Arlington, VA

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties is proudly featuring a rare leasing opportunity at 1101 Wilson Blvd: 5 contiguous floors with exceptional views, building signage opportunity and brand new amenities. Enjoy all the perks of easy access and ample parking; a variety of food trucks at your front door; and enviable walkable amenities. Join YEXT and other leading tech companies at this vibrant location.14

The international coronavirus pandemic has put a brick on the gas pedal for one Ballston startup called GoTab, which was facilitating social distancing before it went mainstream.

GoTab locates nearby eateries and pulls up the menu, allowing customers to place their own orders directly into the business’s system and schedule a pickup. It’s more efficient than phone orders and is less costly to restaurants than delivery services like GrubHub.

“We do think the world is going to more online, it just went more online a lot faster,” said Tim McLaughlin, CEO of GoTab.

McLaughlin said the original design for GoTab was use in-restaurant for things like placing orders on your phone rather than waiting in line. It’s an idea that McLaughlin said is increasingly popular, pointing to Starbucks’ mobile order program. GoTab also benefits from having no need to create a profile or download an app.

Placing orders for takeout and delivery (by the restaurant’s own drivers) was just a side feature of GoTab, but COVID-19 changed that. McLaughlin said while the eventual goal is to get back to in-restaurant use, takeout and delivery orders have taken the spotlight.

“It had always been a feature but not something we sold by itself,” McLaughlin said. “Takeout was not usually the majority of the revenue, it was always something that was bundled along with on-premises. Now that’s changed. Because it’s cost-effective, we just kind of said ‘let’s help restaurants get online quickly and easily.'”

As also reported by Washingtonian, the company is offering its tool for free to restaurants, taprooms, breweries and others that have been affected by COVID-19 related shutdowns.

Seeing heavier use than normal, the website had some technical bumps last week, but McLaughlin said they’ve been worked out. The main struggle has been adapting the tool even further to the extremes of social distancing.

“There’s things that are different now that we’ve had to implement quickly,” McLaughlin said. “People used to come in and talk to the host, but now people are standing outside the restaurant. People might bring [food] out and never exchange cards. It’s clean and low-to-no contact, but in order for that to work, need a way to communicate without face to face.”

McLaughlin said the company took the texting tools utilized already for the hotel side of GoTab and repurposed those for restaurant use.

Even once the pandemic is over, McLaughlin said he thinks there will be an permanent impact on the restaurant industry, and more mobile ordering is going to be a part of that.

“We’re not going back,” McLaughlin said. “There’s a population shift towards using your phone to do that for a whole host of reasons, one of them is that you know your order is right because you put it in. People also don’t want to stand in line… I think this is just going to push it a lot further in that direction. People are going to be fearful for a while about germs and it’s just convenient.”

Photo via GoTab/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Reminder: Metro Station Closures — The Clarendon, Virginia Square and East Falls Church Metro stations are closed starting today. The closures will impact several ART bus routes, as well. [Arlington County]

Kaine Lauds Passage of Coronavirus Relief Bill — In a statement late Wednesday night, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed by the Senate “will backstop the American economy by protecting workers and their families.” [Press Release]

County: Hold Off on Spring Cleaning — “Although it is tempting to use the increased time in our homes to start ‘spring cleaning,’ please delay these activities or hold on to these items during this challenging time. Refuse collection crews are dealing with an increased volume of waste and disposal requests, while incorporating new protocols to limit their risk of exposure to COVID-19.” [Arlington County]

First Coronavirus Case at Pentagon — “A Marine assigned to the service’s headquarters office at the Pentagon has tested positive for COVID-19… becoming the first service member assigned to the Defense Department’s home base to contract coronavirus. The Marine tested positive March 24, Capt. Joseph Butterfield told Military Times, after a period of isolation spurred by symptoms in his wife.” [Military Times]

HQ2 Construction Still on Track — “Construction of the first of Amazon.com Inc.’s HQ2 towers remains on schedule, but the planning process for the green space around them may slow as the spread of the novel coronavirus forces public meeting cancellations. Clark Construction, lead contractor on Amazon’s first 2.1 million-square-foot office building, said that work at Metropolitan Park in Pentagon City is advancing with added coronavirus safety measures.” [Washington Business Journal]

Governor Orders Elective Surgeries Delayed — “Governor Ralph Northam and State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA today directed all hospitals to stop performing elective surgeries or procedures to help conserve supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE). The public health emergency order does not apply to any procedure if the delay would cause harm to a patient.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]

Ballston’s Punch Bowl Social in Trouble — “Cracker Barrel announced Wednesday that eatertainment brand Punch Bowl Social has closed all of its 19 locations and laid off most of its restaurant and corporate staff and that it would not prevent foreclosure on the brand.” [FSR Magazine, Marketwatch]

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties is proudly featuring a rare leasing opportunity at 1101 Wilson Blvd: 5 contiguous floors with exceptional views, building signage opportunity and brand new amenities. Enjoy all the perks of easy access and ample parking; a variety of food trucks at your front door; and enviable walkable amenities. Join YEXT and other leading tech companies at this vibrant location.

Ballston-based web development startup OpenWater Software has put together a guide for other businesses to replace physical meetings and conferences with virtual ones.

OpenWater CTO Kunal Johar said in the guide that while in-person meetings are invaluable and irreplaceable, a good online meeting can salvage some of what is lost.

“The rising impact of health concerns around the coronavirus is forcing organizations to reconsider, cancel or postpone their annual gatherings,” the company said in a press release. “Because a majority of OpenWater’s customers rely on annual meetings, conferences and summits, they created a downloadable guide and instructional video that shows step-by-step how to transition your physical event into a virtual event using Zoom, or similar meeting tools like GoToMeeting. OpenWater is not affiliated or being paid by either company.”

Johar suggested having one meeting URL per physical room that you would have had at a conference. A spreadsheet can keep track of which host will be running which room with permissions to manage that room on Zoom. These URLs can be published on a company’s site through a link.

In the guide, Johar said to make sure in settings you allow people to join before the host and to auto-mute everyone as they log in and disable sounds.

“As opposed to increasing risks to physical health or completely canceling an event or meeting, virtual conferences ensure that attendees can still benefit and view recordings from any session while keeping their sponsors happy by allowing them to have dedicated virtual sessions or incorporating them in the beginning or middle of a session,” the company said in the press release. “By following this guide, event managers can transition their event to be virtual in one day with ease and without prior tech experience.”

Johar also suggested, in communications with attendees, to include links to how attendees can access refunds from travel and booking companies.

Image via OpenWater

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One of Arlington’s biggest annual events has been cancelled and its biggest sports league suspended, as a result of coronavirus concerns.

Ballston Quarterfest made the announcement shortly after 3 p.m.

“The health and well-being of our community is the top priority at the Ballston BID,” said a PR rep for the business improvement district. “It is for this most important reason that we have made the difficult decision to cancel Quarterfest this year, which was scheduled for Saturday, May 16.”

“At this time, we plan to move forward with other, smaller events and will continue to follow Arlington County-recommended procedures for events, which may include canceling or postponing some additional or perhaps all public programs and events taking place in the near future,” the rep said.

The Arlington Soccer Association, meanwhile, has announced that it is suspending operations, practices and games until at least the end of the month.

“In light of the actions taken today by US Youth Soccer and the US Soccer Federation to suspend operations, Arlington Soccer is suspending all club-related practices, games and other activities effective immediately through March 30, 2020,” the league said. “At that time, we will reevaluate the situation and provide families with an update on next steps. While we are disappointed to have to make this decision, we believe it is in the best interest of our players, their families and our employees”

The pair of Thursday afternoon announcements will nix a street festival in Ballston attended by tens of thousands of people each year, to the benefit of local restaurants, and at least temporarily pause a league with 9,000 players. The actions are in line with health authorities’ recommendation to avoid large gatherings and social contact, to help head off the rapid spread of the disease.

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Arlington County is gearing up for the construction of new bus bays, bus shelters and seating areas close to the Ballston Metro station.

As construction starts on the improvements to the transit hub near the Ballston Metro station, Arlington County cautions that drivers should expect lane closures on streets near the Ballston Metro station over the next year and a half of construction.

The project website has an unflattering description of the current transit hub outside the Ballston Metro station, calling the bus shelters aging and crowded with congested bus bays and sidewalks. The area also suffers from no kiss-and-ride drop off for the Metro station, no dedicated shuttle bus area, and no wayfinding signage.

The plan is to replace the current infrastructure with new bus bays and bus shelters with modern furnishings, expanded seating, and real-time bus information. Improvements will also include:

  • Additional bike parking
  • Expanded public space on Fairfax Drive
  • Dedicated Kiss-and-Ride curbspace
  • Dedicated shuttle bus curbspace and bus shelter
  • Improved aesthetics
  • Improved wayfinding signage

The work is currently expected to start mid-to-late April, according to Arlington Department of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet.

“We’re working to finalize permits now with a construction start this spring,” Balliet. “Work is planned to start along Fairfax Drive first.”

