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by ARLnow.com April 7, 2018 at 1:20 pm 0

Beloved Clarendon pizza shop Goody’s will be closing up shop after tonight (Saturday).

Co-owner Vanessa Reisis — affectionately known to customers as “Momma Goody” — confirmed in a brief phone conversation that the family-run pizzeria will be closing after Saturday night and that she and her husband will be retiring.

An anonymous tipster told ARLnow.com Saturday morning that “somebody bought them out” and that the petite storefront along Clarendon’s main drag of bars could “possibly reopen as pizza spot.” Reisis declined to provide additional details about the closure.

Goody’s opened in 2006 and has served legions of local residents, bar-goers and Clarendon office workers since. It is also popular with Arlington police officers, particularly those working the weekend Clarendon bar detail.

Over the past few years Goody’s managed to hang on to its loyal clientele despite competition from the likes of Bronx Pizza and the recently-downsized Pete’s Apizza. Despite the competition, Goody’s continued to serve only two varieties of New York style pizza by the slice: plain and pepperoni.

In a 2016 interview, Reisis said the closing of Hard Times Cafe was a bad harbinger for the “friendly little neighborhood places” that helped turn Clarendon into a popular food and nightlife destination. In 2017, Reisis said on ARLnow’s 26 Square Miles podcast that business had picked up, but running a small shop like hers was still difficult given the neighborhood’s rising rent.

In addition to what it was best known for — food and family — Goody’s was also noted for the hand-drawn seasonal signs on the front window, which always proclaimed that the “best pizza in Arlington” was inside.

by Bridget Reed Morawski April 6, 2018 at 4:15 pm 0

Dan Sabouni didn’t set out to be a watchmaker and repairman.

His shop, Clarendon’s Arlington Watch Works, never would have come to fruition if Sabouni had actually enjoyed working in an automotive engineering office after college.

Luckily for Sabouni, he had worked in a jewelry shop during college, and did repairs for antique shops in D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood. Now, he occupies the tiny, 200-square-foot space, between Goody’s Pizza and Rien Tong, at 3127 Wilson Boulevard, repairing, buying, and selling watches.

He initially owned a similar store in Georgetown neighborhood — a spit of a shop with only 90-square-feet of space — and found success there.

“When I opened that shop, everyone thought I was crazy,” said Sabouni, recounting how people would ask him who even fixes watches anymore.

Eventually, he sold the shop in the early 2000s to a friend and began traveling the world with his watch repair money. That was before he was married, “of course,” he pointed out.

Once he “ran out of money,” Sabouni, originally from London, came back to the area. He opened up the new Arlington shop in January 2015. Per square foot, he says, he’s paying more than any other shop.

“For us watchmakers, we can’t afford high rent,” said Sabouni. “So this was small, but yet affordable.”

Though most would think that those seeking less expensive rent would stay away from one of the more bustling Arlington corridors, or even stay out of Arlington as a whole, Sabouni says that the demographic makeup of the county is necessary for his business to grow.

“I have to be in a place where people do have what I’m looking to repair,” he said. “If I were to go down to, you know, Detroit, Michigan — who’s going to spend a thousand dollars or more restoring their dad’s watch?”

“All said and done, I don’t think you’ll ever find a rich watchmaker,” he added. “But it pays the bills, and I do what I like.”

And his clientele seems to like what he does, as well. Looking at a Yelp review page for Arlington Watch Works, 28 of his 29 reviews are five stars.

It usually takes about a day for a repair, if all goes according to plan. But it’s not an easy task, and even just apprenticing with Sabouni takes several years before being allowed to work on a paying client’s piece.

Sabouni still says that he’s still learning himself, and meets almost every Saturday with his mentor to discuss what’s stumping them.

Though watch repairs are certainly at the heart of the business model, Sabouni has a number of expensive watches on his shelves. Some are priced as little as a few hundred dollars, while others on display push the $20,000-$25,000 mark.

One watch on display, which Sabouni unlockws from its case and brings to a work table, is infinitely more delicate than what you could find at department stores.

