The concession stand at the Crystal City Water Park has closed.
The concession’s last day was Friday, after landlord Vornado declined to renew vendor Adel Ishak’s lease, we’re told. Ishak, who was a prominent attorney in Egypt before he fled to the United States with his family due to safety concerns, had run the kiosk for at least six years.
ARLnow.com has learned that landlord Vornado — soon to be JBG Smith — is planning an expanded retail presence in the park, perhaps a more full-featured restaurant or a beer garden. A major residential redevelopment anchored by an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is planned across the street.
Some local residents who heard that the concession stand would be closing started a petition calling for it to remain open, but to no avail.
“Rain, sleet, snow and shine, Adel was there,” one customer lamented to ARLnow.com. “He has built this business from the ground up – he started with nothing and now has run the stand year-round because of his customers. My hope is… that perhaps Vornado can move his concession to another part of Crystal City or Arlington.”
ACPD Releases New Video of Sex Assault Suspect — Arlington County Police have released new video of the man suspected of sexually assaulting a woman in her Rosslyn condo last month. Police are still seeking more information about the suspect. [Twitter, YouTube]
Big Brother Contestant Is From Arlington — One of the contestants on the upcoming season of CBS’ Big Brother is Matthew Clines, a 33-year-old renovation consultant from Arlington. The show premieres on Wednesday, June 28. [CBS, Hollywood Reporter]
Nam-Viet Closing in D.C. — The Cleveland Park outpost of Arlington’s Nam-Viet restaurant is closing, citing “competition to remain significant and relevant in this fast-paced D.C. restaurant market.” There have been a number of restaurant closings in the neighborhood as of late. [PoPville]
New Cafe in Takoma Park Draws Arlington Talent — A new coffee, beer, wine and cocktail spot called Takoma Beverage Co. has opened in Takoma Park, Md. The cafe features a bevy of Arlington restaurant vets, including alums of Northside Social and the former Sehkraft Brewing in Clarendon. Helping to fund the venture is Mothersauce Partners, the restaurant investment firm and consultancy founded by Nick Freshman of Spider Kelly’s. [Eater]
Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards
A gym that opened last year along Columbia Pike closed late last month.
True Health and Wholeness replaced the former World Gym at 1058 S. Walter Reed Drive, but itself closed two weeks ago, on May 30.
True focused on holistic approaches and family-friendliness, and looked to be a “one stop shop” for all health and fitness needs. In an email to the community, co-founders Nina and Christian Elliot blamed “some unexpected and blindsiding events the last couple weeks” for the closure.
“The hardest part is the sour stomach of realizing how many people we’ve let down, and the relationships we’ve come to cherish that are now at best, interrupted,” the pair wrote. “There are no words to convey how sorry we are to make this announcement.”
A reader alleged in an email that the pair cancelled all its classes without explanation and that members would not receive any refunds. The reader added that members with pre-paid memberships were told to ask their credit card companies for a chargeback.
Nina Elliot did not respond to requests for comment. The gym’s website is still operational.
Despite the closure of their business, the Elliots promised to return to the wellness business.
Business owners, and in particular Elliots, are a resilient breed. We are weary and wounded right now, often unable to finish sentences without crying, but we didn’t suddenly forget everything we know about health and changing people’s lives. We have not lost our love of this work. We have learned so many lessons from the school of hard knocks the last 12 years and we promise not let those lessons go to waste. We believe we have a sacred duty to help as many people as we can.
An aromatherapy store in Clarendon has shuttered after 20 years in business.
Cosmic Energy at 1114 N. Irving Street provided a “one-stop-shopping” experience for metaphysical and aromatherapy products. Those products included oils, incense, sacred herbs, teas, body care products and more.
Although the business’ website is still operational, the building is empty and there is a for rent sign in its window. Cosmic Energy’s phone number is no longer in service and instead directs callers to similar stores nearby.
A 7-Eleven on Lee Highway in Cherrydale will close by the end of the month, and local residents are concerned for the future of other business nearby.
Multiple anonymous tipsters said they heard the 7-Eleven at 3901 Lee Highway will close. One said the new landlord is refusing to sign a new lease with the convenience store. Former landlord Kostas Kapasouris sold the properties earlier this year, and confirmed in an interview Tuesday morning that the 7-Eleven will close by the end of June.
County property records indicate that Naqibullah M. Ismail bought the shopping plaza and the stores across N. Pollard Street from it in February. The plaza sold for $3 million, according to those records. Ismail, an Arlington resident whose LinkedIn page says he is the CEO of an Afghanistan-based contractor to the Dept. of Defense, did not respond to requests for comment.
Kapasouris also owned the buildings that housed Billy’s Cheesesteaks, Bistro 29 on one side, and the former Drug Fair building, which houses Sun & Moon Yoga, Sterling Frames, Company Flowers and almost housed the NOVA Firearms gun store until its lease was cancelled in 2015. He said the other stores should “hopefully” stay open for the foreseeable future.
Jim Todd, president of the Cherrydale Citizens Association, said that while all he has heard is “second hand or rumor” around the stores’ future, he hopes any possible redevelopment plans are consistent with previous guidelines approved for the area.
“Whatever happens, we hope that any redevelopment that might be coming follows the design guidelines set out in the Cherrydale Revitalization Plan and the Cherrydale Neighborhood Conservation Plan, and promotes the vision for the future of Lee Highway set out by the Lee Highway Alliance,” Todd said. “We also want to express our support for and continue to work with Kostas and all our locally-owned Cherrydale businesses.”
7-Eleven media relations staff did not respond to requests for comment.
Free Donuts Today — Today, June 2, is National Donut Day. To celebrate, Dunkin’ Donuts and Duck Donuts are offering a free donut with the purchase of any beverage. Sugar Shack is offering a free donut for those who wear a Sugar Shack hat, t-shirt or other article of clothing with the company logo. [Dunkin’ Donuts, Duck Donuts, Facebook]
Stabbing on Columbia Pike — Arlington County Police are investigating a stabbing that occurred near the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Rolfe Street early this morning. The victim suffered non-life-threatening injuries. [Fox 5, WJLA, ACPD]
Owner Wants Out of Ray’s Hell Burger Lease — Michael Landrum, owner of Ray’s the Steaks and Ray’s Hell Burger, wants out of the Hell Burger lease at 1650 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. The restaurant closed and went on “hiatus” last month. Landrum’s company owes the landlord just over $300,000, according to a bankruptcy filing. [Washington Business Journal]
Why Arlington and Alexandria Couldn’t Collaborate on a Pool — Sharing the costs of an indoor aquatics center seemed like a good idea in theory, but ultimately those in Alexandria did not like the idea of using their taxpayer dollars to build a pool in Arlington. Now Arlington’s planned Long Bridge aquatics center is moving forward while Alexandria’s plans to build an indoor pool are on hold. [Washington Post]
New Tenants to the Rescue in Courthouse — “Adding Reston-based VideoBlocks to its tenant roster was a good get for the owners of Courthouse Tower, but as it turns out, the lease was part of a larger plan to avoid letting about three quarters of the building’s office space go dark.” [Washington Business Journal]
Metro ‘Prepares for Life After SafeTrack’ — We’re a day and a half into June and there have been no major Metro service disruptions so far, something the transit agency hopes is the norm. From a press release: “As the yearlong SafeTrack program winds down, Metro is preparing for a new era of less disruptive preventive maintenance and planned capital work to ensure that the rail system remains in a reliable state for years to come.” [WMATA]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
The Applebee’s restaurant in Ballston has closed, just under a year after it opened.
Signs on the door suggest the restaurant closed for good Saturday evening.
Applebee’s replaced a former Greene Turtle location at 900 N. Glebe Road. Both restaurants seemed to suffer from a lack of foot traffic on the western side of Glebe, combined with a cavernous space that was hard to fill with customers, particularly in an urban area where higher-end restaurants are de rigueur.
This Applebee’s also suffered from poor reviews online. No word yet on what might replace it.
Photos courtesy Phil McGeehan
A long-time diner closed its doors today after 32 years in business.
Arlington Diner, at 2921 S. Glebe Road in the Arlington Ridge Shopping Center, will now no longer serve its all-day breakfast — nor lunch or dinner. On Thursday morning, workers were in the building removing various appliances and other fixtures and fittings.
A sign on the door of the eatery announced the closure.
To our beloved customers,
The crew of Arlington Diner wants to thank you for 32 years of friendship and great memories.
We regret to inform you that we will be closing our doors on May 25, 2017.
We will miss you but we will remember you fondly.
It has been a pleasure serving you! Thank you very much.
In an interview with the Arlington Connection earlier this year, owner Louie Alpos said he was not able to negotiate a financially feasible lease renewal with his landlord.
The diner, a fixture of a shopping plaza that also includes a Domino’s Pizza and a Giant grocery store, was open every day except Christmas Day.
Hat tips to Thomas N. and Christina R.
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.
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
Since opening Filipino grocery store Fiesta Oriental in 1991, Fred Sunga and his family have done much more than sell food and provide other services to a bevy of loyal customers.
“When you have a Filipino business, your country people, they come to you for information,” he said. “They always call you, if they have a problem they will call you. Even if sometimes their car won’t start they will call and ask if I know a mechanic.”
But next month marks the end of an era, as the 67-year-old Sunga is set to retire on June 30 and close the Arlington Forest staple at 4815 1st Street N. That means that the area’s growing Filipino community must go elsewhere for groceries or to send money and packages to family back in the Philippines.
Sunga moved to the United States in 1978 and started working in a bank before opening Fiesta Oriental. He prides himself on staying true to his Filipino roots, right down to watching television shows from the Philippines in the store and speaking to customers in Tagalog, the country’s official language, or one of its many dialects.
And in addition to Filipinos, who come from as far away as Manassas and Maryland to shop at his store, local schoolchildren will now have to go elsewhere for their after-school snacks.
“When the school bus stops there, the kids are going to come and get their candy and soda,” Sunga said. “Just last week I told them that I’m closing up the store next month, and they said, ‘Why? Why are you doing this to me?'”
For the family, Fiesta Oriental was a major part of growing up in Arlington. Sunga’s three daughters, Audrey, Alyssa and Angelica, all worked there at least part-time from elementary school onwards and helped on Sunday when they would cook and sell homemade Filipino dishes.
The store is open every day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., except Sundays, when it closes at 6 p.m.
Audrey Sunga, who has a 2-year-old son, Emmett, and another baby due in August, said it is a shame that the family business will close before they are old enough to appreciate it.
“We’re going to start buying rice for the first time in our lives,” she joked. “For Emmett and the baby on the way, it’s kind of sad they won’t be able to see this. We grew up with it our whole lives, so it’s sad to see it go.”
Fred Sunga, meanwhile, said he is looking forward to being a “stay-at-home grandpa,” and enjoying more time with his family. Both Audrey and Alyssa work in Arlington and graduated from VCU, while Angelica is still there studying electrical engineering.
While he is excited to start the next chapter of his life, Fred Sunga said it is hard when customers are clearly upset he is leaving.
“I’m going to miss the store that I’m doing every day,” he said. “Especially when my customers, when they come here and I’m telling them I’m retiring next month, I feel so sad when they say, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to miss you.’ Some old people, they cry when I tell them I’m retiring.”
Around six months after it opened, a fast-casual Korean barbecue restaurant has closed in Crystal City.
KBQ Korean BBQ & Bar at 2450 Crystal Drive opened last November, next to Buffalo Wild Wings. But the eatery closed its doors earlier this month and now sits empty.
“KBQ is closed,” a sign on the door reads. “We appreciate your patronage, and hope you enjoyed it while it lasted!”
It allowed customers to build their own rice and lettuce bowls, lettuce wraps, tofu dogs and rice burgers, and offered six proteins and nearly a dozen sides. On Yelp, users lauded the service but gave middling marks to the food.
There was also a separate “bubble tea shop” offering a selection of bubble teas, including taro, chai and mango, and a bar serving cocktails, beer, wine and “bombs” — as in soju, Jager, car and cherry bombs.
Hat tip to Irina K.
Signs up at Ray’s Hell Burger, at 1650 Wilson Blvd, say it is going on “hiatus.” Last night an employee told ARLnow.com he did not know when it would reopen.
“Beginning Sunday, May 14 this location of Ray’s Hell-Burger will be on hiatus. The last service will be on Saturday, May 13,” the sign says. “Please continue to visit Ray’s Hell Burger at 449 K Street NW, 7 days a week. Ray’s the Steaks accepts reservations 7 days a week at 2300 Wilson Blvd (sorry, no burgers).”
Owner Michael Landrum could not immediately be reached for comment.
Hat tip to Sarah W.
With redevelopment just around the corner, the Food Star grocery store on Columbia Pike will close as early as next week according to a sign on its entrance.
Its lease at the property is set to expire on May 25. The grocery store is expected to move to 206 W. Glebe Road in Alexandria’s Arlandria neighborhood and replace the Foodway currently there.
The sign, written in English and Spanish, reads:
Dear Food Star customers:
After 32 years of business it is with sincere regret that we inform you that Food Star supermarket will be closing permanently at this location between April 30 and May 15, 2017. It is our utmost priority to inform you of this decision as you are a very important part of the Food Star family. We appreciate your business and are thankful for your loyalty. We hope to have the opportunity to continue serving you at our new location at: 206 W. Glebe Road (formally Foodway), Alexandria, VA 22305.
We will notify you which day we will open. Thank you for your business and continued support.
The store at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive is set for demolition along with several small retail businesses for the “Columbia Pike Village Center” development. More than 1,800 people who wanted to “Save Food Star” signed a petition against the plan last year.
In its place will be a new 50,000 square foot Harris Teeter grocery store, 31,530 square feet of new ground-floor retail space and a 22,150 square foot public square. The project also includes a six-story apartment building with 365 market-rate units, retail space and a three-level parking garage.
The Harris Teeter is expected to open in late 2019.
Arlington County has posted a list of other food stores in the area, the closest of which is 0.5 miles away from the Food Star, that residents can go to during construction of the new grocery store.
Of the other stores in the plaza, the Para Ti hair salon has already relocated to S. Carlin Springs Road. April was its last month in the strip mall.
Long-time Virginia Square outdoor retailer Casual Adventure is still open, but will close once its spring stock has sold out.
The 61-year-old store at 3451 Washington Blvd announced its closure last month. After the announcement, the retailer kicked off its “End of an Era Sale,” featuring up to 50 percent off any remaining outdoor, tactical and sporting goods in stock.
Store owner Eric Stern said Casual Adventure has received two final deliveries of spring merchandise, which is being sold at reduced prices. Once everything is sold, the store will close, he said.
“We’ve definitely got a good selection, and we’re just blowing it out at this point,” he told ARLnow.com.
Stern said there is still no firm closing date, and there is significant “wiggle room” on when it needs to vacate the premises. Stern said he is looking to host regular Andrew Towne on Memorial Day weekend for a talk on his latest attempt to summit Mount Everest, and said Casual Adventure will continue supporting various community projects.
“It’s nice as we transition out of here that we can take care of our customers,” he said.
The Washington Business Journal reported that the store’s new owner is 1404 Hancock Street Investment LLC, a company registered to local custom home builder BCN Homes. As yet, no building or demolition permit applications have been filed with the county.
Casual Adventure already has an online store set up through Amazon, and Stern said it is actively looking for a new location for its store, but that there is “no rush.”
New Elementary School Approved — After a years-long process that included neighborhood opposition and lots of community discussion, the Arlington County Board has approved a use permit and ground lease for a new elementary school on the Thomas Jefferson middle school and community center site. [Arlington County]
Rosslyn Farmers Market Approved — Also at its Saturday meeting, the County Board gave the go-ahead to a new FreshFarm Markets-operated farmers market that will be held at the new Central Place public plaza in Rosslyn. The market will be open on Wednesday evenings from April to November. [Arlington County]
Bebe Closing at Pentagon City Mall — The Bebe store at the Pentagon City mall will close by the end of May. It’s part of a larger restructuring for the struggling young women’s clothing retailer. [Patch]
County Board to Honor Trees — “Arlington has about 755,400 trees of at least 122 species that provide $6.89 million in environmental benefits to the County annually in pollution removal, carbon storage, energy savings and avoided stormwater runoff. The Arlington County Board will honor 10 of these trees as Notable Trees at the April 25 County Board Meeting.” [Arlington County]
Blue Virginia’s School Board Endorsement — Local Democratic blog Blue Virginia has endorsed Monique O’Grady in the race for the Democratic endorsement for Arlington School Board. The endorsement cites incumbent James Lander’s recent controversial remarks about a murder victim as a reason for not endorsing him. [Blue Virginia]
Flickr pool photo by Ameschen