Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

New Security Measures at ANC — “Arlington National Cemetery is implementing heightened security measures after a U.S. airstrike killed a top Iranian general. The extra security will create longer lines at security checkpoints and delays… All visitors over the age of 16 will be required to show a valid state or government photo ID to enter by foot or car, Arlington National Cemetery says. Visitors aged 16 or 17 can show a school-issued ID.” [NBC 4, Twitter]

Office Building Above Rosslyn Safeway Sold — “An affiliate of The Meridian Group has paid $113.15 million for 1525 Wilson Blvd., a Rosslyn office building featuring the colorful sculpture of a dancing couple, after selling another building in the Arlington County office market last summer.” [Washington Business Journal]

Lee Highway Planning Update — “To mark the end of a year collecting ideas for the road’s ‘reimagining‘ by the nonprofit Lee Highway Alliance, its executive director, Ginger Brown, gave an update predicting that phase two — development of land-use and zoning ideas — could be ‘the most contentious.’ […] ‘Lee Highway is stuck in 1950s strip-mall zoning,’ Brown told a Dec. 19 breakfast group.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Local Shop Has Best Cheese Selection in the U.S.? — Arrowine, a long-time ARLnow sponsor, has the best wine selection in the D.C. area and possibly the best cheese selection in the country after its recent renovation, according to local restaurant reviewer Don Rockwell. [DCDining.com]

Pike Lane Closures Are Hurting Local Business — “An employee at Cinthia’s Bakery II on Columbia Pike said the restaurant is seeing a significant drop off in the number of customers and an increase in empty tables all due to the construction.” [WJLA]

Yorktown Boys Improve to 11-0 — “This is the new Yorktown basketball: Take the first available shot, press nonstop on defense, substitute in a whole new lineup every 90 seconds. It’s a strategy some other area schools have tried — Lake Braddock, most successfully — but few have perfected. And it has the Patriots, the worst team in their conference last season, undefeated at 11-0 after a dazzling 86-51 rout of Madison (6-5).” [Washington Post]

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Goodbye Mister Days, Clarendon Ballroom, Java Shack — and hello food halls, outdoor beer garden, and more restaurants than we can count.

It’s no secret that Arlington has had quite the 2019, and as 2020 gets underway, here’s some of what’s opened, what’s closed, and what’s to come in 2020. For those keeping score, Ballston appears to be the hot spot for new restaurants, in part thanks to the opening of the renovated Ballston Quarter mall.

Closing Time

Some of Arlington’s most iconic businesses closed in 2019, including:

  • Clarendon Ballroom announced it would be closing after 20 years in business, following one last New Year’s Eve bash
  • Cosi closed in Ballston.
  • A heavily-frequented Starbucks at Lee-Harrison closed in December, replaced by the county’s first drive-through Starbucks nearby.
  • Blümen Cafe abruptly closed in December, with a new cafe said to be coming soon.
  • Java Shack served its final mugs of coffee in October, but will be replaced by another coffee shop.
  • Hawaiian restaurant Hula Girl Bar and Grill closed in September.
  • The Real Housewives of Potomac-owned Oz Restaurant shuttered in June.
  • Three area Subway sandwich restaurants bit the bullet in Clarendon, Cherrydale, and Ballston.
  • Pete’s New Haven Apizza closed its Clarendon eatery in August.
  • Family Dry Cleaners on Columbia Pike shuttered in July — temporarily taking its customers clothing with it.
  • Ballston lost its Cheesetique in June (but the Shirlington location expanded).
  • Also in June, Ray’s The Steaks sizzled out, and a long line of customers showed up for its last service.
  • Fiona’s Irish Pub closed suddenly in Crystal City, later replaced by McNamara’s Irish Pub.
  • Citizen Burger Bar flipped its last patty in June.
  • On Columbia Pike, Josephine’s Italian Kitchen closed in May.
  • Rosslyn sushi bar Kona Grill rolled out in April.
  • Also in Rosslyn, Bean Good Coffee Pub brewed its last cup in April.
  • Who could forget Mister Days, which shuttered its doors in April after 40 years in business.
  • Williamsburg spot Backyard BBQ had its last cookout in February.
  • Rosslyn pizzeria Piola shut down in January.

