A restaurant owner has filed a lawsuit over Virginia’s happy hour advertising laws that prohibit promoting specific discounts or prices.
Geoff Tracy of Chef Geoff’s, which has a location in Tysons, filed his lawsuit in federal court in Virginia, claiming that the law is unconstitutional as it violates his First Amendment right to free speech.
More from a press release from the Pacific Legal Foundation, which has an office in Clarendon and is representing Tracy:
The law prohibits placing prices on happy hour advertising, as well as using any terminology other than “happy hour” and “drink specials.” Nor can business owners promote “two-for-one” drinks-they must be referred to as “half-priced” drinks instead.
This means ads promoting specials such as “Wine down Wednesdays” and “$5 Margaritas” are perfectly legal at Tracy’s restaurants in Maryland and D.C. But at Chef Geoff’s Tysons Corner… the exact same ads violate state law and could lead to fines and suspension of his liquor license.
“Advertising is crucial to the restaurant business, especially in Metro D.C. where happy hours are popular and competition among eateries is fierce,” Tracy said. “But Virginia would rather punish me than encourage economic prosperity.”
Pacific Legal Foundation, which defends individual liberties nationwide, represents Tracy free of charge. PLF argues that Virginia’s happy hour law not only harms Chef Geoff’s bottom line, it’s also unconstitutional.
“The First Amendment clearly protects Americans’ ability to speak truthfully and freely about their business practices,” said PLF attorney Anastasia Boden. “This law reflects outdated notions about alcohol best left in the Prohibition days.”
Several Arlington bar owners, contacted by ARLnow, agree with Tracy’s position.
Mark Handwerger, who owns Clarendon’s The Board Room, “knew that Virginia has a whole mess of strange rules and laws” but said this specific law doesn’t make sense.
“My whole reaction to this is: why?” Handwerger said of the law. “What’s the point? Gas stations are allowed to put up their prices, so why can’t bars?”
The law isn’t just illogical for businesses, but for customers as well, according to some local bar owners.
“It’s always been the most confusing thing for customers,” said Tony Wagner, owner of Columbia Pike’s BrickHaus “Unless they call, or they’re on site, they have absolutely no idea what the specials are.”
Wagner, is in favor of amending the law, because even though “the law itself is clear but very restrictive… in such a competitive environment like Arlington, how do you stand out if you can’t stand out?”
Scott Parker, co-owner of multiple Arlington establishments like A-Town Bar & Grill and Don Tito’s, says the law puts Virginia bars, particularly those closer to competitors in D.C. and Maryland, at a disadvantage.
“Consumers these days are used to fast information,” he said. “So when they can’t get what they want from Arlington, but across the water in D.C. and they can see exactly what they are going to be getting, it’s hard to compete with that.”
Curt Large of Rosslyn’s Continental Beer Garden said he’s “100% behind Geoff Tracy’s lawsuit,” adding that “it’s absurd, confusing, and an embarrassment to Virginia that it has such a law and vigorously enforces it.”
“The restriction treats the citizens of Virginia like children,” he added.
A web page for the Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control (Virginia ABC) notes that “it can seem confusing” and that “you’re not alone” if “you have questions about what you can and can’t do related to happy hour.”
At least one bar owner in Arlington, however, did not believe that a lawsuit is necessary.
“It’s an outdated law but you move on and find different things to focus on when advertising,” wrote Ramesh Chopra, owner of Ballston’s First Down Sports Bar & Grill.
“You can’t get hung up on this law or that law,” Chopra said. “Your sole concentration shouldn’t be happy hour to get people in the door.”
Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form.
Also, be sure to check out our event calendar.
Tuesday, Feb. 20
Optimal Physical Therapy Open House*
Optimal Physical Therapy (1700 N. Moore Street)
Time: 4-7 p.m.
Meet with physical therapists, enjoy light refreshments, and tour the new Optimal Physical Therapy location at the Rosslyn Metro Center building.
