Arlington, VA

Ballston Quarter could soon be home to a temporary pop-up library.

According to an Arlington County Board agenda item, the owner of Ballston Quarter mall and the Ballston Business Improvement District invited Arlington Public Library to create a temporary pop-up library in unoccupied retail space on the street level of the mall.

“The use of the newly renovated mall space is being offered to the County for one month at no cost,” the agenda item noted. “The county will be permitted to open a new pop-up library location within the mall for a period beginning on July 1 through August 2, 2019.”

Library services could include a small collection of books and audio-visual materials along with technology access. The library would be open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The space will be provided by mall management at no cost to the county, while the operation of the library will be paid from the library’s general operating funds.

This would not be the first pop-up library in retail space. In 2016, Arlington County opened a pop-up library in Crystal City Shops that has since been extended through 2019.

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Ted’s Bulletin and the accompanying Sidekick Bakery officially opened today (Monday) in Ballston Quarter (4238 Wilson Blvd).

Ted’s Bulletin is the sixth location in the regional chain offering diner-style meals and nostalgic desserts. Sidekick is a “new concept” from the same parent company and adjoins Ted’s Bulletin, but operates as more of a quick-stop, street bakery-type location.

Sidekick offers cereal or candy flavors for standard bakery items, in addition to drinks like coffee, tea and milkshakes — including non-dairy milkshakes.

Staff at Sidekick said the store is offering $1 coffee during the opening week. Meanwhile, Ted’s Bulletin next door offers $3 draft beers for happy hour from 3-7 p.m.

The location is currently only accessible from the main street, but staff at the location said the plan is to eventually turn the mall-facing side into an additional entrance. The eateries were also open at times last week as part of a soft opening.

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Slapfish — a seafood restaurant featuring locally-sourced fish tacos and lobster rolls — is planning to open next week in Ballston Quarter.

“We plan to open Ballston end of next week,” Andrew Gruel, Slapfish owner and occasional Food Network judge, wrote to ARLnow. “We very well may open a few days before next Friday, but nothing guaranteed as we are still awaiting a few products, etc.”

According to the Slapfish website, the goal of the restaurant is to make eating seafood “fun and sexy again.”

The menu offers a variety of seafood dishes, from starters like “chowder fries” — french fries smothered in clam chowder and bacon — to Hawaiian shrimp and pineapple bowls.

The restaurant door notes that Slapfish will be open daily from 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Slapfish isn’t the only eatery planned to open in Ballston Quarter over the next few weeks. Ted’s Bulletin and Sidekick Bakery — a bakery and pastry shop that also serves milkshakes, coffee and tea — are also planning June openings.

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Two new Ballston eateries are reportedly opening over the next two weeks.

Sidekick — a new bakery and “confectionary concept” — is scheduled to open on Monday, June 10 at Ballston Quarter (4238 Wilson Blvd), according to a press release.

A spokeswoman described the bakery as the “hybrid intersection of the whimsical and playful with the familiar,” like offering cereal or candy flavors for standard bakery items.

The restaurant is also planned to offer frozen drinks, like milkshakes.

Sidekick owner Salis Holdings is also opening a new location of its Ted’s Bulletin restaurant chain next door. While both restaurants are separate concepts, they do share a head pastry chef.

Ted’s Bulletin, known for its nostalgic desserts, was one of the restaurants that won approval for patio dining last year from the Arlington County Board.

Staff at another Ted’s Bulletin location said the Ballston location is planning to open late next week.

The press release about Sidekick is below, after the jump.

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Amid difficulties for American shopping malls, Arlington’s two malls are betting on new eateries to turn more diners into shoppers.

Management at the newly-renovated Ballston Quarter and the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City say elevated dining options — from Ballston Quarter’s trendy local eateries to newer, healthier options at Pentagon City mall — are becoming an increasingly important part of mall design.

Commercial real estate experts say food options are now the key driver of mall traffic.

