A new cafe and lounge is hoping to open in Crystal City within the next couple of months, the owner tells ARLnow.
Crush Cafe at 546 23rd Street S. comes from Yoseph Abegaz, who owns Flirt Lounge next door. It’s filling a space that was once occupied by a dry cleaners and shoe repair shop. The location was first rented last June and a building permit to alter the interior was first applied for in September.
The new cafe is set to serve coffee, Abegaz tells ARLnow, as well as beer, wine, and mixed alcoholic beverages.
Abegaz described the new cafe as essentially an “expansion” of Flirt Lounge, a hookah bar and lounge that opened in 2016. He declined to give an exact timeframe about when his newest venture may open, only that they are still in the midst of licensing and permits.
It will be at least a “couple of months” before Crush Cafe can open, Abegaz said.
That strip of 23rd Street S. is known as “restaurant row.” With Amazon HQ2 moving in down the road and extensive development happening in the neighborhood, there remains some questions of the aging, low-slung retail strip’s long term viability.
Nonetheless, much like Crush Cafe, new eateries continue to set their sights there.
Beauty Champagne & Sugar Boutique just started serving bubbly earlier this month at the corner of 23rd Street S. and Fern Street. A halal restaurant franchise is hoping to open a new concept by the end of the year on S. Eads Street, just around the corner from Crush Cafe’s new home. A half block down, a Korean rice dog eatery was planning for an early 2022 opening but that appears to be delayed, with the restaurant’s website still not accepting orders.
A burger restaurant and a hookah lounge are expected to open on Langston Blvd later this year.
All About Burger is gearing up for a new location at 5009 Langston Blvd, owner Mohammad Esfahani tells ARLnow, with the hope it will start serving by May or June of this year. This will be the local chain’s eighth location and third in Arlington, including restaurants in Virginia Square and Ballston.
This will be All About Burger’s largest location yet and will include a 5,000-square-foot rooftop cafe and deck.
Additionally, a hookah lounge is also planned in the back of the building. That should open closer to the end of the year, Esfahani says.
Back in 2019, ARLnow reported that the businesses were set to come to a vacant building on what was then called Lee Highway. However, that project seemingly stalled until early last year, when a new permit revealed that a build out was finally on the verge of happening.
Last month another permit was applied for to finish the work, which is about 70% done. Esfahani says the three year delay has been due to permitting and construction delays.
All About Burger’s menu consists of burgers, cajun fries, onion rings, milk shakes and a “secret menu” with chicken wings, grilled cheese and turkey burgers.
Esfahani cited a lack of higher-quality burger options in North Arlington as why Langston Blvd is a perfect spot for All About Burger’s next location, though there are two fast food spots nearby.
“There’s no burger place like us around here,” Esfahani says. “McDonald’s and Wendy’s are different. We have fresh burgers, fresh buns, fresh french fries. We wash and cut potatoes ourselves. Everything is fresh.”
The burger spot will be situated a half a block from relatively new Bob and Edith’s Diner and just west of Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe, about a three minute walk.
All About Burger originated as a result of a split with another burger joint, Z-Burger. Esfahani and his brother Ebrahim were once partners in that business, but a legal settlement handed branding and naming to his former partner Peter Tabibian. Esfahani was able to retain four locations of Z-Burger, including the one on Wilson Blvd near Clarendon, but he had to rebrand. Hence, the name change from Z-Burger to All About Burger.
Esfahani tells ARLnow that his brother is no longer a partner in the business.
Eska, a family-friendly eatery and hookah lounge that is replacing the troubled Purple Lounge on Columbia Pike, is finally set to open around Feb. 1, the owner tells ARLnow.
The alcohol-free restaurant will highlight Arabic culture, owner Layth Mansour says. But its opening has been delayed by months, due in part to permitting issues and Mansour’s health.
While the restaurant received a county permit in September, a “stop work” order was issued a month later because of zoning ordinances and building code violations. As of Tuesday afternoon, the notice remained on the window of the building.
But all of that is in the midst of being resolved, Mansour assured ARLnow.
The “stop work” order was related to him not knowing that a permit was needed to throw out furniture and other trash left by the previous tenants, he says.
“The place was a complete dump when we got it,” Mansour says. “It’s also 9,000 square feet and huge… so, there was a lot of stuff.”
A county inspector, however, told ARLnow prior to the conversation with Mansour that the “stop work” order was actually due to work and construction being done without a permit that was potentially impacting the building’s structure and egress.
Mansour says that isn’t exactly what he understood it to be about, but says updated documents, plans, and blueprints are now with the county. He’s hoping to hear back soon about the needed permits so that he can continue necessary work in order to open the restaurant within the next six weeks.
Mansour understands the history of this property and why Arlington is being careful
“They told me before I did anything that this place had a lot of issues,” he says. “The permitting process is just slow because of Covid. Arlington is great and doing everything the right way. I can’t blame them [for being careful].”
Purple Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge was the site of a number of incidents, including multiple shootings, fights, narcotics offenses, noise complaints, and destruction of property. All of this resulted in a bill being passed by the Virginia General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam that gave communities greater say over the issuance and revocation of liquor licenses.
The Purple Lounge finally closed and the former tenants vacated the property a year ago.
Shortly after, it was announced that Mansour would take over the lease and open a new business that the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (now, the Columbia Pike Partnership) said “embodies the spirit of Columbia Pike.”
Eska will be an “authentic celebration of Arabic culture,” Mansour told ARLnow back in April, with decor and a menu that reflect his Jerusalem roots.
Those plans haven’t changed, he says today, with more details coming in a few weeks.
Mansour is a former professional basketball player who recently had back surgery, part of the reason that Eska wasn’t able to open in June as originally intended.
Initially, Legend’s lease was supposed to run out next month, but it has been extended until at least May. In the meantime, Mansour is continuing to look for a new location for the business since a new development is eventually coming to that block. He says he hopes the store can stay on Columbia Pike.
Hat tip to SRtwofourfour
(Updated at 9:35 a.m.) A new fast food restaurant and hookah lounge looks to be on the way to replace a vacant building along Lee Highway.
All About Burger plans to open up a new location at 5009 Lee Highway, according to county permit records.
The records indicate that a hookah lounge is also part of plans for the roughly 11,100-square-foot space, though it’s unclear if it will be attached to the restaurant, or merely operate in the same building.
The Lee Highway location would become All About Burger’s third shop in the county. The small chain already operates a location in Virginia Square, with plans to open another in the revamped Ballston Quarter mall.
All About Burger has several other locations in D.C., and has a bit of an unusual past.
The company’s owners, Mohammad and Ebrahim Esfahani, started out as business partners with Peter Tabibian to run the D.C.-area chain Z-Burger, and even opened the Virginia Square location under that name.
But a dispute between the company’s co-owners led to a severing of the business — Tabibian earned the right to retain the “Z-Burger” name and still runs two locations in D.C., while the Esfahanis’ restaurants became All About Burger instead.
The eatery offers hamburgers, hotdogs, cheesesteaks and milkshakes, according to its menu.
The restaurant replaced the quirky electronics store Venus Stereos & TVs at 2901 Columbia Pike, and the interior has completely been redone with wood floors, stone wall and a glass-enclosed, “privately insulated” hookah bar, which owner Riyad Bouizar said allows hookah smokers to still feel like they’re part of the restaurant without their smoke disturbing those simply there to eat and drink.
The restaurant will only be open for dinner and late night for the next month, Bouizar said, before opening for lunch. It will be open until midnight Monday through Wednesday, 1:00 a.m. Thursday nights and 2:00 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. It will also be open from 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., including brunch, on Sundays.
The restaurant specializes in Moroccan food with a “contemporary twist,” and includes tajines, food that is cooked over a wood fire and ordered ahead of time. All food and drink will also be served to those partaking in the hookah lounge.
Chef/owner Riyad Bouizar said he’s hoping to open the business April 15, but after a long, drawn-out construction and licensing process, the opening could be delayed even further. Bouizar signed the lease for the space in August and was hoping to open in December or January.
For the first month, Mazagan will only be open for dinner and late night, Bouizar said, after which it will start selling lunch. During the week, the bar and hookah lounge will be open until 1:00 a.m., and until 2:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
“This is something new to the neighborhood,” he said. “With the movie theater right next door it’s a chance for people to get a drink afterwards.”
The private hookah lounge, Bouizar said, will be a glass enclosure in the dining room. That way hookah smokers won’t feel like they are cut off from the rest of the patrons, but the non-smokers won’t have any secondhand smoke.