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by ARLnow.com — May 25, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

2016 Arlington Best Business Award winners - from left to right: Phoenix Bikes, Strategic Consulting Partners, Snagajob, Virginia Center for Orthodontics, Design TLC, Crystal City Marriott (photo courtesy Arlington Chamber of Commerce)

The Arlington Chamber of Commerce has recognized seven local businesses for its 30th annual Arlington’s Best Business Awards.

The award ceremony was held Tuesday at the Sheraton hotel on Columbia Pike.

The seven business honorees were:

Three local business luminaries were also inducted into the Chamber’s Arlington Business Hall of Fame:

  • Emerson G. Reinsch (posthumously)
  • Bill Buck of Buck & Associates
  • John Shooshan of The Shooshan Company

Photo courtesy Arlington Chamber of Commerce

by Jackie Friedman — May 25, 2016 at 11:05 am 0

Lawn Chair Talks graphicIt’s finally going to feel like May today, with the temperature nearing 90 degrees — just in time for some outdoor chocolate sampling.

Arlington Cultural Affairs and BizLaunch are hosting a “lawn chair talk” tonight with chocolatier Jason Andelman, of Artisan Confections in Clarendon, and artist Molly Springfield.

The event is being held from 6-8 p.m. at the Arlington Arts Center in Virginia Square (3550 Wilson Blvd).

Andelman and Springfield will be discussing their methods and how they got their start in art and business. Chocolate samples and light refreshments will be provided. Admission is free, but registration is required.

by Jackie Friedman — May 19, 2016 at 5:00 pm 0

A new pie store is now open along Lee Highway.

In April, two Arlington moms, Wendy MacCallum and Heather Sheire, opened Livin’ The Pie Life on 2166 N. Glebe Road. “We are happy to be here, it’s our dream home,” said MacCallum.

Before opening up their store, MacCallum and Sheire sold pies at the Clarendon and Westover farmers markets. Sheire also has a food blog that she said has contributed to the growth of the business.

They sell both savory and sweet flavors; customers are able to choose from a variety of sizes and flavors, which rotate seasonally. Large sweet pies range from $24-36.

Some flavors include strawberry rhubarb, Wendy’s Key Lime Pie or their most popular flavor, apple. Livin’ The Pie Life makes certain that the ingredients they use to bake the pies of the highest quality, with fresh, locally-sourced fruit in season or top quality frozen fruit out of season. One of their biggest mottos is that “if it’s in the name it better be in the pie,” said Sheire.

In addition to pies, the store offers coffee from Virginia-based Red Rooster Coffee. Plus, there are t-shirts for sale.

For both MacCallum and Sheire, one of the most important things to them is the strong bond that they have with their customers.

“The most rewarding thing is that we’ve met really great people who have become consistent customers at the shop,” said Sheire. For die hard customers the store offers a Pie of the Month Club — $370 for a year’s worth of pies.

Aside from just dropping by the store, customers can order pies online for delivery or pickup.

by ARLnow.com — May 9, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

Dominion Pet Center (photo via Facebook)Dominion Pet Center, which first opened in 1981, is closing.

The pet supply store is located at the Lee-Harrison shopping center at 2501 N. Harrison Street. It has survived for five years following the opening of a large chain competitor, Unleashed by Petco, across the street.

In a Facebook post, Dominion blamed its closing primarily on the internet. The store will be holding a going-out-of-business sale over the next few weeks, before it closes for good.

This is probably the hardest post I have ever written. We have spent the past 35 years serving our community. We absolutely love what we do. But recently, too many people have chosen the convenience of online ordering over coming in to our store.

So, Dominion Pet Center will be closing in the next few weeks.

Everything must go. Starting tomorrow, EVERYTHING is at least 25% off. All shelving, fixtures, freezers, etc are also for sale. No reasonable offer refused. If you are local, PLEASE SHARE THIS POST. We need to clear out the store and need your help.

The store’s owners, Steve and Kendra Green, said in a separate post that the business was their “heart and soul.”

“I hope our customers know how much we loved that store,” the post said. “It’s like losing a child. Words cannot begin to express how hard this is.”

Photo via Facebook

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — May 4, 2016 at 3:50 pm 0

Arlington Small Business Summit graphic

In honor of National Small Business Week, Arlington County is taking another step forward in its mission to educate and assist the region’s small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs by hosting Arlington’s first Small Business Summit.

