Celtic House on Columbia Pike says it plans to unveil its new whiskey and bourbon bar beneath the existing restaurant “later this fall.”
In an Instagram post on Wednesday, the pub said the centerpiece of the new bar will be a handcrafted, solid red oak bar, offering a range of rare whiskeys and bourbons. The additional dining space will also add 60 seats to the main restaurant’s current capacity of 90-100 patrons.
Celtic House initially hit a snag when it filed for a permit in March to renovate its newly leased basement unit — previously a defunct dry cleaning business — because the shopping center is located in a historic district.
Despite these hurdles, the permit was approved in August and construction started downstairs that same month.
General Manager Chris Devenney told ARLnow the new bar will be a seamless extension of the existing restaurant. A staircase will connect the two units but the new downstairs bar will have a separate entrance, too.
The main dining area will remain open throughout the renovation, Devenney said.
“Our main pub and restaurant is still fully operational. We’re hoping it will remain fully operational during construction,” he said.
Devenney envisions the new bar doubling as a space for hosting events such as birthdays, rehearsal dinners, funeral wakes and showers.
Although he could not confirm an exact opening date, the general manager said he hopes it will be in the next few months.
“I don’t want to give false hope in case we run into an issue with construction or it’s going to take us longer just getting things ready,” he said.
A former ABC News producer whose Columbia Pike apartment was raided by the FBI last year has been sentenced.
James Gordon Meek, 53, pleaded guilty in July to transportation and possession of child sexual abuse material. Today he was sentenced to six years in prison, just above the minimum five year sentence for the charges.
The FBI raided Meek’s apartment on Columbia Pike in April 2022, as photos first published by ARLnow — taken by local resident John Antonelli — showed. Speculation about the raid swirled in the ensuing months, in part due to Meek’s job as a prominent producer for ABC News and his former role in counter-terrorism for the House Committee on Homeland Security.
More on the sentencing, below, from a U.S. Dept. of Justice press release.
An Arlington man was sentenced today to 72 months in prison for transportation and possession of child sexual abuse material.
According to court documents, while visiting South Carolina in February 2020, James Gordon Meek, 53, used an online messaging platform on his iPhone to send and receive images and videos depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and to discuss his sexual interest in children. Some of the images and videos depicted prepubescent minors and minors under the age of 12, including an infant being raped. Meek brought the iPhone containing the child sexual abuse material back with him when he returned to Virginia. Additionally, Meek possessed multiple electronic devices containing images and videos of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division, made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Zoe Bedell and Trial Attorney Whitney Kramer for the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section prosecuted the case.
This case was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force is composed of FBI agents, along with other federal agents and detectives from northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. The task force is charged with investigating and bringing federal charges against individuals engaged in the exploitation of children and those engaged in human trafficking. Valuable assistance was provided by the Arlington County Police Department.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
(Updated at 1 p.m.) Police responded Monday afternoon to a reported shooting on Columbia Pike.
The incident happened shortly before 4 p.m. on the 1800 block of the Pike, at The Wellington apartment complex. Initial details were murky, but a man suffered what was described as a wound to the upper leg.
A female suspect was detained and a weapon found.
On Tuesday, Arlington County police confirmed that the man was shot and that the incident was “domestic in nature.”
More, below, from an ACPD crime report.
MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2023-09250189, 1800 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 3:53 p.m. on September 25, police were dispatched to the report of an assault with a weapon. Upon arrival, it was determined that following a verbal dispute and physical altercation inside a residence, the female subject discharged a firearm, striking the male subject. The male subject was transported to an area hospital with injuries considered non-life threatening. The female subject ran from the scene and was located by responding officers in the 1200 block of S. Ross Street and subsequently charged with Malicious Wounding. A firearm was recovered. The incident was determined to be domestic in nature and additional information is restricted from release in accordance with Virginia Code § 19.2-11.2. The investigation into the circumstances of the incident is ongoing.
NEW: One person was injured in an incident involving a weapon a short time ago in an apartment at 1850 Columbia Pike. It's unclear if it's a gunshot wound. Injury is considered non-life threatening. Another person was detained by @ArlingtonVaPD. Video via @SafetyVid.… https://t.co/9TaUfMbfCn pic.twitter.com/Zt5pexoURP
— Dave Statter (@STATter911) September 25, 2023
(Updated 9/13/23) Columbia Pike pet festival “Paws on the Pike” will return this month and unleash a day of pet-centric offerings and activities.
Attendees can have their pets sit for complimentary pet portraits and participate in a pet costume contest, hosted by the Arlington Animal Hospital in honor of its 85th anniversary. Those interested in portraits must sign up in advance.
There will be a DJ and a “water bar” where pets can sample water. At 1 p.m., Pastor Ashley Goff of Arlington Presbyterian Church will perform a pet blessing.
Pet owners can also connect with local pet service providers and vendors, such as veterinarians, trainers, pet-sitters, boarders, dog walkers and groomers.
For those interested in pet adoption, representatives from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington will be available to inform people about animals in need of homes.
A few weeks later, a Columbia Pike wellness festival showcasing local wellness purveyors will be held in the same location on Saturday, Oct. 14 from noon to 4 p.m.
Photo (1) via Columbia Pike Partnership/Facebook
A 47-year-old Richmond man is facing charges after police say he robbed a store and then threw a fake gun at responding officers.
The incident happened Friday afternoon after 3 p.m., in the Courthouse area.
More, below, from today’s Arlington County Police Department crime report.
ASSAULT ON POLICE, 2023-09080157, 2000 block of Clarendon Boulevard. At approximately 3:19 p.m. on September 8, police were dispatched to the report of a brandishing. Upon arrival, it was determined the male suspect entered the business and allegedly concealed merchandise before attempting to exit the store without payment. A store employee confronted the suspect during which he lifted his shirt exposing what appeared to be a firearm before fleeing the scene on foot. Responding officers canvassed the area, located the suspect and gave him commands to stop. The suspect disregarded their commands and continued to walk away before stopping, lifting his shirt and throwing the firearm in the direction of the officers. The officers then took the suspect into custody and recovered the firearm which was determined to be a replica. [The suspect], 47, of Richmond Va. was arrested and charged with Robbery and Assault on Police (x2).
Also in today’s crime report were a number of weekend incidents involving guns, including a shots fired call in Glencarlyn, a gun brandishing in Clarendon, and an armed robbery of jewelry along Columbia Pike.
SHOTS FIRED, 2023-09100027, 300 block of S. Harrison Street. At approximately 1:44 a.m. on September 10, police were dispatched to the report of shots heard. Upon arrival, officers recovered evidence confirming several shots had been fired. Witnesses reported observing several unknown individuals running from the area after the shots were discharged. No victims or property damage were located. There is no suspect description(s). The investigation is ongoing.
BRANDISHING, 2023-09100028, 3100 block of Clarendon Boulevard. At approximately 1:49 a.m. on September 10, the victim approached an officer to report disorderly conduct. The preliminary investigation indicates that following a dispute earlier in the evening where the suspect was allegedly acting disorderly inside a business, he approached an employee of the business and lifted his shirt to display a firearm. The suspect then fled the scene on foot. Officers canvassed the area for the suspect yielding negative results.
ROBBERY, 2023-09090226, 1800 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 8:10 p.m. on September 9, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined the male victim met with the suspect, an acquittance, for the prearranged sale of jewelry. During the incident, the suspect grabbed the jewelry and ran to his vehicle. The victim ran after him and upon arriving at the suspect’s vehicle, observed the passenger brandishing a firearm. The suspects then fled the scene in the vehicle with the stolen jewelry. The investigation is ongoing.
A worker fell into a hard-to-access area at a construction site along Columbia Pike this afternoon, prompting a rescue operation.
