Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Seattle Tax Could Advantage Arlington — “It wouldn’t shock us if Amazon started encouraging more of its executives to up and move their teams to HQ2, or a neighboring city in Washington state, now that the Seattle City Council has passed a progressive tax targeting the wealthiest companies in the city.” [Washington Business Journal]

Analysis of County Board Special Election — From @A_Hendel on Twitter: “Takis Karantonis received most of his share of the vote from South Arlington… In fact, almost no precincts north of I-66 cast 50% or more of their votes for Takis.” [Twitter]

Organizations Getting Big PPP Loans in Arlington — The American Diabetes Association, tech company ByteCubed, American Service Center, Bishop O’Connell High School and the Catholic Diocese of Arlington are among the Arlington-based organizations to reportedly receive $2+ million federal Paycheck Protection Act loans. [Patch]

Another Local Tech Firm Gets PPP Help — “Amazon.com Inc. may have posted record sales during the pandemic, but many third-party sellers on the platform foundered… Some of those sellers — like the Arlington-based Amify Inc. and Etailz Inc., based in Spokane, Washington — received millions of dollars worth of help from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.” [Washington Business Journal]

Water Main Repairs Today in Bluemont — “Thursday Emergency Water Main Repairs: Crews will replace 3 valves in separate locations tomorrow in Bluemont area. Some 100 customers have been notified of potential service interruptions 8 a.m.-5 p.m.” [Twitter]

Letter: W-L Renaming Happened at a Good Time — “The Arlington School Board’s renaming of Washington-Lee High School was autocratic, manipulative, adversarial and punitive. In retrospect, though, they unwittingly did the W-L community a favor.” [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

Rep. Beyer: Stay Home This Weekend — “In the nation’s capital we finally managed to slow the spread of COVID-19. The people in our region sacrificed to make these gains, and we should do all we can to hold on to this progress. Staying home on July Fourth and avoiding large gatherings is the best way to do this. Those who go out should absolutely wear a mask, and social distance without fail.” [Press Release]

Local Unemployment Rate Improves — “The local employment picture in May crawled back slightly from the abyss of April, according to new state data, with most parts of Northern Virginia seeing modest improvements in unemployment rates. In Arlington, May’s jobless rate of 6.1 percent was a comeback from 7 percent in April, although it remains far above norms of the past decade.” [InsideNova]

Wardian Running Through Delaware — “With most major races wiped off the calendar, professional ultramarathon runner Michael Wardian was asked to run 96 miles — the length of Delaware — over the course of a month as part of a virtual charity event. ‘I was like, ‘It’s 96 miles, I’ll just do it in one day,” Wardian said.” Wardian said in an Instagram post that his route will actually take him 135 miles over the course of about 24 hours. [Delaware Online, Instagram]

Ballston Company Makes Big Donation — “Today The AES Corporation (NYSE: AES) stepped up to provide immediate relief to hundreds of families who are struggling to put food on their tables as a result of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. A $25,000 contribution… will allow [Arlington nonprofits APAH and AHC] to provide $100 grocery gift cards to a combined total of 250 low-income households in their apartment buildings. This grant is the first tranche of a $75,000 total commitment from AES to the Arlington Community Foundation.” [Press Release]

Good News on ARLnow’s InstagramArlington Community Federal Credit Union is sponsoring a month-long series of “good news” stories posted to ARLnow’s Instagram account. The innovative partnership will further ARLnow’s journalistic mission and give our Instagram followers something to feel good about near the end of each day. [Twitter]

Reminder: Road Closures Tomorrow — “Road closures are planned from 4-11 p.m. Saturday around the Air Force Memorial, Iwo Jima Memorial and Long Bridge Park. Street parking will also be restricted in the area.” [ARLnow]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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This past Saturday was a heck of a time to open a new gym.

Despite a globe-spanning pandemic keeping Arlingtonians at home, despite delays in the construction, VIDA Fitness has opened at 4040 Wilson Blvd in Ballston.

General Manager Richie Poe didn’t shy away from saying COVID-19 and other factors made opening the location — the first non-D.C. location for the high-end local fitness chain — a challenge. But he said the gym’s budding community has been supportive.

“The opening was originally challenging,” Poe said. “This is the third VIDA location I’ve opened, but this is much different. Opening the gym was challenging. We have a lot of construction delays and COVID-19. But once we were able to finally get the doors open, the members have been happy and positive.”

Part of that opening process has been regular health inspections to ensure that the gym’s equipment is properly spaced and mechanisms are in place for frequent cleaning.

“We had to have a health inspection specifically for what we’re doing in response to COVID-19,” Poe said. “We were prepared for that and had everything in place. We’re following the mask policy for indoor use, social distancing orders by putting equipment out of service. Every day we switch the out of service equipment to make sure people are 10 feet apart and we have hand sanitizer stations around the club.”

Poe said the gym follows protocols above and beyond the state requirements, like using a machine that creates a sort of disinfectant fog that cleans the dumbbells between uses. So far, Poe said that’s paid off with support from gym members.

“A member just emailed me and said she felt safe and comfortable,” Poe said. “It was really nice to hear. She commented on all the protocols in place and that she felt comfortable. Members I’ve talked to feel safe and comfortable here.”

Poe noted that VIDA Fitness offers a delay in membership to people who don’t feel coming to gyms yet but don’t want to cancel their services.

“It does affect our revenue, but because this club is brand new, we were able to modify the budget to accommodate those things,” Poe said. “We’re not making money, but hoping to continue to build the trust in the community. We want to make sure people are safe.”

Another challenge Poe said he’s facing is signage, noting with a laugh that it seemed to be one of those specific regulations Arlington County seemed very intent on enforcing. There’s very little signage outside the building directing patrons around the side to where the gym entrance is, but Poe said he’s looking into putting up sandwich boards or some other form of wayfinding reminders.

Further east, a new VIDA Rosslyn at the Highlands development is still in the works. Poe said the plan was to launch the gym later this year, but with everything that’s going on, it would not be a surprise if the Rosslyn opening date gets pushed back to 2021.

Photo via VIDA Fitness/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Candidates Support Stormwater Investment — “How it gets paid for (and by whom) perhaps is a question for another day, but the three candidates in the July 7 Arlington County Board special election voiced support for increased stormwater-management efforts. ‘We need to be making a generational investment,’ said Susan Cunningham, one of three candidates on the ballot seeking to fill the seat of the late Erik Gutshall.” [InsideNova]

Analysis of N. Arlington House Numbers — “In the ZIP code 22207, serif addresses vastly outnumber sans serif addresses, 7,759 to 2,111. Many blocks feature no sans serif houses at all, or just one or two. But in isolated pockets–individual blocks or even orange and red “hot zones” spread across a couple of streets–sans serif numbers are beginning to break through.” [Slate]

How a Local Chiropractic Practice Is Doing — “Some businesses are still trying to get adjusted to the flow of business in the new normal. ‘I would say we’re about 75% close to where we were before,’ Dr. Hooman Hamidi said. Hamidi is a chiropractor in Arlington, Va. When the global pandemic shut things down, his business slowed to a crawl.” [WUSA 9]

Galaxy Hut Staying Takeout-Only, For Now — “Based on what we’ve seen, we still don’t feel it’s the safest option to allow people to hang out at our restaurants at this time. Instead, we will be expanding our pickup hours and introducing some new yums at both Galaxy Hut and Spacebar in the coming weeks.” [Facebook]

ACPD to Report More Traffic Stop Info — “The Community Policing Act, Virginia House Bill 1250, takes effect July 1, 2020. This law requires law enforcement and State Police to collect certain information from the driver during all motor vehicle (traffic) and investigatory stops and prohibits law enforcement officers and State Police from engaging in bias-based policing.” [Arlington County]

New Laws Taking Effect Today — “Marijuana will be decriminalized, local governments will have the ability to take down Confederate monuments, and Virginians will pay more in taxes for gasoline and cigarettes starting Wednesday. July 1 is the start date for most of the new laws passed earlier this year by the General Assembly.” [Associated Press]

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Like a lot of local restaurants, it’s been a rough spring for Bun’d Up — which opened at Pentagon Row (1201 S. Joyce Street) in December — but its owner hopes warmer weather and the forthcoming delivery of speciality Asian alcoholic drinks can help turn things around.

Bun’d Up’s Scott Chung said the business is being inspected later this week for a new ABC permit that, if approved, would allow it to offer in-restaurant serving or home delivery of beer and wine.

“We’re trying to jump on board with the take-home drink trend,” Chung said. “This area allows people to drink in the courtyard and we’re hoping to do take-home delivery of alcohol as well. We’ll see how it goes, and try to expand to do more Asian-inspired drinks.”

Chung said from what he’s heard, frozen drinks have been selling really well at other local restaurants. Bun’d Up just got new ice machines and Chung said he’s hoping to start with frozen drinks to test the waters.

“We’re going to focus on Asian-inspired Korean beers and soju, and specialize in Japanese whiskeys,” Chung said.

The restaurant is still trying to figure out which distributor to use and the prices for the drinks haven’t been set in stone, but Chung said it will be comparable to other restaurants in the area.

In general, Chung said he’s hopeful alcohol sales can help boost a business that’s been hurting over the last few months of the pandemic.

“In the beginning, it was pretty rough, but we’re doing better,” Chung said. “It’s still not comparable to before all this started, but we do see some weekends better than others. I think alcohol and getting an outside presence will help.”

There are other ideas in the pipeline, but Chung said the immediate focus will be putting together food that pairs well with alcohol and drawing more attention to the outside space — assuming the good weather holds up.

“The weather has still been pretty funny,” Chung said. “We had a cold rush last week, but right now it’s hot and there’s a ton of people outside.”

Chung said he’s eagerly looking forward to the third phase of reopening.

“Once Phase 3 [of reopening] happens, the business should get a lot better,” Chung said. “Once Phase 2 hit, even before that started — when they announced Phase 2, we were busier. It took some weight off people’s shoulders that it’s getting better.”

Chung is wary of a second coronavirus wave, however, and he said that’s curbed his enthusiasm for rehiring a full staff.

“We get complaints about how long it takes sometimes to get food ready,” Chung said. “That’s probably the number one complaint we hear, but we can’t staff at earlier levels. With a potential second wave, don’t want to staff more people and then turn around and lay them off again.”

Chung said if the recovery continues, he’ll hire more staff to help speed food preparation and delivery, but for now he’s waiting out the summer to see how the virus continues to impact the community.

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Amanda Quain, social media manager for Arlington bookstore One More Page books, said the store has “the best problem” right now and one many other struggling retail locations would love to have: they are overwhelmed with orders.

The independent book store at 2200 N. Westmoreland Street in East Falls Church has been closed to public browsing since the pandemic started, but inside Quain said the shop is buzzing with staff putting together boxes and taking phone calls from customers.

While book stores nationwide are struggling, Quain said the pandemic has pushed the shop into an online shopping focus that’s changed how the business operates.

“We’re not planning on opening anytime soon,” Quain said. “We’re too small to do both online orders and letting people browse. We’ve had to get rid of a lot of fixtures and shelves that make shop feel cozy. Don’t want people to linger in the post-pandemic world. Sitting and staying a while have to go away. We hope increased online business goes to in-store after, but we also hope to maintain online sales.”

The store recently celebrated 10,000 orders.

Those online sales have created a new community around the bookstore that tries to replicate the experience of browsing and getting a recommendation, though Quain said the staff are busier than ever because that takes longer when not done in-person.

“A lot of it’s easier to do in-store, like recommending books, but that takes longer when that’s email or phone call,” Quain said. “We’re having the best problem. We’re very overwhelmed with orders and don’t have the staff to support it.”

Quain said One More Page also did a website redesign a year ago, which put the store in a good position when the pandemic started and customers started seeking out local businesses to support while social distancing.

The big sales come in waves, Quain said, and are often driven by trends.

“With a lot of the talk about antiracism and books by black authors there been a lot of those [sold],” Quain said. “Those are books like How to Be an Anti-Racist. We’ve been steadily increasing, but that was the biggest jump.”

Quain said other big-sellers have been Me and White Supremacy, Just Mercy, and Jubilee.

The pandemic has also driven the One More Page community to other products, like puzzles.

“Whenever we have puzzles on the website, those go pretty fast,” Quain said. “About a month ago we had one each of our puzzles and we auctioned them off. It was a steady price, whoever claimed it first got it. We were lucky, there no fighting, everyone was chill.”

Early on in the pandemic, Quain said the big push was for children’s books and workbooks. That intensified even more as summer vacation started. Quain said a lot of sales were driven by the Washington Post Summer Book Club for children.

“In the before-times, we would try to predict trends,” Quain said. “We don’t have as much time to do that now. It’s been more reactive than we like but it gives us a cool idea of what books people want. Some of them are books we’ve never heard of, or books we start stocking now.”

Quain said the big part of the book store’s survival has been flexibility, both for the store and trying to instill that in customers. There were frustrations early on, Quain said, when shipments that used to arrive overnight were taking a week or more to deliver.

That flexibility has also created some innovative new products at the store. One of the more popular, Quain said, is the One More Page surprise box. Customers pay $100 and answer extensive questions about their reading preferences, and staff put together a customized box based on recommendations.

Photo via One More Page Books/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Schwartz Presents New Capital Plan — “County Manager Mark Schwartz has proposed a $277.5 million one-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The County Manager, rather than proposing the traditional 10-year plan, is presenting a short-term proposal until the County better understands the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The focus of the one-year CIP is on projects that are already underway, those that improve failing or end-of-life infrastructure, and those required by legal or regulatory obligations.” [Arlington County]

Juvenile Court Reeling from Coronavirus Cases — “An outbreak of covid-19 in the clerk’s office of the Arlington County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court has forced the court to close the office to the public and has concerned lawyers who practice there daily. Four of the seven clerks in the office have tested positive for covid-19.” [Washington Post]

Small Business Grants Announced — “Arlington County today announced 394 businesses are receiving the Small Business Emergency GRANT (Giving Resiliency Assets Near Term). The GRANT program provides financial assistance to Arlington’s small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The GRANT funds were designed to bridge the gap to provide near-term relief for businesses and nonprofits, some of whom have experienced delays or limitations with federal relief initiatives.” [Arlington County, Arlington Economic Development]

Va. Not Ready for Phase 3 — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Tuesday that statewide Covid-19 numbers ‘continue to look favorable,’ but that he will not move the commonwealth into phase 3 of reopening this week. ‘I want to have more time to see how the numbers look before we make changes, especially as we see surges in other parts of our country,’ Northam said.” [Washington Business Journal, InsideNova]

Wardian to Run to Every District Taco — “This is Mike Wardian, a Guinness-World-Record winning runner, who is partnering with DT on Saturday, June 20 as he runs to ALL 12 DMV LOCATIONS (just about 60 miles)! If you see Mike on his run, snap a pic and use #whereswardian for in-app credit for a free taco!” [Twitter]

County Offers Free Trees and Tree Maintenance — “Arlington County loves trees, and knows trees are critical for our stormwater infrastructure, environmental and human health benefits, and through its Tree Canopy Fund EcoAction Arlington offers grants to plant or maintain trees on private property.” [Press Release]

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Morning Notes

Big Response to Small Biz Grant Program — “Those hit hard by the pandemic can receive help through the small business emergency grant program. More than 1,100 businesses have applied, [County Board Chair Libby] Garvey said, and at least 63% of them are owned by women or minorities. ‘With an additional $1.6 million, we can provide grants to a total of 400 businesses, more than 50% of those that… were eligible,’ Garvey said,” during her State of the County address Tuesday morning. [WTOP, Zoom]

Chamber Presents Valor Awards — Also on Tuesday, “awards were presented to honor Arlington County’s public safety personnel and first responders. Fourteen honorees were recognized for their courageous, and often lifesaving, actions in the line of duty. Leadership of all respective departments submitted nominations for the honorees, based on their performance over the past year.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce, InsideNova]

Road Closures for Grad Parades Tomorrow — “On Thursday, June 18, the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Operations Section will support Senior Graduation Parades for Wakefield High School and Washington-Liberty High School. Traffic around the schools will be impacted at the below listed times. The public can expect to see increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the surrounding neighborhoods.” [Arlington County]

CivFed Wants More Open Space — “The president of the Arlington County Civic Federation on June 13 delivered his message quietly but bluntly: The county government needs to put much more emphasis on acquiring land for parks and open space before the window of opportunity closes. Allan Gajadhar handed County Board members a Civic Federation resolution calling on the county government to better balance open-space and passive-recreation needs with facilities for sports and active recreation.” [InsideNova]

COVID Cases Among DCA Construction Workers — “Employees with 17 contractors working on Reagan National Airport’s massive capital improvement project have tested positive for Covid-19, according to a staff report issued ahead of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s upcoming board meeting… The most recent positive result was confirmed June 7.” [Washington Business Journal]

Juneteenth May Become State Holiday — “Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said Tuesday that he will support legislation to make Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery, a state holiday in Virginia. He gave executive branch state employees the day off Friday — June 19 — in recognition of the event. On that date in 1865, federal troops told enslaved people in Texas they had been freed, more than two years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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If you were hoping for Next Day Blinds, you’ll now have to wait two extra days.

The regional window covering chain, which has a showroom in the Virginia Square area, has reportedly gone out of business. Instead, visitors to its now-defunct website are being redirected to a California company called 3 Day Blinds.

“Next Day Blinds has ceased operations and permanently closed its doors,” the website says. “3 Day Blinds, with over 40 years experience in the window coverings business, has hired a number of former Next Day Blinds Sales Staff, Design Consultants, Installation Experts and Administrative personnel. We will strive to continue the tradition of providing exceptional products and services to the Greater Baltimore / Washington DC area.”

Next Day Blinds had at least nine locations in the D.C. area. The company was founded in 1993, was a prolific local television advertiser, and billed itself as one of America’s largest regional manufacturers for custom window coverings.

While no reason for the closure was given, the last post on the company’s Facebook page from early April said it was temporarily closed during the pandemic.

Dear Customers:We miss you. Please stay safe and healthy. While we are closed for now, we are continuing to support…

Posted by Next Day Blinds on Monday, April 6, 2020

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It appears that Stageplate Bistro in Ballston may have taken a final bow.

The restaurant at 900 N. Glebe Road was well reviewed but struggled to attract customers to the western side of the busy street since opening in 2017. It took a brief intermission in 2018 but reopened, before closing temporarily again earlier this year.

“We had to close to regroup to come back better than ever,” general manager Mary Marchetti said in February. ARLnow reported that Stageplate, which gets its name from its owners’ entertainment industry catering experience, was “planning for the reopening to coincide with the first day of spring on March 21.”

Then, of course, the pandemic happened.

As of last week, the Stageplate Bistro logos had been removed from the windows, and a leasing sign was up. The restaurant’s website produces an error message and its phone number has been discontinued.

The tables remained set inside, however, waiting for diners that may not get a chance to dine there again.

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(Updated at 3:30 p.m.) It seems Hair Cuttery has trimmed Courthouse from its list of locations and barbershop/salon is now closed.

The location at 2020 Wilson Blvd is now empty, with a sign in the windows saying the space is available to lease. The site is also no longer listed on the company’s index of locations.

The Hair Cuttery in Courthouse opened alongside retail shops on that block in late 2014.

The next closest Hair Cuttery is at 3307 Lee Highway, but there are still other barbershops closer in Courthouse and along Wilson Blvd.

Other Hair Cuttery locations throughout the region have closed as well while the parent company has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. As pointed out in the comments, Hair Cuttery locations in Shirlington and Crystal City have also been removed from the official list. Other Arlington locations — at Penrose Square, the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center, and 3307 Lee Highway — remain.

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