Arlington, VA

Clarendon nightlife mainstay Whitlow’s on Wilson is “actively negotiating” for a new lease, manager Jon Williams says.

Readers tipped ARLnow off to a commercial real estate website listing the Whitlow’s space at 2854 Wilson Blvd as available for lease starting on July 1, 2021.

Per the listing:

Total street-level, enclosed area of approximately 8,450sf; plus 350sf of sidewalk seating area; plus 500sf of outside dining area (under tent); plus 4,100sf of Rooftop area; plus 2,500sf of Basement area (storage and walk-ins); and a private driveway for storage, parking and loading.

Fans of Whitlow’s and its rooftop tiki bar shouldn’t start breaking out the hankies just yet. Williams said the listing is part of the lease negotiation process.

“We plan on being here for years to come,” he said.

Whitlow’s celebrated its 20th anniversary in Clarendon in 2016. Earlier this month the bar raised some $8,000 to benefit flood July 8 victims in Westover, according to Williams.

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Morning Notes

Home Prices Around HQ2 Soar — “The median sale prices for all home types in the 22202 ZIP code, where Amazon is building and staffing up HQ2, was $995,000 in July — the highest for any month in a decade — according to data provided by MarketStats by ShowingTime based on listing activity from Bright MLS. It’s a 72% jump from June, when median sales were at $615,000, and a 25% year-over-year increase.” [Washington Business Journal, InsideNova]

ACPD Launches Anti-DUI Campaign — “The high-visibility national enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, runs from August 14 through September 2, 2019. During this period, police will conduct nightly saturation patrols with the goal of drastically reducing incidents of drunk driving on our roadways.” [Arlington County]

Courthouse Market Back On Next Weekend — After initially being set to skip next weekend due to scheduled parking lot paving, the Courthouse farmers market is back on for Saturday, Aug. 24. [Arlington County]

Amazon Truck Blocks GW Parkway — The southbound GW Parkway was temporarily blocked at the Memorial Bridge yesterday afternoon due to a too-tall Amazon tractor trailer. [Twitter]

Betting at Local Bars — “Locally, prosecutors haven’t paid much attention to the games. Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos said she wasn’t even aware that any machines were in the county until informed by the WBJ that bars in both Clarendon and Ballston operate them. An Arlington police spokeswoman said the department hasn’t noticed “any issues or concerns related to” the machines.” [Washington Business Journal]

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When Bronson Bier Hall opens next week in the Ballston area, don’t go into it expecting A-Town.

Before it closed in December, A-Town Bar and Grill was the slightly-sticky crown jewel of a sprawling nightlife franchise that includes Don Tito and The G.O.A.T. in Clarendon.

But Bronson Bier Hall has taken pains to cultivate a fun but more subdued aesthetic than the rip-roaring A-Town, which was noted for its once-frequent appearances in crime report items.

The interior is composed of brick columns and copper countertops, with long tables and walls decorated with antique agricultural equipment.

“We didn’t want people to walk in and go ‘it’s A-Town’,” said chef and co-owner Mike Cordero. “This is more for sitting with a beer or playing some games. It’s more mellow and chill.”

Games at the Bier Hall include shuffleboard, darts and ping pong.

Cordero said the main focus of Bronson Bier Hall is having an “old world” feel. The beer selection is a mix of local beers and a collection of German imports.

The restaurant will also feature schnitzel and bratwurst, with a station where visitors can literally see how the sausage gets made.

The Bier Hall is a partnership between Mike Cordero, his son Nick Cordero, prolific nightlife and haircut purveyor Scott Parker, and Gary Koh. Cordero said the restaurant will open sometime next week, though a specific date hasn’t been chosen yet.

Another new Cordero venture, Taco Rock restaurant in Rosslyn, is also currently in the works.

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Update at 5:20 p.m. — In a new Facebook post, The Lot says it received its ABC permit at the last minute today and will serve beer tomorrow, on the Fourth of July. The beer garden says it will serve liquor starting tonight.

Update: We have received our ABC license at 5 pm!! (Third of July miracle!) We will serve liquor tonight, and beer and liquor tomorrow. Stand by for door opening time!

Update at 4:45 p.m. — The Lot did not, in fact, obtain a Virginia ABC permit necessary for serving beer, according to a new Facebook post. The beer garden will still open today and will serve tacos instead, with free tacos for the first 200 customers, they said on social media.

Good news and bad news. The good: Huge shout out to Arlington County for granting Health and Occupancy for the Lot to open!! The bad: ABC did not grant our license in time for an order to be placed before the Holiday. BUT!! We are are all here waiting to serve you all sooo we will still opening the Rebel Taco truck on the Lot, and the first 200 people to arrive tonight will get a free taco! Come eat and play in the sand…drinking will have to wait one more week, but hey, what’s one more week when we have waited 2 years.

Earlier: After years of planning and permit drama, The Lot beer garden near Clarendon says it is opening today “against all odds.”

According to an event page on Facebook, the beer garden at 3217 10th Street N. will be open “with a limited food and beverage menu” today at 5 p.m. It is also planning to be open starting at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow (July 4), at 5 p.m. on Friday, and at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday.

More from the event description:

Against all odds and contrary to popular belief, The Lot IS OPENING! A 22,000 square foot open-air beer garden and event space, the Lot features container bars, food trucks, and an adult SANDLot for all your bucket pong and corn hole needs.

Join us… July 3, weather-permitting, for a preview party with a limited food and beverage menu. We will continue the party straight through the weekend with soft openings on the 4th (11:30 am – close), 5th (5 pm – close), and 6th (11:30 am – close) of July.

Thank you to all our neighbors and friends who supported us through this tedious process and kept the faith.

Come eat, drink, and play at The Lot!

It’s unclear if The Lot was able to obtain all of the necessary permits needed to open. The Arlington County and Virginia ABC websites still list some permits as pending, though the information might be outdated or The Lot may have obtained temporary permits not reflected online.

A tipster tells ARLnow that opening preparations appear to be well underway, with less than two hours to go until opening.

“I also live within visual sight of The Lot and can see upwards of 10 workers making cosmetic improvements to the site as I write,” the tipster said just after 3 p.m. today.

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One month after it served its last beer in D.C.’s Columbia Heights neighborhood, Meridian Pint is planning to open its new location in the Dominion Hills shopping plaza tomorrow.

For owner John Andrade, the move brings his new bar — at 6035 Wilson Blvd — a little closer to home. Andrade is from the neighborhood and many of the wait staff are hired from the nearby neighborhoods.

“I live a quarter-mile away and my daughter goes to Ashlawn,” Andrade said. “I know the neighborhood, and I’ve gotten to understand the void for folks here for craft beer.”

Andrade said oversaturation and competition with a new wave of breweries having their own bars forced Meridian Pint out of D.C., but added that the move is also an opportunity to rebuild the small community bar scene.

“There is a focus on D.C. or even Clarendon or Ballston for beers, but the neighborhoods are neglected,” Andrade said.

A sign at the front says the restaurant will be called Dominion Pint, but Andrade said there was a legal challenge to the name so the bar is sticking with Meridian Pint. The restaurant has been holding a series of soft openings for neighbors and other invitees this week, but the official public opening is Thursday.

It will be the sixth restaurant Andrade has opened, including those no longer operating. Andrade also runs three other D.C. restaurants: Brookland PintRosario’s Tacos & Tequila in Adams Morgan, and Smoke & Barrel in Adams Morgan.

Andrade said the focus of Meridian Pint will be on American grilled food and craft beer — both local and national brands. In addition to beers, Andrade said he’s focusing on the restaurant’s homemade ice cream.

Jace Gonnerman, the beer program director for Meridian Pint, said his goal is to maintain a careful balance of obscure and approachable beers.

In addition to the obscure and higher-end craft beers, Gonnerman said he’s happy to have two more affordable brews for the opening: Narragansett Lager and Genesee Cream Ale.

“We want to have a beer for everyone,” Gonnerman said. “We want something for the community, but also the latest and greatest for aficionados.”

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(Updated at 5:45 p.m.) Arlington County’s crime rates have continued to fall for seventh straight year, with a few exceptions, according to a new report from the police department.

The new data comes from ACPD’s annual crime report which the department released today (Tuesday). The 37-page document reports falling crime rates between 2017 and 2018 for many offenses, including burglary, kidnapping, assault, embezzlement, prostitution, and forcible sexual assault.

The county’s murder rate held steady, with four murders reported in both 2017 and 2018. However, the data also shows some increases in offenses for drunkenness, and bribery and extortion.

ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage noted that bribery and extortion charges can result from online or phone scams, and that both were “prevalent in 2018” which caused the department to lead several community awareness campaigns.

Chief M. Jay Farr noted that by May of last year the department was suffering from a staffing shortage with only 320 “functional” full time officers out of the 361 the county budgeted for.

“Our Department has a dedicated pledge of serving the community with duty, honor, and commitment,” Farr wrote in a statement in the report. “While we have experienced challenges this year, our sworn and civilian staff have risen to the task each day and embodied our pledge through their actions.”

Drunkenness

The biggest crime increase noted in the report was for offenses related to “drunkenness” charges: in 2017, 273 offenses were recorded related to drunkenness charges, compared to 622 last year.

Savage told ARLnow one reason the number is so high could be an issue with last year’s data.

“The number of drunkenness arrests appear to be underreported to the state in 2017 due to a data processing issue,” she said. “Our Records Management Unit is currently working with Virginia State Police to rectify the issue.”

Another reason could be ACPD’s crackdown on “nightlife safety.” In addition to increasing patrols around Clarendon bars last year, the department also partnered with restaurants to train staff in responding to emergency situations and report them to law enforcement:

In recognizing the importance of training to support effective standards, the police department’s Restaurant Liaison Unit has collaborated across county agencies to provide a thorough ARI training program for restaurant staff. These trainings include responsible alcohol service, fake identification detection, understanding their civil liability, public safety expectations, CPR, and Bar Bystander sexual assault intervention training.

The report noted that as part of ACPD’s “Restaurant Initiative” it trained 28 restaurants and 260 employees in the health and safety protocols.

Drugs

Arlington has seen the number of people seeking treatment for opioid addiction skyrocket in recent years. However, data shared in today’s report indicates that while the number of opioid-related incidents reported to 9-1-1 last year (153) remained close to 2017’s number (157), the number of overdoses decreased (53 in 2018 compared to 74 in 2017) and fatal overdoses also fell from 19 in 2017 to 11 in 2018.

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Police and local bar owners are teaming up to talk about alcohol and nightlife safety this week.

The two groups are co-hosting “A Conversation About Nightlife Safety” on Wednesday, May 1 from  7-9 p.m.

The free event will be held at the Hazel conference center at Virginia Hospital Center (1701 N. George Mason Drive). Attendees are asked to RSVP online.

“Patrons, restaurant staff, and those interested in maintaining Arlington County as a safe destination for entertainment are encouraged to attend a community conversation on nightlife safety,” a county press release reads.

Speakers include Freddie Lutz of Freddie’s Beach Bar, John Williams of Whitlow’s on Wilson, and Chris Lefbom of Ragtime, Rhodeside Bar and Grill, and William Jeffery’s Tavern

A panel line-up include officials from the county’s zoning, human services, economic development and fire departments.

Arlington County Police will be sending a member of its Restaurant Liaison Unit to the event, which is a part of the “Arlington Restaurant Initiative” to train bar employees to serve alcohol responsibly and help reduce nightlife crime.

Officials made the restaurant initiative a permanent fixture of Arlington’s nightlife scene back in October after piloting it earlier in 2018.

Last year, ACPD said that increased police presence around bars due to the initiative may have contributed to a jump in reported alcohol-related offenses, even though overall county crime rate dropped by 7.7%. The 2018 report noted  a 73% increase in liquor law violations and a 17% increase in “drunkenness” charges, in addition to police catching 703 fake IDs.

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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The Arlington County Board this week unanimously approved an outdoor dining area at Burger District in Courthouse, as well as a new outdoor bar in Ballston.

Burger District requested Board members amend zoning rules to allow the Courthouse eatery to seat patrons in four feet of space on the sidewalk outside of its 2024 Wilson Blvd location.

That would leave six feet for pedestrians on the 10-foot-wide sidewalk, which requires County Board approval, according to a staff report.

In return, the eatery agreed to:

  • Only operate the outdoor section from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m.
  • Keep the rest of the sidewalk (6 feet) clear
  • Not exceed more than 24 seats
  • Hold “no live entertainment or dancing”

“Permitting an outdoor cafe along Wilson Boulevard will help achieve the vision of the Rosslyn to Courthouse Urban Design Study where there are ‘vibrant and people-friendly streets and plazas… full of life’ and ‘small businesses prosper,'” county staff wrote.

