Arlington, VA

Arlington Community Federal Credit Union (ACFCU) is closing its Ballston branch, 6.5 years after it opened.

The branch is closing on Dec. 31, ACFCU announced this week. The credit union plans to open a new branch in Arlington by late 2020.

“We are still in the process of searching for the perfect branch location to serve our members, so we’re not able to confirm a neighborhood yet,” said an ACFCU spokeswoman.

In the meantime, the Ballston staff will relocate to ACFCU’s other branches, at 2130 N. Glebe Road and 5666 Columbia Pike.

“Our team will miss serving members in Ballston, where we have been proud of this neighborhood’s exciting growth,” the credit union’s CEO, Karen L. Rosales, said in a press release. “We look forward to opening a new, innovative branch to continue our mission to empower the financial lives of our members in Arlington and beyond.”

In addition to its branches, ACFCU operates three stand-alone ATM machines in Arlington, including two in Courthouse and one in the Virginia Hospital Center food court.

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The Gold’s Gym in Courthouse will be closing Dec. 1, according to a letter to members obtained by ARLnow.

The letter, sent today (Friday), says that the fitness chain made “several attempts to come to a lease renewal agreement with the landlord” but ultimately made the decision to close. Members will instead be transferred to the Gold’s Gym on N. Fillmore Street in Clarendon.

Gold’s also has a gym in Ballston and earlier this year announced a new, 30,000 square foot location next to the Rosslyn Metro station, to replace an existing location nearby.

The Courthouse Gold’s Gym, at 1310 N. Courthouse Road, changed its branding from Fitness First in 2013. Last year ARLnow reported that the gym was listed for lease by a commercial real estate firm, though at the time we were told that the company was “optimistic” about keeping it open.

The full letter about the closure is below.

Dear Gold’s Gym Member,

After several attempts to come to a lease renewal agreement with the landlord, we had to make the difficult decision to permanently close our Gold’s Gym Arlington Courthouse location at 1310 N. Courthouse Road. We will continue standard operations at the gym through December 1, 2019.

To ensure that there are no interruptions to your fitness journey, we will be transferring your membership to Gold’s Gym Clarendon, located at 1220 N. Fillmore St.

Gold’s Gym Clarendon is ready to become your new home gym and has all the amenities and services you have grown accustomed to. You will also have access to our other area locations including Gold’s Gym Rosslyn and Gold’s Gym Ballston.

During this transfer, there will be no change to your membership dues. We are committed to helping you reach your potential through fitness.

Plus, we are excited to announce that you will have access to our Gold’s Gym Rosslyn City Center location opening in 2020. This location will include GOLD’S STUDIO® , our boutique studio offerings along with state-of-the-art cardio and strength equipment, and much more!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Gold’s Gym Arlington Courthouse General Manager, Denis Hernandez, at 703-276-0000 […]

Thank you for choosing Gold’s Gym and we look forward to supporting your fitness journey

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Naan Kabob near Clarendon is closed — at least for now.

The Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi buffet-style restaurant at 3300 Wilson Blvd has posted a sign saying it is “closed for renovations” on its front doors. However, a staff member told ARLnow in an email yesterday (Wednesday) that the restaurant is closed “permanently.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, the tables and chairs were gone from the dining room. Calls to the store’s phone number for more information went to voicemail — which was full.

The restaurant replaced the Pio Pio in 2017 after the Peruvian restaurant closed temporarily several times before shuttering for good. Since then, Naan Kabob has generated mixed reviews on Grubhub and Yelp.

It has been a busy week of kabob-related news in Arlington. Just down the street in Courthouse, the Afghan Kabob House is closing permanently after the owner accused food trucks and delivery apps of cutting into his business. Another kabob restaurant — Courthouse Kabob — is expected to replace it as early as this week.

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Courthouse’s Afghan Kabob House is shutting down the grills this week after just over a decade in business.

Restaurant owner Akbar Madany, who describes himself as the “creator” of the restaurant, said his business at 2045 Wilson Blvd will officially close at midnight this Thursday, October 31.

“There are food trucks in front of my restaurant — six or seven of them — for the past almost three years now, selling my similar food right in front of my restaurant,” said Madany, when asked of what led him to close up shop in the space the restaurant occupies between the UPS location and Ireland’s Four Courts.

