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by ARLnow.com — April 29, 2016 at 2:45 pm 0

Erik Gutshall and Libby Garvey debate at an Arlington Young Democrats eventThe two candidates for the Democratic Arlington County Board nomination will face off in a candidates forum on Monday, May 16.

The forum is being organized by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce. It will be held from 6-8 p.m. at the Hyatt in Rosslyn (1325 Wilson Blvd). ARLnow.com, a Chamber member, is the event’s media sponsor.

During the forum, incumbent Libby Garvey and challenger Erik Gutshall will be asked a variety of questions, with a special focus on local business.

Arlington Chamber of Commerce logo“This business-themed candidate forum will feature a moderated discussion of topics important to the Arlington business community, and will provide each candidate with the opportunity to engage with local business leaders and address the key issues for the business community,” the Chamber said. “This event will also offer attendees the chance to gain an inside look into the candidates’ views on business in Arlington County.”

(Perennial independent candidate Audrey Clement, who has qualified for the ballot again this year, has also been invited to participate.)

In a debate earlier this month, Gutshall lamented that Arlington County’s economic development efforts are “geared towards the types of businesses that are going to fill office buildings,” more so than helping small businesses. Garvey said the county is “aware that small businesses are having issues” and is holding a small business summit next week.

Meanwhile, the county’s high office vacancy rate — some 8 million square feet of office space is vacant in Arlington — remains a significant issue.

This candidate forum is open to the general public. Registration is $10. Light refreshments will be provided.

The Arlington County Democratic Committee is planning its own candidate debate from 7-9 p.m. on Wednesday, May 4. The debate will be held at GMU’s Founders Hall (3351 Fairfax Drive).

by ARLnow.com — April 12, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

2601-A Wilson Blvd (image via Google Maps)A new Caring Hands Animal Hospital location is “coming soon” to Clarendon.

The facility is currently being built out in the former Henninger Media Services space at 2601-A Wilson Blvd, behind Current Boutique. The local veterinary chain announced the new location on its website.

“Caring Hands Animal Hospital of Clarendon is an AAHA accredited veterinary practice with a state-of-the-art surgical suite, complete in-house laboratory, and a friendly and knowledgeable staff,” the company said. “With ultrasound and digital dental radiography capabilities we strive to provide the best care for you and your pet.”

Building permits for the interior construction were first issued in December.

Photo via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com — April 6, 2016 at 11:30 am 0

Screen Shot from BizBuySell.comAs a consumer, you often hear about local businesses opening or closing.

What you hear of less often are the transactions in between — like when a business is sold to a new owner — even though business sales are quite common.

We took a look through the Arlington listings of a major business broker marketplace and sure enough, there are a number of businesses you’ve heard of offered for sale.

Often the business is not named, but there are details that provide clues as to which business it may be. (Worth noting: because of the nature of an online platform like this, we can’t be 100 percent sure that all listings are up to date.)

Here are just some of the businesses that are currently listed on the site. We are only naming the business if a name or website is provided in the listing.

  1. Il Forno restaurant in Ballston. “Reason for selling: investor owned. Needs operator-owner.” Listed for $400,000.
  2. A “profitable frozen yogurt biz” in Rosslyn, located near Ben’s Chili Bowl. Listed for $145,000.
  3. A “Tex / Mexican restaurant” that “has been established for nearly 10 years” and is located in a “stand alone building with 20 parking space[s].” Listed for $299,000.
  4. A “profitable, clean, new pizza shop” located in a “small strip center on high traffic roadway.” Listed for $150,000.
  5. A “grill & diner in busy restaurant district. Gross annual income of $1.4 million. Paying $16,000 per month in rent for 2,900 square feet. Listed for $350,000.
  6. A “leading national smoothie/fresh juices franchise” in a “great location.” Listed for $149,000.
  7. The Auntie Anne’s store in the Crystal City Shops. “Possible to add coffee & franchise ice cream.” Listed for $130,000.
  8. A restaurant in Clarendon that’s located “on a main road with outside seating.” Listed for $199,000.
  9. An “absentee owned branded gas station” that’s “very profitable” with $214,000 in annual cash flow. Listed for $550,000.
  10. A “high end salon and spa” in a “busy urban-mall type setting with restaurants, shops and movie theater.” Listed for $699,000.
  11. The Fast-Fix Jewelry & Watch Repair store in the Pentagon City mall. “A very experienced staff, a built-in salary for the owner and an annual six-figure profit.” Listed for $715,000.
  12. A “currently operating restaurant with large format bar, 8000 s.f. of interior restaurant space, grand commercial kitchen, significant outdoor patio and modern, sophisticated build out in the heart of Clarendon.” Listed for $295,000.