Firefighters were dispatched to the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Oak Street just before 4 p.m. for a report of someone who fell into a concrete box and needed to be hoisted via a rescue basket.
Columbia Pike was closed in both directions near the Sheraton hotel while firefighters worked to bring the person to safety. The victim was then reportedly taken via ambulance to Virginia Hospital Center for possible broken bones.
“At 3:51 p.m. the ACFD was dispatched to the area of Columbia Pike and S. Oak St. for a female patient that fell into a concrete utility box,” fire department spokesman Capt. Nate Hiner tells ARLnow. “Crews made quick access to the patient and removed her utilizing a Stokes basket. The patient was transported to an area hospital with non life threatening injuries.”
Construction in the area includes the realignment of Columbia Pike and the expansion of Arlington National Cemetery. It was not immediately clear at which construction site the person was injured.
LOCATION: Columbia Pike / S Oak St.
INCIDENT: Fire Department Activity
IMPACT: All lanes of Columbia Pike are closed at S Oak St. Seek alternate routes. pic.twitter.com/Jhu26H4orP
— Arlington Alert (@ArlingtonAlert) September 8, 2023
A road near Penrose Park is once again a hot spot for Mexican food, with the opening of a new truck serving up gorditas.
It was during the pandemic when the corner of S. Courthouse Road and 6th Street S. became the home of La Tingera, a popular birria taco food truck that would often see long lines. Then, in late 2021, it moved to a permanent location in Falls Church and started earning regional recognition.
But owner and chef David Andres Peña had always said that Arlington was home, and now he’s helping another food truck stake its claim to that unassuming street corner in South Arlington just off Columbia Pike.
Las Mexican gorditas, as the name suggests, serves up hand-made, on-the-spot gorditas, elote (Mexican corn), and aguas frescas (fruit drinks). It started serving in August, employees told ARLnow, and will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.
And it’s run and operated by Peña’s mother.
The gordita truck is separate from La Tingeria, but employees from the brick-and-mortar location in Falls Church are helping the truck get on its feet. Several employees were donning La Tingera t-shirts when ARLnow stopped by Saturday afternoon. Peña also gave his mom his old trailer.
This isn’t the first time Peña and his mom have worked together. During La Tingera’s days along S. Courthouse Road, his truck was often accompanied by an aguas frescas stand which his mom operated.
La Tingera first got started more than a decade ago, serving up tacos from a truck that traveled around Arlington, primarily in Ballston, Courthouse, and Rosslyn. In July 2020, after closing for several months due to the pandemic, he began to serve again, this time in a stationary spot along Courthouse Road near Penrose Park.
The truck became the talk of the neighborhood, and Peña looked to expand. After securing the Falls Church location, he signed a contract with Audi Field to serve tacos at all D.C. United, Washington Spirit, and D.C. Defenders games. Peña also began looking to open more eateries, including potentially in Woodbridge, Fairfax City, and, now, Fredericksburg.
But, for the moment, he’s helping his mom again make S. Courthouse Road the home of some of the most popular Mexican food in Arlington.
(Updated at 12:40 p.m.) Residents of an aging condo complex near Columbia Pike are embarking on a novel project to upgrade their living situations while dodging staggering condo fees.
Members of the Arlington Heights Condominiums, located on 8th Road S. in the Arlington Mill neighborhood, plan to get the property redeveloped while ensuring every resident who wants to stay can.
First, a developer will build a new 6-story building on the property, into which all 111 existing condo residents can move. Then the existing units will be razed for new housing, which could include apartments for seniors.
“We’re really taking this thing into our own hands,” says Andrew Pitts, the president of the condo association. “If we figure this out and we’re successful, other condos in Arlington that are struggling with these same issues will have a roadmap.”
Arlington Heights is a garden-style complex in South Arlington built during the post-World War II housing boom. It has a diverse population, including about a quarter who are immigrants and some who do not speak English proficiently.
It has seen better days, however. Resident Kenneth Trotter says circuit breakers frequently blow and buildings need upgrades to roofing, windows, plumbing, and electrical systems.
“Implementing these upgrades would incur substantial expenses and lead to high assessments for the member,” he said.
A soup-to-nuts rehabilitation could cost $15 million, or roughly $150,000 per resident in condo fees, Pitts said. This would price out a number of owners, himself included, over the next decade.
Those who sell would likely neither profit from the sale nor pocket enough to buy elsewhere in Arlington. Homes in the complex already have higher condo fees and sell for less than other nearby, newer units, according to a financial analysis prepared for residents.
So the association hired a developer, architect, contractor and land-use attorneys, and partnered with a bank, to wade through muddy legal waters and find a solution.
One year later, the team came up with the phased plan to build a new complex, move residents in and redevelop the rest of the property. Pitts says condo owners could spend $78,000 on condo fees and end up with new homes, a shared clubhouse and other amenities, compared to $150,000 just for rehabbed units.
“The existing homeowners are delivered a tremendous housing upgrade and increase in property value without being displaced from their community,” he said. “The development team has the land and flexibility to deliver a community of properties that fits the demands of a wide range of owners and renters.”
(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) All around Columbia Pike — and increasingly elsewhere in Arlington County — one graffiti message has been popping up: “hate.”
At first, it seemed to be concentrated around a stalled development project on the Pike, but now, the graffiti has been seen farther north in Cherrydale. It appears not to be confined to Arlington, either, as it was spotted earlier this year in Georgetown.
The persistent tagging is troubling a number of Arlington residents. It is also vexing those who report not seeing action taken after using Arlington County Police Department’s channels for recourse, including a non-emergency phone number and an online reporting system.
The most recent tag was on the building that is home to the Columbia Pike Partnership and the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington at 3045B Columbia Pike.
“We are checking camera footage,” museum president Scott Taylor told ARLnow, noting this is the first time the building has been tagged with the now ubiquitous slogan. “Police have been notified… We are saddened.”
Alyssa Trembeczki, who lives near Bob & Edith’s Diner, has seen the graffiti while out for runs and bike rides around the Pike, though she also reported seeing it at the corner of Langston Blvd and Military Road.
“I would love for whoever is doing this to stop since it’s making me feel unsafe in my own neighborhood and I’m sure others feel the same way,” she said.
She said she learned from police officers that whoever is tagging property is targeting places without security cameras.
Resident Tim Starker says he called the non-emergency number in early July to report one incident he noticed on S. George Mason Drive and Columbia Pike — and then twice more — but received no follow-up at any time.
“After about six weeks of no remediation, I emailed the [Arlington County] Board and got a canned response from a staff member advising to use the graffiti reporting function on the website,” he said. “The staffer eventually told me it was on private property so they had limited options.”
Another anonymous tipster, sharing photos from of similar graffiti in Cherrydale, echoed the dilemma of going to the county for issues on private property.
“This has been reported to Arlington County via their website but not sure they can intervene since these are private building(s) and utilities,” the tipster said.
Starker says he is waiting on a response from any County Board member, which he says is surprising.
“It’s an easy opportunity to address a constituent and at least explain the problem,” he said, noting the graffiti on S. George Mason Drive still there.
Later this morning, a county spokesperson said the graffiti at the location had been removed.
Tackling the graffiti and finding the culprit have been top priorities for Penrose Civic Association President Alex Sakes. He says last week, he met with ACPD, County Manager Mark Schwartz, Board Chair Christian Dorsey and Board Vice-Chair Libby Garvey for the second time to discuss solutions.
Sakes says ACPD recently completed a study, specifically for Penrose, about how to prevent crime through what he calls “environmental design.”
“We’re working on getting security cameras and motion-sensing lighting available to our Columbia Pike businesses… and a registry for existing security footage and data for current businesses that ACPD needs,” he said. “I’m beyond ready to get this stuff funded, purchased and installed. [I’m] tired of all these meetings.”
