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ACFD on Scene of Small Fire at Lee Highway Business

A small electrical fire broke out at a business on the 4700 block of Lee Highway this afternoon.

The fire was contained and quickly extinguished, but not before causing light smoke to fill the business. According to scanner traffic, the fire was at 4745 Lee Highway, which is home to the well-reviewed framing store KH Art & Framing.

As of 1:45 p.m., firefighters are working to ventilate the building and investigate the cause of the fire.

Drivers should expect temporary lane closures near the busy intersection of Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Bond Referenda Total Almost $250 Million — “Arlington voters in November will be asked to pass judgment on four bond referenda totaling just under a quarter-billion dollars, under a proposal slated for County Board approval on July 14… The bond package now on the table includes $103 million for schools; $75.57 million for transportation; $37.015 million for community infrastructure; and $29.33 million for parks and recreation.” [InsideNova]

Virginia Ranks High As Pro-Business State — CNBC has listed Virginia as the No. 4 top state for business in the U.S. Texas was ranked No. 1. Virginia was ranked seventh by CNBC in 2017. [Virginia.gov]

Conspiracy Theorists Denounce Conspiracy Theory — Yesterday, lobbyist and conspiracy theorist Jack Burkman held a press conference at a Rosslyn hotel to reveal a mystery witness who supposedly heard government agents bragging about their role in the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich. The press conference did not go as planned and has since been denounced by many who believe Rich’s murder is a political conspiracy — just not the conspiracy outlined by the “witness.” [Daily Beast, Twitter, Gateway Pundit]

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Middle Eastern Restaurant Looks Set to Replace Earl’s in Ballston

A restaurant called Medina appears to be preparing to open in the former Ballston location of Earl’s Sandwiches at 4215 N. Fairfax Drive.

A posting on the door of the site reads, in part, “coming soon,” and signs indicate that menu options will include shawarma and falafel.

Medina does not seem to have an online presence, though as of this morning a permit application for a new 32-seat indoor restaurant at the N. Fairfax Drive address was listed as active with the county.

Earl’s closed its Ballston location on June 15, though its original Clarendon location remains open.

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Coworking Space to Become First Office Tenant at Former NSF Headquarters in Ballston

A Brooklyn-based coworking space will become the first office tenant in the former home of the National Science Foundation’s headquarters, now known as the Ballston Exchange.

Industrious will open its third location in the D.C. area on the third floor of 4201 Wilson Blvd, according to a news release from the building’s owner, Jamestown LLP. The coworking space signed a 10-year lease at the location in a 24,795-square-foot suite.

Jamestown bought the building, as well as the adjacent 4121 Wilson Blvd, for a combined $300 million in 2015. But the NSF decided to relocate its headquarters to Alexandria last fall, spurring the property owner to kick off $140 million in renovation work at the buildings and go on the hunt for new tenants.

“The addition of Industrious shows our commitment to providing Ballston residents, workers and commuters alike with premier business and lifestyle opportunities,” Jamestown President Michael Phillips wrote in a statement.

Jamestown has already lured several restaurants to the development, with Shake Shack, We The Pizza, Philz Coffee and Cava setting up shop in recent months.

Those stores and others will line a shared courtyard between the two buildings, set to open in full by the end of the year. A pedestrian bridge will eventually connect 4201 Wilson to the newly revamped Ballston Quarter mall, but that project has encountered some delays recently.

As for Industrious, the company hopes to open its Ballston location by early 2019. It operates more than 40 coworking spaces across the country, including locations in downtown Bethesda and in D.C. near Logan Circle.

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Morning Notes

Dorsey Upped to Voting Member on Metro Board — Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey has been appointed as one of the two principal voting members of the WMATA Board of Directors from Virginia. He previously served on the Metro board in a non-voting alternate capacity. [Arlington County, Twitter]

Miss Arlington Takes State Crown — Miss Arlington, Emili McPhail, has been crowned Miss Virginia and will compete in the Miss America pageant. [WDBJ7]

Alex Trebek in Arlington — Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek stopped by the WJLA studios in Rosslyn on Friday for an interview with the station’s anchors and to help with the weather forecast. [WJLA]