by ARLnow.com — April 5, 2016 at 10:25 am 0

Rainbow over Wakefield High School (Photo via @WLHSIBProgram)

New Traffic Pattern on Route 1 — There’s a new traffic pattern for the lefthand turn from southbound Route 1 (Jefferson Davis Highway) to 23rd Street S. in Crystal City. The change was necessitated by operations of the new Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway. [Facebook]

Aurora Hills Library Eyed As School Site — The current Aurora Hills library and senior center is being looked at by Arlington Public Schools as a possible site for a new elementary school. Meanwhile, even though nearby Oakridge Elementary is over capacity, Superintendent Patrick Murphy says there’s actually a more pressing need for additional elementary capacity in north Arlington due to population growth around the Rosslyn-Ballston and Lee Highway corridors. [InsideNova]

Australian Company Says G’Day to Ballston — The Australian investment firm QIC has taken a 49 percent stake in Ballston Quarter, the soon-to-be-renovated shopping center currently known as Ballston Common Mall. The majority of the mall is still owned by Cleveland-based Forest City. [Washington Business Journal, Crain’s Cleveland Business]

Local Named New Jersey Cherry Blossom Princess — The 2016 New Jersey Cherry Blossom Princess is a 24-year-old Hoboken native who now lives in the D.C. area and works at Rosslyn-based CEB. [Hudson Reporter]

CEB Acquires Portland Firm — Rosslyn-based CEB is getting bigger. The company is acquiring Portland, Oregon-based Evanta Ventures for $275 million. CEB will be moving into a new namesake CEB Tower in Rosslyn after construction wraps up in 2018. [StreetInsider]

Arlington’s Top Bond Rating Affirmed — Arlington County has once again earned the highest bond rating from the three major rating agencies. “The County works hard to maintain these AAA ratings to finance critical County infrastructure projects with bonds that carry the lowest interest rates available,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. [Arlington County]

Photo via @WLHSIBProgram

by ARLnow.com — April 1, 2016 at 11:05 am 0

CD Cellar in ClarendonA coffee shop may replace the former CD Cellar in Clarendon.

A building permit application has been filed to convert the former music store at 2607 Wilson Blvd — roughly half-way between the Clarendon and Courthouse Metro stations — to a coffee shop.

The permit application doesn’t name the coffee shop, but the listed permit holder, a Courthouse resident named Andira Jabbari, recently registered the domain name Blumencafe.net, according to a Google search.

A website has yet to be set up at that domain and no other information about the coffee shop was immediately available.

CD Cellar closed in January and moved its inventory to its store in Falls Church.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt

by Mark Hand — March 30, 2016 at 9:45 am 0

NOVA Armory "owner in training" Lauren PratteA teenage girl in Arlington is banking on Americans’ love affair with guns remaining strong for years to come.

On Saturday, March 26, 16-year-old Lauren Pratte took part in the grand opening of her new retail gun store, NOVA Armory, on Pershing Drive in the Lyon Park neighborhood.

The public turned out in big numbers to check out the inventory in Pratte’s store. Officials from the National Rifle Association, headquartered in Fairfax County, and the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a pro-gun organization, also showed up to celebrate the store’s opening.

The popularity of guns in the United States has never been stronger. More Americans own guns today than ever before. The strong demand for guns is excellent news for gun retailers like Pratte. Black Friday 2015 was the single biggest gun-purchasing day ever in U.S. history, with more than 185,000 background checks processed by the FBI.

Although only 16, Pratte had long considered the idea of owning her own business and controlling how it is run. Pratte chose to open a gun store largely due to her father’s experience as a gun store owner.

“When I brought up the idea to my dad, he was really supportive and he was all for it, willing to help me open this and run it. I’m very excited about the future for this,” Pratte said in an interview with ARLnow.

NOVA Armory's Dennis Pratte with daughter Lauren PratteAt the grand opening, Pratte stood near the front door, inviting people to check out the store’s inventory. The handguns on display cost anywhere from $249 to $999, while many of the shotguns, rifles and other firearms have much higher price tags. When she wasn’t greeting people at the door, Pratte was working behind the store’s counter answering questions about the shop’s merchandise.

Because she is only 16, Dennis Pratte, Lauren’s father, holds the federal firearms sales license for the store and applied for and signed the store’s certificate of occupancy. In an interview with the Washington Post, Dennis Pratte said NOVA Armory is “a family owned and operated business — and more specifically a female, minority-owned business.” Dennis Pratte’s wife, Yong OK Pratte, is listed on paperwork as an officer for one of Pratte’s previous gun businesses.

