Fourth High School Option Floated — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Murphy has added a fourth option for adding additional high school seats to the three finalists announced last month. Murphy said the existing Arlington Education Center near Washington-Lee could be used to house 600 students while adding another 700 seats in an expansion of the Arlington Career Center. [InsideNova]
World of Beer Sues Local Owner — Just a week after it was first reported that the owner of the World of Beer franchises in Ballston, Reston and Fairfax was rebranding the restaurants as “Crafthouse,” comes word that the World of Beer corporate office is suing him for allegedly violating their franchise agreement. [Reston Now]
VideoBlocks Moving to Courthouse — After announcing last year that the company would be moving to Arlington, subscription stock video service VideoBlocks has settled on a location: a full floor of Courthouse Tower at 1515 N. Courthouse Road. [Washington Business Journal]
County Board To Discuss Taxi Changes – After a vote on Saturday, the Arlington County Board will hold a public hearing next month to discuss proposed changes to the county’s taxicab ordinance. The changes, recommended by the county’s Transportation Commission, would allow the removal of lights from the vehicle’s roof, modifications to cabs’ color and lettering, and use of GPS metering instead of traditional taxi meters. [Arlington County]
How Rosslyn Landed Nestlé — It was a team effort to land Nestlé as the anchor tenant of the 1812 N. Moore Street tower in Rosslyn, says the head of the Rosslyn Business Improvement Districts. In the end, Rosslyn’s urban amenities, the area’s talented millennial workforce and a handful of state and local incentives helped to “sweeten the deal.” [LinkedIn]
Flickr pool photo by Arlington VA
Almost 200 people gathered May 2 for the awards, which are presented to area businesses for their customer service, industry leadership, growth or stability over the lifetime of their business and interest in the success of the Arlington community.
This year’s winners, by category, were:
CNA – 2017 Business of the Year
Hyatt Centric Arlington – 2017 Business of the Year
Beach Geeks, Inc. – 2017 Technology Small Business of the Year
Current Boutique – 2017 Retail Small Business of the Year
Child Care Aware of America – 2017 Nonprofit of the Year
Wolcott Hill Group – 2017 Home-Based Business of the Year
Clarendon Animal Care – 2017 Service Small Business of the Year
“Our community depends upon the businesses that go above and beyond for clients, employees, and the community, and these seven businesses exemplify that kind of dedication,” said Chamber president & CEO Kate Bates in a statement. “We are proud to present this year’s winners with these well-deserved awards and thank all of them for their continued investment in Arlington.”
The Chamber also inducted John Milliken and Richard Doud, Jr. into the Arlington Business Hall of Fame, which honors men and women who have demonstrated a long record of successful management, expertise, and business skills. Milliken is a former County Board member, while Doud served as Chamber president for 23 years.
“John and Rich are the true definition of what it means to be an Arlington legacy,” Bates said. “Their many important accomplishments and efforts to support and advocate on behalf of local business have helped make Arlington the place it is today. It is an honor to induct both of these outstanding community leaders into the Arlington Business Hall of Fame.”
Photos via Arlington Chamber of Commerce
Saved from closure by a new owner, House of Steep on Lee Highway is now in the process of adding new ways for its customers to relax.
The Cherrydale business at 3800 Lee Highway had been set to close late last year, after founder and previous owner Lyndsey DePalma suggested it was not making enough money.
But it was bought by long-time customer Patrick Vaughan and reopened in January, and now Vaughan is looking to bring some new ideas.
The tea house and “foot sanctuary” will soon offer wine to customers, after filing a license application with Virginia ABC. Vaughan said that new innovation could help turn House of Steep into more of a wine bar in the evenings.
“I envision people having a glass of wine while doing a sit and soak essentially, or getting a foot massage,” he said. “The theme of the place is relaxation, so to me I know a lot of people consider a glass of wine at the end of the day the ultimate relaxation.”
Vaughan said he also hopes to expand walk-in availability for House of Steep’s reflexology and massage services. Previously, he said, customers would have to schedule an appointment 24 hours in advance, but Vaughan said he wants to have a system where people can be seen straight away or an hour or two later.
