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‘Strange’ Burglary Leaves Arlington Forest Cafe Owners Puzzled

The unusual overnight burglary of an Arlington Forest coffee shop has left its owners scratching their heads about what prompted the theft.

Employees at the Sense of Place Cafe, located at 4807 1st Street N. just off Arlington Blvd, arrived early this morning (Wednesday) to discover the glass in their front door smashed in and the cash register emptied. Co-owner Kay Kim expects the thieves made off with about $150 in all.

However, Kim was puzzled that the burglars left the restaurant’s expensive espresso machines untouched, and showed no interest in the iPad the cafe uses for customer orders.

Yet her notebook full of recipes and notes on the precise way to roast various types of coffee beans, one of her most prized possessions, is missing. She stored it in a desk drawer in the cafe’s back office, and she expects only someone intimately familiar with the store would know to look for it.

“It makes us feel like the target wasn’t money,” said Anna Seo, Kim’s niece and an employee at the store. “It’s all very strange.”

Neither Kim nor her sister and co-owner, Kim Seo, can think of any former employees who might’ve harbored a grudge after leaving the cafe, which has been open for just over a year now. Arlington County police spokeswoman Kirby Clark said the department is investigating the incident, but doesn’t have any description of the suspect (or suspects) just yet.

“This has never happened before and we never thought about it,” Kim Seo said. “This area in Arlington was supposed to be pretty safe. It’s very weird and scary.”

Nevertheless, she says the business is open as normal, even if it is still missing the glass from its front door.

Anna Seo notes that the whole incident “could’ve been much worse,” all things considered. But she is still frustrated that her aunt would lose so much hard work, so suddenly.

“Each of our roasts change, based on the season and the temperature, and she had that all written down,” she said. “Now, she’ll basically have to start from scratch.”

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Sense of Place Cafe Finds Its Place in Arlington

(Updated 7:30 p.m.) It isn’t easy being an independent coffee shop with only a handful of part-time employees, especially one outside of a Metro corridor in chain-heavy Arlington.

But Arlington Forest’s Sense of Place Café, which opened eight months ago, is making a go of it and has slowly been gaining both popularity and solid Yelp reviews.

The cafe was full for a Wednesday at mid-morning (March 28), and two baristas scrambled to fill orders quickly while chatting with an ARLnow reporter. On a normal day, the shop sees about 50 customers.

Most customers who walked up to the counter had something positive to say about Sense of Place Café, even if they hadn’t yet tried the shop’s specialty coffee.

“You’re getting a lot of great press on the Mothers of North Arlington listserv,” one woman said to a barista as she ordered coffee, adding that she hadn’t heard of the place until recently but was happy to have more options in the area.

The coffee shop is located at the Arlington Forest Shopping Center, at 4807 1st Street N., and difficult to get to if one doesn’t live in the neighborhood or have a car.

“The size of this mall, it’s not a really busy mall,” explained the coffee shop’s co-owner, Kim Seo, pointing out the next door Brick’s Pizza as the shopping center’s main attraction. “It’s kind of frustrating, not many people come here.”

It’s about 1.2 miles away from the Ballston Metro station, which, according to Google Maps, is a 24 minute walk away. A lot of customers are within walking distance, Seo explained, but many Arlingtonians aren’t aware of the shop or how to get there.

But Seo has found ways to stand out, even if the shop faces geographical challenges. She focuses on the store’s own unique Enzymo Coffee brand, which ferments for two weeks before in-house roasting, and a mushroom tea with “high levels of antioxidants.” She also posts frequently on the shop’s social media channels.

Seo added serving a variety of flavors has helped her and her sister, Kay, the shop’s licensed barista, grow the business.

Listening to customers’ needs, like expanded weekend hours, has also helped. Previously, the coffee shop was open Monday-Saturday, but now has dropped the Monday hours and is open Tuesdays-Fridays from 7 a.m.-3 p.m., and Saturdays-Sundays from 8 a.m.-2 p.m.

Kim did this to capture the weekend crowd, which she says is easily her busiest time, and now she sees more people come and enjoy a cup instead of rushing to work.

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Morning Notes

Shake Shack, Philz and More Coming to Ballston — “Ballston will beef up its fast-casual restaurant offerings by the end of this year, with Shake Shack, We the Pizza, Philz Coffee and Cava all slated to lease space in the newly dubbed Ballston Exchange project. Ballston Exchange, formerly known as Stafford Place I and II, was until 2017 home to the National Science Foundation.” [Washington Business Journal]

Outdoor Lab Squeezed by Rising Enrollment — “A growing student body at the elementary-school level may soon mean there are not enough days in the school year to send the usual cadre of students to the Arlington Outdoor Lab, located in Fauquier County.” [InsideNova]

Arlington Smoker Busted in Falls Church — Falls Church police issued a summons to a 56-year-old Arlington man for smoking in a restaurant in the city. [Falls Church News-Press]

Hamlin Leaving Macedonia Baptist Church — The Rev. Dr. Leonard Hamlin Sr. is leaving Macedonia Baptist Church in Nauck for a post at the Washington National Cathedral. “To celebrate his 22-year tenure at Macedonia, more than 300 people attended a farewell gala held March 25 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City,” the Sun Gazette reported. [InsideNova]

Advocates Flock to Open Door Monday — Those seeking more funding in the county budget process flocked to yesterday’s regularly-scheduled Open Door Monday event with County Board member Libby Garvey. Among those bending Garvey’s ear were first responders, who are seeking higher pay, and Arlington Independent Media, which is fighting a proposed budget cut. [Twitter, Twitter]

Photo courtesy @jimcollierjr

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Atrium Cafe to Replace Jen’s Kitchen in Virginia Square

A new, casual eatery is coming to Virginia Square.

In a couple months the Atrium Cafe will open in the former Jen’s Kitchen space in Virginia Square, according to cafe owner DJ Lee.

The Asian-fusion style cafe that sells coffee and sandwiches already has 8 locations in D.C., Lee said. The new establishment is currently applying to sell beer and wine, something its D.C. locations do not serve. There will also be more desserts at the Virginia Square location, Lee added.

Jen’s Kitchen closed in late December and posted a sign that it would reopen in late January under new management. Jen’s Kitchen opened in 2015 following the closure of Metro Cafe and Gourmet.

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Chill Zone Applies To Sell Beer, Wine

Chill Zone, a Yorktown cafe, might be serving alcohol soon.

The shop recently applied for a license to sell beer and wine at its location at 2442 N. Harrison St., said Chill Zone’s manager Daniel Bui.

Pending license approval, Chill Zone will serve red and white wine, and local beer, according to Bui. Initially the coffee shop plans to serve alcohol only on Fridays and Saturdays.

Chill Zone, which just celebrated its first anniversary, currently serves bubble tea, Vietnamese coffee and its signature “volcano mango frap,” in addition to food options like wings and sandwiches.

File photo

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Westover Gift Store Trade Roots Launches Artisan Cafe

A store in Westover Village that offers handmade and fairly traded products from developing countries has opened a new cafe.

Those behind Trade Roots (5852 Washington Blvd) opened the cafe, called Roots & Vines. It offers fairly traded coffees, teas and food items.

The café is run by chef Katia Reecer, who grew up in a Brazilian restaurant family and rounded her skills at the former Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda.

“Roots & Vines offers a casual and welcoming ambiance to relax over locally sourced and globally inspired coffee, tea, sweets & savories,” Reecer said in a statement. “We plan to keep the eclectic menu limited with weekly and seasonal changes, while always offering vegetarian and vegan options. My mother instilled in me the simple philosophy that when you cook with passion using both your hands and palate, the results will always be extraordinary.”

Trade Roots also sells soaps, food, jewelry and home products from local people, and prides itself on offering “beautiful and unique” items.

“I’m thrilled to have Katia as part of the team,” Trade Roots owner Lisa Ostroff said in a statement. “Trade Roots’ customers will now have fair trade coffee and tea options and an array of delicious foods and drinks from around the globe. Katia’s experience and philosophy lend perfectly to our vibe. She makes healthy morning treats like oatmeal and fruit parfaits and some amazing-but-not-as-healthy scones and croissants as well!”

Photos via Facebook

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Nestle Employees Expected to Finish Rosslyn HQ Move By Month’s End

Employees at Nestle’s USA headquarters are expected to finish moving into its new Rosslyn office by the end of January.

In an interview with ARLnow earlier this month, Rosslyn Business Improvement District President Mary-Claire Burick said the moving process is expected to be complete soon.

Burick noted that Nestle has worked hard to help any employees relocating from its current home of Glendale, Calif., and helped them settle into Arlington County.

“They’ve done a magnificent job with acclimating the employees, doing a resource fair and just making sure that those employees are well acclimated, not only to the neighborhood of Rosslyn but of Arlington in general,” Burick said.

Ahead of that move, Nestle has worked closely with building owner Monday Properties to prepare its new headquarters. It will include spaces for employees to collaborate, and Burick added the building will have a new open stairway to promote “walkability between floors.”

Nestle will be the first tenant in the building, which was completed in 2013 after being built “on spec” and had remained vacant since.

“I think Nestle was really creative about their office space and how it would support their culture,” she said.

And a major catering company will provide food and drinks to the new Nestle headquarters in Rosslyn, according to permit and ABC license applications.

According to applications, Compass Group, Inc. will provide the catering for Nestle’s USA headquarters at 1812 N. Moore Street, on the 33rd floor. Compass serves “award-winning restaurants, corporate cafes, hospitals, schools, arenas, museums, and more,” per its website.

A county permit application notes that the new cafeteria will require an inspection by the Department of Health before it can be used.

As of the time of writing, a spokeswoman for Compass Group had not provided any further details.

Disclosure: Monday Properties is an ARLnow advertiser.

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Bruegger’s Bagels Still Open in Ballston

There appears to be one local survivor of a rash of Bruegger’s Bagels closures across the area: its Ballston location.

Almost all of Bruegger’s cafes in the D.C. region closed recently, including in nearby Alexandria. It is a move that could be in part because of the company’s acquisition by Caribou Coffee in August.

On its website, Caribou notes that there will be “Bruegger’s Co-Locations,” which will “bring you the best bagels and coffee, under one roof.”

In Ballston, however, Bruegger’s Bagels is still going strong as a stand-alone business at 818 N. Quincy Street. An employee said this morning that it would be staying open, despite the closures elsewhere.

https://www.twitter.com/texgeo/status/939908547038588928

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Detour Coffee Co. Open in Virginia Square

A new coffee shop opened last month in Virginia Square.

Detour Coffee Co. is located at 946 N. Jackson Street, in the same building as the Darna Restaurant and Lounge, next to a Jiffy Lube.

On its website, Detour said it is owned by the same group that owns Darna. According to posts from its Facebook account, it opened late last month.

“Detour Coffee Co. combines tradition and innovation to create a delicious product that leaves customers satisfied every time,” it reads. “Located just blocks from the Clarendon Metro Station, our local coffee shop prides itself on maintaining the highest quality of product and service — all of our drinks are hand-crafted and pastries are made in-house from scratch.”

Detour serves various types of coffee including drip, espresso, chai and iced. It also has hot chocolate, and hot and iced tea, as well as sandwiches, pastries, empanadas and other food items. It is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day.

It is located about two blocks from local independent coffee shop stalwart Northside Social.

Photos 1-5 via Facebook, photo No. 6 via Google Maps.

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Bubble Tea Cafe Kung Fu Tea Now Open in Clarendon

A new bubble tea cafe is now open in Clarendon.

Kung Fu Tea at 3018 Wilson Blvd opened over the weekend in the former Larry’s Homemade Ice Cream location. Its soft opening is expected to last all week, with the store open from 12-9 p.m.

The store offers black and green tea, which customers can combine with milk and with fruit flavors. There are also several flavored yogurt options made from the Japanese probiotic Yakult, slush and snow cream offerings, seasonal flavors like “Pumpkin Oolong Milk Tea,” and various coffee and espresso options.

Tapioca bubbles are one of several toppings that can be added for 50 cents each.

Inside of the new Clarendon store, which is located next to the recently-opened Hanabi Ramen restaurant, there is space for around 12 people to sit. Kung Fu Tea has dozens locations across the United States and has been expanding in the D.C. area.

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New Cafe in Arlington Forest Features ‘Laptop-Free’ Coffee Bar

A new coffee shop is open in Arlington Forest in a low-slung shopping center just off Arlington Blvd.

Sense of Place (4807 1st Street N.) replaced a Subway sandwich shop in the Arlington Forest Center. It opened yesterday (Monday), next door to Brick’s Pizza, the DaVita dialysis center and the Mathnasium of Arlington education center.

Sense of Place features a coffee bar that serves specialty pour-over coffee, which uses a filter and a dripper to extract more flavors. At the bar, a certified barista will serve the coffee, while a sign nearby expressly bans the use of laptops to encourage customers to enjoy their drinks without distraction.

“At the bar, customers take the time to see, smell, and taste subtly different notes of flavors and textures with every sip that they may not have noticed before,” the cafe’s website reads.

The new cafe serves its own house-brand coffee, called Enzymo Coffee. The coffee beans undergo a natural fermentation process before being roasted, which staff said keeps the coffee fresh, the acid content low and prevents any post-caffeine crashes an hour or two after drinking.

Also on offer: various other hot and cold drinks as well as homemade pastries, paninis and sandwiches.

Early Tuesday morning, the store was already doing brisk business, despite having been open for just one day. Multiple customers told ARLnow how excited they were to have an independently-owned coffee shop in the plaza, which is also home to Outback Steakhouse and used to house the now-shuttered Filipino grocery store Fiesta Oriental.

Sense of Place is open from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays.

Hat-tip to Mike Marketti.

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Bubble Tea Cafe Now Open at Pentagon City Mall

A new bubble tea cafe opened recently at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall.

Kokee Tea opened on the food court level of the mall in April. By coincidence, it is located next to the Bubbles hair salon.

Kokee offers a dozen signature bubble teas, plus numerous other “hand crafted” tea flavors, smoothie flavors and toppings. It also offers various types of pastries.

The cafe is not the only bubble tea purveyor in Arlington. In addition to bubble tea offerings at some local restaurants, there is an existing dedicated bubble tea cafe in the Crystal City Shops, Lily Bubble Tea and Smoothie, and a “Kung Fu Tea” location will be coming soon to Clarendon.

Kokee Tea has existing locations in Centreville and Springfield Town Center, plus more cafes coming to the Fair Oaks, Potomac Mills and Arundel Mills malls, according to its website.

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Cafe And Lounge Coming To Columbia Pike

A new cafe appears to be arriving at the Columbia Place condo complex near Columbia Pike

Building permit applications have been filed with the county for a “new cafe and lounge in an existing mixed used building” at 1107 S. Walter Reed Drive.

Currently, the 14-unit building also hosts the Pureluxe Nails and Spa nail salon on its first floor. It is across the street from a branch of the BB&T Bank and the Avalon apartment building (formerly the Halstead), and is a block from Columbia Pike.

But there appears to be plenty of work to be done ahead of the new cafe’s opening.

The county’s online permitting system notes that permit applications in building, mechanical, plumbing and zoning categories have been rejected since the initial paperwork was filed March 8.

There are two potential cafe competitors nearby: Starbucks and Rappahannock Coffee, which is slated for redevelopment.

A spokeswoman for the county’s planning department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt

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Morning Notes

Government helicopter against a gray sky (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

New Clarendon Cafe Has ‘Oatmeal Program’ — Baba, the new Balkan-themed cafe in the basement of Ambar in Clarendon, has an “oatmeal program,” says its owner. Baba will serve La Colombe coffee, two types of “fancy oatmeal,” as well as oatmeal packages for takeout. [Washingtonian]

School Board Wants to Lift Pay Cap — It’s unclear why the Virginia General Assembly capped the pay of Arlington School Board members at $25,000, but the School Board is hopeful that a measure making its way through the legislature will pass, allowing members to raise their salaries in 2021. [InsideNova]

Accenture Acquires Part of Endgame — Consulting and professional services firm Accenture has acquired the federal government services business of Arlington-based startup Endgame for an undisclosed sum. [WTOP]

Longtime Arlington Teacher Dies — Margaret (Peggy) Huddleston, a Washington-Lee grad and longtime W-L teacher and guidance counselor, has died at the age of 92. [Falls Church News-Press]

Delays Likely at DCA — Between high winds in the D.C. area, and flight cancellations and delays due to the snowstorm in the Northeast, there may be significant impacts on flights at Reagan National Airport today. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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BREAKING: Rosslyn’s Caffe Aficionado Shut Down After Police Raid

Caffe Aficionado in Rosslyn (1919 N. Lynn Street) is closed following a police raid this morning (Friday).

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 Friday morning at a residence at the high-end Gaslight Square apartments in Rosslyn (1700 Clarendon Blvd), hauling out boxes of evidence and at least one computer.

Caffe Aficionado first opened in Rosslyn three years ago, promising high-quality coffee, espresso and pastries with an Italian flare. A second location at the Watergate in D.C. was also in the works.

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.

Caffe Aficionado fraud warning email to an ARLnow.com employeeUpdate 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

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