Arlington, VA

Delhi Club (1135 N. Highland Street) is under new management, and will soon take on a new name: Spice Kraft Indian Bistro.

For now, the change is unofficial and the restaurant continues to do business as Delhi Club, said general manager and co-owner Anthony Shankar. Delhi Club’s doors will reopen as Spice Kraft Indian Bistro by the end of the month, he said.

The restaurant in Clarendon will be the second location for Spice Kraft, which first opened in August 2019 in Alexandra’s Del Ray neighborhood, but had its grand opening this January. Like its approach to Delhi Club, Spice Kraft opened in the former Bombay Curry Company space.

Shankar said the owners of Spice Kraft and Delhi Club have a business relationship. When the Delhi Club owners decided it was time to close their restaurant, they approached Spice Kraft to see if they were interested in the spot, he said.

“They saw Spice Kraft has potential in Arlington,” Shankar said.

Shankar and fellow co-owners Helen Sanjjav and Prem Durairaj were planning to open the space before the pandemic started, but COVID-19 delayed the project from March through August.

Once regulations started easing up, the three got to work.

“We didn’t want to wait too long,” said Shankar, who managed Taaza, a popular Indian restaurant in Roanoke, for seven years before relocating to Alexandria to open Spice Kraft.

The owners have aspirations of Spice Kraft becoming a local chain, and intend to open two to three more locations in Northern Virginia after expanding to Clarendon.

Another nearby Indian restaurant, Delhi Dhaba, operates a few blocks down in Courthouse, but Spice Kraft will not be in direct competition with it, Shankar said.

“We see ourselves as classical and contemporary,” he said.

The menu is mostly the same across the two locations, but about one-quarter of the options are new, including some of the lunch fare, fusion dishes and rice bowls, Shankar said.

For example, Spice Kraft is serving up burgers with proteins such as chicken tikka, and the pre-plated rice bowls come with a protein, side, bread and salad for about $10.

Delhi Club opened in the early 2000s, but closed briefly during the summer of 2011 after a fire broke out.

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Amazon is continuing a string of local donations with a $1 million commitment to Arlington and Alexandria public schools.

The company’s million-dollar donation to schools in HQ2’s backyard follows a more than $2.5 million donation to schools near “HQ1” in the Seattle area.

The donations will go towards a “‘Right Now Needs Fund’ — a flexible fund designed to meet the basic needs of schoolchildren and help eliminate barriers to learning” during the pandemic, the company said.

“The Right Now Needs Fund in Northern Virginia will provide students with immediate access to urgently needed items including food, clothing, and school supplies across all 41 Arlington Public Schools and programs and all 18 Alexandria City Public Schools,” Amazon said on its Day One blog.

The fund is in addition to Amazon’s recent donation hundreds of wireless internet access devices and $75,000 towards headphones for Arlington students attending classes from home.

Arlington Public Schools’ Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer said the school system is “elated” by the gift and the impact it will have on students in need.

More on the fund, from the Amazon blog:

Site Coordinators and school social workers within each of the school districts and schools will work with families to identify individual student needs and request assistance from the Fund. Communities In Schools NOVA, leveraging existing relationships with both school districts, will distribute Amazon Education Assistance Product Vouchers – a prepaid payment designed specifically for education-related needs. Students and their families can redeem the vouchers for a wide variety of carefully curated items that students need to be successful at school, including food, school supplies for at-home learning, warm clothing, hygiene items, and more. By using the prepaid vouchers, students and families can redeem much-needed items in a dignified and convenient way.

“The start of this school year has been difficult for many families across our new home of Northern Virginia, and we are determined to provide support to the students who need it most,” said Jay Carney, Amazon Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs. “At Amazon, we are always looking for innovative solutions to tough challenges, and we are confident that the flexibility and speed built into our new Right Now Needs Fund will help ensure that more students from underserved communities can focus on their studies, and not fall behind as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.”

Amazon recently donated nearly 800 Mi-Fi devices and $75,000 to secure thousands of headsets for students across Northern Virginia starting the school year from home. In addition, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Amazon’s HQ2 region, Amazon donated $1 million to kick-start emergency response efforts, provided thousands of devices to groups supporting students in need, donated cash and in-kind products to local nonprofits and food banks, paid local restaurants to prepare and deliver 10,000 lunches and dinners for first responders, frontline healthcare workers, and vulnerable neighbors, and funded delivery services to provide more than 50,000 meals–60,000 pounds of food–directly to the doorsteps of local seniors and those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Amazon also donated $3.9 million to nonprofit CodeVA to help make virtual computer science curriculum and training available Virginia teachers and students so that they don’t fall behind in learning this increasingly important skillset. There are currently more than 50 schools and counting in the state of Virginia part of the Amazon Future Engineer program.

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Morning Notes

Restaurant Closes in Pentagon City — “Sad to report that A-Deli at ⁦@PentagonRow⁩ has gone out of business. Mr. Kapoor and his wife are great people. I hope they can rebound in a new venture.” [@CartChaos22202/Twitter]

Another Hazy Day on Tap — “It will be another day without much in the way of cloudiness. With at least some smoke likely to be in the air once again, highs will be held back somewhat, as readings will mainly reach the low and mid-70s.” [Capital Weather Gang]

Some COVID Tests Come With Steep Price — “When Lisa Robertson sought coronavirus testing for her college athlete daughter, a pediatrician recommended a small, independent pharmacy in Arlington, Virginia. Preston’s Pharmacy charged $35 to take a nasal swab specimen and sent it off to a lab, Principle Diagnostics, for quick results. The lab billed her insurance company $864 – more than eight times what the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reimburses for COVID-19 test.” [USA Today]

GOP Congressional Candidate Presses Case — “If you’re going to go down anyway, you might as well go down swinging. That seems to be the feeling of Jeff Jordan, the Republican nominee attempting to unseat U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th)… Jordan used a debate sponsored by the Arlington County Civic Federation to press his political philosophy. ‘I have fought socialism and tyranny my entire life,’ he told the online audience.” [InsideNova]

Marymount Rises in Rankings — “For the third consecutive year, Marymount University has risen in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges Rankings. After jumping more than 20 spots in last year’s list, Marymount is once again moving up among the Best Regional Universities in the South – now ranked at No. 31 in the region” [Press Release]

‘Space Jam’ Outdoors Tomorrow in Ballston — “Ballston Exchange will be hosting three separate movie nights on the Paseo in between 4201 and 4121 Wilson Blvd. One ticket is required for each group of four or less. Ticket includes a 6’x6′ feet picnic blanket and a $10 gift card to a Ballston Exchange retailer.” [Eventbrite]

Alexandria Architectural Board Disses Arlington — “‘They’re very nice buildings, but they don’t belong in Old Town,’ BAR member Lynn Neihardt said during the Sept. 2 meeting. ‘We’re getting buildings that don’t reflect the Old Town context at all under the guise of providing affordable housing… The buildings to me speak Ballston, Crystal City, but not Old Town.’ BAR member Christine Sennott underlined that point in saying: ‘This is Ballston. We don’t want to be Ballston.'” [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

County Board to Consider Bridge Pact — “The Arlington and Alexandria governments are planning to formalize their long-shared responsibilities for maintenance of five bridges that span Four Mile Run between the two communities. The new agreement sets out the share of funding for future short-term and long-term rehabilitation of the five bridges – at West Glebe Road, Arlington Ridge Road, Shirlington Road, Route 1 and Potomac Avenue – as well as maintenance costs.” [InsideNova]

Meal Donation to Hospital — Per a spokeswoman: “At 12:45 p.m., roughly 1,500 meals from local restaurants will be delivered to Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington as part of a 9/11 Day and World Central Kitchen initiative to support first responders and frontline healthcare workers on the 19th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The local restaurants participating in the delivery to Virginia Hospital Center are Arepa Zone, La Ceiba and Bistro Bis.”

