Arlington, VA

After some setbacks, including minor delays caused by the pandemic, Bob and Edith’s Diner owner Greg Bolton said he’s planning to open his new Lee Highway location (5050 Lee Highway) at the beginning of next month.

Bolton says the pandemic delayed the diner’s opening by, at most, a few days. If everything goes smoothly over the next few weeks, he said, the new location should be open on August 1. The diner will replaces what was once Lee Highway restaurant Linda’s Cafe.

COVID-19 has still impacted the diner — with locations on Columbia Pike and 23rd Street S. in Crystal City, as well as in Huntington and Springfield —  in other ways. Bob and Edith’s has had to reduce its reliance on in-person dining and boost its pick up and delivery business.

“When coronavirus hit, Bob & Edith’s made a quick and crucial pivot to implement new technology, update packaging to better accommodate pickup and delivery, create a digital-friendly menu and utilize third-party delivery apps,” a PR rep said. “Bob & Edith’s created their own personalized app through ChowNow, an online food ordering service that allows the diner to keep menu prices the same as dine-in prices and keep 100% of the proceeds.”

“Today, they are operating at 50% dine-in sales and 50% off-premise sales, a true transformation compared to just one year ago,” the rep said.

Bolton said the diners have had to adapt to required distances between staff and customers — not easy for small spaces.

“Because of social distancing, we can’t use the counter,” Bolton noted. Despite that, Bolton says in-house dining has been growing every day.

“Everything has changed,” Bolton said. “Hopefully it goes back to somewhat normal. Everyone will move forward and we’ll do whatever we have to. But it may never go back to the same. We may have to keep six feet apart. Things have changed, it’s going to be harder to run a business.”

Coronavirus hasn’t been the only challenge for the diner in recent months. Bolton said the heatwave has stunted what had been burgeoning outdoor dining demand. Diner food and hot weather “don’t really mix,”  he said, but the restaurant chain is hoping to keep a long-term focus on outdoor dining even after the pandemic recedes.

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Despite everything, Sandra Wolter is hoping to have a coffee shop up and running in the former Java Shack space by Labor Day (Sept. 7).

It’s been a long few months for Sweet Science Coffee, which Wolter co-owns. The local coffee brand launched its own location in D.C. after years in shared spaces just months before the pandemic hit the region. The hopes were to get the location up and running by March, but even the hoped-for September opening is tentative.

“It’s hard to say with everything going on,” Wolter said. “Ideally shooting for Labor Day weekend, roughly two months from now. The groundwork is laid so I carefully say COVID-willing, if nothing happens, we should be able to make that timeline.”

The permitting has taken about 4.5 months, Wolter said, though she’s unsure how much of that is due to COVID-19 and how much of that is the process.

“We’ve applied for permits to upgrade the space,” Wolter said. “We just got those permits last week, so we can move forward with plumbing and electrical work. It’s an old building, so there’s a lot to be done.”

Sweet Science Coffee has also applied for a license to serve wine. The location, at 2507 Franklin Road near Courthouse, has an outdoor area that Wolter is hopeful can be turned into an outdoor patio. The cafe could also potentially focus more on home delivery of items and pre-orders for popular pastries, if in-person business is light.

Wolter said she is lucky that the former Java Shack space won’t have to undergo too many adjustments, with takeout coffee already planned before the pandemic.

“Coffee is a grab-and-go thing early in the mornings, so that works in everyone’s favor,” Wolter said.

What will be put on the back burner, Wolter said, are plans to offer classes for home coffee brewing and other coffee-related events. Those sorts of classes often require close contact and sharing of objects that just don’t work amid a pandemic.

“It’s a weird mixture between excitement and fear,” Wolter said of the opening. “With everything that’s happened… we’re excited to be moving forward. A lot of people in Arlington really like the space and would like it to be a coffee shop again. We’re happy to be able to get back to that and do something. But as a business owner you always crunch the numbers — like what we’re able to do.”

