Update at 5:30 p.m. — The FBI has published a wanted poster, seeking information on this morning’s robbery. A reward of up to $5,000 is offered.
Earlier: Arlington County Police are on the scene of a bank robbery in Ballston.
A man reportedly robbed the HSBC Bank at 4075 Wilson Blvd by implying that he had a gun and threatening to shoot a bank employee. He ran off after being given cash.
Police are searching the surrounding area for the man, who was last seen running north on N. Randolph Street.
The suspect is described as a six-foot tall black male in his 50s or 60s, who was wearing a red hat, green shirt and glasses at the time of the robbery, according to scanner traffic.
No customers were reported inside the bank at the time of the robbery. The bank was last robbed in 2010.
Restaurant entrepreneur and Top Chef contestant Mike Isabella is throwing a “block party” to celebrate the opening of his three Ballston restaurants.
The event will be held at the patio at The View apartment building (4000 Wilson Blvd) on Sept. 12 from 1-4 p.m.
“The event is going to be a big party. It is a great way to experience food from all three of Mike Isabella’s Ballston restaurants, including forthcoming Yona, with live entertainment from the jazz duo The Potash Twins and DJ Toast,” said Madeline Harrington, a public relations rep for the restaurants.
Guests will be able to sample food from each restaurant at the event. There will be crispy cauliflower and barbecue goat tacos and Mexican corn on the cob from Pepita. From Kapnos Taverna, guests will be able to try spit roasted pork, falafel and classic Greek spreads. Yona, Isabella’s newest restaurant, will provide pork and kimchi dumplings, Japanese curry potato croquettes and Korean fried chicken.
“[There will be] great food, great drinks and lively music,” Harrington said. “A great way to say goodbye to the summer.”
Isabella’s first Arlington venture, Kapnos Taverna, opened last January. Pepita opened in the same building at the end of July, and new restaurant Yona is expected to open in late fall, she said.
Yona will be a Japanese noodles and small plates restaurant with new and traditional takes on ramen and other Asian dishes, she said.
“Mike loves the neighborhood. Both Kapnos Taverna and Pepita have been a huge success, and each concept is set up so that it doesn’t compete with the others other,” Harrington said. “Yona will be something fresh and new for Ballston, so it made sense [for him to open another restaurant].”
Willow restaurant in Ballston will close its doors this month.
The eatery at 4301 N. Fairfax Drive announced its end in an email, saying that after 10 years and six days, the restaurant will “close for good” on Sept. 19.
“We plan on going out the same way we came in, with graciousness, generosity and positive energy… all sprinkled with some great food, wine & company,” Willow’s management team said in the email.
Nosh @ Willow, a small plates bistro within the restaurant, will also close.
The restaurant will offer specials and promotions leading up to it closing. In the email, the staff thanked its customers for the many years of support.
Willow Restaurant has been featured in several food events this year, including a Taste of Arlington, the Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week and the DC BRGR Bash, where it won for the third year in a row.
“For us, this adventure has always been about the people and the relationships that have grown out of Willow,” restaurant management said. “Whether it is a one time guest, a wedding reception, our amazing regular customers or our rock star staff, what stands out the most is how truly blessed we have been to have such amazing people in our lives.”
Willow opened in 2005, under the leadership of chef and co-owner Tracy O’Grady. ARLnow.com has reached out to O’Grady for more information on why the owners made the decision to close.
Ballston Restaurant Makes Habit of Breaking Plates — Order the suckling pig at SER restaurant (1110 N. Glebe Road) in Ballston and the chef will chop it at the table with the blunt edge of a plate. After the chopping is done, the chef will smash the plate, as part of a Spanish tradition. [Washington Post]
Dem Dinner May Be Renamed — The Arlington County Democratic Committee is considering renaming its annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, given that the event is currently named after two slaveholding presidents. [InsideNova]
Oakridge Pedal Desks Get National Attention — The pedal desks at Oakridge Elementary are getting some attention from a national cycling magazine, which write that the desk is “is a novel idea because it allows a child to fidget without creating a distraction.” [Bicycling]
School Bus Cameras to Start Issuing Tickets — Stop sign cameras on Arlington school buses will start issuing $250 tickets on Tuesday, the first day of school. The cameras were installed earlier this year and started issuing warnings this summer to those who drive past school buses while the stop sign is deployed. [ARLnow]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Metro is describing the incident as a “medical emergency.” A Twitter user said a woman walked off the platform and onto the tracks.
“Lady just walked smooth off the platform onto the tracks at Ballston station right in front of me,” said @Durrrius.
Fire department radio traffic indicates that the patient has been removed from the tracks and is now being treated by medics.
Metro says that trains are again moving through the station, with residual delays in both directions.
A cat was rescued from a high ledge in Ballston this morning.
