The following is the second in a weekly series of articles about a “day in the life” of companies at the MakeOffices coworking space in Clarendon. The mini-series, which will run this fall, is sponsored by MakeOffices.
Just like former Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton made a career of enabling Karl “The Mailman” Malone to score, the workers behind LeagueApps spend every day making assists. They strive to set up every community team that uses their management service with a slam dunk experience.
The app-based service provides a management platform and web presence for youth and recreational sports teams. It organizes tasks such as online registrations, schedules, score databases and payment collection. “It’s kind of like an all-in-one app for sports organizers to facilitate all the logistics of their registration and what they need to do during the season for communicating with their members,” says Steve Parker, LeagueApps co-founder and chief technology officer.
The service has about 50 employees in two offices: one in Arlington and one in New York. Although the New York contingent works out of a standalone office, Parker says the Arlington employees benefit from being in the MakeOffices Clarendon coworking space. “One of the things that I like, and I think everyone likes, is being around these other companies. The energy of this place is great,” he says. “As a company, we see the value in having a nice working environment for people. [It’s] an intangible benefit that will pay dividends because they’ll feel more motivated and productive.”
Each day starts with the team having a stand-up meeting to go over what each person is working on, then the team disperses for their tasks. Although a lot of research, planning and strategy occurs in the Arlington office, much of what happens daily at this location is writing and testing code. Some businesses consider that an insular activity that can be performed remotely, but Parker believes staff members benefit from collaborating at the office.
“We can have in-person, live interactions, which are so valuable,” he says. “There’s a lot of questions that come up, issues that we encounter. Being able to talk through things and go to a whiteboard and discuss it live instead of just typing it… is a lot easier and more efficient.”
Having the two offices in different cities also creates a natural separation between the different tasks performed at each. Arlington houses the team behind the software platform and is considered the LeagueApps technology and product hub, whereas the New York office has a greater focus on business aspects such as sales, management, marketing, finance and customer success. “It’s a nice, clean delineation between what we do and they do,” Parker says.
The environment doesn’t just have a positive effect on employees. The conference rooms come in handy on the days when employees bring in clients for meetings. “The conference rooms and breakout rooms are key. We use those all the time,” says Parker, noting that clients are impressed when they visit the space.
So far, the business model appears to work. Parker says LeagueApps has nearly doubled in growth each year since its launch in 2011. “Just like any startup we’ve worked out a lot of kinks and have gotten to a point where we have a good model and we have a strong product-market fit. We’re continuing to refine that,” he says.
On occasion, the refining happens while interacting with employees at the other businesses in the coworking space. “Sometimes there’s technologies that we’re using that we can have conversations about and gain some quick insights,” says Parker.
One business improvement that has helped LeagueApps is choosing a handful of sports to focus on — such as lacrosse, soccer and baseball — and catering the platform to each, rather than having one generic platform that could be used for all sports. Customers get more value with the sport-specific focus because “different sports have slightly different ways of doing things,” Parker explains. “So we’ve built our platform to be customizable to all the different things that sport organizers do… our account executives and our support services are all tailored by sport.”
Although the team buckles down and works hard at the office, there’s plenty of room for being social. Such as when amidst the quiet typing and clicking, one employee nonchalantly teases another and everyone laughs. That spirit spills over from the work day into evening happy hours, sometimes on-site (MakeOffices provides a selection of locally-brewed beer on tap from four kegerators in the kitchen) and sometimes at nearby Clarendon watering holes.
“The space and location are good for team building activities,” Parker said.
The incident happened around 1:40 a.m. Sunday morning.
Police showed up and tried to restrain the man, who proceeded to resist and kick the officers, according to a crime report.
ASSAULT ON POLICE x2, 161023003, 3100 block of N. Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 1:40 a.m. on October 23, a fight ensued inside a restaurant. Multiple officers approached a subject who was wrestling a bouncer and attempted to remove him. In the process of being removed, the subject bit two bouncers. When the subject was handcuffed, officers attempted to remove him from the premises but he wrapped his legs around a support pole and refused to let go. He continued to not comply and kicked two officers in their faces. Dylan Monroe Mack, 25, of an unknown address, was arrested and charged with malicious wounding, assault on police, assault & battery, disorderly conduct, and drunk in public.
A new vape and cigar store is coming to Clarendon, according to a sign in the window.
Lansdowne Vapes and Cigars, which has existing locations in Leesburg, is coming to the former Grateful Red Wine and Gifts store space at 2727 Wilson Blvd, across from the Whole Foods.
Grateful Red closed in March after about four years in business.
Cold-pressed juice bar JRINK is now open in the Clarendon area.
The store, at 3260 Wilson Blvd, held its grand opening on Sunday. It offers 100 percent cold-pressed, all-natural juice that’s produced locally, at a price of $9-10 per bottle.
JRINK is competing with nearby South Block Juice Co. in the high-end juice space, which has found a market thanks in part to the popularity of so-called juice cleanses. JRINK — like South Block — also offers coffee, smoothies and superfood bowls.
This is the second Virginia store for JRINK, which has four existing locations in the District and a fifth in Falls Church, where its juices are made. The company says the new Clarendon store is the first of its kind in the region with a drive-thru window.
“JRINK’s newest location allows customers to enjoy a drive-thru experience that keeps your health in check, as well as a full storefront offering their signature juices, warm beverages, and superfoods,” notes a press release.
“Each JRINK flavor (ranging from $9-$10 each or $155 for a full, three-day reboot) contains up to five pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables… completely free of added sugar, preservatives and chemicals,” the press release adds.
Spirits of 76, new bar with a patriotic name and Americana decor, has opened.
Specializing in whiskey and American comfort food, Spirits of 76 aims to be a neighborhood hangout. Live music is also part of the plan.
The bar quietly opened its doors Wednesday as part of a soft opening. It’s now open from 4 p.m. to last call on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to last call on weekends.
Former GOP Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich will be signing books at the Barnes and Noble in Clarendon (2800 Clarendon Blvd) this weekend.
Gingrich will be signing copies of his new political novel Treason starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22.
Speaker Gingrich will be joined by his wife, Callista, who will be signing copies of her new children’s book, Hail to the Chief.
Callista, a former House staffer, serves as president of Ballston-based Gingrich Productions. The couple lives in McLean.
Mad Rose Tavern (3100 Clarendon Boulevard) started a fundraising website on GoFundMe after the motorist struck Victoria Alicia Gonzalez while she was working in the restaurant’s front patio on Oct. 4.
Gonzalez, the mother of a 2-year-old baby, suffered multiple broken bones and internal injuries in the crash, which left her pinned under the SUV until firefighters freed her.
Arlington resident Shahed Quayum, 49, was charged DUI maiming in the collision. The crime is a Class 6 felony in Virginia, punishable by 1-5 years in prison and revocation of one’s driver’s license.
“Her husband, family, and friends have done an amazing job of pulling together in their grief to care for the baby,” the fundraising website says. “Now we, her Mad Rose family, will rally around them.”
As of this afternoon the fundraiser has collected $280 in donations, with a goal of raising $25,000.
The bar also is planning to hold a buffet dinner Thursday, Oct. 27, with all proceeds going to Gonzalez‘s family. The fundraiser is from 5 to 9 p.m.
Gonzalez is still recovering from her injuries, which were considered serious but, amazingly, not life threatening. Her family is facing mounting medical bills while she recovers.
The following is the first in a weekly series of articles about a “day in the life” of companies at the MakeOffices coworking space in Clarendon. The mini-series, which will run this fall, is sponsored by MakeOffices.
“Okay, let’s do the stand-up meeting now. What’s everyone up to?” says Shy Pahlevani, co-founder of Hungry, an app-based food delivery service.
The nearly 20 employees at the startup take Pahlevani’s cue and begin with the morning routine of everyone standing up for a few minutes while announcing what they’re working on. It’s this kind of collaborative model that the business says helps it thrive.
And thrive it does. In its first month after opening to the public, Hungry sold more than 1,000 meals and has goals to further expand.
After everyone has had a turn at the morning meeting, some employees remain in Hungry’s office space at MakeOffices Clarendon to go about their tasks, such as marketing and coordinating deliveries. Others scatter to some of the areas that Hungry shares with the other coworking space occupants.
A few Hungry employees, including Director of Chef Onboarding Laura Medina, head to the kitchen to prepare for one of the chefs who’s bringing in his dish of the day. It’s the chef’s chance to show off what food he can offer, and this particular dish will be available for Hungry users to purchase for delivery the following week.