Photo via Sweet Science Coffee/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Blind Triplets Have Coronavirus — “The blind Virginia triplets who defied the odds and made history when they became Eagle Scouts in 2017 are facing another challenge. All three young men have now been diagnosed with COVID-19 and their father is praying they continue to beat the odds.” [WUSA 9]

Wakefield Seniors to Get Yard Signs, Too — “Through donations from teachers, alumni, and community members, every senior gets a yard sign!” [Twitter]

New Food Drop-off Boxes in Ballston — “FLARE, an electric shuttle service, has partnered with the Ballston Business Improvement District to collect and deliver food donations for the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) every Friday beginning on April 24.” [Press Release]

CPRO Hosting Biz Listening Session This AM — “Our speakers will discuss the challenges local small businesses are facing as well as the opportunities that have arisen and the resources available to assist our business community, including financial assistance.” [Zoom]

Civ Fed Backs Crystal City Growth Plan — “Delegates to the Arlington County Civic Federation on April 21 agreed to support efforts by three civic associations adjacent to Amazon’s new HQ2 in providing a road map for handling growth in the corridor. The resolution, which garnered support from more than 80 percent of voting delegates during an online meeting, puts the Civic Federation behind the ‘Livability 22202’ action plan.” [InsideNova]

Beyer Wants Help for State, Local Gov’ts — “Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), during House Floor debate on the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, urged his colleagues to send urgently-needed federal aid to state and local governments on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.” [Press Release, Twitter]

Clarendon Cafe Delivers Coffee to First Responders — “A Turkish small business owner is giving free coffee to health care workers and first responders fighting the coronavirus in the US state of Virginia. East West Coffee Wine, which has been opened in Arlington County since 2017, says it is now time to give back to those ‘who are tirelessly working to protect us.'” [Anadolu Agency]

Video: Talking Small Biz with Scott Parker — “ARLnow talked with Scott Parker — of Don Tito, BASH Boxing, Bearded Goat Barber and other local businesses — about the state of local business in Arlington during the coronavirus pandemic.” [Facebook]

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A new high-end coffee shop is open in Arlington.

For Five Coffee Roasters opened yesterday in Courthouse, at 2311 Wilson Blvd. With every order, the cafe will serve a Nutella-stuffed cookie at no charge for the next three months, according to the owner.

“[Giving the cookies out] is us saying thank you, and we’re happy to serve you,” the owner, Stefanos Vouvoudakis said. “And giving back to the customer.”

The menu includes sandwiches and breakfast items, but Vouvoudakis is especially proud of the pastry selection at For Five, calling it “second to none.” The cafe serves a variety of cookies, including a “fruity pebbles” cookie with cream cheese frosting, plus red velvet, triple chocolate chip, and apple crumb pie filling cookies.

The coffee menu includes pour-over and cold brew options, and an espresso bar. Vouvoudakis’ favorite drink is the latte, for its “perfect balance between the milk and espresso.”

This is the second D.C. area location for the small, New York City-based chain. It has an existing location in Alexandria and others in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Vouvoudakis says For Five is also planning to open a location in Tysons within the next three to four months.

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Like its sister location in Alexandria, the Arlington branch of Sugar Shack Donuts is leaving the chain, rebranding and adding an expanded menu.

In a sign posted in the window of the donut shop at 1014 S. Glebe Road, the shop’s owners said the new restaurant will be a bakery, cafe and coffee shop called Elizabeth’s Counter. It will specialize in “delicious, sustainable and plant-based foods.”

Elizabeth’s Counter will continue to serve donuts but will add more to the menu, like plant-based burgers and bowls.

The new cafe is named after Elizabeth Gregory, reputed to be the first person to make a donut. Gregory made the donut for her son Captain Hanson Gregory, for whom the Captain Gregory’s speakeasy at the Old Town Alexandria Elizabeth’s Table (formerly Sugar Shack) is named.

“To honor that culinary event and the other food she packed for her son’s sea voyages, we have chosen her as the namesake for our new venture,” the sign said.

The Alexandria location is already in transition, and staff at the Columbia Pike location said they expect to start seeing changes gradually over the next couple weeks, with new items and updated decor. The sign said the first items will likely be the new bakery offerings, moving up to things like roasted brussels sprouts later.

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The former Starbucks space at Pentagon Row will soon be serving coffee once again.

The shopping center’s owner announced today that Origin Coffee Lab and Kitchen will be coming to the 2,000 square foot space between Basic Burger and Lebanese Taverna. It’s expected to open this summer.

The new cafe will roast its own coffee in-house.

“Origin will have a glass enclosed roastery inside the restaurant to fully display the entire roasting process to customers,” a press release explained. “The store will have 10 different origins of coffee to choose from, as well as five to six methods of brewing the beans with an Origin’s skilled baristas explaining the entire process while making a customer’s cup of coffee.”

The cafe will also serve food. The initial menu includes breakfast foods like eggs, pancakes, benedicts and avocado toasts, and “noon and night” foods like salads, sandwiches, sliders and dinner entrees.

It appears to be the cafe’s first location.

More from a press release:

Federal Realty Investment Trust (NYSE:FRT) announced today that a new full service coffee roasting house, Origin Coffee Lab & Kitchen (Origin), will join Pentagon Row in the summer 2020. Origin will feature an in-house coffee roasting experience along with a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu featuring healthy options. Located at 1101 S Joyce Street, the 2,000-square-foot eatery will be located between Basic Burger and Lebanese Taverna.

“Our concept is to offer a freshly roasted, excellent cup of coffee and amazing food all in one place,” said Andy Mekonnen, Owner. “More often than not, places with excellent food don’t have good coffee and vice versa so our goal from the on-set was to break that cycle.”

To achieve this unique concept, Origin will have a glass enclosed roastery inside the restaurant to fully display the entire roasting process to customers. The store will have 10 different origins of coffee to choose from, as well as five to six methods of brewing the beans with an Origin’s skilled baristas explaining the entire process while making a customer’s cup of coffee.

Furthermore, the beans will be directly sourced from farms to help empower farmers and eliminate middlemen. The engagement between customers, baristas, the store and farmers will help maintain the qualities that Origin Coffee Lab & Kitchen strives to achieve in their specialty shop as well as help to improve the infrastructure in and around the farms.

“Federal Realty is always on the search for exclusive brands to complement our merchant mix at Pentagon Row. We’re excited to have Origin open its first DC-area shop with us, joining the many other unique retail and restaurant concepts in the neighborhood,” said Emily Gagliardi, Director of Leasing at Federal Realty. “We are confident Origin will be right at home in Pentagon Row, providing the Arlington community with a new coffee house and dining destination.”

In addition to the coffee and dining options, Origin will also be hosting in house cupping events to allow customers to explore the coffee roasting process more in depth as well as barista trainings with various courses offered.

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Compass Coffee has opened in Ballston.

The cafe at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street opened over the weekend, an employee told us, after more than a year of anticipation. It’s located at 4100 Wilson Blvd, on the ground floor of the Origin apartment building that was built as part of the recent renovations to what is now Ballston Quarter mall.

To celebrate the opening, Compass will be offering a “free coffee day” tomorrow, from 6 a.m.-7 p.m., according to a mall spokesman. Customers will be able to receive a drink of their choice during that time.

The new cafe will offer the same drink selection as other Compass Coffee locations — including the Rosslyn location at 1201 Wilson Blvd that opened in 2018 — but its food menu will vary slightly, ARLnow previously reported. Beyond standard coffee shop staples, drink offerings include nitro cold brew coffee (also available in a growler), apple cider, matcha latte, maple latte, and nutella mocha.

Ashley Hopko contributed to this report

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Compass Coffee’s new Ballston location will be opening in mid-February, a company rep tells ARLnow.

Work is nearly complete on the interior of the space at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street, on the ground floor of the Origin apartment building that was built as part of the recent renovations to what is now Ballston Quarter mall.

The new cafe will offer the same drink selection as other Compass Coffee locations — including the Rosslyn location at 1201 Wilson Blvd that opened in 2018 — but its food menu will vary slightly depending on the needs of the Ballston neighborhood, Stephanie Junkin, the manager of the new location, said. Customer favorites such as cold brew coffee and croissants will be offered in Ballston.

The cafe will host a “Free Coffee Day” on or soon after the day of its opening. Customers will be able to receive a drink of their choice at no charge on this day, Junkin said.

Compass is currently in the process of hiring baristas for the Ballston location.

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Yesterday we told you about a new Clarendon cafe called This is Fine Coffee, but more importantly we told you about one of their signature drinks: an espresso, orange juice and caramel concoction called the Bumble Coffee.

It’s apparently popular in Eastern Europe, and fairly rare here stateside.

The immediate reaction in our office was that of horror upon hearing about an espresso drink made with OJ. But reporter Vernon Miles now swears by it, so much so that as this post is being written he’s en route to the office with several Bumble Coffees for a tasting by now-intrigued colleagues.

We were wondering how other Arlingtonians felt about this. Would you try a Bumble?

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Okay, hear me out: orange juice, espresso and a dash of caramel over ice.

Reactions in the ARLnow office were mostly negative, but the reporter who actually tasted it at the new This is Fine Coffee in Clarendon now swears by it.

The small coffee shop — which replaced Blümen Cafe at 2607 Wilson Blvd. — had its soft opening today, but co-owners Jason Blevins and Anna Tsybko said they’ve already started seeing more customers than they were expecting.

Blevins chalks some of that up to his Java Shack background: he worked at Java Shack from 2012 to 2014, before the local coffee shop was taken over by Commonwealth Joe and ultimately closed last year. Blevins said he wanted This is Fine Coffee to have a laid-back vibe similar to Java Shack and to serve as a local gathering place and an exhibition space for artists, some of whom already have art on display in the cafe.

Many of the customers at This is Fine Coffee are former Java Shack regulars, Blevins said, at which point two of the customers nodded in confirmation.

The signature drink at This is Fine Coffee is bumble coffee, the aforementioned orange juice/espresso/caramel mix. This is Fine Coffee’s owners said it’s a popular drink in Russia and Ukraine, where Tsybko is from and where Blevins spent time working on a documentary.

The contents can sound off-putting, so Tsybko says she sometimes makes it for friends and gets them to try it before saying what’s in it. But Tsybko and Blevins fell in love with the drink there and decided to bring it back home to Arlington.

While it sometimes feels like you can’t shake a stick along Wilson Blvd without hitting a dozen coffee shops, Tsybko and Blevins said the intensely personal feeling of This is Fine Coffee sets it apart.

“Many of the decorations here are from our apartment,” Tsybko said.

“We’re not a chain, or aspiring to be a chain,” Blevins said.

The pair said the name is an allusion to the decidedly unpretentious atmosphere of the cafe. Tsybko said it was sort of a self-aware reflection of the way people talk about where they want to meet and get coffee.

While a lot of new coffee shops are very into the science and classification of coffee and the idea of coffee mixing as an art form, Blevins said the name is a throwback to coffee shops as a community-oriented place where people can pull up a laptop and work or meet up with friends.

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(Updated at 5:45 p.m.) A new cafe and bar is now open in Clarendon.

East West Coffee and Wine” opened last week at 3101 Wilson Blvd, serving tapas, coffee, wine, and more. It joins a bevy of other coffee shops — including chain locations and indie cafes — in the Clarendon area.

According to permits, East West has a seating capacity of up to 65 inside. In warmer months, the restaurant will have seating for up to 34 guests outside.

“I’m excited to see returning customers already, and some people who showed up on Monday and Tuesday were already back on Wednesday,” owner Mehmet Coskun tells ARLnow.

Coffee selections include nitro cold brews, espresso drinks including cortados, and more. Its food menu features small-plate tapas, include muhammara, which Coskun describes as hot pepper dip made from “feta cheese, walnuts, red peppers, and garlic.” The cafe also offers a brunch menu available only on weekend mornings.

It’s the second location for East West. The first location, formerly known as Central Coffee Bar, opened two years ago in Rosslyn (1901 N. Moore Street). It rebranded recently as “East West Coffee and Wine” to match the new location.

Plans are already in the works for a third East West location, which is listed as “Coming Soon” to Tysons.

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