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Salsa, Sip & Mingle Flyer (courtesy of Ballston BID)

An event featuring food, drink and salsa dancing is scheduled to take place at Ballston Quarter’s outdoor plaza tomorrow for National Hispanic Heritage Month.

From 5-7 p.m. on Wednesday, locally-based DJ Cyd will spin salsa tracks to accompany dance lessons with instructor Ricky Ricardo outside the Quarter Market food hall, at 4238 Wilson Blvd. Salsa, Sip & Mingle will also feature sangria and food tastings from Bartaco, COPA Kitchen and Bar, Ted’s Bulletin and Ice Cream Jubilee.

Tickets can be purchased online for $20 and come with a sangria drink, salsa lessons and food. Admission is free for employees who work in most Ballston office buildings and for members of the Arlington and NOVA Hispanic chambers of commerce. Those eligible can get their free ticket by including work information and the promo code SALSA2021 at checkout.

This is the Ballston Business Improvement District’s eighth year of holding Sip & Mingle events, but its first-ever salsa-themed event to honor National Hispanic Heritage Month, said a BID representative.

The celebratory month started as a week-long holiday in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson, to honor the anniversary of independence from Spanish rule for several Central American countries.

President Ronald Reagan extended National Hispanic Heritage Month to be 30 days long in 1988. The celebration now runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15.

The BID has not hosted a Sip & Mingle event since January of 2020.

“This will be our first Sip & Mingle since COVID forced events to be canceled,” said BID CEO Tina Leone. “It’s exciting to have a wonderful reason to get the community back together, sing, dance and have some fun.”

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An “immersive group gaming entertainment facility” is coming to Ballston Quarter.

That could mean something like an escape room, or virtual reality gaming experiences.

The entertainment facility will take up about 2,217 square feet of space located at Suite 2233, on the second floor of Ballston Quarter, according to a permit filed with Arlington County. The permit had no further details about who or what is coming.

When asked what it could be, a spokesman for Brookfield Properties, which manages the retail at Ballston Quarter, said he can’t say.

“We are not able to comment on this as we don’t comment on behalf of our tenants,” he said.

After making a few inquiries, it’s still a mystery. 5 Wits, which provides live-action immersive experiences and already has a location in Ballston Quarter, said it’s not expanding.

“At this time, there is no expansion planned for 5 Wits Arlington,” a spokesperson said.

VR Zone DC Arcade and VR Arena, a virtual-reality gaming experience with locations in D.C. and Rockville, Maryland, also confirmed it’s not that company: “It’s not us and we unfortunately don’t know who’s coming to Ballston.”

Two years ago, The VOID — a virtual-reality gaming experience that received a lot of media attention — announced it was coming to Tysons Corner Center. But the poster-child for VR arcades faced financial problems and its Tysons location has since shut down.

The VR gaming concept, generally speaking, has reportedly struggled to take off and faced significant setbacks during the pandemic.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt 

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Removery, a tattoo removal company based out of Austin, Texas, is planning to open a location at Ballston Quarter in early August.

The studio at 4238 Wilson Blvd, in the open-air portion of the shopping center, will offer services related to removing or changing tattoos. It will remove tattoos of all sizes and colors and change or cover up old ink jobs with the help of local tattoo artists, according to the company’s website.

“Relationship status changes, changes in their lifestyle, because someone thought it was cool in college and now they have a family,” Removery’s Director of Marketing Trent Lootens said. “People are transitioning in their lives and we play a large role in that.”

The expansion into Arlington this summer is part of the company’s plan to open over 200 new locations across North America and Australia in large, metropolitan areas over the next five years, said Caitlin Wolf, Removery’s Public Relations Director.

The company was formed in 2019 through the merger of the nation’s four biggest tattoo removal companies. Removery’s founders, originally from Australia, saw an opportunity to establish sites in the U.S. that exclusively offer tattoo removal services, Lootens said.

“A lot of plastic surgeons and dermatologists do this but no one specializes in this and makes it the focal point like we do,” he said.