County Board spokesman David Barrera said the Board is aware of the graffiti concerns, noting they are most prevalent in Penrose and along Columbia Pike.
(Updated at 08/29/23) Get ready for a symphony of local sounds and savory pies.
ACME Pie Company in Penrose is set to host its third annual music event, featuring musicians from across Northern Virginia, this Saturday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 2803 Columbia Pike.
Admission is free, but Sol Schott — a former fine-dining pastry chef turned pie shop owner — says he’s asking for a $10 donation. This will be divided between the bands at the show’s end.
“It’s been a difficult time for musicians,” Schott told ARLnow, adding that several musicians performing at the event rely on music as their primary source of income.
“There’s a lot of different ways people can make money with music, and it just seems like over the last four years or so, since the pandemic, a lot of those options have kind of gone away,” he said. “I also want to do something nice for South Arlington.”
Of course, attendees will also be able to enjoy Schott’s assortment of pies, including quiche and pot pies, as well as seasonal fruit pies such as blackberry, peach and blueberry.
Schott said the show — held in the parking lot behind the pie shop — starts out “more blues and jazz,” then as the evening progresses, “it will become more rock and roll.”
The pie maker will also make an appearance on stage as the drummer for the act MF Grumbler.
Here is the lineup:
- 2 p.m. — Rick Franklin and guests
- 3 p.m. — Swingamajig
- 4 p.m. — Coronal Josh & Paisley Tonk
- 5 p.m. — Ex Motorcycle Couriers
- 6 p.m. — Karl Straub Quartet
- 7 p.m. — Delicate Whip
- 8 p.m. — MF Grumbler
- 9 p.m. — Jackie & the Tree Horns
After renovating a Western Union in the Barcroft Shopping Center on Columbia Pike, owner Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners donated the lease to Studio PAUSE. There, the Arlington-based studio will host art and writing workshops, which will be free for Barcroft residents but for a fee for other community members.
With loans from Arlington County and Amazon, Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners the Barcroft Apartments in 2021 with plans to set aside all 1,344 units for affordable housing. At the time, it also purchased a Penske rental facility and nearby strip mall, which the company says it has no “immediate” plans to redevelop, but could nonetheless figure into future plans.
Instead, Jair Lynch views the shopping center as a place to foster the existing community at Barcroft — through the arts.
“The Barcroft Shopping Center adjacent to the Barcroft Apartments property is not just a convenient location for an arts center, it is already occupied by beloved retail tenants like Goodwill and Café Sazón,” Krista Brick, a representative for Jair Lynch, told ARLnow.
“The location along the Columbia Pike Corridor encourages members of the Barcroft community and our neighbors to learn from each other in a setting that fosters understanding and expression,” she continued.
The former Western Union space will be the third location for Studio PAUSE, which has also received donations from the county.
“Working with local community advocate BU-GATA and the Columbia Pike Partnership, the location was identified as a prime opportunity to work with Studio PAUSE to celebrate the diversity of Barcroft and empower our residents to tell their story through art,” said Mark Hannan, an investment manager at Jair Lynch, in a press release.
Studio PAUSE — an acronym for “People, Art, Understand, Share, Explore” — was started by Sushmita Mazumdar in 2013. The writer, artist and educator wanted to create a space where people could share stories and explore their creativity. Mazumdar is also part of the Columbia Pike Documentary Project, which will display photos, books and interviews in the new studio space.
The studio currently runs programs in the Gates of Ballston apartment complex, run by nonprofit affordable housing developer AHC Inc.
“We believe the collaboration between Barcroft Apartments and Studio PAUSE will provide a much-needed space for creativity, arts, and mental wellness,” said Columbia Pike Partnership Executive Director Kim Klingler in the press release. “We look forward to collaborating and making this a welcoming space for the community.”