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by Chris Teale — April 14, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

Arlington will again be alive with the sound of thousands of pedaling cyclists, as the Armed Forces Cycling Classic returns in June.

Previously known as the Air Force Association Cycling Classic, the event will celebrate its 20th anniversary when it takes place on June 10 and 11.

Presented by The Boeing Company, the event benefits members of the U.S. armed forces.

“For two decades, the Cycling Classic has paid tribute to the men and women in uniform who serve courageously to protect America at home and around the world,” said Boeing chairman, president and CEO Dennis Muilenburg in a statement. “Throughout our 100-year history, Boeing has a proud tradition of partnering with the U.S. military, and we’re honored to support this year’s event, which benefits active-duty and retired veterans and their families.”

The weekend begins with the Clarendon Cup, in the heart of Clarendon. The following day, the Challenge Ride offers a closed course to cycling enthusiasts of all abilities in and around the Pentagon, Crystal City and the Air Force Memorial.

The race for the Crystal Cup follows on Sunday in Crystal City, pitting professional and amateur racers from around the world in a series of races. Free races for children aged 9 and under also will be held both days, in addition to the lifestyle and sponsor expo.

“We’re proud to celebrate our involvement with the Armed Forces Cycling Classic,” said Angela Fox, president and CEO of the Crystal City Business Improvement District, in a statement. “Over the past decade, we’ve watched both the professional races and community Challenge Rides grow while providing an exciting and transformative experience for participants and spectators alike.”

Photo via Armed Forces Cycling Classic

by Katie Pyzyk — April 13, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

The streets of Clarendon soon will become more colorful and creative with the return of the Arlington Festival of the Arts.

The fifth annual festival will take place at the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Highland Street on Saturday and Sunday, April 22-23, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

More than 150 exhibitors will showcase their original works, which include paintings, photography, jewelry, pottery, glass and mixed media. Attendees will be able to purchase items at a wide range of prices.

The following roads will be closed from 4 a.m. on Saturday, April 22, through 9 p.m. on Sunday, April 23, to accommodate the festival:

  • Westbound Washington Blvd from N. Garfield Street to Clarendon Blvd
  • N. Highland Street from Clarendon Blvd to Washington Blvd
  • N. 11th Street between N. Highland Street and N. Garfield Street will be open to delivery traffic only

by ARLnow.com — April 12, 2017 at 5:30 pm 0

Matt Hussman is the executive director of the Clarendon Alliance, the organization that is charged with improving “the health and vitality of the Clarendon corridor.”

The alliance is a booster for local businesses and helps to put on the annual Clarendon Day festival and a number of other events.

In this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast, we asked Matt about the current state of Clarendon, about turnover among restaurants and retailers, and about the future of the neighborhood — including development projects in various states of planning or construction.

Listen below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google PlayStitcher or TuneIn.

by Chris Teale — April 11, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

(Updated at 2:25) The finishing touches are being made to the Heritage Brewing Company’s new gastropub, set to open tonight at Market Common (2900 Wilson Blvd) in Clarendon.

General manager Kyle Kearns said the team anticipated being ready for customers the past few days, but tonight is actually the night and they’ll open for dinner at 5 p.m. with a limited peak menu, several mainstay draft beers as well as some limited edition and seasonal brews.

Heritage had originally intended to open in February. It began a Kickstarter campaign last November to help fund the restaurant’s launch.

Kearns said that with representatives of Manassas-based Heritage Brewing Company in D.C. for the Brewers’ Association Conference, it was perfect timing to open tonight.

“We were looking for the right opportunity in terms of everything lining up for when we could open, so today happens to be the day,” he said.

Booths handmade from barrel pieces have been added, and three sets of draft beer taps have been installed. The new gastropub touts 18 craft beers on tap, a contemporary food menu, cocktails, wine, Veritas Coffee and takeout options.

“Our small team is built around a culture of passion and pursuit,” a section on the website reads. “We are passionate about our work and fortunate to have the privilege of crafting and melding that which we love. Our pursuit of excellence extends beyond our craft and process, and into our lives as proud citizens, dedicated friends, and loving family members.”

by ARLnow.com — April 5, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

Heaps of new customers have been saying g’day to Oz restaurant in Clarendon over the past year, its owners say.

Contrary to its portrayal on the new Real Housewives of Potomac season — a teaser video showed proprietors Ashley and Michael Darby arguing about it “not doing well” — Oz (2950 Clarendon Blvd) is currently a profitable business, according to Mr. Darby.

The argument happened in real life on June 22, 2016. Since then, Oz’s brunch business has boomed and helped reverse its fortunes. And a revamped food menu has been greeted with generally positive customer reviews.

That’s a welcome change from when the Washington Post panned Oz’s Australian cuisine as “bland,” shortly after it opened in September 2015, and locals took note of the empty tables one could see inside around dinnertime.

Darby, the Australian-born cofounder of D.C. developer Monumental Realty, admits that things were “not up to scratch” when Oz opened, but said issues with the service and the food have since been corrected. What viewers see at the beginning of “RHOP” season two is part of the restaurant’s “rebuilding” stage.

“We made a significant change that has brought about the success we’re having now,” Darby said. “Over the course of the show, you will find that the restaurant turns that corner and becomes the busy restaurant we have today.”

The other half of the power couple, Ashley Darby — a former Miss District of Columbia who is active in the restaurant’s day-to-day management in between her Instagram-chronicled globetrotting — echoed Michael’s words.

“America witnessed my candid reaction to the growing pains we were experiencing at Oz during the RHOP premiere, filmed last year,” she said. “It has taken some time to find our groove in the trendy Clarendon neighborhood, but we’re really getting into the swing of it. Our weekends are so busy I barely get time to sit down.”

Oz’s $35 bottomless brunch — with unlimited food, penny mimosas, 50 cent beers and $2 bloody marys — has packed them in, according to Michael Darby. Some 500 customers a day visit Oz on the weekends, he said. And the restaurant has high hopes for increasing its weekday bar business and becoming more of a nighttime going-out destination on weekends.

“This is a very fun bar, we have that Australian attitude,” Darby said. Oz is proud of its craft cocktail menu and Australian wine selection; it now brings in a DJ on Saturday nights and, yes, you can order didgeridoo shots, if so inclined.

Darby credits the chef they brought on after the “mediocre” opening for being a big part of Oz’s transformation. Chef Brad Feickert, a tattooed Northern Virginia native who worked for celebrity chefs and also spent time at restaurants in Australia, has created an Australian-influenced menu adjusted for American palates.

“The quality of the food improved significantly when he came in,” Darby said. “The chef is just a good chef, that’s what it comes down to.”

The menu, which is ever evolving, includes both Australian and American staples, along with culinary mashups and exotic meats, including kangaroo, camel and ostrich. (It’s not exotic, but Darby recommends the Australian lamb.)

Just don’t confuse Oz with that well-known “Australian” restaurant chain — needless to say, there are no bloomin’ onions on the menu.

“We’re not Outback Steakhouse in any way,” Darby said. Outback is “not even an Australian product.”

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — April 3, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

Baba Now Open — Baba, the comfy bar and cafe in the basement of Ambar in Clarendon, is now open after some unexpected delays. The “big draw” of Baba, according to the Post’s Maura Judkis, is its made-from-scratch cocktails. [Washington Post]

Ballston Wi-Fi to Launch Today — The “BLinked” gigabit wi-fi service in Ballston is expected to launch today. The free service will offer a high-speed and seamless internet connection throughout public spaces in Ballston. [Twitter]

Signature Theatre 2017-18 Season Announced — Shirlington’s Signature Theatre has announced the lineup for its 2017-18 season, with eight marquee shows and six short-run cabarets. [Signature Theatre]

Reminder: Storm Drains Empty to Waterways — “Our local waterways literally go with the flow. That means rain water heads into nearby storm drains and then quickly ends up in local streams like Four Mile Run. Those streams flow into the Potomac River, the source for much of the region’s drinking water.” [Arlington County]

Obit: William Coleman — William T. Coleman, Jr., a civil rights lawyer and cabinet member who broke racial barriers, has died. Coleman is noted in Arlington for his role, as U.S. Secretary of Transportation, in authorizing the controversial construction of I-66 inside the Beltway. [NBC News]

Arlington Players Rack Up WATCH Awards — The Arlington Players have received seven Washington Area Theatre Community Honors awards, tying an Alexandria theater company for the highest award total of 2017. [InsideNova]

Hat tip to Eric Dobson. Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by Chris Teale — March 28, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

The former home of Sehkraft Brewery will not be vacant for long, as The Board Room looks set to move in.

Sehkraft closed its doors at 925 N. Garfield Street in the Garfield Park apartment complex in January.

But in an email to residents on Sunday obtained by ARLnow, Garfield Park property manager Christin D’Amato said The Board Room will take over the first-floor retail space in Clarendon.

It currently has a location in Dupont Circle and, according to the email, shares some ownership with Carpool in Ballston, which is set to shutter next month after staying open for months on borrowed time.

The Board Room combines an extensive drinks menu with board games, available for rent for a flat fee of $2. The D.C. location does not have its own kitchen, but it encourages visitors to bring their own food if they wish.

The new location, The Board Room’s first in Virginia, also looks set to include a champagne lounge.

More from D’Amato’s email:

The Board Room D.C. location serves 21 draft lines and offers more than 50 different board games for customers to enjoy. Board Room VA will also feature a number of private party spaces and will offer a full menu and happy hour specials. Board Room VA will partner with a local brewer to keep the microbrewery operating and offer a number of in-house products. In addition, Ms. Peacock’s Champagne Lounge will offer a wide variety of champagnes and craft cocktails.

Representatives with The Board Room have thus far not responded to a request for comment.

by ARLnow.com — March 21, 2017 at 3:00 pm 0

Clarendon appears to be getting its first dedicated outdoor beer garden.

Alternately called “The Lot,” “The Beer Lot” or “Lot 10” in filings and online posts, the beer garden is coming to what’s currently a used car lot on the corner of Wilson Blvd and 10th Street N., at the western tip of Clarendon, according to sources and a Virginia ABC filing.

We’re told the beer garden will feature an expansive outdoor seating area, some indoor or tented space, food — perhaps provided by a rotating cohort of food trucks — and a focus on local beers. It’s expected to open by this summer.

Social Restaurant Group, which recently opened Pamplona and is opening Bar Bao, both in Clarendon, is the company behind The Lot. A company representative could not immediately be reached for comment.

Beer gardens, which have popped up all over the District in the past couple of years, are also coming soon to Rosslyn and Columbia Pike.

by Chris Teale — March 16, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

The campaign to save the IOTA Club and Cafe is gaining support, but organizers said there’s still much uncertainty about the redevelopment plan for IOTA’s building.

Organizers of the “Save IOTA” campaign — local residents and IOTA regulars Harry Blackwood and Melissa Mannon — said the lack of public, detailed plans from the developer is making them nervous.

Already, the pair launched a Facebook page for their efforts and have circulated paper petitions at the venue, in addition to an online petition.

“Right now, we’re in such early stages of the process that all we can really do is express concern about it and ask for more information,” Blackwood said.

A community meeting to discuss the redevelopment of a group of buildings on the 2800 block of Clarendon and Wilson Blvds by Regency Centers has been rescheduled from March 29 to May 10.

Eric Davidson, spokesman for Regency Centers, said the delay is because the firm has new renderings and video materials for the project, which includes IOTA’s current location.

“We just got some new visuals we want to get ready so we can tell the story of what we want to do here more clearly and get more community feedback on this project,” Davidson told ARLnow.com Wednesday morning.

The campaign brought more than 70 supporters to a meeting of the Clarendon/Courthouse Civic Association, where those present heard a presentation from Regency Centers vice president of investments Devin Corini.

And at that meeting, Mannon said, Corini emphasized that the company wants to keep IOTA in place. But organizers said those assurances are not enough to calm their fears.

“He [Corini] said some nice things about how they don’t want IOTA to go away, they want to work with the community and want them to stay,” Mannon said. “We like that sentiment, we just haven’t seen that proven in their actions yet. That’s very frustrating.”

Mannon and Blackwood said the petitions are just a first step, and they plan to continue to mobilize as the site plan moves through the county’s approvals process. The pair added they are seeking a private meeting with Regency Centers representatives to discuss the plans, but have been unsuccessful so far in scheduling one.

They said they have engaged not only local residents but those in the local music community, who all want to make sure the building and its mission are preserved.

“You have all these regulars and musicians and people who listen to music speaking from this very emotional place,” Blackwood said. “They have a lot of emotional attachment and affection for a building and a place and a location.”

by Chris Teale — March 10, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

Police DUI event St Patricks DayArlington police will be out in force next weekend during the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, reminding revelers not to drink and drive.

The interactive “Don’t Press Your Luck” event will highlight the impact alcohol has on motor skills, and is free. It will be hosted at the intersection of N. Hudson Street and Wilson Boulevard in Clarendon starting at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 18.

Police will close Hudson Street from Wilson Boulevard to 13th Street N. from noon until 9 p.m. to accommodate the event. Temporary “No Parking” signs will be up, and illegally parked motorists could be ticketed or towed.

The event is part of a push by local police to remind partygoers of the dangers of drink-driving. According to data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, between 2011 and 2015, 252 people died in car crashes during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday in the United States.

Earlier this week, ride-hailing app Lyft announced it will partner with SoberRide to provide free and safe transportation home during the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the D.C. region.

In addition to next week’s event, tonight (Friday) Arlington County Police will be trying out another initiative aimed at Clarendon bar-goers: blocking off some of the parking spots on Clarendon Blvd to create a pickup zone for Uber and Lyft riders.

From ACPD:

On Friday, March 10, 2017 the Arlington County Police Department is conducting a pilot program in Clarendon providing a designated rideshare pickup location. Motorists should be on the lookout for temporary no parking signs in the 3100 block of Wilson Boulevard beginning at approximately 11:00 p.m. Illegally parked vehicles may be ticketed or towed. If your vehicle is towed from a public street, call 703-558-2222.

by Chris Teale — March 8, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

BFF Happy Hour

A happy hour event that combines networking with raising money to help combat breast cancer is coming to Clarendon next week.

The third annual “Breast Friends Forever” event, a young professionals’ happy hour that raises money for the Sharon McGowan Breast Health Fund, is taking place on Thursday, March 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. at MakeOffices Clarendon (3100 Clarendon Blvd, Ste. 200).

The event will feature cocktails, beer, wine and appetizers, plus a bra decorating contest and raffle.

All donations from the event will go towards funding SMBHF’s efforts to provide uninsured women and men in Arlington and Falls Church with life-saving and preventative breast cancer treatment and tests, giving free access to mammograms, sonograms, biopsies, medical devices and medications.

“We are proud to be sponsoring this event for its third year,” said MakeOffices CEO Raymond Rahbar. “The Sharon McGowan Breast Health fund works hard all year to support our community and this evening allows us to celebrate their efforts.”

The event is also sponsored by TTR Sotheby’s International Realtors. Those interested in attending can RSVP online.

by ARLnow.com — March 6, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

A restaurant that can only rarely be seen serving customers is again closed for reported maintenance issues.

Pio Pio, located at 3300 Wilson Blvd between Clarendon and Virginia Square, has been closed “for at least a week,” according to a tipster. That’s despite a “help wanted” sign in the window.

A sign reading “today afternoon closed for maintenance” is posted on the door, as it was this past December when we first reported that Pio Pio was closed for an issue with the roof. It’s unclear if Pio Pio reopened at any point between then and now.

Reached at the restaurant’s phone number, a man who did not give his name said “I don’t know” when asked when Pio Pio would be reopening. “Someone will call you back,” the man said before hanging up.

Tipsters who’ve contacted ARLnow.com have expressed fascination with the “mysterious” business which, like the former Sam’s Corner before it, does not seem to keep regular hours.