Pet Dental Care 101
Aurora Hills Library (735 18th Street S.)
Time: 5-6 p.m.
Clarendon Animal Care presents an pet oral health lesson. It’s national pet dental health month, so now is as good as ever to learn how to take care of your cat’s bad breath.
Toastmasters Open House
Asahi Restaraunt (2250 Clarendon Boulevard)
Time: 7-8:30 p.m.
An evening dedicated to the organization focused on improving public speaking and leadership skills, where interested potential toastmasters can ask questions and learn more over dinner.
Wednesday, Feb. 21
Introduction to Python
Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street)
Time: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Learn the Python programming language for free with this beginner’s course aimed at introducing debugging and other software programming fundamentals. Registration is required.
Arlington Committee of 100: Opioid Crisis Conversation*
Marymount University – Phelan Hall (2807 N. Glebe Road)
Time: 7 p.m.
A dinner conversation focused on addressing the opioid crisis’ causes and effects in Arlington, and what the community and officials can do to stop the epidemic. Dinner is $28 for members, $30 otherwise.
Thursday, Feb. 22
Pups & Pints*
Latitude Apartments (3601 Fairfax Drive)
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Latitude Apartments presents a free happy hour for you and your puppies, with snacks, drinks, and socializing for all. Be sure to check out the puppy photo booth!
Right Proper Beer and Donuts Night at Sugar Shack
Sugar Shack Donuts & Coffee (1014 S. Glebe Road)
Time: 4:30-9:30 p.m.
Right Proper Brewing brings several of their beers — including their cherry-aged Cheree Berliner-Weissenborn — to the donut shop for an evening of beer pairings, paninis, and pastries.
Black Music Matters
Aurora Hills Library (735 18th Street S.)
Time: 7-8 p.m.
Celebrate Black History Month with Katea Stitt, the program director at WPFW-FM 89.3, as she examines black music’s evolution and the impact it has had on social justice initiatives.
Friday, Feb. 23
Creative Coffee: Ink Washes
Connection: Crystal City (2100 Crystal Drive)
Time: 11 a.m.-12 p.m.
A casual weekly creative meet-up for artists to experiment and improve their work in a social setting. Bring your own materials to this adult-friendly gathering.
St. Agnes Soup Supper*
St. Agnes Catholic Church (1910 N. Randolph Street)
Time: 5:30-7 p.m.
The church will offer meatless soups and a noodle dish, and more every Friday during the Lenten holiday. Guests are invited to stay for confession and the stations of the cross afterwards.
Val Kilmer: Cinema Twain
Arlington Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Actor and Director Val Kilmer, of Top Gun and Batman Forever, presents a screening on his one-man show, Citizen Twain. Tickets from $30-$75. Through February 24.
Saturday, Feb. 24
Poetry Reading: Douglass & Waters
One More Page Books (2200 N. Westmoreland Street)
Time: 7-8 p.m.
Two award-winning poets — M. Scott Douglass and Jesse Waters, come to the bookstore to read from their books as well as other collections.
Urban Agriculture: Plan & Prepare Your Vegetable Garden
Westover Library (1644 N. McKinley Road)
Time: 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
Learn how to bring some gardening techniques to your balcony, roof deck, or larger urban space with the latest installment in the library’s urban agriculture series. This month’s topic will be planning and preparing a vegetable garden. Reservations requested.
Sunday, Feb. 25
A Diana Peterfreund Conversation: Omega City Trilogy
One More Page Books (2200 N. Westmoreland Street)
Time: 3-4 p.m.
Author Diana Peterfreund discusses the final installment of her tween intergalactic adventure series, Omega City. Peterfreund has penned over ten novels for adults, kids, and everyone in between.
* Denotes featured (sponsored) event
Clarendon restaurant Don Tito will host a viewing lunch and happy hour on Monday, August 21 for the solar eclipse.
The watering hole at 3165 Wilson Blvd will begin the festivities at noon, with the eclipse viewing expected to begin at approximately 1:21 p.m. The eclipse is anticipated to be at its maximum around 2:47 p.m., and the viewing and the eclipse itself will wrap us around 4 p.m.
To mark the occasion, the first total eclipse visible in the continental U.S. in decades, Don Tito will offer what it described as “eclipse-inspired refreshments” and taco specials.
This year’s eclipse is expected to be seen by more than 500 million people. The total solar eclipse will cross from Salem, Ore. to Charleston, S.C., with the rest of the country able to see a partial eclipse.
“This is truly a historic event and a wonderful opportunity to view one of nature’s stunning displays,” the Don Tito event’s organizers wrote.
So far, no other viewing events in Arlington have been widely announced, but The Connection pop-up library in Crystal City (2100 Crystal Drive in the Crystal City Shops) gave out hundreds of free glasses with which to watch the eclipse, supplied by PBS. The free glasses proved to be popular and the supply quickly ran out.
A happy hour and listening session tomorrow (May 31) will look to encourage more young people to get involved in Arlington’s local government. County Board vice chair Katie Cristol is among those set to attend.
According to a brief blurb on the event, attendees can expect “an evening of lively conversation and discussion of the issues and topics of interest to millennials and young professionals in Arlington.”
The event is from 6-8 p.m. at the offices of the Ballston Business Improvement District (4600 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 100).
The event is nonpartisan and is expected to be attended by those on both sides of the political aisle. In an email to supporters, Arlington-Falls Church Young Republicans chair emeritus Matthew Hurtt said young people can play a key role in helping shape county policy. He pointed to the legalization of Airbnb last year and the AFCYRs’ role in helping beat back some proposed regulations on rentals.
“Whether you realize it or not, the AFCYRs is the largest Arlington-focused millennial political organization in Arlington — even bigger than the Arlington Young Democrats, according to club election statistics,” Hurtt wrote. “During the community conversation about legalizing Airbnb, AFCYRs made up a significant portion of the community feedback, rebuffing a number of destructive (and ridiculous) regulations. AFCYRs played a key role in the favorable outcome of that debate.”
The event is jointly sponsored by the county’s Office of Communications and Public Engagement and the Ballston Business Improvement District. Those interested in attending can register online.
A happy hour event that combines networking with raising money to help combat breast cancer is coming to Clarendon next week.
The third annual “Breast Friends Forever” event, a young professionals’ happy hour that raises money for the Sharon McGowan Breast Health Fund, is taking place on Thursday, March 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. at MakeOffices Clarendon (3100 Clarendon Blvd, Ste. 200).
The event will feature cocktails, beer, wine and appetizers, plus a bra decorating contest and raffle.
All donations from the event will go towards funding SMBHF’s efforts to provide uninsured women and men in Arlington and Falls Church with life-saving and preventative breast cancer treatment and tests, giving free access to mammograms, sonograms, biopsies, medical devices and medications.
“We are proud to be sponsoring this event for its third year,” said MakeOffices CEO Raymond Rahbar. “The Sharon McGowan Breast Health fund works hard all year to support our community and this evening allows us to celebrate their efforts.”
The event is also sponsored by TTR Sotheby’s International Realtors. Those interested in attending can RSVP online.
(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) President Fitzgerald Grant will be making a campaign appearance at a Clarendon bar tonight.
“Scandal” actor Tony Goldwyn, best known for his role as President of the United States on the ABC drama series, will be attending a Democratic young professional happy hour tonight in support of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The event is taking place from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at American Tap Room (3101 Wilson Blvd) in Clarendon. RSVP is required.
“I have been passionate about Hillary’s campaign for a long time,” Goldwyn said in a recent email to Virginia residents. “She is the toughest, smartest, and kindest candidate we could wish for, and I know she’s got what it takes to be president. (It isn’t an easy job — except maybe when the Oval Office is on a soundstage!)”
“I so look forward to meeting you and hearing the reasons why this election matters to YOU,” Goldwyn continued. “We may even have time for a selfie!”
NextGenGOP, a Virginia group hoping to push statewide Republicans forward on social issues, is hosting a “Freedom to Marry Happy Hour” on Wednesday, May 20, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Mad Rose Tavern (3100 Clarendon Blvd).
The event, praised by Washington Post opinion blogger Jonathan Capehart, is aimed directly at millennials who, even among Republicans, largely support marriage equality.
“Our members believe not just in economic freedom, but also personal freedom,” the group said in a press release. “We believe in tolerance. We believe in the rule of law, and equality under it.
“That is why we are taking action, why we are organizing,” the press release continues. “Our generation will be heard. We are NextGen GOP and we are part of the generation that will define the future Republican Party. We will no longer be forced to say, ‘I’m a Republican but…’ We believe in freedom to marry just as firmly as we believe in economic freedom.”
One of the group’s leaders, and the event’s organizer, is Cameron Kilberg, former Virginia assistant secretary of technology under Gov. Bob McDonnell and founder of Disrupt Fitness. The event is free, and anyone can RSVP online.
Image via NextGen GOP
School Board Says No to Wilson School Historic Status — Any hope preservationists had of salvaging pieces of Rosslyn’s Wilson School are likely dashed. The Arlington School Board voted last night, during an abbreviated meeting, to reject the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board’s proposal to give the Wilson School, built in 1910 at 1601 Wilson Blvd, historic protections. It has been renovated in the interim, and school officials contend the renovation diminishes its historic value. [InsideNova]
Cops Looking for Crime-Fighting Cabbie — Arlington police are trying to find a cab driver who helped them make an arrest in Pentagon City Tuesday night. An officer was trying to chase down a man suspected of stealing from a store in Pentagon City mall when the cab pulled up and the driver told the officer to hop in. The cab drove up to the suspect and the officer got out and made the arrest — but the driver left the scene before police could thank him and pay the fare. [WJLA]
Happy Hour Advertising Bill Passes — Both houses of the Virginia General Assembly have passed a bill that would allow Virginia bars to list the names of drinks they’re offering when advertising happy hour specials. Current ABC laws prohibit ads that use language like “beer and wine specials” or “discounted margaritas.” Even under the new legislation, however, bars would still be prohibited from listing the actual prices of happy hour specials in their advertising. [WTOP]
Rollover Wreck on Washington Blvd — An SUV reportedly ran into two parked cars and then rolled over on Washington Blvd last night. [Twitter]
History of Glebe Road — Why is Glebe Road so named? The road, which dates back to the mid-18th century, is not, as one might think, named after a person. [Ghosts of DC]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin
Car Crashes Into Construction Equipment — A vehicle crashed into some parked construction equipment in Courthouse during the evening rush hour yesterday. The crash happened on Wilson Blvd, just down the hill from the Wendy’s. Wilson Blvd was closed for a short period of time as a result. [Twitter]
Five Achieve Eagle Scout Status — Five members of the local Boy Scout Troup 106 achieved Eagle Scout status during a recent ceremony in north Arlington. [InsideNoVa]
Happy Hour for a Good Cause Thursday — Guarapo in Courthouse (2039 Wilson Blvd) will be hosting a happy hour to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on Thursday. [Clarendon Nights]
Group Seeks Prom Dress Donations — The annual “Formals for Five” initiative is seeking donations of dresses, jewelry, shoes and accessories. The donated items will then be sold for $5 apiece to students at Washington-Lee and Wakefield high schools. [InsideNoVa]
Wakefield Reaches Championship — The Wakefield Warriors boys basketball squad has reached the championship game of the Capitol Conference 13 tournament. The championship game will be played tonight at 8:00 p.m. [Sun Gazette]
Wounded Warrior Happy Hour — Deloitte will be hosting a happy hour to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project tonight. The fundraiser is taking place at Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill in Courthouse (2424 Wilson Blvd) through 9:00 p.m. [Clarendon Nights]
Is Artisphere Succeeding? — Artisphere “may have turned a corner,” writes Our Man in Arlington columnist Charlie Clark. The arts center got off to a “shaky start” in 2010, “but it took a step back and retooled, so the path ahead for bringing more people to Arlington is a good one,” said Karen Vasquez, Arlington’s director of cultural affairs. [Falls Church News-Press]
Moran’s New Beard Called ‘Santa Chic’ — Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) has been sporting a white beard since August. While the 68 year old’s new look has its supporters and detractors, the congressman’s own staff has taken to calling it “Santa chic.” [The Hill]
Letter: Arlington Dems Use African-Americans as ‘Window Dressing’ — In a letter to the editor, Bobbie Fisher, an African-American resident of Arlington, says that Arlington Democrats are taking African-American voters for granted and not paying sufficient attention to their concerns. “Walk into any [Arlington County Democratic Committee] meeting, you will never find more than a few African-Americans present,” she writes. “We are viewed as window-dressing or bobble-heads, to sit quietly while others raise questions of interest to their community.” [Sun Gazette]
GGW to Host Arlington Happy Hour — The blog Greater Greater Washington will be hosting a happy hour at Fire Works Pizza in Courthouse next Tuesday. The happy hour is an opportunity for the blog’s contributors, editors and readers to get together “for some drinks and lively conversation.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Central Library Renovations in ‘Home Stretch’ — The second floor reference desk and the old first floor circulation desk at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) are gone, among other ongoing renovations. The library’s renovation project as now entered the “home stretch,” officials write. [Arlington Public Library]
Flickr pool photo by Christaki
Ballston is about to get an influx of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Malaysian and Vietnamese foods. All of those varieties will be served up at Red Parrot Asian Bistro (1110 N. Glebe Road) when it opens next week.
Workers are setting up furniture and making finishing touches on the restaurant, so owner Wendy Cheng expects to have a soft opening by next Thursday (February 14), with a grand opening in March. She already has two successful Red Parrot restaurants in Maryland, and had been looking to open an Arlington location for a while.
“Arlington’s a great place,” Cheng said. “We want people to enjoy, to explore more good food. I think we’re right for here, a great restaurant for all these people.”
Cheng is originally from Hong Kong and used to be an engineer. She has a number of family members in the food industry and eventually decided to open her own restaurant due to a passion for cooking and an enjoyment of customers.
“We love cooking and I decided engineering is really not for me. I’m a people person,” Cheng said. “I’m a foodie and I’m a good chef myself.”
Instead of only offering one variety of Asian food, Red Parrot takes popular dishes from many cultures — such as Chinese dim sum, Japanese sushi and udon noodles, Vietnamese pho, Thai curry and pad Thai, Korean bibimbap and freshly made Malaysian roti flatbread. Less traditional items include cheesesteak egg rolls, spicy chicken wings and grilled ribeye steak.
“When you look at Chinese restaurants, they have all kinds of good food, and then a lot of things you’ll never order,” said Cheng. “I just want the best. I just picked the good items.”
Cheng said Red Parrot uses high quality ingredients and has high food turnover to make sure it stays fresh and flavorful. She noted that, for example, many Asian restaurants use lower quality or frozen seafood that doesn’t taste as good or has an unpleasant texture. She boasted that even the lobsters used in some of the Red Parrot entrees and the sushi are fresh.
“We focus on quality. I focus on everything from scratch, very high quality,” she said. “I love food. So I enjoy seeing people enjoying the food.”
Head Chef Sotheerny Massey is from Thailand and also prides herself on the fresh foods made from scratch. She pointed out that even the noodles are made fresh in-house.
“We plan all the food together, it’s great, we come up with ideas,” said Massey. “Sometimes the customers want to talk. We are happy when our customers like our food.”
The Red Parrot’s food will be available for carry out and for delivery within about a five mile radius. There will be happy hour specials at the restaurant from 2:00-6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. In addition to drink specials, happy hour will include discounts on selected foods like sushi and appetizers.
The restaurant is hiring immediately for a number of positions including bartenders, servers and hostesses. Applicants should call Wendy at 443-506-3042 or email [email protected]
RedRocks will open its third D.C.-area Neapolitan pizzeria on Columbia Pike tomorrow (Friday).
RedRocks is opening the 133-seat eatery at Penrose Square, on the 2500 block of Columbia Pike. The restaurant overlooks the new Penrose Square park and the restaurant’s owners plan to debut outdoor seating (about 20 seats) starting this spring.
The restaurant is best known for its wood oven pizza, but also offers charcuterie, cheeses, salads, vegetable dishes, pasta, small plates and snack-sized items. Drink offerings include 20 draft beers, a small bottled beer selection, a wine selection and seven signature cocktails.
The happy hour menu includes DC Brau Public pale ale and Port City Optimal Wit, plus Chardonnay, Cabernet and Merlot for $3. Mixed drinks are $5. Basic marinara and Neapolitan pizzas are offered for $6 during happy hour.
RedRocks will be open today (Thursday) for an invite-only “soft opening.” It will hold its grand opening on Friday, with doors open to the public at 6:00 p.m. The restaurant will start its lunch service on Saturday. It will open for lunch every day except Mondays, starting at 11:00 a.m. (RedRocks will be open for dinner every night.)
RedRocks has existing location in D.C.’s Columbia Heights neighborhood and in Old Town Alexandria. An H Street NE location is also opening soon.
Youth Justice 5K on Sunday — Bluemont Park will be the scene of the first annual 5K Walk/Run for Justice on Sunday. The event will take place at noon and will raise money for Families and Allies of Virginia’s Youth, a nonprofit organization “dedicated to transforming the juvenile justice system in Virginia to one that is fair, effective and age-appropriate.” On-site registration is $25 and includes a free long-sleeved t-shirt. [DC Road Runners]
Arlington Fun Ride on Saturday — Phoenix Bikes is organizing a family-friendly 17-mile bike ride on Saturday. The Arlington Fun Ride will take riders on a leisurely bike tour of Arlington that will include stops in Crystal City, Ballston and Rosslyn. The ride will start at 8:00 a.m. and will begin and end at Phoenix Bikes (4200 S. Four Mile Run). There will also be a short children’s ride. The entry fee — $5 for individuals or $15 for families — will benefit Phoenix, a non-profit bike shop. Editor’s Note: The Arlington Fun Ride is an ARLnow.com advertiser. [Ode Street Tribune]
TNT Bar Launches Happy Hour — TNT Bar (2413 Columbia Pike) has started a happy hour. The bar, located in the back of the new Eamonn’s restaurant at Penrose Square, will offer four drink options — canned beer, a cocktail called “John Fosters punch,” and two varieties of wine — for $4. The happy hour lasts from 5:00 to 6:44 p.m.
The event, which will benefit AFAC’s efforts to fight hunger, will take place after work in Clarendon.
Young professionals are invited to bring their dogs — and a $5 donation — to the (now closed) James Hunter dog park at the corner of N. Herndon Street and 13th Street around 6:00 p.m. The walk will start at 6:30 p.m., will wind through the residential neighborhoods around Clarendon, and will end by 7:30 p.m. with a “yappy hour” on the patio at Mexicali Blues (2933 Wilson Blvd).
Those without dogs are welcome to participate — and perhaps even adopt a pooch of their own.
“Although this is a dog walk event, walkers do NOT have to have a dog to participate,” organizers said in an email. “Volunteers from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington will… join the walk with dogs in need of loving homes.”
Those interested in participating are asked to RSVP to [email protected]