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by Chris Teale — April 11, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

(Updated at 2:25) The finishing touches are being made to the Heritage Brewing Company’s new gastropub, set to open tonight at Market Common (2900 Wilson Blvd) in Clarendon.

General manager Kyle Kearns said the team anticipated being ready for customers the past few days, but tonight is actually the night and they’ll open for dinner at 5 p.m. with a limited peak menu, several mainstay draft beers as well as some limited edition and seasonal brews.

Heritage had originally intended to open in February. It began a Kickstarter campaign last November to help fund the restaurant’s launch.

Kearns said that with representatives of Manassas-based Heritage Brewing Company in D.C. for the Brewers’ Association Conference, it was perfect timing to open tonight.

“We were looking for the right opportunity in terms of everything lining up for when we could open, so today happens to be the day,” he said.

Booths handmade from barrel pieces have been added, and three sets of draft beer taps have been installed. The new gastropub touts 18 craft beers on tap, a contemporary food menu, cocktails, wine, Veritas Coffee and takeout options.

“Our small team is built around a culture of passion and pursuit,” a section on the website reads. “We are passionate about our work and fortunate to have the privilege of crafting and melding that which we love. Our pursuit of excellence extends beyond our craft and process, and into our lives as proud citizens, dedicated friends, and loving family members.”

by Chris Teale — April 11, 2017 at 10:15 am 0

Winter has turned to spring, and that means it’s farmers market time in Arlington. Some of the county’s markets have just launched for the season and others are preparing to open soon.

Here’s a roundup of the markets and their logistics:

  • The FRESHFARM Crystal City Market kicked off last week at 1965 Crystal Drive. Each Tuesday until November 21 from 3-7 p.m., more than 20 farmers and producers will offer a wide range of local foods.
  • Clarendon Central Park will host the Clarendon Farmers Market each Wednesday until December from 3-7 p.m. The market returned last week and is a producers-only market, meaning vendors sell products they have grown themselves.
  • The Ballston Farmers Market has begun in Welburn Square and will take place each Thursday until October from 3-7 p.m. Every first Thursday of the month, the market becomes a Mega Market, featuring a live band, celebrity chef demonstrations with free tastings and a beer and wine garden. The first Mega Market will take place May 4.
  • The Fairlington Farmers Market runs each Sunday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Fairlington Community Center (3308 S. Stafford Street), starting May 7. Through November 19, the market will be selling fresh produce, grass fed meats, eggs, coffee, pastries and baked goods, ​flowers and other prepared foods.
  • Marymount University’s farmers market returns May 27 at its campus at 2807 N. Glebe Road. Also a producers-only market, each vendor grows, bakes, roasts, cooks or prepares all of their products within 125 miles of Arlington County.
  • The Westover Farmers Market also begins its spring and summer session in May. It is at the corner of Washington Blvd and N. McKinley Road each Sunday.
  • The Community Foodworks farmers market takes place on Saturdays at 14th Street N. and N. Courthouse Road.
  • Columbia Pike’s farmers market is each Sunday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at Pike Park, near the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Walter Reed Drive.

by ARLnow.com — April 5, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

Heaps of new customers have been saying g’day to Oz restaurant in Clarendon over the past year, its owners say.

Contrary to its portrayal on the new Real Housewives of Potomac season — a teaser video showed proprietors Ashley and Michael Darby arguing about it “not doing well” — Oz (2950 Clarendon Blvd) is currently a profitable business, according to Mr. Darby.

The argument happened in real life on June 22, 2016. Since then, Oz’s brunch business has boomed and helped reverse its fortunes. And a revamped food menu has been greeted with generally positive customer reviews.

That’s a welcome change from when the Washington Post panned Oz’s Australian cuisine as “bland,” shortly after it opened in September 2015, and locals took note of the empty tables one could see inside around dinnertime.

Darby, the Australian-born cofounder of D.C. developer Monumental Realty, admits that things were “not up to scratch” when Oz opened, but said issues with the service and the food have since been corrected. What viewers see at the beginning of “RHOP” season two is part of the restaurant’s “rebuilding” stage.

“We made a significant change that has brought about the success we’re having now,” Darby said. “Over the course of the show, you will find that the restaurant turns that corner and becomes the busy restaurant we have today.”

The other half of the power couple, Ashley Darby — a former Miss District of Columbia who is active in the restaurant’s day-to-day management in between her Instagram-chronicled globetrotting — echoed Michael’s words.

