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by Heather Mongilio — July 9, 2015 at 10:05 am 3,630 0

ABC Distributors, Inc., a lumber yard near Shirlington, will be closing its doors at the end of the summer.

The 50-year-old company is currently holding a liquidation sale to sell off the store’s entire stock. The sale started today and will last about six weeks, said Bernard Lynch, the president of the company and one of the owners.

Merchandise has been marked down by 10 to 40 percent, depending on the item, and prices will be reduced as the sale goes on, Lynch said.

“So everything has to go,” he said.

The store is also raffling off a 60-inch Visio Smart TV; customers can enter to win when they buy something.

The business’ closure comes after the owners of the property it sits on decided to sell. ABC Distributors is a part owner, but it owns a much smaller percentage of the property than those that decided to sell, Lynch said.

“It’s been a struggle, to be honest with you, in the last seven years to stay in business,” he said.

The home building business has been struggling as well after housing market crashes, Lynch said. He has seen multiple customers who were contractors go out of business or lose their jobs. And others just do not have the need to shop for housing materials as often because fewer people are building houses, at least according to Lynch.

ABC Distributors must be out of its location by Sept. 1, Lynch said. There are no current plans to bring the business to a new location.

The property was bought by an investors group, but Lynch said he does not know what their plans are.

by Mariah Joyce — July 6, 2015 at 11:30 am 2,105 0

The bohemian women’s clothing store Free People closed its Clarendon location as of the end of last week.

The clothing store’s staff could be seen packing away the stock last Thursday. There are now signs up in the window of the store, at Market Common Clarendon (2700 Clarendon Blvd) indicating that Free People will be moving to a space in Georgetown next month.

The store’s new address will be 3009 M Street, NW.

The Market Common location was one of two Free People stores in Arlington; the other location (1100 S Hayes Street) remains open.

by ARLnow.com — June 30, 2015 at 8:30 am 2,132 0

The Corner Bakery at 2200 Crystal Drive in Crystal City has closed.

It’s unclear when exactly the eatery shut down, but as of Monday its signs had been taken down and part of its interior had been removed.

The only other Corner Bakery in Arlington, at 2111 Wilson Blvd in Courthouse, remains open.

by ARLnow.com — June 9, 2015 at 11:45 am 7,124 0

Ted's Montana Grill in Ballston (photo via tedsmontanagrill.com)Saturday will be the last day for Ted’s Montana Grill in Ballston.

The bison-centric restaurant chain decided not to renew its lease at the Ballston Point building at 4300 Wilson Blvd, according to Ted’s President and COO Kristi Martin. It will close this coming Saturday, June 13, and the staff will be transferred to a soon-to-open location in Gaithersburg, Md., Martin said.

The new Ted’s is expected to open in Gaithersburg’s Downtown Crown development in August, said Martin.

“Team members at the Ballston Point location are aware of this closing, and all team members have been offered positions at the Gaithersburg or other Northern Virginia locations,” she said. “We look forward to expanding our Big Sky Spirit to the Gaithersburg community — an area that we see as a strategic fit for the growth and future of our company.”

Ted’s currently has two locations in Arlington — the Ballston location and another at 2200 Crystal Drive in Crystal City. No changes are planned for the Crystal City location, according to a PR rep for the restaurant.

Photo via tedsmontanagrill.com

by ARLnow.com — June 8, 2015 at 10:35 am 3,078 0

The LA Fitness club at Pentagon Row is set to close on Friday, June 26, according to signs posted at the gym.

“This club will be relocated on Friday, June 26 at 2 p.m.,” the sign says. “Your membership will be honored at any LA Fitness location in Virginia (excluding Signature locations).”

The nearest LA Fitness location for members is the Crystal City location at 3550 S. Clark Street.

Irvine, Calif.-based LA Fitness has recently been closing clubs in various parts of the country, including Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland, according to various news reports.

This is the latest in a string of business closures in Arlington for Federal Realty Investment Trust, which owns the Pentagon Row and Shirlington Village shopping centers.

by ARLnow.com — June 3, 2015 at 10:00 am 4,722 0

Pizza Vinoteca in BallstonJust six months after opening, Pizza Vinoteca has closed.

The eatery, at 800 N. Glebe Road in Ballston, moved here from New York City and opened in December. It received a mostly negative review from the Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema in January.

The 4,500 square foot restaurant sat 130 and offered grilled pizza and value-priced wine. Though promising value, speedy service and specialty pizzas cooked in a custom designed, 900-degree grill, the concept failed to catch on in what is a relatively low foot traffic portion of Ballston.

“It closed because, while it had a good core group of fans, it didn’t have enough business to keep it going,” PR rep Jill Collins said.

by ARLnow.com — June 1, 2015 at 4:05 pm 16,642 0

Ri Ra exterior photoRi Ra Irish Pub has quietly closed its doors for good in Clarendon.

The bar, at 2915 Wilson Boulevard, served its last patrons Sunday night. It is closed today, following the expiration of its ten year lease, manager Ian McInnes told ARLnow.com.

McInnes said there were no special events held on the last night, and staff “just went about our business.” He said Ri Ra was unable to negotiate a favorable lease and, with rising rent and sluggish business, the company made the decision to close.

There are nine other Ri Ra locations listed on the company’s website, including one in Georgetown and others from Maine to Las Vegas. McInnes said the company has no plans to reopen in Clarendon and is looking beyond the Irish pub to other, more current restaurant concepts — like a sports bar and a craft beer and whiskey bar.

“The market has changed dramatically over ten years,” he said.

Clubs and other organizations that regularly met at Ri Ra — like a Liverpool FC boosters club — are currently being notified of the closure. Other regularly-scheduled events at the pub which are now canceled include a weekly pub quiz and standup comedy night.

The pub posted a goodbye message on Facebook:

We are sorry to say that RiRa Clarendon has pulled its final pint, and is now closed. A huge thank you to all of our friends in and around Clarendon, as well as the wonderful staff, for what was 10 fantastic years. We are sorry to be leaving, but the Clarendon pub and the people that made it such a great place to spend time in have left us with great memories that will stay with us forever.

Cheers!
Sincerely, The Rí Rá Owners

McInnes said he wishes Ri Ra’s customers and the future tenant of its now-former location well.

“Change is a good thing,” he said. “As we move on I’m sure that there will be another business that will complement the other businesses in the Clarendon market. We’ve had a good run, I hope people have enjoyed us being here and we hope they enjoy the next business that comes here.”

by ARLnow.com — May 26, 2015 at 10:35 am 7,052 0

Johnny Rockets in Shirlington (photo via Google Maps)

Johnny Rockets has closed its doors in Shirlington.

A sign posted in the window of the retro burger restaurant at 4251 Campbell Ave this weekend stated that it had closed its doors permanently. No reason for the closure was given.

Johnny Rockets closed sign (photo courtesy @EdwardRyder)The lone remaining Johnny Rockets in Arlington is located inside the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, at 1100 S. Hayes Street.

Johnny Rockets is the seventh business to close in Shirlington since last October. Other shuttered businesses have blamed high rent and slow business.

Photo top via Google Maps. Photo right courtesy @EdwardRyder.

by Tim Regan — May 22, 2015 at 11:00 am 2,543 0

Our Lady of the Vanishing Arts, photo courtesy of Artisphere

A new art piece will lambast the closure of Artisphere on the venue’s final day of live performance.

Artist Carolina Mayorga can neither confirm nor deny that she will assume the form of the Virgin Mary apparition during a performance titled “Our Lady of the Vanishing Arts.” But Mayorga, who’s dressed as the holy figure before, says there’s a good possibility a divine apparition could materialize at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 6.

“[The Virgin Mary] is thinking about making an apparition at Artisphere,” Mayorga says, chuckling. “She might appear. She’s thinking about it.”

During the performance piece, which lasts an hour and precedes a musical performance by Stooges Brass Band and Black Masala, Mayorga will perform mock holy rituals and anoint Artisphere attendees.

“I have these cardboard letters that spell the word art,” explains Mayorga. “and I’m going to burn them in a little metal tray, mix that with oil, and use a brush to [paint dollar signs on attendees’ foreheads].”

