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Original Bob and Edith’s Diner on Columbia Pike Listed for Sale

The building that’s been home to the original Bob and Edith’s Diner for the last 50 years is now listed for sale.

The real estate and development firm BM Smith is advertising the diner, located at 2310 Columbia Pike, for sale with an asking price of $2.5 million. Yet what that means for the restaurant chain, which operates four locations around Northern Virginia, remains unclear.

An attorney for Greg Bolton, the owner of Bob and Edith’s, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did the listing agent for the property at BM Smith.

The Bolton family opened the chain at the Columbia Pike location back in 1969, though county records show that a company controlled by BM Smith — the owner of a variety of other South Arlington properties — took over ownership of the location in 2015.

The chain opened two new locations that same year, and even acquired Linda’s Cafe along Lee Highway this year with plans to eventually expand there as well.

Jonathan Reed, a local realtor, first drew attention to the Bob and Edith’s listing when he shared BM Smith’s posting on his own website this week. As a longtime Arlington resident, he told ARLnow he was “shocked” to see the space listed on an internal database for realtors, and has even since directed two potential buyers to BM Smith since sharing the post.

Based on Reed’s examination of the listing, he believes Bob and Edith’s has a “four-year term” left on its current lease, and could opt to renew the lease for another term. Accordingly, he isn’t so sure that the building being listed for sale necessarily means the restaurant is on the move, though it certainly could be.

“It doesn’t seem like they’re closing or leaving, it could be that they opted not to buy the place,” Reed said. “Of course, there could be someone that buys it that doesn’t want to continue their lease… but whoever buys it will have to contend with the lease that’s already there.”

Photo via Google Maps

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Ballston Quarter Delays Opening to Late October

The developer behind Ballston Quarter is now promising a grand opening late next month, a minor departure from the September date originally targeted for the revamped Ballston Common Mall to begin welcoming customers once more.

Forest City is now targeting Oct. 25 for the development to open its doors “barring any unforeseen delays,” Forest City Regional Director of Marketing Jill Fredrick told ARLnow, via a PR rep. The bevy of restaurants and retailers set to call Ballston Quarter home won’t open all at once, but on a “rolling basis” over the next nine months, Fredrick added.

The overhauled mall has been in the works for years now, as Forest City has sought to refresh the aging structure with a mix of retail, office and residential space. But the exact timetable for its completion has been difficult to pin down, with the developer reporting some construction delays to county officials over the past few months.

“You’ve got to look at the magnitude of this project — it only slipped a month,” said Ballston Business Improvement District CEO Tina Leone. “Of course, we would’ve loved to have had a huge grand opening, but at least they’re opening.”

Leone and county leaders alike view the development as a critical one as Ballston continues to become an ever-more-urban section of Arlington — as she puts it, it will help transform Wilson Blvd into a “truly a retail street” and the neighborhood as a whole into “an 18-hour community.”

Yet the massive amount of construction required for the project, running in tandem with a host of other major Ballston developments, has snarled traffic in the area and forced visitors to the businesses that have remained open in the mall to wind through a confusing maze of scaffolding and tarps. Accordingly, Leone is quite anxious to see things start to wrap up on the site.

“There will be a critical mass of things starting to open in the fall, and then by the spring, end of the second quarter, it’s going to be up and rolling,” Leone said.

By the Oct. 25 opening, Fredrick expects that the mall’s “public areas will be fully open and accessible to the public, including vertical transportation elements like the escalators and elevators.” Leone says that will include clear ground-floor entrances along both Wilson and N. Glebe Road, as well as some big improvements to the mall’s parking garage.

“The elevator banks are going to match up with the floors in Ballston Quarter, instead of having to go up and down the stairs, and there will be more escalators,” Leone said. “It’s going to be more open, so you can actually see where you’re going and where the parking garage is. The connectivity is going to be much better. It couldn’t have gotten much worse, right?”

