You may have noticed it while going by: a seemingly random blue trailer in the middle of a decaying parking lot between the Clarendon Whole Foods and the PNC Bank.
What you might not have realized at the time is that your next meal might be coming from there.
The trailer belongs to REEF Kitchens, which is part of a company focused on turning thousands of underutilized, urban parking lots around the country into food and logistics hubs. It serves as a “ghost kitchen,” producing meals for a number of virtual “restaurants” available on food delivery platforms like Uber Eats, Doordash, Postmates and Grubhub.
A full kitchen crew works out of the trailer, which is positioned to be close to a large, dense population and convenient for delivery drivers, who don’t need to double park or dodge dine-in customers while picking up meals.
REEF currently has only one location in Arlington, but is scouting out more here and around the D.C. area.
“Our Neighborhood Kitchen on Wilson Blvd is REEF’s first, and currently only, Neighborhood Kitchen in the Arlington area,” said a PR rep for the company, in response to inquiries from ARLnow. “REEF currently operates two parking facilities in the Arlington area and close to 80 locations in the greater DMV… I think it’s fair to say we’re growing quickly and are adding new locations all the time.”
Each kitchen cooks for 5-6 restaurant brands, serving up to 80-100 delivery orders per day and offering 20-35 minute delivery times. The trailers — along with waste bins and portable bathrooms — require 6-8 parking spaces apiece, in addition to utility connections, according to a slide deck obtained by ARLnow. The company sometimes groups multiple trailers together in the same parking lot.
REEF currently employs 10 people in Arlington, the rep said, though that is significantly fewer than would be required to run five separate bricks-and-mortar restaurants. Fewer employees, close proximity to a critical mass of potential customers, and the lack of a physical building means more sales and lower costs, something that’s hard for restaurants struggling through the pandemic to compete with — particularly given the fees collected by the delivery apps.
But REEF says it is looking to unlock opportunities for restaurants and local entrepreneurs through its model.
“REEF Neighborhood Kitchens leverage the power of proximity through the company’s network of parking lots to allow food entrepreneurs, local restaurants, and national restaurant brands to open and quickly expand their delivery businesses,” said the rep. “Neighborhood Kitchens help to reduce the barriers and costs associated with traditional brick and mortar restaurants either by helping to expand an existing restaurant’s delivery radius, or by allowing food entrepreneurs to get their business off the ground without the barriers to entry of the traditional restaurant industry. ”
He added that the kitchens follow stringent food handling, cleaning and COVID-19 safety protocols, and that customers “benefit from the added convenience of expanded delivery areas and quicker delivery.”
REEF, which released a video (below) that shows its holistic vision for turning parking lots into bustling neighborhood logistics hubs, says its model represents the future — a reimagined melding of technology and the physical world.
“We believe a parking lot can be more than a place to store a car,” the company said in a presentation. “A parking lot can be a hub for the community, connecting people to the businesses, services, and experiences that make a neighborhood thrive.”
The company, Happy Endings Hospitality (HEH), says it launched “a virtual eatery featuring Vietnamese and Cajun comfort food,” calling the new service “Operation Deliver Happiness.”
“The new integrated menu features the most popular dishes from all eight [HEH] concepts since 2012,” the company said in a press release, noting that “they have greatly expanded their delivery areas to cover the majority of the metropolitan area.”
HEH says it was forced to lay off 208 employees and close all six of its restaurants in the immediate aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak. The new initiative allows them to re-hire some of the staff back, while helping those that were laid off.
“Sensing that food delivery and take out would soon become the norm, the team quickly mobilized and constructed a new menu with the help of volunteers from their staff,” said the press release. “They devised a plan which they named Operation Deliver Happiness whose mission is to safely deliver delicious food to guests while saving staff jobs and providing financial and food relief for their staff and the DMV community… Profits from Operation Deliver Happiness are used to support their recently laid off staff and those facing food insecurity in the DMV community.”
David Dang, a member of the family that owns the burgeoning restaurant group, said in an email to ARLnow they’ve been giving free meals to laid off staff members and donating to local food banks, all while launching the new “virtual eatery,” expanding its delivery area and trying to stay afloat.
The menu features “Boil in a Bag: Snow Crab Legs and the Sriracha Honey Jumbo Shrimp from Chasin’ Tails, 18-Hour Pho and Eggs Rated Banh Mi from Roll Play and Pistachio Milk Tea from Teas’n You and Classic Shoyu Tuna Poke Nachos from Lei’d,” among other popular items, along with a new Caramelized Pork Belly Mac & Cheese.
Orders for pickup and delivery can be placed online. Locally, the deliveries — free for orders over $50 — will originate from HEH’s locations in Rosslyn and Tysons.
El Pollo Rico, the oldest Peruvian rotisserie joint in the country located in Arlington Virginia is now offering delivery!
Delivery is within a five mile radius — one dollar delivery fee per mile — and costs less than Postmates or Grubhub.
Starting today, March 23, orders in D.C. must meet $15.00 order minimum.
Delivery hours for D.C.: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Delivery hours for Arlington: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Call (703)-522-3220 for more information! Follow along on Instagram @elpolloricoarl.
El Pollo Rico is located at 932 N. Kenmore Street Arlington, VA.
A food delivery service that’s popular in New York City is coming to Arlington and some other D.C. area locales.
FreshDirect, a well-funded online food retailer that delivers “farm-fresh produce, high-quality meat, seafood, dairy, prepared meals and grocery staples,” is launching in Arlington, Bethesda, McLean and parts of the District next week on Wednesday, April 5.
FreshDirect will offer next-day delivery to just about every Arlington ZIP code: 22201, 22202, 22203, 22204, 22205, 22206, 22207, 22209, 22211, and 22213.
“The service will offer 12,000 high-quality products and give residents the chance to try popular specialty foods such as Roberta’s pizza from Brooklyn, Wandering Bear Cold Brew Coffee, dairy-free yogurt from Anita’s, premium deli meats from Boar’s Head and JUST FreshDirect Wild Caught Albacore Tuna,” a PR rep said.
More from a press release:
FreshDirect sources from farms in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.
No-subscription meal kits will also be part of the offering, giving D.C. consumers more options for dinner tonight. In addition to home delivery, FreshDirect also feeds D.C.’s busy workforce with an ‘At The Office’ service, which includes chef-prepared breakfasts, luncheon platters perfect for business meetings, catering services for events, and popular brands of snacks, beverages and pantry items…
FreshDirect customers can order next day delivery in the two hour window of their choice via web or mobile app as early as 6:30 a.m. through 11:00 p.m.. Customers can either pay per order for the service cost of $7.99 with a $40 minimum spend per order or pay an annual fee of $129.00 for unlimited free delivery through DeliveryPass. DeliveryPass members enjoy unlimited free deliveries and exclusive special offers and savings. First timers can get a 2-month trial for 1 cent.
FreshDirect opened its new D.C. facility in Prince George’s County and has hired more than 50 local employees as part of the expansion. For more information, visit www.freshdirect.com or download the iPhone, Android and iPad mobile apps.
(Updated at 11:15 p.m.) Starting today, Arlingtonians can order a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream from Amazon.com and get it while it’s still frozen.
Amazon announced this morning that it has launched its Prime Now service for parts of Northern Virginia, including Alexandria, Springfield and all of Arlington. (Users can check to see if the service is available by typing in their ZIP code.)
Prime Now allows Amazon Prime members (link goes to a 30-day free Prime trial offer) to order tens of thousands of everyday items, from groceries to household essentials to electronics to pet supplies, and get it delivered in 1-2 hours. One hour delivery costs $7.99, while two hour delivery is free.
“This is the latest benefit of being a Prime member,” Amazon spokeswoman Amanda Ip told ARLnow.com. She said the company plans to extend Prime Now service to the District of Columbia in October.
More from a press release:
Amazon announced today that its Prime Now one-hour delivery service is expanding to Northern Virginia from Springfield to Arlington to Alexandria. The ultra-fast service, offered exclusively as a benefit to Prime members, provides one-hour delivery on tens of thousands of daily essentials from staples like paper towels, milk or ice cream, to electronics such as laptops and Kindle devices.
In Virginia, Prime Now is also available in Richmond and Virginia Beach. Since launching in these areas, top items purchased for superfast delivery through the service include Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, bananas, Haribo gummy bears and eggs.
Prime members can shop on www.primenow.com and can also download the Prime Now app, available on iOS and Android devices.
In Northern Virginia, Prime Now is available from 8 a.m. to midnight seven days a week. Two-hour delivery is free and one-hour delivery is available for $7.99.
The incident started around 6:45 a.m., when a resident on the 700 block of N. Tazewell Street started filming the driver and called police with a noise complaint, all as part of “an ongoing dispute [regarding] the time of deliveries.”
A verbal dispute between the resident and the driver ensued, leading the driver to punch the resident in the face, according to Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
When police arrived, the driver was confrontational and struck at least one officer, Savage said. From and ACPD crime report:
ASSAULT ON POLICE, 160423017, 700 block of N. Tazewell Street. At approximately 6:48 a.m. on April 23, officers were dispatched to a noise complaint regarding an ongoing dispute between the time of deliveries. The victim was recording the incident when they were struck in the face by the subject. The subject became combative when officers arrived on scene but subsequently was taken into custody. Roderick Watt, 41, of Wilkes Barre Pa, was charged with assault on police (2 counts), obstruction of justice, and assault and battery. He was held on a secured bond.
A second incident of an assault on police happened later that night, in the Nauck neighborhood, according to the crime report.
ASSAULT ON POLICE, 160423049, 2400 block of S. 24th Road. At approximately 10:42 p.m. on April 23, officers conducted a traffic stop in regards to a suspended license. During the stop, the passenger became combative, pushed an officer to the ground, and fled on foot. Officers were able to apprehend Justin Murray, 31, of Alexandria VA. He was charged with assault on police, obstruction of justice, possession of marijuana(second offense), and failure to identify to law enforcement. He is being held without bond.
Also Saturday night, according to police, two drunk men were arrested after they both grabbed the buttocks of a woman and then started fighting. The incident started as all three were leaving an establishment near the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Four Mile Run Drive.
The men were both charged with sexual battery and being drunk in public, according to the crime report.
SEXUAL BATTERY, 160423043, 4800 block of S. Columbia Pike. At approximately 9:40 p.m. on April 23, officers responded to the area for reports of two males fighting. When officers arrived on scene a female advised that her buttocks was grabbed by both suspects. . Carlos Rivas Martinez, 22, of Arlington VA, was charged with sexual battery and drunk in public. He was held on an unsecured bond. Lorenzo Rivas Martinez, 20, of Arlington VA, was charged with sexual battery and drunk in public. He was held on a secured bond.
A UPS driver was pelted by BBs apparently fired from a Rosslyn apartment building this afternoon.
The incident happened around 2 p.m. near the corner of N. Oak Street and Key Blvd.
The driver told police that a teenage male — 18 years of age or so — was firing a BB gun at him from the top balcony of the 1800 N. Oak Street apartments. At least one of the BBs struck the man in the torso, but he was not otherwise injured.
The driver yelled at the teen to stop. By the time police showed up, he had apparently gone back inside.
No word yet on whether there are any suspects in the case.