The rescue took place around 9 a.m., several stories high at the Avalon Ballston Square Apartments (850 N. Randolph Street), after the cat had walked down a ledge from an apartment balcony and its owner was unable to reach it, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Brian Edwards.
Firefighters used a ladder tower to pluck the cat from the ledge without incident, Edwards said.
Edwards couldn’t recall the fire department’s last cat rescue. He noted that “we don’t get a whole lot [of cat rescues] but there are a few throughout the year.”
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) August 19, 2015
Photo courtesy @B_Flipn
One BR Rental Near Clarendon: $4,300/month — A sub-800 square foot one bedroom apartment in a newly built building in Lyon Park, near Clarendon, is leasing for a staggering $4,300 per month. [Real House Life of Arlington]
Metro Delays Planned This Weekend — Trains on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines will run every 20 minutes this weekend due to “emergency call box installation and testing for a safer ride.” [WMATA]
Ballston Office Building Sold — JBG Cos. has sold a five-story office building on Fairfax Drive in Ballston to a partnership that hopes to eventually tear it down and build a new mixed use development. The building sold for about $22 million. [Washington Business Journal]
Delhi Dhaba Turning 25 — Delhi Dhaba restaurant in Clarendon is turning 25 next year. “Although it’s not at the pinnacle of Indian food in Northern Virginia, Delhi Dhaba is a great restaurant with more than decent service,” writes a reviewer. [Falls Church News-Press]
Park Service Studying Bricks — The National Park Service is studying the original bricks at Arlington House, Robert E. Lee’s family house in what is now Arlington National Cemetery, in order to help with a preservation and renovation effort. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Construction on the large, eight-building Liberty Center project in Ballston has been wrapping up this week, but just temporarily.
Construction barriers have been removed from the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street, a new sidewalk is open and construction cranes have come down. However, the project isn’t quite complete: one of the buildings has yet to be built.
As reported by the Washington Business Journal in January, developer Shooshan Co. decided not to built the eighth and final building — a 20-story office building at 4040 Wilson Blvd — without significant lease commitments. With none apparently forthcoming, Shooshan decided against building on “spec” during a period of high office vacancies in Arlington and the rest of the D.C. region.
“The construction has been paused until we have the right deal in place,” Director of Leasing and Marketing Kevin Shooshan told ARLnow.com. “We could start again in a month, or in a year, it all depends on the market and finding our deal.”
Currently, passersby can see the top of a five-level underground parking garage, behind the chain link fence, on the site of what will eventually be 4040 Wilson Blvd.
The tower will eventually be built on top of the garage. Until then, Shooshan says the company is planning to place wrap signage around the site.
The Arlington Food Assistance Center has been exploring ways to serve hungry families in Arlington by partnering with local businesses and larger corporations.
To that end, AFAC recently started Sponsor Purchased Food, a program through which corporations can buy produce, package it and donate it to AFAC as a team-building exercise.
“That helps us in a lot of different ways,” said AFAC executive director Charles Meng. “It certainly gets our name out in the public more. It engenders a donation. And it involves a lot of individuals who then tend to become donors once they find out what we do.”
Meng says the program has been “very successful,” with over 50 corporations participating in the past few months. AFAC plans to continue the program well into next year.
Currently, AFAC serves 2,100 families in the area and dispenses about 86,000 pounds of food per week at 18 distribution sites across Arlington. According to Meng, the number of people AFAC serves has doubled since 2013 and is currently increasing at a rate of about 25 families per month.
Last Friday, July 24, AFAC and Spotluck, a Bethesda company that created an app to connect people with local restaurants, worked together to put on a potluck dinner for 130 Arlington residents in need at the Gates of Ballston apartment complex (4108 4th Street N.)
Twenty-two restaurants around Arlington donated food to the potluck, including Sushi Rock, Don Tito, The Boulevard Woodgrill, Faccia Luna and Whitlow’s on Wilson.
Meng said that the event with Spotluck — documented in the video above — was a success.
“All of those restaurants [that donated] did a fantastic job, and the Spotluck people were really great to work with, and they were really enthusiastic,” said Meng. “When people actually get a chance to hand out food to somebody and see the people they’re helping, it gets the message across a lot easier and a lot more directly to the individual, so it’s really great to have a company like Spotluck working with us.”
Currently, about half of AFAC’s money and food come from individual donations. Of the remaining 50 percent, about eight percent comes from Arlington County, 10 percent come from local religious congregations and the rest come from local businesses, foundations and larger corporations.
“We’ve got tremendous support from a lot of the businesses here in Arlington,” said Meng.
Photos courtesy AFAC. Disclosure: Spotluck is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
Pepita, chef Mike Isabella’s new Mexican cantina in Ballston, has announced that it will open Thursday, July 30.
Pepita, located at 4000 Wilson Blvd, will have a “small menu of casual Mexican favorites.”
“About 15 dishes will be featured, including ceviche, Mexican-style corn on the cob, house-made salsas and guacamole, a salad of watermelon, jicama and cucumber, and a Caesar salad dressed with cotija cheese, pepitas and avocado,” according to a press release. “Mexican classics, including a trio of tacos, a torta, enchiladas and a mushroom quesadilla anchor the menu. Dessert items include a Mexican tres leches and frozen, boozy push-pops.”
Despite Isabella’s culinary chops, the cantina’s menu will give a stronger focus to its beverage selection, created by Taha Ismail, Mike Isabella’s beverage director. The 35-item cocktail menu will be a blend of classic Mexican and American cocktails, plus more contemporary creations.
“Tequila and mezcal are two of the main stars, but they share the spotlight with an extensive list of fruit juices that are squeezed in-house daily,” said the press release. “The list includes five margaritas, one of which is frozen, and many classics given a Mexican twist, think old-fashioneds and negronis, plus more contemporary cocktails by Ismail’s bartender friends from around the country.”
One of the restaurant’s distinguishing features is its all-day happy hour, which has drinks and food specials that will rotate in blocks during the day, as opposed to during a set time each evening.
The space, meanwhile, is intended to be reminiscent of something you might find in a Mexican beach town.
“The design is inspired by Mexican coastal cantinas and highlights light wood furniture with a motif of yellow, light green and marigold tiled patterns adding colorful accents to a charcoal and white design,” according to the press release. “A concrete bar will serve tacos and drinks to the 32-seat dining room. The partially-covered patio will be fenced-in and decorated with greenery.”
Starting July 30, Pepita will be open Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Isabella, who has appeared on the TV shows Top Chef and Top Chef All-Star, is the chef and owner of three restaurants in the District and Kapnos Taverna in Arlington, which is next door to Pepita. He’s also planning an opening for a noodle shop called Yona in the same building.
County Seeks Input for County Manager Search — Arlington County is seeking public input as it begins its search for a new county manager. “In the coming months, [executive recruiters] will be evaluating candidates for the position,” the county said in a press release. “They are seeking your input, suggestions, and comments on what will be important in the selection of a County Manager.” The county is conducting an online survey and holding a public meeting on July 20 to gather public input. [Arlington County]
Tejada Attends Trump Protest — Retiring Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada is getting a bit of national media attention after joining other local officials in a demonstration in front of Donald Trump’s under-construction hotel in D.C. The “Dump Trump” protest was held in response to the Republican presidential candidate’s inflammatory comments about Mexican immigrants. [CBS News, MyFoxDC]
Bernie Sanders Speaks in Ballston — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders drew a “boisterous crowd” of nearly 500 supporters at a policy forum in Ballston last night. Sanders railed against the political influence of the “billionaire class” while calling for a $15 an hour minimum wage, expanded Social Security, guaranteed health care coverage and free public college tuition. [Washington Post]
Arlington College Student Gets Reality TV Show — Monica Ten-Kate, a 21-year-old Fairlington resident who is currently attending Penn State, has scored her own reality TV series — “Monica the Medium” — on ABC Family. Ten-Kate claims she can talk to the dead, and the “docuseries” will follow her as she balances classes and homework with her part-time profession of charging people money for “readings.” The show will premiere on Aug. 25. [Patch, ABC Family]
Signature to Launch Revamped Singing Competition — Signature Theatre in Shirlington will launch “Signature Voice,” a new singing competition, at its annual open house on Aug. 2. “The new ‘Signature Voice’ competition will replace the popular Signature Idol Competition held over the last five years,” according to a news report. “Held in Signature’s MAX Theatre, the competition will host a panel of three celebrity judges in search of the best undiscovered singers in the DC region.” [Broadway World]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Arlington residents to should start building up an appetite. The third annual D.C. BRGR Bash is coming to Rosslyn’s Gateway Park on Saturday, July 18.
The BRGR Bash is a six hour competition of who can make the best burger, and the judges are the visitors. Each person at the bash gets to try four burgers and then a cast his or her vote for favorite burger.
There will also be craft beers to help wash down the burgers and live music to jam to while eating.
At the end of the day, one burger chef champion will be named, and he or she will walk away with a vacation to Austin, Texas and the Golden BRGR Bash trophy.
The competition was started by Craig Carey, who also started Ballston burger joint Big Buns.
The competition runs from noon to 6 p.m. on July 18, and tickets are $29 per person. A ticket gets a person entry and four burgers. The 16 burgers are broken down into four groups, and each ticket is for one group. D.C. BRGR Bash recommends bringing three other friends so that everyone can taste all 16 burgers. Craft beers are available for $5 at one of the four beer bars.