She added that sidewalks along Wilson will also be wider for people walking to the mall by the time it opens, which will help the development accommodate outdoor seating for a variety of its restaurants. The County Board is set to give the go-ahead for the new patios to open next week, when it could grant permits to establishments including Compass Coffee, South Block, Ted’s Bulletin, True Food Kitchen, Union Kitchen and Bartaco.

Leone also noted that the CVS pharmacy, which has remained open during the construction, will be accessible from both the Glebe and Wilson sides of the mall. And for fast food fans, she fully expects that the reopened Chick-fil-A will start serving customers by the time development opens.

Inside the mall itself, Leone hopes that the “wayfinding is going to be very, very clear” to help shoppers navigate the new space. Fredrick says construction will be ongoing even after the development opens, but she expects it will be “limited to the interior of tenants’ space and will not interfere with overall public access.”

Crucially, Leone says the new “plaza” at the center of the development should be open by the time fall rolls around, and she hopes to start working with Forest City to schedule activities and events in the space through the winter and spring.

One feature the area will be missing, however, is are the “large media screens” the developer originally proposed for the plaza. Attorney Evan Pritchard says the developer had hoped installing two LED screens there would “be an interactive and fun element to help activate the plaza,” but has since determined that they might not be allowed under county zoning rules.

Forest City is asking the Board to drop its request for the screens at its meeting Saturday (Sept. 22), though Pritchard expects to pursue a change to the county’s zoning ordinance to allow them in the future.

“We hope to have Board support on that,” he said.

With or without the screens, Leone hopes the plaza will be a natural “entrance into the market area,” a 25,000-square-foot food court home to 18 restaurants. She expects that will open by November, as will Punch Bowl Social, a bar offering a bevy of games and entertainment options.

As for the rest of the offerings at Ballston Quarter, Leone hopes to see everything open by spring 2019. But half the battle will be the mall finalizing tenants for its remaining open space — Fredrick said three quarters of the development is already leased, with “additional deals in the works.”

“It’s just a matter of getting everyone into their spaces,” Leone said.

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New Domino’s Could Be on the Way for Ballston

A new Domino’s Pizza location could soon be on the way for Ballston.

The County Board is set to sign off this weekend on a use permit for the pizza chain to open up a new shop at 550 N. Quincy Street. The location is adjacent to a Jimmy John’s, just near the Founders Square development.

According to a staff report prepared for the Board, the new Domino’s will offer delivery for “the north and central Arlington areas including the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor.” The location would become the chain’s fourth store in the county.

Staff is recommending that the Board require the pizza purveyor to “implement a delivery and driver safety plan” before opening its doors, and stipulate that Domino’s delivery drivers can only park in the surface lot behind the building instead of on the street. The restaurant would be allowed to have four drivers working at any one time, according to proposed terms of the permit.

The Board will vote on the permit at its meeting Saturday (Sept. 22) as part of its consent agenda, a slew of noncontroversial items generally approved all at once.

Photo via Arlington County

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Yong Kang Street Starts Cooking in Pentagon City Mall

Yong Kang Street, a long awaited dumpling and noodle restaurant, is open for business in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall.

The restaurant features a mix of flavors from Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. The restaurant is named after a street in Taiwan famous for its restaurants and street food.

Yong Kang Street is located between Garrett Popcorn and Haagen-Dazs. The restaurant is open 10 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Courtesy photo

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Lee Highway Taco Bell Shuts Down Ahead of Full Renovation

The Taco Bell on Lee Highway will be out of commission for the next few months, as its owners tear down the existing store and replace it with a new one.

The fast food restaurant, located at 4923 Lee Highway near Yorktown, shut down last week and construction tape now blocks off its drive-through lane. The eatery will remain closed for the next three to four months, general contractor Steve Taylor told ARLnow.

Taylor said the exact timeline for the project will depend on the weather in the coming weeks, but current plans call for the old restaurant to be demolished and completely replaced.

County records show its owner, the Ionedes Family Corporation, received the necessary permit approvals for much of the project in April.

The records also show that the current restaurant was built back in 1993.

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Top Chef Star’s ‘Le Kon’ Restaurant Opens in Clarendon

A new Mexican-Japanese fusion restaurant backed by a former “Top Chef” star is open for business in Clarendon.

Le Kon started serving up food on Sunday (Sept. 1) at a space located at 3227 Washington Blvd, according to spokeswoman Wendy Gordon. The restaurant replaces the short-lived Park Lane Tavern on the ground floor of the Beacon at Clarendon apartment building.

The eatery will be the first D.C. location for chef Katsuji Tanabe, who appeared on the Bravo program back in 2014 and has since opened restaurants in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.

Its menu promises seafood-themed small plates, taco platters and entrees from a “Sonora-style grill.”

Gordon says Le Kon will start serving brunch this Sunday (and will eventually offer it on both days of the weekend), and is offering happy hour deals from 3:30 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

The restaurant has space for around 200 seats, and will offer an outdoor patio as well.

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New Gym Hoping to Move into American Tap Room Space in Clarendon

A boutique fitness studio could soon move into the space once occupied by the American Tap Room in Clarendon.

A gym branded as “FootFire” is applying for a use permit to open in a 49,200-square-foot space adjacent to an office building at 3101 Wilson Blvd, according to documents filed with the county on July 17.

Located just across from the Clarendon Metro station, the space has sat empty since the American Tap Room closed its doors in 2016. The restaurant had struggled for years with noise complaints from neighbors and the area’s high rent prices.

Lawyers for Christopher Hoffman, the gym’s owner, wrote in a permit application that the new fitness studio “will be a member-based running, training, recovery and education center focusing on the complete training experience for runners and other endurance athletes of all fitness levels.”

The attorneys added that the gym will offer both indoor and outdoor running classes, including “treadmill-based courses, group outdoor running exercises, indoor weight training, yoga and stretching courses.” Plans sketched out for the facility also call for a juice bar and daycare area.

The County Board is set to consider the permit request at its first meeting of the fall on Sept. 22.

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‘Erasian’ Restaurant Could Be on the Way for Virginia Square

A new bar and restaurant could be on the way for an office building along Fairfax Drive in Virginia Square.

Records show that a restaurant dubbed “Erasian” is applying for a license to serve wine, beer and mixed drinks in a space at 3811 Fairfax Drive.

Representatives with the company backing the venture, ABR LLC, didn’t respond to requests for comment on their plans for the restaurant. But the permit application, filed on Aug. 14, shows that the proposed restaurant would have space for anywhere from 101 to 150 people.

The office building is also home to a Tropical Smoothie Cafe, and was once the home of Water & Wall, a restaurant backed by chef Tim Ma that closed last year.

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Cassatt’s Hasn’t Been Operating, Fueling Fears About Its Future

Just a few weeks after new owners took over, Cassatt’s Kiwi Cafe and Gallery has suddenly stopped serving customers these last few days.

As of this afternoon (Friday) a sign posted on the door of the New Zealand-themed eatery (4536 Lee Highway) informed visitors that the restaurant is closed, even though its posted hours would indicate it should be open. A tipster told ARLnow that the restaurant was similarly shuttered yesterday (Thursday), fearing its long-term future.

Longtime owner Art Hauptmann, who opened Cassatt’s 16 years ago, recently sold the restaurant to a pair of new owners: Mario and Marco Jelencovich. While the pair’s family has worked on other restaurants in the D.C. area before, Hauptmann previously said he was unsure of their plans for the eatery, though he hoped they’d keep the business going as usual.

The Jelencoviches haven’t responded to repeated requests for comment about Cassatt’s future, and no one answered the phone at the restaurant Friday.

County permit records show that Mario Jelencovich has successfully won a business license for the establishment, and had it inspected by the county recently, though they offer few other details.

