Arlington, VA

Bracket Room, a sports bar in Clarendon co-owned by Chris Bukowski of Bachelor fame, is the latest victim of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Due to the national crisis from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is with a heavy heart that Bracket Room in Arlington has decided to close its doors,” the restaurant said on Instagram Tuesday afternoon. “We want to sincerely thank all of our patrons and employees for all their support over the years. We are going to miss each and every one of you.”

The bar opened in the fall of 2013, offering a “higher-end, ‘female-friendly’ experience.” Located at 1210 N. Garfield Street, Bracket Room closed a week ago, after a weekend St. Patrick’s Day celebration, for everything other than take-out and delivery.

In today’s Instagram post, Bracket Room promised to honor its earlier promotion to refund all receipts since November if the Washington Nationals win the World Series again this year.

ARLnow’s list of other Arlington restaurants offering delivery and takeout can be found here.

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Due to the National crisis from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is with a heavy heart that Bracket Room in Arlington has decided to close its doors. We want to sincerely thank all of our patrons and employees for all their support over the years. We are going to miss each and every one of you. Our promotion of reimbursement of every purchase if the Nationals win the World Series is still in effect. If the Nationals are lucky enough to win the 2021 World Series and you have all your receipts, we will honor it. Please contact one of our owners, Jeff Greenberg, at 703-307-9600, and he will personally make sure you get your refunds. It’s been a wonderful few years, please everyone stay healthy & stay safe!

A post shared by Bracket Room (@bracketroomva) on

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How seriously are people in Arlington taking the coronavirus outbreak?

Probably not seriously enough, in some cases, but at least enough so that Ireland’s Four Courts in Courthouse is cancelling St. Patrick’s Day.

The venerable local Irish pub announced tonight (Sunday) that it would be closing indefinitely after the close of business, just two days before St. Patrick’s Day.

Despite a presumably massive loss of business as a result, Four Courts said in a message to customers that it’s the right thing to do, given the need for social distancing to stop the spread of the disease, known as COVID-19.

“The safety and well-being of our customers and staff is our greatest concern,” the restaurant said. “We will reopen again when the time is right.”

Four Courts did, at least, hold a “St. Practice Day” event on Saturday. Amid the crowds at bars across the D.C. area this weekend, there were calls to put an end to such gatherings.

Several states — including California, Illinois, Ohio and Massachusetts — have ordered restaurants and bars closed, though with allowances for take-out and delivery. On Sunday night the Centers for Disease Control recommended that all gatherings of 50 or more people be cancelled for the next 8 weeks.

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Morning Notes

AWLA Announces COVID-19 Policies — “Out of an abundance of caution, and in line with CDC recommendations, AWLA is cancelling all public events, classes, tours, and clinics for the rest of March. We feel that this in the best interest of our staff, volunteers, animals, and the public.” [Animal Welfare League of Arlington]

Rep. Beyer Couldn’t Get Coronavirus Test — “People ask ‘did @RepDonBeyer get tested for COVID-19?’ No he did not. We tried to get a test for him… But there aren’t enough tests, he didn’t meet the risk threshold.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Pentagon Makes Coronavirus Changes — Tours at the Pentagon have been cancelled, while a Pentagon clinic is offering coronavirus tests to employees who meet certain criteria. [Twitter, Twitter]

Crosshairs Garage Races Cancelled — “Hey everyone, we’ve made the decision to cancel the remaining weeks of the @crystalcityva Garage Races. I will be issuing refunds for everyone who pre-registered. We will let you know if any plans to reschedule in the coming months materialize.” [Twitter]

Restaurants and Bars Stay Open — Local restaurants like Bakeshop in Clarendon are staying open, and many have been posting about stepped-up sanitation measures. Among the local venues taking extra sanitation steps is Four Courts in Courthouse, which is still planning to host St. Patrick’s Day festivities. [Twitter, Twitter]

SAT Testing Cancelled — SAT tests that had been scheduled on March 14 at Wakefield and Yorktown high schools have been cancelled. [Twitter, Twitter]

Police St. Patrick’s Day Event Cancelled — “To ensure the health and safety of our community… the Don’t Press Your Luck Anti-Drunk Driving Event has been canceled.” [Arlington County]

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(Updated at 11:15 a.m.) Dating can be awkward, but Northside Social in Clarendon seems to ease anxiety when it comes to the search for love.

While the Arlington eatery doesn’t go out of its way to promote the location as an ideal date spot, it may be the epicenter of local dating activity.

From coffee to wine to food like vegan pastries and gluten-free scones, the spot has a wide range of offerings throughout the day to suit various needs, preferences or cravings. That makes it a pretty safe bet for a first or second date.

Northside offers an “easy, approachable and comfortable” environment, Northside Social’s Wine Director Karin Logan told ARLnow. “None of the staff are particularly overbearing, which can I know can be difficult with a first, second or even third date atmosphere.”

“I don’t think I have a single friend who hasn’t been to at least one of our restaurants on a date,” said Logan, referencing Northside’s sister restaurants of Liberty Tavern and Lyon Hall in Clarendon. She said she sees plenty of first dates and can often recognize first-time meetups driven by apps like Tinder or Bumble.

Apart from app-driven dates, there are also some honest-to-goodness meet cutes happening at Northside. Logan can recall instances where people have ended up meeting potential partners there.

“All of the regulars I know have at least met one or two people there because of its a welcoming place and all of my regulars are friends with one another,” Logan said. “It’s conducive to meeting people.”

Over the two years that Logan has held her position, she said she’s also witnessed at least five or six engagement photoshoots at Northside, which is more than any other restaurant she has worked for during her 18 years in the restaurant industry.

“And those just happened to be the days I was working,” she added.

There have been actual engagements as well. Arlington resident Kayla Laubach was at a Friday happy hour at Don Tito in July of 2017 when she received a text from her boyfriend Nick, asking her to stop by Northside Social, a block away.

Confused, she agreed and walked up the stairs into the wine bar to find Nick with candles scattered throughout the room and a bottle of champagne on a single stand-up table.

“It was really cute,” she said. “I was so focused going up the stairs I didn’t even notice they had a little chalkboard sign that said ‘Congrats Kayla and Nick.'”

Shortly after, all of the couple’s family and friends gathered in the space to celebrate their engagement with an after-party. The venue was chosen because Northside was where Kayla and Nick would meet while she was living in Arlington and he was living in Maryland, earlier in their relationship.

Kayla, a regular, says she chose it because she knew Nick would love the sausage and poached egg breakfast sandwich.

“When we were in Arlington we would go there every Saturday and Sunday. It was crazy how often we went there,” she said. “It was the place we fell in love.”

Northside Social has plenty of competition among newer Clarendon area coffee shops like East West Coffee and Wine and This Is Fine Coffee. But Logan doesn’t seem concerned for the future of the hangout. It’s hard to duplicate the community that has formed around a place like Northside — and special features like the dog-friendly outdoor patio and charcuterie boards done just so don’t hurt either.

As for people looking for a place with fewer first dates, there’s always the newer Northside Social in Falls Church, which opened in 2018.

Photos courtesy Kayla Laubach

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Morning Notes

Elite Yorktown Swimmer Has Bright Future — “So far during her three-year high-school swimming career, Victoria Huske has never lost an individual race. Included in Huske’s victories for the Yorktown Patriots’ standout are six individual state championships in various strokes and she has been a member of five winning relays with one close second.” [InsideNova]

Fairlington Bus Stop Getting a Roof — “Arlington County anticipates beginning work on enhancement of the bus stop at the corner of S. Buchanan Street and 30th Street S., which include installation of a weather shelter, the week of March 9th.” [Twitter]

New Tech Helps County Explore Pipes — “With no interruption to service, our new high-tech pal PipeDiver today explored key Arlington water supply pipes, gathering a wealth of unprecedented data to assess conditions now and for long-term planning.” [Twitter]

Whitlow’s to Serve Beer with Your Face on It — “Ever wanted to drink your face? Well join us [Thursday] night from 6:30pm-8:30pm! @guinness will take your [photo], and in less time than it takes to pour a perfect pint, the 3D Malt Printer puts your face in your beer.” [Instagram]

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

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

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

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

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Crystal City is no longer without an Irish pub.

McNamara’s Pub & Restaurant (567 23rd Street S.) opened two weeks ago in the former Fiona’s Irish Pub space, featuring plenty of Irish beer on tap including varieties of layered Guinness drinks.

“It’s been great,” said owner Danny McFadden, in his Irish brogue. “Lots of people have been raving about our Irish food, and we’re going to start trivia each Monday starting at 7 p.m.”

McFadden is a veteran of the local pub scene: he was the owner of the Kitty O’Shea’s in Courthouse and was an original owner of Celtic House on Columbia Pike, before selling his ownership share in the pub.

McNamara’s menu features traditional “Irish Fare Done Right,” such as potato and leek soup, beef stew, and corned beef and cabbage.

In addition, the restaurant does brunch on the weekends, with a combo of American and Irish classics. A “Traditional Irish Breakfast” comes served with grilled tomato, baked beans, and black and white pudding, while other dishes include a pancake platter and breakfast wrap.

McNamara’s Pub & Restaurant is open seven days a week, from 11-2 a.m. on the weekdays and 10-2 a.m. on the weekends.

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Update on 10/11/19 — Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill will remain closed for another consecutive weekend, the business said on social media.

https://twitter.com/Terpish/status/1182723581194702849

Earlier: Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill was closed this weekend due to an unidentified “zoning” problem.

“Unfortunately, we will be closed this weekend,” the bar wrote in a Facebook post on Friday, October 4. “We hope to reopen at 4 p.m. on Monday.” As of 3 p.m. Monday, the business was still closed.

A red sign dated September 24 on the front door read that the “structure is unsafe or unfit for habitation” and that no one could occupy the building.

“I can confirm they did receive notice of a building code violation,” Jessica Margarit, spokeswoman for the Department of Community Planning, Housing & Development told ARLnow last week.

Margarit declined to share more about the problem facing the Courthouse business, citing a policy not to publicly share details of building code violations.

The restaurant did not respond to requests for more information over social media messages and multiple phone calls. A permit filing from last week may shed some light on the nature of the violation, however.

On Thursday the property owner filed and was approved for a permit to remove an “unpermitted walk-in cooler” on the building’s rooftop, as pointed out by Chris Slatt. No work was immediately visible from outside this afternoon.

Fairfax-based nonprofit Bite Me Cancer Foundation was scheduled to celebrate its 9th anniversary at the bar on Friday, October 4, but the problem caused them to reschedule and offer refunds to guests.

The foundation wrote in a Facebook post that the party “has been postponed due to a zoning problem that has caused the whole building to be closed down.”

Staff at the neighboring Delhi Dhaba, which shares the same building, told ARLnow the Indian restaurant was not affected by the closure.

The Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill originally opened in 2010.

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Crystal City may not be without an Irish pub for much longer.

Fiona’s Irish Pub (567 23rd Street S.) closed suddenly in June, after only a few months in business. Signs in the window said the closure was temporary, but those signs have since been replaced with new ones announcing McNamara’s Pub and Restaurant.

Signs say McNamara’s will be opening soon, though inside much of the decorations and furniture still bear the Fiona’s Irish Pub logo.

Owners of the pub could not be reached for comment, but staff at a nearby restaurant said they were told it would also be an Irish pub. McNamara’s will be stepping into a space that has a long history as a pub, with Fiona’s being preceded by local sports bar Tortoise and Hare.

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Morning Notes

‘American Idol’ Bus Spotted in Arlington — The “American Idol” audition tour bus was spotted near Crystal City yesterday morning. The bus is in the area for auditions in D.C. today. [Twitter]

State Change Affecting Arlington Teacher Union — “Arlington School Board members could be gearing up to battle the state government’s powerful Virginia Retirement System (VRS) on a new ruling that impacts the way benefits are calculated for presidents of the Arlington Education Association.” [InsideNova]

Planetarium Closing Next Year — “In September, the David M. Brown Planetarium will once again offer three shows a day for students, plus weekend and select weekday programs for the general public. In January, it will temporarily shut down for more than a year while an adjacent construction project converts the Arlington Education Center into classroom space.” [Arlington Magazine]

Arlington Startup Serving D.C. Schools — “The administration of Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) announced in August that the city would spend $26,400 to partner with LiveSafe, an Arlington, Va., tech company. The move comes in response to students’ repeated pleas to the city to make their commutes safer.” [Washington Post]

Ballston Bar’s Pricey Booze-Free Drinks — “The new Punch Bowl Social in Ballston Quarter mall was designed to cater to millennials (hello photo booths, corn hole, and karaoke). Now they’re jumping on the ‘sober-curious’ trend with a $19 zero-proof punch bowl.” [Washingtonian]

Local Courts Dropping Fare Evasion Cases — “When a rider is cited for not paying the fare to board a bus or train in Northern Virginia, the ticket is more likely to be dropped in the courts than paid. Only 278 of the 1,306 fare evasion citations handled by the Arlington, Fairfax and Alexandria general district courts between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2019, were paid, according to court records. In those districts, roughly $38,000 in fare evasion fines have gone unpaid in the past two years.” [Washington Post]

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Update at 3:55 p.m. on 8/29/19 — Bronson appears to be currently open as part of an unannounced “soft opening.”

Earlier: Ballston’s new beer hall is set to open its doors and its bench seating Friday afternoon.

Bronson Bier Hall, the Germanic successor to A-Town Bar and Grill at 4100 Fairfax Drive, will open at 3 p.m. Friday, according to co-owner Scott Parker. Starting Saturday Bronson will be open at 11 a.m. daily, he said.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be opening,” Parker told ARLnow. “So much hard work has gone into it, and the day is finally here. We can’t wait to see everyone this weekend!”

Bronson offers a beer selection that includes a mix of local beers and German imports, and a food menu that features schnitzel and bratwurst. Games at the beer hall include shuffleboard, darts and ping pong.

The new watering hole is planning grand opening events on Friday, Sept. 6 and Saturday, Sept. 7. Per a Facebook event post:

Bronson will be open all day with the grand opening celebrations beginning around 8 PM both nights. We will be celebrating the opening with friends and family, and enjoying pretzels, beers, brats and amazing live music. Guests will enjoy playing table games, corn hole, ping pong and more! As always, Bronson is first come — first serve. There is no guest list: come one, come all! We are so excited to be bringing Ballston the Bierhall that it deserves, and we look forward to having a great time with all of you! See you on the 6th and 7th!

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