A live organist will play Catholic mass classics such as “Ave Maria” alongside the performance.

“I call it Ash Saturday,” says Mayorga.

The point of the performance, explains Mayorga, isn’t to belittle religion. Instead, it’s to mourn the loss of a local artistic institution.

“I benefitted from Artisphere for a long time,” she says. “I did an artist in residency with them in 2013. They’ve always been supportive of my work.”

Some of the art from Mayorga’s residency still clings to the gallery’s walls as a permanent installation.

“When you want to do a special performance, you need a venue like Artisphere,” Mayorga says. “It really hurts to lose it.”

Photo courtesy of Artisphere.

by ARLnow.com — May 20, 2015 at 2:45 pm 1,038 0

The Tutti Frutti frozen yogurt store at 1301 S. Fern Street in Pentagon City, across from the Costco, has closed.

The store closed recently and as of Monday it appeared that the furniture and froyo machinery had been cleared out.

The Tutti Frutti Pentagon City location first opened around the beginning of 2013. A north Arlington Tutti Frutti location, which is not owned by the same franchisee, remains open at 2439 N. Harrison Street, in the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center.

by Tim Regan — May 20, 2015 at 1:00 pm 3,879 0

A crowd of locals swapped memories, shared beers and even fought back some tears while saying goodbye to longtime neighborhood hangout Jay’s Saloon on Monday.

Jay’s Saloon first opened its doors in the fall of 1993, and became famous throughout Clarendon for $8 pitchers of beer during happy hour, cheap eats and a no-frills dive bar aesthetic.

In 2011, the bar received news that the building that houses it could be demolished and replaced with a mixed-use development. Last summer, that news became reality. The new development, called 10th Street Flats and located at 3132 10th Street N., is planned to have 135 residential units, 3,660 square feet of retail, almost 5,000 square feet of office space and nine live/work units.

Kathi Moore, who co-owned Jay’s with her ex-husband, spent the night slinging beers and hugging old friends.

“This is my life,” said Moore. “I spent half my working life here.”

For Moore, the closure of Jay’s represents an end, but also a new beginning. “[It’s] another phase of my life,” she said. “I’ll get another job.”

Moore’s patrons spent the night toasting the bar’s iconic status as the last dive bar in Clarendon.

Charlie Heitman, who manages the condo across the street from Jay’s, ate lunch there three or four days a week for more than a decade. To Heitman, the bar’s closing means one less place for locals to feel at home.

“It’s not a corporate bar, where everything is pre-programmed,” Heitman said. “I’m more sad about this than my last divorce.”

Last Saturday, Heitman served as auctioneer as bar sold off memorabilia and keepsakes.

“We sold almost everything off the wall. It was a frenzy,” said Heitman. “People [wanted] just a little piece of Jay’s to take home with them.”

“We know all the waitresses, we know all the bartenders,” said longtime regular Elaine Ethier. There’s no other place in Arlington like this.”

Jacki Barnett, who was a bar regular since 2007, spent the night savoring the minutes before last call. Even though she knew the doors would close for good, Barnett said she will always keep in touch with the people she met over the years.

“I’m going to take a big deep breath, I’m going to shed a tear, realize that all these people are still my friends,” Barnett said. “I’ll see them around the corner in just a minute.”

by Ethan Rothstein — May 14, 2015 at 11:30 am 12,929 0

Cakelove in Shirlington closes(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) Next month, the Bungalow Sports Grill plans to close its Shirlington location. Yesterday, the doors of Bonsai Grill were locked and the lights were off in the restaurant, indicating the Japanese restaurant has likely closed.

If Bonsai doesn’t reopen and Bungalow indeed closes on June 10  — when manager Carla Marquina tells ARLnow.com it will — the two businesses will be added to the growing list of Shirlington establishments that have fallen by the wayside, and more could be on the way.

Since last October, counting Bonsai and the Bungalow, seven businesses in the Village at Shirlington have closed: Bloomers, Periwinkle, Aladdin’s Eatery, Cakelove and The Curious Grape are all gone. Other than the Curious Grape, whose space was quickly taken over by an Italian restaurant, all of the spaces remain vacant.

With the vacancies have come less foot traffic and rising frustrations, business owners say. Some are blaming Village of Shirlington owner Federal Realty Investment Trust for their woes, saying the company keeps raising rents even as tenants struggle in a local economy that seems to be slowing.

The Bungalow Sports Grill in Shirlington“We are struggling to survive,” one Shirlington restaurant owner told ARLnow.com, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of landlord repercussions. “The landlord should reduce the rent or at least keep it the same. They don’t care about the business.”

Marquina, the Bungalow manager, said landlord problems are the reason that the neighborhood sports bar, which has occupied its large space off S. Randolph Street for decades, is shutting down.

“The owners have had disputes with the landlord,” she said. “They haven’t been fixing things that they should fix, and it’s not worth it to us to fix it.”

Bungalow owner Win Froelich spoke to ARLnow.com this afternoon and said Marquina “was not involved with what was going on,” and added “Federal has been lovely to work with.”

“We had an extended negotiation over renewing the lease, and the economics of renewing for us just didn’t work,” Froelich said. “There’s nothing that the landlord is obligated to repair that the landlord hasn’t repaired. The total package that worked for us and the total package that worked for them didn’t match up in price… They’ve been a great landlord and we’re sorry that we’re going to be leaving the Shirlington Village.”

While some vacancies have filled — the Extra Virgin space that has sat empty for two years will soon be home to an art-themed restaurant called Palette 22 — many others remain, and even store owners who say they have “a great relationship” with FRIT say they wish the Bethesda-based real estate firm would step up its effort.

“Walking down this really small area and seeing a bunch of empty spaces is depressing,” another store owner, who claims to be “doing fine” with no complaints about his relationship with FRIT, said. “[FRIT] could be doing a lot more to bring in new business.”

Aladdin's Eatery closes in ShirlingtonWhen Periwinkle closed, its owner told ARLnow the rent was too high, a refrain repeated by at least five business owners we contacted. According to multiple business owners, FRIT raises rent every year — a not uncommon practice for commercial and residential real estate — despite what they see as declining foot traffic.

Shirlington isn’t the only place FRIT is losing tenants either; in Pentagon Row, Denim Bar closed in April and another retailer is expected to announce its closure soon. When asked for comment, FRIT spokeswoman Jill Powell said she “was unable to reach the appropriate people at corporate.”

Along with Palette 22, FRIT is renovating Shirlington’s AMC movie theater and Powell said they are expecting to make “another exciting new lease announcement” soon. Regardless of Shirlington’s future businesses, some of its current tenants remain deeply dissatisfied.

Bonsai“Business has been slower,” the second store owner said, “and I’ve heard from a lot of people that property management is the issue.”

The first owner said she’s not sure how much longer she’ll be able to stay open. She said she doesn’t take home a salary and works 14 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We signed a contract and agreed to the rent. We can’t blame [FRIT],” she said. “But people aren’t going out to eat anymore. If the landlord understood about the economy, they’d stop raising the rent every year.”

by Ethan Rothstein — May 13, 2015 at 3:30 pm 3,221 0

Kite Runner Cafe, closing in Cherrydale May 15 Kite Runner Cafe, closing in Cherrydale May 15

Kite Runner Cafe, the critically acclaimed Afghan restaurant at 3800 Lee Highway in Cherrydale, will close tomorrow afternoon.

In its place, possibly in a month, will be Gaijin Ramen Shop, the second ramen shop coming to Arlington after Yona in Ballston was announced last year.

Kite Runner owner Homayon Karimy told ARLnow.com this afternoon that he’s selling the business, which opened two years ago this month, to spend more time close to family.

“I need to spend more time with more 4-year-old daughter,” he said. “I feel like I missed three years of her life with one year of construction and two years in the restaurant.”

Karimy, a native of Afghanistan who came to Northern Virginia in the late 1990s and spent a decade at Lebanese Taverna before striking out on his own to start a restaurant serving the cuisine of his birthplace.

Now, he said, he’ll take a month off, then go back to school, hoping to graduate in a few semesters and re-enter the hospitality industry.

The ramen shop, he said, plans to do minor construction on the interior before opening.

Hat tip to @ZHitmanHart

by Ethan Rothstein — May 1, 2015 at 3:45 pm 3,914 0

Just over 13 months after opening with a mini-sandwich giveaway, 100 Montaditos in Rosslyn is now closed.

The Spanish-style restaurant at 1776 Wilson Blvd specialized in serving all different kinds of mini sandwiches, with a variety of ingredients like pulled park, Iberican ham, brie and chocolate. Its parent company declared bankruptcy back in March, which appears to have been the Rosslyn location’s death knell.

An anonymous tipster tells us that 100 Montaditos packed up the interior overnight last night, coinciding with the end of the month. The interior is bare and the door is now locked — there are splotches of missing paint on the walls where artwork used to hang.

by Ethan Rothstein — April 28, 2015 at 3:05 pm 4,779 0

S.H. “Doc” Friedman is a man of few words and less nostalgia. The 82-year-old pragmatist will be closing Public Shoe Store in Clarendon sometime this summer, closing the doors on one of the oldest businesses in Arlington.

Will “Doc,” a former podiatrist, miss the store that’s been a part of his life since he was five years old?

“No. It’s just a matter of time marching on,” he said. “Nothing stays the same.”

Friedman’s father, Sam, opened the business in 1938 across Wilson Blvd from N. Hudson Street, before the building was taken over to build the Clarendon Metro station in the late 1970s.

Friedman doesn’t remember exactly when his father’s store had to move, but when it did, it replaced a cadre of six Vietnamese businesses occupying the less-than-5,000-square-foot space. Before that, it had been a Kay Jewelers; Friedman still has the sign, well-preserved hanging over the stairs that lead to the basement.

When the store moved across the street, Friedman was still working as a podiatrist, with an office just a few blocks away. But when his father could no longer work in the store, he took it over. Doc had been working as a podiatrist in the neighborhood.

When asked where specifically his office was, he shrugged and replied “I don’t remember that far back.”

But keepsakes around the store provide more clues about its, and Doc’s, past. Friedman has photos from the original shop the year it opened, with employees dressed in suits and the shelves immaculately organized. He brings out a picture of his father, standing proudly in front of a Cadillac he won, pointing out that the car was the inspiration for a jingle his wife wrote for the store, long ago.

His memory extends to the surrounding community. Few, if any, are as familiar with the changes in Clarendon over the last three-quarters of a century. At one point, when it was considered the “Downtown of Northern Virginia,” there were a half-dozen shoe stores in the area, he said.

Public Shoe Store is the only one left standing, and soon it will be gone.

“That’s one stage in life,” he said. “But things change.”

Before the Metro came in, the area was known as “Little Saigon.” Now, as the years have gone on, Clarendon has transitioned again to the food and nightlife hotspot it is now.

“It just changed from clothing-type stores and furniture-type stores to alcohol,” he said. “There’s a bunch of restaurants because kids around here don’t cook, and they go out to eat, and they all have money.”

He doesn’t know what the storefront will become next. He owns the building and is working with a real estate agent to lease the space. He assumes a restaurant is likely, but doesn’t have a preference as long as it’s someone “who looks like they’ll stay and not give any trouble.”

Next door, the owner of Kabob Bazaar, Mohammed Kafi, said that’s exactly the type of neighbor Friedman has been for the 20-odd years he’s owned his restaurant.

“He’s a very nice gentleman, never had any problems with him,” Kafi said. “It’s been very nice knowing him. Once he’s gone, he’ll be missed.”

Friedman has children and several grandchildren, but none of them wanted to take up the mantle of Public Shoe Store the way he did from his father. His children are all at or near retirement, and the next generation are aspiring teachers and scientists.

“They don’t seem to be interested in it,” he said. “Kids today are into different things, it’s a different world.”

Although his loyal customers will miss coming into the shop and seeing him every day, shuffling deliberately across the store and trying his hardest to find the perfect shoe for each foot problem, he hasn’t thought much about what his next step will look like.

First, he said: tending to his Lyon Village home, which is just a few minutes ride from the store via his motorized red scooter.

“I’m going to clean out all my junk,” he said. He smiles when he’s asked what he’ll miss most about the store, and said only, “I don’t know yet.”

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