House of Steep’s community outreach is also set to be expanded. Vaughan, a trail and ultra-marathon runner, said he has already partnered with the charity D.C. Capital Striders to host a weekly run from the store. He has other plans too.
“We’ve been proactively inviting community groups to host their meetings in the space or holding wellness seminars or doing open mic nights,” Vaughan said. “We’re definitely trying to create a little bit more of a community environment space for people to use throughout the day and evening.”
Long-time Virginia Square outdoor retailer Casual Adventure is still open, but will close once its spring stock has sold out.
The 61-year-old store at 3451 Washington Blvd announced its closure last month. After the announcement, the retailer kicked off its “End of an Era Sale,” featuring up to 50 percent off any remaining outdoor, tactical and sporting goods in stock.
Store owner Eric Stern said Casual Adventure has received two final deliveries of spring merchandise, which is being sold at reduced prices. Once everything is sold, the store will close, he said.
“We’ve definitely got a good selection, and we’re just blowing it out at this point,” he told ARLnow.com.
Stern said there is still no firm closing date, and there is significant “wiggle room” on when it needs to vacate the premises. Stern said he is looking to host regular Andrew Towne on Memorial Day weekend for a talk on his latest attempt to summit Mount Everest, and said Casual Adventure will continue supporting various community projects.
“It’s nice as we transition out of here that we can take care of our customers,” he said.
The Washington Business Journal reported that the store’s new owner is 1404 Hancock Street Investment LLC, a company registered to local custom home builder BCN Homes. As yet, no building or demolition permit applications have been filed with the county.
Casual Adventure already has an online store set up through Amazon, and Stern said it is actively looking for a new location for its store, but that there is “no rush.”
Ten years after it began in Clarendon, the Current Boutique consignment clothing shop is beginning a new chapter as it launches a new website.
The boutique, which owner Carmen Lopez first opened at 2601 Wilson Blvd in 2007 before expanding to Alexandria, D.C. and Bethesda, intends for its new website to allow women to consign clothes from their homes anywhere in the U.S.
From a press release announcing the new platform:
The new online website will give consigners anywhere in the U.S. the opportunity to consign with Current Boutique. Targeting the market of modern working women between the age of 24-45 with active social calendars that have quality contemporary designer goods to sell, but their garments don’t fit in the realm of qualifying for fashion sites like The Real Real (focused on luxury consignment, or Thread Up (geared toward bargain thrift consignment), consigners can pop their items in a box, drop it in the mail using the prepaid shipping label and the boutique will handle garment review, pricing of items, online placement, and the donation of items that were not selected for consigning. The online consign option will accept women’s clothing (sizes 0-12), shoes, jewelry and designer handbags in perfect condition, with consigners receiving 50 percent of the selling price. Consigners can receive payment at any time and cash out online.
And this weekend, all Current stores will offer complimentary food and drink, giveaways, a chance to win a $100 gift card, 10 percent off shopping, a photo booth and curated fashion sections throughout the store highlighting the latest seasonal trends.
Current celebrated the 10-year anniversary of its launch with an event on Tuesday at its flagship Clarendon location. Attendees wrote down what they are “currently craving,” fashion-wise, while there was also some informal modeling throughout the evening.
Photos via Maurisa Potts/Spotted MP
The iconic local business at 2903 Columbia Pike is about to shift to playing movies on a first-run basis, meaning it has quicker access to films. Owner Greg Godbout has said previously that showing mainstream movies several months after the initial release has hurt business given the rise of video on-demand services.
But to show first-run films, the Drafthouse will need to increase its ticket prices to meet the requirements of its film distributors. In an email sent to customers Tuesday, Godbout said tickets will now cost $8 for matinee screenings, and for students and other discounted groups like children and seniors, and $10 for screenings after 6 p.m.
The Drafthouse will also no longer offer $2 discount films on Mondays and Tuesdays. Instead, Mondays will be a “discount day,” with $8 evening showings, while Tuesdays will be the full $10 price.
“While this is a low price considering the average ticket prices in our area ($12 – $16), it is still a significant increase for our customers,” Godbout wrote. “By agreeing to the studio’s terms on pricing we will get access to films earlier than normal. We are doing this because the ‘Second Run; market has vanished — and we are struggling to compete with streaming at home released, before we get access to films.”
