Arlington, VA

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnowStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties remains firmly committed to the health, safety and well-being of its employees, tenants and community. This week, Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1000 and 1100 Wilson (The Rosslyn Tower).

As the Washington Nationals play ball without fans in the stands, the team is turning to Arlington startup Hungry to bring the ballpark dining experience to homes.

If a Washington Nationals game just wouldn’t be the same for you without a hot dog, ballpark peanuts or other baseball cuisine, the new Best Ballpark Bites program may be a homerun. It aims to deliver gameday meals to those watching the games safely from their livings rooms.

“The Nationals want to bring the ballpark experience to you in the comfort and safety of your home,” the Nationals said in a press release. “Introducing Best Ballpark Bites Delivered, featuring classic gameday meals.”

The partnership is part of a continued shift towards no-contact deliveries during the pandemic, according to Hungry’s website. The Ballston-based company also was able to recently secure over $20 million in funding from donors like comedian Kevin Hart and former Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb.

The packages come in three optional sets:

  • Enzo’s Pizza Pack — featuring a hand-tossed pepperoni pizza to bake at home, Old Bay dry rub and Buffalo wings, a pasta salad, two packages of cracker jacks and three Cokes
  • Backyard Grill Pack — Two Hebrew Nationals Hot Dogs to be reheated at home, an Italian sausage and bratwurst to be grilled at home along with their respective condiments, tortilla chips, nacho dip, chili, Cracker Jacks and three Cokes
  • Tacos and Nachos Pack — Nine chicken and black bean tacos, “NAT-cho” chips, corn salad, Cracker Jacks and three Cokes

All packs are $75 and designed to serve 2-3 people with contactless deliveries.

Alcohol orders are also included but will require the recipient to present ID on delivery. In addition to online ordering, the press release says orders can be placed via 1-888-8HUNGRY or emailing [email protected]. Orders have to be placed by midnight the day before the game for night games.

According to Hungry’s website, orders will include a free Nats bobblehead for a limited time.

Flickr photo by Stephen Yates

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The cat’s out of the bag for to-go drinks with Virginians — and Arlingtonians in particular — expressing widespread support for keeping the practice around after the pandemic is over.

In a joint poll with the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association and the National Restaurant Association found that 78 percent of Virginians support making permanent current, temporary practices that allow restaurant customers to purchase alcoholic beverages with their takeout and delivery food orders.

“According to the recent data, customers are taking advantage of the order with approximately one in three Virginia adults who recently purchased takeout or delivery including alcohol with their order,” the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association said in a press release. “Additionally, 39 percent of restaurant patrons said the option of including alcoholic beverages with their order made them more likely to choose one restaurant over a competitor that does not offer alcohol sales.”

ARLnow’s own less scientific polling found that 91% of those who responded (2,839 people) were in favor of making delivery of alcohol permanent.

“The popularity of ordering mixed beverages to-go or for delivery shows that people want it,” said Sarah White, Operating Partner at Cowboy Café (4792 Lee Hwy) said in the press release. “We keep hearing from customers that it’s nice to order and enjoy a cocktail without getting dressed up and going to a bar. We keep hearing how happy they are to be able to relax in their own home and still feel like they’re receiving the full dining experience.”

Virginia allowed beer and wine to be delivered in March — relatively early in the pandemic — and eventually extended that to cocktails in April. Oklahoma has already made alcohol delivery by restaurants permanent, while many of the three-dozen states and territories that have allowed it temporarily during the pandemic are also considering making it permanent.

Staff photo by Vernon Miles

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The group behind Chasin’ Tails in East Falls Church and Happy Endings Eatery, a new Asian food hall in Rosslyn, has launched a new delivery service.

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.

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There’s no Taco Bamba in Arlington, but the popular regional Mexican eatery chain is giving local residents a way to get their fix while staying close to home.

Starting today, the company has started delivering to food drop-off zones in Ballston and Pentagon City.

“Taco Bamba delivers to the… satellite drop zones at 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday,” the company said on its website. “We can take 15 orders per time slot for each location, so place your lunch order now.”

The drop-off zones are:

  • In front of the future Huevos restaurant, a new concept from Taco Bamba founder and chef Victor Albisu, at 4000 Wilson Blvd.
  • In front of Lebanese Taverna at Pentagon Row, at 1101 S. Joyce Street.

Orders can be placed online.

Other restaurants are also getting in on the drop-zone concept. On Monday D.C.-based Israeli street food restaurant Shouk dropped off food for customers in Ballston. Drop-off orders can be placed on the restaurant’s smartphone app.

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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.”

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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]

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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