Did you miss our Hot Topics on the Pike event last month?
Good news: our friends at Arlington Independent Media were there and they just released their video from the event (above).
The first half is a discussion among our opinion columnists — Mark Kelly (The Right Note), Peter Rousselot (Peter’s Take) and Larry Roberts (Progressive Voice) — on countywide issues. (The opinion columns will return next week. This week we are publishing candidate essays from the contenders for the Democratic School Board endorsement.)
The second half was a discussion of Columbia Pike-specific issues with County Board member Katie Cristol, Arlington County Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt, Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization Chair John Murphy and small business owner Michael “Mike on the Pike” Garcia.
(Updated at 2:46 p.m.) What happened to the Columbia Pike Streetcar project? What can be done about crowded local schools? How can we incorporate affordable housing and public amenities into future development?
The first half of the night was filled by a discussion among our opinion columnists — Mark Kelly (The Right Note), Peter Rousselot (Peter’s Take) and Larry Roberts (Progressive Voice) — on countywide issues.
The first question of that discussion, asked by host Amanda Fischer, was whether the columnists felt like the streetcar project’s cancellation was the right decision and what the county’s biggest transit priorities should be in 2016.
“I believe the cancellation of the streetcar was the right decision,” Rousselot said. “[The] most important one coming for Arlington is the Columbia Pike corridor and premium bus service.”
“On the regional level, this was going to be connected to other projects,” Roberts said. “[If you go to the] Pearl District in Portland, you will see everything that could have been in Columbia Pike.”
Kelly said the project, overall, had a “common sense problem,” and added that he was “pleased” when the project got the ax.
He added that he thought the county’s number one transit priority should be exerting its influence “to get to real reforms for Metro.”
Today was Earth Day. Here in Arlington, there were a variety of events and announcements in connection with the annual environmental celebration.
Among them was the announcement that the county was launching the nation’s first Energy Lending Library. And, at Campbell Elementary School this morning, students got a demonstration about how a rain barrel works and learned how to be good stewards of the earth, as pictured above.
Speaking of events, next week we’ll be holding our ARLnow Presents: Hot Topics on the Pike event. It’s taking place on Wednesday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Celtic House (2500 Columbia Pike). Tickets are only $5 and benefit Doorways for Women and Families.
— Doorways (@DoorwaysVA) April 20, 2016
There will be two panel discussions as part of the event. First, our opinion columnists — Peter Rousselot, Mark Kelly and Larry Roberts — will debate the hottest countywide topics, from blue ribbon panels to aquatics centers. Then, we’ve assembled our own blue ribbon panel to discuss the present and future of Columbia Pike. That panel includes:
- Katie Cristol, Arlington County Board member
- Chris Slatt, Arlington Transportation Commission Chair
- John Murphy, CPRO board chair and president, Washington Workplace
- Michael Garcia, CPRO board member and small business owner
Our host for the evening will be Amanda Fischer, a Columbia Pike resident, Arlington Chamber of Commerce board member and owner of Grade A Marketing. We hope to see you there!
With that, feel free to discuss the Earth Day, the Pike or any other topics of local interest in the comments.
Photo courtesy Virginia Energy Sense
Development, affordable housing, school crowding, Metro’s woes. Those are just a few of the local issues we’ll discuss during ARLnow Presents: Hot Topics on the Pike on Wednesday, April 27.
The event is taking place at Celtic House, at 2500 Columbia Pike, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
(Feel free to take advantage of the $5 Wednesday wing special or stick around afterward for Celtic House’s weekly trivia night at 8:30.)
The first half of the event will be a debate among our opinion columnists — Mark Kelly (The Right Note), Peter Rousselot (Peter’s Take) and Lawrence Roberts (Progressive Voice) — on countywide issues.
Next up is a discussion of the future of Columbia Pike. It’s been more than a year since the cancellation of the streetcar, yet development has continued on the Pike seemingly unabated. So what does the future hold for the corridor? Among those joining us for the conversation are County Board member Katie Cristol and Arlington Transportation Committee Chair Chris Slatt.
RSVP is required — tickets are only $5 online.
April is Sexual Violence Awareness Month. All of ARLnow’s proceeds from the event will be donated Doorways for Women and Families, an Arlington-based nonprofit that creates pathways out of homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe wants the Commonwealth to be the “tech capital of the United States” and Arlington County is in many ways the centerpiece of that effort.
With the state and the county actively working to attract innovative tech companies, we wanted to check in with some of the innovators who are helping to build a new economy here in Arlington.
