said. “I take ugly slabs and turn it into this stuff.”

Spugnardi only uses walnut, maple and cherry wood to make his furniture, including chairs that range in price from $1,300 to $5,000. All the wood is from a Northern Virginia supplier.

Spugnardi said he focuses on making comfortable furniture with character. He often adds special touches, like glow-in-the dark features, to his works. For his chairs, which take 80 hours to build, he puts in flexible back braces that are designed to conform to sitters’ backs. A 6-foot-11 man once commented on how comfy the chairs were and how he couldn’t find similar furniture for his size, Spugnardi said.

“Everything is custom-sized, so I have a bunch of templates based on your height and your arms,” he said. “Everything is proportionate to the legs and where your knees are. We custom fit everything.”

Spugnardi said most of his customers are locals. His work has appeared at art shows in Reston and D.C. and regularly catches the eye of people in his neighborhood.

“I’ll often do a lot of sculpting and grinding in the driveway,” Spugnardi said. “I used to be in the Marines so I will wear my flight suit. People will come by [and ask], ‘What are you doing or what type of wood is this?’ And so I’ll get some people who will [ask if I can] build them a table or if I can see their dining room.”

by ARLnow.com — August 8, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

A pair of stores are coming to a couple of once-vacant storefronts on Pentagon Row.

Express Jewelers is moving from the under-construction Ballston Common Mall to the former Pacers space at 1101 S. Joyce Street.

The store offers “fine jewelry, watches, jewelry repair, watch repair, battery and band replacement, custom-designed jewelry, restringing, appraisals and eyeglass frame repair.” It is “getting close” to opening, according to a Facebook post.

Next door, a menswear and tuxedo rental store is coming to the former Denim Bar space, according to a tipster who chatted up the owner over the weekend. That store may open as soon as mid-month, we’re told.

by ARLnow.com — August 8, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

Business offered for sale in ArlingtonIn April, we published a list of businesses offered for sale in Arlington.

Given the recent restaurant turnover in Clarendon, it seems like a good time to revisit those offerings, which come from the Arlington listings of a major business broker marketplace.

Here are some of the businesses that are currently listed on the site and have either been added or updated since our last check. We are only naming the business if a name or website is provided in the listing.

  1. “At Luna Grill and Diner, we take pride in our passion for fresh, delicious foods that warm the soul in our restaurant’s lively and intimate setting.” The Shirlington restaurant was established in 1996. Listed at $250,000.
  2. A “beautiful state of the art restaurant and bar in Arlington. No expense spared in customer area or commercial kitchen… 4,200 sq ft with additional outdoor seating… Car included with sale of business!” Listed for $300,000.
  3. “This prestigious nail salon is located in one of the busiest street in Clarendon. It has established clientele. Established for over ten years, it consistently grosses over $600K per year and very profitable and has a lot of potential to grow even more.” Listed for $297,000.
  4. Little Caesars is the fastest growing and largest carry out pizza chain in the world with locations on five continents. Prior food experience is preferred, not essential. A net worth of $150k with minimum liquidity of $50k is required.” Listed for $160,000.
  5. A 1,000 square foot deli in Crystal City that “used to do more than $15K per week sale. But currently, they are doing little bit more than $7K per week.” Listed for $175,000.
  6. franchise restaurant in the Pentagon City mall food court that opened in 2013. “Connection with Metro and recently renovated shopping mall bring in tons of customers in this food court. 750 SF with $16,500 per month rent (HOT SPOT) 6 years and 2 X 5 years option left.” Listed at $320,000.
  7. “This pizza restaurant is in the perfect area of Arlington. A lot of foot traffic with offices and residential in this location.” Restaurant seats 60 in 2,000 square foot space. Listed for $399,000.
  8. “Very well established and profitable 5 days Deli, Hot Bar and Salad Bar business need[s] new owner. Located very busy commercial area, 1 Floor of High Rise B/D. Currently, they are doing about $100K per month in Gross Sale, due to the nearby B/D are filling up.” Listed for $599,000.

by ARLnow.com — August 5, 2016 at 4:25 pm 0

Carpool (photo via Facebook)(Updated at 4:35 p.m.) Popular Ballston watering hole Carpool will close next month, according to an email reviewed by ARLnow.com.

The bar has been informing groups that it will be closing within the next few weeks. We’re told that it is likely to close in early-to-mid September.

Carpool’s owners are seeking a new location for the bar, but a final decision on that has not been made, we hear.

Developer Penzance is planning to build a 22-story apartment building on the Carpool site. That development was approved unanimously by the Arlington County Board in December.

So far, no demolition permit applications have been filed for the address (4000 Fairfax Drive). A Penzance representative said he did not have an update on a timeline for the development.

Carpool has a second location, in Herndon.

Update at 5:45 p.m. — A closing date for Carpool has not been set, says co-owner Mark Handwerger.

“The property has been under contract with Penzance for quite some time,” Handwerger said. “There is no definitive timeline for the sale of the property and subsequent closing of the business at this time. With the sales contract in place, however, we have indeed been looking around for an appropriate location nearby, but as of yet have been unable to identify one.”

