Arlington, VA

Gov. Ralph Northam announced today that he is easing some public health restrictions, including the 10 p.m. curfew on alcohol sales.

Effective March 1, Virginians will be able to buy and drink alcohol at restaurants, food courts, breweries, distilleries and wineries until they are required to close at midnight.

The changes to the current executive order come amid declining rates of hospitalizations and infections and rising vaccination rates in the Commonwealth, Northam said during a press conference this morning (Wednesday).

Northam is also easing restrictions for outdoor entertainment and social gatherings, where evidence shows the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19 is lower, as well as allowing overnight summer camps to open “with strict mitigation measures in place.”

“Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of all Virginians, hospitalization and positivity rates across the Commonwealth are the lowest they have been in nearly three months,” Northam said in a press release. “As key health metrics show encouraging trends and we continue to ramp up our vaccination efforts, we can begin to gradually resume certain recreational activities and further reopen sectors of our economy.”

He attributed the rise in cases over the winter to cold weather and the holidays.

In Arlington, the rate of new coronavirus cases dropped from a peak of around 850 cases per week since mid-January, but has since leveled off between 250-300 cases per week. Cases have similarly dropped nationwide, but that drop has been leveling off.

Meanwhile, Virginia’s Safer at Home strategy — and its accompanying requirements for physical distancing, mask-wearing, gathering limits and business capacity restrictions — will remain in place.

“Even as we take steps to safely ease public health guidelines, we must all remain vigilant so we can maintain our progress — the more we stay home, mask up, and practice social distancing, the more lives we will save from this dangerous virus,” Northam said.

The current modified Stay at Home order will expire on Sunday.

Several Arlington restaurants have told ARLnow that they were waiting on a decision about the Stay at Home order before making plans for March, a month that includes St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness basketball and other events that are traditional draws for local bars.

The full press release from the governor’s office is below.

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A month after Shirlington Village first allowed it, “sipping and strolling” is now permitted at Pentagon Row.

The shopping centers, owned by Bethesda-based Federal Realty Investment Trust, both applied for new Virginia ABC “Commercial Lifestyle Center” permits earlier this year. Pentagon Row’s permit was just approved.

The permit, which was enabled by a new Virginia law that went into effect on July 1, allows customers to take beer, wine and cocktails to go within a privately-owned shopping center. In the case of Pentagon Row, patrons can buy the drinks at any of a half dozen restaurants, then enjoy them while strolling around the recently-opened ice skating rink or other parts of the retail district.

It’s kind of like Bourbon Street, but colder and with fewer beads.

FRIT said the permit approval “further supports Arlington businesses in the neighborhood.”

The company posted the following FAQ about the permit approval.

Can I carry an alcoholic beverage around Pentagon Row?
Enjoy alcoholic beverages to go from Asia Bistro, Basic Burger, Bund’Up, Wild Tiger, Saigon Saigon and Sin’ E Irish Pub and stroll throughout the designated common areas and participating stores at Pentagon Row. (You must be 21+). Please keep the beverage in a disposable cup provided by the restaurant where the drink was purchased.

Where to Sip & Stroll?
You can now roam with your cocktail on the main pedestrian walkways throughout Pentagon Row. Click here for a map of the specific designated areas. Alcohol not permitted in any parking lot or garage.

Can you bring your own alcohol to Pentagon Row?
No. Only alcoholic beverages purchased from Asia Bistro, Basic Burger, Bund’Up, Wild Tiger, Saigon Saigon and Sin’ E Irish Pub may be taken outside the restaurant and into the neighborhood. No outside alcohol is permitted.

Can I take my drink into a store while shopping?
Yes, apart from the stores that prohibit alcoholic beverages inside. If you see a sign on the store that reads “Sip & Shop”, you may enter that store with your alcoholic beverage.

Can you take a drink purchased from Asia Bistro, Basic Burger, Bund’Up, Wild Tiger, Saigon Saigon and Sin’ E Irish Pub into another restaurant?
No. You are welcome to Sip & Stroll to your heart’s content, but if you want to stop for a snack or a second beverage, you cannot take that same cup back into the restaurant where it was purchased or into any other restaurants. If you order a second beverage, the restaurant will provide you with a new cup.

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Virginia is getting several new coronavirus-related restrictions after the weekend, as the upward trajectory of new cases and hospitalizations continues.

Gov. Ralph Northam made the announcement Friday afternoon.

“COVID-19 is surging across the country, and while cases are not rising in Virginia as rapidly as in some other states, I do not intend to wait until they are,” Northam said. “We are acting now to prevent this health crisis from getting worse.”