Afghan Kabob House is known for its array of grilled meats, hookah tables, and for staying open until 3 a.m. — whether it’s for Iftar or your average workday — for the last 11 years.

In 2015, the restaurant joined a coalition of area restaurants that urged more regulation on food trucks to prevent the mobile food vendors from hurting brick-and-mortar restaurants — a disagreement that gained an edge later that year when a food truck hit one of the Afghan Kabob House’s food delivery cars.

Since then, the county has loosened regulations on food trucks, allowing the vendors to operate along more Courthouse streets and serve up grub for longer hours.

“I fought with the county… about this for many years,” Madany told ARLnow today (Monday). “We had many many meetings, but we got nowhere with them.”

The restaurateur also said that business struggled as third-party delivery apps like Postmates flooded the market.

“They took a lot of my deliveries away,” he said, noting that he tried joining Uber Eats but the company’s high rates didn’t help. “I had to partner with them, but I don’t make money out of them because of the commission they charge — 33% commission.” 

Madany added that rising rents around the area meant offices moved away, taking regular customers with them. Still, he told ARLnow that he wanted to thank people for their loyalty, saying, “it breaks my heart to sell something that I love so dearly but the time has come.” 

In 2011, the county profiled his business for a county TV segment on how he hand-marinates and grills the meat.

“Ever since I came to the States it was a dream for me to open a restaurant because I grew up in the business,” he said in the video. “I wanted to create something on my own, something I could call home, something I could feel a part of.”

Now, he says watching the video “just makes me sad.”

Update on 10/30/19 — “Courthouse Kabob” will be opening in Afghan Kabob House’s place shortly after it closes.

Image via Google Maps

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The Java Shack, a beloved local coffee shop in the Lyon Village neighborhood near Courthouse, is planning to close.

Commonwealth Joe, which took over the cafe at 2507 N. Franklin Road from its original owner five years ago, made the announcement Friday morning after informing staff of its plans.

Java Shack will serve its final mugs of coffee on Nov. 24, unless Commonwealth Joe can find a buyer for the business “that understands and respects the rich heritage of the cafe and the important role it plays in the community.”

One frequent customer said the loss of Java Shack would be a detriment to the sense of community that unique local businesses like it help to build.

“I live down the street from Java Shack and it’s a huge loss for me to know that they’re closing,” Jacob Gersh told ARLnow, noting that he recently filled his fourth punch card at the shop, marking 40 cups of coffee. “It’s such a powerful feeling of connection to the community to be able to sit in their garden.”

Commonwealth Joe says it was not able to negotiate a new lease that would allow it to continue operating Java Shack. It will instead focus on its Pentagon City cafe, near Amazon’s future HQ2, and its growing coffee keg business.

Maintenance of the aging building on Franklin Road — which once housed the headquarters of the American Nazi Party but is now home to Java Shack, a barber and a pet store — has been a challenge for the cafe’s owners.

“The Java Shack holds a special place in our hearts,” said Commonwealth Joe co-founder and CEO Robert Peck. “However apart from the great memories and successes we had at the cafe, our building lease brought some hardships.”

The full press release is below, after the jump.

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Morning Notes

Heavy Seas Alehouse to Close — “Heavy Seas Alehouse, the restaurant affiliated with the Baltimore-area brewery, will close its doors in Rosslyn by the end of October, one of its principals said Thursday. The restaurant plans to close Oct. 27, said Mike Morris, a partner in Monogram Hospitality, which operates Heavy Seas Alehouse.” [Washington Business Journal]

Real Estate Costs Going Down? — “In every major jurisdiction of the local area, the median per-square-foot price for housing for the January-through-September period declined, in many cases by double digits, according to new figures reported Oct. 11… Arlington led all local jurisdictions for the nine-month period, but its median per-square-foot cost of $436 was down 6.8 percent from $468.” [InsideNova]

Kaine to Talk Vaping at Arlington School — “On Friday, October 18, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine will hold a roundtable discussion on efforts to address the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use. The discussion at Montessori Public School of Arlington will include students, teachers, counselors, parents, health experts, and Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni.” [Press Release]

Road Closures for Festival in Shirlington — “The Shirlington Shucktoberfest, sponsored by the Copperwood Tavern, will take place on Saturday, October 19, 2019 from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.  Set up will begin at approximately 6:00 a.m. and cleanup should be completed by 7:00 p.m. The Arlington County Police Department will conduct the following road closures…” [Arlington County]

Arlington Woman’s Alleged Killer Charged — “The killer of Pamela Butler, a Washington, D.C., federal worker who disappeared before Valentine’s Day in 2009, has been charged in the 1989 death of his wife. Marta Haydee Rodriguez-Cruz disappeared from Arlington, Virginia, in 1989. Her remains were found along Interstate 95 in Stafford County in 1991 but weren’t positively identified until 2018. Her husband, Jose Angel Rodriguez-Cruz, also dated Butler for a time.” [NBC 4]

Arlington Man Convicted in Child Sex Sting — “An Arlington man is among more than 300 people arrested worldwide in connection with a website that authorities describe as the largest child sexual exploitation operation of its kind ever discovered in terms of the volume of content. Ammar Atef H. Alahdali, 22, pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Virginia to receipt of child pornography and was sentenced to serve five years in prison and ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution.” [Patch]

Nearby: Birding Store Near Fairlington Closing — “After 33 years, birding and nature store One Good Tern (1710 Fern Street) near Fairlington is closing as longtime owner Charles Studholme faces a grim kidney failure diagnosis.” [ALXnow]

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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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JRINK in Clarendon Has Closed

The cold-press juice bar JRINK has closed its Clarendon location.

Less than three years after it opened, the Arlington outpost of the D.C.-area juice purveyor served its last customers this past Sunday, September 29. The store offered superfood bowls, smoothies, coffee, and cold-pressed, locally produced juice.

It appears the store closed in light of an upcoming Tysons location, per an announcement posted onto the shuttered storefront. JRINK still has at least three locations open in the District.

Read the full announcement below:

“After an amazing 3 years with the Clarendon community, we are taking JRINK to The Boro at Whole Foods Tysons Corner (opening Oct 30). Thank you for the continuous love, support, and juicy Instagram posts. It’s been an amazing ride and we can’t wait to grow into the new opportunity. Visit us Late October at our new spot with a freshly upgraded menu, but your same favorite vibe.

How to get your fix:
– Order online at JRINK.com for delivery to your door, 7 days a week
– Stop by one of our DC locations at Eastern Market, Foggy Bottom, or 14th Street
– Stalk us #jrinkjuicery. Stay updated on all things JRINK Tysons Corner prior to opening”

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A shuttered restaurant space in Ballston is getting a makeover now that a new wellness center with botox services is moving in.

Posters for D.C.-based Javan Wellness advertise a late summer 2019 opening for its new space space at 4000 Wilson Blvd in Ballston. Co-owner Anita Abdeshahian told ARLnow today (Wednesday) that the business is eyeing an October opening after some construction delays bumped their original September plans.

The wellness center offers botox, dermal fillers, laser hair removal, and IV hydration among other services, and the location will be Javan’s second after it debuted on U Street last year.

Abdeshahian said Ballston has a “unique vibe” and praised the energy new developments like the renovated Ballston Quarter mall and Ted’s Bulletin bring to the area.

“I personally have looked into moving to the Ballston area,” she said. “I love the atmosphere, the people, it just seems like such a great location for young professionals. They’re just happy people who want to have a good time.”

The wellness center is filling in the space which once housed Mike Isabella’s restaurant Pepita Cantina, which opened in 2015.

The Mexican restaurant closed in 2018, along with Isabella’s neighboring restaurants Kapnos Taverna and Yona after Isabella settled a lawsuit that accused him and his business partners of groping and sexually harassing female staff and declared bankruptcy.

Now Abdeshahian and her co-owner and brother Dr. Ehsan Abdeshahian are planning an October grand opening party with music and skincare product giveaways. But first, she says they’ll put the final touches on the medical space she hopes will be designed with an “artistic” flare instead of a sterile one.

“It looks like at this point we’re just waiting on some permits and certifications and things like that,” added Abdeshahian.

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As some indicators point toward another recession around the corner, local economists say Arlington would likely escape the brunt of a downturn.

The recession that kicked off after the country’s housing market collapsed in 2008 devastated communities and families nationwide. But experts say Arlington’s proximity to jobs and contracts from the federal government helped protect the county, and its growing business sector today may also help shield it from future recessions.

How the Great Recession Hit Arlington 

Alex Iams, the Interim Director of Arlington Economic Development (AED), said when it came to the last recession, Arlington was “the last in and the first out.”

“In the last recession Arlington fared pretty well from what I can see,” agreed George Morgan, a finance professor at Virginia Tech, in an interview. “It’s not to say that everything was rosy, but compared to other parts of the country, Arlington didn’t do so badly.”

“At least a third of the [local] economy originates with federal payroll or federal procurement spending or other government spending,” said Stephen Fuller, the high-profile professor of public policy and regional development at George Mason University, when asked what helped cushion Arlington during the collapse.

However, Morgan noted that office and multi-family developments saw “pretty dramatic effects” from the recession as he said some companies’ cash-flows dried up and projects were put on pause. That affected those in the real estate development and construction industries.

Morgan also noted that the education and medical sector were hit harder in Arlington than in other parts of the country, but also rebounded faster in the last 10 years. “That’s a big plus if that happens again,” he said of future recessions.

Both economists agreed that lower-wage jobs were hit hardest by the Great Recession. By 2011, the county’s largest food bank reported a record-breaking number of families seeking help.

“In the low wage industries, Arlington basically looks the same as the rest of the country,” said Morgan, of Arlington around that time. “That was not a pretty picture.”

But Fuller and AED director Iams argued that the economic impact on the county of losing 35,000 jobs through federal sequestration was greater. “Base realignment and closure was really our recession,” said Iams.

How Next Recession May Affect Arlington

While predicting economic downturns can be fraught, Iams and the professors agreed the country is prepared if another one happens soon.

“In Arlington, they’re not seeing the signs of [a] recession that you’re seeing it elsewhere,” said Morgan. “It maybe be that Arlington kind of dodges a bullet if there is a next recession.”

The damage the county would sustain would depend on what exactly would cause the next recession.

“If it’s the trade war that causes it, retail will probably suffer,” said Morgan. “But with the Arlington economy being so insulated from trade, I think if that’s the cause of a recession then the Arlington economy will still do well.”

Fuller explained that “anything that is discretionary begins to take a hit,” including elective purchases like cosmetic surgery, luxury fashion, tourism, and restaurants.

But the professors pointed out that many higher-wage industries — like cybersecurity, which is growing across the D.C. area — can actually weather recessions quite well. Morgan cited an Urban Institute report show that the county has a large share of high-paying jobs from business service companies like Deloitte and government contracting jobs via the Department of Defense.

How Amazon Would Impact a Recession

Iams noted that the county has since 2008 added even more corporate jobs as companies like Lidl, Nestle, and Amazon moved into town.

When it comes to Amazon’s massive planned headquarters, the officials said it’s another potential insulator for the county against future recessions by virtue of the 25,000 people it has pledged to hire — and the others businesses and universities its presence attracts to Arlington.

“They know that Amazon burns workers out after 4-5 years, and they’re still software engineers, so they’ll look around for other, similar-type jobs,” said Fuller. “Amazon is going to make Arlington the epicenter of the talent pool.”

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Hula Girl Bar and Grill is closing next week in the Village at Shirlington after nearly four years in business.

The Hawaiian restaurant, which opened at 4044 Campbell Avenue in late 2015, is the creation of chef and owner Mikala Brennan, who first operated Hula Girl as a food truck. Since opening the restaurant Brennan has made occasional appearances on the Food Network.

In an announcement today, Brennan said Hula Girl would be closing after Saturday, Sept. 21.

More from a press release:

Mikala Brennan, Chef/Owner of Hula Girl Bar + Grill announced that the restaurant will be closing its doors on September 21, 2019.

For four years, Hula Girl has been bringing the authentic tastes of the Hawaiian Islands to the DMV from its Shirlington location in the Village at Shirlington at 4044 Campbell Avenue.

“All I really wanted to do was to bring Hawaiian food to this area.  And I did, for close to 10 years, from the food truck to restaurant,” Chef Brennan said.  “I am just so very proud that I took this chance and I will always be thankful for the opportunity that I was given.  Connecting to a community is always so very important – and I thank our community for the support for the past 4 years.”

The restaurant will be offering specials until closing and an ‘eat the restaurant’ event on its last evening with special offers on food and beverage.

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