But the cinema will also receive several upgrades. The outside marquee will be revamped at some point in the future, while “The Green Room” — adjacent to the cinema entrance — has been closed to make way for a soon-to-be-announced new tenant. A new food menu will also be introduced, as well as some new furniture over time.
In the email, Godbout also criticized the Kennedy Center for establishing itself as a “commercial entertainment entity and local competitor” that now has stand-up comics. He said the center’s “unfair advantage” of being underwritten by federal taxes will cost the Drafthouse at least $150,000 in revenue this year.
More from Godbout on competition with the Kennedy Center, after the jump.
How to Fix a “Stuck” Homepage — A few users have been reporting that our homepage has been “stuck” for the past few weeks, frozen in time after March 31. This is a browser caching issue that is affecting a very small subset of users. To resolve it, press the “refresh” button on your browser.
Park Volunteers to Be Honored — Two Arlington residents will be recognized as “outstanding park volunteers” at tonight’s Arlington County Board meeting. This year’s honorees are Paul Holland and Yu-hsin Hsu. [Arlington County]
Two Added to Business Hall of Fame — Attorney and former County Board member John Milliken and former Arlington Chamber of Commerce president Rich Doud are being inducted into the Arlington Business Hall of Fame on May 2. [InsideNova]
Video: Morning Activity at Trades Center — A time-lapse video shows the bustle of early morning activity at the Arlington Trades Center near Shirlington, where the county’s school buses and maintenance crews are based. [YouTube]
Flickr pool photo by GM and MB
Numerous county businesses have been selected for the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s annual Best Business Awards, set for next week.
The awards recognize businesses that go above and beyond to serve their clients and make the county a great place to live and work. Businesses earn the awards through good customer service, if they are industry leaders or offer a unique approach, or if they are active in the community.
This year, the awards will be given out on May 2 at the Key Bridge Marriott Hotel in Rosslyn. A VIP past winners reception begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by the main ceremony at 7 p.m.
The finalists by category are:
Large Business Award (General)
Matt Hussman is the executive director of the Clarendon Alliance, the organization that is charged with improving “the health and vitality of the Clarendon corridor.”
The alliance is a booster for local businesses and helps to put on the annual Clarendon Day festival and a number of other events.
In this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast, we asked Matt about the current state of Clarendon, about turnover among restaurants and retailers, and about the future of the neighborhood — including development projects in various states of planning or construction.
This week brought the sad news that long-time local outdoor retailer Casual Adventure is closing up shop.
The owners wrote that it’s “no secret that the old retail model no longer works” at a time when online retailers keep gaining market share.
You know things are topsy-turvy when Bethesda residents are petitioning against the closure of a large chain bookstore — which 20 years ago would have been criticized for running independent bookstores out of business.
“Shop local” has been a popular rallying cry recently for those who value the community-enhancing power of local businesses, but it’s hard to deny that there are a ton of empty Amazon boxes sitting curbside on recycling day. “Shop local” is nice in theory, but the convenience and low prices online often win out when it’s time to actually make a purchase.
In today’s poll, we wanted to find out where Arlingtonians stand on this.
Think of a category of something you want to buy — outdoor goods, books, pet supplies, etc. What are you most likely to do: specifically seek out a local bricks-and-mortar retail store to buy the product, or just buy it online from Amazon or another site?
Heaps of new customers have been saying g’day to Oz restaurant in Clarendon over the past year, its owners say.
Contrary to its portrayal on the new Real Housewives of Potomac season — a teaser video showed proprietors Ashley and Michael Darby arguing about it “not doing well” — Oz (2950 Clarendon Blvd) is currently a profitable business, according to Mr. Darby.
The argument happened in real life on June 22, 2016. Since then, Oz’s brunch business has boomed and helped reverse its fortunes. And a revamped food menu has been greeted with generally positive customer reviews.
That’s a welcome change from when the Washington Post panned Oz’s Australian cuisine as “bland,” shortly after it opened in September 2015, and locals took note of the empty tables one could see inside around dinnertime.
Darby, the Australian-born cofounder of D.C. developer Monumental Realty, admits that things were “not up to scratch” when Oz opened, but said issues with the service and the food have since been corrected. What viewers see at the beginning of “RHOP” season two is part of the restaurant’s “rebuilding” stage.
“We made a significant change that has brought about the success we’re having now,” Darby said. “Over the course of the show, you will find that the restaurant turns that corner and becomes the busy restaurant we have today.”
The other half of the power couple, Ashley Darby — a former Miss District of Columbia who is active in the restaurant’s day-to-day management in between her Instagram-chronicled globetrotting — echoed Michael’s words.
“America witnessed my candid reaction to the growing pains we were experiencing at Oz during the RHOP premiere, filmed last year,” she said. “It has taken some time to find our groove in the trendy Clarendon neighborhood, but we’re really getting into the swing of it. Our weekends are so busy I barely get time to sit down.”
Oz’s $35 bottomless brunch — with unlimited food, penny mimosas, 50 cent beers and $2 bloody marys — has packed them in, according to Michael Darby. Some 500 customers a day visit Oz on the weekends, he said. And the restaurant has high hopes for increasing its weekday bar business and becoming more of a nighttime going-out destination on weekends.
“This is a very fun bar, we have that Australian attitude,” Darby said. Oz is proud of its craft cocktail menu and Australian wine selection; it now brings in a DJ on Saturday nights and, yes, you can order didgeridoo shots, if so inclined.
Darby credits the chef they brought on after the “mediocre” opening for being a big part of Oz’s transformation. Chef Brad Feickert, a tattooed Northern Virginia native who worked for celebrity chefs and also spent time at restaurants in Australia, has created an Australian-influenced menu adjusted for American palates.
“The quality of the food improved significantly when he came in,” Darby said. “The chef is just a good chef, that’s what it comes down to.”
The menu, which is ever evolving, includes both Australian and American staples, along with culinary mashups and exotic meats, including kangaroo, camel and ostrich. (It’s not exotic, but Darby recommends the Australian lamb.)
Just don’t confuse Oz with that well-known “Australian” restaurant chain — needless to say, there are no bloomin’ onions on the menu.
“We’re not Outback Steakhouse in any way,” Darby said. Outback is “not even an Australian product.”
The store, at 3451 Washington Blvd, made the announcement this morning. The owners “received a reasonable offer for the sale of our building” and took it, they said.
E-commerce has made the bricks-and-mortar retail business increasingly difficult. “It’s no secret that the old retail model no longer works,” said Eric Stern, whose family has owned the store for 61 years.
Casual Adventure will be closed Monday and Tuesday and will reopen Wednesday to kick of its “End of an Era Sale,” featuring up to 50 percent off any remaining outdoor, tactical and sporting goods in stock. An exact closing date has not been announced.
The business may be revived, however, in a modified form later this year.
The family “has plans to reopen elsewhere in Northern Virginia in late summer or early fall, with a focus on corporate, league, military and government sales,” Arlington Magazine reported. A company rep wouldn’t comment on that report.
“We’ll share details with our loyal customer base and the Arlington community if it becomes necessary,” said Nathan Carroll. “For now we are squarely focused on selling all of our current inventory.”
The full announcement is below.
This business, which my great-grandfather Oscar founded over six decades ago, has been a source of great pride to our family over the years. Like all businesses, we’ve had to evolve: from our beginnings as a district grocery store, to an Army-Navy surplus store, to becoming the outdoor, tactical, and sporting goods store you know us to be today.
It’s no secret that the old retail model no longer works, so when we received a reasonable offer for the sale of our building, we decided the time was ripe to again switch gears, by closing our store and focusing our future business through the internet and beyond.
But first we commence the biggest sale in our 61-year history. Our END OF AN ERA SALE features our entire stock of clothing, outerwear, footwear, camping gear, travel accessories and sporting gear, with storewide reductions up to 50% off.
We’ll be closed all day Monday and Tuesday to reduce prices and prepare. Sale starts Wednesday, April 5th at 9:00am.
So whatever your outdoor needs, whether hiking, camping, adventure travel, or otherwise, we’ve got it all and it’s all on sale. Shop early before the word is out to the general public and buy “the good stuff” at liquidation prices.
It’s been our great joy to have served our local communities for so many years: but times change and for everyone the time comes to move forward. Along with our wonderfully talented and loyal staff, we thank you for your friendship and support and look forward to helping you find the perfect outfit and gear in this final sale.
Eric Stern, on behalf of the Stern family
Photo via Facebook
Farmhouse Sale Not Certain — Arlington County officials are pretty sure the historic Reeves farmhouse in Bluemont will sell to a private buyer, but it’s not a given. The cost of fixing up the house may be more than it is worth. [InsideNova]
Arlington Healthcare Co. Considering Merger — Ballston-based Evolent Health is exploring a possible merger with D.C.-based Advisory Board Company, a healthcare consulting firm that helped to fund and launch Evolent. [Reuters]
VHC Land Swap Still in Progress — A proposed land swap that would give Virginia Hospital Center 5.5 acres of county government land next to its main campus, allowing it to expand, is continuing “to make its way through procedural steps.” The swap could happen as early as June 2018, with Arlington County getting some combination of land and/or cash in return, though it depends on some regional and state regulatory approvals. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Pupatella Expanding to Richmond — Beloved Bluemont pizzeria Pupatella is expanding via franchising. One of the first places getting new Pupatellas: Richmond, where a local franchisee is opening four new locations. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
McAuliffe to Talk Self-Driving Cars in Arlington — On Thursday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe will be in Arlington to “give remarks at [a] workshop hosted by the Secretary of Transportation on autonomous vehicles,” according to the governor’s public schedule. The workshop is taking place at 1776 in Crystal City (2231 Crystal Drive).
People Are Increasingly Leaving the D.C. Region — All of the D.C. region’s population growth in the latest U.S. Census estimates were from births and international immigration. The region’s domestic migration is negative and increasingly so, with more people moving from D.C. than to D.C. Writes the WBJ: “The challenge for Greater Washington is there are other metro areas that offer jobs and high quality of life, and are also far less expensive — driving people away for what they see as greener pastures.” [Washington Business Journal]
Does Our Site Seem Faster? — We were working Saturday, moving ARLnow and our sister site Reston Now to a powerful cloud-based server from a traditional dedicated server. Things should be faster today, but if you notice any glitches please let us know. [Twitter]
Photo courtesy Erinn Shirley
Three businesses have closed in short order at the Dominion Hills Centre shopping plaza, worrying some local residents — but remaining businesses say there’s little cause for concern.
A tipster emailed ARLnow.com earlier this week lamenting the shuttering of the Little River Yoga Studio at 6025 Wilson Blvd. The tipster said it was the “latest to go,” following the departure of the Great Harvest Bread Company as well as the florist nearby.
But expiring leases and other circumstances were behind the closures, not a larger trend, we’re told. Business owners that have remained say foot traffic and sales remain healthy.
Great Harvest closed at the end of January. Franchisee Brad Hurst, who operates the bakery’s Alexandria location alongside his wife, said that it proved difficult to run two stores, especially as the larger Alexandria one took up more time.
After taking over the franchise’s five-year lease with approximately two years remaining, Hurst said they made the decision to close and focus their energies in Alexandria.
“Probably for the last year or so, we knew it was a lot of effort for what we were getting as far as traffic and sales,” Hurst said. “When the lease came up, we let that expire, much to the disappointment of several customers. We have to make sure our effort is rewarded with the business, so it was hard to keep it going.”
The shopping center’s florist had been in business for several decades at 6035 Wilson Blvd, but multiple business owners in the plaza said it closed when its owners retired and let the lease expire. It is now being marketed for another tenant.
Then Little River Yoga relocated its classes to Faith Lutheran Church at 3313 Arlington Blvd and rebranded as Ashtanga Nation. It made the move in mid-January.
Katie Gilman, owner of Taste by Katie, which provides reheatable meals to bring home, said business appears healthy for the dozen-plus stores that remain, including her own. When a reporter visited on Thursday afternoon, the plaza’s parking lot was about two-thirds full.
“Three [closures] seem like it could be a big percentage, but it’s really not when you consider all the stores open along here,” Gilman said.