Arlington, VA

Mi & Yu Noodle Bar at Ballston Quarter is now closed permanently, owner Edward Kim confirms to ARLnow.

The eatery was the first to open at Ballston Quarter’s “Quarter Market” food hall in March 2019. It was the establishment’s only location outside of Baltimore, Maryland.

The reason for the shuttering is simple, Kim says.

“Sales and COVID,” he tells ARLnow in a short phone call. “It’s pretty straight-forward.”

There are no plans to open any additional locations of the raman, noodle, and bao restaurant in Arlington, Kim said.

In general, the Ballston food hall has seen thinning crowds due to the pandemic. That hasn’t stopped a number of high profile openings in recent months, however.

In the fall, sandwich shop Superette opened along with a new pierogi stand in December. In 2021, Quarter Market has also welcomed taco and tequila spot Bartaco and fast casual Indian restaurant Bollywood Bistro Express.

It’s also been tough sledding for others at Ballston Quarter over the last year, including Mi & Yu Noodle Bar. Punch Bowl Social filed for bankruptcy in December and closed its Ballston location on Christmas Eve “until further notice.”

The Regal movie theater at Ballston Quarter remains temporarily closed.

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National taco and tequila chain Bartaco is opening its new Ballston Quarter location today.

The restaurant, which serves “fresh, upscale street food with a coastal vibe in a relaxed environment,” will be open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It is opening after a year of construction.

Positioned along the outdoor patio at the mall’s food hall, Bartaco is for the time being only offering takeout and delivery.

“While the restaurant is expected to open for dine-in this spring, guests can also enjoy bartaco in the Quarter Market food hall,” the company noted today in a press release.

More from Bartaco:

On the menu are hand-held foods that are perfectly paired with specialty crafted cocktails made with fresh-squeezed juices, as well as beer out of a bottle. Highlights include bartaco’s pork belly taco and falafel taco, guacamole, taco packs for groups + bartaco’s notoriously delicious margarita served for one or two.

In the restaurant, rustic design infused with a neighborhood feel complements the spirited bold + bright flavors of bartaco’s eclectic menu. Once open for dine-in, the stylish ambience, cocktails + freshly prepared tacos + “not tacos” will create an unforgettable experience for guests.

Photo courtesy Bartaco

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A new fast-casual Indian cuisine spot has just opened in Ballston Quarter’s food hall.

Bollywood Bistro Express turned on the stove on January 1 in Quarter Market, joining other fast casual concepts like Sloppy Mama’s Barbeque and Turu’s by Timber Pizza in the mall’s lower level.

This is the third concept regionally from Bollywood Bistro and owner Pankaj Sharma, but the first fast-casual establishment. The company has sit-down restaurants in Fairfax’s Old Town Plaza (opened in 2010) and Great Falls (opened in 2014). Those restaurants were included in Washingtonian magazine as one of the “best bargain restaurants” in 2011 and 2012.

The menu includes Indian cuisine mainstays like Chicken Tikka Masala, Paneer Vindaloo, and Veggie Korma. The new spot also serves butter and garlic naan and Gulab Jamun, fried dessert balls soaked in a syrup.

Ballston Quarter has seen a mix of openings and closings in recent months.

In December, a new pierogi stand opened. However, Punch Bowl Social — a combo bar and entertainment venue that opened in late 2018 — filed for bankruptcy in late December and closed its Ballston location on Christmas Eve “until further notice.”

Photos courtesy Bollywood Bistro Express

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Just four months after chef Ed Hardy started making pierogies for pickup and delivery, his operation, Zofia’s Kitchen, has a brick-and-mortar shop in Ballston Quarter.

“We were really fast going from a ghost kitchen to a store front,” Hardy told ARLnow. “We are going to be looking for a second location, probably, if we can do well through January.”

His pierogi shop — in the former Cucina Al Volo spot inside the Quarter Market food hall — will hold its grand opening tomorrow (Friday). The first 30 customers will receive a 15 Zofia’s Kitchen e-gift card. To promote social distancing, both in-person and delivery orders are eligible.

Hardy blends New York City’s Jewish and Chicago’s Polish flavors with a dash of Old Bay and Southern barbecue to round out the vast geographical expanse that his humble dumplings cover.

Signature pierogies include loaded baked potato, house-cured and smoked pastrami and provolone, crab rangoon, and everything bagel with cream cheese and lox.

For a side, customers can choose from seasonal sides and soups, or try Hardy’s latke doughnut: shredded potato and onion formed into a ring and fried, served with lemon-dill sour cream.

