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by Chris Teale September 11, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

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.

by Chris Teale August 8, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

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.

by ARLnow.com June 5, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

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.

by Chris Teale March 27, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

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

by ARLnow.com February 9, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

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

by ARLnow.com October 28, 2016 at 1:00 pm 0

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

by ARLnow.com October 26, 2016 at 1:45 pm 0

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

by ARLnow.com October 13, 2016 at 3:50 pm 0

(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.

by ARLnow.com October 10, 2016 at 1:35 pm 0

Homegrown independent coffee shop Commonwealth Joe has opened its new flagship cafe in Pentagon City.

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.

by ARLnow.com August 26, 2016 at 8:30 am 0

Sunrise over Route 50 (Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi(

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]

‘Pub in the Park’ Coming to a Close — Rosslyn’s Friday evening Pub in the Park event series, which includes a mobile bar offering beer and wine, is ending for the season tonight. [Twitter]

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

by Lindsay Smith August 2, 2016 at 2:00 pm 0

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.

by ARLnow.com April 1, 2016 at 11:05 am 0

CD Cellar in ClarendonA coffee shop may replace the former CD Cellar in Clarendon.

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

by Heather Mongilio October 1, 2015 at 11:05 am 0

New Sweet Leaf location on N. Glebe Road in Ballston

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

by ARLnow.com January 20, 2015 at 12:15 pm 1,521 0

"Root" cafe logoThe Arlington County Board will consider a 10-year lease for “Root,” a new coffee shop and eatery slated to open in the Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street).

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.”

by ARLnow.com December 8, 2014 at 9:30 am 2,070 0

Rosslyn office building being torn down (Flickr pool photo by Mrs. Gemstone)

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

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