Arlington, VA

The Williamsburg Shopping Center is looking for a new bank to take up tenancy where United Bank once had a branch.

Leasing agent Nora Eways said the bank location at 6500 Williamsburg Blvd shuttered on Jan. 15 but did not give a reason for the closure. The shopping center’s owner is hoping to find another bank to fill the space, perhaps in part due to the large metal bank vault that appears in interior photos.

“The landlord’s main preference is for another bank,” Eways said.

While the search continues for another bank, she said other potential tenants, including medical groups, have expressed interest in the spot.

“This space is in a very affluent area in Arlington,” she said, of the shopping center’s proximity to North Arlington neighborhoods like Williamsburg and East Falls Church. “It’s a great neighborhood center where we’ve had very few vacancies in general.”

Eways said pre-pandemic, the shopping center was fully leased “for a while.” United Bank’s departure was one of two COVID-19-era vacancies, she said, referencing the closure of the Zinga! frozen yogurt spot in October.

“Banks and frozen yogurt shops are two businesses that are decreasing in size throughout the nation,” she said, adding that mobile banking has led some banks to consolidate their physical locations.

Photo (1) via Google Maps, (2-3) via Renaud Consulting

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After nearly three decades in business, local salon Illusions of Shirlington is closing its doors.

Owner Irma Wheeler said the business has struggled during the pandemic and recent lease negotiations with Village of Shirlington owner Federal Realty Investment Trust failed.

Illusions, located at 4033 Campbell Avenue, has been open for 28 years. Last May, ARLnow covered the salon’s reopening after a state-mandated closure at the outset of the pandemic.

“We’ve been very anxious and have been getting ready since the beginning of the shutdown,” Wheeler said at the time. “It’s been difficult to find supplies, even disinfectant. We have face shields and masks, and we’re taking the temperatures of clients and staff. We’re trying to take every precaution… it’s going to be difficult, but we’ll be ready.”

In a social media post last night, Wheeler said she made the difficult decision to close because it was “the only viable option.” Her Illusions of Georgetown salon in D.C. will remain open.

The full social media post is below.

To our loyal clients,

I wanted to personally let you know that I have made the very difficult decision to close Illusions of Shirlington – effective immediately.

As you know, our business has been severely impacted by Covid-19 and the restrictions imposed by lawmakers have made the last year a real struggle to say the least. In addition, I have been in lease negotiations with Federal Realty for the past year. I received their final proposal last week. After carefully reviewing the terms presented, closing the salon was the only viable option.

This was not an easy decision.

I can’t thank enough the many loyal customers and retailers that have supported me these past 28 years. You have become like family. That is why I want to tell you that you are all welcome to come to Illusions of Georgetown for your styling needs. We will be offering valet parking for the time being.

If you have an appointment within the next few weeks, your stylist will be getting in touch with you.

Keep us with us on our social media for updates.

Irma Wheeler

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Long-time local watering hole Whitlow’s says it’s closing after efforts to renew its lease were unsuccessful.

“We have been unable to successfully negotiate an extension for our lease which expires at the end of June 2021,” the restaurant said today in a social media post. “We will continue to operate as we have been; however, we are due to close on Saturday, June 26.”

Located at 2854 Wilson Blvd, the bar first opened in Clarendon in 1995, after first opening as a greasy-spoon eatery in D.C. in 1946. It added a rooftop deck in 2010.

ARLnow first reported two years ago that it was listed on a commercial real estate website for a lease start date of July 1, 2021. As of this week, the property is now listed for sale at an undisclosed price.

In its social media post, Whitlow’s said it is “actively looking for a future home.”

“We don’t necessarily see this as a goodbye, but more of a see you later,” the post says. “In the meantime, there are three months left and we are going to make the best of it!”

The full statement is below.

Whitlow’s on Wilson has been family owned and operated since 1995. While it has been an exceedingly difficult year due to Covid-19, thankfully Whitlow’s maintained operations and support for our staff as much as possible. Unfortunately, we have been unable to successfully negotiate an extension for our lease which expires at the end of June 2021. We will continue to operate as we have been; however, we are due to close on Saturday June 26th 2021. We invite everyone to drop by and celebrate all the good times that have been had over the course of our 26 years here in Clarendon.

We want to take this opportunity to thank our past and present staff for making Whitlow’s the neighborhood gathering spot that it is. A special shout out to the incredible team that has fought so hard to keep Whitlow’s going during the pandemic, we are beyond grateful. Thank you to the musicians that have played on our stage. To our loyal regulars and guests, we cannot say thank you enough, we could not have done it without you.

While, the doors at 2854 Wilson may be closing in June, we are actively looking for a future home. We don’t necessarily see this as a goodbye, but more of a see you later… In the meantime, there are three months left and we are going to make the best of it! We have some good things planned and hope to see all of you soon.

The Cahill/ Williams Family

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(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) Mom’s Pizza Restaurant at Westmont Shopping Center is closing this summer after 32 years, the owners tell ARLnow.

Owner John Hosein says the property manager recently informed the long-running restaurant that they would have to vacate their space along Columbia Pike for a planned redevelopment.

“They need the space,” says Hosein. “They want to… demolish the whole shopping center.”

He says it’s likely that they’ll close in June.

The County Board approved the shopping center’s redevelopment in September 2019. The plan is to replace the aging shopping center and surface parking lot with 250 market rate apartments and new retail. A small-format grocery store may be among the new retail options.

Demolition will likely happen shortly after the shopping center closes in June, a spokesperson for the property management company tells ARLnow. Construction is currently targeted to begin in late 2021, Jessica Margarit of Arlington’s Dept. of Community Planning, Housing and Development says.

The project would likely wrap up by 2024, though an exact timeline could not be immediately confirmed.

Hosein says the news wasn’t a total surprise, since their lease was up at the end of the year. While he says the agreement does allow the property owner to do this, he wishes there was more time to say goodbye.

Mom’s has always been a family affair and a showcase for their multi-cultural heritage.

Hosein was born in Jordan, where his mother — who was from Athens, Greece — first met his dad. They all immigrated to the United States, to New York initially, in the 1970s for the economic opportunities.

Hosein attended George Mason University, but opening a restaurant was “my dream,” he says. In 1989, he partnered with his mom, Rahma, and brother to open Mom’s.

“My mom was a really great chef. So, we named it [after her] and have continued calling it that since,” says Hosein, who now owns the restaurant with his wife Manal. Their daughter, Areen, also helps with the restaurant too, including running their Instagram and Facebook accounts.

“If you watched [the movie] ‘Our Big Fat Greek Wedding,’ that’s exactly us,” Areen laughs.

The restaurant’s menu is influenced by Hosein’s upbringing, featuring Greek specialities like spanakopita, and pastitsio (Greek lasagna) as well as traditional Middle Eastern fare like hummus and gyros.

There’s also, of course, pizza and pasta. Hosein notes that many dishes are made from scratch, including the pastitsio and the pizza dough. Hosein says he still cooks at the restaurant almost every day.

“I like to make the sauce,” he says. “It’s tricky. If you miss a little bit with it, it’s no good.”

When asked what dish they’d recommend to new customers, Manal Hosein says “everything.”

John Hosein says what he loves the most about owning a restaurant are the challenges everyday and that he “just loves to see people happy.” While the pandemic, like for so many Arlington restaurants, has been a challenge, cutting hours and other expenses — in combination with a loyal customer base — have kept Mom’s “above water.”

They’ve recently started informing some customers of their closing, leaving a few in tears, says Hosein. He said the family is deeply grateful for the community’s support over the years.

The couple, despite losing their restaurant, is not planning to retire — but they don’t know what comes next.

“I’m still only 58 and we need income,” says Hosein. “We were left in limbo. We don’t know what to do.”

Photo (bottom) courtesy of Mom’s Pizza Restaurant

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Bracket Room, the Clarendon sports bar co-founded by Chris Bukowski of ‘The Bachelor’ franchise fame, has closed — for real this time.