Said one tipster:

The Pio Pio restaurant at the corner or Wilson and Jackson has been closed for at least a week. Interestingly, there’s a “help wanted”
sign in the window of the shuttered restaurant. The place rarely has had any customers, and often has a Hummer parked outside. And then there’s that man in a crazy chicken costume who used to stand outside scaring passers-by. Strange…

From another tipster:

… have you guys ever done any investigation as to the real story at Pio Pio? It would be funny if it weren’t so mysterious. There’s literally no one ever in there. They are closed during peak hours including Saturday afternoon and evening. Has to be some story there but I have never seen it told.

by ARLnow.com — March 3, 2017 at 4:05 pm 0

WJLA anchor Autria Godfrey (photo via Twitter)

Autria Godfrey, a morning news anchor on WJLA (ABC 7), was charged with trespassing and being drunk in public last month in Clarendon.

The incident happened early Saturday morning, on Feb. 18, at Clarendon Grill (1101 N. Highland Street).

From Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage:

“At approximately 12:45 AM on February 18, officers working a detail in Clarendon responded to the 1100 block of N. Highland Street for the report of a disturbance at a restaurant. The restaurant manager advised arriving officers that a female subject had allegedly started an altercation inside the establishment and they no longer wanted her on the property. Restaurant employees escorted the female subject off the property where she was advised by police that she would be arrested for trespassing if she returned that evening. The female subject left the immediate area with friends.

At approximately 1:24 AM, officers were advised that the female subject had returned to the property. Responding officers arrived on scene and observed the female subject inside the restaurant. Autria Godfrey, 33, was arrested and charged with trespassing and drunk in public.”

As reported by FTVLive, a TV news trade publication, Godfrey was suspended and taken off the air last week by station owner Sinclair. She was back on the air this week.

Godfrey was arraigned Feb. 24 and is due back in court on May 19.

by Chris Teale — March 2, 2017 at 5:00 pm 0

A new Japanese ramen noodle restaurant opened its doors this week in Clarendon.

Hanabi Ramen celebrated its first day February 28 at the former Amsterdam Falafel space at 3024 Wilson Blvd, next to the future G.O.A.T. Sports Bar.

The restaurant has room for 35 people to eat, including on a long shared table in the middle of the dining area.

“You end up sitting with someone you have never met,” said the restaurant’s owner and chef Kenji. “We are hoping people can start conversations over ramen.”

There are plenty of other reminders of the owner’s Japanese heritage. Several norens — Japanese fabric dividers — hang to separate the back rooms from the dining area, while the kitchen is fully open for customers to see their food being made.

And above customers’ heads, a light fixture is made from several ramen boilers.

Kenji said the menu has many homemade ramen dishes, including tsukemen, a ramen dish with noodles that are dipped in a separate bowl of soup or broth. Kenji said he has heard from several people that Hanabi Ramen could be one of the first in the local area to serve the dish.

Pricing is on the lower end for a sit-down restaurant in Clarendon — around $14 for an entree, both for lunch and dinner, according to a menu posted on Facebook.

So far, Kenji said he has looked to make customers happy from “when they have the first sip of soup,” and he wishes to create a culture of teamwork among his staff.

Hanabi Ramen is open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., then for dinner from 4:30 to 10 p.m. daily.

by ARLnow.com — March 1, 2017 at 5:20 pm 0

Pete's New Haven Apizza in Clarendon

Pete’s New Haven Apizza is preparing to downsize its space in Clarendon, and Dunkin’ Donuts is considering filling it.

Multiple sources tell ARLnow.com that Dunkin’ reps have taken a close look at the space at the corner of Clarendon Blvd and N. Garfield Street. A leasing chart for the building, however, still lists the space as unfilled.

There are existing Dunkin’ Donuts locations in Ballston and Courthouse but not in Clarendon.

Permits have been issued to alter the existing Pete’s dining room and kitchen, reducing the overall size of the restaurant. Co-owner Joel Mehr says the pizzeria remain open during the process.

“We plan to stay open during construction,” he said. “We may have to close for a lunch here and there.”

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