The half-day summit, which is called “Open for Business” and takes place in connection with Arlington’s award-winning BizLaunch small business assistance network, will take place on Friday, May 6 at The Spectrum Theatre in Rosslyn and is designed to provide resources and information for anyone who may be considering or already own a small business venture. More than 300 people interested in small business are expected to attend.

“Fostering the growth of small, local businesses and entrepreneurs is the key to keeping local dollars here and building a successful business community,” said Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt. “The Summit will not only provide valuable hands-on information, but it will also provide the opportunity to share candid feedback with us and examine new ways to foster small business growth and sustainability.”

“Open for Business” will offer complimentary Business Express Clinics, which are one-on-one scheduled appointments with experts in areas including law, finance and business development. An InfoExpo will provide access to information about regulatory requirements, available resources, certifications and much more. There will also be a Feedback Booth, designed to provide businesses an opportunity to share their experiences and thoughts to help Arlington improve its ability to best meet the needs of the small business community.

“Every year, BizLaunch helps hundreds of small business owners with everything from securing permits and space for their business to marketing plans and employee networks,” says Tara Palacios, director of the BizLaunch program at Arlington Economic Development. “This one-stop-shopping approach with the Summit is a way for anyone thinking of starting or expanding a small business to find answers to any questions they have and learn some valuable skills and resources along the way. I can’t think of a better way to honor our businesses during Small Business Week.”

Open for Business is sponsored by the Arlington Community Federal Credit Union. Attendance for the summit is free and open to the public. Registration is required.

The preceding post was sponsored and written by Arlington Economic Development.

by ARLnow.com — April 29, 2016 at 2:45 pm 0

Erik Gutshall and Libby Garvey debate at an Arlington Young Democrats eventThe two candidates for the Democratic Arlington County Board nomination will face off in a candidates forum on Monday, May 16.

The forum is being organized by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce. It will be held from 6-8 p.m. at the Hyatt in Rosslyn (1325 Wilson Blvd). ARLnow.com, a Chamber member, is the event’s media sponsor.

During the forum, incumbent Libby Garvey and challenger Erik Gutshall will be asked a variety of questions, with a special focus on local business.

Arlington Chamber of Commerce logo“This business-themed candidate forum will feature a moderated discussion of topics important to the Arlington business community, and will provide each candidate with the opportunity to engage with local business leaders and address the key issues for the business community,” the Chamber said. “This event will also offer attendees the chance to gain an inside look into the candidates’ views on business in Arlington County.”

(Perennial independent candidate Audrey Clement, who has qualified for the ballot again this year, has also been invited to participate.)

In a debate earlier this month, Gutshall lamented that Arlington County’s economic development efforts are “geared towards the types of businesses that are going to fill office buildings,” more so than helping small businesses. Garvey said the county is “aware that small businesses are having issues” and is holding a small business summit next week.

Meanwhile, the county’s high office vacancy rate — some 8 million square feet of office space is vacant in Arlington — remains a significant issue.

This candidate forum is open to the general public. Registration is $10. Light refreshments will be provided.

The Arlington County Democratic Committee is planning its own candidate debate from 7-9 p.m. on Wednesday, May 4. The debate will be held at GMU’s Founders Hall (3351 Fairfax Drive).

by ARLnow.com — April 12, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

2601-A Wilson Blvd (image via Google Maps)A new Caring Hands Animal Hospital location is “coming soon” to Clarendon.

The facility is currently being built out in the former Henninger Media Services space at 2601-A Wilson Blvd, behind Current Boutique. The local veterinary chain announced the new location on its website.

“Caring Hands Animal Hospital of Clarendon is an AAHA accredited veterinary practice with a state-of-the-art surgical suite, complete in-house laboratory, and a friendly and knowledgeable staff,” the company said. “With ultrasound and digital dental radiography capabilities we strive to provide the best care for you and your pet.”

Building permits for the interior construction were first issued in December.

Photo via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com — April 6, 2016 at 11:30 am 0

Screen Shot from BizBuySell.comAs a consumer, you often hear about local businesses opening or closing.

What you hear of less often are the transactions in between — like when a business is sold to a new owner — even though business sales are quite common.

We took a look through the Arlington listings of a major business broker marketplace and sure enough, there are a number of businesses you’ve heard of offered for sale.

Often the business is not named, but there are details that provide clues as to which business it may be. (Worth noting: because of the nature of an online platform like this, we can’t be 100 percent sure that all listings are up to date.)

Here are just some of the businesses that are currently listed on the site. We are only naming the business if a name or website is provided in the listing.

  1. Il Forno restaurant in Ballston. “Reason for selling: investor owned. Needs operator-owner.” Listed for $400,000.
  2. A “profitable frozen yogurt biz” in Rosslyn, located near Ben’s Chili Bowl. Listed for $145,000.
  3. A “Tex / Mexican restaurant” that “has been established for nearly 10 years” and is located in a “stand alone building with 20 parking space[s].” Listed for $299,000.
  4. A “profitable, clean, new pizza shop” located in a “small strip center on high traffic roadway.” Listed for $150,000.
  5. A “grill & diner in busy restaurant district. Gross annual income of $1.4 million. Paying $16,000 per month in rent for 2,900 square feet. Listed for $350,000.
  6. A “leading national smoothie/fresh juices franchise” in a “great location.” Listed for $149,000.
  7. The Auntie Anne’s store in the Crystal City Shops. “Possible to add coffee & franchise ice cream.” Listed for $130,000.
  8. A restaurant in Clarendon that’s located “on a main road with outside seating.” Listed for $199,000.
  9. An “absentee owned branded gas station” that’s “very profitable” with $214,000 in annual cash flow. Listed for $550,000.
  10. A “high end salon and spa” in a “busy urban-mall type setting with restaurants, shops and movie theater.” Listed for $699,000.
  11. The Fast-Fix Jewelry & Watch Repair store in the Pentagon City mall. “A very experienced staff, a built-in salary for the owner and an annual six-figure profit.” Listed for $715,000.
  12. A “currently operating restaurant with large format bar, 8000 s.f. of interior restaurant space, grand commercial kitchen, significant outdoor patio and modern, sophisticated build out in the heart of Clarendon.” Listed for $295,000.

by ARLnow.com — April 5, 2016 at 10:25 am 0

Rainbow over Wakefield High School (Photo via @WLHSIBProgram)

New Traffic Pattern on Route 1 — There’s a new traffic pattern for the lefthand turn from southbound Route 1 (Jefferson Davis Highway) to 23rd Street S. in Crystal City. The change was necessitated by operations of the new Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway. [Facebook]

Aurora Hills Library Eyed As School Site — The current Aurora Hills library and senior center is being looked at by Arlington Public Schools as a possible site for a new elementary school. Meanwhile, even though nearby Oakridge Elementary is over capacity, Superintendent Patrick Murphy says there’s actually a more pressing need for additional elementary capacity in north Arlington due to population growth around the Rosslyn-Ballston and Lee Highway corridors. [InsideNova]

Australian Company Says G’Day to Ballston — The Australian investment firm QIC has taken a 49 percent stake in Ballston Quarter, the soon-to-be-renovated shopping center currently known as Ballston Common Mall. The majority of the mall is still owned by Cleveland-based Forest City. [Washington Business Journal, Crain’s Cleveland Business]

Local Named New Jersey Cherry Blossom Princess — The 2016 New Jersey Cherry Blossom Princess is a 24-year-old Hoboken native who now lives in the D.C. area and works at Rosslyn-based CEB. [Hudson Reporter]

CEB Acquires Portland Firm — Rosslyn-based CEB is getting bigger. The company is acquiring Portland, Oregon-based Evanta Ventures for $275 million. CEB will be moving into a new namesake CEB Tower in Rosslyn after construction wraps up in 2018. [StreetInsider]

Arlington’s Top Bond Rating Affirmed — Arlington County has once again earned the highest bond rating from the three major rating agencies. “The County works hard to maintain these AAA ratings to finance critical County infrastructure projects with bonds that carry the lowest interest rates available,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. [Arlington County]

Photo via @WLHSIBProgram

by ARLnow.com — April 1, 2016 at 11:05 am 0

CD Cellar in ClarendonA coffee shop may replace the former CD Cellar in Clarendon.

A building permit application has been filed to convert the former music store at 2607 Wilson Blvd — roughly half-way between the Clarendon and Courthouse Metro stations — to a coffee shop.

The permit application doesn’t name the coffee shop, but the listed permit holder, a Courthouse resident named Andira Jabbari, recently registered the domain name Blumencafe.net, according to a Google search.