“For the rent that we spend, we’re grateful to have great looking countertops and a gourmet-looking kitchen,” says Pahlevani. “It’s very appealing when we take pictures of our food and pictures of our chefs when we use this environment here.”
The Hungry team helps the chef set up his food in various parts of the kitchen that will allow for the best photographs. Contract photographer Reema Desai takes a prepared dish over to the window that overlooks Clarendon Boulevard to get a little more natural light on the display. As she arranges the food, she turns it slightly one way, then adds a napkin, then fluffs some of the garnish. She’s trying to use the light to maximize all the available textures and colors. “[The chefs] make it easy for me. The dishes already have a lot of bright, different colors and I just try to bring that out,” she says.
Designer Collin O’Brien works with the newly snapped photos. He’s populating the app with them and ensures the presentation works across all platforms — internet, iOS and Android. Getting customers to buy the food is all about quality and presentation.
Marketing can be one of the most difficult aspects for a fledgling small business to master, but Hungry employees say the coworking environment actually makes it easier. Again, it comes back to collaboration, this time outside of the immediate Hungry team. “It’s a really great base for word of mouth,” says Pardis Saremi, Hungry’s director of public relations.
She explains that employees at other businesses in the coworking space get interested when they see the food displays and try the service themselves. That has led to many becoming customers of the delivery service and talking it up to others. “They’re telling their friends. I also had someone say they know chefs that would love to cook on our app. The connections and the word of mouth is just so, so helpful,” Saremi says. The on-site connections also have led to two other MakeOffices occupants booking Hungry’s chefs — through the app — to cater events.
She also credits the MakeOffices newsletter that goes out to all coworking office occupants with drumming up interest in Hungry’s events and promotions. About 300 people showed up at the startup’s first food event, just based on word of mouth among the coworking office occupants. That definitely wouldn’t have been the case in a standalone building, says Saremi.
“The food business is very tough. So getting people to try our dishes and recommend us to friends is really how we’re going to grow,” says Pahlevani. “Being able to start in a space that’s 40,000 square feet and has 70 plus companies is an easy way… to get some traction early, just leveraging the folks here.”
Potential customers aren’t the only thing office interactions have produced; the Hungry employees also have forged mutually beneficial business relationships. “It’s a great way to attract talent from other startups that may have complementary businesses and can support the things we’re doing,” Pahlevani says. “We’ve met photographers from other groups that are now helping us. We’ve met social media gurus that are now helping us.”
Saremi agrees, further explaining how employees constantly gain unexpected knowledge for improving the business. “I met a guy in this building who does something in physics and he was giving us ideas on things to do with our packaging to keep the food warm,” she says.
Sometimes the employees finish their daily tasks during what would be considered a traditional “quitting time.” But with all the action from the chef’s visit, this may end up being one of those times the work day stretches longer into the evening. “When you start a startup it’s a lot of hard work,” says Pahlevani. “It’s very motivating to see a lot of other people staying past 9 p.m. It encourages our employees.”
The Hungry employees are proud of the hard work they’ve put into the business and how much it already has grown, which makes the time pass quickly, says Saremi. “There’s definitely an entrepreneurial spirit and everyone is so supportive of each other in this space,” she says. “You meet so many people… you see everyone growing in this space.”
Expect to hear more about Hungry in the coming months: the company just announced that it raised $2.5 million in seed funding, in a round led by New York-based Timeless Capital.
(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.
Clarendon is slated to get a new gym by the end of the month.
Orangetheory Fitness will officially open its doors at 3001 Washington Blvd on Oct. 30, according to franchise owner Mark Steverson.
To help promote the new fitness center, Orangetheory will offer special “founding member” pricing and a free week of classes from Oct 22-29. The gym will also host a grand opening party with freebies and vendors on Oct. 29, Steverson added.
Orangetheory specializes in one-hour group workouts where exercisers row, run and lift weights to boost their endurance and strength. Each participant wears a heart rate monitor during the workout to maximize calorie burn.
Those looking to sign up for a free class or get more information about membership packages can contact the gym by phone at 202-868-6767 or by email.
Eight months after opening, Park Lane Tavern (3227 Washington Blvd) in Clarendon has closed.
The European-inspired pub, which offered reasonably-priced pan-Euro cuisine and a sizable collection of beers and whiskeys from across the pond, opened in February in a location not far from the Clarendon Metro but well off the beaten path. It was the company’s third Park Lane Tavern, with existing locations in Fredericksburg and Hampton, Va.
While a sign on the door today suggested the closure was temporary, equipment could be seen being hauled out of the restaurant this morning. An employee who answered the phone confirmed that the closure was permanent.
The rumors were true, unfortunately: Fuego Cocina y Tequileria in Clarendon is closing.
The restaurant confirmed in a press release this evening that its last day will be Sunday, Oct. 16. Fuego opened four years ago, in October 2012, at the corner of Clarendon Blvd and N. Fillmore Street.
“Even great-tasting restaurants battle tough odds, but we cannot thank our devotees enough who were a constant support and presence at our bar and in our dining room,” chef and co-owner Jeff Tunks said in a statement.
There was no notice of a closing in the windows and nothing posted on the restaurant’s social media accounts, but the doors were locked and the phone disconnected throughout the day today. Numerous boxes littered the restaurant’s interior. So far, however, there has been no confirmation that it is permanently closed.”
“[Spice] is a favorite for my coworkers and me,” one regular customer told ARLnow.com. “Do you know if it’s officially closed? Too bad, if so! It was a great place.”
This has been a turbulent year for Clarendon restaurants, with at least a half dozen — including local staples Hard Times Cafe and Boulevard Woodgrill — closing since the end of April. At the same time, however, there are a number of new restaurants and bars opening — like Ambar and Wilson Hardware.
The full press release about Fuego’s closing, after the jump.
The man who struck a woman with his SUV before running over another on a Clarendon sidewalk is facing criminal charges.
Arlington County Police say they’ve charged Arlington resident Shahed Quayum, 49, with DUI maiming. The crime is a Class 6 felony in Virginia, punishable by 1-5 years in prison and revocation of one’s driver’s license.
A restaurant manager who witnessed the aftermath of yesterday’s crash in front of Mad Rose Tavern (3100 Clarendon Blvd) told ARLnow.com that Quayum was very intoxicated and could barely stand after getting out of the vehicle. Photos from the scene show him being tended to by passersby while firefighters worked to free one of the victims, a Mad Rose Tavern employee, from underneath the SUV.
The employee, a woman, suffered multiple broken bones and internal injuries but is expected to survive. The other victim, who was struck in a crosswalk at the nearby intersection of Washington Blvd and Clarendon Blvd, suffered only minor injuries.
From an ACPD press release:
The Arlington County Police Department has taken into custody Shahed Quayum, 49, of Arlington VA, following yesterday afternoon’s pedestrian collision in the 3100 block of Clarendon Boulevard. Quayum has been arrested and charged with DUI Maiming.
On October 4, 2016, at approximately 2:52 p.m., officers were dispatched to an accident with injuries in the 3100 block of Clarendon Boulevard. An investigation by the Critical Accident Team determined that a vehicle traveling eastbound on Clarendon Boulevard drove on the sidewalk as it crossed Washington Boulevard, striking a pedestrian in the crosswalk and knocking down a light pole. The pedestrian suffered minor injuries and was transported to Virginia Hospital Center. The vehicle continued on the sidewalk, striking a second pedestrian and trapping her under the vehicle. The Arlington County Fire Department extricated the victim from under the vehicle and transported her to George Washington University Hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.
Balkan small plate restaurant Ambar is set to open its doors for dinner Wednesday night (Oct. 5).
The restaurant is opening in the former Boulevard Woodgrill space at 2901 Wilson Blvd. It’s location No. 3 for the well-reviewed Ambar; the original is located on Barracks Row on Capitol Hill and a second is located in Belgrade, Serbia.
Ambar will at first be open seven days a week for dinner, but will eventually serve both lunch and weekend brunch as well.
Since Boulevard closed at the end of July, the interior has received mostly decorative changes, helping to modernize a restaurant space that had remained largely the same for a decade and a half. Nya Gill, the wife of Ambar owner Ivan Iricanin, designed the 3,600-square foot interior.
Iricanin told ARLnow.com that he has been looking to open in Arlington for some time.
“I was looking at Arlington County because there are so many young people that fit our demographics but there’s also families… it’s a very healthy mix of people,” he said. “We [also] want a presence here because I really see the future and I really believe in the growth of Virginia.”
He said Boulevard Woodgrill presented an ideal opportunity in terms of layout and location.
“I wanted to have a really great location and interior space, with a nice corner,” Iricanin said. “I think that this place hit it on every single target: location was great, outer patio, a lot of windows, high ceilings, open kitchen, we have a charcoal grill which is crucial for us and which we don’t have in Capitol Hill… those are the elements that made my decision easy.”
While it hasn’t been finalized yet, Ambar’s menu in Clarendon will be substantially different than that of the Capitol Hill location, Iricanin said.
“We want to do everything differently because it’s easy to copy and paste, but I don’t want my chefs to get their guard down and get relaxed,” he said. “I want to push it to the limits and that’s what I’m going showcase here.”
The menu will include dishes made with fresh, organic meats sourced from Amish farms in Pennsylvania. Lest one think that “Amish farm” is a marketing term, an Amish man — complete with beard and straw hat — was at the restaurant, talking with the chefs Tuesday afternoon.
Iricanin said diners should expect high-quality food at affordable prices. There will be all-you-can eat meal options, he said, the most expensive of which is a $35 all-you-can-eat dinner.
“We really, really want to be a neighborhood spot and we are very price-conscious,” said Iricanin. “For $35… you can try 10-15 different flavors, different textures, different things and we can take you to the whole Balkan region in 2-2.5 hours.”
Iricanin wanted to offer an all-you-can-drink option as well — the all-you-can-drink brunch is popular in D.C. — but Virginia ABC laws prohibit it.
Another notable feature of the restaurant is that it has a DJ booth near the bar. But Iricanin was quick to point out that Ambar is not trying to be a danceclub — instead, the DJs are more about sophisticated nighttime ambiance.
“Obviously any time you dine, you have the background music… and I want to control what I’m playing,” he said. “This is not going to be a club, it’s not going to be a restaurant club, it’s just going to be thoughtfulness behind the process. We have a very nice sound system put in place, and what I want to achieve is that you come here like 10:30 and have a nice dinner while the DJ is playing music. Nothing too loud, nothing too abrasive… but you’re going to feel like you’re at a funky, cool vibe restaurant.”
The full press release about Ambar’s opening, after the jump.
(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) An SUV has crashed into the side of Mad Rose Tavern in Clarendon, trapping one person underneath the vehicle.
Police and fire department rescue units responded to the scene and within a half hour was able to free the person from under the SUV.
Witnesses tell ARLnow.com that an older man in an SUV drove through the intersection of Washington Blvd and Clarendon Blvd, struck a woman in the crosswalk, knocked down a light pole and drove down the sidewalk before the vehicle finally came to a stop next to Mad Rose.
A woman was trapped underneath the SUV and could be heard screaming for help, a witness said. She was transported to the trauma center at George Washington University hospital but is expected to survive, police say.
The woman was an employee of Mad Rose Tavern, a restaurant manager said. The restaurant’s popular sidewalk cafe along Clarendon Blvd was destroyed by the SUV, but was not open at the time of the crash.
Investigators have secured surveillance footage of the crash from the restaurant, we’re told. The driver had bloodshot eyes and appeared to be intoxicated, said the restaurant manager.
The woman struck in the crosswalk was spun around by the collision but did not appear to be seriously hurt, a witness said. She was transported to Virginia Hospital Center, according to a police department spokeswoman. A third person was being evaluated by paramedics on scene.
Another witness said he spoke with the driver, who appeared dazed and disoriented, immediately after the crash. The witness asked what happened and, according to him, the man said he had just picked up medication from a local pharmacy.
The driver was led in handcuffs to a police cruiser. So far there’s no word on any charges filed.
Washington Blvd is currently closed between Highland and Clarendon, while Clarendon is closed between Washington and Highland. A large number of emergency responders are on scene but are beginning to pick up and go back in service.
Police are currently expected to remain on scene for an extended period of time due to traffic impacts from the traffic lights at the intersection of Washington and Clarendon being knocked out by the crash. Drivers in the Clarendon area should expect heavy traffic during the evening rush hour.
Update on 10/5/16 — The driver has been charged with DUI.