Board to Vote on ART Facility Contract — “The Arlington County government is moving forward with planning for reconstruction of its Arlington Transit (ART) operations and maintenance facility, located on Shirlington Road in the Four Mile Run/Green Valley area. County Board members have been asked to approve a contract of roughly $3.9 million for planning, design and construction-administration services for the $81 million project. Stantec Architecture is receiving the contract.” [InsideNova]

Local Bars Welcome NFL Season — “‘We’re delighted to have live sports back,’ said Dave Cahill, general manager of Ireland’s Four Courts in Arlington, Virginia. ‘We’re fortunate here at the Four Courts; we have three different rooms, and we have a large outdoor area. So we have 18 televisions inside and three TVs outside. Having three rooms, it’s going to allow us to spread people out all over the rooms, 6 feet apart and still enjoy the football,’ he said.” [WTOP]

GOP Senate Candidate Addresses Civ Fed — “His longshot candidacy notwithstanding, Daniel Gade received a polite reception from delegates to the Arlington County Civic Federation. ‘I’m the sort of person who will always tell you the truth,’ the Republican U.S. Senate nominee said at the Sept. 8 event. His opponent, incumbent Democrat Mark Warner, was invited but did not attend the forum, convened online due to the public-health pandemic.” [InsideNova]

County Encourages Local Hotel Bookings — “For most of us with out-of-town family and friends, it’s been far too long since we’ve been able to get together. And with safety being everyone’s top priority, you may not be comfortable yet hosting guests in your Arlington house, condo or apartment. With plenty of space, great fall deals and packages, and an array of enhanced health and safety programs, Arlington’s 44 hotels can offer the ‘spare bedroom’ for your visitors this fall.” [Arlington County]

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(Updated at 1:15 p.m.) There’s good news and bad news when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic in Arlington.

The bad news is that the rate of new cases reached a fresh two-month high over the weekend. On Saturday, the seven-day trailing total of new cases reached 156, the highest point since June 2, as the county came down from the peak of its epidemic.

As of this morning, that seven-day total has dropped to 146, with 14 new cases reported overnight, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

Also over the weekend, the state as a whole hit a new peak in cases, with 1,307 new cases reported throughout Virginia on Saturday

In Alexandria, Arlington’s neighbor to the south, there are concerns about a virus resurgence.

The president of Inova Alexandria Hospital told our sister site ALXnow that hospital teams are “exhausted” and “burned out” from treating COVID-19 patients.

In Arlington, however, hospitalizations remain low. In fact, there has only been one new reported COVID-related hospitalization in the county over the past week. The cumulative total of hospitalizations — currently 437 — has risen by only 41 over the past two months.

In his latest weekly Facebook post, Virginia Hospital Center emergency room chief Mike Silverman said the hospital is not seeing the level of seriously ill patients it once did.

“Our data continues to look good. Our percent positive rate within the hospital remains low and the number of patients we’re evaluating who require our ‘COVID isolation’ status dropped to the lowest number this past week that we’ve seen in months,” he wrote. “We are caring for COVID patients every day, but I’m not seeing any indication this past week that makes me think next week will be a lot worse. Something to watch.”

There are concerns, however, that the seeds of a fall epidemic are being planted by young restaurant- and bar-goers.

Last week DCist reported that contact tracing in the District has revealed an “increasing number” of coronavirus patients had dined at restaurants. Ten percent had also recently traveled.

In Arlington over the weekend, social media was abuzz with images from Clarendon, where large crowds lined sidewalks waiting for entry into popular nightlife venues, like the outdoor beer garden The Lot, flouting a recently-passed emergency ordinance requiring more distance between those queuing up.

Despite worries about the crowds, many experts say outdoor activities in general are considerably safer than indoor activities, including dining.

“We have very little evidence of outdoor transmission. It’s not zero — there are definitely cases reported — but it’s much, much lower than inside,” Gretchen Snoeyenbos Newman, an infectious-disease physician at the University of Washington, told the Washington Post in June.

https://twitter.com/SunniAndTheCity/status/1292291142571220992

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Arlington County and the City of Alexandria are applying for a pair of grants that would bring significant changes to the Mt. Vernon Trail and a portion of King Street near Fairlington.

The county and the city are supporting each other’s grant applications to the Virginia SMART SCALE transportation funding program.

Alexandria is asking the Commonwealth for up to $40 million for what it calls the Upper King Street Multimodal Improvement project. The project “would fund design, right-of-way and construction of traffic/multimodal and streetscape improvements along King Street (VA 7) between Quaker Lane / Braddock Road and Menokin Drive,” adjacent to Arlington’s Fairlington neighborhood.