Photo via Facebook

by Adrian Cruz — August 5, 2016 at 11:15 am 0

Pop-up plaza in Courthouse A “pop-up plaza” has opened in Courthouse.

Put up in only two days near the Courthouse Plaza surface parking lot, workers cleaned up the area, painted the concrete, and added plants and furniture, transforming it into a public square similar to larger efforts done in places like New York’s Times Square.

Its purpose is to show the public what the entire parking lot might look like if it were to be transformed into a town square under the “Envision Courthouse Square” plan.

The plan calls for putting the parking underground, thus making way for a large, open green space and some new development.

 

by Adrian Cruz — August 5, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

School suppliesThis weekend, Virginia will hold its annual sales tax holiday for shoppers purchasing qualifying school supplies, clothing, footwear, emergency preparedness items and certain energy-efficient items.

The tax holiday — which runs from early Friday morning to 11:59 p.m. Sunday — is aimed at helping families doing back to school shopping along with encouraging Virginians to prepare for the hurricane season.

Online purchases of qualifying items are also tax-exempt as long as orders are placed and paid for during the tax holiday and the items are available for immediate shipment.

“This sales tax holiday will make items that help families prepare for the school year or for a potential emergency more affordable,” said Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, in a statement. “It is my hope that shoppers will use this time to get their children the items they need to succeed in school, as well as stock up on the essentials that may come in handy during a hurricane or other emergency where electricity or clean water may be unavailable for an extended period of time.”

Tax exempt items include:

  • Most school and office supplies, such as pens, loose-leaf paper, scissors, binders, backpacks, and construction paper, priced at $20 or less.
  • Clothing and footwear, priced at $100 or less per item or pair.
  • Batteries, flashlights, bottled water, tarps, duct tape, fire extinguishers, cell-phone chargers, smoke detectors, buckets, rope, and first aid kits, priced at $60 or less.
  • Gas-powered chainsaws, priced at $350 or less, and chainsaw accessories, priced at $60 or less.
  • Portable generators, priced at $1,000 or less.
  • Energy Star-labeled dishwashers, washing machines, air conditioners, ceiling fans, light bulbs, dehumidifiers, and refrigerators, priced at $2,500 or less.
  • WaterSense-labeled sink faucets, faucet accessories, aerators, shower heads, toilets, urinals, and landscape irrigation controllers, priced at $2,500 or less.

by Adrian Cruz — August 4, 2016 at 3:50 pm 0

A French-inspired home and gifts store in Cherrydale is set to close soon.

La Maison, which opened at 3510 Lee Highway in 2013, will close once owner Jeeun Friel sells the business.

The store sells “everything from candles, totes, jewelry, local art, handmade furniture, pins, just a lot of unique one-of-a-kind things,” Friel said. “That’s what’s kept us interesting for the last three years.”

Friel added that her reason for closing the store is to spend more time with her kids, specifically her youngest son.

“I opened the shop originally because, at the time, my firstborn was three years old and entering preschool so I had a lot of time on my hands and it was kind of a hobby,” she said. “It’s bittersweet because I really created this little place from scratch but I’m happy being home with my baby.”

Friel said the shop could close as early September, as long as someone buys it by then.

“I was hoping by September, but it could be longer,” Friel said. “We don’t have a definite date right now. I still have to run the shop and we’re still running on a daily basis until we figure out what’s going to happen.”

The store will hold sales throughout the rest of the summer to sell off the remaining merchandise, Friel said. At the moment, everything in the store is half off.

by Adrian Cruz — August 4, 2016 at 2:30 pm 0

Fairlington Park exercise equipment

Arlington has been named among the nation’s healthiest places to live.

The county was called the “third healthiest city in America” by Niche.com, the rankings site that previously called Arlington the No. 2 “Best City for Millennials,” “Best City to Live in America” and the No. 7 Suburb to Live in America.

The categories surveyed to determine the healthiest city included physical activity rate, obesity rate, access to doctors, access to recreation and fitness facilities and percentage of smokers.

Arlington received an ‘A’ grade in access to doctors, mental health providers and recreation and fitness facilities. With over 150 listed parks in the county and 13 recreation centers along with privately owned gyms, Arlington has many options for residents to stay healthy.

The county’s obesity rate of 17.5 percent is more than 17 percentage points lower than the national average of 34.9 percent and its physical inactivity rate of 13.9 percent is lower than the state rate of 23.5 percent of Virginians reported as physically inactive.

Arlington’s percentage of smokers is 10.1 percent of the population, lower than the national rate of 16.8 percent.

Topping the “healthiest cities” list were Boulder, Colo., and San Francisco. Arlington beat out a long list of such other health paragons as Provo, Utah; Fort Collins, Colo.; and Berkeley, Calif. Neighboring Alexandria ranked No. 18 on that list.

This isn’t the first time someone has recognized Arlington for its vitality. The county was also named the sixth healthiest “city” in the U.S. by Livability.com last year.

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