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.
“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).
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.
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
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!
(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?”
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.
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.
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
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.
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]
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.
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.
— Brian E (@bje22201) January 23, 2016
(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:
- A-Town Bar & Grill (4100 Fairfax Drive)
- Bakeshop (1025 N. Fillmore Street)
- Big Buns (4401 Wilson Blvd.)
- Bistro 360 (1800 Wilson Blvd.)
- Bracket Room (1210 N. Garfield Street)
- Brooklyn Bagel (2055 Wilson Blvd.)
- Cafe Asia (1550 Wilson Blvd.)
- The Celtic House (2500 Columbia Pike)
- Citizen Burger Bar (1051 N. Highland Street)
- Courthaus Social (2300 Clarendon Blvd.)
- Copperwood Tavern (4021 Campbell Ave.)
- Cowboy Cafe (4792 Lee Hwy)
- Crystal City Sports Pub (529 23rd Street S)
- Don Tito (3165 Wilson Blvd.)
- Fireworks Pizza (2350 Clarendon Blvd.)
- First Down Sports Bar (4213 N. Fairfax Drive
- Front Page (4201 Wilson Blvd.)
- Hard Times Cafe (3028 Wilson Blvd.)
- Ireland’s Four Courts (2051 Wilson Blvd.)
- Kona Grill (1776 Wilson Blvd.)
- Liberty Tavern (3195 Wilson Blvd.)
- Lost Dog Cafe (2920 Columbia Pike)
- Mussel Bar (800 N. Glebe Road)
- O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub (3201 Wilson Blvd.)
- Oz (2950 Clarendon Blvd.)
- P. Brennan’s Irish Pub & Restaurant (2910 Columbia Pike)
- Pepita Cantina (4000 Wilson Blvd.)
- Ragtime (1345 N. Courthouse Rd.)
- Rhodeside Grill (1836 Wilson Blvd.)
- Rock Bottom Brewery (4238 Wilson Blvd.)
- Samuel Beckett’s (2800 S. Randolph Street)
- Screwtop Wine Bar (1025 N. Fillmore Street)
- Sehkraft Brewing (925 N. Garfield Street)
- Sushi Rock (1900 Clarendon Blvd.)
- Tortoise & Hare (567 23rd Street S)
- Westover Beer Garden (5863 Washington Blvd.)
- William Jeffrey’s Tavern (2301 Columbia Pike)
- World of Beer (901 N. Glebe Rd.)
To help celebrate Mexican Independence Day and its own 15 year anniversary, Guajillo in Rosslyn will be giving customers the chance to scarf down a burrito the size of a small newborn baby.
The Mexican restaurant in the Colonial Village Shopping Center (1727 Wilson Blvd) will hold its annual burrito eating contest this coming Saturday, Sept. 19, at 4 p.m. Up to six contestants will attempt to eat a 16-inch, seven-pound burrito called El Cachudo for a chance to win a future dinner for two, said Guajillo spokeswoman Joahna Hernandez.
“El Cachudo is a 16-inch long burrito made with flour tortilla, filled with Mexican rice, refried pinto beans, Oaxaca cheese, pork carnitas, shredded beef, shredded chicken, lightly battered tilapia and most importantly, voodoo salsa made with a blend of fresh habaneros and garlic. It is served with pico de gallo and sour cream on the side,” Hernandez said.
The current record to beat is 20 minutes, which was set by an 18-year-old named Ian, she said. Guajillo co-owner Rolando Juarez started the contest in 2009 and named the burrito El Cachudo, which is a slang word for devil in Spanish, Hernandez said.
In addition to its large size, El Cachudo also has a spicy kick due to the homemade voodoo habanero salsa.
“As for the spicy level, you only need to pour a few drops [of the salsa] on a taco to give it a spicy kick; a little goes a long way!” Hernandez said in an email. “As you may know, an habanero chiles are even hotter than thai peppers and serranos.”
Anyone brave enough to sign up for the burrito eating contest can call 703-807-0840 or email [email protected] for more information.
