Local chef Tim Ma is reviving a popular sandwich shop and bringing it to the former Bread and Water “cube” in Pentagon City.
Ma’s well-regarded Chase the Submarine, which closed in Vienna about five years ago, is making a comeback at Westpost on S. Joyce Street in Pentagon City, the chef confirmed to ARLnow. It’s a joint venture with Scott Chung, who co-owns Bun’d Up, also located in Westpost.
The sandwich shop is moving into the relatively small “cube” space in the development’s plaza which was home to Bread and Water until this fall.
This will be Ma’s second Westpost restaurant. Chinese-American take-out eatery Lucky Danger opened on the other side of the development in July 2021.
Construction is essentially done, Ma said, and he’s just waiting on permits. The hope is to start serving within a few weeks, meaning likely later this month.
Along with that, Ma is also planning another concept in the cube.
At night, sandwiches will transform into cocktails with a new wine and cocktail bar called No Chaser. That isn’t expected to open quite yet, with Chase the Submarine opening first and No Chaser coming later this year.
Window stickers are already on plastered on the building, advertising both the new eatery and the cocktail bar.
When Bread and Water closed in October, Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT) suggested the space to him. FRIT owns the mixed-use development, as well as the Village of Shirlington.
Lucky Danger has been doing quite well at Westpost since it opened about 18 months ago, Ma said, and FRIT has continued to be a “fantastic partner.”
“I’ve been very happy with my return to Arlington and, generally, very hopeful about the [dining] future of the area,” he said.
So, they decided to take the space and, then, just had to figure out what to put there. They turned to an old favorite.
“My team and I always talked about bringing [Chase the Submarine] back,” Ma said. “It was truly one of my favorites.”
Ma said, at least for the time being, this version of Chase the Submarine will be a more “consolidated” version than the previous one in Vienna. There will be fewer hot sandwiches and some different cold sandwiches.
The exact menu and website have not been released publicly quite yet, but that’s expected to be out in the coming days. He said he’s excited to be partnering with Chung, with whom he worked on a night market this past fall.
As part of the agreement to open the two new concepts, Ma extended Lucky Danger’s lease to keep it in Westpost for the foreseeable future. That future includes the opening of Amazon’s HQ2 this year, a few blocks away in Pentagon City, as well as expected development across the street on the Riverhouse property.
“I’m here to stay for a long time,” Ma said.
‘Tis the season to get tipsy with cozy cocktails and two-buck beers.
“‘Jingle Bell Rock’ is the latest popup in B Live’s completely decked-out space, fit with sparkling light displays, festive garland and life-sized holiday fan favorites like the Grinch, Santa Claus and Nutcrackers,” a PR rep for B Live said. The venue is owned by local nightlife duo Mike and Christal Bramson.
Passersby can see the spot’s windows painted with beloved Christmas characters playing instruments — in a tribute to the music scene for which Whitlow’s was known.
Inside, B Live is offering weekly holiday-themed specials, including Christmas karaoke on Tuesdays, a “Santa Mug Night” every Thursday with $2.50 beers and live entertainment every weekend. The pop-up runs through mid-January, meaning guests can live by Buddy the Elf’s code to “treat every day like Christmas.”
The bar is making spirits bright with holiday-themed drinks, too. For an extra-cozy night out, guests can order the “Santa Baby,” a boozy hot chocolate topped with a torched marshmallow.
If your heart hasn’t shrunk three sizes, there is a “Patron Christmas Tree” cocktail tower that serves four.
Only Santa will know if you were naughty and kept all of the tequila for yourself.
(Updated at 1:15 p.m.) Will Thirsty Bernie close or move next year and leave its regulars parched?
The sports bar at 2163 N. Glebe Road, in the Glebe Lee Shopping Center, has largely kept doing its thing after previous talk of format and management changes. But this time around the tea leaves point to an even bigger change for the North Arlington staple.
A leasing chart for the shopping center says the restaurant space currently occupied by Thirsty Bernie Sports Bar & Grill will be “available June 1, 2023.” That follows a tip received by ARLnow in July that Thirsty Bernie was trying to find someone to take over the space.
ARLnow reached out to the business then and now and received a brief, non-specific denial both times.
“Thirsty Bernie has no plan to close in near future,” the bar said via email.
Should the current location — which remains open — close next year, it is not immediately clear whether Thirsty Bernie would move elsewhere, a la Whitlow’s, or simply close up shop entirely.
A long-term plan for the Langston Blvd corridor, including this shopping center, is currently making its way through a public process prior to an eventual County Board vote. The plan may see aging strip malls like this one replaced over the next couple of decades with taller, mixed-use developments.
Hat tip to Mike W.
(Updated 2:40 p.m.) The Clarendon Ballroom is back — but it never really left.
The local nightlife staple at 3185 Wilson Blvd opened its doors again earlier this month with a new interior, a renovated rooftop, and a pizza take-out window.
There’s a new 30-foot video wall, elevated VIP tables, and a renovated rooftop with redone floors and cabanas. The pizza take-out window, dubbed “Disco Pizza,” sells by the slice.
In a bit of a change of initial plans, new owner Michael Darby — of real estate development and Real Housewives fame — has decided to once more hand over management and operations of the space to Mike and Christal Bramson of B Social Hospitality, the couple behind B Live, the Lot, and other Clarendon area establishments.
For the better part of the last two years, the Bramsons have run themed “pop-up” bars in the space as part of a short-term lease. While that particular lease has ended, the three have come to a new agreement for the couple to run the iconic venue for Darby.
“Michael Darby decided to reopen as Clarendon Ballroom and assumed the lease himself. In conversations between Darby and the Bramsons, it was determined that Mike and Christal Bramson of B Social Hospitality (also, behind B Live, Coco B’s, the Lot, Rebel Taco, Alias, and Pamplona) would be the best fit to handle the management and operations… based on their success and experience in the industry,” a spokesperson for B Social Hospitality told ARLnow via email.
This means no more rotating themes, but a commitment to a “Studio 54 all year vibe” says a press release.
On Jan. 1, 2020, Clarendon Ballroom closed — permanently, it was assumed — with the Washington Post dubbing it an “end of an era.” But a year later, Darby purchased the building at 3185 Wilson Blvd that housed the large, long-time venue. Then, he and the Bramsons signed a 21-month lease that was intended to be a temporary solution while Darby figured out what to do next.
“It’s a great way of holding the real estate until the pandemic issues are over,” Darby said at the time to the Washington Business Journal. “We’ll, during that time, take it to market and find the right user for it.”
As it turns out, the right arrangement was right there all along.
Darby applied for a building permit in March 2022 with the intent of renovating the space and running it himself, as ARLnow first reported. It was revealed to ARLnow a few months later that Darby was essentially bringing back Clarendon Ballroom after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus.
“Clarendon has really come of age. You’ve got all the great restaurants and bars,” Darby said to ARLnow. “And now with what we are doing with the Ballroom, that tops it off.”
He said the reason he was taking over the space himself was that he never got another offer that he liked. But that has changed somewhat, with Darby agreeing to a similar arrangement he had with the Bramsons initially back in December 2020.
Darby’s star turn on Bravo’s reality TV series with wife Ashley has seen a series of ups and downs, from the launch and then closure of their Clarendon restaurant Oz to his separation from Ashley earlier this year. It’s unclear whether Michael Darby or “CB” will make an appearance on the show in its upcoming season.
(Updated at 5:55 p.m.) The former Forest Inn space in Westover will be switching from Budweiser and burgers to margaritas and tacos.
The Forest Inn, one of Arlington’s last dive bars, closed in June after more than 40 years in business in the neighborhood. Its general manager told ARLnow that the landlord declined to renew the lease.
But the storefront at 5849 Washington Blvd will not be vacant for long.