If they still have room for dessert, customers can stick with sweet pierogies, like the seasonal brown sugar-spiked pumpkin “pie-rogi,” or take a break from the dumpling and opt for confections such as truffles or rugelach.

Before coming to Northern Virginia, Hardy had a career in some of New York City’s most famous restaurants. He worked for three Michelin-Starred restaurants, The ModernGramercy Tavern, and Aquavit, as well as the comfort food destination Red Rooster Harlem.

Locally, Hardy led the kitchen at Bistro Vivant in McLean and Quench in Rockville, Md. Then he hung up his apron and started driving Bacon N’ Eds food truck.

Hardy was teaching classes at Cookology Culinary School when it shut down and switched to virtual learning due to the pandemic.

“COVID-19 hit Cookology hard,” said Hardy, who looked for other ways to keep cooking.

He came to pierogies after being asked to cater them for a socially distanced party. It went so well that he and the host, Nate Reynolds, decided to take the idea public.

Hardy went to Cookology to ask if he could operate a ghost kitchen from there, knowing the owner would be on board.

“I think she had advertised that she would be open to being a potential concept incubator,” Hardy said.

By mid-September, Hardy and his team, two former students of his and two other recently laid-off chefs, moved into the ghost kitchen at Cookology. Two and a half weeks ago, they had a soft opening in the Ballston Quarter food court while they prepared the space for the grand opening.

“Honestly, I was surprised by the enthusiastic response to the humble pierogi,” Hardy said. “I think we’ve tapped into a need for another different, yet familiar, comfort food. Zofia’s is like the Polish grandmother you didn’t know you missed.”

For a limited time, Zofia’s is offering three festive platters of pierogis, with flavors inspired by the familiar tastes of Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s.

Cooked or frozen pierogies are available for pick-up at Ballston Quarter and for delivery via Postmates on the Zofia’s Kitchen website or through UberEats and DoorDash.

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The Arlington County Police Department’s annual holiday toy drive returns tonight, and after a tough year.

The sixth annual Fill The Cruiser toy drive will help make the holiday season merry for vulnerable kids, police say. New health protocols, including contactless drop-offs, are intended to make sure the event can continue safely as coronavirus cases rise.

“This year, with families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for donations may be greater than ever and your generosity helps ensure the holidays are bright for some of our most vulnerable community members — children in need,” notes an ACPD release.

The fundraiser begins tonight (Nov. 20) at the Lee Harrison Shopping Center from 6 to 8 p.m. Three additional events will be held over the next couple of weeks.

According to ACPD:

Officers will collect new, unwrapped toys for children ages newborn to 17 at the following locations:

  • Friday, November 20, 2020, from 6 to 8 p.m. — Lee Harrison Shopping Center — 2425 N. Harrison Street
  • Monday, November 23, 2020, from 5 to 7 p.m. — Ballston Quarter — 4238 Wilson Boulevard — A cruiser will be located between Ted’s Bulletin and True Food Kitchen
  • Tuesday December 1, 2020, from 5 to 7 p.m. — Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church — 830 23rd Street S.
  • Wednesday, December 2, 2020, from 5 to 7 p.m. — Arlington Assembly of God — 4501 N. Pershing Drive

Upon arrival, participants should stay in their vehicle until they reach the unloading areas, where officers will be on hand to remove donations from their vehicle. A separate area will be available for those arriving by bike or foot.

Due to COVID-19 considerations, we will only be accepting toys at these predetermined dates and locations.

Toy Distribution

Toys will be distributed by the Police Department to community organizations throughout the month of December. Due to the ongoing pandemic, ACPD will not host pop-up distribution events in the community.

File photo

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Arlington County police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a man accused of assaulting a woman in Ballston.

The alleged crime happened Tuesday morning on the 4200 block of Wilson Blvd, the same block at Ballston Quarter mall.

Police say the victim was cleaning a bathroom when the man pushed her and slapped her buttocks in two separate incidents nearly a half hour apart. The suspect fled and remains at large.

More from ACPD:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit is seeking the public’s assistance identifying an abduction with intent to defile and sexual battery suspect captured in surveillance images.

At approximately 10:32 a.m. on November 17, police were dispatched to the 4200 block of Wilson Boulevard for the report of an assault just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 9:47 a.m., the victim was cleaning a bathroom inside of a business when the male suspect approached her and requested to use it. As the victim attempted to move away from the stall, the suspect blocked her path, began to push her inside and slapped her buttocks. The victim resisted and attempted to call for help, at which point the suspect backed off and left the area on foot.

At approximately 10:13 a.m., the victim was at a nearby closet when she heard noise in the area of the bathroom. As the victim went to investigate, she observed the suspect in the bathroom again. The suspect blocked her path, pushed her back towards the closet, and again slapped her buttocks. He then pushed her further into the closet, grabbed her neck, and attempted to close the door to the closet behind them. The victim resisted and began to call for help, at which point the suspect fled.

Arriving officers canvased the area with negative results. The suspect is described as a Black male in his 20’s, approximately 5’10”-6’2″, and 170-190 lbs., with a full beard, wearing a white hat, blue jeans, gray winter coat, and white sneakers.

This remains an active criminal investigation and anyone with information regarding the suspect’s identity or whereabouts is asked to contact Detective H. Molina of the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit at [email protected] or 703-228-4208. Information may also be provided to the Arlington County Police Tip Line at [email protected], or the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

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After opening in September, Arris Noble and his six-person team at Ballston’s newest sandwich shop, Superette, have gotten their sea legs.

The name, Noble explains, takes customers back in time to the corner store with hot food and a limited selection of grocery items. It was the kind of place that parents sent their kids to, list and basket in hand, for apples and milk. The cashier would gather and ring up the items and send the kids home.

“It’s an old-world concept that was forgotten, and shouldn’t have been,” said Noble.

The sandwich joint and grocery is in the lower level of the food hall at Ballston Quarter (4238 Wilson Blvd). Noble ultimately chose the neighborhood because he saw a gap in sandwich places that prioritize love and quality over speed and volume.

Noble said he is happy to own a business in Arlington, and Ballston in particular, adding that he “really likes the people.”

As for the food, while the sandwich is practical, Noble does not want his diners to sacrifice taste in order to gain convenience.

“If you’re going to dine and come to Superette, I want to give you that ‘Wow’ factor,” he said. “We just want them to know how much care we put into everything.”

When new customers walk in, Noble said he loves seeing “the surprised look” on their faces when they see not only the food but the beer, wine and cocktail menu.

Noble, who paid his way through school at the University of Maryland by bartending, geeks out describing his signature cocktails.

His winter whisky sour combines rye whisky and a simple syrup infused with allspice, star anise, clove, cinnamon and black pepper, with the classic foam rim made from emulsified lemon juice and egg white.

Guests enjoy his gin punch, made with oleo saccharum (or oil of sugar). Muddled sugar and citrus peel steeps in spices and hot water, creating a syrup that is “easy to make, with a ton of flavor.” For the punch, he adds gin, lemon juice and stone fruit tea.

He personally developed the menu, to which his growing waistline can attest.

“I gained 35 pounds,” he said. “The one that has done the most damage is the BLT-ish.”

The classic bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich does not do much for Noble. So he added cheese, braised pork shoulder and a sesame seed bun slathered with garlic aioli. The shoulder is the centerpiece: It marinates for a day before it is braised for seven hours with aromatics and chicken stock.

“That sandwich has a following,” he said. “I got a guy who comes here three days a week and gets it.”

Noble, who spent the last 18 years of his life in the restaurant business, said the challenge of managing a restaurant during the Great Recession more than a decade ago “does not hold a candle to the challenges restaurants are experiencing now.”

From idea to execution, Superette took 14 months, with the pandemic causing delays in deliveries and permitting. The price for a case of gloves increased by 300% times and third-party delivery apps charge double what they used to, but restaurants use them to keep the lights on and employees paid, he said.

“This environment is completely different because the virus creates government restrictions,” he said. “During the recession, you could have a holiday party — you may just have to take a discount — but people were still gathering.” 

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In March, things were going pretty well for Bearded Goat Barber Shop at (4201 Wilson Blvd). Just across the street, Scout and Molly’s Boutique in Ballston Quarter was having some trouble, but it was nothing compared to what was coming for both of them.

The owners of both businesses joined Ballston BID CEO Tina Leone for a candid conversation on the BID’s podcast about the sudden coronavirus-caused collapse in revenue and how both are working to recover.

Jane Abraham, co-owner of Scout & Molly’s Boutique, said that before the pandemic the store had some trouble getting customers to the upper floors of the mall. It’s a problem the store is still struggling with, but looking back it pales in comparison to trying to run an indoor shop inside a larger indoor space at a time when many customers are staying at home and other local businesses are trying to go outdoors.

“It took all of us by surprise,” Abraham said. “For those of us in small business to go from a vibrant business one day to being shut down for a good three months, if not a little bit more, it’s a hard thing to take.”

While businesses shut down, Abraham said that her bills didn’t. The company struggled to adapt and find new ways to stay active. Customers didn’t respond well to early attempts at reopening, Abraham said, so they doubled down on online sales.

“We did not get much traction with personal appointments,” Abraham said. “We expanded our online presence and people were appreciative — it was a way to stay connected — but as people were unsure about their own futures it wasn’t a time when people wanted to spend an awful lot of money.”

Abraham said support from the community, from customers to local business boosters, has been helpful but hasn’t erased the sting of the company’s losses.

“It’s been pretty tough,” Abraham said. “As a retailer inside a mall-like facility, we really couldn’t have anybody come in for a long time.”

Now, Abraham said her store is focused on trying to get the right kind of clothes for people transitioning back to the office but who aren’t quite ready to go formal again yet.

“The one thing that’s really different right now is so many people have been working from home, so they’re not that ready to have dresses and fancy things,” Abraham said. “Everybody still is in this transition phase. You’ll find a lot of really great things if you want to be cozy still at home or transitioning into the office.”

Eric Renfro, co-owner and operator of Bearded Goat, said the shop was starting to build a strong community presence as it was coming up on its one year anniversary.

“We were just hitting our stride, so it was tough having to shut down and being uncertain,” Renfro said. “No one had answers, no one’s gone through this. We were wondering how we were going to pay rent and utilities, and all our employees are on commission.”

Renfro said they set up an online store selling gift cards, and eventually merchandise, with the proceeds going to the employees who were unable to work.

“During the shutdown as a business, there was no income coming in,” Renfro said. “We were implementing things to stay connected, like FaceTime Fridays. We’d coach people through at-home haircuts with their spouse or roommate. We coached them through the process to make sure they didn’t get too awry.”

Now, the barbershop is back open — with social distancing, masks and frequent cleanings — and the boutique is starting to get more customers, but both business owners said they aren’t sure when — or if — things will ever get back to normal.

“People aren’t yet flocking to stores,” Abraham said. “We certainly are not.”

Courtesy photo

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The details are scarce, but a new restaurant appears to be coming to Ballston Quarter mall.

Permits have been filed for a restaurant called Superette at 4238 Wilson Blvd, the mall’s address. The restaurant will seat somewhere between 1 and 100 people and will serve beer, wine and cocktails, the permit suggests.

No other details about the restaurant, which does not yet have a public web presence, were immediately available.

An LLC associated with the new restaurant, however, is linked to local restaurateur Sam Shoja, who owns Emile’s in D.C. and, according to Eater, “three D.C. area franchises of Jinya Ramen Bar and two locations of kebab Sheesh in Northern Virginia.” Shoja also previously owned a stake in Ballston Quarter eatery Hot Lola’s.

Noted chef Kevin Tien recently split from Emile’s, which he founded and co-owned with Shoja. Eater noted that in return for Tien’s stake in the restaurant, “Shoja has given Tien his 40 percent share in Hot Lola’s, the chef’s Sichuan-style hot chicken sandwich brand with a stall in a Ballston food hall.”

A retail broker whose contact information was listed on the permit for Superette did not respond to a request for comment.

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Ballston Quarter (4238 Wilson Blvd) has launched a pair of initiatives to try to help restaurants hold on through the pandemic.

First, the mall is offering anyone who orders $50 worth of takeout or delivery from a Ballston Quarter restaurant and submits an itemized receipt a $20 prepaid Visa card as a reward.

Participating restaurants include Chick-Fil-A, Compass Coffee, Hot Lola’s, Mezeh, Sidekick Bakery, South Block, Ted’s Bulletin, True Food Kitchen, Turu’s By Timber Pizza. Ballston Quarter owner Brookfield Properties is conducting the same “Dine and Delight” offer at its Tysons Galleria property.

The receipts must include the restaurant address, the date of the purchase, and a list of items ordered. The Dine & Delight program is run through Sunday, May 31.

The second initiative is in support of Feeding America, a hunger-relief nonprofit, which has set up a special fund to support overburdened food banks during the pandemic.

“Share a photo of a meal from one of our restaurants on Instagram using #DineDelightDonate and we’ll donate $10 for every post between April 24-June 30 up to $100,000,” Ballston Quarter said on its website.

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