Arlington, VA

Last year Acme Pie Company on Columbia Pike went from pie wholesaler to restaurant. Now it’s becoming a delivery business as well.

With restaurants ordered closed to dine-in customers by Gov. Ralph Northam today, Virginia is now a takeout- and delivery-only zone. And that means big changes — and major hardship — for many Arlington restaurants and food businesses.

Acme, like other restaurants, has gotten creative to provide meals to those sheltering in place in their homes. It’s offering a “COVID-19 special,” with 1 quart of soup, fresh baked bread, and a 7-inch pie delivered to homes in Arlington County for $20. Tuesday’s deliveries are already sold out, owner Sol Schott said on Acme’s Facebook page.

“‘The Acme Soup Line’ experiment has been wildly successful!” said Schott. “I had no idea there would be so much demand. I hope this in some small way will help you all through this scary time.”

Acme is one of more than 150 Arlington restaurants ARLnow has checked in on over the past week, to compile the following COVID-19 Local Restaurant Status list. The Google Sheet includes information on whether a restaurant is open and providing deliveries and/or carry out.

Ordering delivery and takeout is the most tangible way to support these local businesses during trying times, but it is not a long-term sustainable solution for for many restaurants, particularly those that rely on bar sales from dine-in customers. Kevin Tien of Ballston’s Hot Lola told the Washington City Paper that one of his D.C. restaurants is “doing 2.5 times the normal amount of work for a quarter amount of original sales.”

Read More

0 Comments

Morning Notes

HQ2 Employment Up 50% in Two Months — “Less than two months into the new year and Amazon.com Inc. says it has more than 600 employees at its second headquarters — a fairly significant staffing jump considering there were some 400 employees there as of late December.” [Washington Business Journal]

Construction Progress at DCA — “It’s happening: Reagan National’s nightmarish Gate 35X at Terminal C will soon be demolished. Construction is underway for Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s Project Journey, which will bring a new concourse to the north end of the airport and add new security checkpoints for Terminal B/C.” [NBC 4, DCist]

Fire Alarm Delays DCA Flights By 30 Minutes — “Flights have resumed and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) controllers have returned and continued tower operations after a control tower was evacuated to investigate a sprinkler alarm activation Wednesday.” [WJLA]

Food Delivery Driver Robbed in Claremont — “At approximately 11:04 a.m., the victim, who was operating as a food delivery driver at the time of the incident, exited his vehicle to make a delivery and was approached by three male suspects. The suspects demanded the victim provide them with the contents of the delivery, then attempted to assault him. The suspects stole the delivery and fled on foot.” [Arlington County]

Property Owner Goes 100% Renewable — “Brookfield Properties has added 100 percent clean, renewable power to six of its office buildings in Northern Virginia, with the new energy source going into effect this month… The changes are impacting three of the firm’s Arlington properties: Potomac Tower at 1001 19th St., 601 South 12th Street, and 701 South 12th Street.” [Commercial Observer]

Big Raise for Startup With Clarendon Office — “Carbon Relay and Insight Partners today announced a $63 million transaction to accelerate the growth of its Red Sky Ops solution for optimizing application performance in Kubernetes environments.” [Carbon Relay via Potomac Tech Wire]

‘Mr. Z’ Wins Award, Gets on TV — “The Virginia Department of Transportation has named an Arlington County crossing guard one of 2019’s Most Outstanding Crossing Guards. He’s one of only four in the state. Affectionately called Mister Z by faculty and students, Zeleke Taffesse says his smiling students make him feel younger every day. Taylor Elementary School is one of three schools he’s worked for.” [Local DVM]

0 Comments

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. 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.

A little over two years after it launched, Rosslyn-based startup Hungry still feels like a small company.

These days, founder Eman Pahlevani is as likely to answer the company’s main phone line as anyone else in the 30-person office. If everyone else is busy, Pahlevani says sometimes he’ll even get up and go run a delivery.

But the small feeling belies some remarkable successes over the last two years. Last summer, the company announced plans to expand into Philadelphia. Riding high on that growth, Pahlevani said the company is planning on expanding into five new cities in 2019.

“The first two will be Atlanta and Boston,” said Pahlevani. “The last three are still in the works, but these are your big east coast locations.”

The core concept of Hungry is simple: office lunches can be a hassle for everyone involved. Office managers have a limited set of dining choices and face repetition, while restaurants struggle with orders they’re not built to manage.

“Nobody in this industry was looking at how to solve the buyer’s needs,” said Pahlevani. “These people are buying food daily or weekly for their teams, but today they’re being serviced by restaurants not optimized to handle catering. If I go to Panera, I can get those sandwiches once or twice a month, but not every day.”

With Hungry, office managers pay no more than what they would for the average office meal. Pahlevani estimated lunches range from $9 to $12 per person. But the manager has access to a wide variety of chefs hand-picked by Hungry so a client could order lunch every day for a month and never get the same food twice.

“There’s just so much variety,” said Pahlevani. “We solve those problems with a distributed network of chefs.”

It’s an idea that seems to have caught on. Pahlevani said the company saw 500 percent growth in 2018. Its fleet of delivery drivers has grown to between 70-75 employees.

“We’ve been hiring in Arlington weekly now,” said Pahlevani.

The infrastructure of the company is built on a network of commercial chefs and delivery drivers. The chefs audition at the company’s headquarters and Pahlevani says Hungry doesn’t put anything on their menu that doesn’t pass the staff’s food test.

Once they are chosen, the chefs work out of commercial kitchens that Pahlevani said cropped up across urban areas, after legislation required food trucks to be tied to a commercial kitchen.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is how many talented chefs there are in any given region,” said Pahlevani. “I mean these are really good, authentic chefs, but most of them work in a restaurant and work on someone else’s menu in the back of a kitchen. It’s a lot of hidden talent. So we let chefs cook their own menu, set their own prices, and we highlight them at every catering.”

Pahlevanis said most of the chefs start as part-time workers, but within a month go in full time. Some chefs make between $20,000 to $30,000 dollars per month.

But the other big component Pahlevani credits for Hungry’s success is delivery drivers — or ‘delivery captains’ as he calls them. Drivers can often struggle with getting into loading docks or finding the right rooms in office buildings, or when they do arrive they just drop off the bags of food.

“We train all of our deliverers to get inside loading docks, get clean, set up and clean up,” said Pahlevani. “You’re trying to optimize and train people to solve these people’s problems.”

Pahlevani says the company has seen so much demand recently that it’s still hiring new delivery drivers, just to keep pace.  The company is also hiring staff for sales and engineers or developers for the technology side of the company.

Photo via Facebook

0 Comments

 

In today’s busy world, many people find themselves overfed or undernourished. Galley is solving these problems by making eating well simple and convenient.

The D.C.-based food delivery service offers chef-prepared meals straight to your door and ready to serve. All meals are made from scratch every day using the fresh seasonal ingredients from local farms whenever possible — no canned products, pre-made sauces or mixes.

Galley’s menu changes daily with entrees such as Chesapeake crab cakes, salsa verde salmon and pesto goat cheese chicken, plus vegetarian meals like Swiss Chard and Corn Gratin and Roasted Cauliflower.

There are even kids items such as Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas and Pizza Pot Pie. Customer favorite meals are repeated every couple of weeks.

Unlike other meal delivery services, Galley doesn’t require a subscription and there are no minimums or weekly commitments for ordering. Customers can order up to two weeks in advance.

Exclusively available for ARLnow readers… get $10 off your first order with code ARLNOW.

0 Comments

Anyone in the Arlington area will soon be able to have food delivered from the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City’s six restaurants and food court.

The mall (1101 S. Hayes Street) will launch Fashion Centre Delivered on Monday, October 16, in partnership with delivery provider Zifty. Food will be delivered directly from the mall’s eateries, including the likes of Sugar Factory, Matchbox American Kitchen + Spirit and more.

“We’re always seeking new ways to provide additional offerings for the community around our center,” Todd Jerscheid, director of marketing and business development at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, said in a statement. “Teaming up with Zifty is a new opportunity to help guests throughout the area conveniently enjoy their favorite meal from our food court restaurants at home or in the office.”

Zifty launched in Atlanta in 2003, and partners with local restaurants and brands to deliver directly to customers’ doors.

0 Comments

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. 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.

If you’ve ever wanted to prepare a restaurant-quality meal in your own kitchen, your hunger may now be satisfied.

CookDC is a startup based out of Shirlington that delivers ready-to-cook meals to your doorstep. Its stated goal is “turning home cooks into chefs.” Examples of previous meal-kits include grass-fed flat iron steaks with smashed marble potatoes and romano beans as well as more exotic dishes such as homemade tagliatelle with wild stinging nettle pesto.

CookDC differentiates itself from similar food delivery services by prioritizing flavor over convenience and price. CookDC is not designed to be the cheapest or most efficient meal delivery option, but teaches people to cook delicious food comparable to a fancy dinner out.

“Everything is ordered a la carte so it’s not a subscription like the national chains,” said Matthew McCormack, who founded CookDC with his wife, Debbie McCormack. “You go [online and look at the menu] and if you see something you like, you buy it.”

Each meal comes with a written-up explanation of its historical background along with a description of the cooking techniques needed to prepare it.

“[The Food Network or cookbooks] are telling you how to cook it but they’re not telling you where you’re supposed to get wild morels from, [for example],” McCormack said. “They’re not handing it to you and then showing you how to use it, [like us].”

The culinary term for what CookDC does is “mise en place,” French for “put in place.” Professional kitchens spend all day prepping their ingredients and once their restaurant opens, all the chefs do is cook the food.

“As soon as a restaurant service starts, nobody is cutting a carrot,” McCormack said. “We’re giving you the ‘mise en place,’ giving you very clear instructions on how to finish that dish yourself. It’s prepped, it’s packaged.”

Customers do have the option of paying extra to get the meal fully prepared, or they can specify that they do not want to cook it that night. They can also double the portion or request kids’ servings.

Meals are delivered throughout the D.C. region between 2-5 p.m. The night before delivery, customers are told whether or not they need a certain pan for the meal or if they will have to fire up their grill in order to cook it. On the day of delivery, customers are texted when the meal-kit has left CookDC’s kitchen. Meals are delivered in coolers and are packaged in step-by-step compartments. Each meal usually has between three to seven steps.

Read More

0 Comments

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.

0 Comments

The following is the first in a weekly series of articles about a “day in the life” of companies at the MakeOffices coworking space in Clarendon. The mini-series, which will run this fall, is sponsored by MakeOffices.

“Okay, let’s do the stand-up meeting now. What’s everyone up to?” says Shy Pahlevani, co-founder of Hungry, an app-based food delivery service.

The nearly 20 employees at the startup take Pahlevani’s cue and begin with the morning routine of everyone standing up for a few minutes while announcing what they’re working on. It’s this kind of collaborative model that the business says helps it thrive.

And thrive it does. In its first month after opening to the public, Hungry sold more than 1,000 meals and has goals to further expand.

After everyone has had a turn at the morning meeting, some employees remain in Hungry’s office space at MakeOffices Clarendon to go about their tasks, such as marketing and coordinating deliveries. Others scatter to some of the areas that Hungry shares with the other coworking space occupants.

A few Hungry employees, including Director of Chef Onboarding Laura Medina, head to the kitchen to prepare for one of the chefs who’s bringing in his dish of the day. It’s the chef’s chance to show off what food he can offer, and this particular dish will be available for Hungry users to purchase for delivery the following week.

“For the rent that we spend, we’re grateful to have great looking countertops and a gourmet-looking kitchen,” says Pahlevani. “It’s very appealing when we take pictures of our food and pictures of our chefs when we use this environment here.”

The Hungry team helps the chef set up his food in various parts of the kitchen that will allow for the best photographs. Contract photographer Reema Desai takes a prepared dish over to the window that overlooks Clarendon Boulevard to get a little more natural light on the display. As she arranges the food, she turns it slightly one way, then adds a napkin, then fluffs some of the garnish. She’s trying to use the light to maximize all the available textures and colors. “[The chefs] make it easy for me. The dishes already have a lot of bright, different colors and I just try to bring that out,” she says.

Designer Collin O’Brien works with the newly snapped photos. He’s populating the app with them and ensures the presentation works across all platforms — internet, iOS and Android. Getting customers to buy the food is all about quality and presentation.

Marketing can be one of the most difficult aspects for a fledgling small business to master, but Hungry employees say the coworking environment actually makes it easier. Again, it comes back to collaboration, this time outside of the immediate Hungry team. “It’s a really great base for word of mouth,” says Pardis Saremi, Hungry’s director of public relations.

She explains that employees at other businesses in the coworking space get interested when they see the food displays and try the service themselves. That has led to many becoming customers of the delivery service and talking it up to others. “They’re telling their friends. I also had someone say they know chefs that would love to cook on our app. The connections and the word of mouth is just so, so helpful,” Saremi says. The on-site connections also have led to two other MakeOffices occupants booking Hungry’s chefs — through the app — to cater events.

She also credits the MakeOffices newsletter that goes out to all coworking office occupants with drumming up interest in Hungry’s events and promotions. About 300 people showed up at the startup’s first food event, just based on word of mouth among the coworking office occupants. That definitely wouldn’t have been the case in a standalone building, says Saremi.