“Everyone is tired of this pandemic and restrictions on our lives. I’m tired, and I know you are tired too. But as we saw earlier this year, these mitigation measures work. I am confident that we can come together as one Commonwealth to get this virus under control and save lives.”

The restrictions, detailed below, include slashing the maximum size of indoor and outdoor gatherings, reducing the age for the state’s mask requirement, and a 10 p.m. alcohol sales curfew at all restaurants and other dining and drinking establishments. The Commonwealth also plans to step up enforcement.

The new restrictions will take effect on Monday.

The rate of new COVID-19 cases continues to rise across the state. Hospitalizations also spiked by nearly 25% over the past week, InsideNova reported.

In Arlington, the average daily rate of new cases ticked down Friday, after reaching the highest point since the spring epidemic on Thursday. The seven-day rate of new COVID-related hospitalizations, however, rose to 15 on Friday, after 6 new hospitalizations were reported overnight.

The full announcement from the governor’s office is below.

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Morning Notes

Shooting Near Arlington Border — An early Sunday morning shooting that could be heard in parts of south Arlington “happened along the 3800 block of South George Mason Drive at approximately 1:19 a.m., according to Fairfax County police. Police said when they arrived at the scene, they discovered bullet casings but no victims. Shortly after, Arlington County police stopped a vehicle along I-395 and found a victim who had been shot in the abdomen and was trying to drive to a hospital.” [WTOP]

Purple Lounge Loses Liquor License Again — “The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority has temporarily suspended the alcohol licenses of the Purple Ethiopian Restaurant and Lounge, LLC after finding the establishment in violation of the terms imposed… on September 16, 2020. As a result of this action, the alcohol licenses of the Purple Lounge will remain suspended for a minimum of 10 days with reinstatement dependent upon approval by Virginia ABC.” [Arlington County]

Local Tourism Boomed in 2019 — “After a record-breaking 2018, tourism spending in Arlington rose to $3.6 billion in 2019, according to data released today by the Virginia Tourism Corporation. Arlington has led Virginia counties in visitor spending for 12 consecutive years, with local tourism in 2019 generating $97.8 million in local tax receipts… [but] early numbers for 2020 project a sharp decrease in tourism spending.” [Arlington County]

Those Darn Kids Are At It Again — “Certain mountain bikers have blazed new unauthorized trails down the historic hillock known for 300 years as Brandymore Castle. They’ve angered tree stewards and parks protectors who bemoan damage to plant life on that secluded tree-lined formation in Madison Manor Park… The problem, Allen said, is not that mountain biking is inherently bad, but that a few practitioners lack education in the environmental impact of their behavior.” [Falls Church News-Press]

National Landing = Copenhagen on the Potomac? — From a local cycling advocate, regarding the possibility of adding more cycling infrastructure around Crystal City and Pentagon City: “We can turn @NationalLanding into Copenhagen in one fell swoop if we want to.” [@CarFreeHQ2/Twitter]

Today’s a Holiday — As a reminder, ARLnow is on a limited publishing schedule today due to the federal holiday. Arlington County offices and facilities, however, are open. Trash and recycling are being collected, though metered parking is not being enforced.

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Campbell Avenue is turning into a mini Bourbon Street — in one respect, at least.

The main Shirlington drag is one of the places you can now take an alcoholic beverage to go from a local restaurant and consume it while walking around or lounging on a park bench.

The Village at Shirlington announced today that it has been approved for a “Commercial Lifestyle Center” permit from Virginia ABC, a new designation that went into effect July 1 after being approved by the state legislature. The permit allows consumption of beer, wine and mixed drinks in certain common areas of shopping centers and commercial districts.

Pentagon Row, which like the Village at Shirlington is owned by Bethesda-based Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT), has also applied for a sip and stroll permit, as has a portion of “National Landing” near Amazon’s new HQ2. This is the first publicly-announced instance of a Commercial Lifestyle Center permit being approved in Arlington.

“The COVID-19 epidemic has been hard on retailers and restaurants,” a FRIT spokeswoman said today. “The approval of the lifestyle permit helps to boost business in neighborhoods such as Village of Shirlington.”

The restaurants from which you can now take drinks to go are Aroma, Busboys & Poets, Cheesetique, Guapo’s, Palette 22, Samuel Beckett’s, and Taco & Piña, the spokeswoman said. In addition to alcohol consumption being allowed in common areas, two Shirlington stores are also allowing patrons to walk in with drinks in hand: Illusions of Shirlington and Dogma Bakery.

