Press Club
N. Glebe Road blocked near Chain Bridge (via Google Maps)

Update at 9:40 p.m. — All lanes have reopened, Arlington County says.

Update at 6:40 p.m. — The southbound lanes have reopened but the northbound lanes are expected to remain closed for several hours.

Earlier: All lanes of N. Glebe Road near Chain Bridge are reported to be blocked during this evening’s commute, due to a combination of a disabled vehicle and a large pothole.

The large pothole is in the northbound lanes, on a steep portion of the road between Military Road and Chain Bridge Road, according to initial reports. A VDOT crew is now on scene assessing possible repairs to the roadway.

“Traffic is being diverted to Military Road,” the county said in an Arlington Alert message. “Seek alternate routes.”

Drivers should also expect heavy traffic on Chain Bridge as a result of the closure.

The closure is not far from where an SUV overturned earlier today.

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(Updated, 12:05 p.m.) Tesla is opening its first Arlington sales and service center today.

A ribbon cutting ceremony is being held this morning at the nearly 64,000 square foot space at 2710 S. Glebe Road, just east of Shirlington. Several local officials are expected to be in attendance, including state Senator Barbara Favola and County Board member Takis Karantonis.

This is Tesla’s fourth Virginia sales center. Prior to the Arlington location, the closest was in Tysons.

ARLnow reported in early March that the electric car company was charging up to open a store on S. Glebe Road near I-395. It’s the former location of a Maserati dealership and, before that, seafood seller M. Slavin & Sons.

Tesla had to first get approval from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to open this and two other stores in the Commonwealth.

Under state law, automobile manufacturers like Tesla are generally not able to sell their cars directly to customers. This law was originally passed, in part, to encourage competition. In fact, for a time, Tesla couldn’t sell cars at its Tysons mall showroom and employees were forbidden from even discussing purchases.

However, that changed last May when the state DMV commissioner approved the company’s request to open three sales centers in Virginia. The reasoning the commissioner gave is that there are no independent dealers in Arlington — or in Charlottesville and Norfolk, where the other stores are opening — that could operate a Tesla franchise “in a manner consistent with public interest,” according to the hearing decision provided to ARLnow.

The Arlington store will employ about 20 people initially with “plans to grow as needed to meet demand,” a company spokesperson said.

In addition to its sales and service location, there are more than 400 Tesla “supercharger” stations in Virginia, where drivers can get a quick recharge of their car’s batteries.

That number includes eight such stations in Arlington, according to a company map. Rosslyn, Clarendon, Ballston, Pentagon City, Crystal City, and the new Tesla store on S. Glebe Road all have at least one publicly available charging station.

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A new Afghan restaurant is looking to open in Ballston this summer.

Grill Kabob, a local chain of family-owned Afghan kabob eateries, is working on opening its 15th location at 708 N. Glebe Road in Ballston, co-owner Wais Shoja confirms to ARLnow. It will be only a few doors down from the new Silver Diner that’s also planning to open this summer in the neighborhood.

The aim is for Grill Kabob to start serving in June.

The chain currently has more than a dozen locations across the D.C. area, with the closest right now being at Tysons Corner Center in McLean. That number is likely to increase this summer, says Shoja, as the owners are planning to open several new locations, including the one in Ballston.

With lots of offices, new apartment buildings, and a Metro stop, the neighborhood makes for a great location for a new Grill Kabob, the co-owner says. Plans were originally in the works pre-pandemic to open a restaurant in Ballston, but Covid paused the owners’ expansion efforts.

The first Grill Kabob opened in the Springfield Mall in 1999, with subsequent restaurants also mostly in malls. Over the last seven years or so, explains Shoja, the family-owned operation has put more focus on opening locations near office and residential areas.

The new location will closely reflect Grill Kabob’s updated design and decor. As for the restaurant’s menu, it includes an assortment of meat and veggie kabobs, sandwiches, and salads.

The location’s menu will be very similar to the others, though there are certain items sell better at different locations. Shoja says they will take some time to see what’s popular in Ballston and perhaps “play around” with the menu to best reflect the wants of the neighborhood.

