The second season of the Real Housewives of Potomac is promising all sorts of drama, including a storyline about Oz restaurant in Clarendon.
The restaurant, which opened in 2015, is apparently not living up to the expectations of co-owner Michael Darby, according to a teaser video released by Bravo.
“The restaurant, it’s not doing well as I’ve hoped,” Darby says to his wife and fellow co-owner, Ashley Darby. “We need to sort it out.”
(ARLnow.com happened upon the filming of the scene, which took place on June 22, 2016.)
Despite moderately positive reviews, Oz — which serves Australian cuisine — has appeared to struggle to fill its large dining area most days of the week.
The second season of “RHOP” premieres April 2.
A D.C. restaurant known for steak frites and “secret sauce” might open a new location in Virginia Square.
But a tipster may have solved the mystery while touring an apartment building. Medium Rare is looking to open its restaurant in a retail space at the Latitude apartment development at 3601 Fairfax Drive, across from the Virginia Square Metro station, the tipster says he was told during the tour.
Though a visit to the apartment complex yesterday revealed little evidence that a new Medium Rare was on the way, the company seemed to confirm the opening in a brief correspondence.
When asked when a Virginia Square location might open, a representative for the eatery responded “likely early 2018.” The representative didn’t respond to additional requests for comment, however.
Medium Rare currently has two locations on Barracks Row and in Cleveland Park in the District.
Hat tip to Craig Wasilewsky
Duane “Dog” Chapman visited Don Tito (3165 Wilson Blvd) in Clarendon over the weekend.
The bounty hunter and reality show star stopped by the restaurant on Saturday and ordered a plate of fajitas for lunch, we’re told. After chowing down, but before riding away in a black SUV, Chapman posed for a couple of photos.
Chapman was in town with his wife, Beth, attending presidential inauguration events. Beth Chapman, who is politically active as president of the Professional Bail Agents of the United States, donated to the campaigns of both Hillary Clinton and President Donald Trump.
By all indications, it looks like 2017 will be an eventful year in Arlington.
Between the new administration, new buildings, new projects, a potentially interesting local election and other changes, there is plenty to talk about.
We’ve taken seventeen local topics that we feel we know a thing or two about and have made predictions — some bolder than others — on what will happen in 2017.
Have some of your own predictions — perhaps on topics we didn’t cover, like Metro or schools? Air them out in the comments.
1. Economics. Despite concerns about a shrinking government under Trump, barring an unforeseen event 2017 will turn out to be a good year economically for Arlington. The broader economy will be growing and that will bring more private sector jobs to Arlington. An increase in infrastructure and defense spending would also be a boon to the local economy.
2. Restaurants. The pace of new restaurant openings in Arlington will slow to a crawl, as only a few notable restaurants are in the pipeline at the moment. This follows a period of rapid restaurant expansion in Arlington during the Obama years. Don’t blame the new president, blame restaurant oversaturation. But the lack of openings, combined with a continued cull of weaker restaurants, will have a net positive effect on the survivors, many of which are just barely squeaking by. Diners won’t have as many shiny new restaurants to try and will instead increasingly appreciate those we already have.
3. Protests. In Arlington, progressive activism will gear up as an erratic president pushes policies, initiatives and viewpoints that Democrats find intolerable. Although Trump will go against his own party at times, that won’t quell growing progressive discontent. Expect to see more protests in the streets, including in Arlington.
4. Rosslyn. The opening of the Central Place project will transform Rosslyn from a massive construction site to an increasingly modern “downtown,” with the welcome addition of some new trendy restaurants and cafes. CEB, the main tenant in the new Central Place office building, was just acquired by Gartner. We hear that CEB is staying but could Gartner, which is located in a decidedly Millennial-unfriendly suburban office park in Stamford, Connecticut, choose to move to Rosslyn to join its new acquisition? The company already has an office in Ballston.
5. 1812 N. Moore. Also in Rosslyn: at long last, more than three years after first opening, one of the most prominent buildings in the Arlington skyline will be getting its first tenant. In fact, the 35-story office tower at 1812 N. Moore Street might get its first tenants, plural.
6. Homeownership. The American dream of homeownership remains unattainable for many in the Millennial generation who have made Arlington their home. While it might not register significantly in demographics, older Millennials — young couples and families in their 30s — will increasingly be moving out of Arlington to more affordable locales… or out of the Washington area entirely.
7. YIMBYism. Frustration with high housing prices may breed YIMBYism in Arlington. A movement in New York City and San Francisco, YIMBYism says “Yes In My Backyard” to new housing, countering anti-development “NIMBYism” that is prevalent in the D.C. area. Look for organized YIMBYism to gain some sprouts of support in Arlington from those who want more townhouses and family-sized condos on the market.
8. County Board. Jay Fisette is expected to announce next month whether or not he’s running for reelection. Colleagues say even they do not know what he will do; we give even odds to either choice. If Jay does not run, look for the political return of former County Board candidate and Planning Commission Chair Erik Gutshall. Another name mentioned as a potential contender: Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt.
9. School Board. James Lander will face a primary challenge in this year’s School Board race.
That certainly seems like the implication of a cryptic series of early morning tweets from the restaurant’s Twitter account.
The steakhouse hinted that it’s bringing something to Arlington “in [the] next few months.” Asked by ARLnow.com for additional information, the restaurant replied, “not yet.”
Noted for its simplicity, moderate prices, selection of sauces and crowd-pleasing desserts, Medium Rare currently has two locations in the District: on Barracks Row and in Cleveland Park.
Arlington VA, Guess what….#secretsauce might be closer then you think in next few months !!
— mark bucher (@MediumRareDC) October 25, 2016
Hey Arlington VA, are you ready for some #secretsauce?….
— mark bucher (@MediumRareDC) October 25, 2016
@ARLnowDOTcom not yet ;)…
— mark bucher (@MediumRareDC) October 25, 2016
— snack decision (@snackdecision) October 25, 2016
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