Heaps of new customers have been saying g’day to Oz restaurant in Clarendon over the past year, its owners say.
Contrary to its portrayal on the new Real Housewives of Potomac season — a teaser video showed proprietors Ashley and Michael Darby arguing about it “not doing well” — Oz (2950 Clarendon Blvd) is currently a profitable business, according to Mr. Darby.
The argument happened in real life on June 22, 2016. Since then, Oz’s brunch business has boomed and helped reverse its fortunes. And a revamped food menu has been greeted with generally positive customer reviews.
That’s a welcome change from when the Washington Post panned Oz’s Australian cuisine as “bland,” shortly after it opened in September 2015, and locals took note of the empty tables one could see inside around dinnertime.
Darby, the Australian-born cofounder of D.C. developer Monumental Realty, admits that things were “not up to scratch” when Oz opened, but said issues with the service and the food have since been corrected. What viewers see at the beginning of “RHOP” season two is part of the restaurant’s “rebuilding” stage.
“We made a significant change that has brought about the success we’re having now,” Darby said. “Over the course of the show, you will find that the restaurant turns that corner and becomes the busy restaurant we have today.”
The other half of the power couple, Ashley Darby — a former Miss District of Columbia who is active in the restaurant’s day-to-day management in between her Instagram-chronicled globetrotting — echoed Michael’s words.
“America witnessed my candid reaction to the growing pains we were experiencing at Oz during the RHOP premiere, filmed last year,” she said. “It has taken some time to find our groove in the trendy Clarendon neighborhood, but we’re really getting into the swing of it. Our weekends are so busy I barely get time to sit down.”
Oz’s $35 bottomless brunch — with unlimited food, penny mimosas, 50 cent beers and $2 bloody marys — has packed them in, according to Michael Darby. Some 500 customers a day visit Oz on the weekends, he said. And the restaurant has high hopes for increasing its weekday bar business and becoming more of a nighttime going-out destination on weekends.
“This is a very fun bar, we have that Australian attitude,” Darby said. Oz is proud of its craft cocktail menu and Australian wine selection; it now brings in a DJ on Saturday nights and, yes, you can order didgeridoo shots, if so inclined.
Darby credits the chef they brought on after the “mediocre” opening for being a big part of Oz’s transformation. Chef Brad Feickert, a tattooed Northern Virginia native who worked for celebrity chefs and also spent time at restaurants in Australia, has created an Australian-influenced menu adjusted for American palates.
“The quality of the food improved significantly when he came in,” Darby said. “The chef is just a good chef, that’s what it comes down to.”
The menu, which is ever evolving, includes both Australian and American staples, along with culinary mashups and exotic meats, including kangaroo, camel and ostrich. (It’s not exotic, but Darby recommends the Australian lamb.)
Just don’t confuse Oz with that well-known “Australian” restaurant chain — needless to say, there are no bloomin’ onions on the menu.
“We’re not Outback Steakhouse in any way,” Darby said. Outback is “not even an Australian product.”
Gutshall Running for County Board — As predicted, business owner Erik Gutshall is running for County Board this year, seeking the seat being vacated by Jay Fisette. Gutshall says on his website that his candidacy will be announced at the Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting on Wednesday. Gutshall unsuccessfully challenged County Board member Libby Garvey in last year’s Democratic primary. [Erik Gutshall for County Board]
Oscars Flub Involved W-L Grad — Warren Beatty is back atop the national consciousness, after an envelope mix-up led to perhaps the worst mistake in Oscars history, with Beatty and Best Picture co-presenter Faye Dunaway at the center of the fiasco. As many long-time Arlingtonians remember, Beatty spent his teenage years in Arlington, reportedly living on N. Huntington Street. He graduated from Washington-Lee High School and, as noted in a yearbook photo, was a star football player and the senior class president. [InsideNova]
Arlington Elementary Schools Top Rankings — In new rankings of D.C. area public elementary schools, Arlington elementary schools tallied a sweep of all the top 10 spots. [Niche, Washington Business Journal]
ACPD Trying Out Uber Lane — This past weekend in Clarendon, the Arlington County Police Department set up a designated rideshare pickup lane to improve safety for those using Uber and Lyft to get a ride home from the bars. The police department described the action as a “pilot program” that was the result of “creative problem solving.” [Twitter]
Arlington’s ‘Segregation Wall’ — A new historic marker notes the significance of a 1930s-era wall in north Arlington. The wall was built by white residents of the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood to provide a physical barrier between them and the historically black Hall’s Hill (High View Park) neighborhood. [InsideNova]
Loan for Affordable Apartments Approved — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a $7.4 million loan to help build 125 new affordable apartments at the Berkeley on S. Glebe Road. Nonprofit developer AHC is expected to seek another loan for the redevelopment, from the county’s affordable housing fund, next fiscal year. [Arlington County]
Per-Student Spending to Rise — Under a new budget proposed by Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy, per-student spending would rise 2.9 percent to $19,521. APS has been straining to keep up with rising enrollment, issuing bonds to build new schools and renovate others. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Vornado Scraps Development Proposals — Ahead of the closing of its merger with JBG, Vornado has indefinitely put on hold a number of development proposals, including: all but one building of its proposed RiverHouse development in Pentagon City; a revamp of the shops at 1750 Crystal Drive that was to include a new 12-screen multiplex; and a pair of retail pavilions at 2101 and 2201 Crystal Drive. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington a ‘Best City’ to Go Car-Free — According to a new list in Forbes, Arlington County is one of the top 25 U.S. cities for one to live without a car. Arlington was also one of nine places whose walkable neighborhoods were profiled in the magazine. [Forbes]
Video of Apartment Fire — The weekend fire at the Serrano apartments on Columbia Pike was caught on video. The dramatic video shows firefighters arriving and starting to douse the flames with water. [Statter 911]
‘Taming of the Shrew’ Review — A review of Synetic Theater’s new production of Taming of the Shrew says the physical theater performance “speaks colorful volumes” despite the lack of dialogue. [Broadway World]
Leadership Change at Community Foundation — Arlington Community Foundation Executive Director Wanda Pierce is stepping down next month after eight years of leading the local nonprofit.
Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak
Duane “Dog” Chapman visited Don Tito (3165 Wilson Blvd) in Clarendon over the weekend.
The bounty hunter and reality show star stopped by the restaurant on Saturday and ordered a plate of fajitas for lunch, we’re told. After chowing down, but before riding away in a black SUV, Chapman posed for a couple of photos.
Chapman was in town with his wife, Beth, attending presidential inauguration events. Beth Chapman, who is politically active as president of the Professional Bail Agents of the United States, donated to the campaigns of both Hillary Clinton and President Donald Trump.
Lyon Park Mansion Auction Is Tonight — The huge “Pershing Manor” mansion at 3120 N. Pershing Drive is scheduled to hit the auction block at 5 p.m. tonight. The opening bid is $750,000, though the property is assessed at $4 million. [ARLnow, ARLnow]
McHenry Talks About Towing Spat — ESPN sportscaster Britt McHenry is opening up about the time she berated an Advanced Towing employee in Arlington — and was caught on camera doing so, in a video that would go viral around the world. McHenry says she regrets what she said during the 2015 incident. The fallout has hurt her both professionally and personally, she says. [Marie Claire]
Garvey’s Swearing In Ceremony — Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey will be sworn in for her second full term today. The ceremony will take place in the County Board room (2100 Clarendon Blvd) at 5 p.m. It will feature remarks from Garvey and a poem from Arlington County Poet Laureate Katherine E. Young. [Arlington County]
Developers Want Gondola, Boathouse — At a Bisnow event in Pentagon City last week, local developers said they’re generally supportive of the proposed Rosslyn-Georgetown gondola, though they’d also be interested in a Rosslyn boathouse to connect with a local water taxi system. Rosslyn, they noted, has fewer opportunities to develop its waterfront than jurisdictions like Alexandria, Prince George’s County and D.C. [Bisnow]
Volunteers Needed for Wreath Laying — The group Wreaths Across America is seeking volunteers to help lay wreaths on gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. The holiday tradition will take place this coming Saturday morning. [Wreaths Across America]
Photo courtesy Peter Golkin
Fmr. Arlington Resident John Glenn Dies — John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth, has died at the age of 95. In an article first published in 2012, the Arlington Public Library blog recounted the five years that Glenn and his family lived on N. Harrison Street in Arlington. [Arlington Public Library]
Soon: Central Place Apartments, Restaurants — Residents are expected to start moving into the new Central Place apartment tower in Rosslyn at some point during the first three months of 2017. Restaurants coming to the ground floor of the building include Sweetgreen, Little Beet, Nando’s Peri-peri and McDonald’s, while Cava Grill and Compass Coffee has signed leases for the Central Place office tower. [Washington Business Journal]
Fort Myer Getting Drone Detector — Officials from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall said at a recent Arlington civic association meeting that the base is working to procure a drone detection system. The base commander said he’s worried about “miniaturized tools of terror, specifically drones carrying home-made bombs.” [Pentagram]
Video: Ovi Delivering Pizzas in Arlington — Okay, it’s just a commercial and didn’t really happen. But a new 30-second TV spot from Papa John’s imagines Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin delivering pizzas in Arlington in 2001 as he pursues a childhood dream to become “the best pizza delivery boy in the world.” [Russian Machine Never Breaks]
Local Startup Scores Big Military Contract — Clarendon-based cybersecurity firm Endgame has won a $18.8 million contract from the U.S. Air Force. It’s believed to be “one of the largest endpoint protection software purchases in the Air Force’s history.” [Fedscoop]
Startups Recognized By County — Arlington County recognized four of the county’s fastest-growing companies this week as part of its second-annual “Fast Four” competition. The honorees were the Nicecream Factory ice cream shop in Arlington, Ballston-based Deep Learning Analytics, Clarendon consulting firm Enterprise Knowledge and Ballston-based software company Convoke. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Per Student Spending Questioned — Arlington Public Schools is again being questioned about why it has the highest per-student costs — $18,957 — of any suburban D.C. jurisdiction. Fairfax County, the largest school system in the state, has a per-student cost of $14,432. [InsideNova]
Woman’s Tireless TSA Protest — Alyssa Bermudez, a former Army staff sergeant and Bronze Star recipient, has been tirelessly protesting in front of Transportation Security Administration headquarters in Pentagon City, claiming that she was sexually harassed and fired for complaining about it. Other complaints and a lawsuit point to an alleged culture of harassment within the agency. [Washington Post]
ACPD Officers Meet Shaq — NBA great Shaquille O’Neal visited with D.C. area police yesterday on Capitol Hill to raise awareness of the dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs. Several ACPD officers were photographed with the 7’1″ O’Neal. [Twitter, Twitter]
LiveSafe Launches Navy Pilot Program — Arlington-based startup LiveSafe has launched a six-month pilot program with a big client: the U.S. Navy. LiveSafe’s app will be used by sailors in Hampton Roads, Va. and in Rota, Spain “in an effort to prevent sexual assaults and combat other destructive behaviors before they happen.” [Stars and Stripes]
Arlington Man Tweets Hillary Sightings — Arlingtonian Adam Parkhomenko, a long-time Hillary Clinton aide and booster, is helping grieving Democrats by turning the former presidential candidate into a “wandering folk hero.” He’s doing so via a social media account that keeps track of photos of Clinton “in the wild” since she lost the election. [Vanity Fair]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
A Washington-Lee High School graduate is one of the main characters on the new Fox television series Star.
O’Grady graduated from W-L in 2013 but has been performing and modeling professionally since the age of 4,
Up until now O’Grady’s most prominent TV appearance was a guest role on the ABC show Trophy Wife. She has also been active in the local theater scene, performing at Arlington’s Signature Theatre, Synetic Theater and Encore Stage & Studio, as well as D.C. venues like the Kennedy Center, Ford’s Theatre and even the White House.
“I was always encouraged to pursue my dreams because I’ve worked all my life to achieve them,” O’Grady said in an interview published on the Encore Stage & Studio website.
She gave the following advice to aspiring young actors: “Never EVER give up. No matter how discouraged you get and how many times you get rejected. Work hard, train hard, and know your stuff. If you are always working on improving yourself, you will get better. You will become the versatile actor you want to be. The roles will come with time.”
The Dec. 14 premiere of Star is billed as a “special early preview.” The series will air in its regular timeslot on Wednesday, Jan. 4.
A group of young gymnasts has been doing a lot of jumping and dancing around. This time it’s not for one of their performances, but rather because they won a visit from Olympic gold medal gymnast Simone Biles.
Members of the Arlington Gymnastics program were granted the visit today at Barcroft Sports and Fitness Center as a reward for their efforts in selling tickets to the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions, which takes place at the Verizon Center on Thursday.
The Arlington Gymnastics program consists of about 200 girls on the Arlington Aerials team, about 40 boys on the Arlington Tigers team and more than 1,000 weekly gymnastics class participants of all ages. They are all welcome to attend the special meet-and-greet with Biles.
Twenty-five of the young gymnasts also will be a part of the show at the Verizon Center tomorrow, according to Arlington Gymnastics employee and coach Sonja Hird Clark. The children will be a part of the opening act and for a time will share the stage with Olympians, who will be performing on various pieces of equipment.
“The kids work so hard at this sport and it’s so exciting for them to have the chance to see an Olympian,” she says. “They overcome mental blocks and fears when they see a gold medalist walking through that door.”
The Arlington Gymnastics program is subsidized by Arlington County through the parks and recreation department. Hird Clark says it gives members of all socioeconomic statuses a chance to get involved in gymnastics.
“One of the things that excites me about our gym club is it’s all walks of life,” she says. “We have every type of child in our community… and that’s inspiring to me.”
Photo (top) courtesy Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation
(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) “Girls” star Lena Dunham campaigned for Hillary Clinton in Rosslyn Tuesday afternoon.
The actress, writer, producer and director attended a lunch with Arlington young professionals at Barley Mac (1600 Wilson Blvd) around 12:30 p.m. She spoke of the importance of electing Mrs. Clinton and defeating GOP candidate Donald Trump.
“The message I just wanted to share with millennials, with people my age… is just to say that voting isn’t the only way that you engage civically, but it’s one of the most important ways,” Dunham said. “So many people don’t [vote] and it’s so important that we take advantage of that power. None of us wants to see a country that Trump is imagining… and the only way we can prevent that is getting out on November 8th.”
“Something that I say a lot is that I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton because she is the lesser of two evils, I’m voting for her because she’s the president that I’ve wanted since I was six years old,” she said. “I know so many women and men who feel that way and it’s so heartening to see a room full of people who I know are ready to advocate for that.”
After the Rosslyn event, Dunham was scheduled to attend subsequent events at George Mason University and in Falls Church, where she was to encourage Northern Virginia residents to check their voter registration status and register to vote by the Oct. 17 registration deadline.
“Dunham will lay out the stakes of this election, discuss with voters why Donald Trump’s pattern of disrespecting and demeaning women makes him unfit to hold our nation’s highest office, and share her support for Clinton’s agenda to make us stronger together and raise the minimum wage, fight LGBT discrimination, ensure women have access to reproductive health care, and tackle climate change,” according to a Clinton campaign press release.
A rush transcript of Dunham’s remarks at the restaurant, after the jump.
You know comedian David Koechner as “Champ” from Anchorman, but you might not know that in addition to his film and TV work he still travels the world performing standup comedy.
David is in Arlington this weekend, performing a total of five shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse on Columbia Pike. Tickets are $25 and are still available online.
We talked with David about his roles in Anchorman, Waiting, Thank You for Smoking and The Office, and also discussed whether he plans to see any the sights around Arlington during his visit. Taking advantage of being in the D.C. area, David weighed in on some of the issues he’s passionate about as well.
This week’s sponsor is Crystal City. Take advantage of the nice September weather and check out Crystal City’s last two Wine in the Waterpark events of the season this coming Friday and next Friday.
