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by Buzz McClain November 1, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

A Cleaning Service
Beatriz Sampaio, Owner
Phone: 703-892-8648
Email: [email protected]
http://www.acleaningserviceinc.com

Beatriz Sampaio came to the U.S. from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1985 after studying at a university there. After less than a year in the states, she and a friend-turned-business-partner acquired a house-cleaning company based in Arlington. The previous owner was looking to leave the business, and handed over the keys to Beatriz and her partner.

In the last 32 years Beatriz has seen the residential and commercial cleaning industry evolve. And over those years her own company, simply called A Cleaning Service, has evolved as well.

A Cleaning Service has been providing high-quality, competitively priced and diligently performed cleaning to residences and businesses in the Arlington and Washington, D.C., area for more than three decades. It’s a business that Beatriz has devoted her life to, but it was never her first idea.

Beatriz had no experience running a business but was eager to take on the challenge. She said she learned by working and watching.

“I was so young then, and so fresh,” Beatriz said. “I had the knack for it. I was born to be an entrepreneur.”

Part of that knack was having a competitive instinct and a flair for leadership. She empowers her more than 50 employees and gives them opportunities to grow. “I guide them so they can succeed,” she said. “We work as a team and work together. Some have been with me all 32 years.”

Their quality has been recognized as an Angie’s List Super Service Award Winner (2011-2016).

A Cleaning Service is independently owned and operated and is deliberately not a franchise. “I like being my own boss and I like being competitive,” Beatriz said. “And I’m very creative.”

In what spare time she has she enjoys listening to jazz and classical music, playing classical guitar, painting and solving math problems.

To reach Beatriz Sampaio to schedule service or arrange for an estimate, call 703-892-8648. See their website here.

by Buzz McClain October 17, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

After seven years, Fire Works American Pizzeria and Bar has gotten pretty good at the pizza side of the menu. What’s not to like? The wood-fired crust with the delightful savory char is the crispy thin bed for toppings ranging from Bakers farm sausage and grana padano to white sauce with shrimp and clams.

But in case you haven’t noticed, there’s another side to the menu. “That’s actually what we call it,” says Jason Silerto, the general manager of the Courthouse restaurant. “The Other Side of the Menu…We’re pretty confident that our pizza stands up to pretty much any place in the DC market,” he says. “But I think it’s time we reminded people we’re more than pizza.”

Regulars who frequent Fire Works are familiar with the pizza, the enormous patio and the pioneering craft beer selection, but less known–but just as demanding of attention–is Thomas Harvey, the chef Fire Works landed a little more than a year ago to bring attention to the Other Side of the Menu.

“It was a big step to bring him to Arlington,” Silerto says, mentioning Harvey’s experience working in the kitchens of Fabio Trabocchi (Casa Luca), Frank Ruta (Palena) and master butcher Nathan Anda (The Partisan). “But after seven years, we thought we could do a little more to bring in other folks looking for something besides pizza.”

The Other Side of the Menu boasts an array of Contemporary Seasonal American concoctions designed to suit any mood. It begins with “Snack,” small plates of starters such as bacon fat French fries with chili flakes, herbs and tomato jam or goat cheese stuffed lamb meatballs in tomato sauce; to “Bite,” more substantial offerings including, new this season, fire braised beef short ribs with local red corn grits or mussels in spice fra diavolo sauce; to “Feast,” satisfying portions of mainstays ranging from flank steak to wild caught salmon to an entrée sandwich of grilled gouda, goat and gruyere slathered with that tomato jam.

For those looking for more traditional bar fare, fear not: wings, burgers and salads co-exist with Harvey’s adventurous offerings and the enormous craft beer selection.

Ingredients are sourced from the closest purveyors possible, including fertile farms in Leesburg and Purcellville but also CommonWealth Joe Nitro Brewed Coffee from the neighborhood.

“We just believe in quality, and people like to see that,” Silerto says.

That quality extends throughout the Fire Works family of restaurants, including Leesburg landmark Tuskie’s, the sandwich bakery South Street Under and events-oriented Birkby House as well as Purcellville’s upscale Magnolias.

For those fixated on the Pizza Side of the Menu–and who can blame you?–the answer to the question is oak. That’s the wood that gets the stone-bottom oven to 600 degrees and provides the thin crust the smoky charm that has kept the crowds coming back to Courthouse’s largest patio for seven years.

Speaking of the patio, look for a new layout and new furnishings next spring.

There is a private dining room for holiday occasions that seats 35 (more if standing). Now is the time to book for the holidays. See here for information.

And here’s a scoop: Fire Works is going into the catering business. Plans are being finalized this month. Stay tuned.

Fire Works American Pizzeria and Bar is at 2350 Clarendon Boulevard. The website is here for booking a table or call 703-527-8700 for reservations.

by Buzz McClain July 31, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

On a recent Friday, part-time landlord Steve Rose had 20 possible tenants anxious to see his newly available apartment. But instead of spending the day showing the property and taking information on the visitors, he turned to a new Arlington business to do it for him.

Leaseably, Rose said, “had everybody scheduled, gave me a summary of all the applicants, did the background checks on them all and made it well worth the money.”

For Rose, a self-employed businessman with three investment properties, Leaseably listing services saved him time, effort and possible aggravation in finding a new tenant.

Finding tenants is just one of the services Leaseably offers. Leaseably is an Internet-based virtual assistant — with a staff of property management experts and Realtors behind it — that handles the copious details of property management for landlords, from dealing with calls requesting home repairs to finding the qualified and licensed repairmen to make them.

“A lot of people don’t want to sell their homes in Arlington, they want to rent them for a profit–with a property management company that offers quality and transparent services,” said Miriam Bolanos, who founded the company with her sister Brenda.

Traditional property managers can charge anywhere from 8 percent to 15 percent of the monthly rent charged to a tenant. That’s a deep cut into a property owner’s pockets.

“That model has to change,” co-founder Brenda Bolanos said. “Leaseably helps landlords rent and manage their rental properties with ease and confidence at a reasonable price without any hidden fees.”

Property owners such as Rose have found Leaseably to be agreeably inexpensive. He pays $70 a month to Leaseably for rental property concierge services to answer the calls from his tenants, to send reminders to collect the rent on time, to coordinate repairs, to keep track of expenses and to handle the various transactions that naturally accompany a monthly money-making endeavor.

“In my experience, a property management company takes up to 10 percent,” he said. “Why would I pay 10 percent? I would do it myself, but for $70 a month, I’ll let Leaseably do it.”

Leaseably has several sensible management plans to accommodate the property owner’s own involvement, but all of it with timely, efficient and courteous service to the tenant and the landlord.

Rose’s bottom line on the bottom line, echoed by others: “It’s been great.”

The preceding was a sponsored business profile. For information about Leaseably, visit the website here or call 1- (844) 571-EASE. The email address is [email protected].

by ARLnow.com Sponsor July 17, 2017 at 8:20 am 0

Beauty operators who need to develop a client base and gain valuable experience in order for their business to flourish are often at a loss.

Going out on their own is prohibitively expensive and a great risk for the professional if it does not work out as planned. Many professionals never obtain the income they truly need or desire.

Which is why Arlington’s Metropolitan Suite is such an innovative — and for many — an important idea: Beauty and wellness operators rent fully equipped booths in a professionally operated salon — operators at the Metropolitan Suite only pay for the time they use at the facility. Metropolitan Suite offers operators a way to make the money a salon owner or a long-term lease renter makes without the overhead or worry.

Since the operators book their clients at their own convenience and pay for only the time they are in the booth, there is no more wasting time waiting for walk-ins. The professional can pay by the hour, the day or by the week. Longer-term leases for salon space are available for those operators who have the clientele following needed to be successful.

The sleek, modern and impressively up-to-date “luxury beauty lounge” on N. Pershing Drive is welcoming and comfortable, offering everything an operator needs to perform full salon services to the public including unisex hair cuts color, hair texture alteration services and styling.

Other professionals that operate their business at the nonprofit Metropolitan Suite are skin specialist, make-up artists, nail technicians, full-body waxing techs and licensed massage therapists. It’s a full-service salon offering everything a day spa offers.

Kinite McCrae founder and Executive Director of the Reach Far Foundation, was wondering how opening a hair salon would fit into her organizations’ non-profit purpose and agenda. After much thought and endless hours of research, it was decided to make Metropolitan Suite a hub for creating scholarships for underprivileged youth living in the metropolitan area.

Each client visit to the salon and or when an operator reserves a station, they are not only benefiting themselves but they are participating in the support of others.

“We also rent rooms for people to teach classes, in techniques they specialize in,” says McCrae.

Those community-oriented entities intend to help young adults or those looking to change careers so they may have the opportunity to chase their dreams and or get through a post-secondary trade school, says McCrae.

Coming soon, the Metropolitan Trade Academy will offer courses  that lead to a license or instructor’s certificate in cosmetology, barbering or nails.

More information about Metropolitan Suite, located at 2300 N. Pershing Drive in Lyon Park, can be found hereThe phone number is 571-777-8878 and the email address is [email protected]New operators can apply at this site.

We’re real people, doing what we love. Providing beauty services and making a difference in the lives of others. Thanks to the Reach Far Foundation dba Metropolitan Suite.” — Nickie S., Salon Manager, Metropolitan Suite.

The preceding was a sponsored business profile written by Buzz McClain.

by Buzz McClain June 20, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

Managing a home improvement project, no matter what size, is a daunting prospect. You may have a vivid idea of how you want the rec room to look when it’s finished, but you have little to no idea of the labor, materials, equipment and time it’s going to take to complete the job to match your vision.

But the folks behind Step Up Services Inc. do. Northern Virginia-based Step Up Services is the rare project consultancy for everyday homeowners dedicated to taking the headaches out of your home improvement project.

Step Up Services is not a design-build company. They don’t have a vested interest in the cost of the project. They’re not “up-selling” you to add square footage or more expensive fixtures. That’s the “normal” way of doing business.

Step Up Services is disrupting that routine by providing third-party peace of mind.

No matter what the estimated cost of your home improvement project is, Step Up Services will charge you a flat fee — based on the level of consultancy you choose — to look at all the elements of your project and provided educated, experienced and unbiased answers to your questions, options and choices.

Remodeling a basement? Sounds like a job a contractor can knock out pretty quickly with minimum difficulty right? Before you sign on the dotted line for that $30,000 to $50,000 estimate — or up to $50,000 on a kitchen — spend $250 with Step Up Services to double-check the deal, including showing you how to avoid a contractor disaster by doing a thorough background check.

Do you have lingering questions about committing to spend thousands on that long-awaited second-floor pop up? Rest assured after a $250 project consultation with the pros at Step Up Design that you did the right thing and that the finished project will be exactly what you are paying for.

It’s best to consult with Step Up Services before speaking to an architect or contractor.

The answers you get from Step Up Services will catch expensive problems before they arise.

But if you already have a proposal in hand, Step Up Services can review the contracts and provide advice and guidance during the construction.

Arranging an appointment with Step Up Services is fast and easy through the website.

And if you don’t like the answers Step Up Services provides, they’ll offer a refund. Not many others in the home improvement supply chain can say that.

Step Up Services Inc. can be reached at [email protected] or 443-797-7050. The website is here: stepupservicesinc.com/services.

Sponsored business profile written by Buzz McClain.

by Buzz McClain June 13, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

“I love the work of helping a client in court.” says Arlington attorney and counselor at law William P. Robinson III.

That’s a good thing, for himself and his clients, because Robinson is very often in front of a judge, trying cases for his areas of practice, which include criminal and traffic offenses, family law and contract disputes.

“I’m in the ‘people problem’ business,” he says. “Since I’m a solo practice law firm, I’m the one who always handles the case directly — and the client deals only with me. My business number is my cell number so I’m easy to get a hold of.”

Robinson, a Ballston resident who has been practicing for almost a decade in Northern Virginia and D.C. and knows the lay of the land like the back of his hand, comes from a family of attorneys. And one major bit of wisdom he took to heart early was to be accessible, to put clients at ease with what they are going through.

When asked what he likes best about his chosen career, Robinson takes a moment to consider his answer. Finally he concludes, “On one hand I enjoy negotiation with the opposite party, and on the other I’m determined to win at trial.”

“But ultimately, I’m lucky to be able to work with people from all different backgrounds and problems in a fast-paced region, working to help them get the relief they are looking for.”

Robinson’s law practice includes criminal and traffic defense, family law, contract and lease negotiations, and civil litigation.

See William P. Robinson III’s website here. His phone number is 703-789-4800. His email address is [email protected]

The preceding sponsored post was written by Buzz McClain.

by Buzz McClain January 10, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

When we profiled Ed Snope’s Atlas Home Inspection company last year, we spoke with busy, all-business Realtors who count on Snope’s all-important reports to be thorough, accurate and on time in order to process Arlington real estate transactions.

Not only did he exceed his reputation for experience and knowledge of how a house is put together, the Realtors also praised his ability to communicate clearly exactly what the buyers and sellers were dealing with.

So we asked Snope to share with us some of his 30 years of experience in home and landscape construction and his four years as the sole proprietor of the bustling Atlas Home Inspection. We wondered what were 10 common findings in Arlington dwellings that he could share with us, explain why they are concerns and offer advice for improvement.

His answers may surprise you.

Outside

1. Mushroom-capped carriage bolts are popular as fasteners in deck construction as they are long enough to penetrate 4×4 footers and easy to use. However, holding up thousands of pounds of people and furniture on a deck is not what they should be used for. “Carriage bolts were developed to secure metal plates to wood beams,” he says. “The heads do not accept a washer. Lag bolts with washers, timber bolts and specialty fasteners and prefabricated metal connectors are available.”

2. Those flexible drainpipes taking water away from your house have ripples to increase flexibility. “But each one of those corrugations can hold enough water to breed tiger mosquitos,” Snope says. “And they tend to curl up at the end–creating a negative slope and holding water.” Smooth-walled pipe is not much more expensive but may require “a bit more labor to install.”

3. Mulch is often contaminated before it reaches the home. It can hide poor grading underneath, leading to water problems with the dwelling. “Mulch volcanoes” at the base of trees can damage plants if the mulch is excessive, and if you haven’t been hauling away the old stuff when topping off, you probably have too much. “It can cause bark rot and other moisture-related diseases,” he says.

4. That English ivy took a while to climb the side of the house, and it sure makes those Maywood bungalows look pleasingly vintage. But. “This is an invasive species,” warns Snope. “It offers little ecological value and is difficult to eradicate. It strangles native plants and trees, retains moisture (not good), harbors pests and mosquitoes and requires diligent maintenance.” It also damages siding and trim. Better choices are periwinkle or pachysandra.

5. When your neighborhood in invariably described as “leafy,” as most Arlington communities are, gutter covers sound like a reasonable solution to keeping leaves and sticks from clogging exterior drainage. Think again. “They are not maintenance-free and they typically increase roof runoff, especially on medium- to steep-pitched roofs,” Snope says. That increases the moisture around the house, leaving basements vulnerable. And debris still builds up under those gutter guards. Keep an eye on them, or upgrade to a far more expensive brand $25 a foot — that works slightly better.

Inside

6. If the dryer is in the basement what is dryer lint doing collecting on light switches two floors up? “Leaky ducts release lint into the home, often pulled into the HVAC system. Dryer lint can build up inside the clothes dryer, in the exhaust duct, in the exhaust vent or inside the building,” says Snope. “Flexible foil duct is easily compressed and tends to trap lint.” And this is bad why? “Lint buildup increases drying time, uses extra electricity, can damage equipment, and can become a fire hazard.”

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by Buzz McClain September 19, 2016 at 8:45 am 0

Dog Paws 'n Cat Claws Pet Care

This was never the plan.

To be the owner of a cutting-edge, full-service, self-designed, 7,000-square-foot pet care facility in Bailey’s Crossroads with some 50 employees was not what Ryan Fochler envisioned when he started out simply walking other people’s dogs as a part-time job.

But now the dog walking job has grown to become Dog Paws ‘n Cat Claws Pet Care, offering a full range of pet care services 365 days a year and accumulating reams of kudos from satisfied pet owners, many who have been returning for a dozen years or more.

“It’s pretty cool to have great customers for as long as I have,” said Fochler, who took over the business in 2004 (it was established in 1999).

To make sure his clients and their pets get the best treatment, Fochler stays current on best practices in pet behavior and management through regular consults with his wife, Katie Holloran, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

He has found that this knowledge helps many dogs that have had trouble in other daycare settings. He designed the Dog Paws Bailey’s Crossroads facility to ensure that all dogs could be successful through more efficient and supportive processes and logistics.

And while that important service has made a significant impression, the bulk of the business is dedicated to those already domesticated dogs that just need walking, grooming, boarding, day-care and in-home pet sitting. Adoption services are also available.

The convenience factor of in-home pet sitting for dogs and cats cannot be understated in the D.C. metro area, a region in which residents often have to leave town for short periods, very often with short notice. And for those clients who require boarding for extended stays, Fochler said that’s where his and his staff’s training comes into play.

“In general, when you give a pet what it needs in a happy healthy environment, it will be more likely to be successful.” Playtime, regular walks, socialization, feeding, medications (if needed) and personalized attention from skilled staff are all included services in the daycare and boarding fees at Dog Paws, not specialty add-ons.

Despite the longevity of the business, Fochler said they’re continually improving their services, responding to changing needs organically. “A lot of great systems we have in place now around here happened by chance,” he said with a laugh.

He is most proud of his daylong evaluation process, which came about due to a dog that was having trouble socializing with other dogs. Fochler’s daycare manager, John, who is always in-tune with dogs’ needs, decided to provide a daylong opportunity for this dog to be gradually introduced to the other dogs at the facility that day.

What transpired was truly unexpected — the dog with a history of difficulty in a group of dogs ended the day happily wagging his tail alongside his new doggie friends, and spent years as a favorite of dogs and staff alike, coming back to Dog Paws regularly.

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by Buzz McClain June 13, 2016 at 6:00 am 0

After the winter and spring we “enjoyed” in Arlington, chances are your carpet, rugs, upholstery and wood floors took a weather beating.

If you pay attention and look closely, you will notice the colors are muted, the fabrics are stained but, worst of all, there are things deep in the fibers you can’t see but are possible menaces to your health and your family’s health.

Luckily USA Clean Master is around the corner, and has been for more than 10 years. One phone call or email to their Crystal Drive office summons the arrival of a team of licensed and certified technicians who bring the latest in deep-cleaning technology to your door.

“We are very well known in Arlington because we have been involved in the community there for so long,” says USA Clean Master commercial division manager Yael Goldshmid.

Goldshmid says just vacuuming carpets and rugs doesn’t do the job. USA Clean Master will use high-temperature steam to “basically kill everything” and loosen the dried mud and hidden grime; the steaming is followed up with high-pressure vacuuming, the likes of which your top-of-the-line vacuum cleaner can’t come close to matching. Then they dry the carpet before departing.

For high traffic areas, Goldshmid says steam or deep cleaning should be done every six months, but otherwise once a year usually suffices for the typical Arlington household.

As for those wood floors, USA Clean Master will perform a restoration process to bring the wood back to its natural gloss.

High pressure tile and grout cleaning are also on the menu of services available from USA Clean Master, as well as water extraction, air duct cleaning, marble floor polishing, pick up and delivery of area rugs and upholstery refreshing and stain removal.

Goldshmid says calling 202-558-2102 for an estimate is the easiest and fastest way to summon USA Clean Master, but for an idea of what it might cost to have your home restored to pre-winter condition, use the estimating calculator on the USA Clean Master website.

The preceding was a promoted post written by Buzz McClain and sponsored by USA Clean Master.

by Buzz McClain May 3, 2016 at 3:55 pm 0

No one wants to ever call a plumber, electrician or heating and air conditioning technician. It means something isn’t working right, something normally reliable and usually in high-demand (water, power, comfortable climate), but at the moment it’s not doing what it’s supposed to do.

There are those among us who can get out the tool box and figure out what’s up, but most of us have, you know, other skills that don’t involve voltage testers, drain assemblies or digital HVAC multimeters.

For the rest of us, there’s John C. Flood. For more than 100 years — since 1904, to be exact — the John C. Flood company has responded to reluctant callers and fixed their problems by getting the power back on, the water running or the air conditioner conditioning the air again.

With nearly 50 trucks in the fleet and some 20,000 service calls a year, that’s a LOT of people who don’t have to suddenly figure out where the breaker box is.

Tellingly, some 75 percent of John C. Flood’s clientele is made up of repeat customers, those who had a plumbing issue first and then later called again for them to fix an electrical or HVAC problem.

Of course, the company has changed with the times over the last century, and in fact, in many cases leads the field in innovation and application of new best practices.

One adaptation is how the firm reaches millennials and new first-time homeowners who suddenly find themselves responsible for the operation and maintenance of the industrial innards of their homes. Marketing to Arlington’s most populous population has required shifting platforms.

“In the past we just needed our advertising to be out there on multiple marketing channels,” says marketing director Chris Thompson. “Now the customers are more savvy and they can control when and how they see ads. It makes it much more challenging, and with mobile marketing picking up at quantum speed, things are going to be much more interesting when it comes to reaching these new customers.”

So let’s mention the A+ Better Business Bureau rating. And the all-important, millennial-driven 100 percent positive review ratings on Modern Comment.

As a full service service company, John C. Flood handles just about everything inside the house. Their experts can talk you through your immediate problem as well as help you project future improvements, from remodeling rooms to installing “smart home” Internet devices to make everything from heating to security available by smart phone apps.

John C. Flood can be reached many ways, including by phone (703-914-1800), by email ([email protected]), by web (johncflood.com), by Twitter (@johncfloodva), Facebook and probably ESP if this isn’t enough. Those digital platforms also have a bounty of do-it-yourself information on them, so those of you with new voltage testers can make sure you’re doing it right.

By the way, there are TWO John C. Floods in the region that do the same services — long story, but they were once one company. The story is here.

The preceding was a sponsored local business profile written by Buzz McClain for ARLnow.com.

by Buzz McClain March 10, 2016 at 6:00 pm 0

Fillmore PizzaFillmore Pizza is available for walk-in or delivery from 11 to 11 daily, and until 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Locations are at 923 S. Walter Reed Dr. (call 703-920-9110) and 5175 Lee Highway (call 703-532-9110). Fillmore Pizza is also happy to cater any occasion; call for details.

Arlington is stuffed with pizza. It’s our go-to, default, twice-to-three times a week weakness. Because it’s easy, it’s a known quantity and we kind of like it.

But not all pizza is created equally. In fact, some is created superiorly, and that would mean Fillmore Pizza. Fresh dough every day. Fresh tomato sauce. Fresh vegetables and meat toppings.

But Fillmore Pizza is not just pizza. Tuscan hummus, stuffed grape leaves, spinach dip, kalamata olives and warm pita triangles are the starters of a menu that cruises the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. An endless variation of calzone combinations dazzle the hungry diner with spinach & artichoke, chicken portabella, meatball and classic Italian cheese and meat. (And don’t forget the chicken wings, flavored to your taste.)

In the mood for something substantial? Cheese manicotti, heavenly layered lasagna, chicken alfredo, classic spaghetti and meat sauce and assorted raviolis await. Oh, and baked meatballs. Talk about substantial.

As for sandwiches, fresh and light are the keys, with the Napoli offering fresh mozzarella, basil and tomatoes in a light olive oil sauce; roasted eggplant brings together a garden full of savory flavors and the Milano adds a mixture of classic Italian meats–prosciutto, genoa salami and ham–to the concoction. Of course there are steak, chicken, turkey, meatball and gyro in the sandwich mix. There’s even a grilled cheese, but not your usual; this one is mozzarella and provolone with fresh tomatoes.

The dessert offerings continue the Mediterranean theme, with cannoli and tiramisu side by side with cheesecake and classic chocolate cake.

The preceding was a sponsored local business profile written by Buzz McClain for ARLnow.com.

by Buzz McClain February 16, 2016 at 6:00 pm 0

Ouli screen shotA long-time Arlington technology firm has a new solution for those times when you can’t decide where to have dinner — or get your nails done or have a prescription refilled or find unique gifts, among other activities that require decisiveness.

Ouli is a free app that helps narrow your selection to three nearby, viable choices that become more refined to your needs and tastes the more you use it.

“Ouli is a mobile concierge in the palm of your hand,” said Pierre Malko, CEO of Dante Inc., the Arlington-based software company that’s been building technological innovation since 1998. “It reduces the time spent to have a great experience.”

Malko got the idea for Ouli after being frustrated by the limitations of existing consumer-feedback based services. “You may find good reviews and have everyone agree on trying a restaurant, for example, but you’ve wasted your time because it’s booked or not available, and in the end you are disappointed,” he said. “The search function doesn’t know what your intent is — an anniversary, a birthday, happy hour? They are devoid of context as to what you want to do.”

With Ouli, released in January, you quickly fill in a checklist of when, where and what it is you want to do — and why. The why is a key factor in the Ouli difference.

Ouli screen shot“It learns the more you use it,” said Malko. “It brings context. And it only returns things that are available so there is no disappointment.”

And when you make your choice, in the future, Ouli will book it for you.

When a customer accepts an Ouli offer, at that point the merchant is charged a small fee, which is why local merchants are eager to sign on. Ouli increases foot traffic and automates customer engagement for the merchant.

At the moment Ouli has some 100 Arlington merchants in the database (expansion to other regions, as well as even more functionality, will come in the near future.)

In addition, Ouli has a handy option that uses your location to offer reduced prices and specials to users as they walk by a member merchant.

Wait. What?

“Ouli has two ways of engagement,” Malko said. In addition to “learning” your wants and needs with your data input, Ouli also takes initiative to inform you of deals at favored merchants when you least expect it.

“When you walk by establishments of interest to you, you may be notified of special deals. But the notifications are made only if they are pertinent to you — you are not bombarded with notifications that may not be of use.”

Ouli can be downloaded here for immediate use.

This is a sponsored business profile written for ARLnow.com by Buzz McClain.

by Buzz McClain February 2, 2016 at 6:00 am 0

Virginia Center for Orthodontics
1600 Wilson Blvd, Ste. 810
Tel: 703-774-3070
Email: [email protected]

Rarely have the words “orthodontist” and “fun” been used side by side, but the newest orthodontist in Arlington specializes in more than just fixing smiles, she creates them.

Which explains the monkeys in the office suite.

“We have a really fun atmosphere,” said Dr. Crissy Markova from her office at Virginia Center for Orthodontics at 1600 Wilson Blvd., near both Courthouse and Rosslyn Metro stations. “Our patients travel to us from all over the United States and the world–they’re always coming and going–so we give them our office mascot, a stuffed monkey named Bob, that they can take to travel with them.”

Don’t think the monkeys are just to keep kids smiling: Grownup patients getting Invisalign have been known to adopt them as well.

You would think monkeys and lively music in the waiting room would be enough to set a business apart, but Dr. Markova, who opened the practice just last June, said “the biggest differentiating factor from other practices is that we are really convenient. We’re here up until 7 o’clock at night to be really accommodating. When a practice closes at 4:30 or 5, you have to take off work or school, and we want to help avoid that.”

After completing her Doctorate of Dental Medicine from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Dr. Markova, a Michigan native, relocated to Northern Virginia when she was a resident at Washington Hospital Center and, as a resident team leader, at Children’s National Medical Center Cleft Lip and Palate Craniofacial Clinic.

“I discovered I really loved the area,” she said, and that’s when she decided to hang her shingle in Arlington, with high-rise views of the city and Georgetown across the river. It took a year-and-a-half to build a state-of-the-art the office from the ground up–“with all the bells and whistles,” she said. “There is nothing in the field of orthodontics that we don’t have in the office.”

Her favorite new gadget, if you can even call something this high-tech a gadget, is a 3D scanner that eliminates the need to make uncomfortable impressions or molds of teeth. “We can do 3D modeling of anybody’s teeth,” she said. “And I get to geek out on the 3D scanner.” And this comes from someone who owns two patents for orthodontic bracket designs.

Besides stuffed monkeys and cutting-edge technology, Markova prides her practice on community involvement. “It’s a really big focus for us,” she said. The Arlington Soccer Association, Discovery Elementary, Gunston Career Day, Girls on the Run, and Arlington Little League are some of the events and organizations she’s supported.

The practice accommodates an expanded list of insurance carriers as well as a zero-percent financing plan for braces and Invisalign. Find Dr. Crissy Markova’s Virginia Center for Orthodontics on Facebook, on the web or by calling 703-774-3070.

The preceding was a sponsored local business profile written by Buzz McClain for ARLnow.com.

by Buzz McClain January 14, 2016 at 6:00 am 0

Optime Realty Team

Optimé Realty
1600 Wilson Blvd, Ste. 101
Arlington, VA 22209
Tel: 703-459-9863

It didn’t take long after the merger of two high-profile Realty firms into one powerhouse brokerage to become a dominating force in regional — particularly Arlington — real estate.

Last year Rosslyn-based Optimé Realty sold more volume in Northern Virginia — more than $220 million — than any other realty team combined, says Dan Lesniak, founder of Orange Line Living. That accounts for 369 homes bought and sold in the market with the Keri Shull Team, headed by prominent realtor Shull.

About two-thirds of those transactions were in Arlington, he says.

The success of the firm, Lesniak says, stems from strength of the experience of the dual leadership of “combined teams that were young and growing, and we added to that.”

Optimé Realty, he says, optimizes on the proven systems and entrepreneurial ideas that he and Shull shared. The success stories — of which there are many — are the result of “a combination of innovative marketing, great people and hard work.”

Says Shull, “Our team does an excellent job of anticipating the needs of both buyers and sellers and thinking way outside the box to solve their problems, often before they even experience them.”

Innovations in marketing also can’t be overlooked, particularly the risk reversal program that assures home buyers that their existing home will be sold. New construction of more spacious, feature-rich homes replacing existing older dwellings also account for many of Optimé’s sales, for homeowners and construction firms. “We span the whole range, really,” Lesniak says.

Opitmé also works to find properties in advance of their market placement so clients have an inside track when it comes to beating the listing.

The two firms have a combined staff of 36, with three new hires in the last month. At the forefront of the brokerage are two standouts, Amy Harasz, the 2015 top sales person, and Elizabeth Rea Landeros, the top-listing agent last year.

They and the other representatives of the company have mastered the quirks and trademarks of Arlington real estate. For buyers, Lesniak says, “things can be more challenging because the inventory is pretty low. But it helps to be educated on different neighborhoods, be specific on what you want and make sure you have your paperwork into the leader and are pre-approved.”

This is key, he says, because in Arlington’s fast-paced market, “things do come up with competing buyers, so you want to be able to close quickly so there are no surprises.”

As for sellers, Arlington is famous as a “sellers’ market” where the buyers have to do the cutthroat dirty work to outbid the other party. Still, Lesniak says, “sellers need to get the house in its best shape and properly stage. We’ve seen similar homes go on the market at the same time, and the one that gets sold or gets the best price is the one with the best presentation.”

The preceding was a sponsored local business profile written by Buzz McClain for ARLnow.com.

by Buzz McClain January 12, 2016 at 6:00 am 0

Atlas Home Inspection

Atlas Home Inspection
703-304-3925
[email protected]

A home inspector needs to be knowledgeable in everything between the foundation of a house and the roof. They need to be willing to cram into creepy, dark crawl spaces looking for compromising cracks, and they often need to climb onto dangerously high roofs to check chimney masonry at the topmost point, something many home inspectors decline to do.

Ed Snope, the sole proprietor of Arlington’s Atlas Home Inspection, has been doing all those things, and everything in between, for three years. His business is the culmination of more than 30 years in all aspects of home building, beginning when he was a teenager learning the fine points of landscape construction with a contractor.

“We built retaining walls, decks, patios, that sort of thing,” Snope says. “I learned about grading and how to control water flow outside of a home, which is one of the most important issues I deal with as an inspector.”

Snope says his skills and interest in home construction “always led from one thing to another. People would ask, ‘Can you fix this?,’ and that led to home repairs.” The handyman career led to high-end house painting–which requires more knowledge and skill, not to mention effort, than most house painting–and that led to historic restoration, which found Snope expanding his knowledge about wood preservation and historically accurate construction methods.

Once he bought his own 1930s Cape Colonial in North Arlington, Snope spent his time restoring his own home, after which he decided to give home inspection a try. “It’s a good way to wrap up all my experience in one package,” he says.

His reputation has spread among Northern Virginia Realtors — the primary source of referrals for most home inspectors–rapidly, and after his first year his business doubled. “Things are going in the right direction,” he says.

First-time home buyers — and that includes those of cozy condos as well as vast McMansions — can be forgiven if they’re not sure what a home inspection entails, or why to even bother with one.

In short, once you make an offer on a house, the buyer needs to be certain there are no structural surprises to deal with once the sale closes. A home inspection report will detail everything the buyer needs to know about the house’s and the appliances’ deficiencies and strengths. If a problem is significant, the buyer may be able to negotiate with the seller to repair it or pay for the repair before closing.

“You will know by the end of an inspection if you want to proceed [with the purchase],” Snope said. “Most of the time I recommend the buyer ask for some money off as opposed to having the seller fix things. They might do it on the cheap and it may still need to be fixed by the buyer later.”

Snope also instructs the buyer on how to operate the house — “I show them shut-off valves, safety disconnects, how to operate the equipment” — as well as pointing out major or minor defects. “I’m looking for safety issues, proper installation and energy efficiency,” he says.

The one thing he hears from his clients more than others, he says, “is that I’m a lot more thorough than people expected. If you see my reviews [on Angie’s List, Yelp and elsewhere] you always see the word ‘thorough.'”

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