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Health Food-Focused ‘Dirt’ Plans Expansion in Ballston Exchange Next Year

A new eatery coming to Ballston is inviting diners to eat “Dirt” — not quite literally, though.

The Miami-based restaurant plans to open its first location outside Florida in the Ballston Exchange development, located at 4121 Wilson Blvd, according to a press release.

Dirt will move into an 1,800-square-foot space in the office building, and expects to be ready for customers by spring 2019. The newly redeveloped building, once home to the National Science Foundation, will welcome a spate of new retailers in the coming months, including a Shake Shack, Philz Coffee and We the Pizza.

The chain’s backers were inspired to move to Ballston by “the energy of the neighborhood,” and the sudden proliferation of new businesses at both the Ballston Exchange and Ballston Quarter developments, the release said.

The restaurant is health-food focused, with offerings including breakfast dishes and toasts (both served all day), salads, bowls, smoothies, juices and even vegan “mylkshakes,” made with almond milk ice cream. Dirt will also offer a “full espresso bar and tea program,” the release said.

The eatery’s founders dub Dirt a “counter casual” restaurant, presenting it as a blend of a sit-down restaurant and up-scale fast food restaurants like Chipotle.

“We have a different service model than the omnipresent Chipotle-style assembly line that people have become inundated with,” JJ McDaniel, the chain’s director of operations, wrote in a statement. “You order at the counter, and although we don’t have formal servers, from there it’s very much a full-service experience. We bring your order to you, with real plates and silverware and linen napkins, check on you during your meal and clean your table after you leave. Trays and bus tubs are purposely absent from the Dirt dining experience.”

The Ballston location will be the chain’s third overall, after opening two restaurants in the Miami area starting in 2015.

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Bob and Edith’s on Columbia Pike Reopens, As Owner Insists Diner Will Stay Put

The original Bob and Edith’s Diner on Columbia Pike is back open after a brief closure for maintenance, and its owner is looking to reassure nervous fans that the restaurant isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

The diner closed for maintenance last Tuesday (Oct. 30), leaving would-be patrons a bit mystified. But Ryan Brown, a lawyer for Bob and Edith’s owner Greg Bolton, told ARLnow that the closure only lasted two days, to allow for the installation of a new grease trap.

He also stressed that the diner, located at 2310 Columbia Pike, “is subject to a long-term commercial lease,” in a bid to quell speculation that the restaurant could soon be on the move. Those rumors first started churning when the diner and its property was listed for lease in late September, but Brown made it clear that the nearly 50-year-old eatery isn’t in any danger.

“Bob and Edith’s has no plans to relocate or close that location, or any of its other locations,” Brown wrote in an email.

The restaurant chain previously made headlines when Bolton opted to buy a property along Lee Highway that was once home to Linda’s Cafe, in a bid to expand there in the near future.

Brown added that Bolton will have an update on that new eatery in the “near future.” He initially predicted that the new location could open either before the year is out, or in early 2019.

Beyond the Columbia Pike location and the planned expansion on Lee Highway, Bob and Edith’s operates restaurants in Crystal City, Alexandria and Springfield.

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Bethesda Bagels Opens Its Doors in Rosslyn

A new Bethesda Bagels location opened its doors yesterday (Nov. 6) across from the Rosslyn Metro station.

Located at 1851 N. Moore Street, this is the first location in Arlington for Bethesda Bagels, which has two shops in D.C. to go along with the original in Bethesda, Md., founded in 1982.

About 15 customers showed up for the store’s 6:30 a.m. opening, and “long lines” formed throughout the rainy morning, Danny Fleishman, president of Bethesda Bagels, told ARLnow.

Sandwiched between Nando’s and McDonald’s, Bethesda Bagels offers passersby a glimpse into the bagel-making process with a storefront window near the kitchen. Fleishman said he plans to put a counter by the window for seating.

The menu centers around its two dozen varieties of handmade, New York-style bagels. The shop offers an all-day breakfast menu of egg sandwiches and smoked fish sandwiches and “lunch goodies” including pizza bagels and “bagel dogs.”

For first-time customers, Fleishman recommends the egg sandwiches or the smoked salmon sandwich, which uses smoked fish from Ivy City Smokehouse in D.C.