Photo courtesy Collin O’Brien
Tourism Spending Record in Arlington — Visitors to Arlington spent about $3.1 billion in 2015, a new record. That’s up 3 percent compared to 2014. The tourism spending generated $86 million in county tax revenue and $115 million in state tax revenue. [Arlington County]
New ART 92 Schedule Starts Today — A more frequent ART 92 bus schedule starts today, with buses running every 15 minutes during peak times. ART 92 runs from Crystal City to Long Bridge Park to the Pentagon. [Arlington Transit]
Cesar Millan in Crystal City — ‘Dog Whisperer’ star Cesar Millan was spotted walking the streets of Crystal City on Sunday. Millan was in town filming a new show, Cesar Millan’s Dog Nation, which will air on the Nat Geo Wild channel. [Patch, Twitter]
Arlington ’40 Under 40′ Honorees — The Leadership Center for Excellence has announced this year’s Arlington “40 Under 40” honorees. The 40 Under 40 luncheon will be held Dec. 2. [InsideNova]
Photos from Weekend Events — Pleasant late-summer temperatures helped drive big turnouts at Clarendon Day and Pups and Pilsners this weekend. Meanwhile, ARLnow’s Fall Beer Mega Tasting Event at Arrowine drew a (relatively) big crowd as well.
Flickr pool photo by Angela Pan
Roethlisberger’s foundation will be distributing a grant to Arlington County Police in order to purchase ballistic vests for the department’s seven K-9s. Roethlisberger and the Steelers will be playing the Washington Redskins on Monday.
“During the 2016 NFL season, The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation will be distributing grants to K-9 units of police and fire departments in the cities and surrounding communities of each regular season away game for the Steelers,” said the quarterback’s website. “The Foundation will also distribute several grants to the Pittsburgh area. Ben invited police and fire departments across the country to submit proposals detailing their needs.”
“Our K-9s are integral members of the Arlington County Police Department, both in the field and from a community outreach perspective,” ACPD Chief Jay Farr said in a statement. “We are grateful to receive this grant so we can provide our K-9s with ballistic vests as an added layer of protection to keep them safe.”
Last season the Roethlisberger Foundation made more than $170,000 in grants to K-9 units across the country. Roethlisberger has pledged $1,000 to the foundation for every touchdown he throws this season and is seeking additional donations from fans.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) September 8, 2016
Emergency Exercise at the Pentagon — The Arlington County Fire Department will be joining other agencies for an full-scale training exercise at the Pentagon today. The simulated helicopter crash and mass casualty response exercise will take place at the Pentagon heliport along Washington Blvd from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. [WTOP]
Police Warn of IRS Scam Calls — Scammers posing as local law enforcement officers or IRS agents have been phoning Arlington residents recently. “These individuals accuse the victims of owing money to the IRS which must be paid immediately using iTunes gift cards, or other means,” according to a press release. “In some cases, scammers have deliberately falsified the information transmitted to the victim’s Caller ID display to disguise their identity as the non-emergency police line.” [Arlington County]
New Ad Displays Coming to Metro Stations — The Rosslyn, Ballston, Crystal City and Pentagon City Metro stations will be getting new digital displays that will play video advertisements targeted at transit riders. [Borderstan]
Rental House Includes Tiki Bar — A listing for a rental home in the Ashton Heights neighborhood includes a “new tiki bar” in the backyard and off-street parking for four cars. The 4 BR / 3 BA home is listed for $4,500 per month. [Real House Life of Arlington, Zillow]
Actress to Campaign for Hillary In Arlington — Bellamy Young, who plays the First Lady on ABC’s “Scandal,” will stop by Hillary Clinton’s Arlington field office in Dominion Hills next Saturday morning, as part of a series of campaign events in Northern Virginia.
(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) President Fitzgerald Grant will be making a campaign appearance at a Clarendon bar tonight.
“Scandal” actor Tony Goldwyn, best known for his role as President of the United States on the ABC drama series, will be attending a Democratic young professional happy hour tonight in support of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The event is taking place from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at American Tap Room (3101 Wilson Blvd) in Clarendon. RSVP is required.
“I have been passionate about Hillary’s campaign for a long time,” Goldwyn said in a recent email to Virginia residents. “She is the toughest, smartest, and kindest candidate we could wish for, and I know she’s got what it takes to be president. (It isn’t an easy job — except maybe when the Oval Office is on a soundstage!)”
“I so look forward to meeting you and hearing the reasons why this election matters to YOU,” Goldwyn continued. “We may even have time for a selfie!”