Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

More Coronavirus-Related Dispatches — ARLnow is starting to hear the Arlington County Fire Department responding to more suspected COVID-19 cases. Medics were just dispatched to assist a 44-year-old woman with severe trouble breathing and other symptoms consistent with the disease.

May Could Be Worse Than April — “It could still be weeks before the worst of the coronavirus crisis hits Virginia. State officials are preparing for a surge in the number of people who test positive between late April and late May, Gov. Ralph Northam said Wednesday that analysis of the latest models shows. Northam told residents he was planning for the worst and hoping for the best.” [NBC 4]

Prosecutors Have Video Evidence in Store Shooting — “The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office showed the judge security video from the Shirlington Road business, which prosecutors said captures Abushariah shooting one of the burglars ‘point-blank in the back…’ The prosecutor called the case a ‘callous disregard for human life’ because Abushariah had other options, such as hiding in the backroom and calling the police. Or running to safety out the back door.” [WJLA]

Arlington Resident’s YOLO Money Diary — “We then took some mushrooms around 12 PM and went on a long, trippy, and fun-filled walk through Rosslyn. We stopped at Northside Social for some pastries and a Bitburger beer while on our walk–more illegal public drinking, but we kind of just don’t care anymore.” [Washingtonian]

Two Green Pig Employees Test Positive — “We regret to inform you that two of our employees have tested positive for COVID-19. Both… had been working with customers assisting with order-pickups. Neither were working in the kitchen or with food prep.” [Instagram]

Bakeshop Now Mailing Some Items — Bakeshop in Clarendon is now taking orders of cookies, cream pies, bars and bread slices online. Orders are shipped on Mondays to ensure freshness. [Bakeshop]

Marymount Prof is 3D Printing Face Shields — “Marymount University professor Dr. Eric Bubar is getting in on the action, with hopes of utilizing his unique skills to make a difference. A longtime provider of 3D printed upper-limb assistive devices, he is now shifting his focus to creating 3D printed, reusable face shields for use at hospitals in Washington, D.C., New York and beyond.” [Press Release]

APS to Distribute Week of Meals to Families in Need — “On Fri, April 3, APS will provide a week’s worth of meals to families who come to one of the five grab-and-go meal distribution sites to ensure students have food during spring break. There will be no APS meal service provided April 6-10… Meal services will resume on Mon, April 13, with an expanded list of sites to include Key and Hoffman-Boston elementary schools. Additionally, the USDA has provided a waiver to the rule that children must be present to receive meals.” [Arlington Public Schools]

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The death of Bracket Room in Clarendon, as announced by Bracket Room itself, was greatly exaggerated.

The briefly-closed sports bar is back open and offering takeout cuisine, according to a new Instagram post on Monday. The post comes less than a week after a now-deleted post announcing Bracket Room’s permanent closure amid the coronavirus outbreak.

It’s unclear what prompted the reversal.

“With your continued support, hopefully we can stay open and push through this crisis together,” the restaurant said. “We look forward to seeing you all come in and we can’t wait to get past this and back to normal.”

Bracket Room is not the only Arlington business to re-think a coronavirus closure. On Monday, local favorite The Italian Store reopened to business “in a limited capacity” after a week earlier deciding to close during the outbreak.

Starting Monday March 30th, The Italian Store will reopen for business at both locations in a limited capacity, and our…

Posted by The Italian Store on Friday, March 27, 2020

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The ever-busy Trader Joe’s store in Clarendon was closed this morning, with a sign on the door saying an employee had tested positive for COVID-19.

The store is now closed for a thorough cleaning and restocking, according to the sign, after which it plans to reopen.

The sign says the employee was last in the store on Sunday. The full text is below.

TEMPORARILY CLOSED FOR CLEANING

We would like to notify customers of this store that we are temporarily closing the store for precautionary cleaning and sanitization because a Crew Member has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). As soon as the store has been fully cleaned and restocked, we plan to reopen.

The Crew Member was last present in the store on March 29, 2020. We encourage customers who have health-related concerns to review CDC and local health department guidelines and to contact their healthcare providers with any questions. Our focus remains on doing whatever is necessary to safeguard the health of and safety of our Crew Members and customers and best support our communities.

Photo courtesy Peter G.

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Green Pig Bistro in Clarendon was among the restaurants that pivoted to curbside carryout after closing its dining room on March 16 amid the coronavirus outbreak.

That was a week before Gov. Ralph Northam officially ordered restaurants to stop dine-in service, in an effort to slow the spread of the highly-contagious virus.

But now Green Pig is closing temporarily because, it says, “one of our team members is exhibiting some early signs of COVID-19.”

“That person has been tested but until we know the results, and out of an abundance of caution, we will be closed until further notice,” the acclaimed restaurant said via Instagram on Sunday.

Recent Green Pig customers should take heart that thus far, experts have been saying there is very low to no of risk of virus transmission via food or food packaging.

“Thank you for your business, support and love,” wrote the restaurant, which first opened in 2012. “Please take care, be well, be safe and be kind.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-U6rMDhWDy/

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A trio of Metro stations in Arlington will close starting on Thursday, as Metro experiences low ridership and dwindling cleaning supplies during the coronavirus outbreak.

Closing are the Clarendon, Virginia Square and East Falls Church stations, along the Orange and Silver lines. They’re among 17 stations Metro is closing.

More from WMATA:

Metro’s Pandemic Task Force today announced the strategic closing of 17 additional stations, effective Thursday, March 26, 2020, in an effort to conserve critical resources and protect the health and safety of Metro employees and the public. This follows drastic measures already taken to reduce travel on Metro to essential trips only, leading to a Metrorail ridership decline of 90 percent.

These steps will help reduce the risk of exposure to employees and save critical cleaning supplies for the remaining stations. While Metro increased its on-hand warehouse inventory of essential supplies, such as hospital-grade disinfectant, wipes, hand sanitizer, and other items used by Metro’s frontline employees, suppliers are experiencing delivery delays. Metro is taking action to make its current 2-3 week warehouse supply stretch until massive orders placed in late January are received.

Each Metrorail station has multiple escalators, faregates and other high touch surfaces that are being cleaned daily, including some stations with multiple entrances. By reducing the number of entrances, Metro will be able to better protect its workforce and customers and prolong the inventory of these critical supplies needed to keep the system open.

Metro said the Virginia Square station is being closed due to its close proximity to the Ballston station, while the Clarendon and East Falls Church stations are closing due to low ridership — 299 and 239 trips on Monday, respectively.

The Arlington Cemetery Metro station was previously closed due to low ridership.

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Bracket Room, a sports bar in Clarendon co-owned by Chris Bukowski of Bachelor fame, is the latest victim of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Due to the national crisis from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is with a heavy heart that Bracket Room in Arlington has decided to close its doors,” the restaurant said on Instagram Tuesday afternoon. “We want to sincerely thank all of our patrons and employees for all their support over the years. We are going to miss each and every one of you.”

The bar opened in the fall of 2013, offering a “higher-end, ‘female-friendly’ experience.” Located at 1210 N. Garfield Street, Bracket Room closed a week ago, after a weekend St. Patrick’s Day celebration, for everything other than take-out and delivery.

In today’s Instagram post, Bracket Room promised to honor its earlier promotion to refund all receipts since November if the Washington Nationals win the World Series again this year.

ARLnow’s list of other Arlington restaurants offering delivery and takeout can be found here.

View this post on Instagram

Due to the National crisis from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is with a heavy heart that Bracket Room in Arlington has decided to close its doors. We want to sincerely thank all of our patrons and employees for all their support over the years. We are going to miss each and every one of you. Our promotion of reimbursement of every purchase if the Nationals win the World Series is still in effect. If the Nationals are lucky enough to win the 2021 World Series and you have all your receipts, we will honor it. Please contact one of our owners, Jeff Greenberg, at 703-307-9600, and he will personally make sure you get your refunds. It’s been a wonderful few years, please everyone stay healthy & stay safe!

A post shared by Bracket Room (@bracketroomva) on

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An open house is currently scheduled this weekend to tour a new “tiny house” built in the Clarendon area.

Tours will be offered to interested members of the public from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, according to local home builder Arlington Designer Homes. The 860 square foot house, at 1031 N. Cleveland Street, was “custom designed and built for an environmentally-conscious family that values smaller, simpler living.”

“This sensibly-organized, energy-efficient home could be a model for accessory dwelling units throughout the county,” said Andrew Moore, President of Arlington Designer Homes. “The home offers the latest in energy saving technology, including energy efficient Jeld-Wen windows and doors, Hardie siding, low VOC paints, and LED lights,”

The tiny house — which, to be clear, is not for sale — is expected to be certified under the Arlington Green Home Choice Program.

“Proving that good things do come in small packages, this tiny home features two bedrooms, two baths, a full galley kitchen, a front porch, tons of light, and is walking distance from restaurants, shops and Metro,” a press release noted.

“Home trends in Northern Virginia are changing. More and more of our clients are looking for smaller, well-designed and well-organized spaces – especially in Arlington,” Moore said. “This tiny house demonstrates that you can build smaller and smarter, without sacrificing style or comfort.”

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If you like tacos — and lots of them — a Clarendon restaurant is rolling out a trio of new food promotions that may be of interest.

TTT Mexican Diner (2900 Wilson Blvd) is about to celebrate its first anniversary in Clarendon. It also just announced this week that it is now offering an unlimited lunch menu, unlimited weekend brunch, and an unlimited “Taco Tuesday.”

Unlimited Taco Tuesday will be available all day on Tuesdays. For $29, minus tax and tip, diners get two margaritas and as many tacos as they can fit in their stomachs.

Additionally, an unlimited lunch menu is now available from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday, for $16.99 per person.

“Guests can look forward to Portabella Mushroom, Chicken Milanesa and Pulled Pork Tortas and a diverse selection of tacos made with pork, steak, fish, cheese and vegetable,” a press release notes. “To share with the table, a variety of nachos are on the menu including the Chicken Nachos, with grilled chicken, cream cheese and Chihuahua cheese.”

Unlimited brunch, available from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and also $16.99 per person, includes “salsas, guacamole, nachos, tacos, and a variety of burritos and quesadillas.”

If you’re dining with guests, everyone at the table also has to get in on the unlimited deal, however. And don’t expect bottomless drinks: that is verboten in Virginia.

“The new unlimited menu offerings feature authentic Mexican fare with a modern twist,” the press release touts, noting that “guests may order items a la carte as well.”

TTT, part of a three-level Mexican food complex called La Esquina de Clarendon, is owned by the same company as Ambar across the street.

Photo courtesy Street Guys Hospitality

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(Updated at 11:15 a.m.) Dating can be awkward, but Northside Social in Clarendon seems to ease anxiety when it comes to the search for love.

While the Arlington eatery doesn’t go out of its way to promote the location as an ideal date spot, it may be the epicenter of local dating activity.

From coffee to wine to food like vegan pastries and gluten-free scones, the spot has a wide range of offerings throughout the day to suit various needs, preferences or cravings. That makes it a pretty safe bet for a first or second date.

Northside offers an “easy, approachable and comfortable” environment, Northside Social’s Wine Director Karin Logan told ARLnow. “None of the staff are particularly overbearing, which can I know can be difficult with a first, second or even third date atmosphere.”

“I don’t think I have a single friend who hasn’t been to at least one of our restaurants on a date,” said Logan, referencing Northside’s sister restaurants of Liberty Tavern and Lyon Hall in Clarendon. She said she sees plenty of first dates and can often recognize first-time meetups driven by apps like Tinder or Bumble.

Apart from app-driven dates, there are also some honest-to-goodness meet cutes happening at Northside. Logan can recall instances where people have ended up meeting potential partners there.

“All of the regulars I know have at least met one or two people there because of its a welcoming place and all of my regulars are friends with one another,” Logan said. “It’s conducive to meeting people.”

Over the two years that Logan has held her position, she said she’s also witnessed at least five or six engagement photoshoots at Northside, which is more than any other restaurant she has worked for during her 18 years in the restaurant industry.

“And those just happened to be the days I was working,” she added.

There have been actual engagements as well. Arlington resident Kayla Laubach was at a Friday happy hour at Don Tito in July of 2017 when she received a text from her boyfriend Nick, asking her to stop by Northside Social, a block away.

Confused, she agreed and walked up the stairs into the wine bar to find Nick with candles scattered throughout the room and a bottle of champagne on a single stand-up table.

“It was really cute,” she said. “I was so focused going up the stairs I didn’t even notice they had a little chalkboard sign that said ‘Congrats Kayla and Nick.'”

Shortly after, all of the couple’s family and friends gathered in the space to celebrate their engagement with an after-party. The venue was chosen because Northside was where Kayla and Nick would meet while she was living in Arlington and he was living in Maryland, earlier in their relationship.

Kayla, a regular, says she chose it because she knew Nick would love the sausage and poached egg breakfast sandwich.

“When we were in Arlington we would go there every Saturday and Sunday. It was crazy how often we went there,” she said. “It was the place we fell in love.”

