Caffe Aficionado in Rosslyn (1919 N. Lynn Street) is closed following a police raid this morning.
Police say the cafe’s owner, Adiam Berhane, was involved in a scheme to profit from cloned credit cards. She and her business partner, Clark Donat, were both arrested and charged with money laundering and conspiracy to commit credit card fraud.
From an Arlington County Police Department press release:
Following a joint investigation by local, state and federal partners, two suspects involved in a large-scale credit card cloning fraud have been identified and taken into custody. Adiam Berhane, 44, of Arlington VA and Clark Donat, 44, of Arlington VA have been arrested and charged with money laundering and two counts of conspiracy to commit credit card fraud. Both suspects are being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility. Additional charges are pending.
In November 2015, a victim with no known ties to Arlington County reported numerous attempted credit card transactions in the County. Law enforcement began an investigation into possible credit card cloning and through investigative leads, Adiam Berhane was identified as a possible suspect. Further investigation revealed that Berhane’s coffee shop, Caffé Aficionado located at 1919 N. Lynn Street, redeemed hundreds of thousands of dollars in pre-payable gift cards. It is believed that these gift cards were purchased using cloned credit cards.
The investigation into the activities of Berhane and Donat are ongoing. Anyone with information about these incidents or who believes they may be a victim of this fraud is asked to contact the Arlington County Financial Crimes Unit by email at [email protected]
. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).
The arrests of Berhane and Donat are the direct result of outstanding police work and the leveraging of resources during the joint investigation by the Arlington County Police Department, the United States Secret Service National Capitol Region Fraud Task Force, Metropolitan Police Department, Montgomery County Police Department, Maryland National Capital Park Police Montgomery County Division, City of Bowie Police Department, the Commonwealth of Virginia Office of the Attorney General, in conjunction with the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and with assistance from various financial institutions and retailers.
Police also executed a search warrant this morning at a residence at the high-end Gaslight Square apartments in Rosslyn (1700 Clarendon Blvd), hauling out boxes of evidence and at least computer.
Update at 1:50 p.m. — A reader points out that it appears Berhane was previously convicted of credit card fraud in New York City. Police tell ARLnow.com that Berhane has used numerous aliases in the past, including Carole Jones, Deborah Hyman and Adiam Testamichael.
Update at 3:15 p.m. — An individual who met an ARLnow.com employee at Caffe Aficionado, while our office was in Rosslyn, was apparently a victim of the fraud. The individual, who did not want her name used, sent an email to our employee a few days after the meeting in 2014, warning that her credit card information might have been stolen from the cafe. Her credit card had been used to buy three $500 Macy’s gift cards. The incident was reported to police.
Photos (top) by Samantha Moore
A new non-Starbucks coffee shop has opened in Ballston.
Rock ‘N’ Joe Coffee Bar held a ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning at 4401 Wilson Blvd, Ste. 103, its first Arlington location and the first of six planned for the D.C. area.
Nearly two dozen people were at the opening, taking advantage of a mug giveaway for the first 250 customers and free coffee all day today (Wednesday). In keeping with the cafe’s rock ‘n’ roll theme, there was also live music.
Prices range from $1.95 to $3.75 for coffee, $3.50 to 4.95 for a latte and are as high as $5.50 for “artisan” drinks like a Raspberry Cookie Crumble coffee. Tea, sandwiches, wraps, breakfast foods, salads and pastries are also offered.
More about Rock ‘N’ Joe and its opening, from a press release:
After the New Jersey-based Rock ‘N’ Joe Coffee Bar franchise was bought by Pittsburgh-based franchisor Ablak Holdings last year, the ‘third-wave’ coffee bar which boasts award-winning coffee and artisan coffee drinks in a relaxed, hip environment, will mark its national expansion Wednesday in Ballston’s busy Wilson Boulevard strip. Five more stores are to open in the D.C. metro area within the next few years.
“People’s desire for that perfect cup of coffee, shot of espresso, or specialty drink isn’t slowing down. What’s been missing is the third-wave coffee-making experience, where baristas showcase the art form of artisan beverage-making,” said Varol Ablak, president and CEO of Ablak Holdings. “Rock ‘N’ Joe’s provides entrepreneurship opportunities for baristas who want to do what they love – work with one of the best roasters in the world, and achieve the financial success that is the hallmark of all of our franchisees.”
From bean to roast and brew, Rock ‘N’ Joe Coffee Bar offers signature blends of coffee with smooth taste, providing an alternative to specialty chains known for the powerful, burnt taste of their brews. This quality has earned Rock ‘N’ Joe accolades from customers and recognition from industry experts including the Specialty Coffee Association of America “Golden Cup” Award, and New Jersey Monthly Magazine’s “Best Coffeehouses North.” The roaster, Dillanos, has received accolades including “Best Roaster in North America,” Roast Magazine.
Franchise owner Talha Sarac, the CEO of Ideal Development, invested in a multi-unit agreement to open five stores in the D.C. metro area, with potential to expand beyond that in the market. The first stores, to be managed by Operating Partner Alex Andrade, will be developed within the next two or three years.
“I’m a coffee snob,” Sarac said. “The coffee is really the best I’ve tasted. And I like the concept of a high-quality coffee shop that offers people a decent alternative to the other big coffee shop companies. Rock ‘N’ Joe is different and there’s a huge demand for such an alternative in this market. I see what people are looking for and I know the neighborhood coffee shop atmosphere with really good coffee will appeal to them.”
Rock ‘N’ Joe’s award-winning, Seattle-based roaster sources coffees from East Africa, Central and South America, and the South Pacific. Dillanos has established strong relationships with partners at origin to ensure the consistency of its supply chain. The “cupping” team spends countless hours verifying quality and profile to ensure that each cup meets a rigorous standard. A “marriage” of age-old roasting techniques combines with modern drum roasters to fully develop each bean.
“Much like the art form of the music playing in the backdrop of each Rock ‘N’ Joe Coffee Bar, the craft of beverage-making is an art form performed by every barista,” said Sarac.
ABOUT ROCK ‘N’ JOE:
Rock ‘N’ Joe Coffee Bar is all about creative excellence. Taste the award-winning and proprietary coffee masterfully blended by one of North America’s premier coffee roasters. Savor the chef-select tastes of our pastries and food while enjoying rock ‘n’ roll music. For people with a passion for great proprietary coffee blends, food, specialty drinks and rock ‘n’ roll music, Rock ‘N’ Joe Coffee Bar is the hippest hangout in town.
Photos by Samantha Moore
(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) Blumen Cafe, a new independent coffee, tea and pastry shop in the Clarendon-Courthouse area, has opened for business in the former CD Cellar space (2607 Wilson Blvd).
The cafe has quietly opened this week — customers are discovering it by walking by — ahead of a planned grand opening event on Saturday, Oct. 29.
Blumen Cafe reflects European and Mediterranean influences. It serves Illy coffee and espresso, from Italy, and offers 27 different types of teas, imported from Germany. Half of its pastries — cakes, baklava, etc. — are homemade from scratch, we’re told.
Owner Andira Jabbari says she started the first Blumen Cafe in Germany, after graduating from a university there, before selling it and moving to Doha, Qatar, where she started a tea shop. Jabbari moved here last year and lives in Courthouse.
The cafe is a family affair — staffed by Jabbari and her daughters. Jabbari’s brother was in the cafe this afternoon, helping out.
Asked about competition from Starbucks, Jabbari brushed it off and said the quality of her offerings will stand out. The relaxed, airy atmosphere — including a large accordion-style door up front that remains open during nice weather — will also provide a welcome alternative to the green-logoed coffee giant, she said.
Blumen Cafe is currently open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Located at 520 12th Street S., near the new Whole Foods, Commonwealth Joe offers hot and cold coffee and espresso drinks, plus baked goods and bags of their own signature roasted coffees. The star of the menu, however, is the five varieties of Commonwealth Joe’s smooth, creamy nitro cold brew coffee which are available on tap.
Commonwealth Joe offers a homey, airy space for the usual legion of laptop tappers to camp out in while sipping their coffee. Wifi is available.
Over the next week Commonwealth Joe will be operating under reduced hours — opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 5 p.m. on weekdays and 3 p.m. on weekends. The hours will be expanded after employee training wraps up.
This is Commonwealth Joe’s first branded cafe, although the company — founded by four friends in 2012 — also operates the Java Shack in Courthouse. On 12th Street S. Commonwealth Joe will face competition from a familiar foe: Starbucks, which opened a block away earlier this summer.
New Invasive Species Found in Arlington — A county contractor has found Wavyleaf Basketgrass, a particularly prolific invasive species, in Donaldson Run Park. The plant was removed but the county is now on the lookout for more. [Arlington County]
Murky Coffee Owner Still Owes County — Nicholas Cho, the proprietor of Murky Coffee, which closed six years ago in Clarendon, recently repaid his tax debts to the District of Columbia but still owes Arlington more than $84,000 in unpaid meals taxes and interest. [Washington Post]
Lyft Sees Lift in Arlington Corporate Customers — For some reason ride hailing service Lyft is seeing a relatively large increase in business from corporate customers in Arlington. [Pymnts]
Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi
A new independent coffee shop is slated to open at some point in the near future in the Clarendon area.
The shop, called Blumen Cafe, is coming to the space that formerly held CD Cellar at 2607 Wilson Blvd, which is about halfway between the Courthouse and Clarendon Metro stations. Signs for the forthcoming cafe state that the business is “coming soon.”
Though we were unable to contact the proprietor behind the cafe, Andira Jabbari, for comment, real estate agent Kenneth Matzkin — who helped lease the property to Jabbari — was able to provide some insight.
The cafe will bring “high-end teas and coffee” and snacks to the space as early as some time this month, Matzkin said.
“They’re putting in a boatload of money to make it look nice,” Matzkin said. “They’re also going to open it up in the front so you could walk directly to the sidewalk from the space.”
But Matzkin cautioned that the end result is still subject to change.
A building permit application has been filed to convert the former music store at 2607 Wilson Blvd — roughly half-way between the Clarendon and Courthouse Metro stations — to a coffee shop.
The permit application doesn’t name the coffee shop, but the listed permit holder, a Courthouse resident named Andira Jabbari, recently registered the domain name Blumencafe.net, according to a Google search.
A website has yet to be set up at that domain and no other information about the coffee shop was immediately available.
CD Cellar closed in January and moved its inventory to its store in Falls Church.
Hat tip to Chris Slatt
Sweet Leaf Café is planning to open another Ballston location.
The new café should open before the end of the year, but the company does not have a set opening date, said Sweet Leaf CEO Andre Matini.
The new Ballston location at 800 N. Glebe Road is about a 10 minute walk from the company’s first café in Ballston (650 N. Quincy Street).
“Our first Ballston location is doing really well. Having another one in the area will reduce some of the load for our team and for customers,” Matini said.
Sweet Leaf — which serves coffee, breakfast, sandwiches and salads — is planning to open a new café at Tysons Corner Center mall, as well. Both the Ballston and Tysons restaurants are set to open in winter 2015, as listed on the company’s website.
“We want to make healthy eating available, we also want people to be able to stop in as conveniently as possible. We think everyone wants to eat healthy,” Matini said. “Unfortunately, it can more more convenient to grab a value meal instead. Opening another location [in Ballston] will help us achieve our goal.”
The company is thinking about expanding into Rosslyn and Clarendon, Matini said, adding that the original Ballston and Courthouse locations have been doing well.
“We have had a great experience opening our first location in Courthouse and our second location in Ballston, the community has a real appreciation for health oriented, natural, tasty and affordable meals in a fast-casual environment,” Matini said.
Sweet Leaf is currently hiring for the Ballston location and is looking for chefs, assistant managers and shift leaders. Job applications can be found on the company’s website.
Hat tip to Rick Williams
The Board is scheduled to vote on the lease at its Saturday meeting. The lease calls for rent of the 1,875 square foot restaurant space inside the community center to start at $43,200 annually, or $23.04 per square foot. That will rise to more than $30 per square foot by the end of the lease.
The tenant is Alami Abderrahim, a former manager at Lebanese Taverna and owner of the now-closed Moroccan restaurant Souk on H Street NE in D.C.
“Mr. Abderrahim is a cooking enthusiast and has a cooking channel on YouTube,” county staff note in a report to the Board. “He currently owns and operates a women’s clothing store in the District, Tangerine Boutique, which he plans to continue operating.”
At Arlington Mill, Abderrahim plans to open a cafe called “Root,” which will serve “fresh and healthy Mediterranean cuisine” along with “coffee and coffee-based drinks, tea, soup, hot and cold sandwiches, salads, juices, breakfast, various entrees, and a small selection of pastries.”
The coffee, breakfast and lunch/dinner menus for Root have already been posted online. The restaurant will front Columbia Pike on the Dinwiddie Street level of the building.
The lease calls for Abderrahim to pay utility costs and real estate taxes, but the county will foot the bill for $290,000 worth of necessary construction, including a new HVAC system, vents and utility equipment.
The county estimates the restaurant will open at some point during the latter half of 2015.
The former tenant of the space, Pan American Bakery and Cafe, was released from its lease last year. The county said the owners backed out of the lease “because of personal and family health problems.”
APS Bans E-Cigarettes — The Arlington School Board on Dec. 4 voted to ban students from bringing e-cigarettes onto school grounds. Arlington Public Schools is also stepping up its effort to warn students and residents of the prospective dangers of e-cigarettes. [InsideNova]
‘Polish Night’ at Clarendon Cafe — Oby Lee, the cafe and wine bar at 3000 Washington Blvd in Clarendon, will be josting a “Polish night” on Friday. The cafe will include traditional Polish dishes like pierogi, golabki cabbage, krokiety crepes and jablecznik apple pie. [Clarendon Nights]
Stamos to Return to ACDC Good Graces — Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos is expected to be welcomed back to the Arlington County Democratic Committee within a month. Stamos and the committee parted ways earlier this year after she endorsed independent John Vihstadt for County Board. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Mrs. Gemstone
Trade Roots (5852 Washington Blvd) in Westover has expanded with a new cafe.
The fair trade store recently renovated and opened the cafe, which serves fair trade coffee, tea and baked goods from two local bakeries: LeoNora Gourmet and Vera’s Bakery. Owner Lisa Ostroff, who’s preparing to celebrate two years in business next month, says the cafe will help the store serve the community and boost foot traffic.
“The store has received a warm response from customers throughout Northern Virginia, and we wanted to make Trade Roots even more of a gathering space for the neighborhood,” she said.
The Trade Roots cafe will offer a “cup club” whereby frequent customers can bring in fair trade mug and have it hung on the wall, to be used during their next visit. The club will reduce the cafe’s use of paper products, Ostroff said.
Trade Roots carries a variety of goods — including jewelry, clothes and home goods — that are eco-friendly, sustainable and produced by artisans for a fair wage.
Photo via Trade Roots, Facebook
A new cafe is now open in Lyon Park, the only coffee shop in the mostly residential neighborhood.
Mocha Cafe & Pastry, at 2720 Washington Blvd, opened April 19, serving fresh baked goods from owner Minoo Taheri and her daughter, Fojan, as well as several types of cold and hot coffee drinks, including Turkish coffee — which Minoo Taheri said is one of her most popular items — and café glacé, a coffee, milk and ice cream drink.
Taheri’s full-time job is working for Fairfax County, but she said she would bake almost every day and bring the results into work. Eventually, she heard enough coworkers tell her to open a bakery that she decided to go through with it.
“I would bake because I was happy, but I would also bake because I was sad,” she said in her café yesterday afternoon. “It really comes from the soul for me.”
Mocha opens at 7:00 a.m. daily and closes at 9:00 p.m. It serves breakfast fare like bacon, egg and cheese croissants, and sandwiches like the Persian chicken salad — an homage to Taheri’s home country of Iran — and pesto turkey panini.
The community has already responded positively, Taheri said, and she even has a couple of customers who come in every day, use the free WiFi and drink Turkish coffee. Soon, her customers will be able to try her true specialty: eclairs. When she gets the proper fridge, she plans on serving eclairs stuffed with pistachios, caramel, mango and coffee flavors.
No Metro Work This Weekend — In an occurrence that’s somewhat rare these days, there is no Metro rebuilding work planned on the Blue, Orange or Yellow Lines this weekend. [WMATA]
New Rosslyn Cafe to Open Monday — Caffe Aficionado, a new independent coffee shop at 1919 N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn, is scheduled to officially open on Monday, according to owner Adiam Berhane. The cafe is also holding events for neighbors today and Saturday.
Chamber Joins Small Biz Shopping Initiative — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the organizers of Arlington Small Business Day. The Chamber will help promote the holiday shopping day, which debuted last year and is scheduled for Nov. 30. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
The new Sweet Leaf Cafe in Courthouse quietly opened its doors this past weekend and handed out free food to customers who stopped in. Now, the restaurant is officially open for business.
Sweet Leaf Cafe moved in at 2200 Wilson Blvd, formerly occupied by Hikaru Sushi. It is the third location, with others in McLean and Vienna. Owner Arita Matini said she’s been wanting to expand into Arlington for a while.
“I love the young environment here, it’s so refreshing,” she said.
Matini believes the cafe stands out because it doesn’t specialize in just one food item. Customers can pick up a little bit of everything, including sandwiches, smoothies, coffee or all day breakfast items. There is also a kids menu and a variety of freshly baked treats.
“We try to do a little bit of everything but also try to keep it simple. We care about providing really good quality food and being part of the community,” said Matini. “Customer service is really big for me. I want to be sure that everyone who comes in is really happy when they leave.”
Matini grew up in Northern Virginia and was an interior design major at Marymount University. She was inspired to get into the restaurant business during her commute to and from Marymount because she felt there were too many chain restaurants in the area. She sought help from her mom, who owns Sweet Stuff in McLean. Matini says all the members of her family now play some role at Sweet Leaf Cafe.
“It wasn’t really something that we thought we were going to do, it was one of those things that kind of just happened. We all loved it and it was successful and we wanted to open another one,” said Matini. “My parents definitely helped me out. Without them, this probably wouldn’t have happened.”
From the couches in the lounge area to the doorknobs functioning as coat hooks to the pieces of an old chicken coop serving as a holder for bags of chips, Matini’s interior design education shows through. She travels around the area searching for unique antiques to adorn the restaurant. She describes the vibe as “farm fresh, country, like your mother’s home.” The free sunflower seeds placed on the table for customers to munch on also add to the country feel.
If things go well with the new location, Matini would like to expand into other areas of Arlington, such as Rosslyn. She hopes to have a grand opening celebration in a few weeks. Until then, the staff will continue serving the curious customers who have been steadily coming in.
“It’s been a good welcome to the neighborhood,” said Matini. “Everybody’s been really nice and welcoming.”
Little City Gourmet, a new restaurant and coffee shop in the East Falls Church neighborhood, is slated to hold its Grand Opening on April 15.
Located in The Crescent building at 2121 N. Westmoreland Street, three blocks from the East Falls Church Metro station and a block from the W&OD Trail, the cafe will fill a void in the neighborhood left by the closing of Bear Rock Cafe.
“Little City Gourmet will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner — with specialized kids’ menus — as well as specialty desserts,” the restaurant said in a press release. “Illy coffee, fine wines and craft beers will also be offered. The café will offer dine-in seating for approximately 20, with outdoor sidewalk seating available as well.”
Executive Chef and owner Rachelle Slotnick says the cafe will emphasize its food menu.
“Much of the food will be made daily on-site or sourced from our local business partners,” she said. “We will offer a range of meal options for our guests, from ‘grab and go’ meals for take-out or eat-in, to a chef-selected ‘daily dinner’ that can be pre-ordered online and taken home, to tapas-style dinners for groups looking to share a leisurely meal at our café.”
Little City Gourmet will be open Monday to Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Free Wi-Fi and free garage parking will be offered.
Photos courtesy Little City Gourmet