Construction is scheduled to be broken up into the following phases:

  • Phase 1 – Bus bays along Fairfax Drive
  • Phase 2 – Bus bays along North Stuart Street
  • Phase 3 – Plaza on North Stuart Street
  • Phase 4 – Plaza on Fairfax Drive

During the construction of the new bus bays, the project website said buses will be temporarily routed to the west side of N. Stuart Street, which will have temporary bus shelters for riders.

Once the work starts, the construction is expected to last 18 months with teams working from 6 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

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This content was written and sponsored by The Keri Shull Team, Arlington’s top producing residential real estate team.

On this week’s Neighborhood Spotlight, Drew Carpenter of the Keri Shull Team sat down with Scott Parker, one of the main names in Arlington’s restaurant scene.

Parker is an owner in many restaurants and small businesses around the various Arlington neighborhoods, including Don Tito’s, one of our favorite spots in Clarendon, and the fitness startup Bash Boxing. Today, we got the chance to speak with him about one of his most recent ventures, Bronson Bierhall.

Beer Halls are quickly gaining popularity in the United States, and for good reason — between hearty german food and delicious beer, there are few better ways to enjoy the company of friends. One thing that sets the best halls apart, however, is the authenticity. And Bronson Bierhall has authenticity in spades.

From the menu of traditional brats, schnitzels, pretzels and German brews to the iconic European interior design, Bronson exudes old-world charm from the moment you step inside. However, this atmosphere is not mere imitation — the team behind Bronson Bierhall researched and expertly crafted an experience that melds an authentic German pub character with a familiar American tone.

In addition to the German food and beer that bring many visitors to Bronson, you can find standard American pub fare on the menu. Popular options include the Bronson Nachos, unique burgers, and pulled chicken sliders atop delicious pretzel buns. With the beerhall’s vast menu of options, there’s something for everyone at Bronson.

Great Company, Great Experiences

With the traditional layout of bench-style seating, Bronson Bierhall is the perfect place to dine and drink with a group of friends — or make some new pals at a communal table! Many of the food options — such as the massive pretzels — can easily be shared amongst a group. This is a great way to explore Bronson’s unique menu while enjoying some time with your friends or family.

Outside of the hall itself, Bronson Bierhall still facilitates this communal spirit. Many of their most popular menu items are available through their catering service as platters that feed 25 people each. So if you are hosting an event and are looking for a unique, mouthwatering dining option, make sure to check out Bronson Bierhall’s catering options.

Their event services don’t stop at catering options, either. If you are hosting an event and want to take advantage of the beautiful, 6,000 square foot space of the beerhall itself, Bronson also has event-planning options that will ensure all of your guests are satisfied.

Happy Hour for Your Dog

On top of their everyday offers and guest-planned special events, Bronson Bierhall also hosts recurring events and happy hours. On the weekend, the beer garden becomes a concert venue hosting live music to enjoy while you sip on one of the myriad draughts. And each Monday, Bronson hosts their signature ‘Yappy Hour,’ a special happy hour where people bring their furry friends to enjoy the sights and sounds of Ballston.

In fact, Bronson Bierhall’s Happy Hour specials last for 4 hours each weekday, from 3-7 p.m. — so you don’t have to worry about missing a narrow window for the great deals on their food and drinks.

These awesome events, combined with the many entertainment options at Bronson, make the beerhall a great place to unwind after work or enjoy a relaxing day off. Patrons can spend time playing some of the patio games that dot the cavernous space, including cornhole, ping pong and shuffleboard.

An Unbeatable Location Right in the Heart of Ballston

Sitting just a few blocks from Ballston Quarter (home to other amazing eateries such as The Local Oyster and Punch Bowl Social) and the Ballston Metro Station, it’s hard to beat the amazing location of Bronson Bierhall.

The beer garden is right in the middle of one of the DMV’s most explosive neighborhoods — and Bronson shows the potential to become one of the main attractions for years to come. For anyone living in Arlington, make sure to add Bronson Bierhall to your list of amazing venues to keep an eye on!

If you’d like to see some more of our favorite places for food, drinks, and entertainment, make sure to check out our other Neighborhood Spotlights! And if you have a suggestion for what we should cover next, then leave a comment below and let us know!

Would you like to find your dream home in Ballston, learn where to live in D.C., or take care of any other real estate needs in the DMV? The expert agents of the Keri Shull Team are standing by to help you, so contact us today!

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Ballston is on the cusp of getting its second poke restaurant.

Go Poke is scheduled to open this Sunday, March 1, at the Quarter Market food hall in Ballston Quarter Mall. To mark the opening, the restaurant will be offering a 20% discount through Tuesday, according to a spokesman for the mall.

The restaurant will serve the increasingly ubiquitous Hawaiian raw fish dish. A full menu was not immediately available. It will be open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sundays.