Vegetarians don’t have to be left out. The competition offers a Veggie Burger ticket for $19, which gets the person entry and a veggie burger. There will also be cider for those with gluten allergies.
Arlingtonians can also attend the bash to support the four local competitors: Willow Restaurant in Ballston, Big Buns in Ballston, Citizen Burger Bar in Clarendon and the combined entry of Liberty Tavern and Lyon Hill in Clarendon.
Photo courtesy of Darren Stauffer
Italian eatery Vapiano’s Ballston location (4401 Wilson Blvd) has closed.
Vapiano had occupied the Ballston location for the past eight years. According to a sign in the building’s window, the last day of business was June 30.
The Vapiano signs on the building’s facade have been removed, and the space is currently being cleaned out in preparation for its next occupant.
The Wilson Blvd location was the only Arlington outpost for the international chain, which is based in Germany.
Vapiano locations in Reston (1875 Explorer Street) and Sterling (21100 Dulles Town Circle) remain open, as well as both of the restaurant’s locations in the District, on M Street NW and in Chinatown.
Arlington County has added eight new buses to its fleet in order to provide more frequent bus service along several routes.
Additional bus service will be added to the ART 41 (Columbia Pike, Ballston and Courthouse), 43 (Crystal City, Rosslyn and Courthouse) and 87 (Pentagon Metro, Army Navy Drive and Shirlington) routes starting Monday, July 6, according to press release.
The new bus service on Columbia Pike is just an initial step in improving transit on the Pike, said Eric Balliet, spokesman for the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services.
“This is definitely one of the first steps we can take to show our commitment to the corridor and our commitment to transit,” he said.
The ART 41 route will have more frequent service with the bus coming every 15 minutes during the day and every 23 minutes during weekday and Saturday nights.
The enhanced service is one way Arlington is addressing the transit needs that remained after the streetcar program was cut, Balliet said.
The ART 43 route will have buses run about every 10 minutes with extended service until 10:35 a.m. during morning rush hour and 7:47 p.m. during the evening commute.
The ART 87 will be getting new Sunday service, which will run from 7:14 a.m. to 7:11 p.m. The route will also have extended service until 11:41 p.m. on weekdays and 11:53 p.m. on Saturdays. On the weekends, the service will run to the Pentagon City Metro Station instead of the Pentagon Metro Station.
The county is also adding a new ART 87P line, which will run between the Pentagon and S. Lang Street. During rush hour, service will alternate every 10 minutes between the full ART 87 line and the ART 87P line.
“Anything we can do to make [commuting] more convenient, we think customers will appreciate,” Balliet said.
In order to provide the advance service, the county added eight new 40-foot buses to the ART fleet. The new buses are 5 feet longer than the standard ART buses, which allow for more seats and more standing room, he said.
The new buses are being added to routes with high ridership.
“These bus service improvements are a first step in meeting the current transit needs for Columbia Pike and Crystal City-Pentagon City, as we work to create vibrant, sustainable neighborhoods along these corridors,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement. “Every day ART helps thousands of Arlingtonians get to work, school and other activities, and the additional service will make ART an even more reliable transportation choice all week long.”
Whole Foods Eying Ballston Development? — Whole Foods is reportedly considering leasing a 43,000 square foot retail space in a new 12-story, 431-unit apartment building that’s set to replace the Rosenthal Mazda dealership at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd in Ballston. The organic grocer is said to be “in advanced talks” to fill the space and is “very bullish” on Ballston in general. [Bisnow]
Car Drives Off I-66, Into Woods — A car drove off the eastbound lanes of I-66 and into the woods yesterday afternoon. Nobody was hurt in the accident, which happened between the Monroe Street bridge and Spout Run. [Twitter]
More Opposition to Fire Station Move — Residents of the Old Dominion community aren’t the only ones opposed to a proposal to move Fire Station 8 to the neighborhood. Some residents of the Hall’s Hill/High View Park community, where the fire station is located, say that it is a “hub of the neighborhood” and should stay put. Fire Station 8 has some historic distinction, as the first African-American-run firehouse south of the Mason-Dixon Line. [Falls Church News-Press]
Metro Proposes Blue Line Boost — The good news: Metro is proposing changes to its rush hour service that would have trains on the overcrowded Blue Line run every eight minutes instead of every 12 minutes. The bad news: the proposal would increase the headway between trains on the Orange, Silver, Green and Yellow Lines, from six minutes to eight minutes. [Greater Greater Washington, WAMU]
Arlington Startup Raises $21 Million — Ballston-based Distil Networks, a cybersecurity startup founded in 2011, has raised $21 million in a “Series B” venture round. The company is planning to add 100 new employees over the next 12 months. It has offices in Arlington, San Francisco and Raleigh, N.C., and has plans to open another office somewhere in Northern Virginia. [DC Inno, Tech Crunch]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman