Readers of Washington City Paper recently voted the neighborhood joint ‘Best Pizza’ in the paper’s annual Best of DC series, and the Wilson Blvd restaurant used that as an opportunity to highlight its apparent propensity for being a spot for successful first dates.
Together with Faccia Luna locations in Alexandria and State College, Pa., co-owner Joe Corey says he has talked to at minimum 300 couples who had their first date at Faccia Luna and eventually got married. At least five couples whose relationship started at Faccia Luna returned to the restaurant to propose, and two more have held their wedding receptions there.
“We always knew about it — we would talk to our customers, and every week we would find one or two new couples who had had their first date here,” Corey said. “This is something to be proud of.”
About a year and a half ago, after years of hearing stories of first dates leading to marriages, Faccia Luna began officially documenting the trend, via a continuously updated Word document.
Faccia Luna Trattoria’s Arlington location is 23 years old; the restaurant’s first location opened its doors in State College, PA in 1989. Corey describes Faccia Luna as a homegrown restaurant and attributes its longevity and success as a neighborhood institution to its “commitment to quality, coupled with an upscale, urban design.”
Washington City Paper readers praised Faccia Luna for what they called “real Italian pizza.”
“Pizzerias have come and gone, presidents have come and gone, even those critically acclaimed pizzerias have come and gone and still Faccia Luna has met the ‘Taste of Thyme,'” the restaurant said in a press release.
The event will run from 2:00-9:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 27. Tickets are $20 in advance or $30 at the door.
“The All American Bar Crawl celebrates America’s birthday a few days early!” said the bar crawl’s website. “Rock your red, white and blue and get ready for a day full of Star Spangled shenanigans and bar-hopping in Arlington with thousands of your closest friends.”
Participants will get a “signature freedom mug,” “patriotic party beads,” a raffle entry, free event photos, prizes “for the most festively dressed participants” and, of course, food and drink specials around town. While the drink specials cannot be advertised, per Virginia law, the food specials include $2 cheese pizza slices from Bronx Pizza.
Participating bars include Clarendon Grill, Mad Rose Tavern, American Tap Room, Clarendon Ballroom, Spider Kelly’s, Hard Times Cafe, Hunan One, Whitlow’s, Mister Days, SoBe, Don Tito and IOTA Club and Cafe.
The crawl is being organized by Project DC Events.
Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces and a stage for formal presentations.
CoWork CoPlay launched last month, founded by the owner of Saffron Dance, adjacent to her belly-dancing studio at 3260 Wilson Blvd in Clarendon. The venture combines flexible coworking office space with an on-demand babysitting service, where parents can leave their children for up to four hours and hold business meetings, get work done or run errands.
“While parents are not required to bring their kids while they are coworking and customers don’t have to be a parent to cowork, the close proximity of on premises childcare responds to one of the most common challenges facing families in today’s society — affordable childcare,” the company said.
CoWork CoPlay operates as a coworking space from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Childcare is also available during those times, except on Wednesday mornings. Childcare is available for two hour slots (8-10 a.m., 10 a.m. to noon, 1-3 p.m. and 3-5 p.m.) and parents can sign their children up for two time periods per day. On Wednesdays, childcare is available from 1-5 p.m.
“What parents really need are expansive options throughout the week to get work done and the flexibility to leave the premises while their children are safely playing and learning,” said founder Rachael Galoob-Ortega, who also goes by stage name “Saphira.”
CoWork CoPlay offers four pricing packages, which includes pricing for each space or using both. Parents can reserve the spaces online, but childcare reservations must be made 12 hours in advance.
Up to 20 working parents at a time can work in the 1,000 square foot space that makes up the coworking area. It’s equipped with WiFi and patrons are given headphones with microphones to allow for Google chats and Skype meetings. There is also a telephone room for calls.
“It definitely doesn’t have a corporate feel,” Galoob-Ortega said. “It has a more organic feel because we designed it.”
Parents can leave their children in an adjacent room where P&E Babysitting, a local company, watches the kids. The room can accommodate 12 children, from 18 months to six years old. Parents can leave children for up to four hours while they take meetings outside of the building or run errands, provided the children are potty trained and at least two years old.
The bar, at 2915 Wilson Boulevard, served its last patrons Sunday night. It is closed today, following the expiration of its ten year lease, manager Ian McInnes told ARLnow.com.
McInnes said there were no special events held on the last night, and staff “just went about our business.” He said Ri Ra was unable to negotiate a favorable lease and, with rising rent and sluggish business, the company made the decision to close.
There are nine other Ri Ra locations listed on the company’s website, including one in Georgetown and others from Maine to Las Vegas. McInnes said the company has no plans to reopen in Clarendon and is looking beyond the Irish pub to other, more current restaurant concepts — like a sports bar and a craft beer and whiskey bar.
“The market has changed dramatically over ten years,” he said.
Clubs and other organizations that regularly met at Ri Ra — like a Liverpool FC boosters club — are currently being notified of the closure. Other regularly-scheduled events at the pub which are now canceled include a weekly pub quiz and standup comedy night.
The pub posted a goodbye message on Facebook:
We are sorry to say that RiRa Clarendon has pulled its final pint, and is now closed. A huge thank you to all of our friends in and around Clarendon, as well as the wonderful staff, for what was 10 fantastic years. We are sorry to be leaving, but the Clarendon pub and the people that made it such a great place to spend time in have left us with great memories that will stay with us forever.
Sincerely, The Rí Rá Owners
McInnes said he wishes Ri Ra’s customers and the future tenant of its now-former location well.
“Change is a good thing,” he said. “As we move on I’m sure that there will be another business that will complement the other businesses in the Clarendon market. We’ve had a good run, I hope people have enjoyed us being here and we hope they enjoy the next business that comes here.”
A crowd of locals swapped memories, shared beers and even fought back some tears while saying goodbye to longtime neighborhood hangout Jay’s Saloon on Monday.
Jay’s Saloon first opened its doors in the fall of 1993, and became famous throughout Clarendon for $8 pitchers of beer during happy hour, cheap eats and a no-frills dive bar aesthetic.
In 2011, the bar received news that the building that houses it could be demolished and replaced with a mixed-use development. Last summer, that news became reality. The new development, called 10th Street Flats and located at 3132 10th Street N., is planned to have 135 residential units, 3,660 square feet of retail, almost 5,000 square feet of office space and nine live/work units.
Kathi Moore, who co-owned Jay’s with her ex-husband, spent the night slinging beers and hugging old friends.
“This is my life,” said Moore. “I spent half my working life here.”
For Moore, the closure of Jay’s represents an end, but also a new beginning. “[It’s] another phase of my life,” she said. “I’ll get another job.”
Moore’s patrons spent the night toasting the bar’s iconic status as the last dive bar in Clarendon.
Charlie Heitman, who manages the condo across the street from Jay’s, ate lunch there three or four days a week for more than a decade. To Heitman, the bar’s closing means one less place for locals to feel at home.
“It’s not a corporate bar, where everything is pre-programmed,” Heitman said. “I’m more sad about this than my last divorce.”
Last Saturday, Heitman served as auctioneer as bar sold off memorabilia and keepsakes.
“We sold almost everything off the wall. It was a frenzy,” said Heitman. “People [wanted] just a little piece of Jay’s to take home with them.”
“We know all the waitresses, we know all the bartenders,” said longtime regular Elaine Ethier. “There’s no other place in Arlington like this.”
Jacki Barnett, who was a bar regular since 2007, spent the night savoring the minutes before last call. Even though she knew the doors would close for good, Barnett said she will always keep in touch with the people she met over the years.
“I’m going to take a big deep breath, I’m going to shed a tear, realize that all these people are still my friends,” Barnett said. “I’ll see them around the corner in just a minute.”
Taste of Arlington Winners — The judges at Sunday’s Taste of Arlington event in Ballston selected four winners among the dozens of restaurants that participated. Il Forno won for Best Appetizers, Liberty Tavern won for Best Fast Casual, Water and Wall won for Best Fine Dining and Northside Social won for Best Dessert.
Real Estate Prices Rise — Real estate prices in Arlington continue to rise. The median home sale in Arlington between January and April was $545,000. That’s up 9 percent year-over-year. [InsideNova]
Clarendon Real Estate Was a Bargain in 1900 — Clarendon is full of nice restaurants, luxury condos and million dollar homes now, but in 1900 it was an emerging suburban community with vacant land for sale. How much were plots of land going for? Between $90 and $140. [Ghosts of DC]
Presidential Candidate in Arlington Today — Mark Everson, a former IRS commissioner and a candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, will speak and greet supporters at a $100-a-head reception in Courthouse today. The event is being held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Courthaus Social, 2300 Clarendon Blvd. [Mark Everson for President]
APS Educator Named Top Hispanic Teacher — Arlington Traditional School art teacher Veronica Perez has received the Victoria D. de Sanchez Northern Virginia Hispanic Teacher of the Year Award. [InsideNova]
NextGenGOP, a Virginia group hoping to push statewide Republicans forward on social issues, is hosting a “Freedom to Marry Happy Hour” on Wednesday, May 20, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Mad Rose Tavern (3100 Clarendon Blvd).
The event, praised by Washington Post opinion blogger Jonathan Capehart, is aimed directly at millennials who, even among Republicans, largely support marriage equality.
“Our members believe not just in economic freedom, but also personal freedom,” the group said in a press release. “We believe in tolerance. We believe in the rule of law, and equality under it.
“That is why we are taking action, why we are organizing,” the press release continues. “Our generation will be heard. We are NextGen GOP and we are part of the generation that will define the future Republican Party. We will no longer be forced to say, ‘I’m a Republican but…’ We believe in freedom to marry just as firmly as we believe in economic freedom.”
One of the group’s leaders, and the event’s organizer, is Cameron Kilberg, former Virginia assistant secretary of technology under Gov. Bob McDonnell and founder of Disrupt Fitness. The event is free, and anyone can RSVP online.
Image via NextGen GOP
TargetExpress Coming to Rosslyn — A new 23,000-square-foot TargetExpress store is coming to Rosslyn. Located at 1500 Wilson Blvd, the store will have an in-house Starbucks, a pharmacy, a technology and mobile phone section and will carry clothing, groceries and prepared foods. Also coming to 1500 Wilson Blvd: a District Taco restaurant and a Wells Fargo bank branch. [Washington Post, Washington Business Journal]
Little Saigon Remembered — A master’s student at Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia campus recounts Clarendon’s former identity as “Little Saigon,” thanks to the immigration of Vietnamese refugees following the end of the Vietnam War. As a project, the student has created a self-guided walking tour of Clarendon in connection with the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon. [Preservation Arlington]
Victory for Yorktown Coding Team — The Yorktown High School Coding Club celebrated a big win at the Microsoft Imagine Cup U.S. National Finals in San Francisco last month. The team placed first in the competition’s “World Citizenship” category. [Arlington Connection]
Photo courtesy Peter Rof / Alt Globo MediaWorks LLC
The Pinkberry frozen yogurt shop in Clarendon (2930 Clarendon Blvd) reopened yesterday under new management.
The California-based froyo chain closed its only Arlington location last December after its regional franchise owner filed for bankruptcy. The storefront, along with all the other locations in the D.C. area, was sold to a new franchisee at auction, according to store employees.
This afternoon, employees were restocking the shelves, but serving cups of chocolate hazelnut and cinnamon churro flavors, among others. Pinkberry rejoins FrozenYo in Rosslyn and Crystal City, Iceberry in Rosslyn, Menchie’s on Columbia Pike and Tutti Frutti in the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center in Arlington’s frozen yogurt shop inventory.
Sephora, the national cosmetics and beauty products chain, is opening its new store in Clarendon next Friday.
The location will be in the 4,533-square-foot former Eastern Mountain Sports space in Market Common Clarendon, next to the Barnes and Noble.
The store will sell more than 13,000 beauty products from more than 200 brands, it announced in a press release. Anyone who buys more than $50 at the store will be able to get a free “mini-makeover” while they’re there.
There is still construction ongoing in front of the store, which is covered in black and white plywood, with the words “Sephora has arrived” painted on.
Jamie Foxx, the “Django Unchained” star and R&B artist, was spotted hanging out at a couple Clarendon bars last night.
Foxx, who’s lately in the news for his uninspiring rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, spent several hours at Spider Kelly’s and Don Tito, we’re told.
At Spider Kelly’s, he enjoyed a game of pool with locals and took photos with fans, including local photographer Dixie D. Vereen (above). At Don Tito, he sampled the tacos and drinks and posed for a photo with the staff and fans.
Foxx was in town for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Hope Awards in D.C.
Arlington’s dwindling frozen yogurt market will get a boost sometime soon: the Pinkberry in Clarendon appears set to reopen.
The shop closed this winter when its franchise owner, which operated a handful of Pinkberry locations in the D.C. area, filed for bankruptcy. It was put up for auction and has been laying dormant ever since, with the frozen yogurt machines, cups and furniture all in place on the inside.
Last month, the shop started to show signs of life. A “Now Hiring” sign was posted, announcing the shop was looking for workers and managers, and two signs on the doors were posted, saying simply “Swirling Soon!”
There’s no indication of when the shop will reopen, or if a new franchisee will own it or the California-based Pinkberry corporation. A message to the email address listed on the “now hiring” sign was not immediately returned.
Thrillist included Clarendon in its list of “America’s 12 Bro-iest Neighborhoods,” ranked No. 10.
Bros, defined by Urban Dictionary as “obnoxious partying males,” are supposedly attracted to Clarendon as a temporary place of residence right out of college.
So, you just graduated from Georgetown and got yourself a job where your boss isn’t also the guy sitting across from you at Thanksgiving dinner. Congrats. Now, where do you go to rock your Vineyard Vines, drink craft beer, and live with your college lacrosse teammate? Clarendon, of course, right across the river from DC in Virginia. It’s where all the fresh-outta-school bros show off the extra cash before moving to Manhattan work in finance and be closer to family in Connecticut.
Ranking higher than Arlington on Thrillist’s bro scale are neighborhoods like Murray Hill in New York City (No. 1), Uptown in Dallas (No. 2), Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, Calif. (No. 3), Wrigleyville in Chicago (No. 4) and Capitol Hill in Seattle (No. 5).
Photo via Facebook/Project DC Events
S.H. “Doc” Friedman is a man of few words and less nostalgia. The 82-year-old pragmatist will be closing Public Shoe Store in Clarendon sometime this summer, closing the doors on one of the oldest businesses in Arlington.
Will “Doc,” a former podiatrist, miss the store that’s been a part of his life since he was five years old?
“No. It’s just a matter of time marching on,” he said. “Nothing stays the same.”
Friedman’s father, Sam, opened the business in 1938 across Wilson Blvd from N. Hudson Street, before the building was taken over to build the Clarendon Metro station in the late 1970s.
Friedman doesn’t remember exactly when his father’s store had to move, but when it did, it replaced a cadre of six Vietnamese businesses occupying the less-than-5,000-square-foot space. Before that, it had been a Kay Jewelers; Friedman still has the sign, well-preserved hanging over the stairs that lead to the basement.
When the store moved across the street, Friedman was still working as a podiatrist, with an office just a few blocks away. But when his father could no longer work in the store, he took it over. Doc had been working as a podiatrist in the neighborhood.
When asked where specifically his office was, he shrugged and replied “I don’t remember that far back.”
But keepsakes around the store provide more clues about its, and Doc’s, past. Friedman has photos from the original shop the year it opened, with employees dressed in suits and the shelves immaculately organized. He brings out a picture of his father, standing proudly in front of a Cadillac he won, pointing out that the car was the inspiration for a jingle his wife wrote for the store, long ago.
His memory extends to the surrounding community. Few, if any, are as familiar with the changes in Clarendon over the last three-quarters of a century. At one point, when it was considered the “Downtown of Northern Virginia,” there were a half-dozen shoe stores in the area, he said.
Public Shoe Store is the only one left standing, and soon it will be gone.
“That’s one stage in life,” he said. “But things change.”