A website has yet to be set up at that domain and no other information about the coffee shop was immediately available.

CD Cellar closed in January and moved its inventory to its store in Falls Church.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt

by Mark Hand — March 30, 2016 at 9:45 am 0

NOVA Armory "owner in training" Lauren PratteA teenage girl in Arlington is banking on Americans’ love affair with guns remaining strong for years to come.

On Saturday, March 26, 16-year-old Lauren Pratte took part in the grand opening of her new retail gun store, NOVA Armory, on Pershing Drive in the Lyon Park neighborhood.

The public turned out in big numbers to check out the inventory in Pratte’s store. Officials from the National Rifle Association, headquartered in Fairfax County, and the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a pro-gun organization, also showed up to celebrate the store’s opening.

The popularity of guns in the United States has never been stronger. More Americans own guns today than ever before. The strong demand for guns is excellent news for gun retailers like Pratte. Black Friday 2015 was the single biggest gun-purchasing day ever in U.S. history, with more than 185,000 background checks processed by the FBI.

Although only 16, Pratte had long considered the idea of owning her own business and controlling how it is run. Pratte chose to open a gun store largely due to her father’s experience as a gun store owner.

“When I brought up the idea to my dad, he was really supportive and he was all for it, willing to help me open this and run it. I’m very excited about the future for this,” Pratte said in an interview with ARLnow.

NOVA Armory's Dennis Pratte with daughter Lauren PratteAt the grand opening, Pratte stood near the front door, inviting people to check out the store’s inventory. The handguns on display cost anywhere from $249 to $999, while many of the shotguns, rifles and other firearms have much higher price tags. When she wasn’t greeting people at the door, Pratte was working behind the store’s counter answering questions about the shop’s merchandise.

Because she is only 16, Dennis Pratte, Lauren’s father, holds the federal firearms sales license for the store and applied for and signed the store’s certificate of occupancy. In an interview with the Washington Post, Dennis Pratte said NOVA Armory is “a family owned and operated business — and more specifically a female, minority-owned business.” Dennis Pratte’s wife, Yong OK Pratte, is listed on paperwork as an officer for one of Pratte’s previous gun businesses.

NOVA Armory's Dennis PratteDennis Pratte told ARLnow that Lauren, a junior in high school, wants to go to law school and eventually become a corporate attorney. “What a better way to learn about business than actually start a business,” Dennis Pratte said at the store’s grand opening. “From day one, she’s filed all the paperwork, and I signed it. That’s what we thought would be a great education for her.”

Lauren emphasized she will never be working at the store by herself. She will always have her father or another licensed gun seller with her when she is working at the store.

The gun store, the first in Arlington aside from a pawn shop at the corner of Lee Highway and Kirkwood Road that sells guns, has generated controversy over the past month as nearby residents and local politicians expressed concerns about a gun retailer opening in the neighborhood.

On March 2, state lawmakers who represent Arlington, sent a letter to the landlord who is leasing the space to NOVA Armory expressing their concerns about the gun store. “We strongly encourage you to reconsider your decision to grant a lease to NOVA Armory,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

“It’s not appropriate for people, elected officials specifically, to treat legal business owners as they did,” Dennis Pratte said in the interview.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — March 29, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) Arlington County Police are investigating a break-in and theft at Japanese Auto Service, a service station located between Clarendon and Virginia Square.

The service center, at 3413 Wilson Blvd, has been in business for 19 years, according to owner Ed Lahrime. It was broken into by an unknown suspect early Sunday morning.

From an ACPD crime report:

Japanese Auto Service on Wilson Blvd (photo via http://japaneseautova.com/)“At approximately 4:51 a.m. on March 27, an unknown male subject forced entry into a business and stole several items of value and an undisclosed amount of cash. The suspect is described as a white male, wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans, and dark shoes.”

A customer provided ARLnow.com with some additional details about what happened.

“The thief took their cash register and a significant amount of money in cash and checks,” the customer told us. “The store owner was able to provide the police with video of the suspect and they are currently reviewing the footage. Poor guy looked heart broken that his business had been violated like that.”

Lahrime said that his motion detection security system didn’t go off during the break-in, for some reason, and has since been replaced by the security company. He also had to replace a broken window and his cash register. All told, the theft is costing him more than $1,500, along with some sleep and peace of mind, he said.