FRIT released the following Q&A with more information on how the new rules work.

Can I carry an alcoholic beverage around The Village at Shirlington?
Enjoy alcoholic beverages to go from Aroma, Busboys & Poets, Cheesetique, Guapo’s, Palette 22, Samuel Beckett’s, or Taco & Piña and stroll throughout the designated common areas and participating stores at The Village. (You must be 21+). Please keep the beverage in a disposable cup provided by the restaurant where the drink was purchased.

Where to Sip & Stroll?
You can now roam with your cocktail on Campbell Avenue, S. Randolph Street and the other pedestrian walkways throughout The Village. Click here for a map of the specific designated areas. Alcohol not permitted in any parking lot or garage.

Can you bring your own alcohol to The Village at Shirlington?
No. Only alcoholic beverages purchased from Aroma, Busboys & Poets, Cheesetique, Guapo’s, Palette 22, Samuel Beckett’s, or Taco & Piña may be taken outside the restaurant and into the neighborhood. No outside alcohol is permitted.

Can I take my drink into a store while shopping?
Yes, with the exception of the stores that prohibit alcoholic beverages inside. If you see a sign on the store that reads “Sip & Shop”, you may enter that store with your alcoholic beverage. The shops you are allowed to drink and shop are Illusions of Shirlington and Dogma Bakery.

Can you take a drink purchased from Aroma, Busboys & Poets, Cheesetique, Guapo’s, Palette 22, Samuel Beckett’s, or Taco & Piña into another restaurant?
No. You are welcome to Sip & Stroll to your heart’s content, but if you want to stop for a snack or a second beverage, you cannot take that same cup back into the restaurant where it was purchased or into any other restaurants. If you order a second beverage, the restaurant will provide you with a new cup.

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(Updated on 9/30/20) It’s not quite the full Bourbon Street experience, since you can’t drink them on the sidewalk, but you can now get frozen Hurricane cocktails to go in Courthouse.

Bayou Bakery (1515 N. Courthouse Road) is now serving carry-out Hurricanes in 16-oz pouches, the restaurant said in a press release. Also newly available frozen: The Dude, “a White Russian meets a Mudslide.”

The New Orleans-centric restaurant is also offering other cocktails “to geaux” in 16-ounce mason jars, including:

  • NOLA Swinger — “Grapefruit Juice, Honey, Rosemary, Jalapeño, and Bourbon”
  • Gator-Aid — “Sweet Tea, Lemonade, Mint Syrup, and Bourbon”
  • Milk Punch — “the quintessential brunch drink of Bourbon, Brandy, Cream, and Nutmeg”
  • Bayou Bloody Mary
  • Mimosa

Bayou Bakery closed to customers during the first few months of the pandemic, but chef and owner David Guas stayed busy preparing free grab-and-go meals for kids. The restaurant reopened in August after a COVID-conscious reconfiguration.

More on the new frozen drinks, from a press release:

Its as if the fabled corner of Bourbon & St. Peter was picked up from the French Quarter in New Orleans and plunked down at the intersection of N. Courthouse Road & 15th Street in Arlington, Virginia, the boozy libations are flowing freely and ready to roll. No, you’re not at Pat O’Briens, home of the Hurricane: this is Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery, where proprietor David Guas channels the spirit [and spirits!] of his hometown through every morsel and sip he serves. These days, he’s loaded the larder with his signature savories and sweets, and inundated the icebox with a new slew of alcoholic beverages that make his cheery establishment a one-stop depot for the complete “Big Easy” experience.

Stay chill with ice-cold Abita, PBR, Miller High Life, and White Claw — the popular spiked seltzer with lots of flavors… cocktails, from the Bayou Bloody Mary to the NOLA Swinger [Grapefruit Juice, Honey, Rosemary, Jalapeño, and Bourbon] to the ‘Gator-Aid’ [Sweet Tea, Lemonade, Mint Syrup, and Bourbon], will all transport you southward sooner than you can say “Cheers, Y’all!” A given is the Mimosa with a dose of daily squeezed Orange Juice and the Milk Punch, the quintessential brunch drink of Bourbon, Brandy, Cream, and Nutmeg that gets shaken and frothy to the final pour. A ‘select’ selection of wines pairs just to the right tasty notes for the New Orleans nibbles.

Two new frozen pours right out the slushy machine are now available… The Hurricane, the classic Bourbon Street concoction of fresh juices, simple syrup, and rum will blow your cares away. The Dude, a White Russian meets a Mudslide, is a nod to The Big Lebowski, a creamy blend of Half & Half, Vanilla Bean Syrup, Kahlua, and Espresso. The bigger, the better and the more, the merrier, now that Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery is pouring in bulk! You may not be able to drink on the street around here, but get that go-cup New Orleans experience with double to triple sized portions that are the best get yet!

Whether you linger on the patio for a front-porch ambiance, step it inside, or take your drinks ‘to-geaux’ Bayou Bakery has got the NOLA vibe that no other has ’round here!

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In two days, Montgomery County will start allowing alcohol consumption in select parks as part of a pilot program.

More from Washingtonian:

Beginning Thursday, September 24, alcohol consumption will be allowed in nine designated parks as part of a pilot program approved by the Montgomery County Planning Board on Thursday. It will run at least through May.

The change is one facet of the county’s “Picnic in the Park” initiative, which aims to bolster takeout business for nearby restaurants while providing venues for safe social distancing. The MoCo Eats website shows picnic-goers which restaurants will deliver to them, and each park has drop-off spots for drivers.

In Arlington, alcohol consumption is banned in parks, with the exception of serving beer and wine during permitted events in two parks: Rosslyn Gateway Park and Clarendon Central Park. On top of the restrictions, Arlington has a program called Park Safe in which repeat offenders of rules like the alcohol ban — often homeless individuals with substance abuse problems — can be temporarily banned from all county parks.

Montgomery County’s program is specifically aimed at boosting outdoor dining during the pandemic and does not legalize public intoxication. But it’s the latest example of how long-standing laws concerning where you can buy and consume alcohol have become malleable as a result of COVID-19, allowing restaurants to deliver cocktails and parking lots to turn into watering holes.

Arlington has thus far declined to close streets to give restaurants more room to seat diners outside, as D.C. is doing, but perhaps adopting Montgomery County’s new temporary park rules could be the thing to give local eateries a boost.

What do you think?

Courtesy photo

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Purple Lounge is resuming operations after reaching a settlement with Virginia ABC for the restoration of its liquor license.

Six people have been shot in violence linked to the business at 3111 Columbia Pike since last September, including a double shooting late last month and a triple shooting, in which one person was killed, in June. The continued violence, complaints from neighbors, and repeated code violations led Virginia ABC to suspend Purple Lounge’s license to serve alcohol earlier this month.

As a result of a settlement this week the business can resume serving alcohol — but with a number of restrictions.

The restrictions include “stopping all sales and consumption of alcohol at 12:45 a.m.,” “closure of the business no later than 1:00 a.m. and no reopening sooner than 8:00 a.m.,” and keeping four certified security guards on duty — including in the violence-prone parking lot — when the lounge is open at night.

In a press release Wednesday night, Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said the county would have preferred the business been fully closed by Virginia ABC. She noted that further violations, however, could result in a permanent loss of Purple Lounge’s ABC license.

More from the county press release:

Today, Arlington County officials were informed of a settlement agreement reached between the management of the Purple Restaurant and Lounge and the Virginia ABC. Arlington County is not a party to this settlement.

“We are very disappointed that ABC did not fully close or revoke the liquor license for The Purple Lounge.  We view the result in this matter as only a partial step towards ensuring our community’s safety, which is our primary concern,” Libby Garvey, Chair of the Arlington County Board noted. “The restrictions now in place, if followed, at least offer a path forward. The penalties for failure to adhere to the restrictions include permanent loss of licensure. Our police and public health officials will work closely with Virginia ABC to ensure that this settlement is strictly followed. Our staff will be conducting regular visits and monitoring activity inside and outside of the Purple Lounge to ensure full compliance.” Community members who observe behaviors believed to be outside of the negotiated agreement are urged to contact Virginia ABC or the Arlington County Police Department.

On September 1, following a series of disturbing events at the Purple Ethiopian Restaurant and Lounge (Purple Lounge), the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (“ABC”) issued an Order of Summary Suspension, temporarily suspending its alcohol licenses.

After an investigation, Virginia ABC cited two violations against the Purple Lounge relating to its failure to take reasonable measures to prevent violence on the property, and the Purple Lounge’s adverse effects on neighboring properties.  A formal hearing was scheduled to occur on September 16-17th regarding the status of the Purple Lounge’s liquor license as a result of these charges. Possible outcomes ranged from full reinstatement of the Purple Lounge’s ABC licenses, partial reinstatement of the Purple Lounge’s ABC licenses with restricted hours, or full revocation of the Purple Lounge’s ABC licenses.