Ballston is likely to see a host of new restaurants opening up in the coming months. Besides Grill Kabob and Silver Diner, there’s also Pirouette Cafe, Hawkers, and Salt Pot Kitchen all aiming for spring or summer openings this year. Just this past month, The Union and Quincy Hall both opened their doors.

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(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) Several people are injured and one is reported to be trapped in their vehicle after a two-car crash in Ballston.

The crash happened shortly after 10 a.m. at the intersection of N. Glebe Road, N. Quincy Street and N. Henderson Road. An SUV flipped on its side and a car was badly damaged as a result of the crash.

Initial reports suggest that four people are hurt, including three who are likely to be transported via ambulance to the hospital. The nature of the injuries is not currently known, though there is no indication so far that any are life-threatening.

The person who was trapped has since been extricated by firefighters.

Glebe Road is closed in both direction at the crash site, which includes a large amount of debris scattered across the roadway.

The crash happened one block away from another crash that left an SUV on its roof Friday afternoon. It also comes less than 12 hours after a serious two-vehicle crash that closed Columbia Pike in front of Penrose Square last night.

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An overturned car in the Harris Teeter parking lot in Ballston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A two-vehicle crash this afternoon in Ballston caused one vehicle to flip over in the Harris Teeter parking lot.

The incident happened around 1:10 p.m. at the intersection of N. Randolph Street and N. Glebe Road, according to scanner traffic.

Two vehicles were involved: a white SUV driven by a woman turning left onto N. Glebe Road, and a black Ford sedan with two occupants, per scanner traffic and the observations of an ARLnow photographer.

Momentum from the crash caused the white SUV to roll over and into the entrance of the grocery store’s parking lot, next to a large redevelopment project that’s under construction.

Airbags deployed for both vehicles. The woman in the SUV was initially said to be trapped but later was reported to have been able to get out uninjured. Dispatchers said the black car was “smoking” after the crash, but no injuries were reported for the occupants either.

Both Glebe Road and Randolph Street have since reopened to traffic.

Staff photographer Jay Westcott and reporter Matt Blitz contributed to this report

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A trio of Arlington intersections could soon be getting some new traffic signals and pedestrian safety improvements.

This Saturday, the Arlington County Board is set to review a $2.3 million contract to replace traffic signals that hang from wires to those attached to poles, or mast arms. The improvements also include wider sidewalks, accessible curb ramps and high-visibility crosswalks.

The work will be conducted at the following intersections, each in North Arlington:

The traffic signal replacements are part of a county program replacing outdated traffic signals to meet current federal and local standards.

“Signal upgrade projects implement new technologies such as accessible push button stations, CCTV for monitoring, video detection, and improved intersection lighting to improve safety, efficiency, and accessibility for all modes of travel,” according to a project webpage.

Mast-arm traffic signals on Langston Blvd (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Installing mast arm traffic signals on wide streets has been found to be a cost-effective way to reduce collisions, according to the Federal Highway Administration. One study of Virginia Department of Transportation data, however, found crashes decreased, but not by a statistically significant amount.

The FHWA also says span wire signals can have higher maintenance costs and are generally considered less aesthetically pleasing due to the overhead wires. But after these replacement projects occurred elsewhere in Arlington, some residents took to Nextdoor to mourn the loss of the wire-hung signals, which they said were not as bulky as the large poles that replaced them.

The three projects would join a half-dozen traffic light replacement projects already planned for this summer and fall.

Planned street signal replacements (via Arlington County)

The county is lumping in pedestrian safety and accessibility improvements with the replacements, per a county report.

Currently, the intersections lack curb ramps that are accessible to people with disabilities, while pedestrians have to contend with long crossings and narrow sidewalks, the county says.

Widening the sidewalks and adding accessible curb ramps and high-visibility crosswalks will create “safe, accessible, and user-friendly intersections,” the county says.

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A Tesla location is opening soon along S. Glebe Road near I-395 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Tesla is in the process of building out its new Arlington location.

The electric car company is moving into the building formerly occupied by Maserati on S. Glebe Road near I-395, county permit records show.