The car-oriented stretch is nonetheless a key pedestrian connection between Fairlington and the Bradlee Shopping Center. It has seen a number of significant crashes over the past few years.

“Today, there is a significant lack of multimodal facilities, contributing to safety needs along this corridor,” notes a county staff report, attached to a resolution supporting the application which will be considered by the Arlington County Board this weekend.

Also this weekend, the Board will consider its own SMART SCALE application, which asks for $20 million to widen and reconstruct 6.5 miles of the Mt. Vernon Trail between Roosevelt Island in Arlington and Jones Point Park, at the bottom of the Beltway, in Alexandria.

More from another county staff report:

This project would provide funding to the National Park Service (NPS) to improve and reconstruct approximately 6.5 miles of the Mount Vernon Trail in Arlington and Alexandria, from Roosevelt Island to near Jones Point Park. A portion of the 6.5 miles is within the District of Columbia; the SMART SCALE application is only for the portion in Virginia, with the District of Columbia portion funded separately. The National Park Service (NPS) will manage the project across all jurisdictions. The project widens the trail’s paved surface from between seven and eight feet to 11 feet where feasible, and makes other associated improvements including striping center and edge lines, signage, improved bridges, and realigned trail intersections. On June 23, 2020, the Alexandria City Council approved a resolution of support for Arlington to submit one project application for the trail portions in Virginia.

A recent National Park Service report recommended a widening of the trail due to heavy use and crash risks.

The county is also asking for $29.1 million in SMART SCALE funding to build two new street-level elevators to the Courthouse Metro station, including a replacement of the existing elevator.

The staff report, however, notes that the odds of any project being funded are relatively low.

“For this round’s pre-application cycle, 484 pre-applications were submitted for a total project cost of $7.5 billion, with nearly $3.1 billion in costs attributable to the VDOT Northern Virginia District,” county staff wrote. “Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately $700 million to $800 million in funding statewide was expected to be available for award in this round of SMART SCALE.”

“Generally, large projects that expand highway or transit capacity score well, with smaller projects scoring less well, but remaining competitive due to their comparatively lower costs,” the report adds.

Both the resolution and the application authorization are on this Saturday’s County Board agenda.

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This weekend, Calvary United Methodist Church in Aurora Highlands is holding a “Stuff the Truck” donation event to collect food for the Chirilagua neighborhood in Alexandria.

The community — also known as Arlandria — has faced disproportionately high numbers of COVID-19 positive patients, as have Latino and Hispanic communities in Arlington and throughout the region.

Local nonprofits have worked to get food and other emergency supplies to hard-hit Chirilagua.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many in the Chirilagua neighborhood are experiencing hardship from job loss, sickness, and food insecurity,” Calvary UMC said in a media advisory. “Recent data revealed that over 40% of Chirilagua residents are unemployed and, in mid-May, over 55% of COVID tests taken by community members living in Chirilagua were positive.”

This Saturday, June 6, Calvalry UMC is hosting a donation event at the church (2315 S. Grant Street) from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. to fill a 20-foot truck with items most needed by Chirilagua residents and families.

“To participate, donors can come to Calvary UMC and bring donated food and supplies to place in the truck,” the church said. “Items needed most are shelf-stable foods such as rice, beans, canned food and cornflour.”

The event is the latest in a series of fundraisers and food drives for the church to support the Chirilagua community. So far, the church says it has raised $24,000 of its $25,000 goal. The church plans to make an additional $15,000 pledge to bring the total to at least $40,000, the church said.

“Donors wishing to make a financial contribution to MISSION:COVID can donate at the event or through the Calmeth.org website,” the church said, “or text GIVE to 703-936-2684 and select MISSION:COVID from the menu.”

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Morning Notes

Black Lives Matter Live Chat with ACPD — “Yolande Kwinana will interview Chief Jay Farr and Andy Penn on the current situation regarding police brutality and what ACPD is doing to protect the Arlington African American people. I encourage Arlingtonians to send in questions during the live and in the discussion tab before the live chat.” [Facebook]

N. Va. Unemployment Rate Rises — “Northern Virginia’s unemployment rate hit 10% in April as business shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic ricocheted through the economy. A total of 163,158 Northern Virginia residents were unemployed and looking for work during the month, the Virginia Employment reported Wednesday.” [InsideNova]

Nearby: Movie Theater Unlikely to Reopen — “The Regal Potomac Yard movie theater appears to have shown its last picture. Regal Cinemas has scrubbed the 16-theater multiplex at 3575 Potomac Ave. from its list of Virginia locations on its website. Couple that with the fact Virginia Tech and JBG Smith Properties plan to redevelop the North Potomac Yard site on an accelerated timeline, it’s likely the theater showed its last film months ago.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

Another Celeb Backs Ballston-Based Hungry — “Arlington catering platform Hungry Marketplace has raised $20 million from actor Kevin Hart, former Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb and others to fuel a 23-city expansion as the company’s revenues grow into the tens of millions of dollars.” [Forbes, Washington Business Journal]

Public Meeting for Athletic Field Feedback — “Help Arlington County ensure its athletic fields are utilized effectively and efficiently… Whether you play on an organized team or enjoy one of our many fields for casual recreation, share your thoughts and help us determine community needs.” [Arlington County]

Nearby: Region’s First Coronavirus Cases — “Maryland’s first three cases of coronavirus disease are Montgomery County residents who took an international trip together, Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday. He said he has declared a state of emergency for Maryland, which has been preparing for the first cases of the disease.” [Bethesda Beat, WTOP]

Nearby: New Inova Facility Near Potomac Yard — “Inova Health System plans to open a new health care facility on part of Oakville Triangle, giving another try to the 13-acre site on Richmond Highway in Alexandria across from a planned Virginia Tech campus and a short distance from Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

Lane Closures Near Ballston — Sewer relining work is closing the right-hand lane of portions of Fairfax Drive and Wilson Blvd in the Bluemont neighborhood, near Ballston. [Twitter]

Arlington’s Young Population Drives Trends — “One of the reasons Virginia’s Arlington County is consistently rated highest for health and fitness is because of its young demographic. Take Ballston, for example, where 47.7% of the adult population is between 25 and 44 years old.” [WTOP]

Courthouse Metro Rescue Makes National News — “We would like to thank @ABCWorldNews for broadcasting our rescue of a @wmata rider last Friday. The patient is in stable condition. If you find yourself on the tracks and are unable to exit, roll towards the platform side to the area of refuge.” [Twitter, ABC News]

Fort Myer Gate Temporarily Closed — “Attention DoD ID card holders: @JBMHH’s Old Post Chapel Gate that provides entry onto the base from Arlington National Cemetery will be temporarily closed beginning today through the end of April for construction.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Nearby: Proposed Arlandria Redevelopment — A “D.C. developer filed preliminary plans with Alexandria earlier this month for the project, looking to completely overhaul a Mount Vernon Avenue shopping center near Four Mile Run Park, now called Del Ray North. It’s currently home to a MOM’s Organic Market, but has seen a variety of retail vacancies recently.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

Thieves Hit Three Local Car Dealerships — A group of thieves stole a dozen cars from three car dealerships in Arlington. Some of the thefts were caught on surveillance video. In one instance, five vehicles were damaged as the thieves made their getaway. [WJLA, Arlington County]

Some Amazon Neighbors Wanted More — “Amazon.com Inc. easily won approval this weekend to start work on its first new HQ2 construction in Arlington, yet many of the company’s new neighbors remain exasperated over the benefits the community will receive… Though Amazon’s proposed investments may seem substantial, some people residing close Met Park feel that these benefits will inevitably fall short in mitigating the impacts of the construction.” [Washington Business Journal]

Spotted: Albino Squirrel — An albino squirrel was caught on video in Arlington’s Waverly Hills neighborhood. [Facebook]

Accounting Firm Touts ‘Zero-Waste’ Office in Rosslyn — “Grant Thornton LLP has consolidated its workforce in the Washington, D.C., area in the firm’s MetroDC office – its first zero-waste office in the country. The office, located at 1000 Wilson Blvd in Arlington, unites staff from other Washington-area locations and is the firm’s largest, by headcount, in the United States.” [Grant Thornton]

Nearby: Alexandria Bans Scooters from Sidewalk — The Alexandria City Council has voted to ban electronic scooters from sidewalks across the city. [ALXnow]

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