Westover Taco, a new Mexican restaurant and bar, is planning to open next year in the relatively small restaurant space. It’s being helmed by Sarah White, a restaurant industry veteran who runs the Cowboy Cafe on Langston Blvd, which many lovingly consider a dive bar, as well as several local Lost Dog Cafe franchise locations.
(White was also a 2021 candidate for House of Delegates in Falls Church and part of Fairfax County.)
Parker tells ARLnow that the plan for the dog-leg-shaped, 1,000+ square foot space is to “blow out the ceilings and really open up the space and give it a brighter vibe.” That might include roll-up windows in the back of the space, which looks out on a parking lot, to provide an open-air setting during nice weather.
“It’s definitely going to be an entire flip of the space,” Parker said. “Everything will be brand new.”
The concept for Westover Taco is simple: margaritas and tacos. While it will no longer be a dive bar, Parker hopes to attract a mix of Westover residents and other locals while establishing a solid base of regular customers.
“Everyone is welcome,” he said.
Parker noted that many of the half-dozen partners grew up near the Westover area and, given the small size of the restaurant and the number of co-owners, this is more a labor of love than a money-making opportunity for those involved. It’s also something that the partners are looking at in the long term.
“Most of the restaurants there are pretty busy, and many of them have been there for decades. So it’s a it’s a really strong, loyal market,” he said. “When you put something good there, it should do really well. So I do expect us to build a solid regular [customer] base pretty quickly. And I think the locals will love what we do.”
The partners have not yet taken possession of the space, Parker said, but the hope is to start work soon and open at some point in mid-2023.
Parker, who recently returned from a trip to Mexico City, posted photos from inside the cleared-out Forest Inn via an Instagram story on Aug. 1, as noted by ARLnow at the time.
Parker counts the Cowboy Cafe and Lost Dog co-owners as long-time friends and said they’ve been looking to partner on something local for awhile.
“We just always wanted to do a project together,” he said. “This is certainly something that borders on a passion project of sorts. None of us is going to get rich or take over the world having all these partners in one small restaurant, so it’s more of something that we just want to work as a team to put something special in a neighborhood that we think is really cool.”
As for his other business ventures, the prolific Parker told ARLnow that boxing gym Bash and pet daycare and boarding business Playful Pack are both on track to start franchising nationally in the near future. High-end barbershop Bearded Goat — currently in Ballston and Shirlington — is also eyeing an expansion to other cities, but that may take longer to play out, he said.
Asked about his ability to open so many local businesses, Parker credited his business partners for helping to make them a success while he focuses on the long-term path to growth.
When Timo Klotz saw the smoke and the gaping hole from across the street, he sprinted towards Ireland’s Four Courts.
“I ran across the intersection right there and followed the hole into the building, to go inside,” Klotz told ARLnow, a few days after a car barrelled into the Courthouse pub, critically injuring several people. “As soon as I saw what happened, I was like ‘I need to help.'”
A volunteer firefighter and EMT in Fairfax County with a job in emergency management, Klotz knew he had only a matter of seconds. Sifting through the wreckage, alongside Four Courts customers who also put themselves in harm’s way to help the injured, he helped pull people out of the pub and got them to safety only moments before the inferno engulfed the bar.
If it wasn’t for Klotz’s quick thinking and instincts, the situation might have been a whole lot worse.
“If it would have been 20 seconds more, yeah,” he said, trailing off a bit. “I don’t think they would have made it out.”
The fateful moment — last Friday, Aug. 11, around 6:45 p.m. — will be long etched in the memories of those who were there. A rideshare driver plowed a car into Ireland’s Four Courts at the end of a “T” where N. Courthouse Road and Wilson Blvd intersect. A total of 15 people were injured with three still remaining in the hospital. One person is still in critical condition, as of the last update from Arlington County police.
It remains unclear what led to the crash. Police said the driver is cooperating with authorities, didn’t do it intentionally, and alcohol was not a factor.
“The cause of the crash remains under active investigation and detectives continue to collect and review evidence and speak with witnesses to determine the events that preceded the crash,” an ACPD spokesperson told ARLnow yesterday (Thursday).
What is clear, though that the actions of Klotz and others likely saved lives.
Friday was Klotz’s last day working for the Arlington County Circuit Court before moving to a new job with Fairfax County’s Department of Emergency Management. So, he and several colleagues decided to have a going-away party down the street from his office, at Four Courts.
It was about 6:30 p.m. when he stepped out of the pub to move his car out of a parking garage that was set to close for the weekend. Klotz retrieved his car and parked it on N. Courthouse Road near Bayou Bakery. While getting out, that’s when he heard a loud bang.
“There’s always a lot of noise [around there], so I really didn’t make anything out of it,” he said.
But then he started hearing people screaming and seeing lots of commotion. Then, a person on the street said a car had ran into a building. Klotz ran and saw the bar he had been in only a few minutes earlier now had smoke pouring out of a large, jagged hole.
That’s when he made the split-second decision to go inside and help. Klotz told ARLnow that when he entered through the hole made by the Toyota Camry, he was stunned at what he saw.
“I couldn’t even make out that there was a car in there. There was ceiling, wires, cables, tables… everywhere,” Klotz said. “It was demolished. Like a bomb went off.”
Then he saw a person on the ground to his right. He helped that person up but saw another trapped under debris. Before he could even help them, he caught a glimpse of another person, bloody, lying on the ground.
“There’s people everywhere,” he said. “At that moment… I was almost overwhelmed to the point of thinking ‘what am I going to do? There’s so many people.'”
But Klotz’s instincts kicked in. As a volunteer firefighter, he had seen fires grow fast. As the smoke turned hot and flames started shooting out of the debris, Klotz knew there was one thing that had to happen now.
“We have a fire. We need to get people out,” he said, remembering that moment.
Arlington County police say the rideshare driver who crashed into Ireland’s Four Courts on Friday did not do so intentionally and was not drunk.
Beyond that, not much is known — or, at least, being revealed publicly — about the circumstances that led to the fiery crash that severely injured several people inside the long-time Courthouse pub.
“The Arlington County Police Department continues to investigate the cause of Friday’s crash,” the police department said in a statement late Monday afternoon. “Based on the preliminary investigation, detectives do not believe the crash was an intentional act and alcohol has been ruled out as a contributing factor. The driver of the vehicle is cooperating with the ongoing investigation.”
“Detectives continue to encourage anyone with information related to this investigation to contact Detective K. Stahl at [email protected] or 703-228-7145,” ACPD said. “Information may also be reported anonymously to Arlington County Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS.”
Police said that three people are still in the hospital, including one who’s still in critical condition and two others that are now in stable condition.
Initially, police said four people had been taken to the hospital from the scene in critical condition. In all, 15 people were injured, including nine brought to local hospitals, six of whom have since been released.
ARLnow previously reported that the quick actions of customers and first responders to treat the injured and move them away from the growing inferno likely saved lives.
Meanwhile, Four Courts has told local news outlets that it is planning to rebuild.
The pub and its staff will be helped by a GoFundMe campaign, which has blown past its $50,000 goal and raised more than $77,000 as of publication time. Four Courts employees, three of whom were hospitalized but have since been released, are also getting an assist from a fellow local Irish bar.
Samuel Beckett’s Irish Gastro Pub, at 2800 S. Randolph Street in Shirlington, is organizing a fundraiser and silent auction on Thursday, Sept. 15 for Four Courts staff.
Already more than 1,000 people have said they’re going or expressed interest in the event on Facebook.
“We at Beckett’s and Kirwan’s on the Wharf would like to hold a fundraiser for the staff of Ireland’s Four Courts,” wrote owner Mark Kirwan. “We will have a silent auction and a night of fun and entertainment to raise money for these poor unfortunate souls who went through hell… Thank you in advance and let’s make this road ahead for these folks a bit easier.”