The event is being held from 5:30-8 p.m. at Highline RxR (2010 Crystal Drive). Tickets are available online and will also be available at the door.
Come for the food and drink (included with the price of admission) and networking, stay for a Q&A with innovators from a variety of local companies like:
The evening’s discussion will be hosted by local media personality Sarah Fraser.
Also at the event, representatives from Arlington Economic Development will be on hand to answer questions from entrepreneurs about the resources available to them in Arlington County.
What do Arlington’s newest County Board members hope to accomplish in their new positions, why did they run and how do they plan to increase Millennial and minority participation in county government?
The full video from the event, via Arlington Independent Media, is above. Below are some of insights from the evening’s program, which included an audience question-and-answer session at the end.
Why did you want to run for County Board?
Cristol: “I decided to run because I thought Arlington could use some new perspectives. Everyone deserves representation.”
What are you hoping to accomplish year one?
Dorsey: “We’ve got a nearly 20 percent [office] vacancy rate, so I’m trying to get it down to 10 percent. We need to see some progress, each percent we can get rid of means $3 million in tax revenue that doesn’t have to be raised. That’s an extreme focus in this first year.”
How do you better include the input of Millennials and minorities in county government?
Cistol: “You start by listening to them, hearing what they have to say the obstacles are. When you talk to folks in the communities, people are generally willing to talk about them.”
Thoughts on the widening of I-66?
Cristol: “We are disappointed, I think widening is bad for the communities. We have tons of data that shows that widening is not wise. We are going to look very closely at environmental research that is required as a pre-requisite before the construction begins.”
What can you do to serve communities along Columbia Pike that have felt neglected since the cancellation of the streetcar project?
Dorsey: “These equity issues are decades long. I don’t see any Board preference in North Arlington. If we get the economic engines humming we have have a lot of potential. There’s also things that we can do to make South Arlington neighborhoods more appealing to investors.”
There are a lot of examples of local restaurants and businesses closing, even as many open. Is there anything the county can do about that?
Dorsey: “It’s our responsibility to make sure small businesses are able to thrive, instead of just recruiting the big ones. Going back to affordability, a reason small businesses aren’t able to thrive is because [owners] don’t have the money to.”
Thank you to our participants and to Mad Rose Tavern for hosting us. Details about the March ARLnow Presents event, which will be held in Crystal City and will focus on Arlington’s burgeoning tech scene, will be released soon.
Quotes compiled by Justin Funkhouser.
What’s it like to run a restaurant in a competitive market like Arlington? Four prominent local restaurant owners sat down with Sarah Fraser and ARLnow.com to discuss the business at our ARLnow Presents event last month, just after the big blizzard.
The full video from the event, courtesy of Arlington Independent Media, is above. The following are some of the interesting insights from the evening’s program.
What are some of the challenges in running a restaurant in Arlington?
Javier Candon, SER: “In Arlington, the biggest challenge, I think is the mentality, and proximity to the city. A lot of Arlington residents when they are having a real date night, they go to D.C.”
Does local government make it difficult to open a restaurant?
Mark Fedorchak, Liberty Tavern: “I think that Arlington county is pretty aware of the issue, but it is pretty difficult to open a restaurant with permits, and time. Every single day that you are paying rent waiting for permits, your are losing money.”
What’s more difficult, attracting customers when you first open, or keeping them?
Tim Ma, Water & Wall: “Everybody was coming through the door on day one, two years later, it’s all about retention. Staying relevant is probably the hardest thing. There’s so many new restaurants opening, so many different areas coming back to life, staying relevant is hard. Keeping the food good keeps people coming back.”
How do you feel about Yelp?
Mikala Brennan, Hula Girl Bar and Grill: “I think that as an opening restaurant you have to look at it and see if there’s trends happening. I think as chefs and owners we tend to take things a little personal sometimes. It’s sometimes hard not to respond immediately my GM reads them first and decides if there’s something I need to respond to immediately. I’ll be honest I think it’s relevant, but there is some things that are nit picky and irrelevant. I want to listen to people’s critiques, people that really want to tell you how they’re experience was sometimes email you, which I can respond to faster.”
How do you feel about new restaurants opening?
Scott Parker, A-Town Bar and Grill: “Arlington is in a very transitional time right now. Having two venues that are getting older and older, I wish new restaurants would open in Ballston, we don’t get the foot traffic that they get in Clarendon.”
How do you feel about bar crawls? Will we see more restrictions on them in the future?
Mark Fedorchak: “We are pro bar crawl, it’s been proven that they can be done in a controlled manner where they set a limit on the number of participants. While we don’t participate in them, it’s good for business across the board. They bring new guests from D.C. to Arlington.
What do you know now that you knew you wish you knew earlier?
Javier Candon: “How hard it is. Being there every single day, I took a break from being on the floor every day, and I think I forgot just how hard it is to be there seven days a week.”
How do you attract regular customers and locals?
Mikala Brennan: “We have a lot of residential people in the Shirlington area, and we find that they want to come in, they want to live there and support local business. So for us it’s important that we take care of neighborhood people. Making sure that they understand it’s okay to bring their kids in, it’s okay for them their kids to throw Cheerios on the ground, and do whatever they need to do. We want them to know it’s okay for them to come in with a shirt and flip flops on but if they want to wear a suit that’s fine too. We want to welcome everyone in.”
What have you found to love about being a restaurant and small business owner?
Scott Parker: “It’s just something you can’t describe, it’s grueling, late nights, long days. To be able to look around and see one of you venues packed, people smiling, enjoying your food and drink, in that moment it’s not about the money, it’s so thrilling.”
Thank you to our participants and to A-Town Bar and Grill for housing us. Look out for details about the March ARLnow Presents event, which will be held in Crystal City and will focus on Arlington’s burgeoning tech scene.
Quotes compiled by Justin Funkhouser.
Each ticket is only six bucks and is good for a drink and a guaranteed seat at Mad Rose.
We’ll be asking Cristol and Dorsey about a variety of local issues, including:
- The compromise deal to widen I-66
- The change they hope to bring to Arlington
- Millennial and minority participation in county government
- Bar crawls
- Post-streetcar plans for Columbia Pike
- How they managed to win last year in a very competitive Democratic primary
We’ll also be asking three questions suggested by readers, which had the most upvotes as of Tuesday:
- Moo 2.0: “Why do we have to pay $33 for a car sticker even though we already pay personal property tax on the vehicle and registration fees?”
- Obvious Troll: “The county board has repeatedly shown a willingness to approve new high density developments without accounting for the increased stress the added students living in those developments will place on nearby schools. Will you start requiring builders to make direct contributions towards new PERMANENT student seats in the county (not just trailers), rather than settling for ‘public art’ concessions? If not, why not?”
- Arlington Guy: “What is your plan for lowering the tax burden on existing residents? Isn’t that the best way to keep our seniors in their homes and get the younger folks to stay here instead of moving further out when it comes time to start a family?
Attendees will also have an opportunity to ask their own questions during the latter half of the event.
The event will be taking place at Mad Rose Tavern (3100 Clarendon Blvd) from 6:30-8 p.m. on Feb 10 — rain or shine. Tickets are available via Eventbrite and are good for a drink during the event. Tickets will also be available at the door.
Our discussion will be focused on Cristol and Dorsey’s goals as Board members, with a special focus on how they and the Board can better engage with Arlington’s sizable millennial and minority populations.
There will be time for audience questions during the event, but we’re hoping to pick a few of your questions to ask ourselves.
Let us know what you’d like us to ask about in the comments. We’ll pick the top three serious question suggestions that get the most up-votes for inclusion in our question list.
Also, if you use your real email address when making the comment (or when registering your Disqus user name), and your question is one of the top three selected, we’ll email you two free tickets to the event.
The event, ARLnow Presents: The County Board Young Bloods, will be hosted by local media personality Sarah Fraser.
— Sarah Fraser (@heyfrase) February 8, 2016
ARLnow Presents: Running a Restaurant in Arlington will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight at A-Town Bar & Grill (4100 Fairfax Drive). It’s completely free to attend and a great excuse for getting out of the house and shaking off cabin fever.
Fox 5 contributor Sarah Fraser will host a panel discussion with some of the brightest starts of the local restaurant biz, including Tim Ma of Water & Wall, Mark Fedorchak of Liberty Tavern, Scott Parker of A-Town Bar & Grill, Mikala Brennan of Hula Girl and Javier Candon of SER.
If you’ve ever read the comments section of a restaurant-related article on ARLnow.com, the topics of discussion may seem familiar: What makes some restaurants succeed and others fail? Why are there so many or so few of certain types of restaurants in Arlington? What are the biggest challenges of opening a new restaurant in Arlington?
There’s plenty of room in A-Town, but you may want to arrive early to try to snag a seat. The program will get underway shortly before 6:30.
Also tonight, reps from the locally-made restaurant discovery app Spotluck will be on hand to talk briefly about the app and its local offerings. If you haven’t checked out Spotluck already, be sure to download it and enter the promo code ARL26 while setting it up.
After the jump: the bios of each of our panelists.