It’s an $8,900 Van Cleef and Arpels model, handmade, completely see through, and thoroughly filigreed with real gold.

It’s an expensive passion to pick up, and an equally difficult industry to get into. But in an age of industry disruptions and smartphone app development, Sabouni doesn’t see his industry, and his place in it, going away.

“As long as men are men, and want to have their toys — I guess [the industry] will be over when men want to stop playing with their toys.”

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 29, 2018 at 4:45 pm 0

A small business fair geared toward highlighting Arlington’s female-owned businesses is scheduled for Saturday (March 31).

The event wraps up Arlington Public Library’s Women’s History Month events for this year, and aims to highlight women who “make history every day in the operation of local businesses and nonprofits.”

Local products and services will be showcased and businesses can distribute coupons and free samples. Karen Bate, Awesome Women Entrepreneurs founder, will give the keynote speech, alongside other speakers addressing topics on women and business.

The small business fair will be held at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) from 11 a.m.-2 p.m on Saturday. The event is a partnership between the library and Arlington Economic Development’s Small Business Assistance Network.

by ARLnow.com March 22, 2018 at 9:05 am 0

AWLA Rescues Kittens from Cold Night — Arlington animal control officers saved the lives of three small kittens found freezing in a window well Tuesday night. All three were placed in an incubator to warm up and are now in a foster home. [Facebook]

Steyer Town Hall Targets Trump, Dems — About 100 people attended a town hall meeting in Pentagon City Tuesday night in support of impeaching President Trump. While Trump was the main topic of conversation, the meeting’s organizer, billionaire Tom Steyer, also criticized Democrats, particularly those that would not vote for impeachment. [Washington Free Beacon]

Alington Company Expanding, Moving — “Arlington-based Bioinformatics Inc. has been very busy lately — moving, expanding and acquiring. A research and advisory firm for life science and diagnostic companies, Bioinformatics just moved from its home in Courthouse to a larger 8,000-square-foot headquarters at the top of Ballston Tower. The company plans to invest $175,000 and add 27 new jobs by April as part of the expansion.” [Washington Business Journal]

by Anna Merod March 21, 2018 at 3:55 pm 0

(Updated at 5 p.m.) With Arlington schools, county facilities and the federal government closed for the snow day, it might be worth asking: just what is open today?

Below is a partial list of some restaurants, bars and other businesses that are still open or closed in the county.

What’s open:

What’s closed:

ARLnow reporter Bridget Reed Morawski was live on Facebook earlier this afternoon giving a walking snow tour of roads, sidewalks and businesses from Clarendon to Rosslyn. The video replay of that is below.

Join our reporter as she makes her way back to her home in Rosslyn from our Clarendon newsroom in the snow.

Posted by Arlington Now on Wednesday, March 21, 2018

by ARLnow.com March 13, 2018 at 3:00 pm 0

A trio of new restaurants are coming to the western edge of Clarendon, just across Washington Blvd from Northside Social.

Demolition permits have been issued for “Le Kon,” which is coming to the large restaurant space at 3227 Washington Blvd vacated by the short-lived Park Lane Tavern. It’s unclear what exactly Le Kon will be, though it is listed vaguely as a “Casual Dining, Fine Dining, Bar / Lounge” establishment on the restaurant hiring website Culinary Agents.

Adjacent to the future Le Kon, the awnings and building permits for a “cajun seafood and sushi lounge” called Asiatique are still up, though there’s little sign of additional information on it or an opening date to be found online.

Next door, building permits were issued a year ago for a new Stone Hot Pizza location, though the space’s windows have been frosted, blocking any view of possible construction progress inside.

All three restaurants are located on the ground floor of the Beacon at Clarendon apartment building, which is technically located within the boundaries of the Lyon Village Civic Association, according to a county map.

by ARLnow.com March 9, 2018 at 4:10 pm 0

Arlington has a lot going for it, including a deep well of talented workers, but the county’s permitting office remains a constant source of business complaints.

Those were two of the major takeaways from the Future of Arlington County event held Thursday at Market Common Clarendon. Organized by online business publication Bisnow, the event brought together economic development officials, developers, attorneys and business owners.

Talent is what has drawn companies like Nestle to Arlington, and what may lure Amazon’s HQ2, said Arlington Economic Development Director Victor Hoskins. He noted that Amazon already has an “innovation center” in Ballston.

“We really want to be the innovation center of the United States,” he said of the county’s economic ambitions. “This is a talent rich target for innovative companies.”

Nestle, he said, had its employee retention rate far exceed expectations as it moved its corporate headquarters from Glendale, Calif. to Rosslyn. The company also received tens of thousands of job applicants for open positions after expecting only hundreds to apply, according to Hoskins.

To help the county continue to attract companies, particularly tech startups, Arlington Economic Development has been sending staff to large conferences, including this weekend’s South By Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas.

Other Arlington advantages cited by panelists include walkable, mixed-use communities like Crystal City where people can live and work, and a top notch public school system that helps keep residents with children from leaving the county.

Despite effusive praise for everything Arlington has to offer, there were some negatives. Arlington could use additional cultural amenities — “places people can interact and build community,” in the words of an AED tweet. That point was reinforced by event being held at Market Common Clarendon, adjacent to the vacant former Iota Club space.

Panelists also agreed that Arlington County has plenty of room to improve its permitting process. The process should be “easier and faster in order to attract the most innovative concepts in retails and restaurants,” though the ongoing issues with the permitting process extend from small restaurants to huge developments, panelists said.

One anecdote from a Bisnow recap of the discussion:

Developers, brokers and restaurateurs say the county’s lengthy permitting process has acted as a deterrent for some companies and needs to be improved if Arlington wants to keep up with D.C. and Fairfax County. JBG Smith, Arlington’s largest property owner, last year opened a beer garden in Rosslyn to create more buzz and activity around its properties. It took two years for the landlord to get the beer garden approved by the county, JBG Smith Executive Vice President Andy VanHorn said.

by Buzz McClain March 8, 2018 at 12:45 pm 0

When Ashlee Trempus was studying to be an American Sign Language interpreter, she found herself frustrated with the lack of access to deaf individuals with whom to practice.

She turned this frustration into inspiration and set out on a path to build a platform to address this problem. But not being a developer, she knew right away she would need a partner who could help turn her idea into reality.

Which is exactly what Arlington-based Ideas2Excecutables does. Walking Trempus through the software development process, Ben Simon used her vision and direction to help her realize her goal of creating a virtual language immersion program to connect those learning sign language with deaf “Ambassadors.” Now SignOn is an award-winning web-based application that is connecting the hearing and deaf communities.

“We have been helping entrepreneurs like Ashlee, as well as larger organizations, take their software ideas from the back of a napkin to reality for over 10 years,” says Simon who runs the company with his wife, Shira. “We’ve written software powering a wide variety of ideas, including designing custom features for a leading tech blog, medical imaging software and visitation software for correctional facilities. That one was really interesting.”

Clients come to the Simons with questions, lots of questions, which is how they like it, particularly with local clients. “We love sitting down with customers to work through their concept in real time,” he says. “Rather than go back and forth over email, we can be much more productive over a cup of tea and a bagel.”

“Being able to meet face-to-face increases the success of your project,” he said. “Regardless of what you want to build in the software development space, communication is king, and nothing beats in person meetings to get the specific nuances of your idea exactly right.”

If you’ve been pondering any of the following, send an email or give them a call today ([email protected] ; (703) 688-3084):

  • I have an idea for software, where should I start?
  • Should I use pre-built software or build custom?
  • How do I protect my idea and keep it from getting stolen?
  • I have an idea to help my business run smoother, is that something you can help with?
  • I’m considering outsourcing my project overseas?  What do I need to consider?

Ideas2Executables offers free consultations.

by ARLnow.com March 7, 2018 at 8:45 am 0

Wakefield Advances to Championship — The Wakefield High School boys basketball team has advanced to the Virginia Class 5 championship after defeating Edison last night 82-66. The team will face Varina tomorrow at VCU. Meanwhile, Wakefield senior forward A’Mari Cooper has been named Northern Region Class 5 Player of the Year. [Washington Post, InsideNova]

Metro Starts Selling Merch — Despite its reliability issues and subsequent image problem, Metro has launched a new line of clothing and gifts, sold online and at a new gift store at Metro Center. The reaction to the merchandise has been mixed. [WMATA, NBC Washington]

General Assembly Passes Car Seat Bill — “Today, the Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 708… which would change the commonwealth’s law to require that child safety seats remain rear facing until the age of two, or the child reaches the minimum weight limit for a forward-facing child restraint device as prescribed by the manufacturer of the device. The bill is now on its way to Governor Northam’s office for his signature. If signed, the new law would become effective July 1, 2019.” [AAA Mid-Atlantic]

More Restaurants Considering Ballston Quarter — Fresh off the announcement that Ted’s Bulletin was coming to Ballston Quarter, the owners of trendy D.C. spots Himitsu and Gravitas are said to be considering opening up eateries at the mall. Also in the works: a donut shop, an arepas stand, an oyster bar, and a barbecue joint. [Washington Business Journal]

Nicecream Expanding to D.C. — Liquid nitrogen-powered ice cream shop Nicecream Factory, which first opened in Clarendon, has since expanded to Alexandria and is now planning to open two D.C. locations, in Adams Morgan and Shaw. [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: Gun Reform Discussion — Fred Guttenberg, father of one of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting victims, will speak at an event called “A Conversation About Gun Safety And The Safety Of American Schools” at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria tonight. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is hosting the event, which will discuss “actions we can take to ensure no other parent has to experience this kind of trauma.” [Eventbrite]

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 5, 2018 at 2:45 pm 0

Clarendon’s new Barre3 studio was set to start its first classes today (March 5), but has postponed its opening day.

The hold up is due to “the unexpected surprises that come with construction, permits and inspections,” according to an email sent on Friday to those who had signed up for the first week of classes.

The email didn’t specify a revised opening date for the barre studio to open at Market Common, and emails to the location were not returned over the weekend. A later email from the chain to customers noted that at least one additional free class would be held before opening their doors “this month.”

Many of the first week’s classes were free for locals to try out the studio, but anyone who had signed up was removed from the class list and had an extra free class added to their accounts for any of the local locations.

The chain also has a nearby location in Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood, but this would be the first Arlington addition.

by ARLnow.com March 5, 2018 at 8:00 am 0

Partisans Stake Out Sides on Country Club Tax Bill — There are two very different political perspectives on the state bill that would greatly lower the tax bills of Arlington’s two country clubs. On one hand, a writer on the conservative blog Bearing Drift says Arlington’s tax treatment of Army-Navy Country Club (which is covered by the bill along with Washington Golf & Country Club) is “manifestly unfair, and… impacts an especially distinguished and patriotic group of older folks.” On the other hand, progressive blog Blue Virginia says the bill, which passed the Virginia General Assembly last week, should be vetoed by Gov. Ralph Northam (D) because it would “lavish big $$$ on super-rich people, weaken local autonomy vs state AND set a horrible precedent.” [Bearing Drift, Blue Virginia]

County Launches Online Payments for Building Permits — After years of grumbles from local businesses, starting today Arlington County is accepting online payments for building permits. Payments can only be made online when one is submitting permits via the ePlan Review portal. [Arlington County]

Arlington Tourism Tax Bill Passes — “More than a dozen Republican members of the House of Delegates voted against, but Arlington’s effort to retain its ability to levy a surtax on hotel stays to pay for tourism promotion is headed to the governor’s desk.” [InsideNova]

Arlingtonian Making World Record Attempt — Crystal City resident and elite runner Tyler Andrews will attempt to break the 3o-year-old record for fastest 50K run next month. [STRIVE Trips]

First Down Marks Ninth Anniversary — First Down Sports Bar & Grill in Ballston is celebrating 9 years in business today. [ARLnow Events]

Nearby: Lebanese Taverna Closing in Bethesda — Arlington-based local restaurant chain Lebanese Taverna is closing its Bethesda location, citing an inability to reach agreement on a new lease with the landlord of Bethesda Row. [Bethesda Beat]

Photo courtesy Paola Lyle

by Bridget Reed Morawski February 23, 2018 at 10:45 am 0

When James Sampson was 14, a few of his friends were hit with the red ring of death — the notorious Xbox problem that devastated gamers globally. Instead of buying new devices, they turned to Sampson — who soldered some of the wiring in the devices, along with some other tinkering, and brought them back to life.

He saved his friends hundreds of dollars, and his only training was a few hours spent watching YouTube video tutorials.

“It became a lot of people calling me asking me to fix their cell phones, laptops, just any device they had,” said Sampson. He began referring people to an actual electronic repair business — until he realized that the shop was making a lot of money.

The now 23-year-old has now gone into business himself, opening up Wireless Rxx last week at 2340 Columbia Pike. Sampson works alongside longtime electronics repairman Mario Vasquez, who has been in business for about 26 years. Sampson does the microelectronic repairs and soldering while Vasquez focuses on more traditional electronic appliances.

The pair complement each other technically and linguistically; the Chilean-born Sampson’s first language was Spanish, so he’s able to help the many nearby Spanish-speaking customers and Vasquez as he assists English-speaking clients.

By the end of the first week, Wireless Rxx made back their $700 rent without any marketing or advertising — and without the planned “old retro vibe” interior design changes, including new neon signs and flooring. The building itself, which Sampson calls “old and tattered,” stands out from the luxury mixed-use development across the street.

Wireless Rxx saw around 27 customers, and earned around $1,700 in the first week, with many flat-screen television repairs, laptop fixes, and cell phones that needed to be unlocked — though Sampson runs serial numbers and other phone identification numbers to make sure that he isn’t unlocking a stolen phone.

While many Arlingtonians might be excited to get a new phone and toss their older model, many low-income residents are finding value in the service, Sampson said, as they are able to pay significantly less for what is in most cases a relatively minor fix instead of buying an entirely new product or waiting weeks for a manufacturer repair.

“It’s a mix of what the market economy put up,” said the young entrepreneur. “You either have to wait for your fix — because if you break your phone and you go to Apple, it can be a $200 or $300 price tag — or if you take it here, it can be under $100.”

He has friends who are either recent immigrants or on college scholarships with less money to spare. They’ll go to Sampson with their younger sister’s iPads and $20 or $30, looking for a repair. It helps them maintain a decent standard of living without spending money that they don’t have for a brand new device, he said.

Sampson buys dead devices from customers, which he either fixes, sells, or recycles responsibly with a certified e-recycling company. Most electronic components aren’t safe for general trash collection.

He stressed the importance of proper electronic recycling, noting the dangerous chemicals in lithium batteries, which are found in many electronic devices. Poking one can result in chemical burns.

“If something’s broke, you can still fix it. You can still put maybe a third of the device’s [cost] into fixing it, and it’ll be a working device as opposed to buying a new one,” said Sampson. “Especially in our society right now, we just throw things away.”

by Bridget Reed Morawski February 14, 2018 at 2:45 pm 0

Shaheen Hossini likes when Valentine’s Day is in the middle of the week.

When the holiday falls on the weekend or a Monday, her floral arrangements business, Crystal City’s Flowers With Love, scrambles to deliver sometimes hundreds of rose bouquet orders as early in the day as possible. The florists can’t encourage people to have their arrangements delivered a few days in advance, because people won’t be in the office to enjoy them for as long.

But when the holiday is later in the work week, it’s easier for Hossini to encourage customers to have early deliveries.

“A lot of times, people are not expecting the flowers on Monday or Tuesday, because they’re thinking Valentine’s is on Wednesday,” said Hossini, a Springfield, Va., resident. “It gives them an opportunity to enjoy the flowers earlier.”

Flowers With Love only has two full-time employees and a part-time employee, but several seasonal employees are hired each Valentine’s Day just to keep up with the high volume of orders.

Ranard Wood, a seasonal employee and resident of D.C.’s Cleveland Park neighborhood, has been working with flowers for the last 45 or 50 years. He loves arranging flowers, preferably tropical bouquets or hydrangeas, but since retirement he rarely works except for at Hossini’s store around Valentine’s Day.

“She’s the only one who can bring me out to do this, because this is insane this time of year,” said Wood, pointing toward Hossini along the arrangement bar, where slews of Ecuadorian and Colombian roses cover the counter.

In the two or three days leading up to Valentine’s Day, Hossini’s store makes about 10-15% of their annual sales. Mother’s Day and the Christmas season are their next busiest times of year, but Valentine’s Day is another level. That demand leads to higher markup for roses in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, as rose growers stop cutting to prepare for the February 14 onslaught.

The markups can range from an additional 100% per rose to as high as an extra 140%, which leads to higher prices for the florists and, in turn, for the customers. Beginning in early December, the prices shoot up, incrementally raising higher and higher closer to mid-February.

The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend two billion dollars on Valentine’s Day flowers in 2018. Total planned Valentine’s Day spending is up nationwide, from $18.2 billion in 2017 to a projected $19.8 billion this year.

“There used to be a time where we would depend on the phones and at a certain point we would turn them off,” Hossini explained. “But now, with internet e-florists, we get so much business from that. We think we’re not that busy but the orders are coming through on the computer.”

“You turn around and there’s 10 orders on the computer and you’re like — ahhh!”

This is the only time of year that Flowers With Love, bought by Hossini in 1998 from the original owner, does a lot of walk-in business. Much of their business comes from party work for the businesses and hotels in Crystal City.

Flowers With Love is one of only a few florists in Arlington, according to Hossini, but having competition from elsewhere in the county is actually a good thing around Valentine’s Day, when there are sometimes just too many orders to fill at the last minute for one store.

“We can only do so much, and everyone wants flowers,” said Hossini.

by Chris Teale January 30, 2018 at 2:45 pm 0

A historic pharmacy in Nauck is closed, reportedly for renovations.

A sign on the door of Green Valley Pharmacy at 2415 Shirlington Road said it “will reopen in the near future” once work is done. A reader said it has been closed since the end of last year.

The pharmacy earned local designation as an Arlington Historic District in 2013, after a request by longtime owner Dr. Leonard Muse.

“When Green Valley Pharmacy opened, no other pharmacies in Arlington welcomed the black community,” county staff wrote. “Typically, black customers had to use rear entrances and were not treated well with their medical prescriptions. Green Valley served both black and white customers, and it was especially popular for its dine-in food counter, where breakfast, lunch, dinner and an abundance of ice cream desserts were served. In the early days, an order of two hot dogs cost just 25 cents.”

But Muse died in August at the age of 94 after operating the pharmacy since 1952.

by Chris Teale January 25, 2018 at 10:45 am 0

A store in Westover Village that offers handmade and fairly traded products from developing countries has opened a new cafe.

Those behind Trade Roots (5852 Washington Blvd) opened the cafe, called Roots & Vines. It offers fairly traded coffees, teas and food items.

The café is run by chef Katia Reecer, who grew up in a Brazilian restaurant family and rounded her skills at the former Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda.

“Roots & Vines offers a casual and welcoming ambiance to relax over locally sourced and globally inspired coffee, tea, sweets & savories,” Reecer said in a statement. “We plan to keep the eclectic menu limited with weekly and seasonal changes, while always offering vegetarian and vegan options. My mother instilled in me the simple philosophy that when you cook with passion using both your hands and palate, the results will always be extraordinary.”

Trade Roots also sells soaps, food, jewelry and home products from local people, and prides itself on offering “beautiful and unique” items.

“I’m thrilled to have Katia as part of the team,” Trade Roots owner Lisa Ostroff said in a statement. “Trade Roots’ customers will now have fair trade coffee and tea options and an array of delicious foods and drinks from around the globe. Katia’s experience and philosophy lend perfectly to our vibe. She makes healthy morning treats like oatmeal and fruit parfaits and some amazing-but-not-as-healthy scones and croissants as well!”

Photos via Facebook

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