Before the Metro came in, the area was known as “Little Saigon.” Now, as the years have gone on, Clarendon has transitioned again to the food and nightlife hotspot it is now.
“It just changed from clothing-type stores and furniture-type stores to alcohol,” he said. “There’s a bunch of restaurants because kids around here don’t cook, and they go out to eat, and they all have money.”
He doesn’t know what the storefront will become next. He owns the building and is working with a real estate agent to lease the space. He assumes a restaurant is likely, but doesn’t have a preference as long as it’s someone “who looks like they’ll stay and not give any trouble.”
Next door, the owner of Kabob Bazaar, Mohammed Kafi, said that’s exactly the type of neighbor Friedman has been for the 20-odd years he’s owned his restaurant.
“He’s a very nice gentleman, never had any problems with him,” Kafi said. “It’s been very nice knowing him. Once he’s gone, he’ll be missed.”
Friedman has children and several grandchildren, but none of them wanted to take up the mantle of Public Shoe Store the way he did from his father. His children are all at or near retirement, and the next generation are aspiring teachers and scientists.
“They don’t seem to be interested in it,” he said. “Kids today are into different things, it’s a different world.”
Although his loyal customers will miss coming into the shop and seeing him every day, shuffling deliberately across the store and trying his hardest to find the perfect shoe for each foot problem, he hasn’t thought much about what his next step will look like.
First, he said: tending to his Lyon Village home, which is just a few minutes ride from the store via his motorized red scooter.
“I’m going to clean out all my junk,” he said. He smiles when he’s asked what he’ll miss most about the store, and said only, “I don’t know yet.”
Next Saturday, neighborhoods like Clarendon, Bluemont, Westover and Barcroft are each holding events intended to bring neighbors together and celebrate their immediate surrounding area.
In Clarendon, county officials will gather to celebrate the now-upscale neighborhood’s time in the post-Vietnam War 1970s and 1980s when it was known as “Little Saigon” for its high population of Vietnamese immigrants. At 1:30 p.m., former Little Saigon residents and historians will narrate a tour of the area, displaying historic and still-standing businesses from the era.
The whole event, called Echoes of Little Saigon will run from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., and will include displays of Vietnamese art and Lemongrass food truck, a frequent Arlington visitor during lunch hours, will provide the country’s cuisine.
Below is a list of the neighborhood day events from other areas of the county, via the Department of Parks and Recreation (all events are on Saturday, May 9).
- Bluemont: Bluemont Park (601 N. Manchester Street), 9:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. The annual Walk for the Animals fundraiser for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington is back for Neighborhood Day. The 20th anniversary walk has already raised more than $50,000, and this year will include its first “pet festival.” The festival will include vendors, food trucks, photos with pets, adoptable shelter dogs available to play and more.
- Westover: Westover Branch Library (1644 N. McKinley Road), 3:00-5:00 p.m. A “family fun afternoon” with activities that include face painting.
- Penrose: Penrose Park (2200 6th Street S), 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. The south Arlington is hosting “Family Fitness day,” holding activities for nutritional and fitness awareness, a moon bounce and fitness classes for all ages.
- Yorktown: Chestnut Hills Park (2807 N. Harrison Street), 11:30 a.m. Celebrate the ribbon-cutting on the renovated playground with neighbors. FitArlington will be on hand promoting its new website and fitness initiative. Children can participate in the free scavenger hunt for prizes.
- Barcroft: Barcroft Elementary School (625 S. Wakefield Street), 4:00-6:00 p.m. The Barcroft Elementary Spring Fair is intended to be an early evening of pure fun, with activities likea bounce house, games and a cake walk, all for prizes.
- Old Glebe: Gulf Branch Nature Center (3608 N. Military Road), 10:00-11:30 a.m. The north Arlington nature center will join the neighborhood to “welcome back hummingbirds.” Each family will make its own feeders as the birds with the fastest wings in the world migrate back to the county. Register online.
- Glencarlyn: Long Branch Nature Center (625 S. Carlin Springs Road), 7:00-8:00 p.m. The nature center will host families in the amphitheater for a campfire discussion about snakes. Games, songs and s’mores will all be in abundance.