A small tattoo costs about $990 to remove while a larger tattoo costs around $3,990. Price depends on the quantity of ink the customer wants removed. A medium-sized tattoo takes about ten treatments to fully remove spaced out over sessions six to eight weeks apart. Each session takes about 15 minutes.

The company last year made national headlines because of its INK-nitiative, a program that offers free tattoo removals to formerly or currently incarcerated people, gang members, survivors of human trafficking or people who have hateful tattoos. For every paying customer the company will provide a removal for someone in any of those categories.

The new Arlington shop will make the program accessible to D.C. area residents who meet the qualifications and wish to have such tattoos removed. So far, around 90 people have had tattoos removed through INK-nitative, said Lootens.

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Steadfast Supply in Ballston (Staff Photo)

Steadfast Supply in Ballston will be closing this Saturday, June 27.

Last week, a handwritten sign was spotted on the glass doors noting the store’s last day and reduced, weekend-only hours. The store is located in an open-air section of Ballston Quarter mall.

Steadfast Supply’s founder and creative director Virginia Arrisueño confirmed the store’s closing in an email to ARLnow, noting that ownership made the decision to not to renew the lease.

“We have sincerely enjoyed our time at Ballston Quarter! We met so many new and wonderful customers. Sadly, we decided to not renew our lease and will be closing our doors on Sunday June 27,” Arrisueño wrote. “We are incredibly grateful for the warm welcome that we received in Arlington, and forever thankful for your support. ⁠Please feel free to visit our Washington, DC location at The Yards or online at www.steadfastsupplydc.com.”

The D.C.-based boutique shop opened in Ballston Quarter in July 2019, offering handmade goods from small vendors, including jewelry, home goods, clothes, and leather bags.

When Steadfast Supply opened two years ago, Arrisueño told ARLnow that she hoped the shop would be a supportive space for artisans to test out products and learn.

“My goal with Steadfast Supply was to create a cool retail setting where talented creatives can grow their brands,” she said. “As a designer myself, I know how tough and competitive the retail industry is, and I wanted to provide a supportive space where brands can ask us questions about line sheets, packaging, etc., receive direct feedback and suggestions on how to improve their products.”

The store started as a pop-up in Navy Yard in 2016 before expanding to a 3,000-square foot space in Southeast D.C. at The Yards shortly thereafter. That location remains open.

Ballston Quarter has had plenty of comings and goings just in the past month. Sloppy Mama’s BBQ closed earlier this month, while a 6,200-square-foot combination restaurant and art gallery opened just last week. A new dog daycare, grooming, and veterinarian business opened in late May.

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(Updated 4:30 p.m.) Tend, a company that says it treats going to the dentist as a spa-like experience, will be opening in Ballston later this year.

Located at 4201 Wilson Blvd, in the Ballston Exchange complex across the street from Ballston Quarter mall, the new location is targeting a fall 2021 opening, a company representative tells ARLnow.

Tend is a New York-based luxury dentistry practice start-up that’s quickly expanding. It claims to be the first dentist that people actually look forward to. Appointments are booked through an app, offices are Instagramable, and patients can watch Netflix with noise-canceling headphones while getting their teeth cleaned.

The company recently raised $125 million for their further expansion in New York as well as the opening of several locations in Boston and the D.C. area.

Four D.C. locations are listed on Tend’s website as coming soon, but the Ballston office is not listed as of yet, nor is any other location in Virginia.

“We’re excited to kick off our ARL expansion in Ballston and are in active negotiation for additional locations throughout NoVA,” writes co-founder Andy Grover in an email to ARLnow.

Grover says that the reason Tend is expanding to the D.C. area is because there are similarities to the New York market, where the company already has found success.

“We know how successful our offering has been in NYC and we see a lot of parallels to D.C. — an urban, educated and sophisticated population that isn’t being served by an ecosystem of patient-centered dental care,” writes Grover. “Because of the commuting patterns of D.C. residents and the way the D.C. population has grown, we knew the [Rosslyn-Ballston] Corridor was a natural fit. Ballston Exchange has attracted top-tier restaurants and services to serve nearby residents and workers and we’re proud to be a part of it!”

