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by Katie Pyzyk — October 18, 2016 at 12:30 pm 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by ARLnow.com — September 12, 2016 at 5:45 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: 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.

(Updated at 6:55 p.m.) A Clarendon startup is aiming to bring healthy, chef-cooked meals to the masses.

Hungry, which has up until now been quiet about its plans, is preparing to formally launch this fall. The company — which has a sunny, open office in MakeOffices Clarendon, above Pacers — can be described as a sort of Uber-for-food.

Hungry iPhone appCurrently, that’s a crowded category with lots of well-funded companies. Except whereas companies like Grubhub deliver food from restaurants, companies like Munchery deliver refrigerated food they produce in large commercial kitchens, and companies like Blue Apron deliver ingredients and meal recipes, Hungry is delivering meals prepared by individual professional chefs in their own commercial kitchens.

Hungry was founded by brothers Shayan and Eman Pahlevani, who previously co-founded Rosslyn-based LiveSafe. With LiveSafe on a solid path to success — a trio of billionaire backers, some $15 million raised, a growing list of clients — Shy and Eman decided to focus their entrepreneurial energies on a new challenge: what to do about lunch and dinner.

The idea came while Shy and Eman were still at LiveSafe. They were tired of the same old lunch options in Rosslyn, and then after a long day at the office they wanted better and healthier meal options for dinner. With a young daughter at home, Shy was particularly inspired. Cooking at home was time-consuming and ordering out often meant high-calorie meals from restaurants. Their idea: leverage the so-called sharing economy to let chefs make extra money on the side while consumers get better meals.

Hungry iPhone appBut Hungry’s appetite for innovation and growth doesn’t stop at individual dishes. The company hopes to be a full-blown food marketplace: its platform can be used by restaurants and chefs to order ingredients from artisan producers, by consumers to hire private chefs for special occasions at affordable prices, and by people or companies seeking food for events — from catered meals to wedding cakes.

(Last week, while ARLnow.com visited its offices, Hungry was preparing to provide food for a private event held by a buzzed-about, Clarendon-based startup media company.)

The company currently has 23 full-time employees, some 80 active chefs, $250,000 in startup capital and Chef Patrice Olivon serving as an advisor, Shy said. Its staff includes drivers — rather than outsource that task, Hungry plans to deliver its own meals, hiring one driver for every five active chefs on the platform.

Shy describes Hungry as a hyperlocal platform that’s focused on a “premium experience” — users can only order from Hungry-approved professional chefs that are within a 10-15 minute drive of the delivery destination, to keep the company’s promise of “authentic, one-of-a-kind fresh-cooked meals, delivered hot.” Users can specify which types of food they’re looking for along with dietary restrictions and preferences.

“Know your chef, know your food,” is another of the company’s credos.

Hungry plans to use content marketing to help attract customers. It’s been producing share-worthy videos, including the kind of short-form cooking videos made famous by BuzzFeed’s Tasty brand, with the hope of reaching consumers through their social media feeds. Targeted ads and email newsletters are also part of the plan, but that’s only half of the marketing battle — chef recruitment is equally important.


by ARLnow.com — September 9, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

Salsa dancing at Crystal City's Sip and Salsa event on SundayCrystal City’s annual outdoor food and wine festival, Sip and Salsa, will return on Sunday.

The event, held from 2-6 p.m. in the parking lot next to 220 20th Street S., features “delicious wines from Spain, Portugal, and Argentina together with food tastes from restaurants in Crystal City and the region.”

There’s also live Latin jazz, wine lessons from the Washington Wine Academy, and free salsa dancing lessons from Columbia Pike’s Salsa Room.

Crystal City says Sip and Salsa ” is the D.C. region’s only inside the Beltway, outdoor wine festival with the ease of safe and responsible transit access.”

Food and drink tickets are $20 online, while food-only tickets are $10.

The local professional football team, it should be noted, won’t be playing Sunday — the Redskins will face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night.

Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser

by Michelle Rosenfeld — August 1, 2016 at 12:45 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: 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.

Growing up in Northern Virginia, Joe Smiley rode on food trucks with his church handing out warm meals to people in the community.

Craavings“I was always struck about how many people in my own community lacked basic necessities, including a warm meal each day,” Smiley said, adding, “These volunteering experiences were instrumental in planting a seed in my mind that there had to be a better way that I could help out using my technology background, as well as my experience consulting in the food and beverage sector.”

Combining his experiences, Smiley came up with the idea for Craavings — a no-cost online platform designed to help people find their favorite foods while providing meals to those in need.