Guajillo will also be holding specials starting today through Sept. 19 in honor of the Mexican holiday and its anniversary. The restaurant will serve $15 El Taconayo, a build-your-own taco meal, $15 tequila and Mezcal flights and $4 Coronas and Pacificos today. On Saturday, the restaurant will serve brunch starting at 11:30 a.m. with $5 spicy margaritas, according to a press release.
The full press release, after the jump.
Restaurant entrepreneur and Top Chef contestant Mike Isabella is throwing a “block party” to celebrate the opening of his three Ballston restaurants.
The event will be held at the patio at The View apartment building (4000 Wilson Blvd) on Sept. 12 from 1-4 p.m.
“The event is going to be a big party. It is a great way to experience food from all three of Mike Isabella’s Ballston restaurants, including forthcoming Yona, with live entertainment from the jazz duo The Potash Twins and DJ Toast,” said Madeline Harrington, a public relations rep for the restaurants.
Guests will be able to sample food from each restaurant at the event. There will be crispy cauliflower and barbecue goat tacos and Mexican corn on the cob from Pepita. From Kapnos Taverna, guests will be able to try spit roasted pork, falafel and classic Greek spreads. Yona, Isabella’s newest restaurant, will provide pork and kimchi dumplings, Japanese curry potato croquettes and Korean fried chicken.
“[There will be] great food, great drinks and lively music,” Harrington said. “A great way to say goodbye to the summer.”
Isabella’s first Arlington venture, Kapnos Taverna, opened last January. Pepita opened in the same building at the end of July, and new restaurant Yona is expected to open in late fall, she said.
Yona will be a Japanese noodles and small plates restaurant with new and traditional takes on ramen and other Asian dishes, she said.
“Mike loves the neighborhood. Both Kapnos Taverna and Pepita have been a huge success, and each concept is set up so that it doesn’t compete with the others other,” Harrington said. “Yona will be something fresh and new for Ballston, so it made sense [for him to open another restaurant].”
Why Car2Go Can’t Cross the Border — Car2Go car-sharing service is launching in Arlington on Sept. 19, but users won’t be able to drive from Arlington and park in D.C., or vice versa. The District, which also has Car2Go service, is worried about traffic congestion and a loss of parking spaces to Arlington Car2Go users. Arlington officials have also expressed concern about allowing D.C. users park on Arlington streets, but appear more receptive to opening the Car2Go border. [Washington Post]
Arlington Kid’s Letter Read on Tonight Show — As part of a “Kid Letters” segment last night, Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon read a letter from Caroline, who said she lives in Arlington. Caroline had a joke for Jimmy: “Which planet is God’s favorite planet? Saturn, because he put a ring on it.” Caroline also confessed that she has a crush on Fallon. [NBC]
APS Menus Now Online — Arlington Public Schools has put its breakfast and lunch menus online. The menus allow students and parents to review detailed nutritional information and to add funds to a prepaid meal account. Today, at Washington-Lee High School, students will have the choice of a 440 calorie chicken sandwich, a 324 calorie stuffed shell and breadstick meal, or a 304 calorie autumn fruit salad. APS also has a food-focused Twitter account. [Arlington Public Schools, Nutrislice, Twitter]
Nonprofits Moving from D.C. to Crystal City — Property owner Vornado has scored another new lease in Crystal City: the International Foundation for Electoral Systems. Thanks to lower office rental rates, and generous concessions, Vornado has been steadily winning nonprofit tenants and reducing its vacancy rate, which soared due to the loss of military agencies following the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure plan. [Washington Business Journal]
Dems Select Winning Chili — Del. Alfonso Lopez and his legislative assistant, Jason Stanford, were the big winners at Monday’s annual Arlington County Democratic Committee Labor Day Chili Cookoff. Stanford’s “Fighting 49th” chili featured ingredients from the Columbia Pike farmers market and a secret seasoning blend that was inspired by the staffer’s Louisiana roots. The chili cookoff was held this year at the Barcroft Community House, due to construction on the usual venue, the Lyon Park Community Center. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick