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by Chris Teale August 16, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Clarendon restaurant Don Tito will host a viewing lunch and happy hour on Monday, August 21 for the solar eclipse.

The watering hole at 3165 Wilson Blvd will begin the festivities at noon, with the eclipse viewing expected to begin at approximately 1:21 p.m. The eclipse is anticipated to be at its maximum around 2:47 p.m., and the viewing and the eclipse itself will wrap us around 4 p.m.

To mark the occasion, the first total eclipse visible in the continental U.S. in decades, Don Tito will offer what it described as “eclipse-inspired refreshments” and taco specials.

Those interested in attending must RSVP online. Anyone that does RSVP will receive a pair of protective ISO-12312-2 glasses for viewing the eclipse.

This year’s eclipse is expected to be seen by more than 500 million people. The total solar eclipse will cross from Salem, Ore. to Charleston, S.C., with the rest of the country able to see a partial eclipse.

“This is truly a historic event and a wonderful opportunity to view one of nature’s stunning displays,” the Don Tito event’s organizers wrote.

So far, no other viewing events in Arlington have been widely announced, but The Connection pop-up library in Crystal City (2100 Crystal Drive in the Crystal City Shops) gave out hundreds of free glasses with which to watch the eclipse, supplied by PBS. The free glasses proved to be popular and the supply quickly ran out.

by ARLnow.com July 26, 2017 at 10:05 am 0

The pace of restaurant openings has noticeably slowed down in Arlington.

That doesn’t mean, however, there are no new restaurants to get excited about in Arlington. In fact there are a number of restaurants — bar-oriented restaurants, in particular — that are coming soon and have the potential to be new go-to spots.

Which of the following are you most looking forward to?

  • Brickhaus on Columbia Pike, which announced Monday via Facebook that it was just awaiting county inspections before opening: “One step closer to opening day (no, friends – there’s no firm date yet 😊).”
  • Dudley’s in Shirlington, which on June 1, after 15 months of back-and-forth with the county, finally received a building permit to start constructing a rooftop deck.
  • The G.O.A.T. Sports Bar in Clarendon, from the owners behind A-Town and Don Tito, which is currently expected to open later this summer.
  • Wilson Hardware, a new bar and lounge in Clarendon, which has announced a “late summer” opening.
  • Verre Wine Bar in Courthouse, which is now hiring and says it will “deliver a superior wine bar experience by offering the best value wine list in the DC area paired alongside classic, wholesome and heartwarming meals as well as a variety of shareable small plates.”

Some honorable mentions not included in our poll, as they seem to be more food-oriented, are Gyu-Kaku, a forthcoming Japanese BBQ restaurant in Clarendon that has not yet applied for construction permits; Bistro 1521, coming to the former Applebee’s space in Ballston; and Stageplate Bistro in Ballston, which is still not open despite being “close to opening” in May.

by Chris Teale July 19, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

Chester’s Billiards, Bar & Grill will have three months to remedy various violations after the Arlington County Board voted unanimously to grant a brief extension to its live entertainment permit.

The billiards hall and neighborhood bar at 2620 Shirlington Road had the annual review of its permit at the Board’s recessed meeting Tuesday (July 18), and county staff recommended an extension be denied after a slew of problems.

But the Board agreed to give Chester’s three months before having another review to correct various violations, which included 16 calls for service to the Arlington County Police Department as well as notices from the Fire Marshal, Code and Zoning Enforcement and Virginia ABC.

“I hope we’ve impressed on you all that this is not to be seen as an endorsement of the current state of affairs,” Board vice chair Katie Cristol said. “This is an opportunity to try to get it right.”

Rebecca Lewis, the agent for the building, promised that Chester’s will use the Arlington County Police Department’s after-hours service to employ off-duty officers as security on nights when it has live entertainment, and will ensure bartenders are trained in when to cut people off.

The live entertainment permit allows Chester’s to host “a variety of live entertainment types, including music, comedy and magicians.”

Lewis and Chester’s manager David Breedlove said the introduction of a fence around the property, which is as high as eight feet in some places, should help with security. Lewis added that after some management turmoil since the bar opened in 2015, they have been on a more even footing the past couple of months.

“We can’t change the neighborhood, but what’s happening inside Chester’s has changed,” Lewis said. “We’ve learned the lessons, and we have followed the rules that were laid out in the original use permit.”

Board member Christian Dorsey cautioned against rhetoric that may appear to blame the neighborhood for any problems. He also tried to determine the status of the building’s elevator, which is the subject of criminal proceedings.

“My overarching conversation,” Dorsey said, “is if the elevator makes it inappropriate for us to renew the use permit, should we have a business operating there at all?”

Chester’s representatives said the elevator has not operated since opening, and that they are applying to have it decommissioned. Adam Watson, a planner in the county’s Department of Community, Planning, Housing and Development, said the violation must be remedied, and that staff would work to determine how necessary a working elevator is for the business.

Lewis and Breedlove said many violations have come from being a relatively new business, including from Virginia ABC as their food sales are not as high as required for their liquor license. Both promised to do better.

“This is always really tough,” Dorsey said. “I hate to be in the business of hurting someone’s opportunity to earn a living and fulfill their creative and entrepreneurial dreams, but it also seems by your own admission…this has been a growing experience for you in terms of operating a business, finding out the right things to offer, the right things to work with.”

Chester’s will be back before the Board for its review in October.

Photo via Google Maps.

by Chris Teale July 14, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

The successor to the former RiRa Irish Pub in Clarendon is aiming to be open in “late summer.”

Wilson Hardware at 2915 Wilson Blvd has been under construction for almost a year, but appears to be nearing completion. Signs are up and facing the street, and a back outdoor patio is taking shape.

When it is finished, customers can expect a 7,000-square-foot bar and lounge with three distinct bar areas, including one on the roof.

Inside, a large papier-mâché mural covers the bar’s exposed brick wall, designed by D.C. firm SWATCHROOM. And upstairs on the rooftop, the bar features a graphic tile motif in black and white and plants overhead, along with high tables and two large flat-screen televisions.

Wilson Hardware will serve contemporary American food and a menu of signature cocktails. It is named for the Virginia Hardware store, which occupied the space from the early 1960s until 2005.

“Clarendon has definitely been overdue for a place like Wilson Hardware, so we’re thrilled to be in the neighborhood,” said co-owner Jad Bouchebel in a statement. “We know how important the history of this landmark is and look forward to welcoming new faces to our restaurant.”

More from a press release, after the jump.

(more…)

by Chris Teale July 10, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

With a criminal case pending and various code violations, county staff is recommending the Arlington County Board not extend the live entertainment permit for Chester’s Billiards, Bar & Grill.

The billiards hall and neighborhood bar at 2620 S. Shirlington Road in Nauck has the annual review of its permit for live entertainment and dancing at the recessed County Board meeting on Tuesday, July 18.

But staff said the Board should not grant a renewal after a slew of problems this past year, for the bar that opened in 2015. The Arlington County Police Department said they were called 16 times during the past year, including during the bar’s live entertainment hours.

The report said several police calls involved “violent altercations or assaults, including incidents directly involving Chester’s manager and co-owner,” including disputes with employees and an accusation of vandalism on the phone lines of another nearby restaurant.

The Fire Marshal, Code and Zoning Enforcement all issued violation notices, while staff had not received required TIPS training for serving alcohol. The Virginia ABC also has pending charges that could result in Chester’s liquor license being suspended due to inadequate food sales and false figures for alcohol purchases, the report says.

The building’s elevator is under “active criminal investigation” for being unsafe, after a violation notice was first issued last August, according to the report. Since then, staff said it has not been corrected, with their report describing the elevator as “dangerous to the health, safety, and welfare of the building’s occupants.”

The report notes that the president of the Nauck Civic Association said the group had no “issues or concerns” with Chester’s, while the president of the nearby Shirlington Crest Homeowners’ Association did not respond to requests for comment.

The live entertainment permit allows Chester’s to host “a variety of live entertainment types, including music, comedy, and magicians.” The staff report says the elevator issue may also prompt the county’s building maintenance official to “seek revocation of the Certificate of Occupancy for disregard and/or refusal to correct violation.”

Chester’s is located in the building that formerly was home to Lucy’s ARL and Champion Billiards.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt. Photo via Google Maps.

by Chris Teale June 20, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

For the time being at least, A-Town Bar & Grill in Ballston appears to have turned over a new leaf after a troubled few months.

The bar had been ordered to have its permit for live entertainment and dancing reviewed by the Arlington County Board three months after its last review in March. That review took place days after a brawl nearby that ended with police officers tasing two suspects, including one dressed in a Pikachu onesie.

But a staff report on A-Town’s progress since then — presented to the Board on Saturday — noted no code, fire or ABC violations, and only eight calls to the police.

Of those eight calls, the report said, the only time an arrest was made was for an “intoxicated subject acting ‘confused,'” which was called in by a staff member on Friday, March 24 around 2:30 p.m. The other seven police calls, including one on Sunday, April 23 at 7:49 p.m. when someone asked where they could buy drugs, did not result in violations.

Since March’s brawl, part of what neighbors said was a litany of incidents in previous years and a strained relationship with the County Board and staff, A-Town and county officials have hosted a series of meetings with those nearby.

The police and Fire Marshal’s Office held a meeting with A-Town’s owners on March 28 to discuss training for preventing incidents like noise disturbances, over-serving customers and assaults. County staff also contacted the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association, as well as representatives of the Altavista and Berkeley Condominiums as part of this review.

“The president of the BVSCA noted that they have continued to have productive discussion with the A-Town owners, and reported no issues from other members of the BVSCA,” the report reads. “A representative of the Altavista credited the A-Town owners for a recent change in management that has resulted in patron behavior that was described as ‘much more restrained’ and ‘civil’ than in the ‘last many years.'”

The Board accepted the findings of the review as part of its consent agenda items, with no further comment from the public or members. A-Town’s next review will be before the Board in December.

by Chris Teale June 2, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

The long-delayed Dudley’s Sport & Ale in Shirlington is finally on the road to completion after its owner said the county approved the necessary permits.

Owner Reese Gardner said that with the approval, he will have more of an idea of an opening date for the sports bar at 2766 S. Arlington Mill Drive after a construction meeting next week.

The sports bar was dogged by permitting problems that delayed its construction and prevented its opening, which had been planned for last year.

Approval could mean that Gardner, who also owns Copperwood TavernQuinn’s on the Corner in Rosslyn and Irish Whiskey in the District, may have a chance of hitting his revised target of having Dudley’s open this summer.

A 28-seat bar, a 125-seat dining area, and a “stadium style” viewing area are planned, as well as a rooftop bar — Shirlington’s first — with a game area, a 15-seat bar, and patio seating for about 114 people.

by ARLnow.com May 25, 2017 at 9:20 am 0

Kal Penn Spotted at A-Town — Eddie Lacy wasn’t the only famous person spotted at an Arlington bar over the past week. Actor and former Obama administration official Kal Penn was photographed hanging out at A-Town Bar and Grill in Ballston this past weekend.

NKD Pizza Closed in Ballston — The NKD Pizza restaurant on N. Quincy Street in Ballston is closed. The struggling chain’s Pentagon Row location closed a year ago. [Yelp, Twitter, Twitter]

Monday Properties Refinances Rosslyn Portfolio — “Monday Properties has completed an $888 million refinancing of its Rosslyn portfolio… resolving one of the largest chunks of expiring commercial real estate debts taken out before the recession.” Meanwhile, Monday says that Nestle moving its corporate headquarters to 1812 N. Moore Street “has prompted other prospects to consider Rosslyn that wouldn’t have in the past.”  [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington’s Bond Rating Affirmed — “For the 17th year in a row, all three credit ratings agencies have reaffirmed Arlington County’s debt ratings of Aaa/AAA/AAA — the highest rating. Arlington is one of just 45 Counties in the United States, and 9 in Virginia, to receive the highest rating from all three credit agencies for its bonds.” [Arlington County]

Nearby: Video of Fire in Falls Church — Arlington County firefighters assisted on a shed and house fire in the Falls Church section of Fairfax County last week. The blaze was caught on video by a neighbor. [Statter 911]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by ARLnow.com May 23, 2017 at 2:15 pm 0

Newly-signed Seattle Seahawks running back Eddie Lacy spent part of his weekend in Clarendon.

Lacy, who was earned NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Honors in 2013 while on the Green Bay Packers, was photographed hanging out with Arlington County police officers who were patrolling the bar district. The department posted some of the photos on Twitter Monday, including one with Lacy sitting on a police motorcycle and another in which he is smiling while holding a pair of handcuffs.

Lacy also was spotted at Don Tito, where he posed with co-owner Nick Cordero.

Other professional athletes have been spotted at Don Tito over the past couple of years, including former Washington Capitals player Brooks Laich (with fiancée Julianne Hough) and United States women’s national soccer team defender Ali Krieger.

by Chris Teale May 17, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

The long-awaited and long-delayed Dudley’s Sport & Ale in Shirlington appears to still be far from ready to open.

Owner Reese Gardner had hoped the sports bar would be open in either June or July, but in a brief email he said the planned sports bar at 2766 S. Arlington Mill Drive is still plagued by the same permitting problems “as before, unfortunately.”

Gardner said the county has still not approved all of its necessary permits. A 28-seat bar, a 125-seat dining area, and a “stadium style” viewing area are planned, as well as a rooftop bar — Shirlington’s first — with a game area, a 15-seat bar, and patio seating for about 114 people.

The original plan was to open Dudley’s last March, but work associated with the planned rooftop deck greatly delayed that timeline.

A spokeswoman for the county’s department of community, planning, housing and development confirmed the project has been going through the administrative change process. The spokeswoman referred further questions to the county’s lead planner on the project, who did not respond to requests for more information.

Gardner, who also owns the nearby Copperwood TavernQuinn’s on the Corner in Rosslyn and Irish Whiskey in the District, said he would have further information on an opening date once permits are approved.

by Chris Teale May 16, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

Just months after Sehkraft Brewing closed in Clarendon, its successor is preparing to make its mark.

According to license applications filed with Virginia ABC, The Board Room will look to continue Sehkraft’s in-house brewing in its former space at 925 N. Garfield Street. The old restaurant had a 10-barrel system for making its own beer. A permit application indicates that The Board Room hopes to brew up to 500 barrels per year.

Mark Handwerger, owner of The Board Room’s parent company Bedrock Bars, confirmed in an email that the bar will look to continue the in-house brewing program, but there is “nothing concrete” regarding operations or if they will partner with anyone.

The Board Room, which has another location currently open in Dupont Circle, combines an extensive drinks menu with board games, available for rent for a flat fee of $2.

The bar has applied for a liquor license and intends to seat more than 150 people. Sehkraft had seating for 210, including 66 on two outdoor patios. Handwerger said the adjoining butcher shop will be transformed into “Ms. Peacock’s Champagne Lounge.”

Demolition on the inside should begin soon based on building permits filed with the county. Handwerger said he hopes to open before Labor Day.

by Chris Teale May 10, 2017 at 2:55 pm 0

The Social Restaurant Group‘s newest addition to the local dining scene is just days away from its official opening in Clarendon.

Bar Bao at 3100 Clarendon Blvd will throw open its doors for the first time Thursday after several soft openings, including one tonight with 20 percent off all food.

The new restaurant, the successor to the Mad Rose Tavern, will serve steamed buns, dumplings and other small bites inspired by Chinese and Taiwanese street food.

There will be space for 197 seats inside, including the bars, with room for approximately 70 outdoors on the back patio and a soon-to-open front patio facing Clarendon Blvd next to the State Department Federal Credit Union.

Inside, murals designed by local graffiti artists Mike Pacheco and Rodrigo Pradel are inspired by Tang Sai’er, a female rebel leader who protested the Ming Dynasty’s unfair treatment of the people in China in the 15th century and led a peasant uprising.

The murals flow throughout the restaurant, showing her as the self-styled Godmother of the White Lotus Cult until her death.

“We just wanted a cool mural that told a story,” said SRG co-founder Mike Bramson.

The eatery’s menu includes a number of Asian-inspired cocktails, like the Hiddel Leaf Swizzle, referred to as the “Ninja Cocktail” and drunk out of a cup that looks like a ninja. Executive chef Donn Souliyadeth is behind the menu offerings.

“We told him, ‘Here’s some parameters, create some stuff on your own,’ and together with the chef we were able to create some stuff,” Bramson said. “We had a lot of tastings and tried to get as creative as we possibly could, but with food that was still approachable.”