NOVA Armory's Dennis PratteDennis Pratte told ARLnow that Lauren, a junior in high school, wants to go to law school and eventually become a corporate attorney. “What a better way to learn about business than actually start a business,” Dennis Pratte said at the store’s grand opening. “From day one, she’s filed all the paperwork, and I signed it. That’s what we thought would be a great education for her.”

Lauren emphasized she will never be working at the store by herself. She will always have her father or another licensed gun seller with her when she is working at the store.

The gun store, the first in Arlington aside from a pawn shop at the corner of Lee Highway and Kirkwood Road that sells guns, has generated controversy over the past month as nearby residents and local politicians expressed concerns about a gun retailer opening in the neighborhood.

On March 2, state lawmakers who represent Arlington, sent a letter to the landlord who is leasing the space to NOVA Armory expressing their concerns about the gun store. “We strongly encourage you to reconsider your decision to grant a lease to NOVA Armory,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

“It’s not appropriate for people, elected officials specifically, to treat legal business owners as they did,” Dennis Pratte said in the interview.

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by ARLnow.com — March 29, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) Arlington County Police are investigating a break-in and theft at Japanese Auto Service, a service station located between Clarendon and Virginia Square.

The service center, at 3413 Wilson Blvd, has been in business for 19 years, according to owner Ed Lahrime. It was broken into by an unknown suspect early Sunday morning.

From an ACPD crime report:

Japanese Auto Service on Wilson Blvd (photo via http://japaneseautova.com/)“At approximately 4:51 a.m. on March 27, an unknown male subject forced entry into a business and stole several items of value and an undisclosed amount of cash. The suspect is described as a white male, wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans, and dark shoes.”

A customer provided ARLnow.com with some additional details about what happened.

“The thief took their cash register and a significant amount of money in cash and checks,” the customer told us. “The store owner was able to provide the police with video of the suspect and they are currently reviewing the footage. Poor guy looked heart broken that his business had been violated like that.”

Lahrime said that his motion detection security system didn’t go off during the break-in, for some reason, and has since been replaced by the security company. He also had to replace a broken window and his cash register. All told, the theft is costing him more than $1,500, along with some sleep and peace of mind, he said.

“I couldn’t sleep that night,” he said. “I had to put my phone [with a connection to the surveillance system] next to me to make sure he didn’t come back to rob us again.”

Police told Lahrime of a number of other recent burglaries and burglary attempts in various parts of the county, from Shirlington to Clarendon, he said. This was the first burglary at Japanese Auto Service since it opened nearly two decades ago.

“Arlington is not safe,” said Lahrime.

Tuesday afternoon Arlington County Police released multiple surveillance images of the suspect, describing him as “a white male in his mid-20’s to early 30’s, wearing dark clothing and a gray hoodie.”

“If anyone has information on the identity and/or whereabouts of this individual, please contact Detective Echenique of the Arlington County Police Department’s Burglary/Larceny Unit at 703.228.4241 or at [email protected],” police said in a press release. “To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).”

“This is an ongoing and active investigation,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

The video shows the thief returning to the scene of the crime a half hour after the initial break-in, apparently to steal some change from the floor, Lahrime added.

by ARLnow.com — March 28, 2016 at 10:45 am 0

Sweet Leaf Cafe at 800 N. Glebe Road in Ballston

Sweet Leaf Cafe has opened its second Ballston location.

The local salad, sandwich and coffee chain officially opened for business last week at 800 N. Glebe Road, which is about a 10 minute walk from its first Ballston location, at 650 N. Quincy Street.

“Ballston has a heavy lunch crowd and we believe it’s dense enough to support two stores,” co-owner Andre Matini tells ARLnow.com. “We have had a lot of positive feedback, most of our diners had not been to our location on Quincy Street. With all the development of Liberty Center and and redevelopment of Ballston Common Mall we think there is more than enough to go around.”

Sweet Leaf’s new location has been a challenging one for sit-down restaurants, which have struggled to convince diners to cross to the western side of busy Glebe Road, where high-rise Ballston meets the residential Bluemont neighborhood.

One high-profile casualty was Pizza Vinoteca, which closed after just six months. A new Cheesetique store is coming to the former Pizza Vinoteca location, and a new Total Wine store is coming to the same building.

There are also rumors of changes afoot at the Greene Turtle restaurant, just up the street at 900 N. Glebe Road.

Sweet Leaf now has six locations total, all in Northern Virginia. Its first Arlington eatery opened at 2200 Wilson Blvd in Courthouse in 2013.

Photo courtesy Sweet Leaf Cafe

by ARLnow.com — March 15, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

Ah Love Oil & Vinegar in Shirlington (photo courtesy Ah Love Oil & Vinegar)Ah Love Oil & Vinegar opened in Shirlington in 2011. At the time, many couldn’t believe that a boutique store that primarily sold olive oil and balsamic vinegar could survive.

Almost five years later, Ah Love Oil & Vinegar has not one but two stores — it expanded to the Mosaic District — and is looking to the future.

No longer defined by just two types of products, the store is changing its name.

“Today, we offer much more including kitchen tools, serveware, cocktail products, table linens, and culinary products made by local artisans,” owner Cary Kelly wrote. “Our name no longer represents the breadth of our offer.”

Through March 27, the store is conducting an online survey to help select a new name. Among the possible options:

  • The Cookery, A Culinary Marketplace
  • Edibles, A Cook’s Marketplace
  • Ah love Cooks
  • The Kitchen, A Culinary Marketplace

“We’ll continue to offer award-winning olive oil, Italian balsamic vinegar and the other products you love,” Kelly wrote. “This is a change in name only to better represent who we are to those who have not yet experienced our market of goods.”

by ARLnow.com — March 14, 2016 at 2:55 pm 0

Hard Times Cafe in Clarendon occupies one of the most iconic restaurant locations in Arlington, directly across from the Clarendon Metro station. After more than 20 years in business at 3028 Wilson Blvd, it appears that the local eatery is preparing to leave.

While Hard Times in Clarendon remains open, its 8,240 square foot space is being offered for lease. A marketing flyer says the “trophy restaurant or retail space” is “available immediately.”

The space consists of three levels, including a basement kitchen and storage area. It’s being marketed by the Maryland-based firm H&R Retail.

So far, Hard Times has not responded to a request for comment emailed to the store.

Hard Times was founded in Old Town Alexandria in 1980 and has a dozen locations around the D.C. area.

by ARLnow.com — February 19, 2016 at 2:50 pm 0

What’s it like to run a restaurant in a competitive market like Arlington? Four prominent local restaurant owners sat down with Sarah Fraser and ARLnow.com to discuss the business at our ARLnow Presents event last month, just after the big blizzard.

The full video from the event, courtesy of Arlington Independent Media, is above. The following are some of the interesting insights from the evening’s program.

What are some of the challenges in running a restaurant in Arlington?

Javier Candon, SER: “In Arlington, the biggest challenge, I think is the mentality, and proximity to the city. A lot of Arlington residents when they are having a real date night, they go to D.C.”

Does local government make it difficult to open a restaurant?

Mark Fedorchak, Liberty Tavern: “I think that Arlington county is pretty aware of the issue, but it is pretty difficult to open a restaurant with permits, and time. Every single day that you are paying rent waiting for permits, your are losing money.”

What’s more difficult, attracting customers when you first open, or keeping them?

Tim Ma, Water & Wall: “Everybody was coming through the door on day one, two years later, it’s all about retention. Staying relevant is probably the hardest thing. There’s so many new restaurants opening, so many different areas coming back to life, staying relevant is hard. Keeping the food good keeps people coming back.”

How do you feel about Yelp?

Mikala Brennan, Hula Girl Bar and Grill: “I think that as an opening restaurant you have to look at it and see if there’s trends happening. I think as chefs and owners we tend to take things a little personal sometimes. It’s sometimes hard not to respond immediately my GM reads them first and decides if there’s something I need to respond to immediately. I’ll be honest I think it’s relevant, but there is some things that are nit picky and irrelevant. I want to listen to people’s critiques, people that really want to tell you how they’re experience was sometimes email you, which I can respond to faster.”

How do you feel about new restaurants opening?

Scott Parker, A-Town Bar and Grill: “Arlington is in a very transitional time right now. Having two venues that are getting older and older, I wish new restaurants would open in Ballston, we don’t get the foot traffic that they get in Clarendon.”

How do you feel about bar crawls? Will we see more restrictions on them in the future?

Mark Fedorchak: “We are pro bar crawl, it’s been proven that they can be done in a controlled manner where they set a limit on the number of participants. While we don’t participate in them, it’s good for business across the board. They bring new guests from D.C. to Arlington.

What do you know now that you knew you wish you knew earlier?

Javier Candon: “How hard it is. Being there every single day, I took a break from being on the floor every day, and I think I forgot just how hard it is to be there seven days a week.”

How do you attract regular customers and locals?

