(Updated 4:05 p.m.) Arlington restaurants can now apply to increase the number of diners they are permitted to serve indoors and outdoors, according to Arlington Economic Development.
The county is allowing restaurants to temporarily up their maximum capacity so that the eateries can keep using — and possibly expand — their pandemic-era temporary outdoor seating areas (TOSAs), even as indoor capacity restrictions have lifted, the AED newsletter to local businesses said.
Kate Bates, President and CEO of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, praised the decision.
“The Chamber of Commerce applauds the county for moving forward to extend TOSAs in way that works for restaurants and the community,” Bates said. “We shared this with our member restaurants, and they are very pleased. Some made big investment in TOSA areas and they’re able to use that to draw in more customers.”
When restaurants prepared to reopen last summer, they needed outdoor dining to make up for the space they lost inside to social distancing requirements. Additionally, the format had a lower risk of transmission than indoor dining.
So in May 2o2o, the Arlington County Board approved a process through which restaurants could obtain a permit to set up these seating areas, provided that they met fire and safety codes. In December, the board granted restaurant and bar owners the ability to set up in common areas, such as plazas.
One year later, capacity restrictions governing Virginia restaurants have lifted. In Arlington, that means restaurants still using their TOSAs could technically exceed their permitted occupancy maximums. So the county is allowing restaurants to request a temporary certificate of occupancy (TCO) for their TOSAs, which will allow them to operate these seating areas while also operating at full capacity indoors.
The TCOs will expire with the TOSAs, which will remain in operation at least through 2021. The seating areas are permitted by the county’s Continuity of Government Ordinance, which will run for six months beyond the declared end of the pandemic.
“We really can’t emphasize enough that, even though TOSAs were helpful, restaurants still faced incredible losses and decimation,” Bates said. “In 2021, restaurants still need support from the losses over the last 16 months.”
But restaurant owners can’t run out and set up more outdoor seating just yet. Inspections, permits and amendments will be required to make these changes, according to AED.
Those interested in getting a temporary occupancy permit should schedule a free code consultation with the county, the economic development agency said.
“To ensure the safety of all restaurant staff and patrons, the Virginia Building and Fire Prevention Code regulates capacity limitations,” said AED. “For this reason, the ability to obtain a TCO for a TOSA will depend on a restaurant’s individual circumstances and existing indoor and/or outdoor capacity.”
Those interested in expanding their TOSAs must also submit an amendment to the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority, which regulates liquor sales in these seating areas, the newsletter said. TOSAs approved for liquor sales will be able to serve drinks at least for through the end of 2021.
Going forward, Bates said the Chamber wants to see the county “make it work” for restaurants facing extra hurdles, rather than coming up reasons for barring them from participating. The process needs to be a streamlined “not just on paper but in practice,” she said.
Eventually, the Chamber would like to see these outdoor seating areas become permanent parts of local codes, she said.
“This is community-building,” Bates said. “Outdoor dining makes Arlington vibrant and promotes other community interactions.”
A new eatery called Mumu Cafe is set to open in August in the space underneath MOM’s Organic Market near Courthouse.
The forthcoming eatery is located at 1924 N. Uhle Street in the Verde Pointe development along Lee Highway, which is within walking distance to the Courthouse Metro station. Owner Jermaine Williams said the soft opening for is set for Aug. 2.
“The cafe promotes a fast-casual themed service where customers can come and get something made-to-order or grab something quickly from our grab-to-go station,” he said.
In the morning, Mumu Cafe will serve freshly made doughnuts, pastries, bagels and breakfast sandwiches, as well as smoothies, açaí bowls, drip coffee, cold brew and espresso drinks. After 11 a.m., the cafe will offer lunch and dinner options, such as hot sandwiches and flatbreads.
Mumu Cafe will take over the spot that was vacant since Naked Lunch, an organic vegetarian and vegan eatery closed almost exactly two years ago. It opened on Lee Highway with MOM’s Organic Market in 2015
The addition is right in Williams’s backyard, as he lives in the apartment building connected to the café. When he saw the “for lease” sign go up last year, he got in touch with MOM’s, which leases the space and agreed to let him set up shop there.
Williams brings to his venture years of experience in the hotel business, managing food service.
“I’ve been in hospitality for over 10 years,” Williams said. “The last five years, I have been in a hotel as a banquet manager in Rosslyn, which was cut short last year because of the pandemic.”
Mumu Cafe’s hours are currently set for 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Buzz Bakeshop has closed in Ballston and a new cafe from some familiar local names will be replacing it.
