Arlington, VA

Weenie Beenie was recently commemorated in an Arlington mural, but the shack near Shirlington has a surprising history involving gambling winnings and a beef with a popular D.C. restaurant.

Founded as a simple hot-dog stand in the 1950s in Green Valley at 2680 Shirlington Road, Weenie Beenie’s current incarnation was the creation of gambling legend Bill “Weenie Beenie” Stanton, lauded as the “one of the premier gentleman gamblers of pocket billiards” aka pool.

According to the Arlington Public Library, Staton took $27,000 in winnings from a gambling trip to Arkansas and used it to purchase the hot dog stand in 1960.

There was, at one point, several Weenie Beenies throughout the area, but the only one remaining is the one just north of Four Mile Run.

The storefront boasts that Weenie Beenie is the home of the original half-smoke — a local sausage variant popularized by Weenie Beenie rival Ben’s Chili Bowl in D.C. Also offered: North Carolina style barbecue and breakfast served all day.

The restaurant is also notable as the title of a Foo Fighters song from the group’s first album. Dave Grohl, frontman for the group, grew up in the area, once rented a home near Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood with his fellow Foos, and has recorded at nearby Inner Ear Studio, just steps from Weenie Beenie.

ARLnow reached out to RCA Records to request an interview with Grohl but received no response. Dave, if you’re reading this, that’s a standing offer.

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The third annual ValleyFest returns to Arlington’s Green Valley neighborhood this weekend.

Hosted by New District Brewing Company, the arts and music festival will take place on the street outside the brewery at 2709 S. Oakland Street, near Shirlington, this Sunday (Sept. 29) from 12-5 p.m.

Entrance to the event free, though attendees can purchase a $20 “Beer Package” that includes a ValleyFest pint glass and three beer tickets. The festival will feature a selection of New District’s beers, including their new Oktoberfest brew.

The festival will also prompt several road and parking area closures from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. According to Arlington County Police:

  • S. Oakland Street, from S. Four Mile Run Drive to the Shirlington Dog Park
  • 2700 Block of S. Nelson Street
  • The parking lot for the Shirlington Dog Park between S. Nelson St. and S. Oakland St. will not be available

“The Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) and part of the StorQuest Self-Storage facility will be accessible,” ACPD noted.

Pet owners will still have access to the Shirlington Dog Park during the event, but are encouraged to park elsewhere. Those looking to use the park should use S. Oxford Street or the Four Mile Run footbridge.

Street parking will be restricted and there will be temporary “no parking” signs posted. Attendees are encouraged to use public transportation or ride-hailing apps to get to the event.

“The public can expect to see a visible police presence in the area,” ACPD said in a press release. “Motorists should follow law enforcement direction, be mindful of the road closures, and remain alert for increased pedestrian traffic in the area.”

This year, the live music and entertainment includes performances from The Washington Ballet and the Educational Theatre Company. The full lineup is:

In addition to live performances, there will be over 20 local artists and community vendors in attendance, including the Arlington Art Truck.

Food trucks at the festival include Grillmasters BBQ, ACME Pies and Nauck Youth Enterprises.

Photo via New District Brewing Company/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Arlington, Alexandria to Talk Cooperation — “The Arlington County Board and Alexandria City Council will consider ways they can cooperate to manage the growth expected from Amazon’s HQ2, Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus and George Mason’s School of Computing during a joint work session on Tuesday, Oct. 1.” [Arlington County, Washington Post]

Some, But Not All, Washington-Lee Signs to Be Replaced — “The Generals records sign will retain that name because the students made those accomplishments while it was still Washington-Lee. Facilities is currently working on replacing signs throughout the building. The score board is in that [queue] to be replaced.” [Twitter]

BID Expansion Came Down to the Wire — “It wasn’t technically the 11th hour, but pretty close to it when the Crystal City Business Improvement District landed the support it needed to expand its boundaries into Pentagon City and the Arlington County portion of Potomac Yard.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Officer Speaks Out on Police Suicide — “‘Every day is a recovery,’ Master Police Officer Adam Stone, who has been a cop in Arlington for 30 years, said. Stone loves his job, and he’s doing his best to help others by telling his story After contemplating suicide, Stone is on medication and receiving counseling — and still on patrol.” [WUSA 9, Twitter]

Town Square in Green Valley May Get a New Name — “For decades of service to his South Arlington community, what has been known in its planning stages as the Nauck Town Square is likely to be known as the ‘John Robinson Jr. Town Square.'” [InsideNova]

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Clarendon Day and two other festivals will take to Arlington streets on Saturday, prompting celebrations, road closures, and delicious food all around.

The massive Clarendon Day street festival which draws tens of thousands of attendees will run from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. this Saturday, September 21, and will feature food trucks and booths from vendors like donut maker Good Company, live music, arts and crafts vendors, and dance performances.

The annual Clarendon Day races will also return. Participants can sign up for the 5K race at 8 a.m., and a 10K race at 9 a.m. starting at Wilson Blvd and N. Fillmore Street, with both finishing in Rosslyn at Wilson Blvd and N. Fort Myer Drive. Runners also have the option of running both races.

Children can take part in their own, 713-foot race around the plaza driveway of the Market Common. The race, which starts at 9:30 a.m., welcomes parents along with kids and does not require separate registration for both. All kids who join the race will be awarded for their participation.

Registration costs $15 for the “Kids Dash” race, $45 for the 5K, and $50 for the 10K. Runners interested in both the 5K and the 10K can pay $55 for both races.

ACPD will close several streets from 3 a.m. until approximately 10 p.m. to make room for the festival, including:

  • Wilson Boulevard between Washington Boulevard and N. Garfield Street
  • Clarendon Boulevard between Washington Boulevard and N. Garfield Street
  • N. Highland Street between Washington Blvd. and N. Hartford Street

Police will also close additional roads for the races from 5-10:30 a.m.:

  • Wilson Boulevard, between N. Garfield Street and Route 110
  • N. Kent Street, between Wilson Boulevard and 19th Street N.
  • The entirety of Route 110 northbound, from Route 1 to Wilson Blvd. Southbound lanes remain open to traffic.

Elsewhere, near Columbia Pike, police will close 9th Street S. between Walter Reed Drive and S. Highland Street from 7 a.m.-11 p.m. to make way for the Prio Bangla Multicultural Street Festival, which celebrates pan-Asian and Latin American cultures and runs from 12-9 p.m.

The all-day festival will feature vendors with traditional foods, as well as handcrafts, clothing, and jewelry, paintings and henna art, and representatives from local businesses.

“By simply the trading and transferring of ideas, customs, beliefs, cultural habits etc. between diverse cultures living here in the USA, we would be able to accomplish our vision of living in harmony in this community,” organizers wrote on its event page.

Meanwhile, the newly renamed Green Valley neighborhood will also be throwing a celebration of its history and culture from 12-6 p.m. at Drew Elementary School (3500 23rd Street S.)

The community party will feature a DJ, a basketball tournament at 2 p.m. for youth and service workers, as well as a fish fry and barbecue.

“Today, residents pride ourselves on being part of a community where all are welcome,” organizers wrote in an email announcing the event. “Despite development, migration and gentrification that have altered the demographics drastically, we are determined to retain our unique identity as Green Valley continues to be one of ‘Arlington County’s Finest Communities.'”

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From zoning to storefronts to its very name, Green Valley (formerly known, officially, as Nauck) is changing — so one Arlingtonian put together a book to remember the neighborhood as it exists today.

As We Are is a new book by Robin Stombler, vice-chair of the Four Mile Run Valley Initiative Working Group and a frequent voice of the neighborhood, collecting of photographs from 2015-2019 taken around Green Valley.

The book highlights a neighborhood on the eve of revitalization, Stombler says.

“After thumbing through a couple thousand photographs that I’d taken of Green Valley, I saw a theme emerge that I wanted to share,” Stombler said in an email.

Green Valley was a community founded by freed slaves, who settled there during and just after the Civil War. The area was initially known as Green Valley but at one point in the 1970s county officials began referring to the areas as Nauck, honoring a former Confederate soldier who purchased land there in the 1870s.

Now, the entire Four Mile Run area — which includes Green Valley — is being targeted for broad revitalization. It’s a plan that Stombler helped craft, but has also been openly very critical of.

Green Valley has a smart vision for the revitalization of this community that’s worth a listen,” Stombler said. “As one example, the creation of an arts and industry quarter along Four Mile Run Drive would refresh the area, make it an arts destination in Arlington, yet retain the needed light industry, employment opportunities, and cool vibe.”

Stombler said the neighborhood has always been a close-knit community. As it is revitalized, Stombler says she hopes the family bonds remain intact.

“The community has a vision for how the area may be revitalized,” Stombler said. “In the period these photographs were taken, Green Valley has spoken loudly with one voice about this vision. Slowly, very slowly, we are seeing some of our vision take shape. The photographs hint at this change.”

Barriers, like razor-edge wiring near a park, are prevalent throughout Stombler’s collection. Stombler cited the physical and social barriers as a recurring visual throughout the area and one of the main reasons she compiled the photographs into a book.

Despite some somber themes, Stombler said that the story of Green Valley’s residents is the story of joy, intellect, and perseverance in the face of these obstacles.

The book is scheduled to launch on Sunday, August 25, with a gallery of the photography at a house in Green Valley (2206 S. Monroe Street) from 4-6 p.m. Another exhibit is scheduled for Thursday (Aug. 29) from 7-9 p.m.

The book is available online for $47.

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(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) A portion of Shirlington Road in the Nauck neighborhood is closed due to a reported water main break.

The closure appears to be in place between S. Four Mile Run Drive and 25th Street S. Of the two Arlington County traffic cameras closest to the reported break, however, one is out of service and the other is pointed away from the closure.

“Repairs are in progress,” Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services said in a tweet Monday afternoon. “Expected completion time is 10 p.m. Approximately 50 customers may be impacted. The street is closed in the area and traffic is being detoured.”

Via Twitter, Arlington Transit said ART buses are detouring around the closures.

Photo via Google Maps

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Plans to construct a public park in the center of Arlington’s Nauck neighborhood may move forward this week after decades in development.

The Arlington County Board will consider awarding a construction contract during its meeting this Saturday, May 18, which would turn an area of what is now mostly empty land, at 2400 S. Shirlington Road, into a town center park.

The contract would provide “construction of park improvements, utility undergrounding, street improvements and street lighting” in the space.

The county’s website lists a 2020 projected finish date for the park, dubbed Nauck Town Square, and says construction will include an outdoor stage, a plaza, on-street parking, and tables.

McLean-based concrete contractor Ardent Company LLC is the winner of the county’s competitive contract process for the project. The company would be awarded $4,853,460 for the work if Board members approve the contract, per the staff report.

Discussions on the project date back to the 1998 Nauck Neighborhood Comprehensive Action Plan. The project area includes the former Lucky Seven food market site; the store caught fire in 2012 and was torn down.

Board members originally approved the town square project as part of the 2004 Nauck Village Center Action Plan. It is described in the recent report as “an anchor project to serve as the social and cultural center of the neighborhood.”

In 2013, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Arlington $75,000 for public art as part of the town center project.

The county tapped artist and landscape architect Walter Hood for the project’s design, which then-Public Art Administrator Angela Adams said was one of the reasons Arlington won the federal grant.

“I think that what we’re going to get with Walter’s involvement is a very sophisticated design that continues to make great public spaces here looking contemporary and fresh, but also reflective of the community,” Adams told ARLnow at the time.

The item for Saturday’s discussion is currently included in the Board’s consent agenda for the meeting — a placement usually reserved for items expected to pass without debate.

It’s unclear whether the town square will retain the Nauck name after completion. Last week, the Arlington County Civic Federation approved the Nauck Civic Association’s request to change its name to the Green Valley Civic Association — a move the County Board is expected to consider in the coming months.

Images 1, 2, 3 via Hood Design Studio, image 4 via Arlington County

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Arlington’s Nauck neighborhood is now one step closer to changing its name back to Green Valley, thanks to the Arlington County Civic Federation.

The federation approved the Nauck Civic Association’s request to change its name to the Green Valley Civic Association on Tuesday. The vote came after neighbors requested the county nix the name they said obscures the true history of freed slaves who founded the community.

“We’re just very happy that it’s changed and it’s the name that’s always associated with it,” said Nauck Civic Association President Portia Clark.

The historically black neighborhood was first built partly by freed slaves Sarah Ann and Levi Jones. They bought 14 acres of land along Four Mile Run and sold parcels to other African Americans during and after the Civil War, according to research from Dr. Alfred O. Taylor Jr., who formerly led the Nauck Civic Association and the local NAACP chapter.

The renaming resolution passed by the Civic Federation notes:

“The residents of the area continually celebrate and honor the heritage of a ‘FREED’ community that reminds us of the many hills our ancestors had to climb, slavery, segregation and racial covenants that have bought us to today with the freedoms that we hold.”

Taylor wrote in a February open letter that his research indicates county officials began calling the area Nauck in the 1970s after Confederate soldier and German immigrant John D. Nauck, who purchased almost 80 acres of land in the area in the 1870s.

“It is inappropriate for the diverse community to venerate a person who fought to preserve slavery and whose memory evokes painful reminders of laws that segregated and excluded African Americans from public life,” Taylor wrote. “We find no record or evidence linking Nauck to efforts to improve the quality of life for its residents.”

Tuesday’s vote by the Civic Federation is not the last step in the process. The organization must transmit the matter to the County Board, which will then discuss and vote on the change.

Support for reconsidering the county’s Confederate vestiges has gained steam since the deadly Charlottesville white supremacist rally in 2017 and amid national conversations about the recent rise of racist hate groups.

In Arlington, leaders waged heated battles to strip Washington-Lee of the second half of its hyphenated name, which referenced Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. They are also poised to remove the “Stratford” in Stratford School, which originated from the name of Lee’s birthplace.

The County Board previously has acknowledged Green Valley’s unique history. In 2013, members approved a historic location designation to the Green Valley Pharmacy in recognition of it being the first store in the county to serve black and white customers, including serving food at an integrated diner inside the shop.

The business closed in 2018, reportedly for renovations, a year after its owner Leonard “Doc” Muse died. Muse had run the shop for 54 years and was a fixture of the community.

Photo (2) via Nauck Civic Association, (3) via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Body Found in Submerged SUV — “Authorities were working Monday night to recover a body inside an SUV submerged in the Potomac River [near Roosevelt Island]… D.C. Fire & EMS said they found tire tracks leading into the river and divers were able to locate the SUV by 6 p.m. Monday. Sources confirmed to News4 that a body was trapped inside.” [NBC Washington]

Clarendon Beer Garden May Open Next Month — “The 22,000-square-foot space, dubbed The Lot… [is] anticipating an early June opening, pending final permit approvals, with plans to incorporate drinking games, picnic seating, and tacos.” [Eater]

UMD Coming to Crystal City? — “The University of Maryland is scouting out potential sites in Crystal City, where it could potentially help to feed Amazon.com Inc.’s long-term plans to hire at least 25,000 workers to support its second headquarters. The state’s flagship university is in the market for between 20,000 and 25,000 square feet to support the growth of HQ2, according to sources familiar with the situation.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Mosque Security Measures — “Members of an Arlington, Virginia, mosque are being trained on how to respond to an active shooter. Worshippers are learning how to take security measures to protect themselves and save the lives of others. The training follows mass shooting at houses of worship around the world.” [Voice of America, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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(Updated 4 p.m.) One of Arlington’s most successful restaurants is coming to one of the county’s least successful restaurant locations.

Neapolitan pizzeria Pupatella, which was a popular food truck before opening its acclaimed bricks-and-mortar location in Bluemont in 2010, is opening a second Arlington location in the restaurant “Bermuda Triangle” at 1621 S. Walter Reed Drive. The opening is planned for this summer.

“The restaurant is 2,200 square feet and will seat approximately 60 guests inside,” a press release said of Pupatella’s new location in the Nauck neighborhood. “The location also features a covered patio area that will have seating for another 40 or so guests.”

Pupatella also announced plans today to open a 2,700 square foot location at 1821 Wiehle Avenue in Reston by early 2020, as part of a new expansion push fueled by a $3.75 million investment.

“More company-owned locations are currently being pursued in Fairfax County, Montgomery County and Washington, D.C.,” said the press release.

“The community in Arlington has been so wonderful to us over the past decade that it was a simple decision for us to open a South Arlington location,” Pupatella founder Enzo Algarme is quoted as saying in the press release. “The area is exploding with growth, and we want to be sure that growth includes great pizza!”

Algarme did not respond to multiple inquiries from ARLnow.com last week seeking to confirm that they were behind the new restaurant at 1621 S. Walter Reed Drive. A spokeswoman said today that he was out of town.

Eater, which reported the Pupatella news late Thursday morning before the press release was sent to ARLnow, quotes another company co-owner as saying the Walter Reed Drive location will help fulfill “spillover demand” from its busy, original location.

The full press release is after the jump.

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(Updated at 9 a.m.) Firefighters are battling a house fire in the Nauck neighborhood, near Shirlington and the W&OD Trail.

The blaze, in a duplex on the 3600 S. Four Mile Run Drive, was first reported just before 8:30 a.m. Flames and heavy smoke could be seen coming from the home.

As of 8:40 a.m., firefighters were making progress but still working to contain the flames. As of 8:55 a.m., most of the fire was reported out, but crews were still looking for hot spots.

Additional fire department units have dispatched to the scene. Initial reports suggest the home’s occupants were able to get out safely and no one was hurt.

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