Arlington, VA

A man who robbed and tried to rob businesses in Clarendon and Rosslyn earlier this week also struck in Ballston last month, Arlington County police say.

ACPD just released surveillance images of the man, whose face is obscured by a mask in one photo and a hard hat in another.

In all three incidents, the man passed a note to a store employee demanding money. He was given cash in two of the incidents, but an employee declined his demands in one of the incidents this week.

“This remains an active criminal investigation and anyone with information related to the suspect’s identity or these incidents is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] arlingtonva.us,” police said in a press release, below.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is seeking the public’s assistance identifying a suspect involved in a series of three robbery incidents in Arlington County. The series includes two cases from October 19, 2020 and one case from September 23, 2020. During each of the incidents, the suspect entered a business, approached an employee, and passed them a note requesting money. Based upon witness interviews, evidence collected, and case information, detectives are investigating these incidents as a series involving the same suspect.

  • At approximately 4:21 p.m. on September 23, police were dispatched to the 4200 block of Fairfax Drive for the report of a robbery just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect entered a business, approached the front counter, and passed the employee a note demanding money and threatening them if they didn’t comply. The victim complied, and the suspect stole an undisclosed amount of cash, then fled on foot prior to police arrival.
  • At approximately 4:17 p.m. on October 19, police were dispatched to the 1500 block of Wilson Boulevard for the report of an attempted robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect entered a business, approached the front counter, and passed a note to the cashier demanding money and threatening her. The victim declined and sought the assistance from another employee, at which point the suspect stepped in front of her and attempted to grab the note back unsuccessfully. The suspect then fled prior to police arrival.
  • At approximately 4:44 p.m. on October 19, police were dispatched to the 3100 block of Wilson Boulevard for the report of a robbery by force. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 4:39 p.m., the suspect entered a business, approached the front counter and passed a note to the cashier demanding money and threatening her. The victim provided an undisclosed amount of cash to the suspect, who then fled prior to police arrival.

The suspect is described as a Black male, 25-35 years old, approximately 5’6″-5’9″, with a slim build, and black hair. During the September 23 incident he was wearing a construction vest and during the incidents on October 19, he was wearing a construction helmet.

This remains an active criminal investigation and anyone with information related to the suspect’s identity or these incidents is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] arlingtonva.us. Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

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A store was robbed in Clarendon on Monday by a man whose tools of the trade were a pen and paper.

Arlington County police say a business on the 3100 block of Wilson Blvd was robbed around 4:45 p.m., by a man who passed a note to a cashier. Initial reports at the time suggest that it was the CVS Pharmacy on the block which was robbed.

More from an ACPD crime report:

ROBBERY, 2020-10190119, 3100 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 4:44 p.m. on October 19, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery by force. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 4:39 p.m., the suspect entered a business, approached the front counter and passed a note to the cashier demanding money and threatening her. The victim provided an undisclosed amount of cash to the suspect, who then fled prior to police arrival. The suspect is described as a  Black male wearing a baggy, gray long sleeve shirt, blue jeans, white helmet, blue medical mask, and carrying a black and gray backpack. The investigation is ongoing.

A half-hour before that robbery, a man fitting a similar description passed a threatening note to a cashier at a business in Rosslyn, demanding cash. The cashier “declined” the man’s demand and asked another employee for help, at which point the robber fled after trying unsuccessfully to take back the note, according to police.

Form ACPD:

ATTEMPTED ROBBERY, 2020-10190116, 1500 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 4:17 p.m. on October 19, police were dispatched to the report of an attempted robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect entered a business, approached the front counter, and passed a note to the cashier demanding money and threatening her. The victim declined and sought the assistance from another employee, at which point the suspect stepped in front of her and attempted to grab the note back unsuccessfully. The suspect then fled prior to police arrival. The suspect is described as a Black male, approximately 5’6″, with a slim build, black hair, wearing blue jeans, a gray long sleeve shirt, white construction helmet, a watch, blue gloves, a blue mask, and carrying a black and gray backpack. The investigation is ongoing.