Mikala Brennan: “We have a lot of residential people in the Shirlington area, and we find that they want to come in, they want to live there and support local business. So for us it’s important that we take care of neighborhood people. Making sure that they understand it’s okay to bring their kids in, it’s okay for them their kids to throw Cheerios on the ground, and do whatever they need to do. We want them to know it’s okay for them to come in with a shirt and flip flops on but if they want to wear a suit that’s fine too. We want to welcome everyone in.”

What have you found to love about being a restaurant and small business owner?

Scott Parker: “It’s just something you can’t describe, it’s grueling, late nights, long days. To be able to look around and see one of you venues packed, people smiling, enjoying your food and drink, in that moment it’s not about the money, it’s so thrilling.”

Thank you to our participants and to A-Town Bar and Grill for housing us. Look out for details about the March ARLnow Presents event, which will be held in Crystal City and will focus on Arlington’s burgeoning tech scene.

Quotes compiled by Justin Funkhouser.

by ARLnow.com — January 27, 2016 at 2:00 pm 0

Subway store in Clarendon (photo via Google Maps)(Updated at 3 p.m.) The owner of a Subway sandwich store in Clarendon has pleaded guilty to a tax evasion conspiracy and could face up to five years in prison.

Federal prosecutors say 49-year-old Alexandria resident Obayedul Hoque conspired with managers at a number of Subway stores and a gas station he owned to keep some $6.5 million in sales off the books between 2008 and 2013. Hoque’s company dodged between $1.5 and $3.5 million in federal taxes as a result of the conspiracy, prosecutors said.

Among the seven Subway locations Hoque owned in Arlington, Alexandria and D.C. is the shop at 3000 10th Street N. in Clarendon. That store has remained open. Hoque also owned a Shell station on Duke Street in Alexandria.

Hoque pleaded guilty today and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 13. The full press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, after the jump.

Photo via Google Maps

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by ARLnow.com — January 26, 2016 at 3:50 pm 0

"Restaurant space available" sign in RosslynTwo feet of snow wasn’t enough to close many Arlington eateries, and it’s not changing anything about our event tonight on Arlington’s restaurant industry.

ARLnow Presents: Running a Restaurant in Arlington will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight at A-Town Bar & Grill (4100 Fairfax Drive). It’s completely free to attend and a great excuse for getting out of the house and shaking off cabin fever.

Fox 5 contributor Sarah Fraser will host a panel discussion with some of the brightest starts of the local restaurant biz, including Tim Ma of Water & Wall, Mark Fedorchak of Liberty Tavern, Scott Parker of A-Town Bar & Grill, Mikala Brennan of Hula Girl and Javier Candon of SER.

ARLnow Restaurant event / Spotluck banner and promo codeIf you’ve ever read the comments section of a restaurant-related article on ARLnow.com, the topics of discussion may seem familiar: What makes some restaurants succeed and others fail? Why are there so many or so few of certain types of restaurants in Arlington? What are the biggest challenges of opening a new restaurant in Arlington?

There’s plenty of room in A-Town, but you may want to arrive early to try to snag a seat. The program will get underway shortly before 6:30.

Also tonight, reps from the locally-made restaurant discovery app Spotluck will be on hand to talk briefly about the app and its local offerings. If you haven’t checked out Spotluck already, be sure to download it and enter the promo code ARL26 while setting it up.

After the jump: the bios of each of our panelists.

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by ARLnow.com — January 11, 2016 at 3:25 pm 0

Bradshaw's Children's Shoes on Lee Highway (photo via Google Maps)Arlington County Police responded to a call for a drunk customer harassing the staff at a children’s shoe store on Lee Highway.

The alleged incident was reported just after 3 p.m. at Bradshaw’s Children’s Shoes, a long-time local business at 4532 Lee Highway, in the Lee Heights Shops.

According to the police dispatch, an intoxicated woman is inside the store, holding an open bottle of wine. She is refusing to leave the store and “keeps demanding adult shoes,” according to the dispatch.

The store requested police to help remove the woman from the premises.

Photo via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com — January 6, 2016 at 12:50 pm 0

District Taco opened the doors at its new Rosslyn restaurant today, at 1500 Wilson Blvd, serving large lunchtime crowds two days before its official opening date.

Just after noon today, diners who heard of the early opening via word of mouth formed a long line inside the restaurant.

This is the seventh brick-and-mortar location for founder Osiris Hoil, who started District Taco as a tiny food cart after being laid off from a construction job during the recession. Rosslyn was one of the original cart’s most frequent destinations.

“We wanted to go back to Rosslyn because this place means a lot to us,” Hoil said last month. “This is where DT evolved — with our customers there… We stopped going to Rosslyn with the taco cart because we wanted to focus on our [brick and mortar] locations, but now we have come back and we’re here to stay for a long time!”

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