Arlington, VA

It wasn’t the opening owner Tsega Haile was hoping for, but Kaldi’s Social House (3110 10th Street N.) is finally planning to open this weekend in Clarendon.

“We’re opening — a soft opening — on Saturday,” Haile said. “We’ll have free espresso drinks and free juice. That’s for Saturday and Sunday.”

Haile said the location will be selling fresh croissants and such this weekend, but full service starts in earnest on Tuesday with food, beer and wine being offered. Kaldi’s has a Virginia ABC license and will have beer at 16 of its 20 taps — the other four are for nitro cold brew coffee.

Haile said the menu will be substantially different from his popular Silver Spring coffee house by the same name. Breakfast will focus on smoothies, toast, waffles and sandwiches, while afternoon meals will be more soup and salad focused. The one item carrying over from the other location is the restaurant’s vegan Italian toast — a local favorite.

The interior will have social distancing, Haile said, with signs around the restaurant and on the floor telling customers where to stand. Tables will be assigned with over six feet of distancing between seats, according to Haile.

“It’s mixed feelings,” Haile said. “With the COVID situation, we weren’t expecting to open, but we are now. We wanted to make it big, but with the pandemic, we couldn’t do that. But we’re happy being in Arlington. We are so excited.”

Photos courtesy Kaldi’s Social House

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Despite everything, Sandra Wolter is hoping to have a coffee shop up and running in the former Java Shack space by Labor Day (Sept. 7).

It’s been a long few months for Sweet Science Coffee, which Wolter co-owns. The local coffee brand launched its own location in D.C. after years in shared spaces just months before the pandemic hit the region. The hopes were to get the location up and running by March, but even the hoped-for September opening is tentative.

“It’s hard to say with everything going on,” Wolter said. “Ideally shooting for Labor Day weekend, roughly two months from now. The groundwork is laid so I carefully say COVID-willing, if nothing happens, we should be able to make that timeline.”

The permitting has taken about 4.5 months, Wolter said, though she’s unsure how much of that is due to COVID-19 and how much of that is the process.

“We’ve applied for permits to upgrade the space,” Wolter said. “We just got those permits last week, so we can move forward with plumbing and electrical work. It’s an old building, so there’s a lot to be done.”

Sweet Science Coffee has also applied for a license to serve wine. The location, at 2507 Franklin Road near Courthouse, has an outdoor area that Wolter is hopeful can be turned into an outdoor patio. The cafe could also potentially focus more on home delivery of items and pre-orders for popular pastries, if in-person business is light.

Wolter said she is lucky that the former Java Shack space won’t have to undergo too many adjustments, with takeout coffee already planned before the pandemic.

“Coffee is a grab-and-go thing early in the mornings, so that works in everyone’s favor,” Wolter said.

What will be put on the back burner, Wolter said, are plans to offer classes for home coffee brewing and other coffee-related events. Those sorts of classes often require close contact and sharing of objects that just don’t work amid a pandemic.

“It’s a weird mixture between excitement and fear,” Wolter said of the opening. “With everything that’s happened… we’re excited to be moving forward. A lot of people in Arlington really like the space and would like it to be a coffee shop again. We’re happy to be able to get back to that and do something. But as a business owner you always crunch the numbers — like what we’re able to do.”

Photo via Sweet Science Coffee/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Don’t Ride Metro Unless You Must, Says Metro — “Effective… Wednesday, March 18 — and continuing until further notice — Metro service will operate as follows: Rail system hours and service levels are further reduced to support essential travel only. DO NOT TRAVEL UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Follow guidance from your state and local authorities. New hours: Weekdays 5AM-11PM, Sat/Sun 8AM-11PM. Trains will run every 15 minutes on each line at all times.” [WMATA, Twitter]

Utility Disconnections, Evictions Suspended — Arlington County has suspended water disconnections, Dominion has suspended power disconnections, and courts in Virginia has suspended evictions, giving those who are unable to pay their bills during the coronavirus outbreak a chance to stay in their homes. [Twitter, Dominion, Press Release, Twitter]

Police Can Now Enforce State Crowd Ban — “I just issued an emergency order with @VDHCommissioner to enforce Virginia’s statewide ban of more than 10 patrons in restaurants, theaters, and fitness centers. Please use common sense. If you were considering ignoring this limit — don’t.” [Twitter, Gov. Ralph Northam]

