Dem Support for Country Club Bill Slips — A procedural vote in the Virginia House of Delegates to send the Arlington country club bill to the governor’s desk passed, but without a veto-proof margin. Some Democratic lawmakers who supported the bill the first time around voted no instead. If signed by Gov. Ralph Northam (D), the legislation would greatly lower the property taxes of Army Navy Country Club and Washington Golf and Country Club. [InsideNova]
Food Trucks Grumble About Festival Fees — “To participate in May’s Taste of Arlington festival… food trucks must pay a flat fee of between $400 and $500. Festival attendees purchase tickets worth $5 each that can be redeemed at food trucks for a few bites. When the gates close, event organizers reimburse the food truck between 25 and 75 cents per ticket… Would you sign this contract?” [Washington City Paper]
‘Women of Vision’ Awards — Nominations are now being accepted for the 2018 Arlington Women of Vision Awards. The nomination deadline is April 20. [Arlington County]
How to Do Business With Arlington — Arlington is hosting an event next week that will show small businesses “the nuances of successfully doing business with Arlington County.” Per the event website: “Experts will be speaking on topics such as obtaining opportunities to work with the County and understanding the procurement process.” [Arlington Economic Development]
Nearby: Alexandria Tops Tourism List — Alexandria is No. 1 on Money magazine’s “The 20 Best Places to Go in 2018” list, topping Anaheim, Calif., the home of Disneyland, among other destinations. Harper’s Ferry, W. Va. was ranked No. 2. [Washington Post]
In a long Facebook post earlier this month, Bada Bing food truck owner Nicholas Terzella announced he was closing up shop, partially blaming the Arlington County government for not properly updating him on new sprinkler system requirements.
However, county officials say there were several outreach efforts once commercial hood suppression systems became mandatory in mobile food units on November 6, 2016, according to both Kim Brunette, an environmental health supervisor with the county public health protection bureau and Ben O’Bryant, an Arlington County Fire Department Fire/EMS Captain and spokesman.
The outreach efforts included “soft inspections” to local mobile food units, more commonly called food trucks, to check in with business owners with safety compliance without taking punitive measures, according to the county.
Educational flyers were also distributed to mobile food unit owners, informing them of the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code requirements and the National Fire Protection Association. The updates were also available online.
From ACFD Capt. O’Bryant:
The Arlington Fire Code requirement for commercial hood suppression systems in Mobile Food Units (MFU) became effective on November 6, 2016 with the Arlington County Board’s adoption of the 2012 Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code (SFPC) and Chapter 8.1 local amendments.
In the two years prior (2015-2016), the fire department participated in “soft” non-punitive inspections as a combined effort with Public Health during the annual license renewal inspection period. These safety inspections were intended to help educate MFU operators on the 2012 SFPC requirements. Informational flyers were provided to MFU operators based on National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards and SFPC requirements. This information was also posted on the fire department’s public website.
Enforcement of the code requirements began during the July 2017 licensing period. We continue to work collaboratively with Public Health, performing joint annual inspections to provide the most efficient and convenient service for MFU operators.
Arlington County only lists online the inspections records for currently licensed, operational food trucks, so inspection records for Bada Bing are no longer on the website.
Terzella additionally blamed other food truck owners for their “almost restaurant sized” vehicles, and specifically called out Loopy’s Eatery food truck owner who he called Tex. Food truck registration records in Alexandria, Va., list Teak Shin as the food truck’s primary contact.
An Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman said that any parking violation citations for area food trucks would be lumped in reports with other commercial and passenger vehicles, but that there wasn’t a record of a criminal report filed detailing accusations similar to the Nicholas Terzella’s accusation that Loopy’s owner tried selling a parking space.
To our customers. We can’t put into words how much joy these last eight years of serving you has given us. Though I have…
A man who answered the listed phone number for Bada Bing food truck hung up after an ARLnow.com reporter called for comment. Three voicemails left for a number listed for Loopy’s Eatery, with a voicemail box identified as belonging to a man named Tex, went unanswered.
Long-time Arlington food truck Bada Bing is calling it quits.
The truck, one of the first of its kind in Arlington, starting serving cheesesteaks and spiedies to customers in 2010. It helped to kick off a wave of mobile dining options that captured considerable public attention and eventually prompted changes to county regulations.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Bada Bing owner Nicholas Terzella blamed unscrupulous fellow food truck owners, parking problems, and issues with county regulations and communications for his decision. He said he will be moving to the Binghamton, New York area and opening a bricks-and-mortar restaurant.
“The restaurants and restaurant lobby has a huge stranglehold on the govt and are making it very difficult for trucks to operate,” he wrote. “That among other issues is why we REFUSE to continue to do business in Arlington and collect tax for them anymore.”
“Please come visit us if you are ever in the Binghamton area,” he added. “We love you all so much and appreciate you more than you may ever know.”
Hat tip to Christina R.
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington will host its second annual “Pints 4 Paws” beer festival next month.
The festival, from 1-5 p.m. on Sunday, October 15 at Courthouse Plaza (2040 15th Street N.) will have unlimited craft beer tastings, food trucks and vendors offering animal-related goods and services.
Also included: a costume contest for dogs, with prizes including a stay at the Healthy Hound Playground, dog clothing from Winthrop Clothing Co. and tickets to an Ale & Asana yoga class with Beth Wolfe. Attendees can also play with some adoptable AWLA dogs.
Tickets cost $35 online and $40 on the door, with admission costing $10 for designated drivers and non-drinkers. Children under 12 are admitted for free. An option is also available for those who cannot attend to donate online. All proceeds from the event will benefit AWLA.
“What better way to celebrate the glory of autumn (cool temps, clear skies, hint of wood smoke in the air) AND support homeless animals?” organizers wrote.
The proprietor of a food truck that would park near the now-closed Food Star grocery store is set to take over the former Green Room next to the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse.
The truck, Tortas Y Tacos La Chiquita, sold Mexican food like tacos, quesadillas and tortas from the parking lot at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive.
Owner David Villalobos said on the eatery’s official Facebook page that their new digs at 2911 Columbia Pike will be open in the first or second week of June. He also said that customers can expect “new cakes and tacos” after the grand opening.
The restaurant replaces “The Green Room,” which hosted stand-up comedy and other events adjacent to the main theater. It closed earlier this year as owner Greg Godbout looked for a new tenant.
The West Columbia Pike Food Truck Party takes place tomorrow (April 15) at the intersection of Columbia Pike and Four Mile Run Drive. Vendors will serve food from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
The Columbia Forest Civic Association is hosting the food truck event, which is the first of four planned for this year.
The Hello Kitty Cafe truck will stop by Pentagon Row this Saturday as part of its tour of the Mid-Atlantic.
The truck will park near the Designer Shoe Warehouse at 1301 S. Joyce Street from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on April 8.
It will offer candy and Hello Kitty-branded promotional items like mugs, t-shirts and headbands and water bottles with bows on.
The truck appeared in Bethesda last Saturday, and will move north into Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey after visiting Arlington. A tour is also underway on the West Coast.
The cafe truck debuted in 2014 at Hello Kitty Con in Los Angeles.
A Clarendon bar veteran is raising money to launch a new food truck in Arlington.
Michael Terrence O’Connor says on the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe that he’s hoping to raise $15,000. The money will help with various startup costs for a food truck he’s planning to launch called CociNana.
The truck will focus on serving tamales, but will also offer other comfort food, says the fundraising website. The name is intended to honor the women who taught O’Connor how to cook.
“CociNana is an endearment to the many years of my youth I spent in the kitchens of my Grandmas, Tias, Aunties and other Nanas,” he wrote.
O’Connor, who has worked at Iota Club and Sehkraft Brewing, we’re told, says he’s already put a deposit down on a truck and has the necessary Arlington permits for it.
“Iota Mike,” as one reader said he’s known as, has so far raised just over $7,000. He says he’ll use the money to reduce his monthly payment on the truck, to get branding and merchandise for the truck, to secure kitchen and depot services, and to “meet regulatory hurdles, fines and procedures.”
Incentives for donating include gift cards, free tamales or even having your name inscribed on the truck.
“I am eternally grateful for all your support and look forward to seeing you out the window,” O’Connor wrote.
Court Judgment Against Fmr. Johnny Rockets Owner — The owner of the former Johnny Rockets diner in Pentagon City mall has been ordered to pay more than a half million dollars in back wages and damages to 55 servers. The servers worked at Johnny Rockets locations in Pentagon City and Union Station in D.C.; a Dept. of Labor lawsuit alleged they had to share tips with non-tipped employees and did not receive overtime for working more than 40 hours per week. [Patch]
Arlington GOP Still Supports Trump — In an email this week, the chair of the Arlington County Republican Committee said that the party continues “to strongly support Donald Trump for president,” despite joining with GOP leaders in denouncing Trump’s recorded 2005 remarks about women. [Blue Virginia]
Delta to Fly from DCA to LAX — Delta Air Lines has announced plans to start flying from Reagan National Airport to Los Angeles International Airport, starting April 24. Currently, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines fly the direct DCA to LAX route. [Patch]
Food Truck Party on the Pike — On Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Columbia Pike residents have organized a “food truck party” in the recycling center lot at the intersection of the Pike and Four Mile Run Drive. [Columbia Forest]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Woman Attacked, Robbed in Pentagon City — A 24-year-old woman was punched in the face and robbed of her phone last Friday. The crime happened in broad daylight on S. Joyce Street, near Pentagon Row and the Riverhouse apartments. [WJLA]
No Easy Answers for Biking Along the Pike — Columbia Pike remains perhaps the least bike-friendly commercial corridor in Arlington, but there are few realistic ideas for substantially improving its bike-ability. [Greater Greater Washington]
Baptism Makes History at Local Church — For the first time in its nearly 150 year history, Mount Salvation Baptist Church, in the Halls Hill neighborhood along Lee Highway, conducted baptism ceremonies in which a female minister took part. [InsideNova]
Woopie Pie Truck in Ballston — A food truck specializing in whoopie pies plans to be in Ballston today. The Little Miss Whoopie truck will serve hungry Ballstonites around lunchtime. [Patch]
Photo courtesy Sandra Plaza
Man Arrested for Upskirt Photos — Updated at 10:35 a.m. — Arlington County Police yesterday arrested a man who allegedly took photos up a woman’s skirt as she was on the Courthouse Metro station escalator. The man smashed his phone after he was confronted by the woman and some passersby surrounded him to stop him from leaving. [NBC Washington]
Virginia on Best States for Business Ranking — Virginia is losing ground on CNBC’s Best States for Business rankings, placing No. 13 this year after being No. 5 in 2013. Some blame economic conditions caused by military and federal budget cuts. CNBC said high costs and “weak infrastructure” hurt the Commonwealth’s standing. Virginia did, however, rank No. 2 on a cumulative Best States for Business list from over the past 10 years. [Richmond Times-Dispatch, CNBC]
Lots of $1 Million Home Sales — There were 53 properties in Arlington that sold for more than $1 million in June. All but four of those properties were single family homes. [InsideNova]
Pokemon Lure at Food Truck Event — The Crystal City Business Improvement District is getting in on the Pokemon Go craze. The BID says it’s placing a Pokemon “lure” at its Food Truck Thursday event today. [Twitter]
Coming Soon: ARLBBQ — Later this month ARLnow will be hosting our first “ARLBBQ,” featuring free beer, food and games for all in attendance. The event is taking place outside on the 16th floor loft of The Bartlett in Pentagon City. Want an invite to this RSVP-only event? You’ll need to subscribe to our email newsletter.
Photo by Jackie Friedman. Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
The Rosslyn BID is planning a special Cinco de Mayo celebration tomorrow afternoon.
Weather permitting, the “fiesta” will be held from 4-8 p.m. on the plaza at the corner of 19th and N. Moore streets, a block from the Metro station.
The event will feature seasonal beers and wine available for purchase from a “mobile event bar,” a live music from Cecilia Esquivel and a photo station.
Also scheduled: a rare appearance from the famous El Chilango food truck, which does not often stray far from its home base of 14th Street N. in the Courthouse area. In 2014 Yelp named the truck one of the top 100 places to eat in the entire country.
Admission is free but revelers must be 21 or over. In the event of rain the event will be moved to the Continental.
On Tuesday, April 5, the Crystal City FRESHFARM Market will open for the season. The farmers market is held from 3-7 p.m. every Tuesday, along Crystal Drive between 18th and 20th Streets S.
“Shop from nearly 20 local farmers and producers with seasonal fruits and vegetables, fresh-cut flowers, container plants and herbs, farm-raised eggs, all-natural meats, artisan baked goods, specialty foods and much more,” organizer Crystal City BID said in a press release. “Stop by early and pick-up a free Crystal City banner bag from the market’s information table (while supplies last).”
Two days later, the BID will hold its first Food Truck Thursday of the season. The lunchtime event is held on Thursdays from 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and features a flotilla of food trucks in two locations: the corner of 18th Street and Crystal Drive and at 12th Street and Long Bridge Drive.
Also coming soon to Crystal City: the first 5K Friday race of April, this coming Friday (April 1), and the neighborhood’s weekly Mobile Bike Repair Station will open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 7, at the corner of 18th and Crystal.
Crystal City isn’t the only local community with seasonal events and amenities that have opened or are opening soon. Among the others:
- Ballston: FRESHFARM farmers market returns on Thursdays starting in May; Taste of Arlington 2016 scheduled for May 15
- Clarendon: Farmers market near the Metro station is typically held on Wednesdays starting in April
- Fairlington: Farmers market returns Sunday, May 1
- Rosslyn: The Rosslyn sandbox has already reopened; a Cinco de Mayo Beer Garden is scheduled for May 5
A number of other farmers markets around Arlington are held year-round.