The company is currently hiring for on-site jobs at the Ballston location, including dental care staff (dentists, hygienists, and assistants), studio managers, and associates for the “Welcome Bar.”

Ballston has seen a plethora of buzzy business announcements and openings in recent weeks. WHINO, an “experiential” restaurant and art gallery combination, is opening on Friday, June 18. Grilled chicken restaurant Farmbird starting serving customers this week, Salt Line is aiming a summer opening, and plant shop REWILD is looking at a July opening, among others.

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WHINO, a 6,200-square-foot combination restaurant and art gallery, is set to open its doors at Ballston Quarter next week.

First announced in August 2018, the venue will combine a 150-seat restaurant and craft cocktail bar serving dishes that “meld American and international flavors” with a pop-art gallery that invites patrons to “inhabit large-scale mural installations.”

WHINO is located on the second floor of the shopping center, at 4238 Wilson Boulevard. It is set to open on Friday, June 18.

It comes from Shane Pomajambo, the D.C.-based art curator who ran Blind Whino and other prominent galleries in the region. Arlingtonians may know him as the person behind the massive street art show in Crystal City a decade ago.

Pomajambo tells ARLnow he picked Ballston as the location for his next venture because of the “great foot traffic” and the neighborhood’s residents are its “core demographic.”

It will serve a late night crowd, at least during the latter half of the week. Thursday through Saturday, WHINO will stay open until 2 a.m.

The venue’s murals encompass a dozen different genres and focus on a new art movement known as “lowbrow/pop surrealist,” according to a press release.

A number of the murals will be rotated out regularly with new art coming in every month creating a “living art gallery,” as Washingtonian reports. The current roster of muralists includes an artist, Dragon76, who just finished a massive mural in Houston in conjunction with a United Nations project.

There will also be a retail component to the venue, with a number of limited-edition sculptures from artists across the world on sale, with prices ranging from $50 to $300.

The restaurant is set to hold 152 diners in an open floor plan that will have six different areas, including a 25-seat kitchen bar, a 51-foot craft cocktail bar, and a 11-seat beverage tasting bar.

The small plate menu comes from executive chef Eleftherios (Terry) Natas, a New Jersey-born Greek American who previously worked for El Centro in D.C. and Mike Isabella’s Graffino. A number of items are influenced by Natas’s Greek background, including smoked octopus and gyro meat wrapped in phyllo dough. There will also be handmade ricotta gnocchi, porchetta sliders and scallop aguachile.

“The menu is designed to encourage exploration as small plates afford guests the opportunity to experience more flavor profiles,” Pomajambo says.

A number of other much-anticipated businesses are planning to open in Ballston in the coming months, including The Salt Line, looking at a summer debut. The popular plant shop REWILD is planning a July opening while chicken restaurant Farmbird is starting to serve this week.

Other recent restaurant openings and anticipated openings in Ballston include Ballston Local, El Rey, Hawkers Asian Street Fare, and Quincy Hall.

Heart + Paw, a combination veterinarian, pet groomer and dog daycare, just opened last month as well.

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Local barbecue spot Sloppy Mama’s has closed its outpost in the Ballston Quarter food hall.

The location closed last week after “operating costs became too much, especially with the recent meat pricing spikes,” owner Joe Neuman tells ARLnow. “The volume of sales just wasn’t there to sustain operations land we had to cut our losses.”

But Sloppy Mama’s is not going anywhere. Its primary, standalone location at 5731 Lee Highway is doing just fine, Neuman says.

“We’ve been staying quite busy at our Lee Highway location,” he said, adding that the Ballston Quarter closure “will allow us to consolidate some staffing and operate more efficiently to provide even better BBQ and service.”

Sloppy Mama’s Ballston and Lee Highway locations opened within a few months of each other in 2019. The latter is where the meats are actually smoked and cooked, whereas the mall location was simply a sales outpost.

In a bit of additional positive news for barbecue fans, Neuman said breakfast service on Lee Highway, launched 10 months ago, is “going well” and “here to stay,” while adding that “we might tweak our hours a little bit.”

For now, Neuman is focused on re-opening the restaurant for in-person dining.

“Our number one priority is getting the dining room open,” he said. “We’ve been doing some remodeling so even as Virginia opened up we weren’t able to open just yet — but I think we’re gonna be able to get it open next week.”

“Once we get the dining room open and get our feet under us with… we will possibly look to going back to seven days a week,” he added.

One additional focus: a program recently launched by Sloppy Mama’s to provide free meals as a thank you to local teachers. Community members are being encouraged to donate to the program, for which the restaurant subsidizes 40% of the costs.

This past fall the Washington Post ranked Sloppy Mama’s as the No. 9 barbecue joint in the D.C. area.

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A new combination veterinarian service, dog daycare and grooming business is being unveiled at the Ballston Quarter.

Heart + Paw’s grand opening is this Saturday, at 700 N. Randolph Street, marking the company’s first location in Virginia. Company co-founder George Melillo said the spot was a natural choice.

“Our vision has been to create a destination that has multiple pet care services in one location, led by the most trusted partner in animal care, the veterinarian,” Melillo, who is also the company’s chief veterinary officer, said in an email.

People and their leashed pets are invited to check out the new facility and meet the staff there from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations are required, and $50 discounts and other rewards are available, including a grand prize worth $500 for your pet.

“We are looking forward to offering our services at the vibrant, pet-friendly Ballston Quarter,” Dr. Noon Kampani, the location’s partner doctor, said in a news release. “As families transition back to normalcy and return to the office, Heart + Paw is here to be a part of making sure your pet is well cared for.”

The location was slated to open in 2020, but the business delayed the debut so people could see the new center firsthand.

“Throughout the pandemic, Heart + Paw has continued to grow,” Melillo told ARLnow.com, noting that “we slowed down our expansion in order to assure that we were balancing the needs of existing essential care providers: keeping our people safe, the public safe and serving the pet care needs of our communities.”

The location is next to LensCrafters on the first floor of the retail center’s open-air row of shops. Hours will be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Photo courtesy Heart + Paw

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Ballston Quarter’s Zofia’s Kitchen (4238 Wilson Blvd) is cooking up a limited edition batch of Star Wars-themed snacks, and missing out would be a Wookie mistake.

The restaurant is operating with limited staff but said in a press release that they decided to go all in on “May the Fourth” — a sort of quasi-holiday for Star Wars fans on May 4 rooted in a “May the Force be with you” pun.

“Zofia’s has decided to embrace its inner culinary nerd by going all-out for the International Geek Holiday that is May the Fourth by offering limited edition pierogi made a long time ago in a galaxy far far away,” the restaurant said. “Available 8 to an order, Steamed, sauteed, fried or frozen in carbonite by request.”

A half dozen special menu items are listed for the week.

  •  The Obi-Won Pierogi: Tatooine Tagine. Braised Chicken, Raisin, Almond, Tunisian Harissa and Couscous — $11.99
  • The Baby Yoda Pierogi: Peas, Mint, Midichlorians, Lemon and Ricotta — $11.99
  • The Vader Pierogi: Chorizo and Provolone. Note that the white cheese inside represents the good that must be in him still! The Vader pierogi comes with a mandatory force choking hazard warning of course.(please take your time groaning at this joke) — $12.99
  • The C-Threepierogi: Blanched multicolor vegetable pasta / standard Android wiring — $11.99
  • The Tauntaun Wonton: And you thought they smelled bad on the outside! Red-wine pear and stinky Gorgonzola — $12.99
  • Blue Milk Cocktail: In a pouch for Jedi on-the-go! — Price TBD

“This deal is available for a limited time,” the restaurant said. “We’ve altered the deal by offering it May 3-7. Pray that we don’t alter it further.”

The restaurant is open for dine-in, pick-up or delivery from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. If you’re trying to find it in Ballston Quarter: this is the way.

Photo via Zofia’s Kitchen/Facebook

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(Updated at 12:05 p.m.) After being cancelled last year, Ballston’s Quarterfest is back on next month.

The Ballston Business Improvement District and its charity BallstonGives is hosting the second annual Ballston Quarterfest Crawl — the event that replaced Taste of Arlington in 2019 — from 12-7 p.m on Saturday, May 15.

Attendees to the free event are being invited to explore the neighborhood, rain or shine, while enjoying live outdoor music, grabbing food and drink specials from local restaurants, and playing giant-sized games.

Plus, there’s going to be a neighborhood-wide scavenger hunt that will require teams to answer questions, bounce around Ballston, and win prizes, including for best costume, sponsored by Homeward Trails Animal Rescue.

A number of local restaurants have signed on to offer specials including Bronson Bierhall, Ted’s Bulletin, Copa Kitchen & Bar, Sidekick Bakery, Union Kitchen, bartaco, Jimmy John’s, Hot Lola’s, We the Pizza, Good Company Doughnuts & Café, and Ballston Service Station, according to a press release.

There will also be live performances from local musicians in locations across Ballston. As of April 15, participating artists include Justin Trawick, Columbia Pike Blues Festival vet Bobby Thompson, Karen Jonas, Jenny Langer, and Janine Wilson.

As with everything these days, there will be a number of safety precautions in place including social distancing, masks required, and constant cleaning of high-touch areas.

“We wanted to provide a distanced, family-friendly, and socially-responsible opportunity for our community, neighbors, and visitors to enjoy Ballston,” Tina Leone, CEO of the Ballston BID, wrote in the press release. “We want everyone to feel safe and have fun while supporting our local businesses. We’re implementing social-distancing, sanitizing stations, and constant cleaning to ensure the safety of our attendees.”

“This year’s Quarterfest Crawl is open to the public, and is a free-flowing event across the neighborhood,” a BID spokesperson also noted. “It’s not concentrated in one particular location as it has been in the past.”

After a year of Arlington events being cancelled, some are looking to return as vaccine rates continue to rise through the spring and into the summer. The BID said locals should expect more Ballston events to return as the year goes on.

“We are excited to see our programs re-launch; we just opened our Farmer’s Market for the 2021 season and are looking forward to bringing back our Mega Markets beginning May 6,” the spokesperson said. “We’re actively collaborating with our neighborhood’s businesses, community partners, and Arlington County to create even more events and opportunities for people to safely visit and explore Ballston this year.”

Photo courtesy bartaco

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A pair of Arlington projects recently received national recognition for their unique design and use of steel.

The Top Steel Design Awards recognize — as the name might suggest — building architecture that incorporates steel in interesting and distinct ways.

The Merit Award went to the Ballston Quarter Pedestrian Walkway, which opened in 2019 after the original bridge was torn down in 2017. A judge in the Top Steel Design Awards credited the choice of frame and the walkway’s “visually captivating” quality.

“The crossover segment at mid-span creatively addresses the offset entrances of the connected buildings, and the steel HSS frame is an ideal choice to resist the complex forces of this innovative bridge design,” Stephanie Hautzinger, associate vice president of  CannonDesign in Chicago, said in a press release. “The resulting structure has a sculptural quality that is visually captivating from both the exterior and interior.”

The project was designed by studioTECHNE architects in Cleveland.

A new Arlington Public School building was also among the ten winning projects from across the U.S., which were categorized by overall cost. The Heights, the new home to H-B Woodlawn and the Stratford Program at 1601 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, won the top award for the $75-200 million category.

The school was designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group in Brooklyn and Leo A Daly in D.C.

Judges praised the unique structure of the building.

“The ambiguity of how this building is supported is one of the most fascinating features of the structure, and it is all due to the structural steel trusses behind the scene,” said Maysa Kantner, a structural steel specialist, in the press release. “Coordination and communication are required on every project but I imagine for this level of uniqueness, those two things had to be stepped up in a big way. It is so great to see what can be done with project teams when they all work together and think outside the typical box-shaped buildings!”

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