ACFD Battles Fire on Patrick Henry Drive — On Thursday morning Arlington County firefighters assisted in battling a two-alarm blaze at an apartment building on the 3000 block of Patrick Henry Drive, just across the border in Fairfax County. [Twitter, Twitter]
Arlington Doubling Down on Startups — Arlington Economic Development plans to use the $1.5 million in one-time additional funds it’s allocated in County Manager Mark Schwartz’s budget to target early-stage tech companies and help them lease offices between 5,000 and 20,000 square feet. [Washington Business Journal]
W-L Alum to Direct Sci-Fi Film — Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams has selected Washington-Lee High School alum Julius Onah to direct “God Particle,” a new sci-fi thriller being produced by Abrams’ production company. Onah was named one of the top 10 “Up and Up Feature Directors” in 2013. He’s also signed up to direct an upcoming Universal Pictures film, “Brilliance.” [Blackfilm.com, Indiewire, Twitter]
Local Chef Nominated for Big Award — Peter Chang, whose eponymous restaurant opened last year in the Lee-Harrison shopping center, has been nominated for a prestigious James Beard Award for “Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic.” [Patch]
Shirlington Profiled by Post — As part of its “Where We Live” series, the Washington Post has profiled Arlington’s Shirlington neighborhood. Shirlington earns high marks for having a variety of walkable entertainment, dining and shopping options, and for having only six crimes of note over the course of 12 months. [Washington Post]
More on Nauck History Project — Arlington County’s Nauck Green Valley Heritage Project has already received dozens of photos in its new online photo archive. A vibrant, historically black neighborhood since before the Civil War, Nauck has been changing — some say gentrifying. “Today, we’re probably less than 32 percent African American,” noted the community’s civic association president. [WJLA]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Duck Donuts is now open at 2511 N. Harrison Street, in the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center.
The store opened earlier this week to big crowds. As of 4 p.m. today, the store was jammed with school-aged kids and a few parents.
Duck Donuts specializes in made-to-order donuts coated in toppings like peanut butter icing, maple icing, bacon, and rainbow sprinkles. The low-frills menu also includes breakfast foods, orange juice, coffee and bottled beverages.
Fundraiser for Arlington Store Owner — The owner of Maley’s Music (2499 N. Harrison Street) has been hospitalized with a rare disease, just weeks after his wife suffered a debilitating stroke. That has prompted the couple’s daughter to start an online fundraiser to help the family pay its expenses. [Facebook, GoFundMe]
Arlington’s Inaccessible Bus Stops — About two thirds of Arlington’s 1,100 bus stops are not fully compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Metro estimates that the average cost of upgrading a bus stop to ADA standards is $10,000. [Washington Post]
USS Arlington Readies for Deployment — More than two years after its commissioning, the USS Arlington is getting ready for deployment. The ship has a 40 year expected lifespan in active naval service. [InsideNova]
Photo courtesy Crystal City BID
A motorcyclist was seriously injured in a crash in front of the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center over the weekend.
The incident happened just before 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, on Harrison Street. There’s no official word yet on the exact circumstances of the crash, but police say a blue SUV was involved.
The man riding the motorcycle could not get up and remained down in the middle of the roadway following the wreck. A nurse who was in the area rendered aid before police and medics arrived on scene, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The man suffered significant but non-life-threatening injuries, Sternbeck said, and was transported to the Level 1 trauma center at Inova Fairfax Hospital.
(Updated at 6:45 p.m.) The Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop in the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center has closed, apparently in a hurry.
Ice cream cakes are still in the freezer, cones are still on display and no signage has been removed from the location as of noon today, but multiple ARLnow.com tipsters have said the store has been closed since the beginning of April.
Eviction papers from the shopping center’s landlord were served to the business on March 26, the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Monday evening.
The Baskin-Robbins corporate website no longer lists the Lee-Harrison shop, and the shopping center’s website lists the space as available. The two other Baskin-Robbins locations in the county are at 3520 Lee Highway and 3100 Columbia Pike.
Sweets lovers in North Arlington now have their options greatly diminished. Baskin-Robbins’ closure coincides with Mother’s Macaroons across the street closing last week.
Mother’s Macaroons Bakery, an institution in North Arlington for 28 years, will close on Friday.
Owner Kay LoMedico decided to hang up her apron this week after a trying year in which her husband — who owned the Sunoco gas station nearby — passed away and three longtime employees left the shop.
“It was a series of things, and it hit me like a bag of rocks,” LoMedico told ARLnow.com today from her bakery at 2442 N. Harrison Street, across from the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center. “When I opened this bakery I was in my 30s. Now with the stress of the bakery and owning the Sunoco, I sort of fell out of love with it.”
The bakery, which serves all kinds of cookies, brownies and sweets as well as coffee, juices, breakfast and lunch, was sold 10 years ago when LoMedico’s mother died. Two weeks later, she regretted the decision, and six months after that she was able to buy it back and reopen.
Through almost three decades of keeping her customer base plied with sugary goods, LoMedico said she will miss the community and independence the most.
“My favorite part was I was able to make what I wanted,” she said. “I’m going to really miss the community. They have been wonderful for me all these years and helped me to grow.”
Although the bakery is closing, LoMedico said she’s not sure what she wants to do next, and it may not be goodbye for good.
“I’m going out with my name and my recipes,” she said. “Who knows, I may be back.”
A Chinese restaurateur with a cult following will open his first restaurant in Arlington in two days.
Oriental Gourmet in the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center just closed this month, but chef Peter Chang‘s team is full steam ahead in trying to transform the space into Peter Chang Arlington, set for a soft opening at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday.
Chang got his start in the U.S. cooking at the Chinese Embassy before serving his speciality, Szechuan cuisine, at little-known China Star on Main Street in the city of Fairfax. He moved around Northern Virginia to a restaurant in Alexandria and back to Fairfax, before moving to Georgia, picking up devoted followings in each area.
Chang’s followers are so devoted, and his nomadic tendencies so consistent, that a lengthy New Yorker magazine profile was devoted to them — despite Chang having never opened a restaurant north of the Mason Dixon line.
Recently, he’s started opening up Peter Chang restaurants in areas of Virginia farther south, starting with Charlottesville, Richmond, Williamsburg and Fredericksburg. Chang’s daughter, Lydia, said “Everyone is excited” for her father’s return to his Northern Virginia roots.
“We’re here to provide amazing, authentic Chinese cuisine,” Lydia Chang told ARLnow.com in the under-renovation restaurant space this morning. “Peter loves Northern Virginia and he knows there are a lot of people who appreciate authentic Chinese cuisine. He’s just here to do it right.”
Doing it right means a sit-down Chinese restaurant serving more than 100 menu items, including many of the dishes that have grown Chang’s following: dry-fried eggplant, duck in stone pot and pan-fried steamed pork belly. Lydia Chang said, if he wanted, her father “can create hundreds of different menu items.”
Restaurant openings, especially in Arlington, are notoriously fraught with long delays, often being pushed back months, even years. Some may be taken aback at how quickly Chang plans to open — just a week or two after the closing of Oriental Gourmet — but blazing his own path is nothing new for the mercurial chef.
“It’s not anybody else who wants to do this, it’s Peter’s decision,” Lydia Chang said. Pushing back the opening “is not our style. We’ve been talking about Northern Virginia for years. He’s always wanted to come back.”
The soft opening and early weeks will determine Peter Chang Arlington’s hours, Chang said. The restaurant is planning a grand opening Wednesday, March 18.
“It was literally there one day and gone the next,” Mary Barrett, who works next door as a marketing representative for MBH Settlement Group, told ARLnow.com.
Customers on the barber shop’s Facebook and Yelp pages lamented the loss of the business. Some Yelp reviewers wrote that free bottles of water, race car chairs, lollipops and balloon animals kept them and their children coming back.
Yelp reviewer Eric G. posted on June 10: “I’ve taken my two boys to Dan for years and we just walked up to the shop to find it closed with no forwarding address. Very sad, as despite the fact that he had fallen on hard times he was always very friendly and did his best to deliver quality service at a good price. We’ll miss Dan and I just hope he’s alright.”
Dan Woodley, the leasing agent for the space, told ARLnow.com that “Barber Dan” made a “personal decision not be a barber anymore.” Dan cut hair for more than 20 years, according to Woodley, and was a barber at Harrison Barber Shop for at least five. Woodley said he did not know exactly why the shop closed.
While many customers gave the shop rave reviews, others were put off by the wait. As the shop’s only barber, “Barber Dan” was not always able to meet demands.
“A good haircut but a truly painful wait,” wrote Yelp reviewer Jim M. last November. “Dan appears to have no appreciation of fact that people don’t like to wait while he shuffles around to adjust blinds, get the hit towel, fetch water for customers as they come in. I give up. There are now too many other options in the area with similar prices for boys and men’s haircuts.”
Barrett said that she first noticed the shop was closed two or three weeks ago, but that it remained busy until its final open days. “I was shocked when I pulled up one day and it was for lease,” said Barrett. Dan seemed to her a “friendly man” who was “always waving” and served many families.
Harrison Barber Shop had not posted on its Facebook page since last December, but customers continued to post praise and pictures as recently as June 5.
“Since Dan was a bit of an Arlington institution, having grown up in town (he went to Woodlawn for high school, he said), I’m curious as to what happened,” said former customer Anthony Zurcher, in an email to ARLnow.com. “My kids loved him and were regulars, as were many in the Yorktown and surrounding neighborhoods.”
“Dan could be slow at times — painfully slow. But that was part of his old-fashioned charm. He had a TV that would play movies for the kids — really just one move, Madagascar 2 (later, Madagascar 3) — which would be on a constant loop. I must’ve seen various parts of that movie dozens of times thanks to Dan, but my kids loved it.
At some point after I started going there, he learned how to make balloon animals — really just a sword or a poodle — for the kids. My boys always asked for one whenever they were there, and he always obliged.
I remember one time a patron showed up who was at least in his mid-90s. He had been coming to Dan to get his haircut for at least a decade. He inspired that sort of loyalty.”
Realtors A.J. Dwoskin & Associates have “over a dozen well-known Arlington businesses” interested in renting the space, according to Woodley. The firm will know more about the former barber shop’s future by late July.
Despite financial difficulties and rumors of it possibly closing in the Lee Harrison Shopping Center, Dogma Bakery (2445 N. Harrison Street) is plugging along. Owner Sheila Raebel wants customers to know she’s not giving up on the store yet.
While hesitant to admit the store may have to close after 12 years at that location, Raebel said it wouldn’t make financial sense to extend the lease, only to continue losing money. Dogma’s lease at that location expires in November of 2013, so Raebel said there’s still time to turn things around.
“It is true that we are not doing as well as I would like. Are we making money? No,” Raebel said. “As far as closing, I’m not going to close down a store just to close it down. I’m a little stubborn, I guess.”
Raebel wanted to be up front with her employees and with customers, so she recently sent a letter discussing the store’s financial trouble. She said many people came to the store after not having stopped by for a while, and said they took it for granted Dogma would always be there.
“I was honest with what we need, which is more people coming in the store,” Raebel said. “It was great that we had so much response and it helped us a great deal. It was really good that people responded the way they did.”
Although it may seem like the business would have taken a major hit when a competitor — Unleashed by Petco — moved in across the street, Raebel says the problem is largely the economic downturn. She said although there is some overlap between the two stores, they tend to serve different customers. She said Dogma staff continues to work to differentiate the store from others.
“When Unleashed came in, quite frankly, it was very scary for us. But they have their place in the community. I could not say that it is any reason for us not doing as well as I would like us to be doing,” said Raebel. “In a way it’s very much of a compliment that a business like that comes in. They recognized over the years that boutique businesses like ours is what the neighborhoods are really looking for. It’s a compliment that they changed their business model to have this new division.”
Raebel said many loyal customers were angered when the competitor moved in so close to Dogma. However, she continues to put the majority of the blame on the down economy.
“We’re not just a dog bakery, we’re a boutique that has gift items, toys and cat items. Some of those segments were hit hard, and that hit us in all those segments within the store. That’s the nature of retail,” said Raebel. “Goods cost more, shipping costs a lot more, taxes are going up. All of those things come together and sales are going down.”
For now, Raebel is working with the landlord, whom she said is being very helpful in trying to hash out a deal. If she’s not able to find a way to keep the store at the current location, Raebel hopes to find a nearby site. That, however, would be a last ditch effort.
“There’s a lot of things in flux right now,” said Raebel. “We’re all going to try to work together and see what we can do so everyone comes out whole.”
In the meantime, Dogma will continue to operate until a decision needs to be made next year. Raebel said the staff is constantly trying to improve and give customers what they want.
“Our staff work really hard and try to be knowledgeable. I feel confident they are, and we will continue to learn,” Raebel said. “And eventually, we will be back where we need to be.”
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington encourages you to dress up your dog in a costume and attend a trick or treat event at Dogma Bakery (2445 N. Harrison St.) in the Lee-Harrison shopping center. With a $10 donation, you can fill your dog’s treat bag at various stores in the center. There will be treats for humans as well.
There will be games and prizes for best costumes–both pet and handler. The whole family is welcome at the event, which starts at 6:00 p.m.
Update at 9:40 a.m. — A firefighter is receiving medical attention for what was reported as an injury from a fall. The fire has been extinguished.
Firefighters are battling a fire on the second floor of a home on the 5200 block of 26th Street N., in the Lee-Harrison neighborhood.
Initial reports suggest the home’s occupants made it out safely. Firefighters on the scene are reporting that they have the blaze under control.