A building permit was approved in January and calls for the building to get “improvements for ‘Tesla, Inc.’ auto sales, delivery and vehicles service as well as minor interior alterations, new equipment installation, and new furniture.”

At the moment, it’s unclear when the store will open. Repeated emails and calls to corporate headquarters in California have so far gone unanswered, perhaps on account of not having a public relations department.

When ARLnow stopped by, there were a couple of workers reviewing the electrical systems but they were unable to provide information about any opening date.

The permit confirms what’s long been thought since Maserati stalled out at 2710 S. Glebe Road more than a year ago. In September 2021, the Washington Business Journal reported on plans to transform the 63,854-square-foot space for its new tenant, though it was unclear whether a lease was finalized at that time.

The property is still owned by an LLC associated with the former Maserati of Arlington dealership, according to county property records, with the last sale happening in 2014 for $3.7 million. In 2016, the original building — which was previously a seafood store — was knocked down and a new expanded facility was erected in its place.

With construction permits approved as of about six weeks ago, it’s possible that Tesla could open this spring, given a buildout process that was “expected to be fairly quick,” according to the Business Journal.

This will be the fourth Washington area Tesla location, with others in Tysons, D.C., and Bethesda.

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Jim Murrell, son of Jerry and one of the “five guys,” in front of the original Five Guys on Columbia Pike (photo courtesy of Five Guys Burgers & Fries)

Before Five Guys was a big burger chain, it was a small fry tucked away in a shopping center on Columbia Pike.

Today, Five Guys Burgers & Fries has more than 1,500 locations worldwide and grosses nearly a billion dollars in revenue. But 35 years ago, it was nothing more than a tiny beloved burger joint at the corner of S. Glebe Road and Columbia Pike in Westmont Shopping Center, a strip mall that’s now rubble and in the midst of redevelopment.

“It was the only place that would lease us space. Seriously, we were brand new, without any restaurant experience, selling burgers and fries,” Five Guys founder Jerry Murrell tells ARLnow via email. “They were willing to rent us space and it was also pretty inexpensive. We liked that it was tucked back and hard to get to. We knew that if we could survive and grow there, then we might really have something.”

It was 1986 and Murrell was struggling. Living in Alexandria at the time, he had tried — and failed — at several different business ventures. But, as he recollected to Guy Raz in a 2017 episode of “How I Built This,” there was one thing he knew how to do: Grill a hamburger.

So, he made the bold decision of using his children’s college funds (with their permission, of course) to open a burger and fry stand.

“Something was telling us it was the right thing to do,” he told Raz in 2017.

The banks wouldn’t lend Murrell the money, so he took the $35,000 cash meant for his kids’ education and rented the spot. He called the shop “Five Guys,” after his four sons and himself, with every intention of changing the name later. But Murrell never did.

Next door to Five Guys was what Murrell describes as “one of the best bakeries in Northern Virginia.”

“Janie [Murrell’s wife] and I had been going to Brenner’s Bakery for a long time,” Murrell says. “They baked what we considered to be the best bread, which was high quality and expensive.”

Brenner’s had been there since 1946 and was a beloved landmark itself. Despite paying about seven times more for a hamburger bun than McDonald’s, Murrell bought all of his buns from the Arlington baker. While Brenner’s Bakery went out of business in 2001, Murrell says that Five Guys still employs two of the shop’s bakers.

The fries were also what made Five Guys special. The trick, as Murrell described to Raz, was that they used the same small Idaho potato dealer that was used for the famous beach fries at Thrasher’s in Ocean City, Maryland.

When the doors opened that first morning in 1986, Five Guys had no customers.

“We opened at 11 a.m. and no one came in until 11:30 — that was a stressful half hour,” Murrell says. “However, once the first person came in, then everyone seemed to follow.”

By the end of that first day, there was a line out the door — though, that may have had more to do with how small the restaurant was.

Westmont Shopping Center was a perfect spot for Five Guys to grow: out of the way, next to a baker, and very well supported in Arlington. Murrell says that local press coverage was always positive and generous, to the point that he felt like everyone was “really rooting for us.” One local publication even called the burger joint “downright primitive.”

“We thought that was the best,” writes Murrell. “It made us feel like people understood us.”

Murrell and his other four guys — which, now, includes a fifth son and his wife, Janie — continued to grill up burgers on the Pike until 1998, when the original shop closed. But, by then, Five Guys had expanded to several other locations in the D.C. area.

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A Ballston business with a logo that raised eyebrows for more than a decade due to its resemblance to a certain male appendage has closed.

Market Place & Cafe at 901 N. Glebe Road is now shuttered, its refrigerator cases and hot buffet both empty.

While some may miss the lunch buffet or the convenient drink options, the business is perhaps best known for its unusually phallic logo. Located near the corner of N. Glebe Road and N. Vermont Street since at least 2009, Market Place was inexorably linked to the logo, which features an especially tall chef’s hat with a rounded and slightly bifurcated top, and a similarly tall face that’s bulbous at the bottom, between a stylized, curled moustache.

The odd choice of logo did not escape the attention of Yelp reviewers over the years.

“Welcome to Dong Deli. Despite the ridic logo, the food isn’t that bad,” reads one 2011 review.

Eight years ago, when ARLnow went to inquire about how and why the business went with this logo, the reporter was thrown out of the store even before getting the question out.

Earlier this week, ARLnow visited the corner cafe again, but signs on the door noted that the business was closed. The listed phone number was also out of service.

“We are… closed,” the signs said. “Thank you!!!”

It may forever remain a mystery why this particular logo design was chosen and kept despite the obvious comparisons to the male anatomy, but customers will still have fond memories of the glory days.

“For all I care, the logo could be a vagina with tentacles and false teeth, I’d still eat here for breakfast,” said a 2014 review.

Hat tip to Peter G.

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Morning Notes

W&OD Trail Detour — From the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services: “On 12/30-31, crews will be working on the W&OD Trail Bridge east of Wilson Blvd (near the caboose). The W&OD Trail will be detoured onto the Four Mile Run trail for about ½ mile and will be clearly marked.” [Twitter]

Single-Vehicle Crash on S. Glebe Road — On Tuesday afternoon: “S. Glebe Road is partially blocked at 7th Street S. after a one-vehicle crash with airbag deployment. One vehicle occupant reported to have facial injuries.” [Twitter]

Congrats, Vernon! — ARLnow and ALXnow’s own Vernon Miles just got engaged. Congratulations to the happy couple! [Twitter]

It’s Wednesday — Today will be cloudy with light rain possible throughout the day and temperatures reaching a high of 54. Sunrise at 7:26 a.m. and sunset at 4:55 p.m. Expect rain and fog tomorrow morning, with a low of 42 and a high of 54. [Weather.gov]

Flickr pool photo by Vincent

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A Falls Church woman is facing numerous charges after police say she fled from officers after a hit-and-run crash — all while a child was in her car.

The incident happened around 1:30 p.m. on Christmas Day, in the Green Valley area. It started with a crash on S. Glebe Road, just north of the I-395 interchange, and ended with a second crash less than a mile away.

From an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

At approximately 1:25 p.m. on December 25, police were dispatched to the report of a crash with injury. As officers arrived on scene, one of the vehicles involved in the initial crash fled the scene. Officers attempted to stop the vehicle, however, the suspect disregarded and continued driving at a high rate of speed in the area. Officers did not pursue the vehicle and followed at a distance. Officers observed the suspect strike another vehicle at the intersection of S. Glebe Road and Walter Reed Drive, causing extensive damage, then come to a stop on Walter Reed Drive. The suspect exited the vehicle and was subsequently taken into custody by arriving officers without further incident. […] [The suspect], 25, of Falls Church, Va., was arrested and charged with Hit and Run – Attended Property: Injury/Damage >$1000 (x2), Eluding, and Abuse & Neglect of a Child, and issued summons for Improper Registration and No Insurance. She was held on a secured bond.

ACPD spokeswoman Kirby Clark said there was a child in the 25-year-old woman’s car at the time of the crashes, leading to the child abuse charge.

Only one minor injury was reported in the Christmas crashes.

“The driver of the second vehicle involved in the first crash sustained minor injuries and was evaluated on scene by medics,” Clark said. “No injuries were reported in the second crash.”

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