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Inbound platform starting to get crowded at the Ballston Metro station (courtesy photo)

(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) The Ballston and East Falls Church Metro stations are among those set to be impacted by a multi-week closure starting in June.

WMATA recently announced that it is planning to shut down a significant portion of the Orange Line during the summer for “system maintenance and modernization.”

Two Arlington stations — Ballston and East Falls Church — will be impacted by the infrastructure projects. The current plan is that only trains going east, towards Virginia Square and D.C., will be available at the Ballston station from June 3 to June 26, while the East Falls Church station will be shuttered during that time period.

The rest of the Orange Line, from West Falls Church through the end of the line at Vienna, will be closed for a longer period of time, from June 3 to July 17.

Elsewhere, there will be ten days of single-tracking from Stadium-Armory to Cheverly stations on the Orange Line and a complete 44-day shutdown from July 22 to Sept. 4 on the Green Line from Fort Totten to Greenbelt.

Metro summer 2023 shutdown map (image via WMATA)

The reason for the shutdown, WMATA said, is to move forward on “five major projects to improve rail service reliability and modernize rail systems and facilities for customers.”

Those include completing a station roofing project on the Orange Line, replacing 30 miles of four-decade-old and failure-prone steel rails, installing fiber optic cables, modernizing information displays in the downtown stations, and elevator and escalator work at the Dupont station.

“Metro has used the lower ridership months in the summer to advance large maintenance and infrastructure projects with significant customer impacts,” the announcement notes. “By working closely with local jurisdictions, providing extensive free shuttle bus operations, and deploying comprehensive communications and outreach activities, Metro places significant effort to minimize the disruption to customers and the region.”

As for what the “free shuttle bus operations” could mean, county officials told ARLnow that hasn’t been figured out quite yet.

“WMATA will be scheduling coordination meetings with local jurisdictions to develop shuttle plans,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors told ARLnow via email. “As of yet, we haven’t heard from WMATA on their timeline. I don’t expect it to be dissimilar from other temporary station shutdowns.”

Locals have dealt with similar shutdowns. In September, Metro shuttered much of the Yellow Line for bridge and tunnel repairs as well as continuing work on the new Potomac Yard station. The Yellow Line shutdown is expected to continue at least through May, with free shuttles provided for impacted riders.

When Metro instituted similar construction-related shutdowns in both 2020 and 2018, the agency also provided free shuttle bus service.

A major portion of the latest work will be focused on “replacing 40-year-old steel rail that has become significantly more susceptible to rail breaks than rail in any other part of the system.” Metro says that it has been tracking rail breaks and determined the stretch of track between Ballston and Vienna “to be a top priority” for replacement.

The Ballston Metro station averages about 3,500 daily entries on weekdays, which is more than the Clarendon, Courthouse, and Virginia Square stations but below Rosslyn, Crystal City, Pentagon City, and the Pentagon. East Falls Church averages about 1,600 entries.

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Ballston is about to get spicier with Hangry Joe’s Hot Chicken Pub & Wings opening next week.

The Nashville-style hot chicken chain plans to open its newest location on Monday (Jan. 30) at 875 N. Randolph Street, a block away from Wilson Blvd and a couple of blocks from the Metro station.

The location is the former home of breakfast and lunch spot Laura Cooks, which closed in July.

ARLnow first reported that Hangry Joe’s was coming to Ballston late last year. It was initially scheduled to open in early December, but it was delayed by several weeks.

The menu mostly consists of spicy fried chicken in sandwich, tender, and nugget form. The website touts its secret chicken recipe as a reason for its success. The location is expected to serve beer and wine as well, having applied for a Virginia ABC license.

The first Hangry Joe’s was opened near Richmond in 2021 by the founder of frozen yogurt purveyor Sweet Frog.

The fast-casual franchise has since expanded rather quickly. While this is the first Arlington location, there are already eleven other locations across Northern Virginia including several in Alexandria and Fairfax County. They’ve all opened within the past year.