Unlike restaurant rating platforms, Arlington-based Craavings enables users to quickly search and discover the best individual dishes available nearby by searching across all restaurants in an area or within a single restaurant. There are more than 30 million menu items in Craavings’ database, which covers the majority of the 1 million restaurants in the U.S. and parts of Canada, according to Smiley, founder and CEO of the company.

Users can save foods — or drinks — they try by completing ratings or reviews of menu items for future reference. In addition, a newsfeed feature focuses on social networking so that users can see what their friends and family like or dislike.

But the platform is about more than just finding your favorite foods. Users collect points through Craavings by signing up for an account, completing ratings and reviews, adding photos and marking favorite menu items.

“We’re making a pledge to provide a meal to someone in need — right here in the U.S. — every time you earn 15 points on this app,” Smiley said. “Find your craavings and help others who are in need. Win-win.” Craavings has pledged more than 750 meals so far, via volunteer work, food drives and donations, according to its website.

After launching a beta version of the website two months ago, Craavings already has thousands of registered users, Smiley said.

For now, he said the company’s primary focus is finding angel investors to aid in further development of the platform, as well as begin marketing in the D.C. and New York City metro areas. “We’re also looking for business partners and anyone who can help market Craavings in their cities and communities,” Smiley said.

In addition to improving the web interface and building out the mobile app, he said the company plans to add nutrition information, advanced filtering, loyalty management and new menu items and restaurants (including food trucks).

by Jackie Friedman — June 14, 2016 at 6:00 pm 0

Pancho Villa Mexican Cuisine has opened in Rosslyn.

The restaurant is located at 1850 N. Fort Myer Drive, former home to the short-lived Secret Chopsticks restaurant. The space is largely unchanged, save the new purple paint job.

Pancho Villa had its soft opening this past Thursday. According to district manager Marta Hernandez, there was a big turnout.

“So many customers came into the restaurant and we received so many compliments about the food and service, it was a big success,” said Hernandez.

The Mexican cuisine served at Pancho Villa is made from scratch, said Hernandez, and the chips and salsa are made fresh everyday. “The food here is made with lots of love,” she said.

Pancho Villa has other locations around Virginia and one in North Carolina. While the restaurant expects to have its official grand opening celebration in 3-4 weeks.

by Adrian Cruz — May 20, 2016 at 5:30 pm 0

Seven Arlington students graduated Friday from a culinary program that trains individuals who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in the skills necessary to get a job in a commercial kitchen.

This was the sixth incarnation of the D.C. Central Kitchen’s Culinary Training Program, which meets locally at the Fairlington Community Center. The graduation ceremony was held in Rosslyn Friday afternoon and the Arlington students were joined by eight other students from the Central Union Mission, a homeless shelter in D.C.

One of the speakers at the ceremony was Napolean Boakye, a graduate of the fifth Arlington class. He first found out about the program while living in the Carpenter’s Shelter in Old Town Alexandria. As a result of the program, he was offered two jobs in the culinary field and he now works with the National Youth Escape Arena in Maryland.

“This job training sponsored by Arlington County positively influenced me and prepared me to change my way of thinking and my life,” said Boakye. “I said to myself, never again. I’m tired of failure. I’ve been there, done that, I’m moving on to success.”

Two students won the program’s Ron Swanson Life Skills Award: Bryce Churchman from the Arlington program and Gary Lucas from the D.C program.

Along with culinary classes, the students also receive self-empowerment classes and get to train outside of the classroom, with each student receiving a month-long internship. Some of the internship sites included the Key Bridge Marriott, Mess Hall in D.C. and Nando’s Peri-Peri.

The graduation rate for Arlington students ranges between 85 to 90 percent and graduates have an 90 percent job placement rate.

Photos by Jackie Friedman

by ARLnow.com — May 12, 2016 at 5:00 pm 0

ARLnow is partnering with Taste of Arlington to highlight some of the festival’s most mouth-watering dishes this year.

If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, get them online and save $5 over the price at the event itself, which is taking place starting at noon on Sunday. (Sunday’s forecast: mild and dry.)

Yesterday we stopped by our fourth and final “tasting table” selection, Ballston’s Pepita Cantina (4000 Wilson Blvd), to get a preview of the suckling pig taco they’re bringing to Taste of Arlington.

Here’s what Pepita’s manager, Chris Boitel, had to say about the dish.

This taco is served on a corn tortilla, with an apple purée, roasted pork, topped with a habanero mustard, finished with a diced apple and pickled mustard seeds salad. This dish is sweet, spicy, and savory. All though pork can feel like a heavy or hearty choice, our pig taco is light and refreshing.

This dish debuted as a special for our Cinco De Mayo party on May 5th. We decided that it was so good we would introduce it at the Taste of Arlington. Executive Chef Juan Rivera will be serving this on our upcoming summer menu.

We love the taste of Arlington for its competitive nature as well and the positive effect it has on the community. Restaurants take food seriously in Arlington and so do we!

by ARLnow.com — May 12, 2016 at 2:00 pm 0

(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) The new Garrett Popcorn Shop opened today at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City — and customers are lining up faster than they can pop the kernels. Some even brought homemade signs to mark the occasion.

Located in the former Johnny Rockets space, near the Metro entrance on the food court level, it’s the Chicago-based company’s 50th location and its first in the D.C. area.

To celebrate today’s opening, Garrett is offering $1 treat bags, $19.49 gallon tins of mixed popcorn and free D.C. tote bags to the first 200 customers (excluding those just buying the $1 treat bag.)

Those specials, and the allure of cheesy, buttery or crispy sweet popcorn from the Windy City, apparently was enough to convince customers to wait in an enormous line that stretched halfway through the food court.

A group at the front of the line insisted that they had been waiting for two hours. Was that worth it?

“Oh yeah, their popcorn is the bomb,” one of the women said.

At the very least, posts on the company’s Facebook page seem to confirm that the line is indeed as long as it looks.

Wrote one devoted popcorn fan: “The line isn’t moving. I’m like the 300th person in line. Did you guys run out of kernels?”

by ARLnow.com — May 11, 2016 at 4:45 pm 0

ARLnow is partnering with Taste of Arlington to preview some of the festival’s tastiest dishes this year.

Epic Smokehouse in Pentagon City will be bringing some mouth-watering barbecue ribs to the event, which is taking place starting at noon Sunday, on Wilson Blvd near Ballston Common Mall. (Tickets are still available online.)

We asked Epic’s Assistant General Manager, Chris Naylor, about it.

ARLnow: First, tell us about the dish you’re bringing. How is it prepared? 

Naylor: Smoked BBQ Ribs with Applewine BBQ sauce and a pinch of slaw. We dry rub our ribs and smoke them for six hours, then char them on the grill and brush them with the BBQ sauce.

How does it taste?

They are meaty, smokey, tangy, and just a tad sweet.

Why did you select it? How does it reflect your restaurant overall?

Who doesn’t love ribs? They’re delicious. Our ribs are our take on BBQ, not typical — which is pretty much us in a nutshell.

What’s your favorite thing about participating in Taste of Arlington?

We love to see the crowd and their excitement about trying our food, and the bragging rights when our tent’s crowd is larger than most.

ARLnow and our friends Sarah Fraser and Samy K. will have a “tasting table” near Epic and the booths of the other three restaurants we’re highlighting this week. Be sure to stop by and say hello!

by ARLnow.com — April 22, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

by ARLnow.com — March 29, 2016 at 8:45 am 0

U.S. government helicopter flying overhead (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Experts: No D.C. Real Estate Bubble — Most experts in a recent Zillow-sponsored survey said there is no significant risk of a real estate bubble in the D.C. region, at least over the next five years. However, a significant portion of experts do believe other hot markets, like San Francisco and Miami, may be at risk of a bubble. The overall value of all residential real estate in the D.C. region, meanwhile, is approaching $1 trillion. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Lane Closures For Crystal City Project — On-street parking, bike lanes and the outside travel lane are currently blocked off on both sides of 18th Street S. between S. Eads and Clark streets for construction of the Crystal City Multimodal Center under the Route 1 bridge. Cyclists in particular are urged to use caution when using 18th Street. [Arlington County]

Cherry Pie Recipe for the Cherry Blossom Bloom — Just in time for the cherry blossom bloom, Chef Jonathan Till of William Jeffrey’s Tavern (2301 Columbia Pike) is sharing his family’s Sour Cherry Pie recipe. [ARLnow]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by ARLnow.com — March 7, 2016 at 11:35 am 0

Rocklands BBQ (photo by Katie Pyzyk)

Rocklands Barbeque, at 3471 Washington Blvd, has some exotic meats on the menu this week for an annual event called “Grills Gone Wild.”

The four-day event is being held from Tuesday to Friday at the four Rocklands locations in the D.C. area, including Arlington.

The menu includes:

  • Alligator Brunswick Stew served with a honey jalapeño cornbread square
  • Camel Burgers topped w/pickles & onions served with French Fries
  • Rabbit Sausage topped w/grilled peppers & onions served w/a side of whiskey mustard sauce & carrot sticks
  • Wild Boar Barbeque Sliders (2) topped with coleslaw

The restaurant is encouraging customers to use the Twitter hashtag #grillsgonewild to suggest new “Grills Gone Wild” meat offerings for next year.

by ARLnow.com — March 4, 2016 at 9:05 am 0

Snow-covered branches in Fairlington

Big Weekend for High School Sports — On Saturday, Wakefield will face Deep Run in the first round of the 5A state basketball tournament. The game is being played at Robinson High School in Fairfax at 5:30 p.m. Tonight, meanwhile, in what’s being called the hockey rivalry game of the year, Washington-Lee will face Yorktown at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. The puck drops at 8:10 p.m. [VHSL, Twitter]

Garvey Discusses Economic Incentive Push — Arlington has been actively making economic development deals, in some cases offering economic incentives to attract new employers to the county. But County Board Chair Libby Garvey said Arlington is being selective about the opportunities it pursues. “If it’s not good enough, we don’t do the deal,” she said. [InsideNova]

Tasty Sandwich from Arlington Eatery — Among the five “over-the-top, gluttonous, guilt-inducing new sandwiches in Washington” just highlighted by Washingtonian Magazine, there was one from the recently-opened Texas Jack’s in Lyon Park: a $12 brisket sandwich with tender Allen Brothers brisket and “a hefty spoonful of melty queso.” [Washingtonian]

Market Common Up For Sale — The Market Common Clarendon shopping and apartment development is on the market. Owned by TIAA-CREF, the development is expected to fetch a price in the hundreds of millions. [Bisnow]

Charity Ice Skating Party Tomorrow — The Pentagon Row skating rink will host a “Decades on Ice” charity skating party Saturday starting at 6 p.m. The evening will start with tunes from the 60s, going up a decade each hour until the 2000s. Half of all sales will be donated to help cure Cystic Fibrosis. [Facebook]

by ARLnow.com — February 16, 2016 at 4:30 pm 0

Palette 22, a new restaurant in Shirlington that fuses street cuisine with street art, is slated to open next Monday — appropriately, on 2/22.

The restaurant, in the former Extra Virgin space at 4053 Campbell Avenue, has been in the planning stages for some 18 months. Four months of construction are wrapping up this week and the restaurant was a hive of activity today with construction crews drilling and hammering, prospective employees interviewing for positions and artists working on murals and paintings.

Of the entire Extra Virgin restaurant, only a single sink remains. We’re told that the rest of the former Italian eatery, even the concrete floor, was in a poor enough condition to warrant replacement.

Owned by Alexandria Restaurant Partners, Palette 22 is modeled after another arty ARP-managed restaurant, Cafe Tu Tu Tango in Orlando, Florida. Here’s how Palette 22 describes itself:

Palette 22 combines food, art and fun, focusing on modern street food small plate dishes with an international flavor. Local art and artists are integrated into the whole dining experience, with painters, mosaicists, photographers and others, working during operating hours in dedicated artist workstations. The restaurant features a seasonally driven menu of more than thirty small plate offerings inspired by street food, culinary traditions, key ingredients, and cultural international small plates.

Expect to see at least one of Palette 22’s “artists in residence” working while you dine. A number of artists from different backgrounds are chosen every three months to work at least two shifts a week, creating art amid diners and answering questions from guests. A committee and the restaurant’s full-time art director select the artists.

When dining at Palette 22, expect to order several small plates to share with friends, and to spend about $25 per person for dinner or $12 for lunch. Individual plates range from $5-11.

The dinner menu includes a number of international street food flavors, like Singapore chili-crab potstickers, Vietnamese sugar cane shrimp, Spanish grilled octopus, Argentine empanadas, Korean bulgogi beef and Chinese Peking duck. The menu also includes flatbreads, mussels and spareribs cooked in a locally-made brick oven, that features prominently in the floor plan.

The cocktail menu continues the theme of creativity, with $10-12 cocktails featuring custom-made syrups, creative garnishes, interesting spices and fresh fruit. There are two house-made sangrias on draft — yes, on draft — along with 12 draft beers, mostly local. Ten wines are offered by the glass, and plenty of other beer and wine is available by the bottle (or can).

Palette 22 is open from for lunch on weekdays, dinner all week and will remain open until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. A weekend brunch service will debut next Saturday, Feb. 27. Happy hour runs from 4-7 p.m. on weekdays.

by Katie Pyzyk — January 23, 2016 at 1:30 pm 0

(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) The conditions outside still are treacherous for travel, so staying indoors for a while is the best idea. But if you’re already suffering from cabin fever and have the ability to easily and safely walk somewhere for a bite or a drink, there are options. Some places are even running winter storm specials.

Here’s the list of Arlington restaurants and bars that told us they’re definitely open, at the very least with limited hours and menu selections:

Is something open in your neighborhood that didn’t make our list? Tweet us or send us an email so we can check out your tip and add the establishment to our list.


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