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Morning Notes

Labor Day Closures — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020 for Labor Day.” Trash will be collected but parking meters will not be enforced. [Arlington County]

Library Buildings Remain Closed — “Even as neighboring Fairfax County is approaching the two-month mark for its reopened library system, Arlington officials appear in no rush to bring their library system more than marginally back to life. That means that while Arlington patrons will continue to have the chance to check out books online and pick them up at a central repository, they remain barred from visiting branches or wandering the stacks.” [InsideNova]

Bluemont BLM Protest Continues — “Father, in his red scooter, and son first rolled down the bike path to this corner in Arlington, Va., just after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. They’ve been back most weekdays since, more than 60 times so far, as demonstrators in Louisville and Atlanta marched for justice for Black Americans killed at the hands of police and protests surged following the police shooting of Jacob Blake last month in Kenosha, Wis.” [Washington Post]

Deep Dive Into New Bridge — “The preferred alternative would add a new two-track rail bridge north of the Long Bridge while retaining the existing bridge without modifications. The plan would cost approximately $1.9 billion. The existing span would retain its CSX ownership, and the new span would be Virginia’s.” [Greater Greater Washington]

MU Extends President’s Contract — “Marymount University’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted to extend the contract of President Irma Becerra by an additional five years to 2026. This action comes one year earlier than expected, as Board members felt strongly that due to Dr. Becerra’s significant accomplishments during her tenure, it was important to ensure her continued association with Marymount on a more accelerated timeline.” [Press Release]

Trump Boat Parade Planned — “A boat parade is planned in support of President Trump on Sunday on the Potomac River. According to a Facebook post from an entity known as “Liberty Rally,” boaters will gather just before 1 PM in the Wilson Bridge no-wake zone and then proceed up the Potomac.” [Washingtonian]

Kanye Booted from Ballot — “A Richmond Circuit Court Judge has ruled that rapper Kanye West will be removed from the ballot as a presidential candidate in Virginia. The decision came after an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case and Attorney General Mark Herring accused the West camp of acting fraudulently to get on the ballot.” [NBC 12]

Va. Booze Biz is Booming — “The Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Authority announced Wednesday retail sales of $1.2 billion in fiscal 2020 — a nearly $120 million increase from the previous year and the second year in a row the liquor monopoly surpassed $1 billion in sales.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

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(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) Purple Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge has had its permit to serve beer, wine and liquor suspended by the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority.

The nightlife venue at 3111 Columbia Pike was the scene of a double shooting over the weekend. A 33-year-old Maryland man, who was wounded by armed security guards after allegedly firing into a crowd in the parking lot, has been charged in the case.

Purple Lounge was also the scene of a shooting last September, in which a man was shot in the abdomen outside the venue. That and a myriad of complaints and violations led the Arlington County Board to revoke its live entertainment permit in December.

After the latest shooting, Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey told ARLnow that the county would “explore all the options” with respect to Purple Lounge. Today, the county announced the suspension of the ABC license in a brief statement.

Following a series of disturbing events associated with the Purple Ethiopian Restaurant and Lounge, LLC on Columbia Pike, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority issued an Order of Summary Suspension temporarily suspending its alcohol licenses effective September 1, 2020. Arlington County fully supports this action and will continue to work collaboratively with Virginia ABC throughout this process.

The incident on Sunday morning (Aug. 30) at the Purple Lounge is the latest in a series of disturbances associated with the establishment. The County Manager is working with the County Board to explore all the options available to us within and around the property.

Arlington County is a safe place to live, work and play, and we are committed to addressing problems that present potential threats to our public health and safety.

Virginia ABC’s summary of its decision to suspend the license contains additional details about the weekend shooting and another shooting earlier this summer.

The report says that a dispute between venue staff and a group of people who were denied entry into the lounge just before 5 a.m. on Sunday prompted one of the members of the group to pull out of a gun and start firing in the air. That, in turn, led to a security guard firing back, striking one person in the shoulder and grazing another’s neck.

The report also says that a previously-reported triple shooting in June along Columbia Pike was the result of a dispute that started at Purple Lounge.

“On June 28, 2020, there was an incident of gunfire where following an altercation inside the establishment the suspect drove away from the area and then fired a gun into the crowd in the parking lot of the business leaving two people injured,” Virginia ABC said.

Arlington County Police did not previously reveal that shooting’s connection with Purple Lounge. The ABC report does not reference the fact that a third person was shot and killed in a car during the incident, a crime for which two people were subsequently arrested.

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