Currently, there are plans to open eateries in at least nine other states across the country plus one in Dubai.

With Hangry Joe’s opening, the battle for Ballston’s best hot chicken is heating up with Hot Lola’s in the Ballston Quarter food hall now facing some competition.

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Parking along 13th Street S. in Pentagon City near Amazon’s second headquarters in 2019 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Next month, Arlington County will hold a community event to kick off a three-year parking pilot program that prices parking by demand in a few highly trafficked corridors.

This is the first official step forward since the Arlington County Board accepted a $5.4 million grant from the Virginia Dept. of Transportation for the “performance parking” program.

The pilot would electronically monitor parking space usage alter parking prices based on the day, time and the number of people competing for a metered parking space along the Rosslyn-Ballston and Crystal City-Pentagon City corridors. It would also give drivers real-time information on spot availability and price.

In the meeting description, Arlington County says the three-year pilot project could “improve the user experience for metered parking spaces in two key commercial and residential corridors in Arlington.”

“Join the project team for a Community Kick-Off meeting to learn more about the pilot project, the technology we’ll be using to inform the project, and share your input on the pilot project’s goals to help us understand your priorities for metered parking spaces in the Rosslyn-Ballston and Route 1 corridors,” per the website.

According to the event page, meeting attendees will be able to:

  • Learn about the pilot’s background and purpose
  • Get briefed on the status of metered parking in the two Metrorail corridors
  • Learn what technology will be used and what data will be collected, and how this will inform the project’s next steps
  • Get a first look at a demonstration site

Arlington County Board members approved the program in late 2020 after hashing out concerns from some opponents about how this would impact people with lower incomes. Members were convinced by the case staff made that lower-income people are less likely to have one or more cars and could save money on parking by choosing to park on less-popular streets and for shorter time periods.

Ultimately, however, the pilot project is intended to sort out these concerns and “map out any mitigations that are necessary,” parking planner Stephen Crim said at the time.

Project proponent Chris Slatt said at the time that variable-price parking ensures that spots are generally available where and when people want them. He pointed to the city of San Francisco, which found that the program made it easier for people to find parking. This reduced double parking, improved congestion and lowered greenhouse gas emissions.

An online Q&A about the project lists as goals, “Drivers spend less time looking for on-street parking” and “Vehicle miles travelled resulting from on-street parking search or ‘cruising’ are reduced.” That will come at a cost, though, as parking rates are increased in busy areas.

The virtual community kick-off meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 23 from 7-8:30 p.m.

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A bus parked at a new bus bay outside of the Ballston Metro station (file photo)

Update at 5:25 p.m. — Metrorail service has been restored on the Orange and Silver lines after a power outage in Ballston that lasted around half an hour. Riders should expect residual delays, Metro said.

Earlier: Metrorail service on the Orange and Silver lines has been suspended due to a power outage.

WMATA said shortly before 5 p.m. that “a power outage at Ballston” has prompted a suspension of train service between Clarendon and West Falls Church/McLean.

So far there is no word on when service might resume. Shuttle buses have been requested to the affected stations, the transit agency said.

Dominion’s website currently lists an outage in Ballston with an estimated restoration time of 8-11 p.m.

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Grill Kabob is now open in Ballston on N. Glebe Road (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A new Afghan kabob restaurant in Ballston has officially started serving.

Grill Kabob at 708 N. Glebe Road opened this past weekend, a restaurant employee confirmed.

This is the 13th area location of the local chain of family-owned eateries. The design, decor, and menu are all similar to its other locations with the menu focusing on Afghan-styled kabobs along with salads and sandwiches.

Ownership did tell ARLnow last spring that the menu might change over time depending on the popularity of certain items at the Ballston location.

ARLnow first reported that Grill Kabob was opening a new location in Ballston back in April 2022. The initial plan was to open in the summer. ARLnow has reached out to ownership about the delay but has to hear back as of publication.