Compass Coffee Lays Off Most Employees — “”Compass Coffee, a DC based company just laid off 180 of their 200 employees abruptly.” [PoPville]

Vintage Restaurant Group Shutters Locations — The operator of iconic local restaurants Ragtime, Rhodeside Grill and William Jeffrey’s Tavern is closing its locations until further notice. [Twitter]

Four Courts Donates Extra Food to AFAC — “We just dropped off fresh produce @AFACfeeds… their need is still great.” [Twitter]

Marymount Extends Online-Only Classes — “In order to continue ensuring the health and safety of the campus community, Marymount University will extend its online-only class period to Tuesday, April 14 (previously March 30), as the greater Washington region sees increased cases of COVID-19.” [Press Release]

Macy’s Closes Stores Nationwide — “Macy’s is closing all of its stores nationwide, effective at the end of business Tuesday through March 31, to try to help curb the spread of COVID-19.” [CNBC]

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A new high-end coffee shop is open in Arlington.

For Five Coffee Roasters opened yesterday in Courthouse, at 2311 Wilson Blvd. With every order, the cafe will serve a Nutella-stuffed cookie at no charge for the next three months, according to the owner.

“[Giving the cookies out] is us saying thank you, and we’re happy to serve you,” the owner, Stefanos Vouvoudakis said. “And giving back to the customer.”

The menu includes sandwiches and breakfast items, but Vouvoudakis is especially proud of the pastry selection at For Five, calling it “second to none.” The cafe serves a variety of cookies, including a “fruity pebbles” cookie with cream cheese frosting, plus red velvet, triple chocolate chip, and apple crumb pie filling cookies.

The coffee menu includes pour-over and cold brew options, and an espresso bar. Vouvoudakis’ favorite drink is the latte, for its “perfect balance between the milk and espresso.”

This is the second D.C. area location for the small, New York City-based chain. It has an existing location in Alexandria and others in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Vouvoudakis says For Five is also planning to open a location in Tysons within the next three to four months.

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The former Starbucks space at Pentagon Row will soon be serving coffee once again.

The shopping center’s owner announced today that Origin Coffee Lab and Kitchen will be coming to the 2,000 square foot space between Basic Burger and Lebanese Taverna. It’s expected to open this summer.

The new cafe will roast its own coffee in-house.

“Origin will have a glass enclosed roastery inside the restaurant to fully display the entire roasting process to customers,” a press release explained. “The store will have 10 different origins of coffee to choose from, as well as five to six methods of brewing the beans with an Origin’s skilled baristas explaining the entire process while making a customer’s cup of coffee.”

The cafe will also serve food. The initial menu includes breakfast foods like eggs, pancakes, benedicts and avocado toasts, and “noon and night” foods like salads, sandwiches, sliders and dinner entrees.

It appears to be the cafe’s first location.

More from a press release:

Federal Realty Investment Trust (NYSE:FRT) announced today that a new full service coffee roasting house, Origin Coffee Lab & Kitchen (Origin), will join Pentagon Row in the summer 2020. Origin will feature an in-house coffee roasting experience along with a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu featuring healthy options. Located at 1101 S Joyce Street, the 2,000-square-foot eatery will be located between Basic Burger and Lebanese Taverna.

“Our concept is to offer a freshly roasted, excellent cup of coffee and amazing food all in one place,” said Andy Mekonnen, Owner. “More often than not, places with excellent food don’t have good coffee and vice versa so our goal from the on-set was to break that cycle.”

To achieve this unique concept, Origin will have a glass enclosed roastery inside the restaurant to fully display the entire roasting process to customers. The store will have 10 different origins of coffee to choose from, as well as five to six methods of brewing the beans with an Origin’s skilled baristas explaining the entire process while making a customer’s cup of coffee.

Furthermore, the beans will be directly sourced from farms to help empower farmers and eliminate middlemen. The engagement between customers, baristas, the store and farmers will help maintain the qualities that Origin Coffee Lab & Kitchen strives to achieve in their specialty shop as well as help to improve the infrastructure in and around the farms.