The bar served its last customers on Sunday, we’re told. On Monday, employees could be seen hauling items out of the venue at 1210 N. Garfield Street and loading them into a pickup truck.

Much of the restaurant’s equipment was recently placed on a local auction website.

The bar announced the news on Instagram yesterday, saying that it was unable to renegotiate its current 10-year lease.

With great sadness, Bracket Room in VA is having to close its doors for good. We had a 10 year lease with the building and when renegotiating the terms, we weren’t able to come to a common ground.

We want to thank everyone who has supported us throughout the years, the people who have had many memories at Bracket Room and we will forever be grateful for you all. This parting ways is just as hard on us and it is on you.

We will think about you ALWAYS and hope to see you around the way ❤️ you all were the best. Thank you.

Forever grateful,
Bracket Room Owner & Staff

Bracket Room opened in 2013, seeking to provide a higher-end, “female-friendly” experience with higher-quality food and drink. Over the years it attracted it attracted sizeable gameday and Bachelor-watching crowds, and also the ire of some neighbors who thought it made too much noise.

The bar eventually spawned sister locations at Reagan National Airport and in Bukowski’s hometown of Chicago, the latter of which has since closed.

Last March, as the pandemic got underway, Bracket Room announced it would close in Arlington for good. With little further explanation, it reopened for takeout shortly thereafter and then reopened for dine-in customers as well.

By ARLnow’s count, Bracket Room is the 26th restaurant in Arlington to close since the start of the pandemic.

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At least 25 restaurants have closed in Arlington since the start of the pandemic, nearly one year ago.

The restaurants that have closed their doors run the gamut from local watering holes to workday lunch spots to a neighborhood froyo stop. Many were hit hard by the the loss of business caused by the pandemic and subsequent safety measures, though some might have closed regardless.

The loss of any local business is upsetting, but which of the following closures are you most sad about?

Hannah Foley contributed to this report

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Mi & Yu Noodle Bar at Ballston Quarter is now closed permanently, owner Edward Kim confirms to ARLnow.

The eatery was the first to open at Ballston Quarter’s “Quarter Market” food hall in March 2019. It was the establishment’s only location outside of Baltimore, Maryland.

The reason for the shuttering is simple, Kim says.

“Sales and COVID,” he tells ARLnow in a short phone call. “It’s pretty straight-forward.”

There are no plans to open any additional locations of the raman, noodle, and bao restaurant in Arlington, Kim said.

In general, the Ballston food hall has seen thinning crowds due to the pandemic. That hasn’t stopped a number of high profile openings in recent months, however.

In the fall, sandwich shop Superette opened along with a new pierogi stand in December. In 2021, Quarter Market has also welcomed taco and tequila spot Bartaco and fast casual Indian restaurant Bollywood Bistro Express.

It’s also been tough sledding for others at Ballston Quarter over the last year, including Mi & Yu Noodle Bar. Punch Bowl Social filed for bankruptcy in December and closed its Ballston location on Christmas Eve “until further notice.”

The Regal movie theater at Ballston Quarter remains temporarily closed.

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Meridian Pint Owner Taps Out

After several difficult months for Meridian Pint (6035 Wilson Blvd), owner John Andrade said an opportunity came along to sell the business and he took it.

The bar in Dominion Hills was part of a small, pint-sized franchise when it opened in 2019, but the Columbia Heights location in D.C. closed as part of the move to Arlington. Smoke & Barrel, another Andrade restaurant in Adams Morgan, closed late last year. Brookland Pint in D.C. remains open.

“It is with heavy heart I announce I am no longer the principal owner of Meridian Pint,” Andrade said in a post on Facebook this week. “This past year presented fiscal challenges that were difficult to survive. And although Meridian Pint and its staff received heroic and loyal support from our incredible Arlington neighbors, ultimately, Meridian Pint was simply unprepared financially to keep operating to a level that the community and our amazing staff deserves.”

Andrade has launched a GoFundMe in January to help cover expenses for the staff. The fundraiser ultimately raised $3,560.