Tacos El Chilango parks at the corner of 14th Street N. and N. Quinn Street nearly every day. From the truck, people can see drivers whiz by on Route 50. Before customers get a $2.50 taco (or five), they might stand in a line that goes down the block. The menu is limited to only six kinds of meat tacos and a small selection of drinks. But no one is complaining.
Making Yelp’s Top 100 List in 2014 was no easy feat. Engineers from Yelp took into account number of reviews and star ratings to reveal the most popular spots in the country, over the past 10 years that Yelp had been up and running. Tacos El Chilango made number 58.
Jesus and Juan Antonio Santacruz opened the truck together in Arlington in 2007. Juan Antonio now runs El Chilango’s D.C. location (1119 V. Street NW), which opened in 2012. It has a somewhat larger menu including veggie options and indoor and outdoor seating space.
When the two first opened shop, they were inspired by their parents, who moved from Central Mexico to Mexico City in the 1950s and opened their first taco business.
“My parents had the house, and in the front they had the business, so we practically lived there. We are eight siblings and we all have taco shops,” Juan Antonio said.
Five taco stores are in Mexico, and three are in the U.S.– the two El Chilango locations, and Tacos El Papi, another truck, owned by their eldest brother, is parked on Columbia Pike in Arlington.
Juan Antonio and Jesus established their space because Jesus lives nearby, and one winter they got snowed into the spot. People started noticing the truck because there aren’t really other businesses around. And so they stayed.
What makes these tacos special? People could look to the 349 Yelp reviews (only five of which are under three stars) or ask someone who took to the street at lunchtime today.
Maurice Dayton calls himself a “religious patron” of El Chilango. He said he comes to get his lunch at the truck at least twice a week. He’s not the only super fan — 55 Yelp reviews used the word “love” to describe their feelings for the fresh tacos.
“I’m not lying, I’m from Texas and I know a thing about tacos, this is the closest I’ve come to being back home with tacos, and I have to say, it’s even better,” Dayton said.
Jesus says the secret to the tacos is never changing the recipe — and keeping ingredients fresh every day.
“A lot of people ask for sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes and we say ‘no.’ We like to keep them authentic, the way we grew up with them, the way we make them in Mexico. We make everything pretty much every day,” Santacruz said.
Dayton lives in Maryland but works in a nearby State Department office, where he says everyone makes the walk down to the truck. He mentioned a few other spots he said had good tacos, but they didn’t compare.
“I just absolutely love coming here. You have to try the El Mixto. They’re some of the absolute best tacos anywhere. I wish I could franchise this place,” Dayton said, laughing.
Matt Evans is a longtime patron of the truck who just moved in Arlington, just blocks away from El Chilango’s parking spot — a move he’s very excited about.
“I have a lot of coworkers who are super into District Taco, and hands-down this is way better than District Taco. It’s that authentic, it’s like California tacos,” Evans said.
It makes sense that they would be authentic, as “Chilango” is a Mexican slang word meaning the people who live in or come from Mexico City. And Juan Antonio says even though there is the most business on Fridays and Saturdays, the truck is busy year-round.
“Even when it’s so hot or so cold, people want tacos,” he said.
Woman Takes Stage to Find Bathroom — An apparently intoxicated woman climbed on stage during a recent Signature Theatre production in Shirlington, made her way backstage and asked a cast member for directions to the bathroom. [Playbill]
Spout Run Closure — The eastbound lanes of the Spout Run Parkway will be completely closed from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. today for road paving. No detours will be in place and “alternative routes should be used,” according to the National Park Service.
Arlington Murder to Be Featured on TV Show — This coming Sunday, at 10 p.m., the show “Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall” on Investigation Discovery will feature the 2012 homicide of Mack L. Woods Sr. in Arlington. [Patch]
Charleys Now Open in Pentagon City — A Charleys Philly Steaks restaurant is now open in the food court of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall food court. “Charleys brings a unique experience to the food court with its grilled-fresh-in-front-of-you flavor,” the company said in a press release.
Food Truck Stops Taking Cash — The Lemongrass food truck, which frequents Arlington, has decided to stop accepting cash. The truck now only takes credit and debit cards. [Washington Post]
Why Arlington Went to Paper Ballots — Arlington reintroduced paper ballots this year after dumping its electronic voting machines. Why did it get rid of the more modern tech? The WINVote system was found to be grossly insecure and the touchscreen devices were dubbed the “worst voting machines” in America. [Wired]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley