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by Chris Teale August 28, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

Residents can have their food waste composted by the county as part of a pilot program launched earlier this month.

From 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. each weekday, any county resident can take their food scraps to the Department of Environmental Services’ Solid Waste Bureau at 4300 29th Street S. in Shirlington, near the Animal Welfare League of Arlington’s headquarters.

There, the scraps are being collected in two green carts at the bottom of the scale house, at the top of the Trades Center hill. Staff will be on hand to assist with disposal.

Per a county fact sheet on the program, the following food scraps are being accepted:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • food soiled paper (paper towels, napkins and paper plates)
  • coffee grounds, filters and tea bags
  • breads, grains and pasta
  • meat and seafood (including bones)
  • plate scrapings

Collected scraps are processed at the county’s Earth Products Recycling Yard using a composter. The compost that is produced will then be given to the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation to use in landscaping projects and to amend topsoil in public spaces.

DES staff said they launched the pilot program to “address increasing interest from residents to manage food disposal through a more environmentally conscious process.”

by Chris Teale August 7, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

Just months after national chain Applebee’s closed in Ballston, its replacement, Filipino restaurant Bistro 1521, has opened its doors.

Located at 900 N. Glebe Road on the first floor of the the Virginia Tech Research Center and next door to the recently-opened Stageplate Bistro, the new spot occupies a large restaurant space, with seating capacity for 220 inside and 60 on the outside patio. It opened July 31.

The restaurant has a slew of Filipino staples, including soups, salads, rice and dishes with noodles and various meats. Bistro 1521 also has various grill and house specialty dishes including jumbo squid stuffed with tomatoes and onions; Cebu crab cakes and a “1521 Burger” with ground beef, longaniza (a Spanish sausage), atchara (pickle) and sweet potato fries.

Those behind the restaurant include Manny Tagle, bartender Jo-Jo Valenzuela and wife Christina Valenzuela, and general manager Solita Wakefield. Wakefield was previously a co-owner of Bistro 7107, a Filipino restaurant on 23rd Street S. in Crystal City, which recently closed. Jo-Jo Valenzuela said the dishes will be recognizable to those who love Filipino food.

“We want to be careful about calling our food authentic, because everyone’s mother cooks meals differently,” he said. “But we’re definitely traditional Filipino comfort food.”

The restaurant’s name refers to the year Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines, and the artwork on the wall includes references to the country’s flag and other part of its history.

Dinner service begins at 4 p.m. each day, with lunch and brunch services set to launch in the near future.

by Brooke Giles August 3, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

National nonprofit For The Love Of Others and the local chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity are hosting a free lunch for those in need this Saturday at Gunston Middle School (2700 S. Lang Street).

The goal of the event is to give out 650 meals between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. in an effort to help those who struggle with food insecurity. No reservations are required.

For The Love Of Others provides food drives across the country, and participates in other giving events to “empower, enrich and enhance the lives of people from all backgrounds through providing opportunities to enable them to live a purposeful life.”

Alpha Phi Alpha, the first black intercollegiate fraternity in the country, partners with organizations that are in keeping with the fraternity’s motto of “First of All, Servants of All, We Shall Transcend All” — promoting brotherhood while providing service in the community.

“The fraternity stands on the motto of manly deeds, scholarship and love for all mankind,” said David M. Preston, a local fraternity member who is helping with the event. “We wanted to partner with an organization that has the vision and the goal of service to the community that is when we partnered with For The Love Of Others.”

by Kalina Newman May 19, 2017 at 2:00 pm 0

A number of roads will be closed this weekend in Ballston to accommodate the 30th annual Taste of Arlington.

The outdoor event spans Wilson Blvd from N. Randolph Street to N. Nelson Street, and this year will include more than 50 restaurants, live music and food trucks. Tickets are still available online, or can be bought on the door.

More on the road closures, from an Arlington County Police Department press release:

The 2017 Taste of Arlington event will be held on Sunday, May 21, 2017. The following road closures will occur from approximately 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 20th, 2017 through 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 21, 2017.

