Amid a turbulent period for restaurants in Clarendon, there are rumors circulating about two other prominent neighborhood eateries.
Multiple sources have told ARLnow.com that Pete’s New Haven Apizza (3017 Clarendon Blvd), which opened in 2011, has been looking for another business to take over its space. One source said a deal is in the works which would bring a new Chipotle location to the current Pete’s space.
“That’s news to me,” Pete’s co-founder Joel Mehr said, when asked about it in June. He declined further comment.
There have also been persistent rumblings that Fuego Cocina y Tequileria (2800 Clarendon Blvd), which opened in 2012, may be closing by the end of the year. A spokeswoman said the Mexican restaurant is doing well and reports about a potential closure are false.
“Those rumors are not correct,” said Simone Rathle, on behalf of Fuego owner Passion Food Restaurant Group. She said the rumors may have started after Fuego stopped serving lunch on weekdays.
Over the span of a month this summer, three prominent Clarendon restaurants — Hard Times Cafe, Boulevard Woodgrill and American Tap Room — closed their doors. Brixx Pizza in Clarendon closed earlier this year after just six months in business.
While there are more new restaurants and bars on the way — Ambar, Pamplona, Opera — some insiders question whether there might be more restaurants in Clarendon than the market can handle. That would explain why even generally well-liked spots, such as Boulevard Woodgrill, have been closing.
Insiders say middle-of-the-road restaurant concepts that branch out as small chains after finding success in the suburbs — American Tap Room would be one example — are particularly vulnerable. Drawn to Clarendon by allure of the area’s young, affluent potential customers, they find that consumers have tastes more in line with D.C. than Fairfax County.
“I think the mini-chains don’t realize this clientele is so used to D.C. and big city ideas,” said one industry insider. “In a town far out it would probably do well, but people here want something different.”
There’s also the issue of quickly-changing consumer habits — the reason why the once-hot frozen yogurt and cupcake shops have been whittled down to one survivor apiece in Clarendon.
Still, neither explanation would apply to Pete’s, which originated in D.C., or Fuego, which was launched in Clarendon by savvy, successful D.C. area restaurateurs. In the end, it might come down to supply and demand: too many restaurants in one place, not enough potential customers.
Multiple sources tell ARLnow.com that the bar and restaurant at 3101 Wilson Blvd is either set to close or, at least, give up part of its space for a new Verizon Wireless store. No timeline was given for when either might happen.
A local manager at American Tap Room told us that it’s not planning to close. The restaurant’s Reston-based parent company, Thompson Hospitality, did not return a call last week seeking comment.
In late 2014 we reported, citing commercial real estate sources, that American Tap Room was seeking a buyer to take over its large, pricy lease for space just across from the Clarendon Metro station. It has remained open since that report.
Hungry people looking for half-priced burgers at Thirsty Bernie (2163 N. Glebe Road) Monday night were met with disappointment and turned away by a sign on the door reading “Closed on short notice. Sorry.”
The sports bar and grill off of Lee Highway was only closed for the night and will be open tomorrow, said an employee. He declined to say why the restaurant was closed because the manager was not there.
There were at least five people milling about inside the restaurant last night, despite it being closed.
The closure comes amid rumors that changes are afoot at Thirsty Bernie. Two tipsers have told ARLnow.com that the neighborhood sports bar is changing management and its format.
“Thirsty Bernie… is abandoning the sports bar concept in favor of a ‘lounge’ theme,” a tipster said. Another tipster described the new format as a “nightclub.”
So far we have been unable to reach the restaurant’s owner for confirmation.
The weather should be absolutely perfect and both the Capitals and Wizards are still alive in the playoffs, regardless of the status of John Wall’s hand.
With our forums still dormant, we’re giving you, the readers, a chance to discuss everything and anything in Arlington in the comments section of this post. Hopefully you do it in between enjoying sunshine, warmth and the great outdoors.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Should you find yourself this weekend with something to say, or with some neighborhood news to report, let the comments section of this article be your replacement for our now-defunct forums.
Enjoy the weekend — and go Caps!
Video of ESPN reporter and WJLA alumna Britt McHenry’s dealings with Advanced Towing after her car was towed from the Hunan One parking lot in Clarendon earlier this month has been leaked.
LiveLeak, an open-source video sharing platform, published the video today, which was promptly amplified by the sports site Deadspin. McHenry can be seen and heard berating the towing lot’s employee, insulting her education, teeth and weight. During the video, the employee warns McHenry “I’ll play your video, so be careful.”
On April 6, McHenry tweeted that she was towed from Hunan One’s parking lot. When we asked for clarification, she said she had been eating dinner at the restaurant and therefore was legally parked and, apparently, improperly towed. McHenry has since taken down her initial tweet.
With that story, we asked readers if tow companies were doing their job or preying on their customers. Of the 2,740 poll responses, 2,298 — 83.9 percent — answered “They’re mostly shady predators out to make a buck.”
After the video went viral on the Internet this afternoon, McHenry tweeted an apology.
“In an intense and stressful moment, I allowed my emotions to get the best of me and said some insulting and regrettable things,” she said. “As frustrated as I was, I should always choose to be respectful and take the high road. I am so sorry for my actions and will learn from this mistake.”
In Britt McHenry’s defense, the advanced Towing people are the most revolting company. Cash only and they don’t make change.
— Tom Bridge (@tbridge) April 16, 2015
The thing is: they taunt you the whole time you’re there instead of just charging your card and letting you go.
— Tom Bridge (@tbridge) April 16, 2015
Have been towed 4x by Advanced Towing, all from my home lot where I have permit. They held car hostage, had no time to argue, paid $135 4x.
— Brad Dayspring (@BDayspring) April 16, 2015
@971theticketxyt if you've ever seen Advanced Towing and the way they operate, you'd think Britt didn't go far enough.
— Kevin H. Watson (@Kevin_H_Watson) April 16, 2015
An ARLnow.com reporter went to Advanced Towing’s lot in Ballston this afternoon, and was given an email address to contact the owner. The owner has not yet responded to our inquiry.
Warning: Explicit language
Some residents have contacted ARLnow.com, asking about a rumor that Starbucks is planning to open in the former Society Fair space in Penrose Square. Such a location would put it in direct competition with Rappahannock Coffee, the independent coffee roaster and cafe that has been open across the street since 2001.
(Development has been proposed that would force Rappahannock to close or move, although there have been few signs lately of it moving forward.)
A source with knowledge of commercial real estate discussions on the Pike confirmed that Starbucks is at least scouting for a location there.
“I know that Starbucks has been looking for a location on the Pike,” the source told ARLnow.com. “Some of the region’s best agents have been involved and as of last week, some are saying that Starbucks is considering a deal.”
“Penrose is looking for a national brand tenant for the [Society Fair] space but so are others too,” like 3400 Pike and the Halstead,” the source continued. “We have been hearing about imminent deals since November but… nothing materialized.”
We’re told by one restaurant employee that Jan. 31 will be its last day. A manager, when contacted by ARLnow.com, said “there’s been talk of it” but “we haven’t gotten any official word yet.”
The restaurant, owned by Polish company AmRest, was the third American location of a franchise that was popular in Europe, and was viewed as a harbinger for potentially hundreds of additional U.S. locations. In May, the Washington Business Journal reported those expansion plans were on hold, and theorized the Post’s review — which called La Tagliatella “a threat to our nation” and compared it unfavorably to Olive Garden — might have had something to do with it.
La Tagliatella had a planned location in the Village at Shirlington at the former Extra Virgin space, and still has signs up that say “coming soon,” but the manager we spoke to said those plans have since been scuttled.
(Updated at 5:20 p.m.) The Mothers of North Arlington — a support and social group for mothers in six Arlington ZIP codes with more than 2,000 members — is now facing competition from a group of former members.
MONA’s members have congregated since 2009 on a Yahoo! Group that today has 2,353 members. According to a tipster, MONA is switching over to a new web platform tomorrow, and the switch has already prompted enough opposition that the former MONA president resigned in May, claiming some members were using “hate speech” and “cyber-bullying” over the impending change.
Yesterday, some of MONA’s members decided that, instead of asking MONA to keep its Yahoo! Group alive, they would start their own. NAPping — short for North Arlington Parents — launched on Monday as a free group for North Arlington parents. So far, Yahoo! reports it has just shy of 150 members. In May, MONA had 2,615 members.
While MONA charges $40 in annual membership dues and restricts membership to residents of the 22201, 22203, 22205, 22207, 22209 and 22213 ZIP codes, NAPping is a free group. It was started after parents who didn’t want MONA to shift away from the Yahoo! Group all put their names into a Google Doc to split off.
Asked about NAP’s formation, MONA leaders took the high road, saying they welcomed the competing group.
“One thing this transition has shown us is the wide variety of needs, interests and priorities in the community as people seek parenting support,” MONA co-presidents Morgan Chinoy and M.K. Yeargin said in a statement to ARLnow.com. “We think it is a positive thing for the North Arlington community to have more than one parenting support organization to allow people to find what best suits their needs, whether it’s some, all or none of them. We look forward to a positive relationship with North Arlington Parents as we all work toward our common goal of supporting parents in our community.”
Photo via MONA
(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) says he “had to stand up for Arlington” this morning in his office with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) who rankled folks in Arlington over the line in her book calling the county a “soulless suburb.”
Warner wrote in a tweet “All is forgiven” and thanked Gillibrand for “being a class act.” He posted three photos, including one of him and Gillibrand holding an “Arlington, We Got Soul” T-shirt.
“Senator Gillibrand says she meant no offense,” Warner told ARLnow.com in an email, “and she certainly was a good sport about the whole thing.”
Warner Press Secretary Beth Wanamaker said Gillibrand came into their office “and was immediately apologetic to all of us. She said she had no idea that she would cause such a kerfuffle.”
The shirt is produced by Fairfax-based CustomInk, and it can be bought online here for $20 each. All of the funds from T-shirt purchases will go directly to the Arlington Food Assistance Center, per the T-shirt seller’s website.
Photos courtesy Sen. Mark Warner’s office
(Updated at 2:05 p.m.) A Ballston hot yoga studio sparked outrage Thursday by promoting a Sept. 11-themed sale and referencing conspiracy theories.
“9+11 = 20% OFF! PATRIOT DAY SALE on Bikram Yoga,” Bikram Arlington, located four miles from the Pentagon at 4509 5th Road N., tweeted Thursday morning.
Twitter users told the company they were appalled by the reference to the tragedy.
“Kind of disgusting to promote shop sales with a Sept. 11 discount. Shame on you, @bikramarlington,” user @Melissaeweiss wrote.
Courthouse resident Angela Herrick, 32, said a Facebook post from the yoga studio about the sale appeared alongside a post remembering her friend’s father, who was killed in the Pentagon.
“A tragedy like this should never be used to promote a business, period,” Herrick told ARLnow.com, noting she had frequented the studio since 2011. “I will not be returning, ever.”
Bikram Arlington then tweeted, “The goal was to point out what date it was and associate to patriotism and to remember it. Its [sic] a shame some of you go to the negative.”
“Apologies to anyone who is upset by it!” another tweet from the company said.
That tweet was was quickly followed by a suggestion to search 9/11 “truther” conspiracy theories.
“If you want to be upset, research the term ‘911 building 7’ and check the news because they are hearing ‘chatter’ about us getting hit again.”
The studio’s promotion page added more color on the deal: “Freedom Isn’t Free — And we intend to honor those patriots who have died for our country and morn [sic] the loss of freedom of speech and other rights that died day.”
Studio owner Zahra Vaezi, whose husband, Frank, wrote the tweet, told The Washington Post that she “didn’t realize people would be so ‘roar,’ you know?” over the promotion.