Co-owner Wais Shoja said the reason that they chose this site was because of all the new apartment buildings and the abundance of  office space, as well as the Metro accessibility and the neighborhood’s continued development. While the first Grill Kabob opened in the Springfield Mall more than two decades ago, Shoja said the focus since has been to open locations near residential and office areas.

Ballston has seen an influx of development over the past few years, along with a number of other restaurant either opening recently or planning to.

Across the street from Grill Kabob, Gyu San Japanese BBQ is set to start sizzling likely later this year. Coffee shop Slipstream is aiming to open around the corner from there within the next few months as well, a spokesperson confirmed to ARLnow recently.

A few doors down from Grill Kabob, the new Ballston Silver Diner opened last month.

There’s also the impending redevelopment of the Macy’s site, also located just across the street from where Grill Kabob just opened.

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(Updated at midnight) The driver of a pickup truck struck a pedestrian at a busy Ballston area intersection this afternoon.

The crash happened around 3 p.m at the intersection of Fairfax Drive and N. Quincy Street. Initial reports suggest that the pedestrian, a woman, was in the crosswalk when she was struck.

The woman was said to be injured and in the roadway, but conscious and breathing, per the medic dispatch. A man is also reported to be in medical distress after the crash, though it was not immediately clear whether he was struck by the truck.

A small crowd could be seen gathered around the crash scene.

Arlington County police tell ARLnow that the driver was cited for the crash.

“At approximately 3:01 p.m., police were dispatched to N. Quincy Street at Fairfax Drive for the report of a crash with injuries involving two pedestrians,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “The two pedestrians, an adult male and adult female, were transported to an area hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene and was cited for failure to yield to the pedestrians in the crosswalk. “

Eastbound Fairfax Drive and northbound N. Quincy Street was blocked for a time by the emergency response.

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Isa Seyran (photo courtesy of Ibrahim Turk)

As a waiter at some of the region’s glitzy, famous, and most expensive restaurants, Ballston resident Isa Seyran has seen it all.

Tense political negotiations. Joyous family reunions. Power brokers holding court. Elaborate marriage proposals. A first lady having a great night out.

And now, after more than two decades, Seyran is telling his story about serving others in his new book “Waiter: Reflections and Memories, A Brief History of Washington D.C’s World-Class Dining Scene.”

“Call me crazy. Call me romantic,” Seyran told ARLnow. “But I think there’s something sacred about feeding people.”

Seyran made his way to this country and Arlington 22 years ago. He grew up in a small village in Turkey, always interested in “literature, language, and poetry.” While he says he could have had a fine life there in a “diplomatic career,” Seyran knew that wasn’t for him.

“I wanted to be free. So, I escaped with a one-way ticket and $300,” he said.

And that’s how he landed in the Ballston neighborhood, where he has lived since moving to the U.S.

He calls himself a true “Ballstonian,” throwing out memories like how there used to be a Shell gas station where he washed his car at the spot where The Salt Line is now.

Isa Seyran (photo courtesy of George Kolotov)

Seyran began working in restaurants, using his charisma, love of people, “genuine smile,” and ability to learn quickly to earn a place working as a waiter, bartender, host, and manager at some of the region’s most well-known eateries.

That includes ​​Zaytinya, Rasika, Bombay Club, Galileo, Fiola Mare, Faccia Luna, and Ballston’s The Salt Line, where he works as a waiter today.

By his estimate, he’s served nearly a half million diners in his career.

Besides working at restaurants, he’s also found time for his “hobby” as an author, playwright, and filmmaker. In 2015, a play he wrote was part of the Capital Fringe festival. Then, in 2019, Seyran’s short film about working in the local restaurant industry was chosen to be part of an Amazon-sponsored film festival.

The new book is an all-encompassing look into his life over the past two decades filled with stories, experiences, and memories.

The point of the book, he said, is not to be “salacious or malicious” about the industry he has worked in, but to provide an “honest account” of what restaurant workers experience on an everyday basis.

“There are people who are the unseen heroes of our industry, the busboys, the managers, and the dishwashers I work with. I thought it would be a nice tribute…writing their stories,” Seyran explained.

That being said, there are a number of anecdotes in the book that may create some good old-fashioned D.C. buzz.

There’s the one about former First Lady Michelle Obama being a “camper.”

Michelle Obama had the night of her life with two of her female friends at Rasika, drinking martinis first, then a bottle of wine, eating a sumptuous meal with appetizer, main course, dessert, masala chai and the whole nine yards. But when her security detail did not eat or drink anything, I lost between seventy and a hundred dollars in the first seating.

Like that was not enough of a loss, Ms. Obama turned out to be what we call in the industry “camper,” a guest who overstayed their welcome, which cost me another hundred dollars in the second seating.

Or how he once got bribed to give up a famed Washington Post restaurant critic’s identity.

Read More

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Northside Social New Year’s (file photo)

There are plenty of places to celebrate locally as the calendar flips to 2023.

After two years of subdued New Year’s Eve parties due to the pandemic, a number of Arlington restaurants are roaring back with events.

Below are some of the Arlington restaurants, bars and spaces where you can ring in the new year.

The decked halls of B Live (courtesy Albert Ting)

B Live’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve
2854 Wilson Blvd
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $25

Mike and Christal Bramson opened B Live, one of Clarendon’s newest entertainment venues, opened in May. A ticket to the party gets you a drink ticket, a champagne toast, an hors d’oeuvres station and access to a photo booth. Live entertainment is provided by Klepto Radio.

Interior dining space at Wilson Hardware in Clarendon (photo courtesy of Wilson Hardware)

Sixth Annual Wilson Wonderland New Year’s Eve
2915 Wilson Blvd
Time: 9 p.m.
Cost: Starting at $60

Taking place in the Wilson Hardware’s newly revamped million-dollar space, admission to the party includes “party favors” and two drink tickets. There will be a DJ, a light show and a ball drop as well.

Pamplona Prohibition New Year’s Eve
3100 Clarendon Blvd
Time: 8 p.m.
Cost: $45

Pamplona, another Bramson nightlife venture in Clarendon, is hosting its sixth annual “prohibition party.” A ticket gets you three drink tickets, appetizers, party favors, a champagne toast and dancing.

Exterior view of Renegade in Clarendon (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

New Year’s Eve with Tunnels End at the Renegade
3100 Clarendon Blvd
Time: 10 p.m.
Cost: TBA

This Clarendon hangout at the forefront of Arlington’s live music revival will host a local pop/punk cover band Tunnel’s End that will have you remembering the early aughts.

Lyon Hall’s New Year’s Eve 2022
3100 Washington Blvd
Time: 9 p.m.
Cost: No cover.

Clarendon mainstay Lyon Hall hosts local jazz band Vanessa Ralls and the Berries for a New Year’s Eve concert. There will also be a holiday menu and drink specials.

Punch Bowl Social in Ballston in October 2020

Punch Bowl Social New Year’s Eve Celebration
4238 Wilson Blvd
Time: 9 p.m.
Cost: Starting at $10

General admission to the Ballston bar and entertainment venue on New Year’s Eve gets you live music from DJ and access to a photo booth. A VIP ticket at $50 gets light bites, a sectioned-off space, a midnight toast and “free activities” as well.

Clarendon Ballroom entrance on a Saturday night (staff photo)

New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball at Clarendon Ballroom
3185 Wilson Blvd
Time: 9 p.m.
Cost: Starting at $45

Clarendon Ballroom was also recently revamped and reopened over the summer. All three floors, including outdoors, will be open during the party. There will also be an ice luge, party favors, a photo booth, a champagne toast and live entertainment from several DJs.