The Courthouse restaurant opened in August and serves burgers, shakes, hotdogs, and wings.

Last night the Board also approved a new “fixed” outdoor bar in Ballston, at upcoming restaurant The Salt Line, which is planning to open next spring.

Images 1 and 2 via staff reports 1 and 2.

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The growing “paint and sip industry” is making its way to Arlington with a new Muse Paintbar location in Ballston Quarter.

The art-studio-slash-bar first showed up in county permits last fall. A spokesperson for Muse Paintbar confirmed that the bar is planning to open in July, though no more specific date has been chosen and construction at the location hasn’t begun.

Muse Paintbar is planned to open on the mall’s first floor at 4238 Wilson Blvd.

The chain was founded in 2012, offering public events and private parties focused around learning how to paint while sipping on a variety of wine, craft beer and food. (Just be careful which cup you sip out of.)

If you cannot wait for the Ballston location to open, there are also Muse Paintbar locations at the Mosaic District (2920 District Avenue) and National Harbor (122 Waterfront Street).

Muse Paintbar joins a series of other restaurants and businesses opening recently in Ballston Quarter, including another bar — Ballston Service Station — in the Quarter Market food hall.

Photo courtesy Muse Paintbar

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Two new restaurants are planning soft openings Thursday in Ballston Quarter’s new food hall, Quarter Market, with another planning a grand opening happy hour celebration.

Local Oyster, a Baltimore-based seafood joint, is planning to launch tomorrow with a limited menu. The full menu for the eatery includes beer as well as seafood like lobsters, scallops, crab legs, and — of course — oysters.

Next door, sushi and dumpling restaurant Roll’d — helmed by Sushi Taro’s Chef Nobu Yamazaki — is also tentatively planning a launch with a limited menu.

Meanwhile, the food hall’s main bar, Ballston Service Station, has been serving drinks for a couple weeks now, but the bar’s staff said a grand opening is planned tomorrow around 4 p.m.

The new openings coincide with the “Ballston Quarter Celebration” at the mall. From 11 a.m.-2 p.m., the first 100 guests to check in at the Ballston Quarter tent will receive a voucher for a complimentary lunch at any vendor in the market.

A family-friendly happy hour is planned for 5-7 p.m. with live music, a caricature and face painter, and food and drink specials.

Other restaurants currently open in Quarter Market include Copa Kitchen and Bar, Hot Lola’s, Ice Cream Jubilee, Mi & Yu Noodle Bar, Rice Crook, Sloppy Mama’s BBQ, and Turu’s by Timber Pizza Co.

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(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) Meridian Pint hopes to open up in Arlington by mid-May, according to owner John Andrade.

Andrade told ARLnow today (Wednesday) that his new Dominion Hills location is slated to open around May 15, pending final county inspections this month.

The new pub is inside the Dominion Hills Centre shopping plaza at 6035 Wilson Blvd. Andrade said he’s applying the “last layers of polyurethane” to the space.

On Monday, he announced his flagship “Pint” in Columbia Heights will close Sunday after nine years in business. In a statement shared by PoPville Andrade cited “evolving needs of our staff, our customers, our lives and our city” as a reason for packing up shop.

Andrade also runs three other D.C. restaurants: Brookland Pint, Rosario’s Tacos & Tequila in Adams Morgan, and Smoke & Barrel in Adams Morgan.

Construction of the Arlington space began last fall, two year ago after he announced plans to expand across the Potomac. Now he says he’s hiring servers, bartenders, and cooks, and redesigning the Columbia Heights menu to fit an Arlington clientele. 

“IPAs are very popular in Northern Virginia, so you’ll definitely see a nice selection of that,” said Andrade.

“From the food perspective, we expect to cater to a lot more families here,” he added. “The kids menu is going to be very nice, and well-manicured to make sure we’re giving kids healthy options and at the same time satisfying the kids’ palate as well.”

Andrade, who is an Arlington resident, said last year he looked forward to pub being within walking distance of his neighborhood.

“It’s just a great opportunity,” he said. “Especially for those of us that live slightly more than walking distance from Ballston or Clarendon, or have multiple kids, and don’t really want to do the dance of finding a parking garage or hunting down a metered space to go explore out that way.”

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