Arlington, VA

The two retail occupants of a squat commercial building at the intersection of Lee Highway and N. George Mason Drive have now both moved out.

TitleMax, which opened at 5625 Lee Highway in 2014, closed recently and has cleared out of the space, which was previously a 7-Eleven store. A sign on the door directs customers to a remaining TitleMax location at 6198-C Arlington Blvd, in Seven Corners.

No explanation for the closure was given.

Next door, long-time local business Sam Torrey Shoe Service closed in July after the owner decided to move to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

TitleMax’s presence in the neighborhood drew some controversy early on.

Then-County Board candidate Christian Dorsey called the business a “predatory lender” and pushed for its lease to be terminated in the event that a proposed land swap between property owner Virginia Hospital Center and Arlington County happened. A land swap went through, but the Lee Highway property was not included.

Through a PR rep, Virginia Hospital Center said that it is still deciding what to do next with the property.

“TitleMax and Sam Tory have terminated their leases,” the rep told ARLnow. “The Hospital has made no decisions about the future of the site.”

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The Spirits of ’76, a bar in Clarendon that opened just before the 2016 election, is closing just before the 2020 election.

The bar at 3211 Washington Blvd is just off the main drag of Clarendon, on a block in which restaurants have struggled. It opened in October 2016 with Americana decor, a robust whiskey list, and a menu of American comfort food.

Spirits of ’76 was unpretentious from the outset, seeking to be little more than a good local bar, comfortable neighborhood hangout, and occasional small event venue.

The business announced today that it will be closing in less than two weeks, after deciding against renewing its lease.

“It is a sad day at 76 to announce on our anniversary that we will be closing for good at the end of business on Sunday, November 1,” the restaurant said on social media. “Our lease is up at the end of November and it has become unsustainable to continue during these times. I have made numerous attempts to contact the landlords but they will not return our calls or letters to try to keep us going.”

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Zinga! Frozen Yogurt has closed in Arlington’s Williamsburg Shopping Center, though it’s not immediately clear if the closure is permanent.

The froyo shop closed last week, and a “for lease” sign was placed in the window. As of Friday, the leasing sign was down, but the store remained closed and many of the furnishings appear to have been cleared out.

No information about the closure was posted on the Zinga Facebook page, which less than two weeks ago was happily posting about new fall flavors and job openings.

Zinga first opened in the shopping center, at 2914 N. Sycamore Street, in 2013. Another nearby location of the small froyo chain, in Falls Church, closed in 2018.

Hat tip to Buzz McClain

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The future is uncertain for the boutique barre fitness studio LavaBarre in Rosslyn.

The gym at 1510 Clarendon Blvd announced on Instagram earlier this week that it would no longer be providing in-person classes at the studio. On Thursday, the studio’s storefront appeared closed and empty, with a lock on the door.

The founders of LavaBarre did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The fitness studio reopened at reduced capacity on June 26, after shutting down when the state went into lockdown in response to the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, we must again take a step back from in studio classes,” this week’s social media post said.

Although the brick-and-mortar location is empty, the post invited members to contact the gym about in-person indoor 0r outdoor classes, as well as Zoom classes, “during this closure.”

LavaBarre offers high-intensity workouts that blend ballet, interval training, cardio, pilates and the use of props.

The boutique gym opened in Clarendon in the summer of 2012. Two years later, it moved into its current location and was replaced by Barre Tech, which, according to Yelp, has closed.

In the last five years, gyms offering ballet-inspired barre classes have proliferated in Arlington. Among them are Xtend BarreNeighborhood Barre, Pure Barre, and Barre3 in Clarendon, as well as a Pure Barre in Pentagon City.

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A pandemic is perhaps not the best business environment for an eatery that sends food on a conveyor belt throughout the restaurant.

Riverside Hot Pot, a Chinese restaurant in Clarendon that did just that, closed recently after just a year or so in business.

The closure was first spotted by a local Twitter user.

As of last night there was no signage outside the storefront at 1028 N. Garfield Street, and nothing inside but cleaning supplies and a lockbox on the door.