“I couldn’t sleep that night,” he said. “I had to put my phone [with a connection to the surveillance system] next to me to make sure he didn’t come back to rob us again.”

Police told Lahrime of a number of other recent burglaries and burglary attempts in various parts of the county, from Shirlington to Clarendon, he said. This was the first burglary at Japanese Auto Service since it opened nearly two decades ago.

“Arlington is not safe,” said Lahrime.

Tuesday afternoon Arlington County Police released multiple surveillance images of the suspect, describing him as “a white male in his mid-20’s to early 30’s, wearing dark clothing and a gray hoodie.”

“If anyone has information on the identity and/or whereabouts of this individual, please contact Detective Echenique of the Arlington County Police Department’s Burglary/Larceny Unit at 703.228.4241 or at [email protected],” police said in a press release. “To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).”

“This is an ongoing and active investigation,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

The video shows the thief returning to the scene of the crime a half hour after the initial break-in, apparently to steal some change from the floor, Lahrime added.

by ARLnow.com — March 28, 2016 at 10:45 am 0

Sweet Leaf Cafe at 800 N. Glebe Road in Ballston

Sweet Leaf Cafe has opened its second Ballston location.

The local salad, sandwich and coffee chain officially opened for business last week at 800 N. Glebe Road, which is about a 10 minute walk from its first Ballston location, at 650 N. Quincy Street.

“Ballston has a heavy lunch crowd and we believe it’s dense enough to support two stores,” co-owner Andre Matini tells ARLnow.com. “We have had a lot of positive feedback, most of our diners had not been to our location on Quincy Street. With all the development of Liberty Center and and redevelopment of Ballston Common Mall we think there is more than enough to go around.”

Sweet Leaf’s new location has been a challenging one for sit-down restaurants, which have struggled to convince diners to cross to the western side of busy Glebe Road, where high-rise Ballston meets the residential Bluemont neighborhood.

One high-profile casualty was Pizza Vinoteca, which closed after just six months. A new Cheesetique store is coming to the former Pizza Vinoteca location, and a new Total Wine store is coming to the same building.

There are also rumors of changes afoot at the Greene Turtle restaurant, just up the street at 900 N. Glebe Road.

Sweet Leaf now has six locations total, all in Northern Virginia. Its first Arlington eatery opened at 2200 Wilson Blvd in Courthouse in 2013.

Photo courtesy Sweet Leaf Cafe

by ARLnow.com — March 15, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

Ah Love Oil & Vinegar in Shirlington (photo courtesy Ah Love Oil & Vinegar)Ah Love Oil & Vinegar opened in Shirlington in 2011. At the time, many couldn’t believe that a boutique store that primarily sold olive oil and balsamic vinegar could survive.

Almost five years later, Ah Love Oil & Vinegar has not one but two stores — it expanded to the Mosaic District — and is looking to the future.

No longer defined by just two types of products, the store is changing its name.

“Today, we offer much more including kitchen tools, serveware, cocktail products, table linens, and culinary products made by local artisans,” owner Cary Kelly wrote. “Our name no longer represents the breadth of our offer.”

Through March 27, the store is conducting an online survey to help select a new name. Among the possible options:

  • The Cookery, A Culinary Marketplace
  • Edibles, A Cook’s Marketplace
  • Ah love Cooks
  • The Kitchen, A Culinary Marketplace

“We’ll continue to offer award-winning olive oil, Italian balsamic vinegar and the other products you love,” Kelly wrote. “This is a change in name only to better represent who we are to those who have not yet experienced our market of goods.”

by ARLnow.com — March 14, 2016 at 2:55 pm 0

Hard Times Cafe in Clarendon occupies one of the most iconic restaurant locations in Arlington, directly across from the Clarendon Metro station. After more than 20 years in business at 3028 Wilson Blvd, it appears that the local eatery is preparing to leave.

While Hard Times in Clarendon remains open, its 8,240 square foot space is being offered for lease. A marketing flyer says the “trophy restaurant or retail space” is “available immediately.”

The space consists of three levels, including a basement kitchen and storage area. It’s being marketed by the Maryland-based firm H&R Retail.

So far, Hard Times has not responded to a request for comment emailed to the store.

Hard Times was founded in Old Town Alexandria in 1980 and has a dozen locations around the D.C. area.

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