Amid community pressure, Arlington County is taking a closer look at ways to improve safety in Green Valley.
Some residents are pushing for more action from the county on two fronts: dealing with nuisances and more actively policing criminal activity. In response to the mounting concerns, an internal county workgroup is beginning to meet this week to find ways to do just that.
The nuisances are related to drinking and smoking as well as public urination and loud music associated with some of the people who hang out around the John Robinson, Jr. Town Square, neighbors tell ARLnow. The criminal issues relate to gun violence, which some neighbors tie to the unaddressed open-air substance use.
Throughout the day, people can be seen hanging out in the area. Yesterday (Tuesday), for instance, ARLnow observed a handful of people sitting in folding chairs outside of The Shelton, an affordable housing building, while two other groups were congregated in the town square, talking and listening to music.
Neighbors, including Yordanos Woldai, say they don’t have an issue with people hanging out. They just want people not to drink alcohol or smoke marijuana outdoors, urinate in public or play music during quiet hours.
“Having lived in Arlington for such a long time, I am not aware of any other residential neighborhood where this conduct is allowed to happen in plain sight and not be addressed by the police,” Woldai tells ARLnow. “Children have to walk on the streets at times because there is no way to pass and there are broken beer bottles on sidewalks and grass.”
A few of the people hanging out told ARLnow that nearly everyone on the square yesterday likely came from outside Green Valley to this area to be together. Many grew up in the neighborhood but have since moved away.
One man, who appeared to be drinking beer from a plastic cup, put his hand out close to the ground and raised it up slowly to show how much of early childhood, marked in growth spurts, he spent in the neighborhood.
“They feel they are very much part of the community,” Woldai said. “I love the idea that people come to Green Valley to connect with old friends… It’s the illegal activities that are bothersome.”
Woldai addressed the Arlington County Board on Saturday about her concerns and said she had the support of 37 neighbors. This includes Lily Bozhanova, a Bulgarian immigrant who has lived in the area for five years with her family.
“My children are 5 and 7-year-olds. We often go to the spray park there and I sometimes have to explain to my children why they see people smoke or drink plein air. It’s not good but they see it every day and it’s a deterrent for going in the area,” she told ARLnow.
Bozhanova says she tries to avoid the area in the evening and lately Googled whether bullets can pass through brick.
“I shouldn’t be looking up to see whether my house can sustain gunshots. Brick is relatively safe, by the way,” she said.
Although she is grateful for the life she has built, she says, “it’s not exactly the American Dream we were trying to achieve moving here.”
“That’s the story about the life we live here,” he said.
Still, he said he cannot move away because it will be hard to find space in another low-income apartment building. He says he does what he can to promote safety in part by volunteering as a crossing guard for Drew Elementary School students.
Woldai ties the shootings to the nuisance issues.
“When people know there isn’t really a police presence in a neighborhood where you can drink and smoke marijuana, it attracts more serious crimes,” she said. “That has been a serious concern for residents living near the town square.”
‘Tis the season to get tipsy with cozy cocktails and two-buck beers.
“‘Jingle Bell Rock’ is the latest popup in B Live’s completely decked-out space, fit with sparkling light displays, festive garland and life-sized holiday fan favorites like the Grinch, Santa Claus and Nutcrackers,” a PR rep for B Live said. The venue is owned by local nightlife duo Mike and Christal Bramson.
Passersby can see the spot’s windows painted with beloved Christmas characters playing instruments — in a tribute to the music scene for which Whitlow’s was known.
Inside, B Live is offering weekly holiday-themed specials, including Christmas karaoke on Tuesdays, a “Santa Mug Night” every Thursday with $2.50 beers and live entertainment every weekend. The pop-up runs through mid-January, meaning guests can live by Buddy the Elf’s code to “treat every day like Christmas.”
The bar is making spirits bright with holiday-themed drinks, too. For an extra-cozy night out, guests can order the “Santa Baby,” a boozy hot chocolate topped with a torched marshmallow.
If your heart hasn’t shrunk three sizes, there is a “Patron Christmas Tree” cocktail tower that serves four.
Only Santa will know if you were naughty and kept all of the tequila for yourself.
There’s been a rash of reported drink spiking incidents in Clarendon and Crystal City, according to Arlington police.
The Arlington County Police Department says that it received six reports last month from women who believed their drinks were spiked.
“In each case, the female victims reported experiencing loss of consciousness and memory loss after visiting various nightlife establishments in Clarendon and Crystal City on weekend evenings and believe their drinks may have been tampered with,” the department said in a press release this morning (Friday).