Another Riverside Hot Pot location in Gaithersburg closed shortly after the Clarendon location opened, while a Riverside Hot Pot location in Fairfax is also closed, according to Yelp.

By ARLnow’s tally, this is at least the seventeenth restaurant to have closed in Arlington since the beginning of the pandemic in March.

Jay Westcott contributed to this report

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The pandemic has claimed yet another local restaurant — and this time, it’s one of the oldest bars in Arlington.

Summers, the soccer bar at 1520 N. Courthouse Road, will not reopen, owner Joe Javidara confirmed to ARLnow today. The restaurant’s furnishings — from kitchen equipment to framed soccer memorabilia to the Tiffany-style stained glass lamps — are now being offered for auction through Oct. 13.

Summers temporarily closed at the end of August, warning that the closure could be permanent if it was unable to obtain a permit for an expanded outdoor seating area. Javidara said he was not able to get the county permit and instead made the tough decision to close permanently.

A staple of the Courthouse neighborhood, Summers first opened in December 1982. It showed soccer matches from around the world at a time “when no one else in the U.S. watched soccer,” Javidara said, but went on to serve millions of customers over its 38 years.

It has remained in business through big changes to Arlington, but rent increases have made it difficult to make ends meet, said Javidara. It was set to close eventually due to a planned redevelopment of the block, but COVID-19 hastened the inevitable.

Javidara says he has been losing money every month since the start of the pandemic. The main dining used to hold 150 cheering soccer fans, but social distancing restrictions reduced that to 16. Only a handful actually would show up to watch the games, making it hard to retain employees who rely on tips.

Sales were off 95%, Javidara said, but the rent remained $20,000 per month. He said he was also unable to obtain a federal Paycheck Protection Program loan as a potential lifeline.

“It’s disappointing we have to go like this after 38 years,” Javidara told ARLnow.

Still, there’s some hope for the future. After taking some time off, something he hasn’t been able to do for decades, Javidra said he’ll test the waters to see if any investors might want to help Summers reopen elsewhere, perhaps as soon as next year.

Any new location would have to have more outdoor seating and, potentially, a rooftop. A German beer garden with sports could be a new format worth exploring, he said.

“We’ll look for another place,” he said.

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(Updated at 3 p.m.) Some local businesses are making it through the pandemic just fine, but others are still struggling.

Restaurants — particularly those that rely on sit-down and bar business — are among the hardest hit. In New York City, a new report said that 9 in 10 restaurants couldn’t pay their August rent. Here in Arlington, one long-time local restaurant owner estimated in April that 30-40% of restaurants could ultimately close as a result of the pandemic.

Clothing retailers, dry cleaners and anyone else whose business relies on people going to the office or children going to school is also in trouble.

Talks about another round of coronavirus stimulus on Capitol Hill have been stalled for month, but are reportedly restarting. A new aid package is likely to include new relief for small businesses, airlines and others.

Unfortunately, that will come too late for a number of Arlington businesses. Here are the fallen — a list of local businesses that have closed over the past 6+ months, since the first coronavirus case in Arlington.

It should be noted that not all of the above closed as a direct result of the pandemic. Sam Torrey Shoe Service, for instance, closed after the owner decided to move to the Outer Banks.

Know of any others not mentioned here? Let us know in the comments.

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The Bed Bath & Beyond store at Pentagon Row is set to close by the end of the year.

USA Today reported Friday afternoon that the store is on a list of 63 Bed Bath & Beyond locations that will shutter by the end of 2020. The store first opened about 20 years ago, shortly after the opening of the shopping center itself.

The parent company is retrenching amid a difficult business climate for bricks-and-mortar retailers, the paper reported.