Existing poke spots in Arlington include Poké it Up in the Pentagon City mall food court, Poke Bar in Rosslyn and — soon — another Poké it Up in Ballston, at 4401 Fairfax Drive. Other nearby restaurants offer poke bowls among a broader selection of food options.

Photos courtesy Brookfield Properties

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A new premium cigar store is open in the Ballston neighborhood.

Cigar Unlimited (4215 Fairfax Drive) sells a wide range of premium cigars, which are handmade and rolled in dried tobacco leaves. The cigars are manufactured in Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and the U.S., some of which are made specifically for the shop, Mo Fakhro, the owner, told ARLnow.

The store is the only cigar shop that has a personal relationship with their manufacturers in the D.C. area, Fakhro claimed.

“You’re not going to find [these cigars] anywhere else, except to come visit us in the store,” Fakhro said.

Fakhro also owned Cigar Connection, a shop previously located nearby, at the corner of N. Randolph and Fairfax streets in Ballston. The shop opened in 2004 but was forced to close in 2014 after the lease expired, Fakhro said.

The new store will include house blend cigars, which were not sold at the old store.

Cigar Unlimited is not fully stocked yet, Fakhro said, adding that the store plans to hold its grand opening sometime next month.

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An Arlington attorney who says he never plays the lottery has finally stepped forward to claim a $1 million lottery prize he won on New Year’s Day.

Daniel Schuman’s wife bought him the winning New Year’s Millionaire Raffle ticket from the 7-Eleven store at 4223 Fairfax Drive in Ballston. It was one of three $1 million tickets sold statewide.

“It was shocking,” Schuman said about realizing he won. He claimed his check on Feb. 20 but has “no immediate plans for the winnings,” according to the Virginia Lottery. The store received $10,000 for selling the winning ticket.

More from a lottery press release:

Daniel Schuman is not a lottery player. In fact, the Arlington man said he never plays. But as it turns out, his wife bought him a ticket for Virginia’s New Year’s Millionaire Raffle, and that ticket ended up winning $1 million.

“We saw that the number matched, and we checked again,” he told Virginia Lottery officials. “It was shocking. It’s like, this isn’t what we expected!”

The winning ticket was bought at the 7-Eleven at 4223 North Fairfax Drive in Arlington. That ticket, #149613, was one of three top prize winners in the New Year’s Day drawing.

On February 20, he went to the store to receive his check from the Virginia Lottery. The store received $10,000 for selling the winning ticket.

Mr. Schuman, who is an attorney, said he has no immediate plans for the winnings.

The other two top prize tickets in the January 1 drawing were bought in Portsmouth and Chesapeake. Five additional tickets won $100,000 each. Those tickets were bought in Arlington, Fredericksburg, Midlothian, Narrows and Winchester. An additional 500 tickets each won $500.

The Virginia Lottery is good fun for a great cause. Arlington received more than $4.8 million in Lottery funds for K-12 public education in Fiscal Year 2019. For more information and a complete list of Lottery funds distributed to Virginia school districts, visit the Virginia Lottery’s Giving Back page.

Photo via Virginia Lottery

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The lights are off at Stageplate Bistro (900 N. Glebe Road), but the tables are already set for the Ballston restaurant to reopen in March.

“We had to close to regroup to come back better than ever,” said general manager Mary Marchetti.

Marchetti said the restaurant had to close for hiring and staff training, as well as some internal reorganizing. It took a little longer than expected, she admitted, but they are planning for the reopening to coincide with the first day of spring on March 21.

Springing off that, Marchetti says there will be a new seasonal menu and she’s excited to open the patio back up for the warmer weather.

This isn’t the first time Stageplate Bistro, which opened in 2017, has had a brief hiatus. The restaurant was closed over the summer in 2018. Restaurants west of Glebe Road have lamented not getting the same attention as their eastern cousins, but Marchetti said she remains optimistic and is looking forward to reopening.

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Work is underway on a new “World of Beer” in Ballston, two blocks from its original location along N. Glebe Road.

World of Beer, a restaurant that offers a large selection of beer from around the globe, is coming to the former Ted’s Montana Grill space at 4300 Wilson Blvd. That’s just down the street from Crafthouse, which rebranded in 2017 after formerly being a World of Beer location.

Late last week workers could be seen inside the space, which had been largely cleared of the former Ted’s decor. As construction continues, World of Beer has already applied for a Virginia ABC permit; the filing suggests that the restaurant will serve beer, wine and cocktails and will have a seating capacity of more than 150.

The chain applied for construction permits this past fall. So far there’s no word as to an expected opening date.

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