(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) Firefighters battled an intense vehicle fire today in front of the Arlington Assembly of God Church, along Route 50 in the Arlington Forest neighborhood.
Initial reports suggest that a food truck caught fire, though the vehicle was later reported to be a work van. A traffic camera showed flames and a thick column of smoke coming from the van as firefighters arrived on scene. The smoke could be seen from as far away as Crystal City.
The fire was extinguished after a few minutes and no one was injured. The fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause.
Engine 109 arrived to find this work van fully involved in the 4700 block of Arlington Blvd this morning. No injuries were reported. Fire Marshals are investigating the cause. Consider keeping a #FireExtinguisher in your vehicle safety kit. You never know when you may need one. pic.twitter.com/Dg6xyYGZxu
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) January 8, 2019
— William F. Yurasko (@doubleuefwhy) January 8, 2019
Memorial Bridge Closure Delayed — “Work on Arlington Memorial Bridge was scheduled to close all lanes this weekend, but with the expected arrival of Hurricane Florence, the National Park Service announced that the closure has been pushed back. Now, instead of Friday, the temporary closure of both sidewalks and all six lanes on the crumbling bridge is planned for 7 p.m. on Sept. 21 through 5 a.m. on Sept. 24.” [WTOP]
Economist Food Truck Comes to Rosslyn — Today The Economist is scheduled to bring its food truck to Central Place Plaza in Rosslyn from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. The truck offers “a taste of the future,” including free meatless burgers. Also offered: a 12-issue subscription to the magazine for $12. [Rosslyn]
Bezos and Amazon Board in Town — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and the Board of Directors of his $1 trillion company are in town for meetings and a much-anticipated speech at the Economic Club of Washington Thursday night. Some speculate the board is helping to evaluate the D.C. area as a possible location for Amazon’s second headquarters, while the company has denied rumors that Bezos will be making an HQ2-related announcement during his speech. [Washington Post]
AFAC Asks For More Cash — “The Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) has announced a special appeal to its donors, volunteers and the public to raise $50,000 to offset the funds lost when the Arlington government reduced its support… In fiscal years 2017 and 2018, the county government provided $50,000 in addition to the base grant of $477,925 to address a spike in families needing food assistance. The additional funding was not included in the fiscal 2019 budget.” [InsideNova]
Iota Book in the Works — The co-owner of the late, lamented Iota Club is trying to raise money online to compile a book showcasing memorabilia from the former Clarendon music venue. More than $1,000 of a $90,000 goal has been raised so far. [GoFundMe]
Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler
Today, if you want the El Fuego food truck’s unique fusion of Peruvian cuisine with international flavors, you’ll have to track it down first. But this fall, El Fuego will find a permanent brick-and-mortar home in Lyon Park.
El Fuego mixes traditional Peruvian food with influences from other cultures, with a particular favoritism towards Chinese and Japanese dishes. Freedom to pursue his own types of cuisine was what drew Manuel Alfaro to leave the restaurant industry and start his food truck eight years ago. Now, that same freedom is what’s bringing him back to starting his own restaurant.
“We’re going to have our own restaurant, so we’ll be able to do things that have been constantly requested,” said Alfaro. “On a food truck, you’re dealing with a kitchen that’s four feet by eight feet. You have to have a menu selected and limited.”
Alfaro says many of their dishes are broken up into summer and winter menus. Some foods, like a Peruvian pulled chicken and yellow pepper dish with the fusion twist of added cheese and wrapped in an eggroll, just don’t keep in a food truck during summer months.
“This is an item that needs to be cooked from frozen,” said Alfaro. “During the summer we tried to have that on the food truck, but it doesn’t hold up to the temperatures in the kitchen. Even though we have a freezer on truck, they still start sticking together. Having a [restaurant] location will enable us to have all of these dishes.”
For the past year, Alfaro says he’s been looking for a location to put his restaurant. But Alfaro said his options were slim. He was trying to find a location that had partially been built out as a restaurant or had previously been a restaurant to cut down on the immense initial costs of installing a hood in the kitchen.
But when Alfaro found the location on the 2300 block of N. Pershing Drive, it was perfect. The space was built as a restaurant, complete with a hood in the kitchen, back when it was originally envisioned as vegetarian restaurant Alt’s — the space only opened briefly due to family troubles among its owners, culminating in founder Bryan Morrell’s death last month.
When he first came to the area, Alfaro said he sat outside the restaurant around lunchtime and watched the traffic. There are several other restaurants in the nearby area, all of which were active around lunch. The street is a major cut-through when I-66 is backed up, and Alfaro said the nearby apartments and Fort Myer were promising for a steady dinner crowd.
Alfaro said the goal is for an opening in the middle of September, but experience in the restaurant industry tells him a grand opening sometime in early October is more likely. Alfaro said his vision for the opening day is to have the restaurant operational with the food truck serving more customers outside.
“We are serving something we are proud of,” said Alfaro. “This is our food. It’s not someone else’s menu dictating we serve this or that. This is food we are proud of… It gives us a drive to succeed and provide something any American can come in, try, and say ‘wow, this is awesome.'”
It’s Summer — Today is the first day of summer and the longest day of the year in terms of daylight. [Fortune]
Verizon 911 Outage — Updated at 11:40 a.m. — From Arlington Alert: “Due to a regional Verizon outage, Verizon mobile phones may not be able to reach 9-1-1 or non-emergency numbers in the area at this time. Please use Text-to-9-1-1 or another phone carrier if the voice call does not go through.” Callers in Alexandria, Fairfax and Prince William are also affected by the outage. Service was restored around 11 a.m. [Twitter, WJLA]
Crash Leads to All-Time Terrible Commute — Yesterday’s evening commute was “atrocious” and the “worst I’ve ever seen” in Northern Virginia, per transportation reporter Adam Tuss. Traffic was especially slow on northbound I-395 and the northbound GW Parkway approaching D.C., after a deadly and fiery truck crash shut down a portion of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and the Capital Beltway. [WTOP, Twitter, Twitter]
New Details in Police Shooting — There are new details in the police shooting of a man near Columbia Pike last month. According to court records, Steven Best and his passenger “were involved in a drug transaction with a man outside a hotel.” Police then boxed in his van to make an arrest, but Best allegedly tried to flee, driving “forwards and backwards, striking multiple police cars,” leading to the shooting. Best’s family, which has questioned the police account of what happened, says they have a video of the shooting. [WJLA]
Housing Costs Still Rising — The average per-square-foot cost of an existing home in Arlington is now $475, an increase of 1.3 percent compared to last year and the highest such figure among Northern Virginia localities. [InsideNova]
New ACPD Officers — Ten new Arlington police officers took the oath of honor to protect and serve the residents of Arlington County earlier this week after graduating from the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy. [Twitter]
Bishop Burbidge on World Refugee Day — Catholic Diocese of Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge released a statement in honor of World Refugee Day yesterday, saying in part: “may we… stand with refugees and commemorate their courage, resilience and perseverance. May we always remember to ‘treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and … love him as yourself, for [we] were strangers in the land of Egypt’ (Leviticus19:34).” [Arlington Catholic Herald, Twitter]
Food Truck Inspections — The Arlington County Fire Department has been performing inspections this week of food trucks that operate in Arlington. Officials have been specifically looking at fire suppression systems and the storage of cooking fuels. [Twitter]
An organic Korean-Vietnamese food truck is opening up a brick-and-mortar location in Arlington Ridge.
Kovi Kitchen will be opening a location at 2921 S. Glebe Road, near the Arlington-Alexandria border. The restaurant teased the news on Twitter and Facebook over the weekend, but did not announce an estimated grand opening weekend.
The food truck, which has parked in Rosslyn for the lunch rush, serves $3 tacos, rice bowls and bahn mi.
The restaurant will be run by Vi Nguyen, who, according to the truck’s website, has at least 29 years of hospitality industry experience.
A voice mail left at the food truck’s listed number was not immediately returned.
Photo via Kovi Kitchen
The truck will begin selling food to locals in late May or early June, said Bootheel Catering owner David Newton.
Newton is from Southeast Missouri, a location described as the “boot heel” of the state, which inspired the catering company’s name.
Newton said he wanted to open a food truck to make catering more convenient by having a mobile kitchen on hand for events.
“It makes our lives easier. It makes the food fresher,” he said. “I just want to get more of our stuff out to people, because people really like it.”
The food truck’s menu will include barbecue, brisket, pulled chicken, jambalaya, gumbo, grits, fried chicken and more. Prices will from $8 to $12, Newton said.
The truck will be traveling throughout Clarendon, Rosslyn, Crystal City and possibly Ballston. Newton said the truck may even go out to the Tyson’s Corner area.
Photo via Facebook/Bootheel Catering
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