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by ARLnow.com — August 24, 2016 at 10:30 am 0

Now is your chance to own a piece of the former Hard Times Cafe in Clarendon.

The restaurant closed last month after many years in business directly across from the Clarendon Metro station.

Hundreds of items from the restaurant are now being auctioned off online — just about everything you can imagine, including signs, tables, chairs, beer taps and kitchen equipment.

Most items currently have bids under $10.

by ARLnow.com — August 15, 2016 at 6:15 pm 0

The Chili’s near the corner of Jefferson Davis Highway and 23rd Street S., in Crystal City, has closed.

As of this afternoon, the store’s awnings had already been taken down and a sign was posted on the door.

“After many years we are sad to say that we have closed this location,” the sign says. “Please be sure to visit one of our other local Chili’s restaurants.”

The sign lists two Chili’s locations in Alexandria and another on Route 7 in Bailey’s Crossroads.

by ARLnow.com — August 12, 2016 at 3:50 pm 0

Welcome to Arlington Sign

After interning for the past three months at ARLnow, we all had different experiences working in and learning about the area.

The three of us came in from different backgrounds: One of us is an Arlington native (Jackie Friedman), another is a New Yorker who moved last year to the D.C. area (Adrian Cruz) and the other (Omar DeBrew) commutes from Maryland.

As a result, we all had different experiences and opinions to share about our summer covering news in Arlington.

Cruz:

While I had lived in Arlington for most of the past year, there were still a lot of places and areas I had no idea existed. Because I lived in Lyon Park, I tended to stick around the Orange Line corridor, wandering into Pentagon City and Columbia Pike once in a blue moon. Throughout the summer, my work has sent me to all corners of the county, allowing me to explore and learn about neighborhoods I had never even known existed. Now, I can say with confidence that I know my way around the county and that names such as Cherrydale, Buckingham and Fairlington aren’t just stereotypical names for small English towns.

Arlingtonians as a people are an interesting bunch. The county is extremely diverse with people from all walks of life and one never knows what to expect. Just in my time working here, I have encountered people ranging from a lawyer who’s a finalist on “American Ninja Warrior” to a grumpy British man. Also, by reading our comments section, I’ve also learned they’re an opinionated and sarcastic bunch, with lots to say.

As a place to live in, Arlington is what I’d like to call Washington’s Disneyland. What I mean by that is that it’s cleaner, safer, quieter than anywhere I’ve ever lived in, almost as if it was designed by Walt Disney himself. Coming from New York City, I’m used to a dirty, gritty city with lots of crime and weird stuff going on. In contrast, the weirdest things that happen in Arlington are weekends in Clarendon. I currently live in Buckingham, an area that many call “Arlington’s ghetto.” I come from the South Bronx. Buckingham is no ghetto. What it does have is a thriving Latin American community with many amazing restaurants. The only drawback about living in Arlington is that it’s expensive! Finding a decent meal under $10 in Clarendon is close to impossible, and as my fellow interns will attest to, finding cheap parking is just as difficult. Nonetheless, this is definitely somewhere I could see myself living in the future.

Friedman:

While I have lived in Arlington my whole life, I wasn’t really aware of everything that goes on in the area. It’s amazing how someone can live in the same place their whole life, but have no clue about the people living around them. Your next door neighbor could be a craftsman like Jeff Spugnardi or the person working out next to you at the gym could have starred on “America Ninja Warrior” or even be 100 years old. Interning this summer at ARLnow allowed me to meet different people living in my community and learn about their interesting stories and lives. Everyone has an interesting story, especially in Arlington, so I encourage you to get to know the people around you. Maybe if you strike up a conversation with a stranger about how sad you are about Minh’s closing (I’m still mourning the loss), you could find out that the person you are talking to happens to be an Olympic gold medalist. But beware that person could go on and complain to you about the Clarendon stores that keep their doors open during the heat or how their child’s swimming instructor has man boobs.