“It’s like that man who punched his wife,” she told the Post, referring to ex-Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. “I mean, that’s upsetting. But I think it kind of gets blown out of proportion.”
Multiple calls to the studio went unreturned.
@bikramarlington You demonstrate an incomprehensible lack of compassion—in the town of the Pentagon, no less. Hoping you learn & improve.
— David Panarelli (@dpan) September 11, 2014
— Ken Nisbet (@KenNisbet) September 11, 2014
Never forget! Or pay retail! Like Al Qaeda, our prices are insane!! MT @bikramarlington: 9+11 = 20% OFF! PATRIOT DAY SALE on Bikram Yoga
— Jason Stanford (@JasStanford) September 11, 2014
Maybe they are right. Maybe Arlington actually has no soul. pic.twitter.com/6kUrbhLfBs
— ᴩᴀɢᴇ (@DannyPage) September 11, 2014
(Updated at 9:50 a.m.) New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D) is no fan of living in Arlington, apparently.
In her new book, “Off The Sidelines,” which is due out today, Gillibrand recounts her move from New York to the D.C. area — to Arlington, specifically — when she was first elected to the House of Representatives. It was a move Gillibrand would come to regret.
From the book:
Our move to Washington was hard — on me and my marriage. I had a new job; [my husband] Jonathan didn’t; and we were trying to find our legs with a toddler in a new city. We started having the same argument over and over. I’d say, “What’s wrong?”
Jonathan would say, “I have no job and I hate D.C.”
I appreciated Jonathan’s viewpoint. We lived in a soulless suburb. It wasn’t the right place for us, and we needed a change. I could see that, but it took me at least a year to figure out that racing 100 miles an hour to do my job well was leaving no time for us… Eventually we moved from Arlington, Virginia, to Capitol Hill, and Jonathan found a job he liked.
Update at 6:00 p.m. — In a tweet, Gillibrand says she’s sorry.
Sorry, Arlington, didn't mean to hurt your feelings. #OffTheSidelines
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) September 9, 2014
Adams Morgan watering hole Black Squirrel may be coming to Rosslyn.
Leasing agents at the Sedona Slate apartment complex, on the 1500 block of Clarendon Blvd, have been telling prospective residents that Black Squirrel will be opening in a ground floor space at the building.
Black Squirrel bills itself as an “old-school neighborhood gastropub.” It boasts an extensive draft beer selection and a food menu that includes spruced-up versions of standard pub fare.
So far, no building permits can be seen on the windows of the would-be bar space. Reached by phone, Black Squirrel co-owner Tom Knott declined comment.
One business that’s confirmed to be coming soon to the Sedona Slate ground floor is Lava Barre, which was formerly located near Clarendon. Interior construction is underway on the future Lava Barre space and “coming soon” signs are posted on the windows. No word yet on an opening date.
The no-nonsense, cash-only deli has fascinated some locals with its irregular hours, its general lack of customers, and its ability to remain in business in a high-rent area. But the business may be closing soon after all.
The daughter of the older couple who own the deli has told friends that her parents will be shutting down the restaurant, perhaps by the end of the month, according to our tipster. The owners have simply decided to retire, we’re told.
An emailed request for comment was not returned.
Two weeks after the brouhaha over an ad in the Clarendon Metro station that told President Obama to “go to hell,” the County Board went into its closed executive session with a curious objective: to discuss “the county’s authority to regulate the content of advertising on Metro property.”
All we know about the discussion is that quote, read by County Board Chair Mary Hynes before adjourning the Board’s Tuesday afternoon meeting. The executive session is legally considered private and, reached for comment, a county spokesperson said they’ve been advised by the County Attorney to not discuss any details.
Even if the county can find the authority to regulate ads in Arlington Metro stations, though, there remains the question of whether removing political ads would be Constitutional. In explaining why it allowed the inflammatory “go to hell” ad, Metro issued the following statement: “WMATA advertising has been ruled by the courts as a public forum protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution, and we may not decline ads based on their political content.”