“America witnessed my candid reaction to the growing pains we were experiencing at Oz during the RHOP premiere, filmed last year,” she said. “It has taken some time to find our groove in the trendy Clarendon neighborhood, but we’re really getting into the swing of it. Our weekends are so busy I barely get time to sit down.”

Oz’s $35 bottomless brunch — with unlimited food, penny mimosas, 50 cent beers and $2 bloody marys — has packed them in, according to Michael Darby. Some 500 customers a day visit Oz on the weekends, he said. And the restaurant has high hopes for increasing its weekday bar business and becoming more of a nighttime going-out destination on weekends.

“This is a very fun bar, we have that Australian attitude,” Darby said. Oz is proud of its craft cocktail menu and Australian wine selection; it now brings in a DJ on Saturday nights and, yes, you can order didgeridoo shots, if so inclined.

Darby credits the chef they brought on after the “mediocre” opening for being a big part of Oz’s transformation. Chef Brad Feickert, a tattooed Northern Virginia native who worked for celebrity chefs and also spent time at restaurants in Australia, has created an Australian-influenced menu adjusted for American palates.

“The quality of the food improved significantly when he came in,” Darby said. “The chef is just a good chef, that’s what it comes down to.”

The menu, which is ever evolving, includes both Australian and American staples, along with culinary mashups and exotic meats, including kangaroo, camel and ostrich. (It’s not exotic, but Darby recommends the Australian lamb.)

Just don’t confuse Oz with that well-known “Australian” restaurant chain — needless to say, there are no bloomin’ onions on the menu.

“We’re not Outback Steakhouse in any way,” Darby said. Outback is “not even an Australian product.”

(more…)

by Chris Teale — April 4, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

A Super Bowl-winning former linebacker joined the BalletNova Center For Dance to kick off a new community engagement program today.

Former Washington Redskins linebacker Andre Collins joined BalletNova for its “M.O.V.E” residency session at Hoffman-Boston Elementary School in the Arlington View neighborhood Tuesday morning.

M.O.V.E stands for motivation, opportunity, vitality and empowerment. The school-based program uses accessible movements to teach elements of dance and develop sophisticated choreography, while challenging children physically and mentally. For most students participating in the M.O.V.E. program, it is their first experience with dance.

The school residencies are six to eight weeks in length, with classes meeting once a week for an hour. Each residency culminates in a performance at the school.

Collins joined the class earlier this morning. He studied dance in college and took classes while playing in the NFL. After graduating from Penn State, he was drafted by the Redskins in the second round of the 1990 NFL Draft.

After four years with Washington, including winning Super Bowl XXVI in 1992, he played for the Cincinnati Bengals, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions before retiring in 1999.

He is now director of retired players for the NFL Players Association and executive director of the Professional Athletes Foundation.

Photo via Professional Athletes Foundation

by ARLnow.com — April 3, 2017 at 10:10 am 0

(Updated at 10:30 a.m.) Casual Adventure, the long-time Virginia Square outdoor retailer that promises to “outfit you from Great Falls to Nepal,” is closing.

The store, at 3451 Washington Blvd, made the announcement this morning. The owners “received a reasonable offer for the sale of our building” and took it, they said.

E-commerce has made the bricks-and-mortar retail business increasingly difficult. “It’s no secret that the old retail model no longer works,” said Eric Stern, whose family has owned the store for 61 years.

Casual Adventure will be closed Monday and Tuesday and will reopen Wednesday to kick of its “End of an Era Sale,” featuring up to 50 percent off any remaining outdoor, tactical and sporting goods in stock. An exact closing date has not been announced.

The business may be revived, however, in a modified form later this year.

The family “has plans to reopen elsewhere in Northern Virginia in late summer or early fall, with a focus on corporate, league, military and government sales,” Arlington Magazine reported. A company rep wouldn’t comment on that report.

“We’ll share details with our loyal customer base and the Arlington community if it becomes necessary,” said Nathan Carroll. “For now we are squarely focused on selling all of our current inventory.”

The full announcement is below.

Dear Friends:

This business, which my great-grandfather Oscar founded over six decades ago, has been a source of great pride to our family over the years. Like all businesses, we’ve had to evolve: from our beginnings as a district grocery store, to an Army-Navy surplus store, to becoming the outdoor, tactical, and sporting goods store you know us to be today.