VOA Profiles Choun’s County Board Run — The Voice of America’s Cambodian service followed up on Cambodian-American Chanda Choun’s run for Arlington County Board. Though Choun did not receive the Democratic nomination, he did over-perform the expectations of many. Despite the defeat, he also is encouraging “other non-traditional candidates to run to make local US elections more competitive.” [VOA Cambodia]

Lidl Faces U.S. Headwinds — German grocer Lidl, which established its American headquarters in Arlington near Crystal City, has had a rocky go of it as it tries to expand in the U.S. The company is adjusting its strategy after disappointing results from the stores it has opened thus far. [Philly Inquirer]

Six Achieve Eagle Scout Status — “Six members of Boy Scout Troop 638, affiliated with Little Falls Presbyterian Church, recently ascended to Eagle Scout during a ceremony held June 9 at the church. Recent Yorktown High School graduates Owen Gorman, Aubrey Bouchoux, Jack Durham, Tim Kent and Michael Mellett  and recent H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program graduate Ben Mundt were honored at the ceremony.” [InsideNova]

Photo courtesy @bethanyhardy

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Asian ‘Street Food’ Eatery Set to Open in Arlington Ridge Shopping Center This Month

A new fast casual restaurant offering all manner of Asian street eats is opening up this month in the Arlington Ridge Shopping Center.

Kovi Asian Street Food Kitchen will hold its grand opening on June 30, with a soft opening set for sometime in the “next few days,” lead chef and owner Vi Nguyen told ARLnow. The eatery will be located at 2921 S. Glebe Road, once the site of longtime restaurant the Arlington Diner.

“This location just fit our wheelhouse,” Nguyen said. “There aren’t a lot of unique food options in the area for local residents… and because we promote healthy lifestyles, it’s such a good match to have a Gold’s Gym close by.”

While healthy eats are indeed a focus for Nguyen, he says his main pitch to diners is simple: “I make tasty food.”

He’s run a food truck bearing the same name for the last few months now, serving up dishes like Korean barbecue tacos and Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches throughout Northern Virginia. Nguyen says he’s even started offering poke bowls recently, and he plans to keep experimenting with “nontraditional tacos” at his first storefront — octopus tacos are one of his newest offerings.

Take a sneak peek into our new restaurant. We're just a few days from opening our doors!#kovirules #kovifan #kovilove…

Posted by Kovi Kitchen on Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Nguyen, who’s worked as a chef at both fine dining establishments and casual eateries around the D.C. area, says the Arlington Ridge location won’t be the only Kovi in the area. He already has a lease set for a location in Leesburg, and he’s envisioning opening “four to eight more” restaurants in the near future.

“Our plan for growth is very aggressive,” Nguyen said.

But first, Nguyen is planning on offering up plenty of promos at his Arlington store as the soft opening gets going, like giving some of the first customers to swing by Kovi free lunch for a month.

Nguyen’s new restaurant takes the place of a 32-year fixture in the shopping center. Arlington Diner closed last May, with its owner citing struggles in keeping up with the rent in his decision to move on.

Fairfax-based District Dumplings will be moving in next door to Kovi, taking the place of a Domino’s location in the shopping center. It initially appeared as if District Dumplings would be taking over the Arlington Diner space, but Nguyen stresses that Kovi is not affiliated with that restaurant.

Photo courtesy @DanielMagnolia

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Arlington Chamber Backs County Efforts to Win Amazon’s HQ2

Arlington’s business community is throwing its support behind the county’s efforts to land Amazon’s second headquarters.

The county’s Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than 750 businesses in the area, penned a letter to the County Board Friday (June 8) expressing its “utmost support” for Arlington’s work to secure the vaunted HQ2.

“Adding a global brand like Amazon to Arlington’s corporate roster would be a monumental win for our area, helping to continue to diversify our economy and helping to maintain the significant commercial sector in our tax base,” Kate Bates, the chamber’s president and CEO, wrote. “And in turn, our location sets Amazon up for maximum success.”

County leaders have worked with the state to offer up two different sites for the tech giant to call home: one anchored in Crystal City and extending to Alexandria’s Potomac Yard, and another in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. The company has yet to tip its hand, but, by all accounts, Arlington is a leading contender to win out among 20 other HQ2 finalists.

Yet concerns abound among county residents and leaders alike about how Amazon’s arrival would impact the area, particularly with the county already dealing with rising rents and an influx of students in Arlington Public Schools. But Bates argued that any “challenges” associated with HQ2 setting up shop in Arlington pale in comparison to the benefits it could offer.

“We understand the amount of growth that comes with a large corporation like Amazon settling in Arlington comes with challenges,” Bates wrote. “However, we know these are challenges that Arlington has the infrastructure to successfully overcome.”

The full letter from the chamber is after the jump.

Dear Chairman Cristol:

As Arlington County moves forward in the process of recruiting Amazon’s second headquarters, I write to you on behalf of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than 750 local businesses, to express our utmost support of all efforts to bring Amazon HQ2 to Arlington.

Adding a global brand like Amazon to Arlington’s corporate roster would be a monumental win for our area, helping to continue to diversify our economy, and helping to maintain the significant commercial sector in our tax base. And in turn, our location sets Amazon up for maximum success. While Amazon carefully considers each of the final locations, we are confident that the County will be able to prove to Amazon what all of us know: Arlington is the best home for the online retail giant to continue to grow and lead on the international stage.

More and more large companies – a most recent example being Nestlé – have acknowledged Arlington as the premier place to relocate, due to the unparalleled opportunities our area offers. Arlington has all of the critical factors needed for success and expansion, including the ability to provide key access, transportation, technology, one of the most highly-educated talent pools in the country, and close proximity to the nation’s capital.

We understand the amount of growth that comes with a large corporation like Amazon settling in Arlington comes with challenges. However, we know these are challenges that Arlington has the infrastructure to successfully overcome. We are thrilled at the idea of bringing a company like Amazon to our area, whose innovative practices and strong global presence exemplify what we our area seeks to add to our business community.

We thank the County for its work to attract exceptional businesses like Amazon to our area, and we stand ready to assist however possible.

Sincerely,

Kate Bates

President & CEO

File photo

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Istanbul Grill Now Open for Business Near Ballston, Offering Traditional Turkish Fare

A new Turkish restaurant is now open for business near Ballston.

Istanbul Grill started serving up kebabs and other traditional Turkish fare yesterday (June 7), according to owner Turgut Yiğit. The new eatery, located at 4617 Wilson Blvd, replaces long-time Mexican restaurant El Ranchero.

Yiğit says he’s a newcomer to Arlington, but spent the last eight years working as a chef at a McLean restaurant. He added that he fully renovated the inside of the restaurant and installed all new appliances to spruce up the space.

The building was constructed back in 1949, according to county property records.

Istanbul Grill will also eventually offer beer and wine, once Yiğit’s state license is approved. He’s even planning to someday enclose the restaurant’s front-porch to offer a “European-style” experience, but those plans are a long way off, he said.

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Bob and Edith’s Could Open New Lee Highway Location By End of Year

A new Bob and Edith’s Diner along Lee Highway could open its doors in the next six to nine months, a lawyer for the local chain’s owner tells ARLnow.

Attorney Ryan Brown says Bob and Edith’s owner Greg Bolton is planning “significant renovations” of the space that once held Linda’s Cafe (5050 Lee Highway) before opening his fifth restaurant in the Northern Virginia area there. Linda’s had operated out of the space for the last 20 years before Bolton bought the property last Thursday (May 31).

Linda’s general manager Joe Ellian previously told ARLnow that Bolton’s attorneys told him he’d need to move out of the space before the end of the month, as the restaurant changes hands, lamenting that he’d barely have enough time to pack up all his equipment, let alone find a new location.

Brown says Bolton is sympathetic to Ellian’s situation, but noted that Linda’s has been renting the space from owner Joe Mehrdad Djassebi “on a month-to-month basis for several years.”

“As such, Mr. Bolton was not required to give more than 30 days notice to the current tenant to terminate the lease after he acquired the property,” Brown wrote in an email. “Presumably the current tenant could have purchased the building from the prior owner, or entered into a long-term lease if they desired to continue their business at that location.”

Brown added that Bolton bought the property from Djassebi for $1.1 million, and he reasoned that “if Mr. Bolton had not purchased the property, it is likely that another purchaser would have acquired” it. Ellian previously argued that he never had trouble paying rent, and believed Djassebi received a lucrative enough offer that he felt forced to sell the property.

Bob and Edith’s currently operates two diners in Arlington, one in Alexandria and one in Springfield.

Photo by Alex Koma

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The Simple Greek Set to Open in Rosslyn Next Week

Fast-casual restaurant The Simple Greek has tabbed this coming Monday (June 11) for its grand opening in a shopping center near Rosslyn.

The restaurant, located at 1731 Wilson Blvd in the Colonial Plaza shopping complex, will be the first location of six for the chain in the D.C. region, according to a press release.

The store’s owners were previously hoping to open the Rosslyn location earlier this spring, but ended up pushing back those plans. The Simple Greek will serve customizable pitas and bowls, with “a build-your-own assembly line style set-up in an open kitchen,” according to the release.

The chain opened 15 locations across the country last year, and plans to open 30 more before the year is out.

Entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis founded the chain in 2015, in conjunction with a pair of Pittsburgh-based restaurant owners, while hosting the CNBC show “The Profit.” The episode was later the subject of a lawsuit.

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‘District Dumplings’ Set to Open New Location in Arlington Ridge Shopping Center

(Updated, June 11 at 1:30 p.m.) A Fairfax dumpling restaurant will soon move into the space next to what was once the Arlington Diner in the Arlington Ridge Shopping Center.

District Dumplings, based in the Mosaic district, is planning to open a new location at 2923 S. Glebe Road, once the home of a Domino’s, according to a manager who answered the phone at the restaurant’s Fairfax location. She says the new eatery could be open as soon as next week.

The building’s landlord secured a permit for a 28-seat “fast casual restaurant” in early March, according to county records. One reader noticed signs advertising the change up at the location as of Monday (June 4).

The diner closed last May, after 32 years in business at the location. Its owner cited challenges in negotiating an affordable lease in his decision to close up shop.

The shopping center is also home to a Giant grocery store and a Gold’s Gym.

Photo via Google Maps

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‘Women of Vision’ to be Honored by Arlington Commission on the Status of Women

Three Arlington women will be honored by the Arlington Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the 32nd annual Women of Vision award ceremony on June 26.

Local artist Sushmita Mazumdar will be recognized for her success in business, after she launched “Homemade Storybooks” in 2007, through which she sells personally crafted editions of original stories that are often drawn from her own life. Five years later, Mazumar founded Studio PAUSE, which provides a space for community members to engage in art and storytelling, sometimes concurrently.

Adrienne Griffen, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Postpartum Support Virginia, will be recognized for her work to support new mothers and their healthcare providers as they navigate postpartum depression.

Founded in 2009, PSVA provides resources including peer-led support groups, books and websites and training sessions, according to its website. When she experienced difficulties finding help after one of her children was born, Griffen became determined to help other women avoid similar challenges.

The group also plans to recognize Lauren Stienstra, senior manager for research and policy at the Arlington County Department of Public Safety, Communications and Emergency Management, for her work in government.

Stienstra launched HERicane Arlington in 2017, a program that “empowers women to pursue careers and leadership roles in emergency management,” according to its website. HERicane participants attend a weeklong summer camp and subsequently receive opportunities to volunteer, intern and engage with continued learning activities.

CSW selects honorees based on a system of point values, wherein successful candidates earn up to sixteen points — one point for residency in Arlington, five for the scope of their activity and 10 for their impact.

Other CSW initiatives include advocacy against sexual, domestic and street harassment, promoting state legislation that protects women’s social and economic interests and hosting educational workshops.

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Linda’s Cafe on Lee Highway Set to Close, Could Soon Be Replaced by Bob and Edith’s

Longtime diner Linda’s Cafe is closing its doors and could soon be replaced by another Arlington institution: Bob and Edith’s Diner.

General manager Joe Ellian told ARLnow he heard from attorneys for the restaurant last Thursday (May 31), informing him that they’ve purchased the small space at 5050 Lee Highway from his landlord and giving him 30 days to move out. Bob and Edith’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment on their plans for the property.

“I’m going to miss all the customers and the neighborhood so much, it’s just very sad,” Ellian said. “It just isn’t enough time for a restaurant to pack up… I have bills to pay, food to sell, a family.”

Ellian says he’s run Linda’s out of the Lee Highway location for the last 20 years, and he’s heartbroken to be leaving the area. The restaurant was known for its all-day breakfast and burger offerings, as well as a sometimes colorful Twitter account.

“It was like a family here, we had good relationships with all the customers,” Ellian said. “As soon as we saw a car pull up, we knew who it was. We knew their order and had their food waiting for them.”

Ellian notes that he never had trouble making rent, but believes his landlord, Joe Djassebi, received a lucrative enough offer that he felt forced to sell. The property had an assessed value of more than $757,000 in 2018, according to county records.

Ellian isn’t sure what he’ll do next — he is hoping to bargain for more time to move all his equipment out of the Lee Highway location — but he may move Linda’s elsewhere in Arlington, if he can find the right spot.

“A good location is hard to find,” Ellian said.

Bob and Edith’s currently operates two diners in Arlington, with another in Alexandria and one in Springfield.

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D.C. Sports Bar Launches ‘Pop-Up’ at Bistro 360’s Old Space in Rosslyn

(Updated at 2 p,m.) A former D.C.-based sports bar is temporarily setting up shop in the space once occupied by Bistro 360 in Rosslyn.

Parlay Sports Bar and Lounge has set up a “pop-up” bar at the location at 1800 Wilson Blvd., according to one-time Bistro 360 owner Art Hauptman. He told ARLnow that the temporary takeover is set to last through the end of this week, though he said it could become a more long-term set-up.

Parlay was once located near Dupont Circle, before shutting down in April. The bar’s management posted on Facebook that it would be “doing events throughout the summer at various places” as it searches for a permanent home in D.C., and a Parlay banner is now draped over Bistro 360’s old signs.

“We will have game 6 on tonight so swing by and grab some wings #ParlayVA,” said one recent Facebook post, encouraging patrons to visit the pop-up. “Just look for the group that seems like they’re not from Arlington.”

Parlay’s owner did not immediately respond to a request for comment on his plans.

Bistro 360 had operated out of the space since the fall of 2014, but Hauptman said he decided to shutter the restaurant last week after receiving some lucrative offers for the space and losing his longtime chef and general manager. He’s since consolidated some of the restaurant’s wine and food options at the other Arlington eatery he owns: Cassatt’s Kiwi Café and Gallery, at the Lee Heights Shops off Lee Highway.

Photo by Alex Koma

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Freddie’s Beach Bar Owner Planning to Revive Crystal City’s Cafe Italia

(Updated at 1 p.m.) Longtime Crystal City restaurant Cafe Italia is getting new life, thanks to some former employees and one prominent local restaurateur.

Freddie Lutz, the owner and namesake of Freddie’s Beach Bar at 555 23rd Street S., says he’s planning to revive the restaurant after it closed in April.

Lutz worked for 25 years as a waiter and maitre d’ at Cafe Italia (519 23rd Street S.), and he hopes to reopen it in the next few months as “Freddie’s Italian Cafe.” To do so he’s teaming up with a former Cafe Italia bus boy and chef, brothers Adolfo and Birtillo Urrutia.

“I’ve missed it all these years, so it’ll be sort of like coming home,” Lutz told ARLnow. “Freddie’s brought a lot of diversity to Northern Virginia and Arlington and I’m proud of that, but I feel like I left my heart in Cafe Italia.”

Cafe Italia first opened its doors in 1976, and Lutz believes the place became “part of the history” of Crystal City. Though he says its former owners struggled to afford rising rent prices, thus leading to its closure, the Urrutias approached him a few weeks back with a plan to “bring it back to its former glory,” and he jumped at the chance.

“In the day, it really was something,” Lutz said. “I would tell people, ‘There’s an hour and 45 minute wait tonight,’ and they’d actually wait. I just hope we can restore it back to the fun, romantic little Italian restaurant it used to be.”

Lutz says he finished up the paperwork on the sale on May 21 and he plans to give the space a bit of “loving attention” before it’ll be ready for diners once more.

“The basic skeleton and soul of the restaurant is there,” Lutz said. “And the good news is we’re all in agreement that we want to get it open as soon as we can.”

Lutz, who still lives in the South Arlington home he grew up in decades ago, says he’s even kept in touch with some of the former patrons of Cafe Italia, and excitement is already building in the neighborhood. As new restaurants continue to cycle into that section of Crystal City, Lutz expects the revival of Cafe Italia will help the neighborhood continue to attract more business.

“Cafe Italia was always very gay friendly, and Freddie’s is very straight friendly,” Lutz said. “So both businesses will complement each other.”

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