The 1500 block of Wilson Blvd is home to Target and several other businesses.

File photo

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Morning Notes

Return of First Students Delayed — “As we have shared, we were aiming for an October 29 start for Level 1, which includes approximately 225 students with disabilities who need in-person support to access distance learning. We are now moving the start date back to Wednesday, November 4, to ensure all operational metrics are met and staff are well equipped and ready to support our students at each school.” [Arlington Public Schools]

County Crushes Census Count — “You did it, Arlington County: With the Census Count completing on October 15th, 99.98% of Arlington was officially counted. Thank you to our Complete Count Committee for your tireless, infectious enthusiasm for ensuring that everyone counts!” [@kcristol/Twitter, YouTube]

Culpepper Garden Celebrates Renovations — “It wasn’t quite the kind of celebration that had been expected when, two and a half years ago, work began on a major renovation at the Culpepper Garden senior-living facility. But it was a celebration nonetheless – albeit ‘virtually’ – that was called for, and on Oct. 13, leaders of two non-profit housing providers and their partners held an online program to mark completion of the $58 million project.” [InsideNova]

Spirits of ’76 Closing Happy Hour Set to close on Nov. 1, Spirits of ’76 is holding a half-off happy hour from 4-6 p.m. until the closing date. “Everything must go!” the Clarendon bar said on social media. [Instagram]

Punch Bowl Social Restarting Happy Hour — “Punch Bowl Social, the ‘millennial-oriented’ adult playground in Arlington, reopened its Ballston location last week, and it plans to restart happy hour, Wednesday through Friday, beginning Wednesday, October 21. The ‘eatertainment’ chain says it will offer diversions like arcade games, bocce, darts, and more in a socially distant fashion.” [Washingtonian]

Overnight Closures Along I-66 — “Overnight ramp and lane closures are scheduled to occur this week, and possibly next week, on I-66 East in Arlington for asphalt paving and overhead sign replacement as part of the I-66 Eastbound Widening Project. Detours will be posted to direct traffic.” [VDOT]

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Arlington County police arrested a man over the weekend after he allegedly tried to force his way into the home of a woman who opened her door to see if he needed help.

The incident happened around 1:45 a.m. Sunday on the 3100 block of 9th Street N., near Clarendon.

Police say the 22-year-old man was drunk when he started to damage items outside the home and then pushed the victim in an attempt to enter the home.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

UNLAWFUL ENTRY, 2020-10180035, 3100 block of 9th Street N. At approximately 1:45 a.m. on October 18, police were dispatched to the report of a suspicious person. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was inside her residence when she heard noise at her door and observed the male suspect outside. As the victim opened the door to see if the suspect was in need of assistance, he requested to be let inside and kicked a shoe and his phone into the residence. As the victim attempted to retrieve the items, the suspect allegedly began to damage the victim’s property outside, then pushed the victim as he attempted to enter the residence. The victim fought back and yelled for assistance, at which point neighbor came to the aid of the victim and chased the suspect out of the building. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the suspect had also entered another residence in the building. Kyle Lewis, 22, of Chantilly, Va., was arrested and charged with Assault and Battery, Unlawful Entry, and Drunk in Public.

Also in the most recent ACPD crime report, police are investigating Saturday morning robberies in Crystal City and Rosslyn.

ROBBERY, 2020-10170061, 1400 block of Crystal Drive. At approximately 3:17 a.m. on October 17, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that when the two victims came outside to meet the suspect,  she exited her vehicle and demanded money from them. As Victim One pulled out an undisclosed amount of cash, the suspect struck him with a closed fist and grabbed the money. The suspect then turned to Victim Two, who initially declined to provide money, and became angered. Victim Two produced an undisclosed amount of cash, which the suspect grabbed, then fled in the vehicle prior to police arrival. The suspect is described as a Black female, 6’2″ to 6’4″, and 300 lbs. The vehicle is described as a gray Mercedes hatchback. The investigation is ongoing.