“Federal Realty is always on the search for exclusive brands to complement our merchant mix at Pentagon Row. We’re excited to have Origin open its first DC-area shop with us, joining the many other unique retail and restaurant concepts in the neighborhood,” said Emily Gagliardi, Director of Leasing at Federal Realty. “We are confident Origin will be right at home in Pentagon Row, providing the Arlington community with a new coffee house and dining destination.”

In addition to the coffee and dining options, Origin will also be hosting in house cupping events to allow customers to explore the coffee roasting process more in depth as well as barista trainings with various courses offered.

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Compass Coffee has opened in Ballston.

The cafe at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street opened over the weekend, an employee told us, after more than a year of anticipation. It’s located at 4100 Wilson Blvd, on the ground floor of the Origin apartment building that was built as part of the recent renovations to what is now Ballston Quarter mall.

To celebrate the opening, Compass will be offering a “free coffee day” tomorrow, from 6 a.m.-7 p.m., according to a mall spokesman. Customers will be able to receive a drink of their choice during that time.

The new cafe will offer the same drink selection as other Compass Coffee locations — including the Rosslyn location at 1201 Wilson Blvd that opened in 2018 — but its food menu will vary slightly, ARLnow previously reported. Beyond standard coffee shop staples, drink offerings include nitro cold brew coffee (also available in a growler), apple cider, matcha latte, maple latte, and nutella mocha.

Ashley Hopko contributed to this report

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Compass Coffee’s new Ballston location will be opening in mid-February, a company rep tells ARLnow.

Work is nearly complete on the interior of the space at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street, on the ground floor of the Origin apartment building that was built as part of the recent renovations to what is now Ballston Quarter mall.

The new cafe will offer the same drink selection as other Compass Coffee locations — including the Rosslyn location at 1201 Wilson Blvd that opened in 2018 — but its food menu will vary slightly depending on the needs of the Ballston neighborhood, Stephanie Junkin, the manager of the new location, said. Customer favorites such as cold brew coffee and croissants will be offered in Ballston.

The cafe will host a “Free Coffee Day” on or soon after the day of its opening. Customers will be able to receive a drink of their choice at no charge on this day, Junkin said.

Compass is currently in the process of hiring baristas for the Ballston location.

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Yesterday we told you about a new Clarendon cafe called This is Fine Coffee, but more importantly we told you about one of their signature drinks: an espresso, orange juice and caramel concoction called the Bumble Coffee.

It’s apparently popular in Eastern Europe, and fairly rare here stateside.

The immediate reaction in our office was that of horror upon hearing about an espresso drink made with OJ. But reporter Vernon Miles now swears by it, so much so that as this post is being written he’s en route to the office with several Bumble Coffees for a tasting by now-intrigued colleagues.

We were wondering how other Arlingtonians felt about this. Would you try a Bumble?

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Okay, hear me out: orange juice, espresso and a dash of caramel over ice.

Reactions in the ARLnow office were mostly negative, but the reporter who actually tasted it at the new This is Fine Coffee in Clarendon now swears by it.

The small coffee shop — which replaced Blümen Cafe at 2607 Wilson Blvd. — had its soft opening today, but co-owners Jason Blevins and Anna Tsybko said they’ve already started seeing more customers than they were expecting.

Blevins chalks some of that up to his Java Shack background: he worked at Java Shack from 2012 to 2014, before the local coffee shop was taken over by Commonwealth Joe and ultimately closed last year. Blevins said he wanted This is Fine Coffee to have a laid-back vibe similar to Java Shack and to serve as a local gathering place and an exhibition space for artists, some of whom already have art on display in the cafe.

Many of the customers at This is Fine Coffee are former Java Shack regulars, Blevins said, at which point two of the customers nodded in confirmation.

The signature drink at This is Fine Coffee is bumble coffee, the aforementioned orange juice/espresso/caramel mix. This is Fine Coffee’s owners said it’s a popular drink in Russia and Ukraine, where Tsybko is from and where Blevins spent time working on a documentary.

The contents can sound off-putting, so Tsybko says she sometimes makes it for friends and gets them to try it before saying what’s in it. But Tsybko and Blevins fell in love with the drink there and decided to bring it back home to Arlington.

While it sometimes feels like you can’t shake a stick along Wilson Blvd without hitting a dozen coffee shops, Tsybko and Blevins said the intensely personal feeling of This is Fine Coffee sets it apart.

