Frozen yogurt fans who frequent the Menchie’s at Penrose Square will now have to go cold turkey.
The company closed its store at 2405 Columbia Pike on New Year’s Eve, according to a Menchie’s representative. The froyo shop opened roughly four years ago.
“We closed the location because it simply wasn’t making any money,” said company representative Camey Turpin. Menchie’s has no plans to open another location in the area anytime soon. The closest Menchie’s store is along U Street in Northwest D.C.
It wasn’t immediately clear what might replace the business. Arlington County has not recently issued any building permits for that address.
Photos by Dave Emke
Shawafel, a fast-casual restaurant near Courthouse, quietly closed earlier this fall after about a year in business.
The eatery opened at 1910 Wilson Blvd in September 2015, offering “an ‘Americanized’ twist to traditional Lebanese cuisine.”
According to Yelp users, it closed in October.
There was no announcement on the restaurant’s Facebook page; its phone number has since been disconnected. The original Shawafel on H Street NE in D.C. appears to still be open.
Though such restaurants often appeal to a lunchtime crowd, the Arlington Shawafel was located on a big hill between the employment centers of Rosslyn and Courthouse.
Hat tip to Christopher Cahill
Struggling fast-casual restaurant chain Noodles & Co. has closed its location at the Pentagon Row shopping center (1201 S. Joyce Street).
The eatery closed last month after 14 years in business. The restaurant’s exterior sign has since been removed and its interior has been largely cleared out.
A sign on the front door directs customers to the Noodles & Co. location at 2011 Crystal Drive in Crystal City.
House of Steep, a tea house and “foot sanctuary” in Cherrydale, is closing after four years in business.
The well-reviewed business, at 3800 Lee Highway, is based around a number of relaxing offerings: loose leaf tea, foot soaks, massages and reflexology.
In an email to customers Friday evening, owner Lyndsey DePalma suggested that the store was not sufficiently profitable to justify remaining in business.
“The rewards are wonderful but unfortunately are not enough,” she wrote. The store is set to close on Friday, Dec. 30.
The full letter is below.
To our beautiful, loyal customers –
A deep, Steep thank you for supporting us over the past four years in our vision to spread peace and offer gentle reminders of health and wholeness to our community. Our mission has been successful and the TEAm is celebrating. The rewards are wonderful but unfortunately are not enough to continue on without innovation, which is more than our team has the capacity to do at this time. So effective December 30, 2016, we will lovingly serve our last cup of tea in our retail space.
Steep is a great company with great reviews and a loyal customer base. It’s quite difficult for small retail businesses to succeed in dynamic markets with growing real estate and workforce costs. A huge thank you for helping us defy significant odds in the start-up world and for taking the time to cheer us on along the way. Thank you for becoming our friends and for stopping in to catch up over a comfortable cup. The business has served many and created so many memories with couples first dates, moms spending cherished time with their children (or without), and so many people pausing to take advantage of the moment. Keep doing this!
A sincere thanks to the staff, as well. I don’t know of a more loved business in this area, and this is all thanks to the staff, especially Michael and his leaders who proudly served the mission and set great examples for the staff.
We wanted to give a month to anyone holding gift cards to be able to redeem for goods and services with ease (our reservation policy for foot massage/reflexology is still required). While we will serve our last cup of tea at the end of the month, a few staff members will continue to serve our wholesale accounts, as well as our online store, so you may continue to source our delicious, health-focused tea blends after we close the storefront. And we’ll continue to serve in the hearts and memories of those who appreciated us for the gentle, loving space we provided for so many years. All good things live on and we believe that to be true of Steep.
We hope you’ll come in for one last foot soak, hug, and/or a cup of healthy goodness to help lift your day. You’ve certainly lifted ours over the years.
Steeped in gratitude,
Lyndsey (and the Steep TEAm)
The Lee-Lex Service Center, a well-reviewed, long-time automotive business at the corner of Lee Highway and N. Lexington Street, has closed.
Lee-Lex’s website, which has remained largely unchanged for the past 12 years, says that the service center has “been a good neighbor in our Arlington community since 1978 and consistently receive[d] excellent ratings by consumer magazines.”
The service center was open for part of last week but closed just before Thanksgiving. This morning the shop’s technicians were clearing out their belongings and preparing to move to nearby service centers; signs were being posted on the windows, to let customers know who moved where.
Sources tell ARLnow.com that the property is being purchased by Southland Corporation, the parent company of 7-Eleven. It could not be immediately confirmed that a 7-Eleven store would be replacing the service center.
Photo (top) via Google Maps
There are a number of factors potentially at play: oversaturation of restaurants, a culling of less-compelling or outdated restaurant concepts, high rent, a national “restaurant recession” and even perhaps a local downturn in “disposable income” spending due to election-related anxiety.
There’s another intriguing theory that was relayed to us by our wine and beer columnist, Arash Tafakor, of Dominion Wine and Beer in Falls Church. Could it be that Uber and Lyft are hurting Arlington’s restaurant business by making it easier to head into D.C. for a night out?
Think of your own behavior: do you find yourself heading into the District to try new restaurants when you might have just stayed in Arlington before, had it not been for ride hailing services making it easy and relatively inexpensive to get into the city?
Let’s test the theory and see how many people would agree with that last question.
(Updated at 4:40 p.m.) Tazza Kitchen, which served cuisine inspired by the Mediterranean coast and Baja California, has closed at the Arlington Ridge Shopping Center.
“It was becoming increasingly difficult to support a single location in the D.C. market, and our future growth plan does not include that area,” Tazza Kitchen co-founder John Haggai told ARLnow.com via email late Friday afternoon. “So prior to rolling out several new initiatives and opening new locations in 2017, we made the difficult decision to close Arlington Ridge.”
Tazza Kitchen has five existing locations in the Richmond area and in North and South Carolina.
Another Clarendon restaurant has bit the dust.
Amsterdam Falafelshop has closed its location at 3024 Wilson Blvd permanently, an employee confirmed. Workers were clearing out remaining items from the eatery today.
The restaurant first opened two years ago, serving create-your-own falafel sandwiches and bowls for lunch, dinner and late night customers. It’s at least the eighth restaurant to close this year in Clarendon alone and is one of more than two dozen restaurant closures throughout Arlington.
Amsterdam Falafelshop has three remaining locations in the District, according to the company’s website.
Hat tip to @hitmanBW
Medi, a fast-casual restaurant offering Mediterranean pitas, salads and rice bowls, has closed.
The restaurant, at 4037 Campbell Avenue in Shirlington, opened in 2012. It touted a variety of unique flavors and healthy food options, all customizable in a Chipotle-like counter service format.
A note on the door of the restaurant suggests that lease renewal negotiations with landlord Federal Realty Investment Trust failed and that another Medi location may eventually open elsewhere.
“We’ve loved making family and friends with all of you over the past 4 1/2 year, but as of October 30, Medi is closing its doors. Our lease will not be renewed,” the sign says. “Thank you so much for all your support… Our team will focus on our full service restaurant Delia’s as it expands. As well as our next Medi location.”
Arlington Featured on MTP — Arlington County was featured in a Meet the Press segment on Sunday, comparing the level of support for Hillary Clinton here to support for Donald Trump in a rural Ohio county. The show interviewed residents in the Clarendon area. [NBC News]
Surge in Registration, Absentee Voting — Officials are anticipating about 43,000 absentee ballots in Arlington this year, up 50 percent compared to the last presidential election in 2012. Throughout the region and the state, absentee voting is on the rise, which is generally good news for Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, a surge in last-minute voter registrations yesterday and a statewide software slowdown has the county advising that it could take several days to process all of the applications. [Washington Post, WTOP, WTOP]
Vehicle Decal Design Contest Starts — The Treasurer’s Office Decal Design Competition is back for another year. Local high school students will compete to design the next Arlington County vehicle decal, which will appear on some 160,000 vehicles in the county. The submission deadline is Nov. 28. [Arlington County]
Pike Recycling Center May Move — Next month the Arlington County Board is expected to consider whether to relocate the recycling facility at the corner of Columbia Pike and Four Mile Run Drive to the Arlington Trades Center in Shirlington. County officials want to lower the level of illegal dumping that’s currently taking place. [InsideNova]
Historic Designation for Ballston Cemetery? — On Wednesday night Arlington’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board will discuss the merits of a proposed local historic district designation for the Ball cemetery in Ballston. The cemetery is currently slated to be relocated to make way for the redevelopment of a church. [Preservation Arlington]
Last Day at Fuego Cocina — Fuego Cocina y Tequileria in Clarendon served its final meals and margaritas Sunday. “We’re turning the light off now. Farewell,” the restaurant said via Twitter. [Twitter, Twitter]
Luna Grill and Diner (4024 Campbell Ave) in Shirlington has been closed since last week, but there are no signs or announcements explaining the closure.
The restaurant remained closed during lunchtime today. Chairs were still placed atop tables and nothing looked amiss, save the fact that it wasn’t open as usual.
There were no signs in the window, nor recent social media posts on the restaurant’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The Luna Grill website has a simple one-sentence line of text — “This site has been suspended” — and nothing else. The diner’s phone line has apparently been turned off.
Unconfirmed rumors suggest that Luna Grill was sold — it has been offered for sale, as we’ve previously reported — and that it would reopen later this year with a new owner.
“Luna is excited to have renowned Chef Scott Sunshine on board!” the post says. “Join Chef Scott Sunshine for a look at some of our new dishes: Roasted Duck Eggrolls, Watermelon Soup, Chard and Kale Caesar Salad, Crispy Red Curry Shrimp Wrap and Seared Scallop Pappardelle Pasta. Coming soon, [a] grand reopening with completely new exciting menu!”
Several indicators of the pace of restaurant openings in Arlington are pointing down this year.
While some new restaurants and bars are on the way, there have been more closings than openings this year, even while the overall Arlington population rises. (By our count: 22 openings and 24 closings, with many of the openings having been for chain restaurants with more than three locations.)
Though it’s not a precise measurement, in years past ARLnow.com has consistently published around 90 articles per year about new restaurants. This year, we’re on pace to publish 72 articles, a decrease of 20 percent.
Meanwhile, Virginia ABC permit applications are down, indicating that the pipeline of new restaurants may also be drying up.
The number of pending permit applications for businesses seeking beer, wine and liquor licenses usually hovers around 20. Currently, it’s at 13, including a number of wholesalers, a few existing restaurants and seven new restaurants that we’ve already reported on.
There’s talk of a national restaurant recession, but some factors particular to Arlington appear to be in play. For one, it follows years of net restaurant growth in the county. For another, a number of the restaurants that closed this year in Arlington were well regarded by others in the industry and not typical of other failed businesses.
“I think the closings this year have surprised everyone and some of them are concepts that people thought were pretty well done,” one restaurant industry insider told ARLnow.com. “Maybe the bubble has burst.”
While we’ve previously reported rumblings from restaurant owners that the Clarendon market in particular was too crowded with restaurants, this insider did not agree that the closings would necessarily be a good thing for the remaining restaurants.
“I’ve always thought it’s better to have a bustling industry where a lot of people are opening and can feed off being known as being in a good restaurant area,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s a good thing to see all of your competitors and everyone around you closing down.”
With continued growth in other parts of Northern Virginia, like Tysons and Loudoun County, it might be that Arlington is losing its status as a dining destination. While the weekend bar scene in Clarendon remains strong, pulling in customers from around the area, Arlington’s restaurants apparently aren’t having such success.
Or perhaps, some speculate, the continued high cost of living has been pushing out the 20-somethings who are key restaurant customers, leaving older residents with children who go out to eat more sparingly.
Either way, 2016 will be known as a bloody year for the local restaurant biz.
“It’s unbelievable how many places have closed,” said the insider.
Eight months after opening, Park Lane Tavern (3227 Washington Blvd) in Clarendon has closed.
The European-inspired pub, which offered reasonably-priced pan-Euro cuisine and a sizable collection of beers and whiskeys from across the pond, opened in February in a location not far from the Clarendon Metro but well off the beaten path. It was the company’s third Park Lane Tavern, with existing locations in Fredericksburg and Hampton, Va.
While a sign on the door today suggested the closure was temporary, equipment could be seen being hauled out of the restaurant this morning. An employee who answered the phone confirmed that the closure was permanent.
The rumors were true, unfortunately: Fuego Cocina y Tequileria in Clarendon is closing.
The restaurant confirmed in a press release this evening that its last day will be Sunday, Oct. 16. Fuego opened four years ago, in October 2012, at the corner of Clarendon Blvd and N. Fillmore Street.
“Even great-tasting restaurants battle tough odds, but we cannot thank our devotees enough who were a constant support and presence at our bar and in our dining room,” chef and co-owner Jeff Tunks said in a statement.
There was no notice of a closing in the windows and nothing posted on the restaurant’s social media accounts, but the doors were locked and the phone disconnected throughout the day today. Numerous boxes littered the restaurant’s interior. So far, however, there has been no confirmation that it is permanently closed.”
“[Spice] is a favorite for my coworkers and me,” one regular customer told ARLnow.com. “Do you know if it’s officially closed? Too bad, if so! It was a great place.”
This has been a turbulent year for Clarendon restaurants, with at least a half dozen — including local staples Hard Times Cafe and Boulevard Woodgrill — closing since the end of April. At the same time, however, there are a number of new restaurants and bars opening — like Ambar and Wilson Hardware.
The full press release about Fuego’s closing, after the jump.
Garvey to Hold Book Discussion — Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey is launching a series of community book discussions on various topics. Tonight Garvey and School Board Chair Nancy Van Doren will discuss the best-selling book “Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School.” The discussion will take place at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) from 7:30-9 p.m. [Facebook]
Beer Store, TechShop Collaborate for New Kegerator — Crystal City Wine Shop (220 20th Street S.) has teamed up with nearby TechShop to create a new kegerator. The custom-modified refrigerator allows the store to offer varieties of craft beer that aren’t available in bottles or cans. Customers can take the beer home in fillable cans known as crowlers. [Washington Business Journal]
Cosi Files for Bankruptcy — The Cosi chain of sandwich and salad restaurants has filed for bankruptcy and closed 40 percent of its locations. Among the closed stores: the Cosi in Courthouse. A rep for the company told us yesterday: “The decision to close this restaurant was based on its financial performance and market density. At this time, we do not have any plans to reopen this restaurant.” [Nation’s Restaurant News]
Flash Flood Watch Continues — Forecasters are expecting several more inches of rain to fall between now and Saturday. The potential for flash flooding along streams and low-lying areas remains and a Flash Flood Watch is still in effect. [Twitter, Twitter]