It’s no secret that the old retail model no longer works, so when we received a reasonable offer for the sale of our building, we decided the time was ripe to again switch gears, by closing our store and focusing our future business through the internet and beyond.

But first we commence the biggest sale in our 61-year history. Our END OF AN ERA SALE features our entire stock of clothing, outerwear, footwear, camping gear, travel accessories and sporting gear, with storewide reductions up to 50% off.

We’ll be closed all day Monday and Tuesday to reduce prices and prepare. Sale starts Wednesday, April 5th at 9:00am.

So whatever your outdoor needs, whether hiking, camping, adventure travel, or otherwise, we’ve got it all and it’s all on sale. Shop early before the word is out to the general public and buy “the good stuff” at liquidation prices.

It’s been our great joy to have served our local communities for so many years: but times change and for everyone the time comes to move forward. Along with our wonderfully talented and loyal staff, we thank you for your friendship and support and look forward to helping you find the perfect outfit and gear in this final sale.

Sincerely,

Eric Stern, on behalf of the Stern family

Photo via Facebook

by ARLnow.com — March 31, 2017 at 10:10 am 0

A food delivery service that’s popular in New York City is coming to Arlington and some other D.C. area locales.

FreshDirect, a well-funded online food retailer that delivers “farm-fresh produce, high-quality meat, seafood, dairy, prepared meals and grocery staples,” is launching in Arlington, Bethesda, McLean and parts of the District next week on Wednesday, April 5.

FreshDirect will offer next-day delivery to just about every Arlington ZIP code: 22201, 22202, 22203, 22204, 22205, 22206, 22207, 22209, 22211, and 22213.

“The service will offer 12,000 high-quality products and give residents the chance to try popular specialty foods such as Roberta’s pizza from Brooklyn, Wandering Bear Cold Brew Coffee, dairy-free yogurt from Anita’s, premium deli meats from Boar’s Head and JUST FreshDirect Wild Caught Albacore Tuna,” a PR rep said.

More from a press release:

FreshDirect sources from farms in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.

No-subscription meal kits will also be part of the offering, giving D.C. consumers more options for dinner tonight. In addition to home delivery, FreshDirect also feeds D.C.’s busy workforce with an ‘At The Office’ service, which includes chef-prepared breakfasts, luncheon platters perfect for business meetings, catering services for events, and popular brands of snacks, beverages and pantry items…

FreshDirect customers can order next day delivery in the two hour window of their choice via web or mobile app as early as 6:30 a.m. through 11:00 p.m.. Customers can either pay per order for the service cost of $7.99 with a $40 minimum spend per order or pay an annual fee of $129.00 for unlimited free delivery through DeliveryPass. DeliveryPass members enjoy unlimited free deliveries and exclusive special offers and savings. First timers can get a 2-month trial for 1 cent.

FreshDirect opened its new D.C. facility in Prince George’s County and has hired more than 50 local employees as part of the expansion. For more information, visit www.freshdirect.com or download the iPhone, Android and iPad mobile apps.

by ARLnow.com — March 30, 2017 at 6:00 pm 0

With nearly 5,400 followers on Instagram, Discover Arlington is one of the hottest social media presences in Arlington at the moment.

The account highlights local restaurants, events and other happenings around Arlington — an engaging introduction to the county for newcomers and a way to discover new places for even long-time Arlingtonians.

Two couple behind Discover Arlington is Blake Davenport and Leah Virbitsky. Having moved here two years ago, they may not be the longest-tenured local residents, but they do have an uncommon passion for all things Arlington.

On this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast, we asked Davenport and Virbitsky about building a social following, about Leah’s event organizing background and about Blake getting his start in the competitive real estate business.

Listen below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google PlayStitcher or TuneIn.

Photo courtesy Potok’s World Photography

by ARLnow.com — March 30, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

It’s the end of the road for P. Brennan’s Irish Pub and Restaurant at 2910 Columbia Pike.

The cavernous local pub will shutter after closing on Friday. Owner Brian Dolphin, who also owned the ill-fated McGinty’s near Potomac Yard, says P. Brennan’s “did pretty well” by staying in business for seven years, but never made much money.

“It never kicked off to the extent we thought it would,” Dolphin told ARLnow.com Thursday morning. He said P. Brennan’s liquor license expires after March 31 and he chose not to renew it.

Also contributing to the bar’s demise: its large size — “too big,” Dolphin said, in retrospect — and the cancellation of the Columbia Pike streetcar, which seemed to deflate some of the excitement and prospects for change along the Pike.