Bar Bao joins Pamplona next door, another SRG property open since mid-January. Bramson said it was always the group’s intention to have both restaurant spaces, but to have differences between the two in terms of design.

“Everyone loves the design of Pamplona, but we wanted it to feel completely different,” Bramson said. “We wanted it to feel different from anywhere in Clarendon. Our initial walk-through, we knew we needed to go with concrete floors, graffiti artists and do that real edgy vibe.”

by Chris Teale May 2, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

More details are filtering out about Clarendon’s first dedicated outdoor beer garden, which hopes to open this summer.

“The Lot” beer garden, at 3217 10th Street N., will replace the used car lot once operated by the Prime Auto Group. Signs remain up for the car seller, but its telephone number and website have been deactivated.

Inside, work appears to be in the early stages on The Lot, which, according to a permit application filed with the county, intends to add a small kitchen and enclosed deck to an existing building, in addition to the outdoor seating. A license application filed with Virginia ABC indicates it wishes to have over 150 seats.

The site is currently zoned for a general commercial district and is close to other beverage-serving establishments like Northside Social and cold-pressed juice bar JRINK.

Owned by the Social Restaurant Group, The Lot is listed as one of six upcoming ventures for the group, alongside Bar Bao in the former Mad Rose Tavern space in Clarendon, which appears close to opening. SRG already operates Pamplona, also in Clarendon.

Staff with the Social Restaurant Group referred all requests for additional information to their media relations representatives. Those representatives did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

by Chris Teale April 28, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

Five Arlington restaurants are partnering with local nonprofit Doorways for Women and Families to raise awareness of sexual assault and help available for victims.

Starting tonight, Liberty Tavern, Lyon Hall, Northside Social and O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Clarendon and the Crystal City Sports Pub in Crystal City will provide customers with coasters that feature Doorways’ 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline (703-237-0881) and the message, “Sexual assault impacts everyone.”

The weekend campaign coincides with the end of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

“Our goal with this outreach is twofold,” said Doorways president and CEO Caroline Jones in a statement. “First and foremost, we want to show survivors that they’re not alone. Secondly, we want to ensure that everyone is aware of the resources here in Arlington, namely our 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline — help is available in our community.”

Last year, 187 adults and 40 children were served by Doorways’ hotline response as a direct result of sexual assault.

According to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds, and 54 percent of sexual assault victims are between the ages of 18 and 34.

Other services offered by Doorways include hospital accompaniment, counseling and court advocacy, which provides education about the legal system, companionship during the petition and court hearing processes and extensive safety planning for anyone impacted by family violence.

by ARLnow.com April 5, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

CarPool Now Closed — A line out the door marked CarPool’s last day in business on Monday. The Ballston bar hosted a large crowd of patrons there to watch the Nationals opening day and the NCAA men’s basketball championship, and to say goodbye to the long-time watering hole. [Twitter]

Clement Opposes Tax Rate Hike — Independent Arlington County Board candidate Audrey Clement says she does not support the proposed property tax hike, which Arlington’s county manager says is necessary to fund Metro and Arlington Public Schools. [InsideNova]

Developments in School Board Race — Former congressional candidate Mike Webb has gathered the petition signatures necessary to get on this year’s Arlington School Board ballot, although he still has a couple of paperwork hurdles before he officially qualifies. Meanwhile, incumbent James Lander has received the endorsement of the Arlington Education Association as he faces two challengers in the Democratic endorsement caucus. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Arlington’s Trees By The Numbers — “The County is proud home to some 755,400 trees of at least 122 species. If you had to put a price on all that priceless foliage, it’d be worth more than $1.4 billion.” [Arlington County]

Tour of the Trades Center — The latest “Around Arlington” video from the county gives viewers a tour of the Arlington Trandes Center near Shirlington, where school buses are housed, police cars get repaired and salt trucks get refilled. [YouTube]

Police Chief: See Something, Say Something — Although the vast majority of calls about suspicious people or circumstances turn out to be nothing, Arlington’s police chief is still encouraging residents to call the police non-emergency line at 703-558-2222 if they see something out of the ordinary. Said Chief Jay Farr: “Do not hesitate to call us about something suspicious. Some say, ‘I didn’t want to bother you,’ but I say, `Bother us.'” [Falls Church News-Press]

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