ROBBERY, 2020-10170094, 1100 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 9:56 a.m. on October 17, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery by force just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect entered a business and began selecting merchandise. The victim approached the suspect telling him to pay for the merchandise, at which point a physical altercation ensued. The suspect pushed the victim and grabbed his eyeglasses, causing them to break, then selected additional merchandise and fled the business prior to police arrival. The suspect is described as a White male, approximately 6’0″, 220 lbs., wearing a dark gray hoodie, camouflage shorts, with black and yellow sneakers. The investigation is ongoing.

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The Spirits of ’76, a bar in Clarendon that opened just before the 2016 election, is closing just before the 2020 election.

The bar at 3211 Washington Blvd is just off the main drag of Clarendon, on a block in which restaurants have struggled. It opened in October 2016 with Americana decor, a robust whiskey list, and a menu of American comfort food.

Spirits of ’76 was unpretentious from the outset, seeking to be little more than a good local bar, comfortable neighborhood hangout, and occasional small event venue.

The business announced today that it will be closing in less than two weeks, after deciding against renewing its lease.

“It is a sad day at 76 to announce on our anniversary that we will be closing for good at the end of business on Sunday, November 1,” the restaurant said on social media. “Our lease is up at the end of November and it has become unsustainable to continue during these times. I have made numerous attempts to contact the landlords but they will not return our calls or letters to try to keep us going.”

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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.

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Today, 85 years after opening its first location in Connecticut, Colony Grill (2800 Clarendon Blvd) began serving Arlingtonians its famed thin-crust bar pie, sizzling with hot oil and topped with peppers known as “stingers.”

The location, three years in the making, is the first outside southern Connecticut and Port Chester, New York. Construction on the two-story establishment at Market Common Clarendon began in February and only lost a week or two to delays related to the pandemic, said co-owner Ken Martin.

He and his fellow co-owners, Paul Coniglio, Chris Drury and Cody Lee, began looking outside their home state because real estate there is limited. The childhood friends from Trumbull, Connecticut fell in love with the D.C. area “almost overnight,” he said.

“Arlington resembles Fairfield County on steroids,” Martin said, noting that it has the same energy: a dense population of smart, eclectic people who are especially social.

If the Clarendon outpost does well, more D.C. area locations may follow, according to Martin.

“We hope to open more down here once we establish ourselves and are doing well,” Martin said, mentioning Bethesda and the District as possible destinations.

Irish immigrants opened Colony Grill in Stamford, Connecticut in 1935, two years after the end of the Great Depression and the Prohibition era. The owners served many dishes, but the Italian and Eastern European chefs devised the “bar pie” to be smaller and thinner than a traditional pizza, and fit on the bar top.

Today, the chain only serves this pizza, although the name and the Irish decor pay homage to the kitchen’s original menu and the restaurant’s origins.

After World War II, the owners began collecting framed pictures of those who fought to honor Connecticut’s contributions to the war effort. Today, locals to each new location are invited to bring pictures of their friends or family members in the service to be hung on the brick walls.

Arlington patrons can submit 8×10 inch photos of friends, family members or themselves, in their branch of the military uniform, to the restaurant’s collection.

Local antique pieces will join the familiar faces in sepia tones and in color, including three prominent astronauts with roots in the area, to make patrons feel at home.

Colony Grill’s designer visited flea markets, tag sales, and frequented libraries and historical societies to get a feel for Arlington’s neighborhoods. Folks will recognize some of the antiques on display, Martin said.

“We want to give people the feel that we understand the neighborhood as they come in,” he said.

Pizzas cost up to $13, and customers can choose standard toppings or the chain’s original offerings, including the salad pie and the breakfast pie.

Colony Grill also has 12 beers on top and wine bottles by the glass or bottle.

In response to the coronavirus, the company has spent nearly $100,000 at each location on glass partitions and a streamlined check platform for employees, according to the co-owners. The restaurant has also invested in an online app for contact-less ordering and payment.

Colony Grill is open daily from 11:30 a.m. until late closing, at the corner of Clarendon Blvd and N. Fillmore Street, for up to 170 people.