Interior of WHINO in Ballston (Photo courtesy of Timothy Yantz/WHINO)

New Year’s Blowout at WHINO
4238 Wilson Blvd
Time: 10 p.m.
Cost: $25

WHINO, a restaurant and art gallery that opened at Ballston Quarter in June 2021, is hosting a party with two DJs as well as a countdown to and champagne toast at midnight.

Smokecraft’s Fire & Ice New Year’s Eve 2023
1051 N. Highland Street
Time: 8 p.m.
Cost: Starting at $125

This two-year-old barbeque joint in Clarendon will have a buffet for New Year’s. A ticket grants access to the buffet plus an open bar and a $25 gift card to be used in 2023.

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Ballston Service Station is now closed at Ballston Quarter (photo courtesy of Ray Caputo)

Bar and snack spot Ballston Service Station located inside of Ballston Quarter Market is now closed

The bar at the center of the food hall shuttered several weeks ago, Ballston Quarter Market’s general manager tells ARLnow, confirming several reader tips received by ARLnow.

Ballston Service Station was one of the first businesses to commit to the newly-revamped Ballston Quarter in late 2018.

The low-key watering hole was designed to look like “your hometown gas station.” It had a bar, a tap, and several televisions. Now, there’s only plywood and paneling covering the bar.

ARLnow reached out to the owners of Ballston Service Station about why it closed but has not heard back. Ballston Quarter management also declined to comment on if another tenant is lined up to replace it.

Recent months have seen several comings and goings at the food hall inside the Ballston mall. In August, British-inspired Salt Pop Kitchen closed while, in September, Kung Fu Tea opened on the other side of Ballston Service Station.

Meanwhile, the Macy’s next to the mall is set to undergo a huge redevelopment after County Board approval this weekend.

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Philz Coffee in Ballston is closing at the end of the week.

The San Francisco-based coffee shop located in the Ballston Exchange development is set to shutter on Friday, a note on the door confirms.

“We have loved serving this community over the last 4 years,” reads the note. “While this Philz location has permanently closed as of December 16, 2022, you can find other locations and shop our blends online at: philzcoffee.com.”

Philz is known for its pour-over coffee and specialty iced coffees.

The location along Wilson Blvd in Ballston first opened in early 2019, as part of the coffee chain’s expansion in the D.C. area. At one point, there were five Philz locations in the region.

With the Ballston one closing there will only be two remaining, in D.C.’s Adam Morgan and Navy Yard neighborhoods. The location in Dupont closed earlier this year.

Ballston still has a number of coffee options, including Compass Coffee, Good Company Doughnuts and Cafe and multiple Starbucks locations. Just down the street from the soon-to-be-closed Philz, D.C.-based Slipstream is currently expected to open early next year.

It’s not immediately clear why Philz is closing, with a manager saying they were “not authorized” to share the reason.

We reached out to the Philz marketing department but have yet to hear back as of publication. On multiple recent visits, ARLnow observed few open tables inside the coffee shop but a relatively lower volume of customers compared to Compass Coffee or nearby Starbucks locations.

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Silver Diner, a local staple since 1996, is auctioning off iconic decor from its Clarendon location following its closure this past weekend.

The diner’s staff is moving to a new, 6,700 square foot location in Ballston — set to open tomorrow (Wednesday) — but long-time decorations are now on the auction block for charity.

Items and current bid prices range from a two-top table for $35 to a “Time to Dine” clock for $600 and a retro tabletop jukebox for $1,800. Also up for auction are iconic neon signs, vintage chairs, and other items.

The online auction closes just before midnight on Thursday, Dec. 22 and will benefit Real Food for Kids, the local nonprofit that works “to end hunger and bring nutrition security to children in Arlington” and the greater Washington region.

Silver Diner operated its Clarendon location for more than 25 years, serving up classic American comfort food with a modern twist. The new location, at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd, is set to have a full bar plus 244 seats — 191 indoors and 68 on a seasonal outdoor patio.

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