New Faces 

Throughout the year, Arlington got everything from a fast-casual soup eatery to a healthy gelato shop:

  • Arlington welcomed its second Pupatella location, which opened on Walter Reed Drive in December.
  • Restaurant Open Road Grill and cocktail lounge Salt opened at Central Place in Rosslyn in December.
  • Happy Endings Eatery opened in Rosslyn, with some criticizing its provocative name.
  • East West Coffee and Wine opened its second location in Clarendon in December.
  • In November, a new health-focused gelato shop opened in Pentagon Row.
  • Rock-and-roll themed taco restaurant Taco Rock opened in Rosslyn in November.
  • We, The Pizza opened in Ballston with customizable pies and gelato shakes.
  • Poké it Up opened in Ballston in October.
  • The Renegade replaced Mister Days in October.
  • Arlington got its first indoor running studio in October.
  • Another fitness studio, BASH Boxing, opened in Ballston in the same month.
  • Italian restaurant Sfoglina opened in Rosslyn in October.
  • Zoup! Eatery opened in Ballston in October.
  • A new Harris Teeter opened on Columbia Pike in October, as part of the Centro development.
  • Bronson Bier Hall opened in Ballston in August.
  • South Block expanded into Rosslyn in August.
  • The cafe and Asian eatery Open Kitchen opened in Rosslyn in August.
  • Nepalese restaurant Namaste Everest touched down in Pentagon in July.
  • Sloppy Mama’s Barbeque started roasting in July on Lee Highway.
  • After some drama, The Lot beer garden opened in July.
  • Stone Hot Pizza opened in Clarendon in June.
  • Ted’s Bulletin and Sidekick Bakery welcomed customers to Ballston in June.
  • Clarendon got the three-level bar/restaurant TTT, Buena Vida, and Buena Vida Social Club over the summer.
  • Acme Pie started slicing up on Columbia Pike in June.
  • Takeshi Sushi and Ramen opened next to Delhi Dhaba in Clarendon in May.
  • All About Burger opened in Ballston Quarter in May.
  • Nearby, True Food Kitchen had its grand opening in Ballston in May as well.
  • Ballston continued to get healthy with the opening of Dirt in April.
  • Turkish and Mediterranean restaurant Maya Bistro opened on Lee Highway in April.
  • Veteran-owned Good Company cafe and donut shop Good Company opened in April.
  • Craft beer bar Rebellion on the Pike opened — surprise — on Columbia Pike in April.
  • Ballston Quarter started rolling out its first food hall options in March.
  • South Block said what’s up to Ballston Quarter in March as well.
  • Los Tios opened its doors in Crystal City in March.
  • Smoking Kow took over from Backyard BBQ in February.
  • Idido’s Coffee House and Cafe started pouring on Columbia Pike in February.
  • Thai Treasure opened in Virginia Square in February.
  • Old Dominion Pizza company opened on Lee Highway in January.

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Morning Notes

Lee Highway Merchants Profiled — “Oscar and Evelyn Bunoan are well known in the community for the amazing food they serve at their modest grocery store in Arlington, Va. – the Philippine Oriental Market & Deli. From the time it opened 42 years ago, the place is constantly busy. These days, it’s just the two of them running the store. There are long lines at lunchtime. And they get frequent calls for catered meals or large orders for birthday parties.” [Manila Mail]

APS Wants to Hire Superintendent By Spring — “Arlington School Board members say they hope to have a permanent superintendent announced by April, and will lay out steps for the community to become involved in the process in coming weeks. A series of community meetings to gather input will be held the week of Jan. 20, and an online survey also will be made available, in order to create an ‘in-depth profile’ of the qualities and skills being sought in a new education chief.” [InsideNova]

Police: Woman Threw Knife at Man — “At approximately 3:18 p.m. on December 20, police were dispatched to the report of a stabbing [on the 3100 block of 9th Road N.]. Upon arrival, it was determined that known individuals were involved in a verbal dispute when the female suspect threw a knife at the male victim, causing injury. The suspect fled the scene prior to police arrival. The victim was treated for non-life threatening injuries at an area hospital. Warrants were obtained for Malicious Wounding.” [Arlington County]

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Morning Notes

Thieves Hit Three Local Car Dealerships — A group of thieves stole a dozen cars from three car dealerships in Arlington. Some of the thefts were caught on surveillance video. In one instance, five vehicles were damaged as the thieves made their getaway. [WJLA, Arlington County]