“Everything we do is homemade and true New York-deli style and is delicious,” he said.

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Aabee Express Now Open at Pentagon Row

A new restaurant has opened at the Pentagon Row shopping center in Pentagon City.

Aabee Express is now serving Mediterranean cuisine in the former Nkd Pizza storefront. The diminutive restaurant, next to the F45 gym, opened on Nov. 1.

More from a press release:

Federal Realty Investment Trust (NYSE: FRT), recognized leader in the ownership, operation and redevelopment of high-quality retail based properties, announces today the opening of Aabee Express at Pentagon Row, a 300,000-square foot open-air shopping destination with a unique combination of specialty retailers, modern fitness concepts, best-in class spas and exciting restaurants. The new Mediterranean fusion style dining (Grab n’ Go) option will be open seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. starting on November 1, 2018 and is located on 1101 S. Joyce Street.

Aabee Express is a chef driven restaurant with over 27 years’ experiences in gourmet food. The menu is produced homemade to order or pre-packaged prepared from whole food and unprocessed ingredients. Aabee Express accommodates vegetarian, vegan and gluten free customers with zero added preservatives, additives or MSG. The menu includes fresh soups, salads, kabobs, fresh baked flatbread, family portion platters, desserts and more. The restaurant will accommodate pick up (carry out), curbside pickup, catering, and delivery.

“Pentagon Row is truly a gathering place for locals and tourists alike. We largely credit that to our amazing dining and shopping tenants that provide an array of services to the community. We are thrilled to continue to build upon those options with the opening of Aabee Express,” said Kari Glinski, Director of Asset Management for Federal Realty Investment Trust.

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Coffee and Juice Bar Serving Up Smoothies, ‘Superfood’ Debuts in Clarendon

A new shop serving up smoothies, coffee and “superfood” recently opened in the lobby of an office building in Clarendon.

The Waterhouse Coffee and Juice Bar debuted last Tuesday (Oct. 30) with a soft opening for the office building tenants to sample the food and drink, Connie Kim, the owner and manager, told ARLnow.

Located at 3033 Wilson Blvd, customers use the street entrances on Wilson Blvd and N. Garfield Street or the sliding doors in the lobby of the office building to reach Waterhouse.

The tenants have come back since the soft opening, Kim said. While Kim said she is familiar with tenant customers from her first and, now-closed, business in the building shared by CNN and the U.S. Department of Education, these customers surprised her.

“I never knew tenants could be this intimate and regular,” she said.

The menu spans hot and cold coffee and teas to smoothies and freshly squeezed juice for drinks. The “natural fruit smoothies” are made from ice and fruit juice, while the “power boost smoothies” pack in about seven different ingredients, Kim said. Food options include toasts, salads, sandwiches, acai bowls and all-day breakfast.

“I wanted to do really good coffee, really good juice and smoothie bars, where it’s a very comfortable place,” Kim said.

The name “Waterhouse” popped into her head while sitting in an airport about four years ago, Kim said. Initially, she wanted to open a taco place, but then decided a coffee shop would be a better fit for the space by the Clarendon Metro station. Previous establishments at the space include a cafe and deli known for its vegan sandwiches and an Italian hoagie and Mediterranean food shop.

Waterhouse seats about 15 people inside the shop, with an additional 15 seats in the lobby. Kim plans to have four tables outside in the spring.

The shop is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.

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Punch Bowl Social Looks Set to Open in Ballston Quarter Next Month

Punch Bowl Social, a combination bar and entertainment venue that’s a key part of the new Ballston Quarter development, now seems set to open its doors next month.

Details remain scarce on when the newly revamped Ballston Common mall will open its doors, with the development blowing past proposed opening dates in both September and October. But new ads for Punch Bowl Social posted inside the Ballston Metro station indicate the establishment is planning a “grand opening” on Dec. 8.

A spokeswoman for Punch Bowl did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether that date is accurate. The company’s website still lists the location as “coming soon.” The Ballston Quarter website also describes Punch Bowl as “coming soon,” without additional details.

What that means for the other retailers opening up in the development remains unclear, however. A spokeswoman for Forest City, the developer backing Ballston Quarter, said that the firm will have an update on when the whole development will open soon, but still doesn’t have a concrete date ready.

The restaurant first announced plans to expand to the new development two years ago, promising a 25,000 square foot space complete with “eight bowling lanes, one bocce court, three private karaoke rooms, a custom-built 360-degree bar” and more.

Punch Bowl operates 14 other locations across the country, in cities ranging from Atlanta to San Diego. It also is planning a D.C. location, set to open sometime next year.

Forest City has previously billed Punch Bowl as one of four companies set to transform the mall into an “entertainment hub.” The developer has previously announced a variety of other restaurants and retailers moving into the space, and had leased roughly 75 percent of the development as of September.

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Sichuan Wok in Ballston Appears to Have Closed

The Sichuan Wok Chinese restaurant in Ballston seems to have closed.

The restaurant, located at 901 N. Quincy Street, has been closed during normal business hours for the last two days and caution tape now blocks off its entrance. No one answered the phone at Sichuan Wok this morning (Friday).

Readers first alerted ARLnow to the closure yesterday (Thursday), and one tipster said movers were busy clearing out the restaurant.

The property has long been home to the restaurant, with county records suggesting it’s had the same owners since at least 1987.

County permit records don’t offer any indication of what might take its place.

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Potomac CrossFit in Courthouse Shuts Its Doors

Potomac CrossFit in Courthouse has shut down, just a few weeks after celebrating its 10th anniversary in Arlington.

The gym’s last day offering classes was last Friday (Oct. 26), according to employees at a chiropractor operating adjacent to the gym. Potomac was located in the base of an office building at 1320 N. Courthouse Road.

Two of Potomac CrossFit’s co-owners and coaches did not immediately respond to a request for comment on what prompted the closure. The space, along with several other suites in the office building, is currently listed for lease.

The gym moved into the Courthouse space in 2013, relocating from Clarendon after its old home was redeveloped. Potomac then merged with Patriot CrossFit, located just near the intersection of N. Glebe Road and Lee Highway, and that gym appears to still be operating.

Potomac celebrated its 10th year in business on Sept. 22, according to its social media posts.

Colin Farrell, the gym’s director of operations and training, penned a farewell to Potomac on the gym’s blog, describing its closure as “one of the harder things I’ve had to grapple with in my adult life.”

“There is nothing I could ever do to thank and repay you all for letting me be a part of your life over these past few years,” Farrell wrote to the gym’s members. “I cannot express how much I have enjoyed the process and how much I will miss each of you… This not just a gym closing, we all know that.”

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7-Eleven on Washington Blvd in Virginia Square Shuts Down

The 7-Eleven convenience store along Washington Blvd in Virginia Square has closed.

Signs informing would be patrons of the closure now adorn the storefront at 3461 Washington Blvd, next to Rocklands Barbeque and across the street from a Giant grocery store. Its windows are now covered up, and workers appear to be in the process of emptying out the shop’s contents.

Readers first alerted ARLnow to the closure on Tuesday (Oct. 30).

Luckily, anyone looking to grab a taquito or a slurpee has plenty of other options in the area — 7-Eleven’s website shows nine other stores along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor alone.

It’s not immediately clear what might take the store’s place. County permit records don’t show that any other business has applied to take over the space, as of yet.

H/t Peter Golkin

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County Offers Free Pumpkin Composting Saturday for Aging Jack-O-Lanterns

If your jack-o-lantern is starting to get a bit droopy now that Halloween has come and gone, Arlington is offering an eco-friendly solution.

The county is offering to compost pumpkins for free this Saturday (Nov. 3). Anyone interested in recycling their gourd simply needs to drop it off at the county Trades Center at 4300 29th Street S., any time between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Officials simply ask that only Arlington residents take advantage of the service, and that people remove any decorations, candles, paint or other “inorganic materials” before dropping off their pumpkins. The county won’t accept pumpkins from any commercial establishments, either.

The county’s Solid Waste Bureau plans to use the composted pumpkins in Arlington’s “parks and other landscaping endeavors,” according to the county’s website.

Anyone who misses the weekend drop-off can also compost their gourds by using the Trades Center’s normal “food scraps” drop-off, which is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.

File photo

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Pizza Autentica in Ballston Shuts Down

Pizza Autentica in Ballston has shut down, after serving up slices for roughly eight years in the space.

Workers began emptying out the restaurant today (Wednesday) at its space in the ground floor of an office building at 850 N. Randolph Street.

A sign on the door thanks customers “for your business all these years,” adding that the restaurant’s lease just ended, prompting the permanent closure.

The pizzeria opened in the space back in 2010, and operates seven other restaurants around the D.C. area. Its only other Arlington eatery is located in Crystal City.

County permit records don’t show any other applications for a new business looking to move into the space, as of yet.

H/t Timothy R. 

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Asian Fusion Restaurant Set to Move into Old Water & Wall Space in Virginia Square

A new Asian fusion restaurant is on the way for Virginia Square, moving in to the space once occupied by Water & Wall.

Thai Treasure will soon open a new location at 3811 Fairfax Drive, owner Nui Bumrungsiri told ARLnow.

Bumrungsiri also operates a restaurant of the same name in Vienna, but she said this new eatery will offer “all kinds of Asian food, not just Thai.”

She added that it was too soon to be sure when the restaurant might open, exactly.

But Thai Treasure has applied for a license to serve wine, beer and mixed drinks at the restaurant, records show, and plans to have space for up to 150 people.

Water & Wall closed at the space in February 2017, after roughly three and a half years in business.

The chain Burgerim and a restaurant dubbing itself “Erasian” have also requested permits or announced plans to move into the same office building, which is currently home to a Tropical Smoothie Cafe.

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The Pilates Loft Stretches Into Columbia Pike Space

The Pilates Loft is expanding into a second location in the Penrose Square shopping center at 2407 Columbia Pike.

The studio that started in Virginia Square in 2015. Just over one year later, the studio expanded into the vacant space next door. Now, the Virginia Square Pilates Loft is at maximum capacity again, so owner Alia Staples decided it was time to branch out. The Pilates Loft on Columbia Pike will open in late January 2019.

“I think that there is sort of a void in the Columbia Pike and South Arlington area where fitness, in general, doesn’t exist,” said Staples. “There’s a ton of people who live in this area who are commuting to North Arlington for those services… Since there wasn’t anything like that, I thought it might be a good idea to bring it to South Arlington.”

While there are a variety of Pilates studios in the area, Staples said sets her studio offers a more classically authentic Pilates experience.

“We don’t have big classes of 40 people,” said Staples. “It’s just four to six people maximum. It’s geared towards smaller groups and more personalized training.”

The classes also use Pilates equipment beyond just the traditional mats used in many classes. Both locations will also serve as Teacher Training Centers for the United States Pilates Association.

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Josephine’s Italian Kitchen Opens Its Doors in Penrose Square

Josephine’s Italian Kitchen, a new Italian restaurant, is now open for business in the Penrose Square shopping center.

Located just off Columbia Pike at 2501 9th Road S., the eatery opened its doors for the first time Saturday (Oct. 27), according to a release. The restaurant is backed by Tony Wagner, owner of the nearby Twisted Vines Bottleshop & Bistro and BrickHaus.

Wagner first announced plans to open Josephine’s in late August, saying he’d heard a need from neighbors for a casual Italian restaurant in the area. Its menu includes a variety of brick oven pizzas, plenty of seafood and more options from a wood-fired grill. The restaurant, which seats 40 people in its dining room and another 50 in its lounge area, also boasts its own “gelato bar.”

The restaurant takes the place of the old Marble and Rye restaurant, which shut down at the end of last year.

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Crystal City McDonald’s Reopens Following Months of Renovations

Crystal City’s McDonald’s has now reopened, following several months of renovation work.

The fast food restaurant, located at 2620 Jefferson Davis Highway, has been serving customers again since at least late last week. The McDonald’s shuttered back in mid-May for renovations.

The restaurant now boasts a new facade, a revamped drive through and an improved lobby area.

The McDonald’s parking lot has become a point of contention for neighbors in recent weeks, particularly as people looking to avoid traffic generated by the new staging lot for rideshare drivers waiting for passengers at Reagan National Airport have sought to cut through the lot and save a bit of time.

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