Arlington, VA

Framebridge in Clarendon is now open with the store also giving away free flowers for Mother’s Day.

The D.C.-based custom framing company, owned by Rosslyn-based Graham Holdings, opened its newest location at 2839 Clarendon Blvd on Thursday. The store is offering free flowers from local florist Holley Simmons, while supplies last, with any in-store purchase throughout the weekend.

In a statement to ARLnow, Framebridge CEO Susan Tynan said she always wanted to bring a store to Clarendon.

We’re so excited to finally have a store in Clarendon — we’ve actually had our eye on this center since we opened our first retail location on 14th Street in 2019. We took a tour then and have been waiting for the perfect spot to open ever since!

We have so many great customers in the Arlington area, and we hope to be introduced to many new customers who are visiting the great shops and restaurants nearby. This is a well-trafficked, central location and it’s an easy place for people to visit. We are thrilled to be part of this community we already love and can’t wait to see everything customers choose to Framebridge on Clarendon Boulevard!

Framebridge initially began as an e-commerce, online-only company, but started expanding to brick and mortar locations in 2019.

This is the company’s fifth physical location in the region and second in Virginia. It has also recently opened retail shops at Union Market in D.C. and in the Mosaic District. Non-D.C.-area locations include Brooklyn and Atlanta.

The store is opening in the newly-renamed The Crossing Clarendon, a stretch of interconnected stores, restaurants, offices and residential space formerly known as Market Common Clarendon. The Crossing has had several notable comings and goings in recent months.

Boston-based Tatte Bakery and Cafe is set to open in July in the former spot of Baja Fresh. Connecticut-based pizza chain Colony Grill also opened in October and has already garnered a good deal of love.

Framebridge is in the former Lou Lou Boutiques location, after that store shuttered this past summer.

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Big things are afoot at The Crossing Clarendon (2800 Clarendon Blvd) — a stretch of interconnected stores, restaurants, offices and residential space formerly known as Market Common Clarendon — as the center starts to brush off the dust from the past year.

As an overview: The Crossing refers to a multi-block stretch of mixed-use development that includes the Whole Foods, the Cheesecake Factory and the Apple Store. With some recent rebranding, the collection of retail on the opposite side of Clarendon Blvd from the Whole Foods is now known as The Loop.

Also new is the recently expanded and upgraded office space in the center of the development, now dubbed The Loft Office at The Crossing Clarendon. Construction on the project wrapped up last year, bringing with it a floral public art installation.

Jason Yanushonis, manager of investments for The Crossing owner Regency Centers, said retail leasing interest for the shopping center is picking up again as the end of the pandemic seems hopefully in sight.

“The interest has been solid and picking up exponentially,” said Yanushonis. “Tenants are starting to seriously consider the next few years of their operation and what that’s going to look like.”

Soon-to-open Framebridge and Tatte Bakery and Cafe are the most recently announced additions, but Yanushonis said there’s been some interest in the Iota Club space.

“We took the roof off and created a two-level space,” Yanushonis said. “We don’t have anything we’re ready to announce yet, but interest for that office and retail space has been going up.”

“As people are starting to have more visibility for when things open up, they’re getting more comfortable with signing deals,” he continued. “Recently, the retail has really picked up, because there’s more visibility for openings. We’ve been happy with the level of activity for both, but the retail is making us specifically excited.”

For The Loop, Regency Centers is aiming to turn the area near the Barnes and Noble into a pedestrian-friendly walking plaza, closing a portion of the existing loop road, Washington Business Journal reported.

“We’re planning to go in front of the [County] Board this summer and start construction in early 2022,” Yanushonis said.

Map via Regency Centers

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What’s better than celebrating a birthday? Celebrating a dog’s birthday, of course.

Walter the Bernese Mountain Dog is turning 4 and his parents are inviting all dogs and their humans (and pet-less people) to celebrate with them.

Walter has lived in Arlington since the fall of 2019 with his dog parents, Nick and Kayti Goebel. Now “135 pounds of pure muscle” as Nick likes to say, Walter has become a local celebrity. While walking around Clarendon and going to local restaurants with his parents, Walter attracts lots of attention.

“It’s amazing how people stop us to meet and pet Walter,” said Nick. “He gets a lot of attention and love.”

One day while they were sitting at one of their favorite local restaurants, the staff persuaded Nick and Kayti to make Walter an Instagram account. After leaving the restaurant, they met a writer from The Dogist, a website and social media account dedicated to pictures and stories of dogs around the world. The writer asked to take some photos of Walter and posted them to their 3.9 million followers on Instagram, tagging Walter’s new account.

In the first 24 hours of Walter’s account, he had 2,000 followers.

Now his account is up to nearly 4,800 followers. Nick and Kayti asked his Instagram followers if anyone in Arlington would want to celebrate Walter’s 4th birthday with them and they got lots of interest.

This Sunday, April 25, from 3-5 p.m. at The The Pinemoor in Clarendon (1101 N. Highland Street), the couple will be celebrating on the back deck and welcoming any humans and dogs to come party with them.

There will be Walter-inspired cocktails and a raffle items, the proceeds of which will go to the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation.

“With so many people wanting to attend, we saw an opportunity to do some good,” said Kayti. “So we reached out to the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation to see if they would like us to turn the party into a fundraiser.”

There is a sizable crowd expected, but the back patio is limited to 50 people so the couple encourages people to come early in order to celebrate and see Walter on his big day.

Photos via @this.is.walters.world/Instagram

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In the short time that Colony Grill has been in Clarendon, the pizza place has garnered a lot of love.

The spot opened last October at 2800 Clarendon Blvd in The Crossing Clarendon (formerly known as Market Common). Colony Grill, a small Connecticut-based chain, is known for its short menu featuring one innovation to pizza: the thin-crust, hot-oil bar pie. On weekends, it becomes a breakfast pizza best served with a mimosa or Bloody Mary.

Co-owner Ken Martin tells ARLnow that the company is as excited to be in Arlington now as it was a month before the opening.

“I think we’ve been well-received by local guests and the community, which has been great,” he said.

Small, out-of-town restaurant chains setting up shop in Arlington have not always found the county to be a fruitful place to pursue an expansion. What worked in one place often does not work here, for one reason or another.

But reviewers on Google and Yelp seem to agree with Martin that Colony Grill has found a good fit: “Finally a solid pizza place right in the heart of Clarendon! Place looks amazing on the inside,” said one.

A Stamford native who now lives in Arlington said she “had high expectations for this location,” given its Connecticut provenance, and was not disappointed, praising the service and the local addition of “a down-to-earth, inexpensive, quality pizza joint.”

But business could be better, Martin said. Back in the Constitution State, most sales are inside rather than take-out. In Clarendon, most sales are inside too, but Colony Grill is limited by booth spacing. Restrictions have been lifted faster in New York and Connecticut, allowing customers to be seated back-to-back in booths so long as a barrier is in place, he said.

“We certainly need more capacity,” Martin said.

Martin observed that people in Virginia seem more reluctant to dine out than those in Connecticut and New York, where the original restaurant and its four outposts are located.

“It seems like some of our guests in Virginia, they just want to be given permission to leave their house — they’ve tried to follow the rules and do their best,” he said. “We want to get through this. We’ve been fairly healthy because of the type of restaurant we are, but we’re so desperate to get more bodies into the restaurant.”

He said he hopes to see some additional restrictions lifted in the coming weeks and months, which Colony Grill will need “to remain healthy as a business.”

“Our dine-in business has been very strong but within a context that’s a bit limited,” he said. “Takeout has been okay, but typically, takeout business lags for a year or two until we establish ourselves.”

The pizza joint is still working to establish itself as a member of the community. A “Wall of Heroes” features photos of those who have served in uniform as first responders or members of the military. For Veteran’s Day, Colony Grill offered free pizza to current and former military members.

This year, Colony Grill is sponsoring the Armed Forces Cycling Classic, which was canceled last year. The races through Crystal City and Clarendon are set to take place on Saturday and Sunday, June 5-6, respectively — pending final permit approval and an easing of restrictions on outdoor gatherings.

“We’ve tried to be a good partner for our size of business,” he said of the sponsorship.

Although uncertainty exists, Martin said his restaurant will continue its focus on its thin-crust pizza, hospitality and a wecoming atmosphere.

“That’s going to get us returning customers over the long haul,” he said.

Remember the Stamford native? She later updated her review to say she’s “been going consistently once a week.” Her one pro-tip: “Ask for your pizza on the well-done side, it’s my favorite.”

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Clarendon mainstay The Liberty Tavern was vandalized overnight.

Someone apparently fired a BB gun at the front door and windows of the restaurant, on both the Wilson Blvd and N. Irving Street sides, cracking the glass. Police are investigating.

“At approximately 1:22 a.m. on April 15, police were dispatched to the report of a destruction of property,” Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Upon arrival, it was determined that the front door and windows of a restaurant were cracked with what appeared consistent with damage from a BB gun. There is no suspect description(s). The investigation is ongoing.”

It’s unclear why Liberty Tavern was singled out by the vandal or vandals. Savage noted that “no similar incidents have been reported” today.

Liberty Tavern was famously visited by President Obama in 2011, and by now-President Biden in 2013 for a taping of MSNBC’s Morning Joe. It was among the top vote-getters for Best Restaurant for Takeout and Delivery in the winter 2021 edition of ARLnow’s Arlies awards.

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The County Board is set to consider a set of projects that would upgrade sidewalks and improve a small park.

Of the four, three focus on pedestrian improvements with an eye toward walkability for Arlington Public Schools students in the Bluemont, Columbia Heights and Fairlington neighborhoods. The fourth would fund improvements to 11th Street Park in Clarendon.

These upgrades, at a cost of roughly $2 million in total, were given a thumbs up last December by Arlington’s Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee. This group identifies needed improvements such as sidewalks, street beautification, street lights and parks and recommends them to the County Board.

At the intersection of 6th Street N. and N. Edison Street in Bluemont, the committee proposes to widen some corners and build out the sidewalks as well as upgrade landscaping and accessible ramps.

“It’ll be very visible to cars that people are crossing,” project representative Nick Pastore said during the December meeting. “That will help slow the rate of speed of cars going around those corners.”

Drivers take these residential roads “at a pretty decent speed” to avoid N. George Mason Drive between N. Carlin Springs Road and Wilson Blvd, he said.

At the intersection of 12th Street S. and S. Scott Street in Columbia Heights, nearu Columbia Pike, NCAC is requesting $500,000 to conduct a feasibility study for improving the intersection by extending the street corners, and making improvements to the crosswalks, landscaping and accessible ramps.

“This improved crossing will help students walking from nearby S. Courthouse Road to Hoffman-Boston [Elementary School] safely cross a busy road,” said Kristin Haldeman, director of multimodal transportation planning for Arlington Public School, in a letter to the county.

She added that the extra curb space “will provide more room for students in the area who attend Gunston Middle School and Wakefield High School to wait for their bus at the intersection.”

Columbia Heights Civic Association member Sarah McKinley welcomed the project for the neighborhood of apartment buildings and condos, saying the committee has been criticized over the years for mostly benefitting single-family neighborhoods.

“Here’s an example of an NC project that can benefit both types of neighborhoods,” she said.

In Fairlington, the committee proposes a sidewalk, curb, and gutter along the north side of S. Abingdon Street between 31st Street S. and 31st Road S. — near the STEM Preschool and the former Fire Station 7.

Fairlington representative Ed Hilz said these changes would improve walking paths for students getting to Abingdon Elementary School.

“Currently, there’s a staircase that is not very convenient to negotiate for children,” he said.

Finally, a green space at 11th Street N. and N. Danville Street in Clarendon would get new furnishings, park signage and path lighting. Additionally, the lawn will be aerated.

“I think this park is heavily used so all these upgrades will be a tremendous benefit for the community,” project representative Alyssa Cannon said.

Money for the projects will come from the 2016 and 2018 Community Conservation bonds.

Images via Google Maps

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First Lady Jill Biden is in Clarendon this afternoon, visiting a call center for military members and their families.

The First Lady is visiting the offices of Military OneSource, described as “a Department of Defense resource providing 24/7 support to service members, their families, and survivors.” The visit follows an earlier event at the White House in which Biden spoke of her Joining Forces initiative to support military and veteran families, as well as caregivers and survivors.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is among the local officials expected to be in attendance as Biden tours the call center and speaks with employees. Also greeting the First Lady are Charlene Austin and Hollyanne Milley, the wives of the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, respectively.

Locals should expect a security presence in the area.

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Long-time Clarendon restaurant Nam-Viet was the victim of a break-in over the weekend.

Someone shattered the glass front doors of the restaurant, located at 1127 N. Hudson Street, just off Clarendon’s main nightlife district. The break-in happened early in the morning, police said.

“At approximately 2:22 a.m. police were dispatched to the report of a burglary in progress,” Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Upon arrival, officers observed the suspect sitting at a table inside a closed restaurant and gave him commands to exit, which he complied with. The investigation determined the suspect forced entry into the restaurant by breaking two glass doors.”

A 21-year-old man from Milton, Massachusetts was arrested and charged with Unlawful Entry and felony Destruction of Property.

The break-in happened amid a national focus on hate-motivated crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Savage said anti-Asian bias did not appear to be a factor in this crime, however.

“The suspect was intoxicated at the time of arrest,” she said. “The preliminary investigation has not revealed a bias-based motive nor a connection to any other criminal incidents.”

On Instagram, Nam-Viet thanked customers for their support while the business cleaned up, noting that the pandemic has hit it and other Asian-owned businesses in the area hard.

We want to take a minute to thank everyone who has reached out to us today to show their love and support. We were fortunate enough to only have cosmetic damage to the doors. Nothing was taken and both our family and business are doing well. In the meantime, if you would like to help us out, we urge everyone to please support any and all Asian owned businesses in the area. They have been some of the hardest hit businesses during this pandemic.

We will continue to remain optimistic during these times and we will allow the proper authorities to do their work in remedying justice to those who caused this damage today. We wish for everyone to have nothing but respect for one another. And please know that Nam-Viet Restaurant is so blessed and thankful for the love, support and kindness shared in the Arlington community and beyond.

The broken doors were boarded up as of Saturday evening, as an anti-hate vigil was held nearby.

The Stop Asian American and Pacific Islander Hate Vigil, held from 6-6:30 p.m., was coincidentally organized a week prior in response to “events that have been occurring nationally,” said co-organizer Allyson Dieck.

“The backdrop of Arlington’s historical Little Saigon on Clarendon Blvd was the perfect site for an opportunity to honor and show our support for our own AAPI community,” Dieck told ARLnow. “We really felt that our AAPI community is in deep pain — currently from the national trend of violence being shown towards them, but also from more general bias shown on a regular basis. There were some moving accounts expressed during the vigil.”

About two dozen people attended the event, which was promoted on social media. Gathered at the Clarendon Metro plaza, they lit luminaries and held a moment of silence for the victims of the recent mass shooting in Atlanta. A number of those in attendance also spoke of their experiences with anti-Asian bias.

Jay Westcott contributed to this report

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A 39-year-old man from Hyattsville is facing charges after police say he threw a beer bottle, brandished a knife and harassed a group of people in Clarendon.

Police were called to the 3100 block of Wilson Blvd, in the heart of Clarendon’s bar district, just after 11:30 p.m. Tuesday for a report of a man threatening people with a knife.

From an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect was inside a restaurant when he became involved in a verbal altercation with a group of individuals. The suspect then allegedly followed the group to different restaurants while making verbally harassing statements. The verbal altercation continued to escalate, during which a member of the group grabbed the suspect’s cell phone and smashed it on the ground. The suspect then produced a knife.

The alleged drunken fracas continued inside a restaurant, where an innocent bystander was struck and injured by a flying beer bottle.

As bystanders attempted to separate the parties and escort the suspect out of the restaurant, he grabbed a beer bottle and threw it in the direction of the group. The bottle struck a bystander causing a laceration to the head. The bystander was transported to an area hospital for treatment. The suspect then left the scene and entered a separate restaurant where officers located him and took him into custody without incident.

Police say they found ID cards with someone else’s information while searching the suspect. The 39-year-old from Hyattsville, Maryland is now facing charges of Assault and Battery, Simple Assault, Drunk in Public, Identity Theft and Possession of Fictitious ID.

Separately, a 36-year-old Arlington man was charged with Destruction of Property for smashing the suspect’s phone. He was released on a summons.

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Long-time local watering hole Whitlow’s says it’s closing after efforts to renew its lease were unsuccessful.

“We have been unable to successfully negotiate an extension for our lease which expires at the end of June 2021,” the restaurant said today in a social media post. “We will continue to operate as we have been; however, we are due to close on Saturday, June 26.”

Located at 2854 Wilson Blvd, the bar first opened in Clarendon in 1995, after first opening as a greasy-spoon eatery in D.C. in 1946. It added a rooftop deck in 2010.

ARLnow first reported two years ago that it was listed on a commercial real estate website for a lease start date of July 1, 2021. As of this week, the property is now listed for sale at an undisclosed price.

In its social media post, Whitlow’s said it is “actively looking for a future home.”

“We don’t necessarily see this as a goodbye, but more of a see you later,” the post says. “In the meantime, there are three months left and we are going to make the best of it!”

The full statement is below.

Whitlow’s on Wilson has been family owned and operated since 1995. While it has been an exceedingly difficult year due to Covid-19, thankfully Whitlow’s maintained operations and support for our staff as much as possible. Unfortunately, we have been unable to successfully negotiate an extension for our lease which expires at the end of June 2021. We will continue to operate as we have been; however, we are due to close on Saturday June 26th 2021. We invite everyone to drop by and celebrate all the good times that have been had over the course of our 26 years here in Clarendon.

We want to take this opportunity to thank our past and present staff for making Whitlow’s the neighborhood gathering spot that it is. A special shout out to the incredible team that has fought so hard to keep Whitlow’s going during the pandemic, we are beyond grateful. Thank you to the musicians that have played on our stage. To our loyal regulars and guests, we cannot say thank you enough, we could not have done it without you.

While, the doors at 2854 Wilson may be closing in June, we are actively looking for a future home. We don’t necessarily see this as a goodbye, but more of a see you later… In the meantime, there are three months left and we are going to make the best of it! We have some good things planned and hope to see all of you soon.

The Cahill/ Williams Family

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Morning Notes

Grants for National Landing Restaurants — “The National Landing Business Improvement District and the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington have a new round of grant aid for restaurants and small businesses… Grant applications will be accepted online until March 28. They will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis, and will amount to at least $1,000 for each approved business.” [WTOP]

New Clarendon Salon Opening Next Week — The new Smitten on Washington salon is set to open on Tuesday, March 23, at 3000 Washington Blvd in Clarendon. The salon replaces Hendricks Gentlemen’s Barbershop, a men’s venture from the Smitten owners that closed in December after four years in business. [Facebook]

Silver Line Ext. Not Opening Until 2022 — “Metro officials say that the Silver Line extension to Dulles International Airport will open for use in early 2022, most likely in February. ‘What we’re looking at is early 2022, first quarter in calendar 2022, as the likely start of operations,’ Laura Mason, Metro’s executive vice president for capital delivery, said at a board meeting Thursday.” [DCist]

Local Leaders Want Metro Changes — “Representing the cities and counties that fund Metro in Virginia, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission outlined its priorities for Metro’s proposed FY 2022 budget… While the Commission recognizes the major funding relief made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act, the Commission presses Metro to: Maintain a dependable and sufficient level of rail and bus service throughout FY 2022, Open Silver Line Phase 2 as soon as possible, Rebuild ridership, [and] Minimize shifting operating expenses to the capital program.” [Press Release]

Single-Family Homes Are Red Hot — “Typically, markets tend to favor sellers when the supply of homes drops below six months. For much of the last decade, the local supply has hovered at around two months, but has been trending ever lower in recent years. For single-family homes, the D.C. region’s supply dropped to a mere 0.6 months in February, according to the data, and those homes are selling within seven days on the open market.” [Washington Business Journal]

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