Some Amazon Neighbors Wanted More — “Amazon.com Inc. easily won approval this weekend to start work on its first new HQ2 construction in Arlington, yet many of the company’s new neighbors remain exasperated over the benefits the community will receive… Though Amazon’s proposed investments may seem substantial, some people residing close Met Park feel that these benefits will inevitably fall short in mitigating the impacts of the construction.” [Washington Business Journal]

Spotted: Albino Squirrel — An albino squirrel was caught on video in Arlington’s Waverly Hills neighborhood. [Facebook]

Accounting Firm Touts ‘Zero-Waste’ Office in Rosslyn — “Grant Thornton LLP has consolidated its workforce in the Washington, D.C., area in the firm’s MetroDC office – its first zero-waste office in the country. The office, located at 1000 Wilson Blvd in Arlington, unites staff from other Washington-area locations and is the firm’s largest, by headcount, in the United States.” [Grant Thornton]

Nearby: Alexandria Bans Scooters from Sidewalk — The Alexandria City Council has voted to ban electronic scooters from sidewalks across the city. [ALXnow]

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No work is happening yet, but there are signs that plans to replace the Highlander Motel in Virginia Square with a new CVS store are getting closer to fruition.

A permit application was filed last month for the property at 3336 Wilson Blvd for a new building, to house CVS. Thus far no permits have been issued.

The application follows years of legal wrangling between Arlington County and local businessman Bill Bayne. In 2018 the Virginia Supreme Court cleared the way for Bayne to redevelop the 56-year-old budget hotel, after the county refused to allow him to use the parking lot behind the motel for store parking.

Bayne subsequently sued the county in federal court for alleged civil rights violations, but that suit was dismissed in October, with the judge citing Arlington County’s sovereign immunity as a reason for the dismissal.

Bayne told ARLnow that the legal fight cost him at least $250,000, if not more.

“It’s over… it is what it is,” he said.

As of Monday morning, no bookings were available online for the Highlander’s $69/night rooms past January, but Bayne told ARLnow that was an error that would be corrected; rooms could be booked past then if you call the hotel, he said.

Bayne said the hotel is planning to stay open for at least another year and there’s no set closing date, though he acknowledged that he’s continuing to pursue the redevelopment.

Bayne is also the owner and co-owner, respectively, of two other long-time local businesses: the Crystal City Restaurant gentlemen’s club and Crystal City Sports Pub, both on 23rd Street S. Changes may be on the way for the former — Bayne said he’s considering changing the name of Crystal City Restaurant to “National Landing Strip,” given the new branding for the collective Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard area in the wake of Amazon’s HQ2.

“I’ve thought about doing it… it’s certainly crossed my mind,” Bayne said of the possible name change.

The only thing keeping Bayne from changing the name, he said, is sentimentality. Bayne’s father bought the business in 1963 and renamed it “Crystal City Restaurant” from “Arlington Luncheon” to reflect what was then the new name for the neighborhood along Route 1.

Flickr pool photo (1) by Maryland Nomadic

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One of Arlington’s most successful restaurants will open its second location very soon.

The Neapolitan pizzeria Pupatella, which opened its first brick-and-mortar restaurant in Bluemont in 2010, is expected to open at 1621 S. Walter Reed Drive next week.

“This week is training,” manager Anastasiya Laufenberg told ARLnow. “We should be opening next week. The community support has been great.”

Hopefully the new location will have better luck than past businesses at that address. A string of restaurants there who quickly shuttered after opening have given the Walter Reed corner the reputation as Arlington’s restaurant “Bermuda Triangle.”

Pupatella currently has two additional locations outside of Arlington, in Richmond and Glen Allen, Virginia.

Heading into 2020, Pupatella has also announced plans to eventually open a 2,700 square foot location at 1821 Wiehle Avenue in Reston as part of a new expansion push fueled by a $3.75 million investment.

Earlier this week, the restaurant introduced two “Pizza Lovers” wines, a red Merlot/Cabernet blend and a white Pinot Grigio-Chardonnay blend, to pair with its pies.

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A new donation from Nestlé will help some low-income households in Arlington afford child care.

The food and beverage company, which recently announced an expansion of its U.S. headquarters in Rosslyn, is donating $200,000 to the Arlington Community Foundation’s child care scholarship program.

The foundation is hoping to raise $2.7 million to provide financial assistance for 200 kids over the next 5 years.

“Arlington has the highest child care costs in the region,” the foundation noted in a press release, below. “A family of four with one infant and one four-year old can spend more than $42,000 per year on child care. Yet, nearly 2,600 Arlington children under age 6 live in families whose household income is $36,000 or below.”

The average annual scholarship per child will be $13,700, ACF said.

Arlington County has launched its own initiative to support more child care options locally, including by making key zoning and regulatory changes. County Board member Katie Cristol wrote last month that there’s a shortage of childcare options in Arlington, driving up costs.

“Supply shortages were worse than we thought: Known capacity is sufficient to serve only 54% of Arlington’s children under five, despite data indicating that most Arlington children live in families where all parents work,” Cristol wrote.

More on the donation, from the Arlington Community Foundation, is below after the jump.

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(Updated at 5:45 p.m.) A new cafe and bar is now open in Clarendon.

East West Coffee and Wine” opened last week at 3101 Wilson Blvd, serving tapas, coffee, wine, and more. It joins a bevy of other coffee shops — including chain locations and indie cafes — in the Clarendon area.

According to permits, East West has a seating capacity of up to 65 inside. In warmer months, the restaurant will have seating for up to 34 guests outside.

“I’m excited to see returning customers already, and some people who showed up on Monday and Tuesday were already back on Wednesday,” owner Mehmet Coskun tells ARLnow.

Coffee selections include nitro cold brews, espresso drinks including cortados, and more. Its food menu features small-plate tapas, include muhammara, which Coskun describes as hot pepper dip made from “feta cheese, walnuts, red peppers, and garlic.” The cafe also offers a brunch menu available only on weekend mornings.

It’s the second location for East West. The first location, formerly known as Central Coffee Bar, opened two years ago in Rosslyn (1901 N. Moore Street). It rebranded recently as “East West Coffee and Wine” to match the new location.

Plans are already in the works for a third East West location, which is listed as “Coming Soon” to Tysons.

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First Lee Highway, then the world.

That’s the plan for Bob and Edith’s Diner, which just announced its intention to grow from a small regional chain to a nationwide — and perhaps international — juggernaut via franchising.

Calling the 24-hour, family-run greasy spoon “iconic” and “a favorite among celebrities, athletes, politicians and secret service officials,” Alexandria-based franchising company Fransmart says the humble B&E’s brand is “perfectly positioned for rapid growth.”

“It’s small, does high volume, and they love conversions, which keeps their opening costs down,” a retail strategist is quoted as saying, in a press release (below). “On top of that, this is a brand that should get tenant improvement allowances from landlords. It is an iconic brand that just hit four locations and is the same size as Five Guys Burgers & Fries when they started to expand.”

Five Guys, of course, started as a single location on Columbia Pike in Arlington, before expanding to more than 1,500 locations worldwide. Bob and Edith’s also started on Columbia Pike, celebrating its 50th anniversary on the Pike this year.

Before it conquers the rest of the U.S., Bob and Edith’s plans to open its new Lee Highway location this spring. It has existing locations on the Pike and in Crystal City, Springfield and Huntington.

More from the press release:

Bob & Edith’s Diner, an iconic Washington, D.C., eatery beloved by celebrities and locals alike, today announced it is now franchising with the help of Fransmart, the industry-leading franchise development company. Bob & Edith’s Diner is working with Fransmart to find experienced franchisees who will drive the concept’s next phase of growth, and introduce its beloved comfort food to new markets across North America – starting with Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina.

“With its stellar reputation and iconic status, this concept is going to go fast,” said Dan Rowe, CEO of Fransmart. “There is very little competition – and therefore huge potential – in the diner space, and Bob & Edith’s format is perfectly positioned for rapid growth.”

Famously open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Bob & Edith’s Diner has been a D.C.-area favorite since 1969, when Robert and Edith Bolton opened the doors of their first location. Originally a 10-stool counter, the diner expanded over the years in response to overwhelming consumer demand and now operates four locations throughout Arlington, Crystal City, Alexandria, and Springfield, Virginia. A fifth location is opening in Arlington in 2020. The family-run business is now owned by their son, Greg Bolton, and managed by their grandchildren, Tammy and Chris Bolton.

