A new restaurant on Lee Highway is looking to serve customers a hug, in the shape of a bowl of ramen.
Gaijin Ramen Shop (3800 Lee Highway) opened its doors last week on Tuesday for its soft opening and already the restaurant has had repeat customers, said co-owner Nicole Mazkour. On Friday, three days after opening, the restaurant had a waitlist of 65 people hoping to try its various ramen recipes.
The restaurant’s success so far is a bit surprising because it is summer and ramen is a hot soup, Mazkour said. It is also shocking because the Mazkour and co-owner Tuvan Pham have no prior restaurant experience.
“We’ve been best friends, and something we’ve dreamed of independently is owning our own restaurant,” Mazkour said.
The two pulled together their savings to build their restaurant, despite many people telling them they wouldn’t be successful. They originally looked to open in Georgetown but the landlord pulled out at the last minute. When they got the space in Cherrydale, four different construction companies refused the project, Pham said.
“This is our shot. This is our dream,” Mazkour said. “It is literally our skin, bones, sweat and tears. We’re positive that God has helped us.”
The two set out to bring an authentic, friendly ramen experience to Arlington. They traveled to Japan to learn how to make ramen and South Korea to learn the art of making kimchi.
“If you could describe us in one word, it’s passion,” Mazkour said. “That’s all it takes.”
Everything is made fresh at the restaurant, the owners say, and the ramen soup can take eight to 10 hours to make. The owners and their staff hand shuck the corn and peel the fuji apples that go into the ramen broth, and Mazkour said the amount of organic waste they produce from the fresh vegetables and meat is “unbelievable.”
A bowl of ramen costs between $10 and $11, which does not include extra toppings that one can add. Mazkour and Pham said that the soup is a bit expensive, but it’s the best price they could set in order to afford the fresh ingredients and preparation.
The restaurant offers traditional ramen like a miso ramen or spicy miso ramen, but also more creative ones like BBQ chicken ramen. Mazkour said that she hopes to get more even creative and is playing with the idea of a lobster ramen or a kobe beef ramen.
In addition to the ten types of ramen currently served, customers can also purchase chicken, pork or beef “buns.” Buns are similar to sliders, but the buns are a white, thick and doughy instead of a traditional bread. The restaurant is a family business, with Mazkour’s son making the buns.
Without a financial backer, Mazkour and Pham have been somewhat limited in their operation. They both have full time jobs outside of the restaurant, and can only open from 4-10 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. They want to expand the hours, either in the afternoon or late night Friday and Saturday, but they are seeking customer feedback to help them make their decision.
During the restaurant’s soft opening, the two owners want to hear customer feedback. They did a soft opening because they are currently training the staff to make the ramen and they are still hammering out other details.
When hiring, the two owners kept all the staff from the Kite Runner Cafe, which was previously in the spot. The two paid the employees for two months while the restaurant was being built because they knew the staff relied on the paychecks, Pham said.
“We’re not about business,” she said. “We’re about heart.”
They are also still working to accept credit cards and get their liquor license, but they expect to have both in the next few weeks.
The restaurant can seat 44 people and there will be about 17 seats outside as well. Mazkour and Pham want to give the restaurant the kind of friendly feel that they found in Japan, instead of the hip and exclusive feel that some other trendy ramen places have, Mazkour said.
Their light attitude is reflected in the restaurant name. Gaijin in Japanese means foreigner, and neither Mazkour nor Pham are Japanese, but they respect the culture and the food, so the name is a bit of a light-hearted joke.
“[Japanese people] love it,” Pham said.
(Updated at 3:25 p.m.) The beginning of a mural has appeared on a wall along Lee Highway from the corner of N. Uhle Street to N. Veitch Street.
The mural is the work of local artist Kate Fleming, a 2014 College of William and Mary graduate who now works for the Smithsonian’s Office of Exhibits Central. Fleming was initially approached in 2014 by John Laswick from Engleside Cooperative, the co-op building behind the 110-foot wall, to paint a mural, according to Fleming’s blog.
Now after a year of designing, planning and waiting for warm weather, Fleming has started to add paint to the once dirty retaining wall.
Painted a muted lime green, the mural has pencil sketches on it depicting buildings and houses. A sketch of the Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery is also depicted.
The finished mural will be an abstract cityscape of Arlington and the District, Fleming said. The mural contains Arlington landmarks, including Arlington neighborhood on the right half of the mural. On the left, she will paint Key Bridge leading to D.C. and multiple District landmarks like the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building.
“It’s more about shapes and color and overlapping than a straight depiction of the city,” Fleming said.
Painting a mural is expensive, especially since the wall needed to be cleaned before Fleming could start, she said on blog. Engleside Cooperative is funding part of the mural, but Fleming also received Arlington Commission for the Art’s Spotlight Artist Grant for 2016. The grant gave Fleming $5,000.
“Getting the funding from the Arlington Commission for the Arts and Arlington Cultural Affairs has finally gotten this project moving in a real way. It’s been a full year in the works, but things are finally starting to pick up speed,” Fleming said in a June 25 post.
However, the project hit a small snag after being selected for the grant. Because the mural is technically on private property, county staff thought she her mural might be considered a sign, and subject to the county’s stringent sign ordinance.
From her blog post entitled “Speed Bump:”
Progress on the mural (and on this blog) hit a bit of a speed bump last week. As I was putting the finishing touches on the design in Illustrator (more on that later), I got a call from Angela Adams over at Arlington Public Arts. Angela was a huge help throughout the Spotlight Grant application process. She was calling to let me know that my project did not fall under the jurisdiction of the Arlington Public Arts Committee. This seemed, at first, a good thing; I would not need to go through the Public Art Committee’s approval process and so I could get started right away. But there was one catch: because it was determined to be a non-public art project, Angela and I concluded that I would have to follow the County sign ordinance.
Fleming was instructed to go to the county zoning office, where she spoke with a staff member. After a few days in which she stopped all work on the mural, she called the staff member and was told that her mural wasn’t a sign after all, it was going to be considered private artwork under county regulations.
“I have the County’s go-ahead and that’s what matters!” Fleming wrote. “I lost a few days of work in the process, but I’m getting back on track,” she wrote in her July 12 post.
It took Fleming a little over a week to pencil mark her mural, and she expects it to take weeks to paint it, she said. Once completed, the mural will have 10 different colors, including shades of blues and greens. The mural will be abstract and won’t necessarily be a day or night scene, though people could consider it to depict Arlington and D.C. during the day, she said.
A lot of thought went into the design of the mural, Fleming said, in order to give it a complex, abstract feel but with identifiable structures. Fleming said she and Laswick want people to be able to look at the mural multiple times and “to see something new every time you looked. So it’s complex and layered that way.”
Fleming’s contract for the mural has a completion date of Sept. 30, but Fleming said she hopes to finish by the end of August or beginning of September.
The bizarre incident happened around 10:30 p.m. Police received a call from a “concerned citizen,” reporting that a man was walking down the road with his pants around his ankles.
The man failed to comply with the commands of responding officers who tried to stop and question him, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Instead, he began walking down the middle of Lee Highway, shouting obscenities, daring police to shoot him and saying he had a bomb in his backpack, Sternbeck said.
Eventually, the man dropped the backpack in the middle of the roadway and was then taken into custody. Police shut down Lee Highway between N. Lexington Street and Sycamore Street while the county’s bomb squad evaluated the backpack. No bomb was found, and the road reopened after an “extended” closure, said Sternbeck.
The man has been charged with resisting arrest, assault on police and making a bomb threat, we’re told.
Arlington County Police and the FBI have released photos of the man who robbed the Capital One Bank at 4700 Lee Highway Monday afternoon.
The photos (above) show the man dressed all in black, wielding a pair of scissors while robbing the bank. His face is covered by what police say is a black cloth.
The suspect remains at large. In an ACPD press release, investigators say they’re seeking tips in the case.
The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit, along with the FBI’s Washington Field Office, is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a bank robbery suspect captured in surveillance footage.
On Monday, July 6, 2015, at approximately 4:59 p.m., an unknown male subject entered the Capital One Bank branch in the 4700 block of N. Lee Highway and robbed the bank while brandishing a pair of scissors. After obtaining an undisclosed amount of money, the subject fled the bank.
The suspect is described as a male of unknown race and between 5’4″ – 5’7″ tall with a slim build. At the time of the incident, the suspect was wearing a black long sleeve shirt, black pants and no shoes with white socks. He had a black cloth covering his head.
The FBI is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to the identification, arrest and conviction of the bank robber.
The Arlington County Police Department and FBI’s Washington Field Office are investigating this bank robbery and request that anyone with information call the FBI at 202-278-2000 or Detective Munizza with the Arlington County Police Department at 703.228.4171 [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).
(Updated at 6:15 p.m.) Arlington County Police are on the scene of a reported bank robbery in the Waverly Hills neighborhood.
The robbery was reported around 5:00 p.m. at the Capital One Bank, at 4700 Lee Highway.
Initial reports suggest a man dressed in all black and armed with scissors robbed the bank and ran off with cash. He was last seen heading westbound on Lee Highway.
The man had a t-shirt wrapped around his face during the robbery, according to scanner reports. He was reportedly wearing a black shirt, black pants and white socks with holes in them, but no shoes.
A witness, Bryan Hudzina, was walking his dog in the area at the time of the robbery. He told ARLnow.com that he saw the man run by him, behind the bank.
“As I’m walking… we turn around at the corner of the back of the bank [and see] a gentleman wearing all black, covered face, carrying something,” Hudzina said. “[He] ran to the side of me and headed down toward the back side of the buildings.”
Police officers and K-9 units are searching the surrounding neighborhoods for the suspect. Detectives are talking to employees and witnesses, and processing evidence at the bank.
Tomorrow night (June 25) Arlington will hold the first of four planned meetings to discuss the relocation of Fire Station 8.
Last May, the county proposed a plan to move the fire station from Lee Highway to a county-owned green space near Marymount University on Old Dominion Drive. The Old Dominion Civic Association said it was “blind-sided” by the plan, and raised an outcry that prompted the county to reevaluate.
The Arlington County Fire Department wants to relocate Fire Station 8 further north in order to achieve their goal of four to six minute response times throughout the county. Arlington County studies conducted in 2000 and 2012 both indicated that while response times in most of the county met this goal, the northern part of the county was underserved and would benefit from having a fire station closer by.
At the meeting tomorrow night, residents will hear an overview of the issue from county staff, as well as the criteria and constraints for selecting a new fire station location. Residents will have the opportunity to give feedback.
“[The] process to select a site for the relocated FS8 will include dialogue with community stakeholders, including civic associations within the service area and other members of the public wishing to participate,” according to the county website. “The process will include a discussion of County needs; siting consideration and criteria; and evaluation of alternate sites within the service area.”
On Thursday, July 30, county staff plan to recap previous meeting results and provide another opportunity for community members to weigh in on alternative sites for the fire station. At this meeting, the county staff also plan to outline the process they will use to review the list of potential sites.
At the final meeting, currently scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 9, county staff will formulate a recommendation to be presented to the County Board.
The meeting tomorrow will be at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church (2609 N Glebe Rd) from 7-9 p.m. There will be a meeting at St. Mary’s at the same time on July 9 recapping the first for any who were unable to attend.
Photo via Arlington County Fire Department
Mark Levine Wins in 45th — Talk show host and attorney Mark Levine has won the Democratic primary in the 45th House of Delegates district, which includes Alexandria and parts of South Arlington and Fairfax County. So far, Levine doesn’t have any general election opponents as he seeks to replace Del. Rob Krupicka. [Washington Blade, Patch]
Townhouse Fire on Lee Hwy — Arlington County firefighters battled a small townhouse fire on the 4300 block of Lee Highway around 4:00 p.m. Tuesday. [Twitter]
Arlington Gay Marriage Company Acquired — Arlington-based GayWeddings.com has been acquired by Chevy Chase, Md.-based WeddingWire. [Washington Business Journal]
Bistro 360 Now Serving Lunch — Bistro 360, a restaurant at 1800 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, is starting weekday lunch service as of today. Lunch will be served Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
(Updated at 11:10 a.m.) Boston-based Upper Crust Pizzeria is planning on opening a new location in the former HomeMade Pizza Company space on Lee Highway.
Now, another regional pizza chain that has gone through financial troubles is coming in.
Upper Crust Pizzeria has applied for a permit to sell wine and beer at its new Lee Heights Shops storefront. There are no records of any construction permits being applied for so far.
Upper Crust currently has six locations, all in the Boston area. Ben Deb, the company’s CFO, says the Lee Highway location will be the first of what they hope will be several D.C. area locations.
“We’re looking at multiple spots in the D.C. metro area,” Deb told ARLnow.com. “The brand had a great following when it was there. We get inquiries on our website all the time.”
Construction is expected to begin next week and the company is targeting an opening in Arlington as soon as mid-July, according to Deb. He said Upper Crust’s freshness and thin crust pizza style sets it apart from other pizza joints.
“The product is second to none… we make our dough fresh on site everyday and use fresh ingredients,” he said. “We’re really looking forward to being a part of the Arlington community.”
Upper Crust’s menu includes pizza by the slice, specialty pizzas by the pie, lasagna, salads and calzones.
Nats Player’s Townhouse for Rent — A townhouse owned by Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman is available for rent. The three-bedroom home, at the Bromptons at Clarendon development, is listed at $5,750 per month. [Real House Life of Arlington]
Budget Cuts for ‘Complete Streets?’ — Updated at 9:25 a.m. — As part of budget discussions, Arlington County is considering cutting $800,000 from its “complete streets” program, which funds pedestrian and bicycle improvements. The cuts would still leave $4 million in the program’s budget, however. The county is also considering eliminating two bicycle planning positions. [WAMU]
Arlington Home Show This Weekend — The annual Arlington Home Show and Garden Expo will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center (3501 2nd Street S.). [Arlington Home Show]
Underground Bike Races in Crystal City — Every Wednesday night this month, Crystal City is hosting a series of bicycle races on the bottom level of a parking garage. The races are being dubbed “Wednesday Night Spins” and feature a course shorter than a kilometer with almost a dozen turns. [WJLA]
‘Honeysuckle Hill’ Property for Sale — A large property next across from Overlee Pool on Lee Highway is for sale for $3.325 million. The property is divided into four lots, one of which includes a 75+ year old Colonial Revival home that’s expected to be preserved. [Preservation Arlington]
Photo courtesy @Norr_Fit
MOM’s Organic Market — prominent family-owned and operated grocer, and leading environmental advocate — is set to open its first location in Arlington County this summer at the Verde Pointe development, located at the intersection of Lee Highway and North Veitch Street.
MOM’s Organic Market was founded by Scott Nash in 1987 in his mother’s garage, and since has grown to include 12 locations across the Mid-Atlantic. Known for stocking a higher volume of organic produce than any other grocer, MOM’s takes an active role in environmental preservation and public health initiatives in the region and beyond.
A longtime supporter of renewable energy, MOM’s has been fully wind powered since 2005. In February of 2013, MOM’s started harvesting energy from the sun with their first solar panel installation at their Waldorf, Md. location. The new Arlington MOM’s Market will maintain a free customer recycling center in which compost, commingled recyclable goods, plastic bags, household batteries, CFLs, fluorescent bulbs, shoes, corks, and cell phones are accepted. The organization also hosts recycling drives throughout the year for uncommon or hard-to-recycle goods such as electronic waste, eye glasses, denim, and holiday incandescent string lights.
“This is a great location,” shared MOM’s President and Founder, Scott Nash. “We’re excited to move in to the Arlington market.”
In line with MOM’s environmental advocacy, Verde Pointe has been designed and is being constructed to LEED Gold standards, and will have several major sustainable features such as electric car charging stations and individually remote-controlled thermostats so residents can more closely control and monitor their energy use.
The project — to be delivered in June 2015 — is led by award-winning developer McCaffery Interests in collaboration with architect Antunovich Associates, Clark Construction, and Arlington County, and with strong financial support from Cardinal Bank, Burke and Herbert Bank. It is located on the former site of Bergmann’s Dry Cleaning.
Verde Pointe will contain 162 apartment homes in a luxe residential tower as well as 36 apartment homes divided into townhome flats. The development will have close to 250 parking spaces for its residents and grocery store, will begin leasing in March of 2015 via verdepointe.com. In addition to Verde Pointe, McCaffery Interests is internationally renowned for developing environmentally conscious projects nationwide, most notably the approximately 600 acre Lakeside development on Chicago’s South Side.
For more information on MOM’s offerings, initiatives and corporate structure, please visit http://www.momsorganicmarket.com/. All information on the Verde Pointe development and up-coming plans can be found at http://www.verdepointe.com/. Development and contact information for McCaffery Interests and McCaffery Brokerage can be found at http://www.mccafferyinterests.com/.
The preceding article was sponsored by McCaffery Interests
(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) A two-vehicle collision flattened a traffic signal and caused some traffic disruptions on Lee Highway this afternoon.
The crash happened between 2:30 and 3:00 p.m., on Lee Highway between Spout Run and the I-66 overpass. An SUV and a commercial van were involved in the wreck, which knocked over a traffic light in the median.
“One car was coming from the 66 off ramp and the other was driving on Lee Highway,” a witness told ARLnow.com.
Police on scene believe the slick roads may have been a factor. So far, no injuries have been reported. Police are remaining on scene while tow crews prepare to haul away the vehicles.
The county’s traffic engineering department has been notified of the damaged signal. According to officers, the signal that was knocked down will not significantly affect the intersection’s safety, and no officers will be needed to help with traffic flow.
The Arlington County Police Department is looking for a man suspected of breaking into a Lee Highway gas station over the weekend.
Police say the man entered the gas station Sunday night, stole cash and caused damage to the business before fleeing. He escaped, but was caught in the act on a surveillance camera.
Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to call police. From an ACPD press release:
The Arlington County Police Department’s Burglary/Larceny Unit is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying and locating a suspect involved in a burglary incident over the weekend at an Exxon Gas Station.
The suspect broke into the gas station, located in the 4700 block of N. Lee Highway, shortly after 8:00 p.m. on January 18, 2015. The lone suspect was captured on surveillance video causing damage to the business before stealing the cash register from behind the counter. He fled with the register and an undisclosed amount of money.
The subject is described as a black male in his 30-40s and was wearing a dark leather jacket, tan pants and black beanie skull cap.
If anyone has information on the identity and/or whereabouts of this individual, please contact Detective James Stone of the Arlington County Police Department’s Burglary/Larceny Unit at 703.228.4245 or at [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).
(Updated at 4:55 p.m.) A robbery occurred just past noon today at a bank branch on Lee Highway.
The United Bank at 5350 Lee Highway, across from the Harris Teeter, was robbed by a man who implied a weapon and passed a note to the teller.
The man fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of cash before police arrived. Police searched the area for the suspect but were unable to locate him. The FBI is also on the scene and investigating the incident.
The suspect is described as a black male, about 6 feet tall, with a muscular build. He is said to be wearing a gray hat, shirt, and pants.
Alexandria Murder Suspect in Arlington Jail — Charles Severance, who’s charged in the murders of three Alexandria residents, has been transferred to the Arlington County Detention Facility in Courthouse. The transfer is intended “to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest,” since Severance is charged in the murder of the wife of a former Alexandria sheriff. [Washington Post]
Roadside Sunflowers Chopped Down — A patch of sunflowers planted at the intersection of Lee Highway and North Powhatan Street has been cut down by VDOT after someone complained to say the flowers blocked her view while turning. The resident who has been planting the sunflowers for the past seven years mounted a sign in the flowers’ place saying “hope you are happy!” [Falls Church News-Press]
Bocce Produces Outcry in Reston, Too — Remember the neighborhood kerfuffle over a single proposed bocce court in Bluemont? Well, it turns out Arlington isn’t the only place where people get steamed about the sport. In Reston, residents are complaining about potential traffic, parking woes, drinking and the loss of green space after a bocce court was proposed. [Reston Now]
County Seeking ‘Human Rights Heroes’ — Arlington County is seeking nominees for the 16th annual James B. Hunter Human Rights Awards. The awards are intended to honor residents, community groups, non-profits or businesses that have made significant human rights achievements. [Arlington County]
Dr. Derron McRae Simon, who ran the WithinMe MD medical clinic at 5275 Lee Hwy in Arlington, has been indicted on charges that he ran an oxycodone distribution ring.
Starting in February 2013, federal prosecutors say Simon and five co-conspirators wrote, filled and sold fraudulent prescriptions for more than 11,000 oxycodone pills and “other controlled substances.” The pills had a total value of nearly $750,000 and Simon sold the prescriptions for between $500 and $1,000, according to prosecutors.
“Simon allegedly wrote and sold hundreds of prescriptions for oxycodone and other controlled substances, despite knowing that the individuals in whose names the prescriptions were written were abusing, misusing, distributing, and/or selling the drugs,” according to a press release. “Simon allegedly had never met many of these purported patients, and he also wrote prescriptions in the names of his five co-conspirators, as well as friends, relatives, and fictitious individuals.”
Simon, 45, is listed as a Midlothian, Va. resident. Among the co-conspirators named by prosecutors is Arlington resident Linda Dao, 21, and Falls Church residents Ereida Escobar, 23, and Michael Harris, 21. They are charged with conspiracy to distribute and dispense controlled substances and possession with the intent to distribute controlled substances.
“According to the indictment, Simon directed Escobar, a receptionist and medical assistant at Simon’s practice, to confirm calls from pharmacists seeking to verify his oxycodone prescriptions,” the press release said. “Simon also allegedly directed Escobar to create fraudulent patient history forms and medical records to make it appear that these individuals were actually legitimate patients.”
The FBI’s Washington Field Office investigated the case.
All six suspects are facing up to 20 years in prison and a fine if convicted on the conspiracy or possession charges. Simon faces an addition one to 40 years in prison if convicted on three separate charges of distributing a controlled substance to persons under the age of 21. Simon and another conspirator are also charged with identity fraud.
Yelp reviews for the WithinMe clinic — which specialized in weight loss and hormone therapy — were not complimentary, especially after the clinic closed.
“I think they went out of business,” one reviewer said. “I have no idea what is going on. No one is answering the phones and the vm is full without even an answering machine introduction”
“If I could give no stars I would,” said another reviewer. “I purchased a groupon and had an appointment on June 23rd – I still have not recieved [sic] the B-12 shots.”
Photo via Google Maps