Poppyseed Rye, which describes itself as “a craft sandwich and fresh flower café,” plans to open this fall at 818 N. Quincy Street, a block from Ballston Quarter mall.
“We’ll make tasty sandwiches, salads, toasts, and charcuterie… and serve beer, wine, seltzer, and champagne,” said Scott Parker, a partner in the shop who also co-owns a variety of Ballston businesses, including Bearded Goat Barber, BASH Boxing, and Bronson Bierhall, as well as Don Tito in Clarendon.
“At our shop Akeda will sell bouquets, vases, candles, and other household goods,” Parker said.
The cafe will be open from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily and will focus on lunch and dinner. The sandwich-focused menu will be offered all day. A weekend brunch is possible down the road, according to Parker, who notes that there will be a small patio area outside.
The space was formerly occupied by Buzz Bakery, which opened in 2011 and offered coffee, baked goods and other treats. Now known as Buzz Bakeshop, the cafe has a location on Slaters Lane in Alexandria that remains open. The Ballston location is listed on the Buzz website as “temporarily closed.”
The ownership group behind Poppyseed Rye includes Parker, Lee Smith, Jon Rennich, and Gary Koh, who co-owns Bronson Bierhall with Parker. The group is also working with chef Johnny Spero and Aslin Beer Company on the forthcoming Pentagon City brewpub Nighthawk Pizza.
More collaborations with notable chefs, artisans and producers may be on the way from the group, Parker hinted. But for now, he’s focused on getting the new venture off the ground.
“As Ballston continues to grow and become more vibrant, we’re excited to bring our unique new sandwich and flower shop to Wilson Boulevard,” said Parker.
A proposal for a large outdoor café in Clarendon is set to be considered by the Arlington County Board this weekend.
The owner of the Clarendon Square office building at 3033 Wilson Blvd is requesting permits to operate an outdoor café and kiosk in an open area of the property, catty-corner from the Clarendon Metro station.
The proposed café would have 125 seats outside and 59 seats inside, according to a county staff report.
“The outdoor café will occupy the majority of the existing plaza and be enclosed by moveable planters,” the staff report notes. “Although all existing trees will be maintained, the existing raised planter walls will be redesigned to accommodate the outdoor seating.”
The kiosk will serve “grab-and-go beverages” to both passersby as well as those dining at the outdoor café. It’s being considered by the County Board separately from the café.
“The kiosk will operate the same hours as the restaurant and outdoor café and will be located on private property at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and North Highland Street,” the staff report says.
The County Manager recommends approving both the outdoor seating and the kiosk, with a County Board review in one year.
Clarendon Square is a 7-story office building constructed in 1987 and managed by Carr Properties, a real estate investment trust with two properties in Clarendon and one in Courthouse. The agenda item was deferred one month because when it came up in September, county staffers were still working with Carr on café furnishings, design and sidewalk width concerns.
The building contains ground-floor retail including a bank, a UPS Store, and a café called Waterhouse Coffee & Juice Bar. The existing plaza is publicly accessible and has raised planter beds with trees, shrubs and flowers.
The proposed café will serve restaurant-goers late into the night, according to the county documents. The building owner is asking for permission to pipe music in until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. Music will end at 10 p.m. on weeknights.
In August, the Lyon Village Citizens Association asked that the building owner keep noise to a minimum after midnight, manage crowds and have overnight security of the outdoor seating area. The Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Association voted to support the proposal during its August meeting, provided that the 8-foot clear walkway is maintained on Wilson Blvd.
The café proposal comes amid a shift towards outdoor dining during the pandemic, and a spate of redevelopment in parts of Clarendon.
The County Board will meet virtually this Saturday, Oct. 17, starting at 8:30 a.m.
The former Sugar Shack Donuts along Columbia Pike will not be reopening, after the restaurant’s owner filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
The Washington Business Journal reports that former state lawmaker Rob Krupicka — a Sugar Shack franchisee who was in the process of rebranding his locations as an independent, plant-based cafe called Elizabeth’s Counter when the pandemic struck and forced them to close — has declared bankruptcy and shuttered the 1014 S. Glebe Road location in Arlington for good.
The store originally opened in 2016.
Krupicka’s D.C. location is also closed permanently, but he hopes to keep the now-rebranded Elizabeth’s Counter location at 804 N. Henry Street in Alexandria open with an expanded outdoor dining area, the Business Journal reports.
The nearest donut shop to the former Arlington Sugar Shack is a Dunkin Donuts inside a gas station at 3100 Columbia Pike.
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.
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
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]
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]
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.
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.
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.