“Recently, the opportunity was presented to pass the torch on to an organization better prepared to carry on the legacy of Meridian Pint,” Andrade said. “The decision was tough but obvious. I am pleased to tell you that under new management, Meridian Pint will now begin its next chapter in Arlington, ready to serve you everything you have come to love, only better.”

No information about the new owners was immediately available.

“I hope that you will support this next phase in the story of our neighborhood gathering place along with me,” Andrade said. “You will continue to see me at ‘The Oldest Bar in Dominion Hills’ regularly. Except from now on, I’ll be on the customer side of the bar. It has truly been my greatest pleasure and honor in serving you.”

The run of bad luck for the bar didn’t end with the sale announcement, however.

Early in the morning, the day after the announcement, a burglar reportedly broke into the bar. According to a police report, an unknown suspect forced entry into the business early Wednesday morning, caused damage to the bar and stole a cash box.

Andrade confirmed that it was Dominion Pint that was burglarized, saying that he thinks the break-in was part of a string of burglaries occurring in the area.

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After nearly seven years in South Arlington, the Maserati dealership at 2710 S. Glebe Road has closed its doors.

The dealership — located on a property that had earlier been home to seafood seller M. Slavin & Sons — is currently completely empty, with only Maserati and Alfa Romeo branding and an ironic “Now Open” sign.

The dealership began selling Fiats in 2016 and built a new, expanded facility the following year.

An employee at Maserati of Tysons (8448 Leesburg Pike) confirmed that the Arlington location closed and the Fairfax County location is now the closest Maserati dealer for Arlington residents.

The property, adjacent to I-395, may retain an automotive-related use, however. ARLnow hears that Tesla is considering leasing the building.

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It’s tough to run a restaurant or a fitness studio during the pandemic, but it’s even tougher to run an indoor children’s bounce gym.

Jumping Joeys, which opened at Market Common Clarendon (2800 Clarendon Blvd) just a few months before the pandemic, appears to have closed for good.

An item on the County Board agenda for this weekend recommends that the Board discontinue a daycare permit issued to the business, which allowed it to provide a “Parent’s Night Out” childcare service.

“The operator of this use permit, Jumping Joeys, has closed and is no longer in operation,” the Board report notes. Attempts by ARLnow to reach the owner of the business, which formerly operated out of a more modest space across from Washington-Liberty High School, were unsuccessful.

The company’s website simply says it is “closed until further notice.” A Google listing for a second Jumping Joeys location on W. Broad Street in Falls Church says it is “permanently closed.”

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The doors are closed, the lights are off, and all the interior decorations and furniture are gone: Cosi (1801 N. Lynn Street) in Rosslyn is closed.

The fast-casual restaurant chain build on flatbread sandwiches had several closures — of locations in Crystal City, Virginia Square and Ballston — early last year when the company filed for bankruptcy protection, leaving the Rosslyn location as the last D.C. area location on this side of the Potomac River.

A Cosi employee confirmed that the Rosslyn location was closed, but said a D.C. location would still serve Arlington for catering orders. It’s unclear when exactly the eatery closed, but reviews of the location were still being posted as recently as a month ago.

The Starbucks up the block at 1735 N. Lynn Street, meanwhile, will also close soon. A sign in the window says the location’s last day will be Friday, Jan. 29.

“We would like to thank you for being part of our store community; you are the heart of who we are at Starbucks,” a sign written by the store managers said. “It has been a great pleasure to connect with you every day. We are thankful to have played a role in your daily routine and that you have shared these moments of your life with us.”

An existing, standalone Starbucks at 1501 17th Street N. in Rosslyn will remain open, the sign says.

Restaurants in Rosslyn have been hit hard by the pandemic, which greatly thinned out the previously bountiful lunchtime crowds from the neighborhood’s office buildings and hotels. Up the hill from the Cosi and the closing Starbucks, Tom Yum District and Subway also recently closed.

More than two dozen restaurants have closed in Arlington since the last March, when the first local coronavirus cases were reported.

Hat tip to Kevin C.

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