“Things went south on us a bit and never picked up,” said Dolphin regarding the aftermath of the cancellation.

Nothing out of the ordinary is planned for P. Brennan’s last day tomorrow, but Dolphin said he expects that many long-time patrons will be there enjoying a pint or two.

by Chris Teale — March 28, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

The former home of Sehkraft Brewery will not be vacant for long, as The Board Room looks set to move in.

Sehkraft closed its doors at 925 N. Garfield Street in the Garfield Park apartment complex in January.

But in an email to residents on Sunday obtained by ARLnow, Garfield Park property manager Christin D’Amato said The Board Room will take over the first-floor retail space in Clarendon.

It currently has a location in Dupont Circle and, according to the email, shares some ownership with Carpool in Ballston, which is set to shutter next month after staying open for months on borrowed time.

The Board Room combines an extensive drinks menu with board games, available for rent for a flat fee of $2. The D.C. location does not have its own kitchen, but it encourages visitors to bring their own food if they wish.

The new location, The Board Room’s first in Virginia, also looks set to include a champagne lounge.

More from D’Amato’s email:

The Board Room D.C. location serves 21 draft lines and offers more than 50 different board games for customers to enjoy. Board Room VA will also feature a number of private party spaces and will offer a full menu and happy hour specials. Board Room VA will partner with a local brewer to keep the microbrewery operating and offer a number of in-house products. In addition, Ms. Peacock’s Champagne Lounge will offer a wide variety of champagnes and craft cocktails.

Representatives with The Board Room have thus far not responded to a request for comment.

by ARLnow.com — March 28, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

The Free People store has closed in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall.

The boho-chic women’s apparel retailer closed its doors Sunday, according to a sign in the window, which directs shoppers to other Free People stores in Georgetown, Tysons and Montgomery County, Md.

At one point, Arlington was home two Free People stores; a location in Market Common Clarendon closed in 2015.

by Chris Teale — March 27, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

A new cafe appears to be arriving at the Columbia Place condo complex near Columbia Pike

Building permit applications have been filed with the county for a “new cafe and lounge in an existing mixed used building” at 1107 S. Walter Reed Drive.

Currently, the 14-unit building also hosts the Pureluxe Nails and Spa nail salon on its first floor. It is across the street from a branch of the BB&T Bank and the Avalon apartment building (formerly the Halstead), and is a block from Columbia Pike.

But there appears to be plenty of work to be done ahead of the new cafe’s opening.

The county’s online permitting system notes that permit applications in building, mechanical, plumbing and zoning categories have been rejected since the initial paperwork was filed March 8.

There are two potential cafe competitors nearby: Starbucks and Rappahannock Coffee, which is slated for redevelopment.

A spokeswoman for the county’s planning department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt

by Chris Teale — March 24, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

A Baltimore-based fast casual noodle bar will arrive next year at the redeveloped Ballston Quarter mall.

Mi and Yu Noodle Bar announced earlier this week on Facebook it has signed a lease to open a location in Ballston around September 2018, once redevelopment is complete.

With locations already open in the Federal Hill and Mount Vernon neighborhoods of Baltimore and another set for Hampden in September, owner Edward Kim said he expects the new spot in Arlington to continue the success he’s found in Charm City.

“The deal is right, I think the area is really good,” Kim said. “It’s very dense with good foot traffic, energy and good demographics.”

Kim said Mi and Yu is different from other Asian eateries, as customers can build their own noodle bowls, choosing from a variety of broths, noodles and proteins. The menu of Chinese steam bun sandwiches — known as bao — is extensive too, and customers can again customize.

“It’s basically a build your own concept, like you would do at Panera Bread or Chipotle,” Kim said. “It’s definitely not a traditional place.”

Mi and Yu has joined the likes of Punch Bowl Social in leasing space at the mall, where renovations are currently underway.

by Chris Teale — March 24, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

Arlington County will host a public meeting Saturday for residents to help the design of the new Lubber Run Community Center evolve.

Saturday’s gathering will be at Barrett Elementary School at 4401 N. Henderson Street from 1 to 3:30 p.m. It comes on the heels of a similar meeting Wednesday.

After a kick-off meeting last month, the next session will present “Big Idea” design schemes, developed from community feedback.

At that kick-off meeting, almost 200 people shared their ideas for the building and park design. Architectural firm VMDO, Inc. has led the process alongside county staff.

The Lubber Run Community Center is the oldest county facility specifically designed as a community center. But a revamp is necessary, said staff, as it is not compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act due to a lack of elevators.

“We need everyone’s participation from start to end of the work sessions to hone in on the best possible options,” reads a previous announcement. “Together, we’ll share what we like and don’t like about various schemes, and chart a path forward for the new Lubber Run Community Center.”

Ultimately, the new community center will have “a full complement of recreational, social and learning activities for all ages,” according to the county.

In addition to the meetings, other work is being done in the area of Lubber Run.

Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. has been hired to do an inventory of all trees, to help guide the design process and reduce its impact on healthy trees. Meanwhile, Toole Design Group is conducting a traffic volume study to determine the number, movements, and classifications of roadway vehicles along the George Mason Drive and Park Drive intersection.

According to a project timeline, the design is expected to be finalized this winter, with construction expected to begin next year.

by Chris Teale — March 23, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

(Updated 8:50 p.m.) Columbia Pike’s first beer garden appears to be almost ready for its first customers.

Work has been underway at BrickHaus at 2900 Columbia Pike for almost a year, and now seems to be approaching the closing stages.

A Facebook post last month said construction is finishing soon and that the opening is “getting closer,” while another earlier this month said there are “only weeks to go until opening.”

In an email, owner Tony Wagner said the joint across the street from the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse should be open “by the end of April.”

The outdoor patio and fire pit facing the street now appear to be mostly complete, while photos posted on Facebook show the 24-tap draught beer tower has been delivered.

Construction crews found the original marble tile from the building’s former life as a bank earlier this year, and light fixtures are hanging from the original rafters.

BrickHaus will be a beer garden on the first floor, with some 20 beers on tap and an approximately 30-seat outdoor patio. The second floor mezzanine will be a sit-down steakhouse. Previous plans for rooftop seating fell through.

It will offer mostly regional brews from Virginia, D.C. and Maryland, in addition to perhaps a couple of German beers. Wagner said draft wine will also be available.

The aging building has received an extensive renovation after being vacant for years following the departure of Blanca’s Restaurant.

by ARLnow.com — March 23, 2017 at 10:30 am 0

Arlingtonwood is a tiny, affluent neighborhood nestled near the GW Parkway and Chain Bridge in the far northern corner of Arlington.

Amid what is otherwise an idyllic suburban scene along N. Richmond Street, one house stands out: a low-slung brick home covered in handwritten signs and Sharpie-scrawled writing on the white siding and doors.

“POISONED HOUSE, DO NOT ENTER – KEEP OUT,” reads the writing next to the main entrance. “DO NOT TAKE AND DO NOT REMOVE ANY POISONED ITEMS FROM MY POISONED HOUSE.”

The note goes on to claim that the house was poisoned in 1999 with various “dangerous substances” and that the “poisoning was proved to the FBI and Arlington police including other U.S. government agencies.”

“U.S. President Clinton was informed in 2000 and U.S. President Bush in 2001,” the sign continues.

Needless to say, neighbors are not happy with the signage.

“I have contacted the [county] and Arlington states there is nothing they can do because the signs are on private property,” one resident told ARLnow.com. “These signs affect everyone in the area as this home is stating there are poisonous gases everywhere (in the ground, her house, etc.). People stop all the time and ask if it is safe to be in the area.”

Gary Greene, Code Enforcement Section Chief for Arlington County, confirmed that there is basically nothing the county can do about the signs and writing. He said that the county has received seven complaints about the home in the past 12 years and that the only actionable code violations found — like an overgrown lawn — were corrected by the homeowner, who does not live in the house.

There is one outstanding “minor” code violation, Greene said, but it has nothing to do with the house being vacant or covered with signs. The signs are not in violation of Virginia law or county ordinance, he said.

“The signs, letters and wall writings visible on the front façade of the property were placed there in 2005 by the property owner; they have been a primary driver for complaint calls,” Greene said. “The signs, letters and wall writings are not of a commercial or political nature and have not been found in violation of any of Arlington’s property related ordinances.”

The house, which was recently assessed by the county at $862,500, was nearly auctioned by Arlington County in 2015 for non-payment of property taxes — but the taxes were eventually paid along with a penalty fee and interest, county records show. It is currently in good standing with the tax office after $8,570.16 in property taxes were paid in 2016.

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