“We want to make sure that each customer feels welcomed – that’s why we have so many regulars who have been coming here since 1970. And who doesn’t want breakfast all day?” said Bob & Edith’s Diner Owner Gregory Bolton. “Building on a strong, 50-year reputation, we believe Bob & Edith’s can be successful anywhere in the world. We are confident that Fransmart will be a strategic partner in helping us find highly motivated franchisees who share our passion for good food, and will help us expand into new markets.”

No stranger to high-profile guests walking through its doors, Bob & Edith’s Diner is also a favorite among celebrities, athletes, politicians and secret service officials. The concept has already grabbed the interest of brokerages, including Retail Strategist Lee Engle at CBRE.

“This is the perfect tenant right now – it’s small, does high volume, and they love conversions, which keeps their opening costs down,” Engle said. “On top of that, this is a brand that should get tenant improvement allowances from landlords. It is an iconic brand that just hit four locations and is the same size as Five Guys Burgers & Fries when they started to expand.”

To learn more about Bob & Edith’s Diner franchising opportunities, please visit fransmart.com/Bob&EdithsInquiry.

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Morning Notes

Arlington Loves Tito’s — The top-grossing liquor brand at Virginia ABC stores in Arlington, and most of Northern Virginia, is Tito’s Handmade Vodka. [Virginia Mercury]

More on Lee Highway Planning Process — “In the new year, the professional team will begin guiding the community in laying out a plan for the [Lee Highway] corridor’s next 30 years. Arlington is known for extensive and very slow community engagement, and the planning process will probably take at least two more years. The push for a more progressive, inclusive, sustainable US Route 29 must be perseverant.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Local ‘Passport’ for Small Biz Saturday — “One Page Books is partnering with thirteen other local businesses for Small Business Saturday. Pick up a Small Business Saturday Shopping ‘Passport‘ at any of the participating businesses, including Covet, Two the Moon, Lemon Lane and Trade Roots.” [WAMU]

Reminder: Mall Hours and Promotions — Arlington’s two malls have special Black Friday hours and promotions today. [ARLnow]

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Restaurant owners, residents, and advisory group members alike are demanding that an upcoming residential development in Crystal City includes more customer parking for the 23rd Street “Restaurant Row.”

At an unusually heated Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) meeting Monday night, a representative from Crystal Houses developer Roseland Residential Trust outlined its plans for “Crystal House 5,” one of the new residential buildings proposed to be added to the existing apartment complex on the 1900 block of S. Eads Street.

The latest iteration of the development plan has been revised upward — with 819 new residential units planned, up from 798 previously. In addition to four new apartment buildings, Roseland is proposing three groups of townhouses.

Monday’s meeting, however, focused on the contentious issue of parking. Currently, Crystal House 5 is set to build over a Roseland-owned surface lot with 95 pay-to-park spaces.

Per use permit conditions, Roseland reserves 35 of those spaces exclusively for customers and employees of the businesses along 23rd Street S. — aka Restaurant Row.

Roseland plans to build a parking garage beneath the building, along with a small surface lot, with a total of 96 spaces. It is offering to reserve 35 of those spaces — 14 surface and 21 in the garage — for Restaurant Row owners and customers, with the remaining 60 for tenant use only.

However, because all 95 spaces in the current lot are open for public use, business owners argue this will result in a net loss of parking for them. Especially outspoken about this is Stratis Voutsas, who manages a trust that owns several of the buildings along 23rd Street.

Voutsas, along with a few other Restaurant Row business owners, wore matching shirts that said “Keep 23rd Street Weird, Eclectic & Uniquely Authentic, Support Parking For Your Local Business.” Voutsas has also started a petition, which he claims has over 3,000 signatures, emphasizing that the county’s Crystal City Sector Plan envisions the preservation of Restaurant Row.

“At Restaurant Row (500 block of 23rd Street), the plan visualizes preserving and retaining small, neighborhood oriented retailers,” the plan says. “Should redevelopment occur in this area, such retailers should be accommodated, to help support active streetscapes.”

Local restaurateur Freddie Lutz, who owns Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant and Federico Ristorante Italiano, told ARLnow he was promised by a county staff member 35 years ago that parking would be protected.

“When me and [business partner] Ted Sachs were standing on the surface parking lot 35 years ago, someone from the county said to us, if anyone builds on this parking lot they will have to provide parking for 23rd Street Restaurant Row,” Lutz said. “Live and learn, I should have stuck my hand up and asked, ‘Can we have that in writing?'”

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