A new study released by the International Council of Shopping Centers shows that 40 percent of customers choose which mall they go to based solely on the food there, and nearly 38 percent of those surveyed said healthy options were a priority, according to CNBC.

“People increasingly value experience-based shopping and place higher expectations on how they spend their time,” said Will Voegele, senior vice president of mixed-use development for Brookfield Properties, in an email to ARLnow. “We designed the revitalized Ballston Quarter with the community in mind and our vision reflects a strong focus on experiential retail, innovative food and beverage concepts, and diverse entertainment offerings to create a new all-season neighborhood experience with the density of an urban center that is purposeful, thoughtful and unique.”

Voegele said part of the redesign for Ballston Quarter was to maintain a focus on local vendors for the 25,000 square-foot food hall.

“The uniform array of national names that we associate with the traditional food court does not provide the richness and authenticity that is so important to our mission at Ballston Quarter,” Voegele said. “Families and young professionals still want grab-and-go, but they are also looking for better quality and healthy dining options. Food halls offer the perfect solution in this case.”

Voegele said the new food hall design has gradually supplanted the traditional fast food-oriented food court of the archetypical ’80s and ’90s malls.

“The fundamental design of the traditional mall no longer supports the way people like to shop and dine as consumers are craving visually stimulating and creative experiences,” Voegele said. “The boxy retail behemoths of yesterday are just not practical for today’s landscape.”

Healthy options were also a big part of the expansion and renovation of the Pentagon City mall.

“Fashion Centre at Pentagon City has introduced enhanced dining options over the recent years, including Matchbox American Kitchen + Spirit, honeygrow, Sugar Factory and Shake Shack,” management at the mall said in an email. “In addition, the center added modern furniture, finishes and additional seating during the renovation in 2016 to offer an even better experience for shoppers visiting the dining pavilion.”

But does this translate into sales at other retail options in the mall? Voegele said the Ballston Quarter’s food hall, Quarter Market, has seen consistent traffic across all age groups — and events like Quarterfest last weekend boosted its local profile. The study said transactions increase as much as 25 percent at malls with quality food and beverage options, with shoppers who eat at the mall spending 15 percent more per trip.

Shoppers inside Ballston Quarter weren’t so sure. While several said they came for the food hall and loved the dining options, many also said this wouldn’t necessarily translate into going into the upstairs part of the mall to shop.

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Ballston Quarterfest — a new Ballston-centric music, drinks and food festival replacing Taste of Arlington — is being held weekend.

The festival is scheduled to run from 12-6 p.m. this coming Saturday (May 18) and Sunday (May 19). Admission to the festival is free, but tickets are required for the restaurant crawl or street pub.

Free live music from local performers is planned at a stage next to the street pub for both days.

Other activities around the festival include a “Kids Zone” on Saturday, with face painting and balloon artist, and the Arlington Art Truck, with an interactive art display on Sunday.

The event will take place mainly along Wilson Blvd — like Taste of Arlington — but will be more focused around the new Ballston Quarter mall and Ballston businesses, whereas “Taste” featured restaurants from around the county.

Like Taste of Arlington, the event will come with a series of road closures. Per Arlington County Police:

  • Wilson Blvd will be closed between N. Randolph Street and Glebe Road in both directions the entire weekend (use Fairfax Drive as an alternate route)
  • N. Taylor Street will be closed at Wilson Blvd
  • N. Stuart Street, from 9th Street N. to Wilson Blvd, will be closed
  • 7th Street N., between Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd, will be closed

Temporary “no parking” signs are also planned throughout the area, and illegally parked vehicles could be ticketed or towed. Police encourage attendees to use the Metro or other means to get to the festival.

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(Updated on 05/17/19) A new bus will arrive tomorrow in Ballston, but the only place it’s going is to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC).

Arlington Transit (ART) is organizing a “food drive” for AFAC by building a 10’x10′ bus sculpture from canned food to celebrate the transit agency’s 20th anniversary, per a press release. ART will then donate the food to AFAC after disassembling the sculpture.