  • Wilson Boulevard will be closed between N. Randolph Street and N. Monroe Street, all North/South cross streets will be blocked.
  • N. Quincy Street will be closed with modified traffic between N. 5th Street and N. 9th Street.
  • All traffic trying to cross Wilson Boulevard on Pollard, Piedmont, Oakland, Nelson and Monroe Streets will be turned around.
  • N. Randolph Street will be open between the Ballston Parking Garage/Loading Dock to N. 9th Street, the area garages will not be closed.
  • Other area roadway restrictions may be in place to keep traffic impacts near the event and area neighborhoods to a minimum.

In addition, street parking in the area will be restricted. Motorists should be on the lookout for temporary “No Parking” signs. Illegally parked vehicles may be ticketed and/or towed. If your vehicle is towed from a public street, call 703-558-2222.

Image via Ballston BID

by Katie Pyzyk April 14, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

Food trucks are a common weekday sight on Arlington’s Orange Line corridor, but they’re heading south for the weekend.

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.

Food trucks taking part in the event include Peruvian Brothers, KaftaMania, Fava Pot, Pacific Twist and Little Miss Whoopie.

The Columbia Forest Civic Association is hosting the food truck event, which is the first of four planned for this year.

by Chris Teale April 11, 2017 at 10:15 am 0

Winter has turned to spring, and that means it’s farmers market time in Arlington. Some of the county’s markets have just launched for the season and others are preparing to open soon.

Here’s a roundup of the markets and their logistics:

  • The FRESHFARM Crystal City Market kicked off last week at 1965 Crystal Drive. Each Tuesday until November 21 from 3-7 p.m., more than 20 farmers and producers will offer a wide range of local foods.
  • Clarendon Central Park will host the Clarendon Farmers Market each Wednesday until December from 3-7 p.m. The market returned last week and is a producers-only market, meaning vendors sell products they have grown themselves.
  • The Ballston Farmers Market has begun in Welburn Square and will take place each Thursday until October from 3-7 p.m. Every first Thursday of the month, the market becomes a Mega Market, featuring a live band, celebrity chef demonstrations with free tastings and a beer and wine garden. The first Mega Market will take place May 4.
  • The Fairlington Farmers Market runs each Sunday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Fairlington Community Center (3308 S. Stafford Street), starting May 7. Through November 19, the market will be selling fresh produce, grass fed meats, eggs, coffee, pastries and baked goods, ​flowers and other prepared foods.
  • Marymount University’s farmers market returns May 27 at its campus at 2807 N. Glebe Road. Also a producers-only market, each vendor grows, bakes, roasts, cooks or prepares all of their products within 125 miles of Arlington County.
  • The Westover Farmers Market also begins its spring and summer session in May. It is at the corner of Washington Blvd and N. McKinley Road each Sunday.
  • The Community Foodworks farmers market takes place on Saturdays at 14th Street N. and N. Courthouse Road.
  • Columbia Pike’s farmers market is each Sunday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at Pike Park, near the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Walter Reed Drive.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor January 26, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

Companies are offering free employee lunches to boost productivity, morale, and well-being; at the same time they’re helping to fight hunger in Washington, D.C.

Would you buy your employees a free lunch if it meant greater workplace productivity? Lunch is an important meal that holds some serious potential for businesses that seek to boost workplace productivity, culture and teamwork.

At some of the most successful companies in Silicon Valley, like Google, free lunch as a perk has been standard operating procedure for some time and it has enhanced their competitive edge in the market. Simply put, free lunches for their teams translate into increased business success and profitability. Not only does a free meal increases employee happiness, it also becomes one of those braggable benefits, helping to recruit and retain top talent.

Free lunch may sound expensive, but doesn’t have to be, says Shy Pahlevani, founder of HUNGRY.This Washington, D.C. based startup developed a unique office and catering service, that connects top chefs making incredible food to offices across the city.

“Our unique business model enables us to deliver top chef made food, directly to your desk,” Pahlevani says. “We deliver meals that are made daily by local chefs and delivered to offices around D.C.”

With a recurring lunch plan, employees order from menus prepared by top local chefs. The food is then delivered to the office any day of the week. Menus can be customized to meet health and dietary restrictions, including vegan, vegetarian, paleo, dairy-free, and gluten-free options.

After each meal, employees provide feedback to help office managers decide which dishes worked best.

“Think about the last time everyone on your staff got what they wanted from office catering,” Pahlevani says. “Either the order wasn’t easy or it was really expensive. We created HUNGRY to provide companies a better option.”

Free lunches are now becoming a standard workplace perk for some of the highest employee-rated companies nationwide. A free meal can save employees’ time, helping them to work around meetings and deadlines. Office meals also break the monotony of daily routines, like the “lunchtime rush hour.”

Take for instance Washington, D.C. It’s a city filled with plenty of fast-casual options, including up-and-comers like Sweetgreen and Beefsteak. In this market, competing for consumers’ lunch can be tough, and pricey. In fact, diners spend on average a minimum of about $12.29 per day on food.

“We offer companies an ability to provide their teams high quality, healthy meals in a way that helps foster team building,” Pahlevani says. “Rather than have your team leave the office and go in different directions for 60-90 minutes every day, you can provide them an incredible meal from a top chef (which they will greatly appreciate) and instead they will enjoy lunchtime bonding and talking with their co-workers. It also saves everyone time which enables them to accomplish more each day in the office.”

At the same time, this delivery option feeds into the corporate social responsibility of leading Fortune 500 companies. For every two meals purchased through HUNGRY, one meal is donated to fight hunger in the D.C. region via a partnership with the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

“A free lunch is not just a good return on investment for employee satisfaction,” Pahlevani says. “It’s a way to impact the community by supporting local chefs and fighting hunger.”

The preceding promoted post was written and sponsored by Clarendon-based startup HUNGRY.

by ARLnow.com January 4, 2017 at 8:30 am 0

Wandering duck near Four Mile Run (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

CivFed Approves Marijuana Resolution — The Arlington County Civic Federation has approved a resolution in support of legalizing medical marijuana in Virginia. [WJLA, InsideNova]

Beyer Opposes ‘Holman Rule’ — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has joined other local legislators in opposing the proposed reinstatement of the “Holman Rule,” which would allow a legislator to offer an amendment that would “reduce the salary of any federal employee, or eliminate a federal employee’s position without hearings, testimony, or due process.” [Federal News Radio, House of Representatives]

Ray’s Hell Burger Still Among the Best — Rosslyn-based Ray’s Hell Burger is on Food & Wine’s list of the best burgers in the United States. [Food & Wine]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

by ARLnow.com December 8, 2016 at 10:20 am 0

Snow man painted on a restaurant window in Shirlington

W-L Student Pens Open Letter on Boundary Changes — The boundary changes approved by the School Board on Dec. 1 will decrease socio-economic diversity at Arlington’s high schools, despite diversity being a stated “core value” at Arlington Public Schools. That’s the argument made by a Washington-Lee student in an open letter to the School Board, published by the Crossed Sabres student newspaper. The article has been widely shared online and, we’re told, has broken traffic records on the newspaper’s website. [Crossed Sabres]

Rollover Crash Last Night — A crash involving an SUV that flipped on its roof was reported near the intersection of Little Falls Road and N. Glebe Road just before 8 p.m. last night. Another crash, involving a person potentially trapped in a vehicle, was reported on Old Dominion Drive just over the border in McLean, around 6 p.m. [Twitter, Twitter]

AFAC Collecting Lots of Donated Food — Holiday-time food collections are bolstering supplies at the Arlington Food Assistance Center. Just yesterday AFAC said it had received around 3,900 lbs of food from property owner Vornado and 1,900 lbs from apartment operator Dittmar. Dittmar says its total holiday food drive goal this year is 5,500 lbs. Other organizations collecting food for AFAC include local real estate agents that have formed a group called Arlington Realtors Care. [Instagram]

More Special Needs Students at APS — The percentage of special needs students at Arlington’s public schools has remained steady, but due to enrollment growth the number of special needs students has increased, presenting budgetary and instructional challenges. [InsideNova]

Cruz and Cornyn’s Queso Comes from Ballston — When Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn needed some authentic Texas-style queso to square off in a taste test against cheese dip from Arkansas, they went to Uncle Julio’s Mexican Restaurant in Ballston. (The restaurant chain is based in Texas.) Unfortunately, the Arkansas cheese won the competition. [Roll Call]

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.

(more…)

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

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