Northside Social has plenty of competition among newer Clarendon area coffee shops like East West Coffee and Wine and This Is Fine Coffee. But Logan doesn’t seem concerned for the future of the hangout. It’s hard to duplicate the community that has formed around a place like Northside — and special features like the dog-friendly outdoor patio and charcuterie boards done just so don’t hurt either.

As for people looking for a place with fewer first dates, there’s always the newer Northside Social in Falls Church, which opened in 2018.

Photos courtesy Kayla Laubach

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Getting a DUI “could cost you a pot of gold.”

That’s one of the messages Arlington County Police are looking to send at an upcoming St. Patrick’s Day-themed anti-drunk driving event. Another: “don’t press your luck” by driving buzzed.

The event is scheduled to take place from 8-10 p.m. on Saturday, March 14 in Clarendon’s bar district. A portion of N. Hudson Street near Wilson Blvd will be closed for the free event, which will include activities “designed to highlight the impact alcohol has on motor skills.”

Police have held similar anti-DUI events in the recent past around St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween. Before that, earlier anti-drunk driving efforts have included appearances by a superhero named Soberman.

More from an ACPD press release:

Green beer, leprechauns, and elusive pots of gold are all hallmarks of St. Patrick’s Day. Make sure you and your friends celebrate responsibly by remembering one important piece of advice: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. This means that if you plan to drink any alcoholic beverage, even a watered-down green beer, it’s essential that you plan for a designated driver.

In 2018 alone, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Safety Administration reports 73 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes over the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18). For this reason, the Arlington County Police Department is hosting an interactive event highlighting the dangers of impaired driving. Because even one drink can be one too many.

Don’t Press Your Luck Event Information

On Saturday, March 14 from 8-10 p.m., join officers on N. Hudson Street at Wilson Boulevard in Clarendon for the Don’t Press Your Luck anti-drunk driving event. This free event is open to the public and designed to highlight the impact alcohol has on motor skills.

Motorists should be on the lookout for temporary “No Parking” signs in the event area. Illegally parked vehicles may be ticketed or towed. If your vehicle is towed from a public street, call the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222.

A Safe Way Home

As you continue your celebrations, the Washington Regional Alcohol Program’s 2020 St. Patrick’s Day SoberRide® program, in partnership with Lyft, will be offered from 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17 until 4:00 a.m. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. For additional information on WRAP’s program to ensure area residents have a safe way home on high-risk holidays, visit their website.

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) A residential development in Clarendon originally approved in 2015 may be nearing fruition.

The Arlington County Board previously approved a 580-unit, mixed-use development project in western Clarendon in October 2015. Set to replace the former Red Top Cab headquarters and dispatch center, and a pair of small commercial buildings, the development has shown few signs of progress since then.

That may be about to change. The KinderCare daycare center, located in one of the buildings to be replaced in the first of two planned construction phases, informed parents last week that it would be closing in June.

“Today I have some sad news to share: our center will close on June 5,” the center’s director wrote in a Feb. 20 letter. “As some of you may know, our center has been on short term leases for the last few years due to a new development project awaiting approval with the city. We recently learned that the project is moving forward.”

The letter went on to suggest that no replacement is currently planned for the center.

“I know this news may be unexpected and difficult to hear… Please know that all of us at KinderCare will do everything we can to support you and your child and to make this transition as stress-free as possible,” the letter says. “Since 2017, we’ve been diligently exploring all additional options for centers in the area… we are continuing to seek out additional child care solutions for families in Arlington.”

Facing a relatively tight turnaround for finding new childcare arrangements, some parents are incensed.

“This is incredibly short notice in an area that commands 6 months+ of wait lists for daycare services,” one parent told ARLnow. “Our understanding is that the teachers and director were blindsided as well.”

KinderCare is planning a town hall meeting for parents Tuesday night. The company says it will assist the center’s staff in finding new positions, potentially at other KinderCare centers in the D.C. area.

There’s no word on when developer Shooshan might be kicking off construction on the project, the first phase of which will also replace the Red Top Cab dispatch center. A company representative did not respond to several emails from ARLnow.

Shooshan is currently wrapping up construction of 4040 Wilson Blvd, the tallest building in Ballston and future home of VIDA Fitness, The Salt Line restaurant and the corporate headquarters of AvalonBay.

A host of new development in Clarendon is on the way, prompting county planners to reexamine the circa-2006 plan for the neighborhood.

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