Arlington, VA

Delhi Club (1135 N. Highland Street) is under new management, and will soon take on a new name: Spice Kraft Indian Bistro.

For now, the change is unofficial and the restaurant continues to do business as Delhi Club, said general manager and co-owner Anthony Shankar. Delhi Club’s doors will reopen as Spice Kraft Indian Bistro by the end of the month, he said.

The restaurant in Clarendon will be the second location for Spice Kraft, which first opened in August 2019 in Alexandra’s Del Ray neighborhood, but had its grand opening this January. Like its approach to Delhi Club, Spice Kraft opened in the former Bombay Curry Company space.

Shankar said the owners of Spice Kraft and Delhi Club have a business relationship. When the Delhi Club owners decided it was time to close their restaurant, they approached Spice Kraft to see if they were interested in the spot, he said.

“They saw Spice Kraft has potential in Arlington,” Shankar said.

Shankar and fellow co-owners Helen Sanjjav and Prem Durairaj were planning to open the space before the pandemic started, but COVID-19 delayed the project from March through August.

Once regulations started easing up, the three got to work.

“We didn’t want to wait too long,” said Shankar, who managed Taaza, a popular Indian restaurant in Roanoke, for seven years before relocating to Alexandria to open Spice Kraft.

The owners have aspirations of Spice Kraft becoming a local chain, and intend to open two to three more locations in Northern Virginia after expanding to Clarendon.

Another nearby Indian restaurant, Delhi Dhaba, operates a few blocks down in Courthouse, but Spice Kraft will not be in direct competition with it, Shankar said.

“We see ourselves as classical and contemporary,” he said.

The menu is mostly the same across the two locations, but about one-quarter of the options are new, including some of the lunch fare, fusion dishes and rice bowls, Shankar said.

For example, Spice Kraft is serving up burgers with proteins such as chicken tikka, and the pre-plated rice bowls come with a protein, side, bread and salad for about $10.

Delhi Club opened in the early 2000s, but closed briefly during the summer of 2011 after a fire broke out.

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(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) The newest entrant into Arlington’s restaurant scene has opened its doors.

Ruthie’s All-Day, located in the Arlington Heights neighborhood and owned by a pair of fine dining vets, is now accepting dinner reservations and takeout orders.

The restaurant is a bit off the beaten path: it’s located along S. Glebe Road at 3411 5th Street S., in a single-story, historic building that once served as a chocolate factory.

Ruthie’s aims to be a neighborhood destination, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner in a place that’s blocks from the nearest sit-down restaurant and a half hour walk from the Ballston Metro station.

Despite the understated name, “RAD” has a menu that is more culinary than quick-service.

Starters include Southern staples like deviled eggs, cornbread, hushpuppies and pimento cheese, mixed in with tuna tartare and wood grilled octopus. Pork, chicken and brisket sandwiches are joined on the menu with entrees like wood fired bacon wrapped trout, roasted diver scallops, and smoked Rohan duck breast.

Though Ruthie’s doesn’t have barbecue in its name, it does have two all wood burning smokers and a custom wood hearth, fed by North Carolina hickory and oak wood. It offers meat by the pound and half pound, including brisket, pulled pork and chicken, as well as racks of ribs.

In addition to the food, the restaurant will have eight local beers on tap, on a rotating basis, in addition to seasonal cocktails and a curated wine list.

Ruthie’s, which is touting its COVID precautions as it opens amid the pandemic, also has a large patio for outdoor dining. It plans to roll out coffee, breakfast, brunch and lunch service at later dates.

More from a press release:

We are pleased to announce the official opening of Ruthie’s All-Day by Chef Matt Hill and Partner Todd Salvadore. This will be Chef Matt’s and Todd’s first solo restaurant after working in the industry for more than twenty years. […]

As a full-service, family friendly, all-day neighborhood restaurant and bar with a custom-built wood-burning hearth, Ruthie’s All-Day will offer coffee/counter, lunch, brunch, and dinner service scratch made food with an emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients. “We are beyond excited to finally open our doors to Ruthie’s All-Day! We plan to open in phases. Currently, we are open for dinner and takeout. In the coming weeks, we will be introducing Counter Culture coffee, breakfast/lunch counter, and brunch service,” says Chef Matt Hill.

The opening dinner menu is Chef Matt Hill’s modern take on a meat and three with 100% wood smoked barbecue and grilled meats including: smoked pulled pork shoulder with scratch made milk bread; wood fired citrus marinated 1/2 chicken with a raisin caper vinaigrette, smoked brisket; and smoked half rack sticky spare ribs. These are accompanied by twos and threes: buttermilk biscuits; mac and cheese; pulled pork pinto beans; anson mills grits; crispy brussels in fish sauce vinaigrette; hand cut fries; or charred kimchi dirty rice. Super tasty starters, such as skillet cornbread, hot hushpuppies with shrimp and roasted jalapeno, wood grilled oysters, and brunswick stew are also featured. The menu will showcase delicious entree salads, including fried chicken cobb salad and nice grilled salmon salad, as well as several sandwiches including Chef Hill’s crispy fried chicken sandwich with gojuchang aioli, bread and butter pickles, and slaw. The beverage program led by Todd Salvadore offers Cocktails with twists on classic favorites, and a rotating eight draft beer program from local breweries.

In the coming weeks, in the morning, the take-out counter will feature an evolving menu with our ridiculously delicious breakfast biscuits and bowls, think stone ground grits, house-made sausage, crispy fried chicken, and brisket, egg and cheese biscuits, alongside Counter Culture coffee from Chef Hill’s (and Ruthie’s) home state of North Carolina. Lunch time brings a mix of fresh ground burgers, sandwiches and entree salads with greens from local farmers and producers, packed with seasonal superfoods.

Both indoor and outdoor seating are currently available. “While following the CDC, WHO, and VA government guidelines, our number one priority is keeping our guests and staff safe,” says Todd Salvadore.

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Arlington Chamber of Commerce is organizing its second annual Arlington Restaurant Week later this month.

Arlington Restaurant Week will run from October 19-26. During the week, diners can try set menu items from many local restaurants, at a discounted price. The idea is for diners to find a new to-go place for dining out.

“The Chamber is thrilled to celebrate and showcase the diverse restaurant scene in Arlington through hosting the second annual Restaurant Week event specifically for the Arlington community,” said Chamber President Kate Bates. “Now, more than ever, restaurants need our support… We are proud to support and highlight the importance of the entire local restaurant community, particularly during this trying time.”

The current list of participating restaurants includes:

  • Ambar
  • Bonefish Grill
  • Celtic House Irish Pub & Restaurant
  • Colony Grill
  • Copa Kitchen & Bar
  • Fire Works Pizza
  • Good Company Donuts & Café
  • Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe
  • La Moo
  • La Côte D’or
  • Potomac Social
  • Rien Tong Thai
  • SER
  • Smokecraft Modern Barbecue
  • Rocklands Barbecue
  • Thai Select
  • TTT Mexican Diner

(Colony Grill, as we reported yesterday, is planning to open Oct. 14. Potomac Social, on which ARLnow has not previously reported, is the restaurant connected to the Crowne Plaza hotel in Crystal City. Potomac Social opened earlier this year, then closed, and then reopened in August.)

Diners can stay up-to-date on participating restaurants and the event by following the Chamber’s Facebook page or visiting its website.

The full press release about the second annual Arlington Restaurant Week is below.

The Arlington Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce our second annual Arlington Restaurant Week, happening on October 19-26. Through this event, diners will enjoy some of the best food the area has to offer at special prices. This is a great opportunity for participants to take the week to explore the diverse restaurant scene in Arlington and find a new go-to place for dining out.

Now, more than ever, restaurants need our support. Arlington Restaurant Week is designed to help local restaurants gain exposure through extensive media promotion and to attract new patrons through experiencing their food. This event runs differently from your average Restaurant Week in that it is open to all restaurants from fast-casual spots to five-star dining establishments. Restaurants pick their own price point, market their menu on our website, and offer both dine-in and carry-out options. The Chamber is pleased to offer free participation for member restaurants, courtesy of our sponsors.

“The Chamber is thrilled to celebrate and showcase the diverse restaurant scene in Arlington through hosting the second annual Restaurant Week event specifically for the Arlington community,” said Kate Bates, President & CEO of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce. “This event offers participants the opportunity to try a variety of dining experiences and culinary options at discounted rates, and in return, restaurants gain exposure and are able to expand their customer base. We are proud to support and highlight the importance of the entire local restaurant community, particularly during this trying time.”

The current list of participating restaurants and their menus can be found here. Visit the Chamber’s website and follow the Arlington Restaurant Week event page on the Chamber’s Facebook to keep up-to-date on the event. Diners are encouraged to further support the restaurants by posting a picture of their dining experience to social media. Make sure to tag the location, tag the Chamber @ArlVAChamber, and use the hashtag #ArlRestaurantWeek.

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It only exists online, but a new fried chicken restaurant has launched in Arlington.

Smokecraft Modern Barbecue, which opened in July at 1051 N. Highland Street in Clarendon, announced this week that it has also opened “Etta Faye’s Chicken Shack.”

The Southern-style eatery is a “ghost kitchen” — you can’t go there, sit down, and order food. Instead, you can only order it for delivery on Uber Eats or DoorDash, or for pickup on the Smokecraft online ordering page.

Etta Faye’s started taking its first orders Wednesday evening.

Ghost kitchens are a hot concept, attracting investors and media buzz. Last week ARLnow reported that a trailer in a Clarendon parking lot was operating as a ghost kitchen; Etta Faye’s, however, appears to operate out of the Smokecraft space.

Among the items offered are several varieties of fried chicken sandwich, as well as sides like a pimento cheese and biscuit crostini.

More from a press release:

The award-winning Smokecraft Modern Barbecue team is excited to announce Etta Faye’s Chicken Shack, a ghost kitchen concept now available for Arlington residents and visitors to enjoy via carryout and delivery.

Etta Faye’s Chicken Shack is an homage to Executive Sous Chef William Burke’s grandmother, a no-nonsense woman who was unapologetically herself. Crafted around two of Burke’s favorite childhood comfort foods, fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits, the concept is inspired by Burke’s southern roots, growing up cooking with his granny.

“During tough times like these, I always find comfort thinking of my grandmother’s food as a kid,” said Burke. “This menu is an ode to her and I’m hoping to share that same comfort with others.”

The menu boasts seven different sandwiches as well as salads, sides, and a ‘chuck it bucket’ for four. Enjoy offerings like a pimento cheese and biscuit crostini with pickled onions and hatch peppers, a fried green tomato BLT, a fried chicken sandwich with harissa hot sauce on a potato bun, a sweet BBQ fried chicken sandwich, and more. The ‘chuck it bucket’ feeds four for $24, complete with fried chicken, two sides, slaw, biscuits and fries. Sides include everything spiced tater tots with smoked garlic sauce, mac and cheese, and baked beans, among others.

For more information on Etta Faye’s Chicken Shack, follow the concept on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Orders will be available for delivery on UberEats and DoorDash, or for pickup at www.smokecraftbbq.com. Check out the Smokecraft Modern Barbecue website for the full menu of offerings.

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Morning Notes

Crystal City Water Park to Get Big Upgrade — “JBG Smith Properties is pitching a major makeover for a small park at the heart of its Crystal City holdings, envisioning some new retail and even a bar atop a water feature. The developer filed plans with Arlington County earlier this month requesting an additional 6,100 square feet of density for the 1.6-acre park, located across the street from JBG Smith’s massive ‘Central District’ project at 1770 Crystal Drive.” [Washington Business Journal, Twitter]

Vote By Mail Facts — “The first round of vote-by-mail ballots have been sent to people who requested them, but it’s not too late to request yours. Ballot applications must be received by 5 p.m. on Oct. 23. To help you understand how voting by mail works — and feel confident in submitting your ballot — we’ve broken down the facts you need to know.” [Arlington County]

Deer Rescued from Country Club Fence — “On Tuesday night, a curious fawn tried to get through a metal fence in the Washington Golf and Country Club. Unfortunately her adventurous plan backfired, and the fawn ended up stuck and stranded. The country club called animal control, which is under the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, and that’s when Officer Shannon Rose sprung to action.” [Washingtonian]

Weekday Afternoon Robbery in Ballston — “At approximately 4:21 p.m. on September 23, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect entered a business, approached the front counter, and passed the employee a note demanding money and threatening them if they didn’t comply. The victim complied, and the suspect stole an undisclosed amount of cash, then fled on foot prior to police arrival.” [Arlington County]

National Landing Food Program Extended — “Thanks to generous support from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), Amazon, JBG SMITH, Equity Residential and individual Arlington residents, the National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) announced today that its Farm-to-Families food assistance program will be extended through the fall.” [Press Release]

Addiction Recovery Org Rebrands — “The name will change but the mission will remain the same – working to help those struggling with addiction turn their lives around. Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic announced Sept. 16 that it would change its name to National Capital Treatment and Recovery, following its split last year from the national Phoenix House organization.” [InsideNova]

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You may have noticed it while going by: a seemingly random blue trailer in the middle of a decaying parking lot between the Clarendon Whole Foods and the PNC Bank.

What you might not have realized at the time is that your next meal might be coming from there.

The trailer belongs to REEF Kitchens, which is part of a company focused on turning thousands of underutilized, urban parking lots around the country into food and logistics hubs. It serves as a “ghost kitchen,” producing meals for a number of virtual “restaurants” available on food delivery platforms like Uber Eats, Doordash, Postmates and Grubhub.

A full kitchen crew works out of the trailer, which is positioned to be close to a large, dense population and convenient for delivery drivers, who don’t need to double park or dodge dine-in customers while picking up meals.

REEF currently has only one location in Arlington, but is scouting out more here and around the D.C. area.

“Our Neighborhood Kitchen on Wilson Blvd is REEF’s first, and currently only, Neighborhood Kitchen in the Arlington area,” said a PR rep for the company, in response to inquiries from ARLnow. “REEF currently operates two parking facilities in the Arlington area and close to 80 locations in the greater DMV… I think it’s fair to say we’re growing quickly and are adding new locations all the time.”

Each kitchen cooks for 5-6 restaurant brands, serving up to 80-100 delivery orders per day and offering 20-35 minute delivery times. The trailers — along with waste bins and portable bathrooms — require 6-8 parking spaces apiece, in addition to utility connections, according to a slide deck obtained by ARLnow. The company sometimes groups multiple trailers together in the same parking lot.

REEF currently employs 10 people in Arlington, the rep said, though that is significantly fewer than would be required to run five separate bricks-and-mortar restaurants. Fewer employees, close proximity to a critical mass of potential customers, and the lack of a physical building means more sales and lower costs, something that’s hard for restaurants struggling through the pandemic to compete with — particularly given the fees collected by the delivery apps.

But REEF says it is looking to unlock opportunities for restaurants and local entrepreneurs through its model.

“REEF Neighborhood Kitchens leverage the power of proximity through the company’s network of parking lots to allow food entrepreneurs, local restaurants, and national restaurant brands to open and quickly expand their delivery businesses,” said the rep. “Neighborhood Kitchens help to reduce the barriers and costs associated with traditional brick and mortar restaurants either by helping to expand an existing restaurant’s delivery radius, or by allowing food entrepreneurs to get their business off the ground without the barriers to entry of the traditional restaurant industry. ”

He added that the kitchens follow stringent food handling, cleaning and COVID-19 safety protocols, and that customers “benefit from the added convenience of expanded delivery areas and quicker delivery.”

REEF, which released a video (below) that shows its holistic vision for turning parking lots into bustling neighborhood logistics hubs, says its model represents the future — a reimagined melding of technology and the physical world.

“We believe a parking lot can be more than a place to store a car,” the company said in a presentation. “A parking lot can be a hub for the community, connecting people to the businesses, services, and experiences that make a neighborhood thrive.”

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(Updated at 11:55 a.m.) After years of school enrollment growth, Arlington Public Schools had fewer students enrolled this week than as of Sept. 30, 2019.

Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán revealed the numbers at last night’s School Board meeting. The first-day enrollment on Tuesday was 27,109 students, 911 fewer than last year’s official September 30 count of 28,020, he said.

As of April, enrollment this school year was projected to be 29,142, a 4% increase over last year.

The final, official count will take place in just over two weeks, on September 30. Durán told the School Board that some families are continuing to register and the numbers will fluctuate between now and then.

The drop in preliminary enrollment numbers comes as APS conducts classes exclusively online to start the school year, to the relief of some parents and the consternation of others.

During the public comment period of the School Board meeting, numerous parents called for in-person education to resume sooner rather than later, arguing that students are better off being back in school, even factoring the health risk from COVID-19. (At last check, APS was hoping to start a phased return to in-class instruction later this fall.)

One parent said he, as have others, declined to enroll his child in kindergarten this year, instead opting for a private, in-person program. That’s an option that is not available to working families with fewer financial resources, he said.

“Families like mine have significant means, and history tells us we will use those means to ensure and facilitate our children’s success,” the parent told the School Board. “Who do you think will find alternatives to your failure to uphold the social contract with schools?”

Others have similarly told ARLnow that they pulled their children from APS this year and enrolled them in private schools instead — or, for younger children, kept them in daycare — to ensure an in-person learning experience and to allow both parents to continue working.

During the School Board meeting, Durán also discussed this week’s technical difficulties and the school system’s meal distribution program.

Durán said most of the technical problems that prevented students from logging in to APS systems on the first day of school were solved that day. Other students continued to encounter problems on Wednesday, but Durán said those problems were fixed that night.

“Late Wednesday night we identified a software issue that was causing some further challenges for high school students using MacBook Airs. This was addressed and fixed as of Thursday morning,” his presentation said. “We are monitoring connectivity throughout this week to ensure all students can access learning and enhance the student experience.”

Durán also encouraged students who had switched from APS-issued devices to personal devices to switch back “so teachers can effectively leverage the resources and applications available on those devices.”

As for meals, Durán said that 4,356 students were served free meals on Tuesday and Wednesday. APS is serving free meals to all students 18 years of age and younger, at 10 drop-off locations and 21 school sites around the county.

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The National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) is expanding its Farm-to-Families food program to allow for public donations.

The program, which launched in June, gives a weekly supply of fresh fruits and vegetables to families in need with children attending Wakefield High School, Gunston Middle and Hoffman-Boston Elementary.

Members of the public can now help fund this effort. The BID said in a press release that a $15 donation will buy a week’s worth of produce for one family, and $60 will buy enough for a month.

Public contributions will supplement existing funds to give Farm-to-Families greater reach in the National Landing, Shirlington and Columbia Pike communities. (National Landing refers collectively to the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard neighborhoods in Arlington.)

The press release said the BID has so far dedicated $10,000 to the program, which has allowed 150 families to receive the weekly produce supply.

FRESHFARM, a nonprofit that operates farmers markets in the D.C. region, supplies Farm-to-Families with the produce through their local vendors. The BID is also partnered with Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture and parent-teacher associations for Wakefield, Gunston and Hoffman-Boston.

“We continue to be inspired by the giving nature of the Arlington community and encouraged by all the ways that people have stepped up to lend a hand to their neighbors,” said Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, president and executive director of the BID. “The BID and our many partners are excited to now generate community support for Farm-to-Families and further our collective mission to create a healthier community, especially at this difficult time.”

The BID is also working with the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, which recently started a food assistance program of its own, to further expand food access in South Arlington.

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Courthouse’s Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar and Eatery has reopened after its storefront was remodeled with COVID-19 precautions in mind.

During the restaurant’s nearly five month closure, its kitchen was remodeled to allow for physical distancing between employees and to minimize the amount of germs in the air. With the changes in place, Bayou opened its doors on Monday for takeout and patio dining.

Shelves now hang 10 feet above the floors, a new ventilation system whirs between the walls and an industrial fan maintains air flow throughout the space. A touch-free faucet was also added to the store’s bathroom, and a hands-free mechanism was installed to open its door.

The restaurant’s landlord provided funding in recent lease negotiations to make the remodel possible. Owner and chef David Guas said these changes were a must for Bayou Bakery to operate amid the pandemic.

“I feel it would have been negligent to not have put these measures into place before reopening our doors,” Guas said. “These newly adopted practices are going to be necessary moving forward — our industry now carries a very important responsibility when it comes to safety.”

Bayou Bakery originally closed its in-person dining on March 16, following a statewide order from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. According to Guas, sales dropped by 70% between March 16-31 and the restaurant cut its 2o person staff to 10.

While Bayou Bakery still offered takeout, curbside pick-up and delivery during this time, Guas said staying open became unsustainable. On April 1, the restaurant fully closed.

Despite not serving customers, Guas used his facilities to support Chefs Feeding Families. He co-founded the project, which provides free grab-and-go meals to local school children and their families impacted by the pandemic, with McLean-based group Real Food for Kids in March as schools began to close.

“Key Elementary Schools is near my restaurant — there were about 300 kids on the meal plan when the school shut down,” Guas said. “I looked at my employees in the kitchen and thought of their children who went to that school. I asked myself how would they and so many others be fed? How many more would be affected?”

Guas said the project allowed him to keep four employees working, and Bayou Bakery has served about 400-500 meals a day to families impacted by school closures and job losses.

Since March 17, six other restaurants including Silver Diner, Rasa Grill and Pizzeria Paradiso have joined the effort. According to Bayou Bakery, Chefs Feeding Families has served over 90,000 meals at its 21 D.C. region pickup locations as of August 25.

All meals are vegetarian and no ID or proof of need is required to pick one up.

“It was important to us that we were presenting healthy and inclusive options that would appeal to as many people as possible,” Guas said. “I have faith in people and those who came out of their way to get a meal, so the honor system is the way we approached [giving out meals]. By not requiring ID, it opened the doors for us to reach so many more families in need.”

Now, while continuing to support Chefs Feeding Families, Bayou Bakery is open for “Grab N’ Geaux” takeout, delivery and socially distant dining on its patio. Meals like buttermilk biscuit sandwiches and chicken and smoked gumbo are available on an abbreviated menu.

Photos courtesy Bayou Bakery

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Arlington Public Schools will distribute meals at 21 of its schools during distance learning, up from its current nine.

The expansion comes as pandemic-related food insecurity rises in the county.

All APS students can pick up lunch at the new locations. Those who qualify for free- and reduced-price meals will continue to receive them, while those who do not qualify must pay as they would in a normal year.

“We are making it safe and convenient for all students and families to pick up meals while in distance learning and encourage all students to come to our meal sites, get fresh air, see friends, and take a break while picking up meals,” Amy Maclosky, director of APS Food and Nutrition Services, said in a press release.

Five of the distributing schools also meet the income requirement to qualify for the Community Eligibility Provision, a program run by the federal Food and Nutrition Service.

Under the provision, all students at Barcroft, Barrett, Carlin, Drew and Randolph elementary schools will receive free breakfast and lunch. Students’ families will not have to individually apply for these meals.

The fall grab-and-go meal distribution will begin on the first day of (remote) school: Tuesday, Sept. 8. Summer meal pick-up service, meanwhile, will end on Friday. More from an email to APS families:

APS will be expanding the grab-and-go meal distribution locations from the current 9 locations to 21 schools and adjusting meal services for the new school year, beginning Tues, Sept. 8, when APS begins operating under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).The last day for the APS summer grab-and-go meals service is Fri, Aug. 28.

Families who pick up meals on Fri, Aug. 28 will receive breakfast and lunch for Sat, Aug. 29 and Mon, Aug. 31. There will be no meal service Aug. 31-Sept. 7. Meal service will resume on Tue, Sept. 8 under NSLP, APS is committed to ensuring that ALL students, ages 2-18, can easily access healthy, nutritious meals.

As of last Thursday, the school system said it had served 358,512 meals to students since schools closed on March 16.

The expansion of APS meal pick-up sites is going into effect amid an increase in local food need.

During a special meeting of the Arlington County Board yesterday, Anita Friedman, director of Arlington’s Department of Human Services (DHS), said there has been an increase in households seeking aid from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“Between February and May of 2020, Arlington County saw an 84% increase in SNAP applications,” Friedman said. “We are basically hovering around double the amount of applications that we had prior to COVID, although we’re down from the peak that occurred in April.”

Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) announced on August 20 that, when comparing the five months before and after the pandemic’s start, it has seen a 45% increase in families being referred to AFAC by social workers.

AFAC said it has served 33% more families during that time period — 5,054 families consisting of 12,306 individuals.

“When grocery store shelves were empty at the start of the pandemic, AFAC was the sole source of food for many in our community,” AFAC said in a press release. “Since many low-income jobs have not returned, families are visiting AFAC more frequently for much needed food.”

At Tuesday’s Board meeting, Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz proposed a new Food Security Coordinator position, to be created within the Dept. of Human Services to address food insecurity. He also called for a pilot program that would distribute grocery gift cards to families known to be having trouble accessing food.

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Sloppy Mama’s Barbeque has started serving breakfast items like buttermilk biscuit sandwiches and hash browns with special dipping sauce.

The new menu is available from 8-11 a.m Wednesday through Sunday. The restaurant’s standalone eatery at 5731 Lee Highway is currently open, while its Ballston Quarter food hall location is set to reopen Thursday. Sloppy Mama’s remains closed at Union Market in D.C.

Co-founder Joe Neuman said the menu will likely be expanded once the stores adjust to serving breakfast. Future items could include more types of biscuit sandwiches, biscuits and gravy, and a breakfast bowl.

Neuman hopes the breakfast menu gives sales a boost after dropping as much as 60% as a result of the pandemic. He noted that Sloppy Mama’s catering service has had zero business through the pandemic, so he needs a revenue increase to help keep his employees working.

Sloppy Mama’s traditional menu features smoked meat like prime brisket, ribs and chicken. Sandwiches dressed in coleslaw and a pickle are available as well as sides like potato salad, collard greens and mac and cheese.

Picture via Sloppy Mama’s/Anela Malik

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