“The food business is very tough. So getting people to try our dishes and recommend us to friends is really how we’re going to grow,” says Pahlevani. “Being able to start in a space that’s 40,000 square feet and has 70 plus companies is an easy way… to get some traction early, just leveraging the folks here.”

Potential customers aren’t the only thing office interactions have produced; the Hungry employees also have forged mutually beneficial business relationships. “It’s a great way to attract talent from other startups that may have complementary businesses and can support the things we’re doing,” Pahlevani says. “We’ve met photographers from other groups that are now helping us. We’ve met social media gurus that are now helping us.”

Saremi agrees, further explaining how employees constantly gain unexpected knowledge for improving the business. “I met a guy in this building who does something in physics and he was giving us ideas on things to do with our packaging to keep the food warm,” she says.

Sometimes the employees finish their daily tasks during what would be considered a traditional “quitting time.” But with all the action from the chef’s visit, this may end up being one of those times the work day stretches longer into the evening. “When you start a startup it’s a lot of hard work,” says Pahlevani. “It’s very motivating to see a lot of other people staying past 9 p.m. It encourages our employees.”

The Hungry employees are proud of the hard work they’ve put into the business and how much it already has grown, which makes the time pass quickly, says Saremi. “There’s definitely an entrepreneurial spirit and everyone is so supportive of each other in this space,” she says. “You meet so many people… you see everyone growing in this space.”

Expect to hear more about Hungry in the coming months: the company just announced that it raised $2.5 million in seed funding, in a round led by New York-based Timeless Capital.

0 Comments

Doctor Delivery Shuts Down

Doctor Delivery logoFood delivery service Doctor Delivery has shut down.

A short, plain text message — “Dr. Delivery has ceased operations” — is now the only thing displayed on the company’s website. The website was still functional as recently as a week ago.

Based in Falls Church, Doctor Delivery launched in 2001 and served Arlington, D.C., Alexandria and part of Fairfax County, offering to deliver food from some 125 local restaurants.

The company also offered custom courier services — it would pick up your dry cleaning or bring you items from 7-Eleven, for instance. Orders could be placed online or via phone.

Lately Doctor Delivery has faced stiff competition from well-funded tech companies that have offered smartphone app-based food ordering services. Yet another delivery service, UberEATS, from the ride hailing company Uber, launched in Arlington late last week.

0 Comments

UberEATS Arlington service map (image courtesy of Uber)Ride hailing service Uber has expanded its meal delivery service, UberEATS, to Arlington.

Hungry Arlington residents and workers can now use the UberEATS app to order food from local restaurants. Users can order off the full restaurant menu, rather than having to choose between a few select items.

“Uber is partnering with over a dozen restaurants in the Arlington area and working to add more every week,” said Uber spokeswoman Kaitlin Durkosh. “Depending on your location, you can also order from restaurants in D.C., too.”

The service is offered from 9 a.m. to midnight daily and, Uber claims, can deliver food in as little as 10 minutes. There’s a flat $4.99 delivery fee, plus the cost of the food.

The bad news is that there’s a limited delivery area. The Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, plus Pentagon City and Crystal City, are included. Some western, northern and southern portions of Arlington, including East Falls Church, Shirlington and Fairlington, are excluded. (See map, above.)

Uber announced the Arlington expansion of UberEATS in a blog post Thursday.

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Construction in front of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall

County Board Work Sessions to Be Broadcast — Arlington TV, the county government’s cable channel, will begin broadcasting County Board work sessions on cable and online this month. First up: the riveting County Board work session on the FY 2017 budget, scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday. [Arlington County]

Meal Delivery Startup Now Serving Part of Arlington — Galley, a D.C.-based meal delivery startup, says it just expanded its delivery area to include Rosslyn, Courthouse and Clarendon.

ACPD Focusing on Heroin Use and Addiction — The Arlington County Police Department is joining other law enforcement agencies around the region in an initiative to try to curb the distribution, possession and use of heroin. For those battling addiction, there are a number of treatment options in Arlington. [Arlington County]

Schneider to Lead Thrive — Former Democratic County Board candidate Andrew Schneider has been named the new Executive Director of Arlington Thrive, effective today. Thrive is a nonprofit that provides same-day financial assistance to residents in crisis.

Board Thanks Legislators for Hotel Tax Bill — The Arlington County Board is offering its thanks to the state legislators who successfully shepherded Arlington’s hotel tax surcharge reauthorization through the Virginia General Assembly. [Arlington County]

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list