DeBrew:

Covering Arlington as a videographer is easy with all the history and new development taking place. Any issue big or small has some meaning to the community, such as a restaurant closing, a new 7-Eleven, or a fire station about to be demolished. The coverage helps Arlingtonians form opinions and decide for themselves. My only advice to those driving in Arlington is to take Metro when possible, and if you have to drive, find 24-hour parking areas near parks. Some spots are free; with others, you’ll have to pay. But that parking is cheaper than city areas.

by ARLnow.com — August 5, 2016 at 4:25 pm 0

Carpool (photo via Facebook)(Updated at 4:35 p.m.) Popular Ballston watering hole Carpool will close next month, according to an email reviewed by ARLnow.com.

The bar has been informing groups that it will be closing within the next few weeks. We’re told that it is likely to close in early-to-mid September.

Carpool’s owners are seeking a new location for the bar, but a final decision on that has not been made, we hear.

Developer Penzance is planning to build a 22-story apartment building on the Carpool site. That development was approved unanimously by the Arlington County Board in December.

So far, no demolition permit applications have been filed for the address (4000 Fairfax Drive). A Penzance representative said he did not have an update on a timeline for the development.

Carpool has a second location, in Herndon.

Update at 5:45 p.m. — A closing date for Carpool has not been set, says co-owner Mark Handwerger.

“The property has been under contract with Penzance for quite some time,” Handwerger said. “There is no definitive timeline for the sale of the property and subsequent closing of the business at this time. With the sales contract in place, however, we have indeed been looking around for an appropriate location nearby, but as of yet have been unable to identify one.”

Photo via Facebook

by Adrian Cruz — August 4, 2016 at 3:50 pm 0

A French-inspired home and gifts store in Cherrydale is set to close soon.

La Maison, which opened at 3510 Lee Highway in 2013, will close once owner Jeeun Friel sells the business.

The store sells “everything from candles, totes, jewelry, local art, handmade furniture, pins, just a lot of unique one-of-a-kind things,” Friel said. “That’s what’s kept us interesting for the last three years.”

Friel added that her reason for closing the store is to spend more time with her kids, specifically her youngest son.

“I opened the shop originally because, at the time, my firstborn was three years old and entering preschool so I had a lot of time on my hands and it was kind of a hobby,” she said. “It’s bittersweet because I really created this little place from scratch but I’m happy being home with my baby.”

Friel said the shop could close as early September, as long as someone buys it by then.

“I was hoping by September, but it could be longer,” Friel said. “We don’t have a definite date right now. I still have to run the shop and we’re still running on a daily basis until we figure out what’s going to happen.”

The store will hold sales throughout the rest of the summer to sell off the remaining merchandise, Friel said. At the moment, everything in the store is half off.

by ARLnow.com — August 4, 2016 at 12:00 pm 0

Amid a turbulent period for restaurants in Clarendon, there are rumors circulating about two other prominent neighborhood eateries.

Multiple sources have told ARLnow.com that Pete’s New Haven Apizza (3017 Clarendon Blvd), which opened in 2011, has been looking for another business to take over its space. One source said a deal is in the works which would bring a new Chipotle location to the current Pete’s space.

“That’s news to me,” Pete’s co-founder Joel Mehr said, when asked about it in June. He declined further comment.

There have also been persistent rumblings that Fuego Cocina y Tequileria (2800 Clarendon Blvd), which opened in 2012, may be closing by the end of the year. A spokeswoman said the Mexican restaurant is doing well and reports about a potential closure are false.

“Those rumors are not correct,” said Simone Rathle, on behalf of Fuego owner Passion Food Restaurant Group. She said the rumors may have started after Fuego stopped serving lunch on weekdays.

Over the span of a month this summer, three prominent Clarendon restaurants — Hard Times Cafe, Boulevard Woodgrill and American Tap Room — closed their doors. Brixx Pizza in Clarendon closed earlier this year after just six months in business.

While there are more new restaurants and bars on the way — Ambar, Pamplona, Opera — some insiders question whether there might be more restaurants in Clarendon than the market can handle. That would explain why even generally well-liked spots, such as Boulevard Woodgrill, have been closing.

Insiders say middle-of-the-road restaurant concepts that branch out as small chains after finding success in the suburbs — American Tap Room would be one example — are particularly vulnerable. Drawn to Clarendon by allure of the area’s young, affluent potential customers, they find that consumers have tastes more in line with D.C. than Fairfax County.