Bed Bath & Beyond also owns the World Market retail chain; World Market closed its Pentagon Row store last year.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Restaurant Closes in Pentagon City — “Sad to report that A-Deli at ⁦@PentagonRow⁩ has gone out of business. Mr. Kapoor and his wife are great people. I hope they can rebound in a new venture.” [@CartChaos22202/Twitter]

Another Hazy Day on Tap — “It will be another day without much in the way of cloudiness. With at least some smoke likely to be in the air once again, highs will be held back somewhat, as readings will mainly reach the low and mid-70s.” [Capital Weather Gang]

Some COVID Tests Come With Steep Price — “When Lisa Robertson sought coronavirus testing for her college athlete daughter, a pediatrician recommended a small, independent pharmacy in Arlington, Virginia. Preston’s Pharmacy charged $35 to take a nasal swab specimen and sent it off to a lab, Principle Diagnostics, for quick results. The lab billed her insurance company $864 – more than eight times what the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reimburses for COVID-19 test.” [USA Today]

GOP Congressional Candidate Presses Case — “If you’re going to go down anyway, you might as well go down swinging. That seems to be the feeling of Jeff Jordan, the Republican nominee attempting to unseat U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th)… Jordan used a debate sponsored by the Arlington County Civic Federation to press his political philosophy. ‘I have fought socialism and tyranny my entire life,’ he told the online audience.” [InsideNova]

Marymount Rises in Rankings — “For the third consecutive year, Marymount University has risen in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges Rankings. After jumping more than 20 spots in last year’s list, Marymount is once again moving up among the Best Regional Universities in the South – now ranked at No. 31 in the region” [Press Release]

‘Space Jam’ Outdoors Tomorrow in Ballston — “Ballston Exchange will be hosting three separate movie nights on the Paseo in between 4201 and 4121 Wilson Blvd. One ticket is required for each group of four or less. Ticket includes a 6’x6′ feet picnic blanket and a $10 gift card to a Ballston Exchange retailer.” [Eventbrite]

Alexandria Architectural Board Disses Arlington — “‘They’re very nice buildings, but they don’t belong in Old Town,’ BAR member Lynn Neihardt said during the Sept. 2 meeting. ‘We’re getting buildings that don’t reflect the Old Town context at all under the guise of providing affordable housing… The buildings to me speak Ballston, Crystal City, but not Old Town.’ BAR member Christine Sennott underlined that point in saying: ‘This is Ballston. We don’t want to be Ballston.'” [Washington Business Journal]

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Cinthia’s Bakery II has closed shop in Arlington amid road construction and the pandemic, but will continue to serve local customers at its original Bailey’s Crossroads location.

The restaurant announced the closure of its second location (5037 Columbia Pike) on its Facebook page this week. A sign in the window says it closed on Aug. 31.

“Cinthia’s 1 will open normally 7 days a week at 5860 Columbia Pike, Falls Church,” the sign adds. The driving distance between the two locations is just six minutes.

In addition to the pandemic hurting local restaurants, there has been ongoing construction and detours along Columbia Pike, in front of Cinthia’s Bakery II.

In January, a bakery employee told WJLA that the business saw “a significant drop off in the number of customers and an increase in empty tables due to construction.”

Staff photos by Jay Westcott. Hat tip to @bgannon97.

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Fast-casual vegetarian restaurant Little Beet has closed permanently in Rosslyn.

The eatery opened three years ago at 1800 N. Lynn Street. At the time it was the second Little Beet location in the D.C. area for the growing New York-based chain.

A sign on the door suggests that while the Rosslyn location is closing, more Little Beets are on the way for the region.

“As we continue to grow our presence in the D.C. metro area, we are sad to announce that our Rosslyn location will be closing its doors,” the sign says. Part of our mission is to spread food knowledge and change the perception of vegetable-forward meals. Now it’s time for us to plant new seeds in different neighborhoods.”

“We’ll be expanding in this area in the near future and hope to see you at our 2021 openings,” the sign continues. “Thank you for an amazing journey, Rosslyn!”

Currently, Little Beet’s website lists no open locations in D.C. or Virginia, though the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City still lists a Little Beet location there — which opened late last year — on the mall directory.

Staff photos by Jay Westcott. Hat tip to @mikeywl.

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