“Many of the decorations here are from our apartment,” Tsybko said.

“We’re not a chain, or aspiring to be a chain,” Blevins said.

The pair said the name is an allusion to the decidedly unpretentious atmosphere of the cafe. Tsybko said it was sort of a self-aware reflection of the way people talk about where they want to meet and get coffee.

While a lot of new coffee shops are very into the science and classification of coffee and the idea of coffee mixing as an art form, Blevins said the name is a throwback to coffee shops as a community-oriented place where people can pull up a laptop and work or meet up with friends.

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The Java Shack, a beloved local coffee shop in the Lyon Village neighborhood near Courthouse, is planning to close.

Commonwealth Joe, which took over the cafe at 2507 N. Franklin Road from its original owner five years ago, made the announcement Friday morning after informing staff of its plans.

Java Shack will serve its final mugs of coffee on Nov. 24, unless Commonwealth Joe can find a buyer for the business “that understands and respects the rich heritage of the cafe and the important role it plays in the community.”

One frequent customer said the loss of Java Shack would be a detriment to the sense of community that unique local businesses like it help to build.

“I live down the street from Java Shack and it’s a huge loss for me to know that they’re closing,” Jacob Gersh told ARLnow, noting that he recently filled his fourth punch card at the shop, marking 40 cups of coffee. “It’s such a powerful feeling of connection to the community to be able to sit in their garden.”

Commonwealth Joe says it was not able to negotiate a new lease that would allow it to continue operating Java Shack. It will instead focus on its Pentagon City cafe, near Amazon’s future HQ2, and its growing coffee keg business.

Maintenance of the aging building on Franklin Road — which once housed the headquarters of the American Nazi Party but is now home to Java Shack, a barber and a pet store — has been a challenge for the cafe’s owners.

“The Java Shack holds a special place in our hearts,” said Commonwealth Joe co-founder and CEO Robert Peck. “However apart from the great memories and successes we had at the cafe, our building lease brought some hardships.”

The full press release is below, after the jump.

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A new cafe, restaurant and live music venue called “The Renegade” is hoping to open later this month in the former Mister Days space in Clarendon.

Renegade is “eyeing a late October opening” in the 5,500-square foot space that once housed the popular nightlife destination before it closed in April. The new business is run by chef Patrick Crump, who formerly worked at Clarendon Ballroom, Spider Kelly’s and the now-closed Clarendon Grill, and before that cooked at the famed Inn at Little Washington.

“A renegade is someone who rejects the conventional, and I think the neighborhood is ready for something new and different,” Crump said in a statement today (Friday) of his latest, ambitious venture.

The chef said today (Friday) that his new restaurant at 3100 Clarendon Blvd aims to offer “something different than you traditional wings and nachos” when it comes to the rest of the menu.

The menu itself is set to include an dizzying array of international “stackable bites, skewers, bowls, and housemate dips” from crispy Korean chicken with a moo shu pancake to fried yucca and jalapeño aioli. Other items will be developed from Vietnamese, Thai, Egyptian, and Malaysian cuisine.

Each small dish is expected to cost between $3-5 to encourage patrons to sample several.

“I want spicy, crunchy, bright, and tart. High heat, bold flavors, and something that really grabs you from the first bite,” Crump said.

Pairing with that will be “bright, crisp rosés, rieslings, and sauvignon blancs” on Renegade’s wine list. The bar will also have 12 local craft brews on tap.

Crump previously told ARLnow about his plans to offer Stumptown Coffee, with taps along the coffee bar to serve nitro cold brew coffee.

The Portland-based coffee may be rare in the D.C., but including a coffee bar also puts Renegade in competition with a Peet’s Coffee across the street, as well as Clarendon’s other coffee mainstays: Northside Social, Starbucks, Waterhouse CoffeeBakeshopOby LeeDetour CoffeeDunkin Donuts, Heritage Brewing, and the future East West Cafe and Kaldi’s Social House.

Renegade, which Crump originally called “The Grill on Highland,” also aims to book weekly bands for live music on its 20-foot stage. The chef said he hoped to fill the hole left by longtime music cafe IOTA’s closure two years ago.

Once open, the business will operate seven days a week from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 6 a.m.-2 a.m. Thursday and Friday, and 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

More from a press release, after the jump.

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