Photos courtesy Rey Lopez, as marked

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Two. D.C. men are facing a battery of charges after police say they were seen prowling local neighborhoods and trying to break into cars.

The arrests were made Monday morning after a resident reported a suspicious vehicle, accompanied by two people on foot looking into parked cars, along N. George Mason Drive in the Yorktown neighborhood. The vehicle was later spotted in the Clarendon area, and the pair arrested after a foot chase.

More from an Arlington County Police Department press release:

At approximately 5:30 a.m. on October 12, police were dispatched to the area of 27th Street N. and N. George Mason Drive for the report of a suspicious vehicle. The reporting party observed a vehicle driving through the neighborhood with two subjects walking alongside it and appearing to look into parked vehicles. A lookout for the vehicle was broadcast and officers located it in the area of Wilson Boulevard and 10th Street North. The driver of the vehicle failed to stop for law enforcement. The vehicle eventually became inoperable at 10th Street N. and N. Irving Street and the four occupants fled the scene on foot. Following a brief foot pursuit, two of the vehicle’s occupants were located and taken into police custody. Two subjects remain outstanding and there are no descriptions of the subjects. The investigation determined that both the vehicle and the temporary license plate on the vehicle were reported stolen.

A 21-year-old man was charged with Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Eluding and Receiving Stolen Property, while a 20-year-old man was was charged with Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Eluding, Forgery and False ID to Law Enforcement. Both were held on a secured bond, police said.

The arrests come as Arlington is in the midst of a wave of vehicle-related crimes. In February we reported that hundreds of cars had been broken into since July 2019. In July of this year, at least 31 cars were reported stolen in Arlington, two-thirds of which were either left running while unattended, or unlocked with keys inside. Despite public service announcements from ACPD, as well as other arrests, those types of crimes continued throughout the summer.

The latest incident, police say, is an instance of a common vehicle property crime in Arlington: a group of thieves, traveling together in a stolen vehicle, testing door handles and then stealing items from unlocked cars or stealing the cars themselves, if keys are found inside.

From ACPD:

Vehicle-related property crimes such as motor vehicle theft, larcenies from auto and vehicle tampering are often crimes of opportunity. Thieves are looking for easy, low effort opportunities to steal from hardworking members of the public and target vehicles with unsecured doors and windows.

The method of theft in this incident is consistent with other vehicle-related property crimes reported in Arlington. Several suspects, often riding in a stolen vehicle, drive through Arlington neighborhoods looking for crimes of opportunity. As the driver proceeds slowly down the street, several accomplices exit the vehicle and check door handles of vehicles parked in the area. The suspects enter vehicles that are found to be unlocked with the goal of stealing valuables and those vehicles with keys left inside. These incidents typically occur during overnight or early morning hours.

The police department offered the following tips for keeping one’s vehicle secure and reporting suspicious activity to authorities.

Read More

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Delhi Club (1135 N. Highland Street) is under new management, and will soon take on a new name: Spice Kraft Indian Bistro.

For now, the change is unofficial and the restaurant continues to do business as Delhi Club, said general manager and co-owner Anthony Shankar. Delhi Club’s doors will reopen as Spice Kraft Indian Bistro by the end of the month, he said.

The restaurant in Clarendon will be the second location for Spice Kraft, which first opened in August 2019 in Alexandra’s Del Ray neighborhood, but had its grand opening this January. Like its approach to Delhi Club, Spice Kraft opened in the former Bombay Curry Company space.

Shankar said the owners of Spice Kraft and Delhi Club have a business relationship. When the Delhi Club owners decided it was time to close their restaurant, they approached Spice Kraft to see if they were interested in the spot, he said.

“They saw Spice Kraft has potential in Arlington,” Shankar said.

Shankar and fellow co-owners Helen Sanjjav and Prem Durairaj were planning to open the space before the pandemic started, but COVID-19 delayed the project from March through August.

Once regulations started easing up, the three got to work.

“We didn’t want to wait too long,” said Shankar, who managed Taaza, a popular Indian restaurant in Roanoke, for seven years before relocating to Alexandria to open Spice Kraft.

The owners have aspirations of Spice Kraft becoming a local chain, and intend to open two to three more locations in Northern Virginia after expanding to Clarendon.

Another nearby Indian restaurant, Delhi Dhaba, operates a few blocks down in Courthouse, but Spice Kraft will not be in direct competition with it, Shankar said.

“We see ourselves as classical and contemporary,” he said.

The menu is mostly the same across the two locations, but about one-quarter of the options are new, including some of the lunch fare, fusion dishes and rice bowls, Shankar said.

For example, Spice Kraft is serving up burgers with proteins such as chicken tikka, and the pre-plated rice bowls come with a protein, side, bread and salad for about $10.

Delhi Club opened in the early 2000s, but closed briefly during the summer of 2011 after a fire broke out.

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A pandemic is perhaps not the best business environment for an eatery that sends food on a conveyor belt throughout the restaurant.

Riverside Hot Pot, a Chinese restaurant in Clarendon that did just that, closed recently after just a year or so in business.

The closure was first spotted by a local Twitter user.

As of last night there was no signage outside the storefront at 1028 N. Garfield Street, and nothing inside but cleaning supplies and a lockbox on the door.

Another Riverside Hot Pot location in Gaithersburg closed shortly after the Clarendon location opened, while a Riverside Hot Pot location in Fairfax is also closed, according to Yelp.

By ARLnow’s tally, this is at least the seventeenth restaurant to have closed in Arlington since the beginning of the pandemic in March.

Jay Westcott contributed to this report

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It only exists online, but a new fried chicken restaurant has launched in Arlington.

Smokecraft Modern Barbecue, which opened in July at 1051 N. Highland Street in Clarendon, announced this week that it has also opened “Etta Faye’s Chicken Shack.”

The Southern-style eatery is a “ghost kitchen” — you can’t go there, sit down, and order food. Instead, you can only order it for delivery on Uber Eats or DoorDash, or for pickup on the Smokecraft online ordering page.

Etta Faye’s started taking its first orders Wednesday evening.

Ghost kitchens are a hot concept, attracting investors and media buzz. Last week ARLnow reported that a trailer in a Clarendon parking lot was operating as a ghost kitchen; Etta Faye’s, however, appears to operate out of the Smokecraft space.

Among the items offered are several varieties of fried chicken sandwich, as well as sides like a pimento cheese and biscuit crostini.

More from a press release:

The award-winning Smokecraft Modern Barbecue team is excited to announce Etta Faye’s Chicken Shack, a ghost kitchen concept now available for Arlington residents and visitors to enjoy via carryout and delivery.

Etta Faye’s Chicken Shack is an homage to Executive Sous Chef William Burke’s grandmother, a no-nonsense woman who was unapologetically herself. Crafted around two of Burke’s favorite childhood comfort foods, fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits, the concept is inspired by Burke’s southern roots, growing up cooking with his granny.

“During tough times like these, I always find comfort thinking of my grandmother’s food as a kid,” said Burke. “This menu is an ode to her and I’m hoping to share that same comfort with others.”

The menu boasts seven different sandwiches as well as salads, sides, and a ‘chuck it bucket’ for four. Enjoy offerings like a pimento cheese and biscuit crostini with pickled onions and hatch peppers, a fried green tomato BLT, a fried chicken sandwich with harissa hot sauce on a potato bun, a sweet BBQ fried chicken sandwich, and more. The ‘chuck it bucket’ feeds four for $24, complete with fried chicken, two sides, slaw, biscuits and fries. Sides include everything spiced tater tots with smoked garlic sauce, mac and cheese, and baked beans, among others.

For more information on Etta Faye’s Chicken Shack, follow the concept on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Orders will be available for delivery on UberEats and DoorDash, or for pickup at www.smokecraftbbq.com. Check out the Smokecraft Modern Barbecue website for the full menu of offerings.

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