“I think the mini-chains don’t realize this clientele is so used to D.C. and big city ideas,” said one industry insider. “In a town far out it would probably do well, but people here want something different.”

There’s also the issue of quickly-changing consumer habits — the reason why the once-hot frozen yogurt and cupcake shops have been whittled down to one survivor apiece in Clarendon.

Still, neither explanation would apply to Pete’s, which originated in D.C., or Fuego, which was launched in Clarendon by savvy, successful D.C. area restaurateurs. In the end, it might come down to supply and demand: too many restaurants in one place, not enough potential customers.

by ARLnow.com — August 1, 2016 at 10:30 am 0

Our sources were correct — American Tap Room in Clarendon closed over the weekend.

The struggling restaurant served customers Saturday, then was closed on Sunday. A sign posted on the door encouraged customers for “visit one of our other locations” and encouraged employees to “stop by Monday or Tuesday for information on other locations and pay checks.”

While its parent company didn’t return our phone calls, a manager at American Tap Room told us early last week that it was not closing. During a second call to the restaurant, on Friday, an employee said it was “hurtful” for us to suggest that the restaurant might be closing.

ARLnow.com has heard from multiple sources that a mobile phone retailer — likely a Verizon store — will be taking over at least part of the now-former American Tap Room space.

by ARLnow.com — July 28, 2016 at 4:25 pm 0

Boulevard Woodgrill in Clarendon

A beloved Clarendon restaurant will be closing its doors next weekend.

Boulevard Woodgrill (2901 Wilson Blvd) will close its doors at 9 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 7. It’s expected to be replaced by a new location of the well-regarded Capitol Hill eatery Ambar.

In a statement posted on Facebook, the restaurant thanked customers for their patronage over the past decade and a half.

“After nearly 15 wonderful years of business in the heart of Clarendon, we have decided to sell our business and will be closing The Boulevard,” the restaurant said. “We have thoroughly enjoyed serving you over the years (nearly 2 million meals!) and will be forever grateful both for your support as well as the amazing efforts of our employees, both current and past. We hope you will stop in and see us a time or two before we say goodbye and perhaps down the road we’ll be able to see each other again!”

“It’s a sad day for us, but we are so happy to have had the chance to be a part of a truly wonderful community!” the restaurant added. “Onward!”

by Adrian Cruz — July 26, 2016 at 9:55 am 0

Minh Vietnamese Restaurant, located at 2500 Wilson Blvd, has closed citing lease issues and other business concerns.

There is a sign posted by the owners that reads “Dear Customers, We are very sorry to inform you that due to business concerns including our lease on this space, Minh has ceased operation effective immediately. We appreciate your patronage over the years we have been here, and we are sad to be leaving.”

The restaurant has been at that location for over 10 years and it was one of the few remaining Vietnamese restaurants in the Clarendon area, a hotbed of Vietnamese businesses before the construction of the Orange Line. It was said to be “one of the original Vietnamese restaurants that put Clarendon on the map.”

There is no word yet on whether those behind the restaurant plan on reopening in another location.

by ARLnow.com — July 1, 2016 at 5:05 pm 0

Hard Times Cafe in Clarendon is closing for good this weekend.

The restaurant, noted for its chili and chili dogs, will serve its last customers Saturday.

“Folks, I am communicating to you the sad news that Hard Times Cafe will be closing our doors at close of business tomorrow, Saturday July 2, 2016,” the restaurant’s manager said in an email to a group that holds events there.

Hard Times employees and other local business owners were told of the closing Friday afternoon. There had been rumors of an impending closing since a “for lease” sign had been placed above the entrance in March. That sign has since been taken down, though a leasing representative did not reveal any future plans for the space when contacted by ARLnow.com today.

The 8,240 square foot, three level location — located directly across the street from the Clarendon Metro station, at 3028 Wilson Blvd — is being marketed as a “trophy restaurant or retail space.”

by ARLnow.com — June 29, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

Cupid's Garden Sculpture in Rosslyn

Bracing for the Next Two Metro Surges — There will be no Metrorail service at the National Airport station during the next two Metrorail maintenance surge projects, from July 5 to July 18. Blue and Yellow line riders can expect major service impacts and should consider alternative means of commuting, from biking to Uber to taking the bus. The new Metroway Bus Rapid Transit line from Alexandria to Crystal City will be free during the two surges. [Washington Post, NBC Washington, Twitter, WMATA]

Tributes to Cafe Asia — As ARLnow.com first reported, today is expected to be the last day in business for Cafe Asia in Rosslyn. The restaurant was a go-to lunch, after work and event spot for some of Rosslyn’s media and political types, who have been posting memories of Cafe Asia on Twitter and elsewhere. [Washington Business Journal, Twitter, Twitter]

Garvey Profiled in Weekly Standard — Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey, who defeated challenger Erik Gutshall in the Democratic primary two weeks ago, has been profiled by the conservative political magazine the Weekly Standard. “From her fight for fiscal conservatism over a costly streetcar plan to her endorsement of Republican-turned-independent John Vihstadt (who eventually became a fellow Board member), it is no wonder that some of her fellow liberals are worried about the county’s direction,” the magazine wrote. [Weekly Standard]

Photo by Jackie Friedman

by ARLnow.com — June 28, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

Venerable Rosslyn restaurant and happy hour spot Cafe Asia (1550 Wilson Blvd) is closing its doors this week.

The pan-Asian restaurant will serve its last customers Wednesday night, according to a restaurant manager. No special events are planned for the closing, we’re told.

The manager said that Cafe Asia’s owners declined to renew its lease, after some 15 years in business. The owners will be “taking a break” before deciding what to do next, she said.

Cafe Asia serves dishes from Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Japan and Vietnam in a large, airy dining space that includes a sizable bar and separate event space.

“It’s a shame,” a customer told ARLnow.com. “It was an affordable go to place for sushi and the staff was great.”

Hat tip to @Colknewman

by ARLnow.com — June 14, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

American flag on the Fairlington bridge over I-395

County Board Primary Voting Today — Arlington residents are heading to the polls today to vote in the Democratic County Board primary, choosing between incumbent Libby Garvey and challenger Erik Gutshall. Polls close at 7 p.m. [Arlington County]

Shelves Stocked at New Whole Foods — Some shelves are already stocked at the new Pentagon City Whole Foods. The store is set to open on Wednesday, June 29. [Twitter]

More Security at Local Gay Bar — Freddie’s Beach Bar in Crystal City has tightened its security, banned backpacks and is now searching purses in the wake of the mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando. [NBC Washington]

Art Therapy Group Shutting Down — The 296 Project, which provided art therapy for veterans with PTSD, is closing down. On June 25, the group will be hosting a big art supply giveaway at its Crystal City studio. [Facebook]

Local Jewelry and Fashion List — Washingtonian Magazine has released a list of what it says are “the best places to shop in Arlington for local art, custom jewelry, and discounted designer fashion.” [Washingtonian]

by Jackie Friedman — June 10, 2016 at 2:15 pm 0

The Panera Bread restaurant in Ballston has closed.

The Panera Bread was located in Ballston Common Mall and was previously expected to stay open during renovations before reopening as Ballston Quarter.

The store’s signage is down and the inside is vacant. The location also no longer shows up on Panera Bread’s website.

When calling the store’s phone number, an automated message states that the Ballston location has permanently closed and that their “customer’s business has been appreciated.”

No word yet on what ultimately led to the permanent closure of the store.

by ARLnow.com — June 6, 2016 at 4:45 pm 0

Bank of Georgetown (photo via Google Maps)

The Bank of Georgetown branch at 2300 Wilson Blvd in Courthouse has closed permanently.

The branch closed Friday afternoon, as the $269 million acquisition of Bank of Georgetown by competitor United Bank was completed. It is being “consolidated” into the United Bank branch at 2930 Wilson Blvd in Clarendon.

The closed bank branch was located on the ground floor of the Navy League building, near the Five Guys burger restaurant.

Photo via Google Maps

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