Drink spiking, when someone puts alcohol or drugs into someone else’s drink without their knowledge or permission, is illegal in Virginia.
“These incidents remain active criminal investigations and the preliminary investigations have not identified a link between the reported cases,” ACPD said.
Police shared the following nightlife safety tips in response to the spate of spiking.
ACPD wants you to have a safe and enjoyable night out and is sharing these tips to help safeguard your drink:
- Never leave your drink unattended
- Avoid sharing drinks with others
- Do not accept drinks from strangers
- If someone you do not know offers you a drink and you accept, go to the bar with them and have the drink served directly to you
- If you did not see your drink poured, do not drink it
- Keep an eye on your friends and their drinks
If you think your drink may be spiked or observe an individual spiking a drink, take action right away by calling 9-1-1.
If you suspect drink spiking or drug-assisted sexual assault, help is always available. Crisis response resources are available 24/7:
- Arlington County Police, 703-558-2222 or 9-1-1 in an emergency
- Doorways Dating/Domestic/Sexual Violence Hotline, 703-237-0881
- Inova Forensic Assessment and Consultation Team (Forensic Exams), 703-776-4001 (ask to page a FACT Nurse)
ACPD has partnered with County agencies to establish the Arlington Restaurant Initiative (ARI) to raise the standards of restaurants that serve alcohol, streamline processes within the County Government and maintain Arlington County as a safe destination for nightlife and entertainment. ARI provides training on various topics, including drink spiking, to improve patron safety. Restaurants can email the Restaurant Liaison for information on future training opportunities.
Photo via Georg Pirrung/Wikimedia Commons
A stretch of Wilson Blvd in Ballston will be shut down and transformed into an open-air pub and stage next month for a new event: Bands & Brews on the Boulevard.
The Ballston Business Improvement District will turn the thoroughfare between N. Stuart Street and N. Randolph Street, near Ballston Quarter, into an event space serving drinks and featuring live music from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 24.
Bands & Brews on the Boulevard is hosted by BallstonGives, the charitable arm of the BID. The event is free to attend but people will need to buy drink tickets, the proceeds of which will benefit BallstonGives’ Bartenders Relief Fund.
“We want to generate funding to support our local restaurants and their bartenders, who made sacrifices to serve our community in challenging times,” a BID spokeswoman said. “In addition to our efforts throughout the pandemic, this relief fund will allow us to create future programs and events that feature our neighborhood’s restaurants.”
Drink tickets can be purchased in advance at a discount. Discount prices are $7 for one beer or glass of wine, $10 for a craft cocktail and $30 for five beers or glasses of wine. For $5o, people can buy a “bar bundle” with eight beers or glasses of wine and two cocktails, which can be shared.
Drink tickets purchased at the event will not be discounted.
Participants will have two stages of live performances to choose from. The main stage will host a DJ as well as bands whose styles range from rock and pop to oldies and funk:
- 11 a.m. — Andrew Savoia and Fordson Labs
- 12:30 p.m. — Turtle Recall
- 2 p.m. — JunkFood
- 3:45 p.m. — Popstar Drive
- 5:45 p.m. — Aztec Sun
- 7 p.m. — Bobby McKey’s Dueling Pianos
Attendees can request songs for Bobby McKey’s Dueling Pianos to play in the last hour by messaging the Ballston BID’s Instagram page.
A smaller stage in Welburn Square — where the Ballston farmers market is held — will host a performance by Arlington-based Avant Bard Theatre from 2-3:30 p.m. and singer-songwriter Lucia Valentine from 4-5:30 p.m.
Photos courtesy of Ballston BID
Some Crystal City residents say a new bowling alley has created a persistent late-night ruckus, and they want police to strike at the heart of the problem with extra enforcement.
The issue is causing a split between apartment dwellers who want peace and quiet at night, and a seemingly benign business — Bowlero, at 320 23rd Street S. — that has allegedly attracted a rowdy clientele.
With reports of fights, screaming, littering and the stench of marijuana, the relationship between the bowling alley and its neighbors is in the gutter, so much so that the Arlington County Police Department saw fit to organize a virtual community meeting on the topic Wednesday night.
During the Zoom meeting, police acknowledged dozens of calls to Bowlero over the past few months, a pattern that has led the business to beef up security, including using metal detectors at the entrance.
Police connected the rowdiness to the pandemic, as Virginia opened up before Maryland and D.C. and thus has been drawing a more regional crowd seeking out nightlife opportunities.
“We’ve seen an increase in patronage in Arlington County because Arlington and Virginia seem to be opening at a faster rate than D.C. and Maryland,” ACPD’s Restaurant and Nightlife Liaison Samantha Brien said. “We’ve seen a lot of patronage to Crystal City and Clarendon because they could stay out later and have more fun. As we start to open up, I’m sure we’ll open up faster than D.C.”
Since Bowlero opened in July, there have been 52 calls for service, and 42 of those calls happened inside the business or right outside, Brien said. The bowling alley’s management made 28 of those calls, which is “a good thing,” she said.
“You have to look at when they’re calling and how frequently they’re calling,” Brien said. “If they’re calling before something really bad happens that means they’re intervening at a higher level and that’s what we want to see.”
In response, Brien said Bowlero has implemented bag checks and “wanding” with handheld metal detectors. Signage warns patrons not to bring weapons inside. Arlington police on a nightlife detail conduct hourly walk-throughs of bars and restaurants along 23rd Street S. from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
ACPD officials encouraged perturbed residents to call the non-emergency line, (703) 558-2222, any time there is a complaint. These calls are logged and could ultimately be used to reallocate resources to Crystal City, said ACPD Captain Michael Rowling.
Rowling said the police have occasionally placed signboards and set up mobile surveillance cameras outside Bowlero. Extra police details and plainclothes officers have been dispatched to the bowling alley, resulting in several arrests inside and outside, he added.
Brien and Rowling compared the situation in Crystal City to Clarendon in 2016, which Brien said was “the Wild West.” She pointed to Clarendon as an example of how ACPD can work with bars and restaurants to improve nightlife activity and safety.
“As we have been working so much in Clarendon, and establishments work with us, the patrons know how to correctly act in the Clarendon area,” Brien said. “Since Bowlero has enacted wanding and bag checks, and put up signage, patrons will soon realize how to act.”
Both credited Bowlero for being cooperative with the police department.
(Updated at 5 p.m.) A day after Gov. Ralph Northam issued an order allowing Virginia restaurants to offer mixed-beverages for takeout and delivery, a number of Arlington eateries are gearing up to serve cocktails to go.
Many restaurant in Arlington are still updating their menus before the order takes effect tonight at 11:59 p.m.
“We will be offering take out cocktails at Rhodeside Grill (1836 Wilson Blvd) as well as our sister restaurants, Ragtime (1345 N. Courthouse Road) and William Jeffrey’s Tavern (2301 Columbia Pike) in Arlington,” said Chris Lefbom, co-owner of Vintage Restaurants.
Renee Rojural, a brand and community manager for the Metropolitan Hospitality Group, said CIRCA at Clarendon (3010 Clarendon Blvd) and Open Road Rosslyn (1201 Wilson Blvd) will have cocktail menus to go sometime in the next few days.
Some, however, already have their new to-go cocktails planned and ready to sell.
“[We’ll have] curb-side and to-go custom cocktails,” a representative of Ms. Peacock’s Champagne Lounge (929 N. Garfield Street) said in a Facebook message. “32 oz jars filled with nothing but your favorites from our mixology team. Just add ice and enjoy!”
The Clarendon watering hole is also planning to offer 16 oz variants along with various bourbon mixes and a signature margarita.
An order by Northam last month allowed restaurants to offer beer and wine to go.
The Virginia ABC issued the following guidance on restaurants selling mixed drinks to go:
In order to maintain public safety, there will be restrictions placed on the service of mixed beverages in this fashion. Below are the highlights of the temporary regulation adjustment.
- Distillery licensees are limited to a maximum of two mixed drinks per delivery or takeout order that contain 1½ ounces or less of spirits per drink.
- Mixed beverage restaurants and limited mixed beverage restaurants are limited to four cocktails for each delivery or take out sale. Each order for delivery or takeout of cocktails must include a meal for every two cocktails purchased.
- Cocktails shall be packaged in a glass, paper or plastic container (or similar disposable container) or in a single original metal can with a secure lid or cap designed to prevent consumption without removal of the lid or cap (lids with sipping holes or openings for straws are prohibited).
- All recipients of delivery orders must be at least 21 years of age.
Photo via Dave B/Flickr
The Potomac Paddle Pub is a pedal-powered vessel, but come next week, its occupants will be three sheets to the wind.
The pub is the latest in a trend of mobile drinking platforms, like The Pedal Saloon in Clarendon, but this adventure in drinking takes the journey to the water.
A 15-customer crew will power the vessel from Georgetown’s waterfront to Columbia Island Marina in Arlington, taking turns working at 10 pedaling stations. In total, the ride is expected to be about 90 minutes long.
The pub owners told ARLnow the boat is currently only ferrying family and friends to work out the kinks, but cruises will be open for customers starting on Monday (Oct. 4).
Unlike the land-based drinking platforms in Arlington bound by state intoxication laws, occupants of the Potomac Paddle Pub will be able to drink while operating the vehicle. The passengers are required to bring and consume their own beers or wine — no liquor is allowed onboard, and no alcohol will be sold at the bar on the deck.
Individual seats are only available during weekday trips, and a minimum of two must be purchased per transaction. Tickets are $45 for adults during a weekday, or $25 for a child under twelve. Renting the whole board during a weekday is $500, or $625 to rent a boat on the weekend.
Tickets can be purchased at the Potomac Paddle Pub website.
Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form.
Also, be sure to check out our event calendar.
Tuesday, March 13
Trivia Night: Are you smarter than a Catholic sister?*
Ireland’s Four Courts (2051 Wilson Boulevard)
Time: 6:30-9 p.m.
Test your pop culture and general knowledge against a team of Catholic Sisters, with drink specials and free appetizers. Prizes for top trivia teams.
Wednesday, March 14
Shaping Arlington for a Smart & Secure Future*
County Board Room (2100 Clarendon Blvd)
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Listen to a panel discussion on how technology will shape Arlington, featuring government and cybersecurity experts. A reception with light refreshments will also be held.
Arlington Committee of 100 Virginia Hospital Center Expansion*
Marymount University (2807 N. Glebe Road)
Time: 7-9 p.m.
The Committee of 100 is hosting a panel discussion on Virginia Hospital Center’s expansion, the county’s population growth and evolving community healthcare needs. Optional dinner served.
Thursday, March 15
Parenting Lecture: Parenting an Anxious Child
The Sycamore School (4600 N. Fairfax Drive)
Time: 7-8:30 p.m.
Dr. Christine Golden will discuss the challenges of parenting a child with anxiety and offer some helpful strategies for managing behaviors. The lecture is free to attend.
Friday, March 16
St. Agnes Soup Supper*
St. Agnes Catholic Church (1910 N. Randolph Street)
Time: 5:30-7 p.m.
The church will offer meatless soups and a noodle dish, and more every Friday during the Lenten holiday. Guests are invited to stay for confession and the stations of the cross afterwards.
Saturday, March 17
Whitlow’s St. Patrick’s Day Celebration
Whitlow’s On Wilson (2854 Wilson Boulevard)
Time: 9 a.m. – Close
Live Irish music and an open rooftop welcome you at Whitlow’s On Wilson’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Special Irish menu and March Madness games on the TVs all day.
WJAFC Open Day*
Virginia Highlands Park (1600 S. Hayes Street)
Time: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
A co-ed, free clinic to learn the Australian football game. Kids from 5-15 will learn starting at 9 a.m., with an adults clinic and co-ed non-contact game at 10:30 a.m.
Guinness and Gold*
Ten at Clarendon (3110 10th Street N.)
Time: 12-5 p.m.
Tour the Clarendon apartment building with a free Guinness and cash in on leasing deals. Leasing specials are subject to terms and conditions.
Osteria da Nino (2900 S. Quincy Street)
Time: 6:30-10:30 p.m.
Join Tre Monti winery over a four course meal with five wines, including theThea Passito 2012 Romagna Albana DOCG raisin wine. Tickets are $75 per person.
Yorktown High School Presents “Almost, Maine”*
Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Boulevard)
Time: 7-9:30 p.m.
Students will be performing John Cariani’s “Almost Maine,” about a remote, mythical town and the effect of the northern lights on the lovestruck residents. Tickets are $10.
Sunday, March 18
St. Joseph’s Table Celebration
St. Agnes Catholic Church (1910 N. Randolph Street)
Time: 1-4 p.m.
Join the church following the noon mass for a procession to celebrate this feast day with a potluck lunch, live music, and a kids woodworking shop.
*Denotes featured (sponsored) event
“Room 19,” as the speakeasy is called, will take place weekly in the back of Boulevard Woodgrill restaurant (2901 Wilson Blvd), starting next Monday night, July 11. It will feature classic cocktails in an intimate setting.
“The goal of Room 19 is to give the DC and NOVA crowd something they have not experienced before,” wrote Minh Tran, a spokesman for the venture.
“We want patrons to feel as if they have stepped away from 2016 and entered a hidden world,” Tran said in an email. “Room 19 will feel intimate, dark, and secretive. This is about having an immersive experience of the Prohibition era. Jazz music from the 1920’s and 1930’s will add to the ambience. This is a place you want to have a great time with your date or to share a new experience with friends. It is an escape.”
Behind Room 19, Tran said, are Boulevard Woodgrill owner Joe Corey and mixologist Chris Bassett, whose resume includes Ping Pong Dim Sum and Old Town Alexandria speakeasy PX. The cocktail menu includes classics like a Negroni, a Sazerac, and a “cedar smoked” Old Fashioned, plus cocktails with names like “Sherry’s got me by the stones,” with tequila, apricot liqueur and sherry; and “That smokey sweetness,” with single malt whiskey, raspberry syrup and lemon juice.
Room 19 will initially take place Mondays from 6 to 11 p.m., but may stay open later if the crowd doesn’t thin out. Additional days of the week are expected to be added.
There’s a dress code: casual attire is allowed, but flip flops, tank tops and “regular,” non-trendy sneakers are all verboten. Those wishing to make table reservations are asked to email [email protected].
ACPD says it recently started “a high-visibility underage drinking enforcement and education campaign designed to curb the use of fake IDs by underage individuals.” The campaign is targeting the busy Clarendon bar district on weekends.
“Over the last month or so, a number of fake IDs — originating from overseas online shops — have been turned into police by Clarendon businesses,” explained ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “This initiative was developed to address this issue.”
“This is a newer initiative but it’s been going on for about a month,” Savage continued. “We have a great working relationship with the business owners in Clarendon and this is just one more step we can take to continue to make Clarendon a safe area at night. The initiative will be going on this weekend… [and] will be part of the regular duties of the officers working our Clarendon detail on Friday and Saturday nights.”
Savage said the campaign includes enforcement, signboards placed around Clarendon and social media outreach. (The department will be live tweeting from Clarendon on Friday night.)
“We encourage people to enjoy the nightlife Arlington has to offer but do so responsibly – and that includes waiting until you reach the legal drinking age of 21,” said Savage.
The full press release issued by ACPD this afternoon is below.
The Arlington County Police Department will conduct a high-visibility underage drinking enforcement and education campaign designed to curb the use of fake IDs by underage individuals. These efforts aim to deter those underage individuals from abusing alcohol and driving while impaired.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, those under the legal drinking age are at a far greater risk of death in an alcohol-related crash than the overall population, despite the fact that they cannot legally purchase or publicly possess alcohol in any state. That’s why the Arlington County Police Department is reminding underage individuals to think before they drink; underage drinking comes with adult consequences.
Throughout the summer, officers will work with our Clarendon business partners to authenticate identification documents and identify fake IDs used by underage individuals to purchase alcohol and gain access to bars. Individuals using another person’s driver’s license, altering their own driver’s license or reproducing a fake ID may be charged with violation of Virginia Code §18.2-204.2 Possession of a false identification, a Class 2 Misdemeanor and punishable up to 6 months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine and/or Virginia Code §18.2-186.3 Identity Theft, a Class 1 Misdemeanor punishable up to 12 months in jail and up to a $2,550 fine.
Arlington County is one of the healthiest places in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but doesn’t quite top the list.
That’s according to new 2016 rankings from countyhealthrankings.org, an initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Arlington ranks No. 3 in Virginia, with Fairfax County at No. 2 and Loudoun County at No. 1. Loudoun County received higher marks for Quality of Life and Length of Life, while Fairfax edged Arlington on Quality of Life and Healthy Behaviors.
Two healthy behaviors in particular for which Arlington did not compare favorably? Excessive drinking and sexually transmitted diseases.
Arlington has the highest rate of excessive drinking in the Commonwealth, according to the rankings. Fairfax and Loudoun both come in a few percentage points lower.
Arlington ranks more favorably for the rate of sexually transmitted disease — Arlington’s rate of chlamydia infection is lower than about 60 percent of Virginia jurisdictions, but still above that reported by Fairfax and Loudoun counties.
One healthy behavior in which Arlington has a decisive advantage over Fairfax and Loudoun: the rate of alcohol-impaired driving deaths.
Hat tip to James Breiling