Arlington, VA

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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Renegade Coffee and Kitchen is coming to the former Mister Days space at 3100 Clarendon Blvd.

“What we’ve got is full-service espresso with Stumptown Coffee,” said Patrick Crump, executive chef and owner of Renegade Coffee and Kitchen.

The Portland-based Stumptown Coffee is widely lauded, but a rare sight in the D.C. region. Taps are are being set up along the new coffee bar to serve nitro cold brew coffee. The unique offerings could help Renegade stand out, and steady daytime business could help the business afford the high Clarendon rent, but the restaurant faces plenty of competition, including a Peet’s Coffee across the street.

Other coffee competition in Clarendon competition includes Northside SocialWaterhouse CoffeeHeritage BrewingOby LeeDetour CoffeeBakeshopDunkin Donuts, Starbucks and the future East West Cafe and Kaldi’s Social House.

Crump is no stranger to Clarendon. He’s executive chef at Clarendon Ballroom, Spider Kelly’s and formerly Clarendon Grill — which closed in October after 22 years. Crump’s vision for Renegade is a full-service restaurant with an international menu — including cuisine from Morocco to Vietnam. The menu will mostly be small bites from around $3 to $5, he said.

Another part of the restaurant’s aim is helping to revive the local live music scene. The coffee bar only takes up one corner of the restaurant, so the rest is filled with seating, with plans to use some of it as a music venue — taking up the crown left unclaimed in the wake of Clarendon Grill and Iota Club and Cafe’s closures.

“We want to replace Iota for live music,” said Eric Anderson, general manager and partner. “We want to bring that back.”

In the evenings, Crump plans to turn the area into a nightclub to help carry on the Mister Days legacy.

The coffee shop is still working through some permit approvals, but the owners said they expect Renegade to open within five or six weeks. In the meantime, the company is currently hiring full and part-time baristas, servers and bartenders.

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Morning Notes

Bronson Opening on Friday — “The owners of A-Town Bar and Grill are opening a new German beer hall this week that will replace the popular gathering place for hard-partying bros in Ballston. Bronson is scheduled to open Thursday, August 29 Friday, August 30 in the 6,000-square-foot space at 4100 Fairfax Drive in Arlington.” [Eater]

Rising Home Prices Not Caused By HQ2 Workers — “The first Amazon employees have barely arrived in Northern Virginia, but the housing market close to the company’s new headquarters in Arlington County is behaving as if all 25,000 workers are moving in next week… The lightning speed of sales, the shortage of homes on the market and the elevated prices for available stock are all being driven by those who already call the Washington region home, real estate agents say.” [Washington Post]

HQ2ers May Work on Hardware Development — Amazon “said that its second headquarters would work on device development, specifically naming Amazon Fire TV… And it expressed interest in students who study ‘data science,’ they said. Amazon also said there will be plenty of non-tech related jobs at HQ2, such as in administration, human resources and program management.” [Washington Business Journal]

PSA: Move Over for Emergency Vehicles — “ACFD, @ffxfirerescue and @AlexandriaVAFD units battled major traffic in efforts to provide help on a serious accident with a person trapped on I395. Remember, if you can’t pull to the right, help open enough space lane for emergency vehicles to pass.” [Twitter]

Review of Signature’s ‘Assassins’ — “An odd little smile crosses the face of Bobby Smith as he relates the disordered thoughts of presidential killer Charles J. Guiteau in Signature Theatre’s perversely entertaining revival of ‘Assassins.’ In what twisted frame of mind would this man have to be to boast of his horrific homicidal achievement — and not just boast, but sing about it, too?” [Washington Post, Playbill]

Nearby: Man Dies After Bailey’s Crossroads Crash — “Detectives from our Crash Reconstruction Unit have preliminarily determined that Solomon Zelelew, of Alexandria City, was walking on a sidewalk near Columbia Pike and Carlin Springs Road. A 2015 Toyota Corolla was traveling west on Columbia Pike when the driver, in an attempt to avoid another vehicle, drove onto the sidewalk and hit Mr. Zelelew.” [Fairfax County Police Department]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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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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