ART staff and volunteers will start building tomorrow at 1 p.m. inside Ballston Quarter mall, nearly the newly-opened, health food-focused True Food Kitchen.

The construction is part of AFAC’s annual slew of “Canstruction” food drives. In the past, architecture groups have built elaborate sculptures from thousands of dollars worth of canned goods at the Dulles and Reagan National airports as part of a national movement of donation-by-can-sculpture.

In 2016, the American Institute of Architects Northern Virginia Chapter built a lighthouse out of soup and bean cans in the Ballston mall for one of the building competitions.

Image via Twitter

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True Food Kitchen is an award-winning, health-driven restaurant & seasonal bar rooted in the philosophy that delicious dining and conscious nutrition can go hand in hand without sacrificing flavor, creativity or indulgence.

The flavor-forward menu rotates seasonally to showcase the freshest, in-season produce and nutrient-dense ingredients, and caters to preferences of all kinds with a variety of gluten-friendly, vegan and vegetarian options.

Enjoy lunch, dinner, cocktails and weekend brunch at its new location in Arlington.

For more information, visit TrueFoodKitchen.com/Arlington.

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Ballston Quarter will soon welcome a new clothing retailer, store owners say.

Women’s fashion boutique Scout & Molly’s is set to host a ribbon-cutting for a new Arlington location on Wednesday, June 5, according to a press release about the opening. On Saturday, June 8, the store is scheduled to host a grand opening.

The North Carolina-based company sells clothing and shoes from mid-to-high-end brands including French Connection and Spanx.

“On Wednesday evening from 5-7 p.m., guests can enter for a chance to win a raffle prize and enjoy a free gift with purchase,” the press release noted. “During Saturday’s Grand Opening Celebration from noon-6 p.m., everyone will have the chance to select a surprise egg, with a discount or special gift waiting inside.”

Grand opening attendees will have a shot at snagging $15 gift cards, which store owners said will go to the first 50 customers on June 8.

“Women of all ages and styles will feel like they’re browsing in their best friend’s closet, with a wide array of options for unique gifts, an outfit for a special occasion, or just seasonal fashion inspiration,” said Betsy Abraham, who co-owns the Ballston shop with her mother Jane.

The pair opened their first Scout & Molly’s franchise in Reston two years ago.

Mall owner Forest City announced last April that Scout & Molly’s would open in the newly-renovated Ballston Quarter, along with four other new retailers.

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D.C.-based burger joint All About Burger is now open in Ballston Quarter (671 N. Glebe Road).

The restaurant — owned by a pair of former partners in the Z-Burger restaurant chain — offers its eponymous hand-formed burgers alongside chicken sandwiches, hot dogs and more for under $10. The standard chocolate/vanilla/strawberry milkshakes are available for $4.99 with a wide variety of “premium milkshakes” available for $5.99.

Staff at All About Burger said the restaurant will be open from 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. every day.

The new eatery joins a spate of newly-opened restaurants in the renovated Ballston Quarter mall, including True Food Kitchen, which is set to open next Wednesday.

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(Updated 12 p.m.) True Food Kitchen — a health-food chain — is planning to open its new Ballston Quarter location next Wednesday (May 8) at 11 a.m.

The restaurant has a seasonal menu that includes a variety of vegan and vegetarian choices, like tofu bowls and cheese-less pizzas, in addition to a selection of burgers, sandwiches and entrees with and without meat.

The Arlington restaurant will have an opening dining area, an outdoor patio, and two private dining rooms for special occasions. A bar at the location includes fresh-pressed fruit and vegetable juices, seasonal cocktails, local beer and wine, according to the restaurant website.

The restaurant is also currently hiring staff, including bartenders, servers, and a butcher.

If you want to try True Food before then, the next closest location is the Mosaic District (2910 District Ave.) in Fairfax County.

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