Firefighters and county building officials were at Four Courts on Monday. The pub’s general manager, Dave Cahill, told ARLnow this afternoon that Four Courts is still trying to determine how to move forward, depending on what the inspections find.
“We are working with the county and inspectors to determine the next course of action,” Cahill said. “We are extremely grateful for all the neighborhood support.”
A Bolivian cocktail lounge is moving into the basement of a Clarendon restaurant for a five-day pop-up starting Sunday.
The basement of the restaurant at 2901 Wilson Blvd was formerly home to Ambar’s cocktail lounge “Baba.” The pop-up bar will be open for four other days next week: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday.
Casa Kantuta comes from siblings Carla and Juan Sanchez. They debuted their cocktail lounge inspired by their upbringing in the Bolivian capital city of La Paz last year in D.C. but have decided to bring it to Arlington this time around.
“There is a sizable Bolivian population in Northern [Virginia], and we know that many people who wanted to check us out did not get an opportunity to join us at our last pop-up,” co-owner Carla Sanchez tells ARLnow. “Arlington was strategically chosen because it is metro accessible and a close drive from our original location in ADMO, allowing both D.C. and [Virginia] patrons to join us, should they so choose.”
Baba, which never reopened after closing due to the pandemic, is a good temporary home for the pop-up cocktail lounge because the “aesthetic was similar to our own,” Sanchez said.
“‘Baba’ means “grandma” in Serbian which made me feel like this space would be perfect for Casa Kantuta,” said a press release. “The decor and design of their bottom level very much matched ours as a lot of our pop-up aesthetic is inspired by our own ‘abuela’ aka ‘grandma.”
The lounge is keeping it simple and offering a menu of only five cocktails, chilled singani shots, and Bolivian wine. That includes its signature cocktail Angry Llama, which has tequila, celery, pineapple, the Bolivian national spirit Singani and the traditional spicy sauce Llajua.
“Our focus is and has always been on providing unique cocktails that tell a story and celebrate our rich culture in an environment that makes you feel transported to another place,” Sanchez said.
While Casa Kantuta looks for a permanent home, the owners are thankful that Ambar Clarendon is allowing them to use the restaurant’s basement for a few days around Bolivian Independence Day.
“When the opportunity at Ambar presented itself, the space was already booked for different dates during the month, but thankfully, the dates closest to seis de Agosto were free,” Sanchez said. “The dates lined up in such a way that allowed us to put together this five-day pop-up that is really intended to celebrate Bolivian culture.”
Beloved local watering hole Whitlow’s is making a comeback in the place it first opened: D.C.
Before its closure, Whitlow’s said in a social media post that it hoped to reopen elsewhere.
“We don’t necessarily see this as a goodbye, but more of a see you later,” the post read.
As it turns out, Whitlow’s is saying goodbye to Arlington and hello to the District. The bar recently changed its Instagram handle to @whitlowsdc and said this morning that it is hiring ahead of a planned opening.
“Back where it all began,” the post said. “Opening soon and now hiring full-time bartenders!”
Whitlow’s opened in 1946 as a greasy spoon eatery and bar in D.C. before closing in 1989 and relocating to Clarendon six years later. Opening in 1995, it remained a neighborhood mainstay for just over two and a half decades.
So far, there’s no word as to where in D.C. Whitlow’s is opening. ARLnow has reached out for additional information and will update this article upon hearing back.
Hat tip to Alex K.
(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) We now know which bank is coming to the former G.O.A.T. sports bar space in Clarendon.
TD Bank is moving across the street to the highly-visible space near the Metro station, the company has confirmed to ARLnow. We reported in January that a bank was under construction on the first floor of 3028 Wilson Blvd, but could not confirm which bank was opening in the space until now.
“TD Bank will close the 3101 Wilson Blvd. store on Oct. 27 and will open the new 3028 Wilson Blvd. store location on Oct. 28,” a TD Bank spokesperson tells ARLnow.
Customers were informed of the move in letters sent last week.
The new, 2,081 square foot branch “will feature an advice center format, which allows colleagues to have advice conversations with customers about their financial goals along with conducting routine banking activities and account openings,” the spokesperson said. It will also have “sit-stand workstations that enable our colleagues to adapt them based on the type of conversation we’re having with a customer or the amount of traffic we expect on a given day.”
The move across the street comes as the existing branch’s lease is expiring.
“We have an expiring lease at our 3101 Wilson Blvd store, which gave us an opportunity to move to a location that better suits our customers’ needs and enhance[s] their banking experience with us,” said the spokesperson.
Construction permits suggest that the bank will be located on the first floor. So far, there’s no word on what might eventually come to the second floor of the building. The G.O.A.T. and its predecessor, Hard Times Cafe, previously used both floors.
There’s also no word as what might replace the branch on the ground floor of the office building at 3101 Wilson Blvd.
Hat tip to Ken K.
The Clarendon Ballroom is coming back.
The well-known Wilson Blvd nightlife spot is once again opening its doors, perhaps as early as this weekend, with a renovated interior, a new rooftop deck, and a state-of-the-art audio/visual set-up, owner Michael Darby tells ARLnow.
The space will also have a slightly modified moniker. It will be branded as “CB” with “The Ball Room” as a secondary name.
“Clarendon has really come of age. You’ve got all the great restaurants and bars,” Darby says. “And now with what we are doing with the Ballroom, that tops it off.”
It was more than two years ago when Clarendon Ballroom first closed its doors. A year after shuttering, in December 2020, Darby’s company Monument Realty purchased the building at 3185 Wilson Blvd for $6.7 million. The company then leased out the space for close to two years to the owners of nearby outdoor beer garden The Lot, who operated a series of themed pop-up bars there.
But back in March, as ARLnow reported, county records showed that Darby had applied for a building permit to start construction. The lease with those running the pop-up bars was then terminated a few weeks ago so that Monument Realty could take over the space themselves to finish off the renovations.
The initial plan, though, was different. Darby says he originally wanted another tenant, one that was “national” and “bigger, more financially secure” but that never came to pass.
“We didn’t really get the right responses and tenants that we would be happy with long term, especially with such a phenomenal location and such a great building,” Darby says. “So, what we decided to do was to take it over ourselves as an owner/operator and move forward in that manner.”
A laundry list of improvements has been made to the space since. There are all new wood floors, new paint, an “overhaul” of the upstairs, new carpet, a redone roof deck, a replaced roof, updated furniture, better countertops, and new VIP cabana areas.
The bathrooms are also completely redone downstairs.
“If you ever went down there, you probably didn’t want to spend much time there. Now, the [bathrooms] are clean and bright,” Darby says.
What has him most excited, though, is the new audio/visual set-up saying there’s “probably nothing like it in the area.” The state-of-the-art system will connect the music to video screens, he says, with house and guest DJs spinning the whole night.
Darby declined to say exactly how much money he’s invested into the Ballroom’s renovations so far, only that the dollars were “significant” and that this is a “long-term situation.”
This isn’t the nightlife venue’s final form, either. There’s a plan to put a speakeasy-themed bar with a separate entrance on the bottom floor. It could require a password or discovering a hidden panel to get into.
“It’ll be a low ceiling area with luxurious couches and seats. There will be a light show that’ll be attached to the ceiling,” Darby says. “It’ll be very dramatic.”
The plan is to open that portion of the nightlife venue next spring.
Reality show watchers may know him from his appearances on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Potomac” alongside then-wife Ashley Darby. The trials and tribulations of Oz, which opened in 2015 and was co-owned by the couple, became a recurring storyline in the show. The restaurant closed in 2019.
It’s unclear whether Michael Darby or the Ballroom will make an appearance on the show in the upcoming season.