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Williamsburg Frozen Yogurt Shop Changes Hands

Williamsburg frozen yogurt shop Zinga is now under new management, though loyal customers shouldn’t expect to see too many changes.

The store, located in the Williamsburg Shopping Center at 2914 N. Sycamore Street, will now be operated by Yobe, a Louisiana-based frozen yogurt chain. One of its new managers, Brittany Uribe, told ARLnow that the Williamsburg location will retain the Zinga name, however.

“Everyone was happy with the way it is, so why change it?” she said.

Zinga, which operates half a dozen other shops around Northern Virginia, first opened the Arlington location in 2013. But Uribe says its owners wanted to get out of the business, and sold their stake to Yobe instead.

She doesn’t plan to change much about the shop itself, other than adding a few new flavors; cookie dough is first on her list.

Uribe also hopes to start offering a few new specials to lure customers in, like offering yogurt for half-off after 6 p.m. and charging a flat fee for cups (no weigh-in required) on Wednesdays.

Photo via Facebook

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Arlington Officials Hail the Arrival of Small Business SyLearn as a Modest, Yet Meaningful, Win

While most ribbon cuttings for new businesses around Arlington tend to be full of pomp and circumstance, SyLearn’s grand opening in a modest Virginia Square office building Wednesday was a family affair.

CEO Jay Chandok, who helped found the new IT training company, busily urged guests to help themselves to a full buffet, as the daughters of Chandok and other staff members snapped pictures of new arrivals with iPhones. One made sure to introduce each visitor to one of her dolls, which she’d given a Hawaiian name: Leilani.

The event, much like SyLearn itself, was relatively small in scale. But Arlington officials say arrival of such businesses in the county is just as important as some of the bigger names economic development staffers are focused on these days.

“People think that they spend all their time on the Amazons and Nestles of the world, and while those are certainly important, this is really the bulk of what they do,” County Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey told ARLnow. “It’s these small businesses that we hope will become big businesses someday.”

Chandok says the county indeed helped connect him with real estate brokers as he searched for a home for his new business, which was born out of another, similar program he worked on in Arlington.

He landed on a suite in an office building at 3330 Washington Blvd. It sits just behind George Mason University’s Arlington campus, but a bit off the beaten path of the bustling Rosslyn-Ballston corridor — Dorsey expects that certainly helped “lower the cost of entry a bit.”

Chandok hopes to eventually start hosting as many as 200 students each year in the space, with a pool of eight instructors to help them earn certifications on the latest software, or even make a career change and embrace IT.

“We’re looking to help people who aren’t going through four-year institutions, and we’re not bound by the same red tape as they are,” Chandok said. “We can help career changers, or career upgraders. Anyone who’s looking to test the waters and see what else is out there.”

With a legion of federal agencies, not to mention contractors, nearby, Chandok surely won’t lack potential customers. Dorsey also hopes that the county’s school system will consistently “provide a pipeline of talented students” interested in IT, noting that “we can only do so much” when it comes to career education.

Board member Libby Garvey, a longtime School Board member herself, also pointed out that SyLearn could be a perfect fit for the many veterans in Arlington, should they want to build on the tech training they received in the military.

“They have incredible talent that we need to tap into,” Garvey said.

With that sort of pool of would-be students available, Dorsey expects to be attending another ribbon cutting for SyLearn sooner, rather than later.

“As he grows, I want you to find him a bigger space,” he implored the economic development staff in attendance.

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Free Ride-Sharing Service Sprynt Isn’t Operating

The free ride-hailing service Sprynt is not currently operating and it’s unclear why.

As of this morning (Thursday), Sprynt’s app warns prospective riders that the service is “not currently operating” and “normal operating hours today are closed.”

Similar notices have appeared in the app dating back to last week, and a tipster told ARLnow last Friday (Aug. 17) that the service hadn’t been operating for at least a week. The service offers free rides within set boundaries in Arlington, largely along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.

Since launching last June, Sprynt has paused its service once before, from last December through April, when it resumed with an expanded service area. CEO Alex Villanueva did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the service’s current status.

The company’s website remains active, but doesn’t have any additional information on the service’s status. Sprynt’s Facebook and Twitter accounts both now seem to be inactive.

Photo via Facebook

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Arlington Companies Listed Among Fastest Growing in U.S.

A new ranking of the fastest growing privately-held companies in the United States by Inc. magazine includes 34 Arlington-based businesses.

The Arlington companies operate in fields like IT management, government services and engineering, and grew by percents ranging from 59 to 2,573.

Indev, a government services company with a focus on the transportation sector, grew 2,418 percent to be the second-highest ranked Arlington company on the list of 5,000, coming in at 178th overall.

“I’d say our success is really based upon being really focused as a small business,” said Brett Albro, a partner at the company. “We knew the transportation market was going to be our market… [and] we were really true to our strategy.”

See all of the Arlington companies to make the list below:

167. Stealth-ISS Group

178. Indev

183. ByteCubed

239. Capitol Bridge

376. Strategic Alliance Business Group

435. Sehlke Consulting

677. GreenZone Solutions

768. AM

772. Green Powered Technology

793. The Fila Group

865. Changeis

948. MJ Seats

1061. GRIMM

1253. Mobile Posse

1289. Enterprise Knowledge

1307. SecureStrux

1383. IDS International Government Services

1556. Metis Solutions

1704. 540.co

1708. Higher Logic

1812. NEOSTEK

1891. ThreatConnect

2024. Fonteva

2032. OpenWater Software

2090. infoLock Technologies

2302. Global Defense

3273. DRT Strategies

3381. Toffler Associates

3613. Qmulos

3706. Fors Marsh Group

3795. Segue Technologies

4232. RSDCGROUP

4782. Humanproof

4975. Storyblocks

Photo via Facebook

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ABC Officials, Lawmakers Pitch Reforms to Arlington Businesses

Virginia lawmakers are considering loosening some state alcohol regulations in the coming months — and that could be good news for Arlington’s bars and restaurants.

The General Assembly is weighing a bevy of changes to how the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control authority, commonly known as the ABC, hands out licenses and permits to better match the ever-evolving beverage business.

Changes could include a big reduction in the types of permits the ABC hands out, or perhaps even a change in regulations dictating how much food businesses need to sell if they’re also offering liquor. All that and more were tweaks offered up by ABC officials and state lawmakers to local business owners at a gathering hosted by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce Thursday (Aug. 16), as part of a bid to connect the business community to its regulators.

“We’re trying to look for a concept that does free up the market a little bit, without getting to the point that we have bars on every corner,” said Tom Kirby, ABC’s acting chief of law enforcement.

A particularly popular option offered up by Kirby and his colleagues: somehow adjusting ABC’s current requirement that businesses maintain a 45 percent to 55 percent split between food and mixed drink sales. Beer and wine sales are exempted from that requirement, yet some bars and restaurants still find themselves challenged by that standard.

Freddie Lutz, owner of Freddie’s Beach Bar in Crystal City, recounted that he’s had several slow winters where he’s bumped up against those limits, largely thanks to competition from bars in D.C. and Maryland. Accordingly, he’d be quite happy indeed to see those limits change, particularly as he prepares to open another restaurant in Crystal City.

“I just want to see that ratio tweaked just enough to not get gray hair over it,” Lutz said.

To that end, Kirby said his agency could work with lawmakers to bump the food standard down to 35 percent of gross sales, or even offer exemptions at certain levels of sales.

State Sen. Jeremy McPike, D-29th District, currently sits on a subcommittee examining ABC issues, which he says is weighing even more targeted fixes. For instance, lawmakers could measure how much liquor bars sell by volume to determine a balance between food and drink, instead of looking at the dollar amount of sales.

The goal of the limit in the first place is, after all, to prevent bar patrons from being overserved.

“What if you have a higher-priced shot that costs like $150?” McPike said. “Think about how much you need to sell to make up for that.”

ABC officials stressed that such a change would in the agency’s interest as well — Chris Curtis, secretary to the ABC’s board, noted its employees spend roughly “10,400 man hours” each year monitoring whether restaurants are complying with the food-drink split.

“But I’m sure that pales in comparison to the amount of time you all have to spend sending us this information,” Curtis said.

Another possible change the ABC could consider is issuing a new type of permit to let bar patrons bring their beverages outside into a common area shared by multiple businesses. McPike suggested that local governments, or even business improvement districts, could manage the process, allowing for more events drawing in a variety of restaurants in a small area.

Kate Bates, the chamber’s president and CEO, noted that Rosslyn businesses have long hoped to offer events pulling in all the neighborhood’s different bars, but have run into challenges letting people easily move between different establishments if they’re too far away from each.

Similarly, Cassie Hurley, events manager for the Crystal City BID, suggested that her group “would love to do something similar to 6th Street in Austin, [Texas] on 23rd Street” to let people bring their drinks into stores along the small strip.

Kirby says ABC is receptive to the idea, though he did caution that inevitably there will be enforcement issues to consider, considering that revelers could easily get carried away and leave the permitted boundaries for such activities.

Complicating matters further are the political realities of Richmond — the needs of Northern Virginia businesses are quite different from those in Southwest Virginia, where, as McPike pointed out, there are still some dry counties left.

Progress could certainly be slow in some areas, as lawmakers will only meet for a short legislative session next year with more elections on the way. And, as Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-30th District, noted “it’s rare that we rewrite whole code sections all at the same time.”

But Kirby underscored that ABC is willing to work with lawmakers to ensure everyone is a bit more satisfied with the entire regulatory framework.

“There is a lot of agreement that we need to do something differently,” Kirby said.

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Longtime Lee Highway Restaurant Cassatt’s Changes Hands

Cassatt’s Kiwi Cafe and Gallery is now under new management, after opening 16 years ago along Lee Highway.

Longtime owner Art Hauptman told ARLnow that he sold the New Zealand-themed eatery, located at 4536 Lee Highway, about a month ago to a father-son duo.

Hauptman declined to offer many details about the sale, other than saying he felt it was “just the right time to sell to somebody that will take care of it and keep it going.”

“I thought I needed to take a break and I handed it over to people with a lot of experience in the restaurant business,” Hauptman said. “They seem committed to keeping the Cassatt’s concept going.”

Hauptman says he met the new owners, Mario and Marco Jelencovich, shortly after he closed his other restaurant in Arlington: the Bistro 360 wine bar in Rosslyn.

A third member of the Jelencovich family, Michael, approached Hauptman about setting up a “pop-up” bar at the space on Wilson Blvd in late May. “Parlay” temporarily took over the location, with the D.C. bar briefly hosting some World Cup watch parties at the location.

Though that partnership was only temporary, Hauptman says he quickly thought of the Jelencoviches when he decided to move on from Cassatt’s. He hopes that the new owners will largely “keep [Cassatt’s] the way that it’s been” over the years, and even help build up the restaurant’s dinner business a bit more, though he’s not sure of their exact plans.

The Jelencoviches didn’t respond to calls or emails seeking comment on what they plan to do with the restaurant, though it’s remained open as usual since the transition. However, it seems the new owners have cancelled all scheduled live performances, according to an email from local group “Kitchen Gorilla” to its fans that was forwarded to ARLnow.

Overall, Hauptman says it’s bittersweet to leave behind a business he cared so much about, but he has no regrets about what he accomplished at the restaurant.

“I’m very proud of what we did at Cassatt’s, proud how it became a community institution,” Hauptman said. “I hope it stays that way.”

Photo 2 via Google Maps

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