Over the years Beatriz Sampaio has seen the residential and commercial cleaning industry evolve. And over those years her own company, simply called A Cleaning Service, has evolved as well.
Founded in 1985, A Cleaning Service has been providing high-quality, competitively priced and diligently performed cleaning to residences and businesses in the Arlington and Washington, D.C. area for more than three decades. It’s a business that Beatriz has devoted her life to, but it was never her first idea.
Beatriz came to the U.S. from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1985 after studying at a university there. After less than a year in the states, she and a friend-turned-business-partner acquired a house-cleaning company based in Arlington. The previous owner was looking to leave the business, and handed over the keys to Beatriz and her partner.
Beatriz had no experience running a business but was eager to take on the challenge. She said she learned by working and watching.
“I was so young then, and so fresh,” Beatriz said. “I had the knack for it. I was born to be an entrepreneur.”
Part of that knack was having a competitive instinct and a flair for leadership. She empowers her more than 50 employees and gives them opportunities to grow. “I guide them so they can succeed,” she said. “We work as a team and work together. Some have been with me all 30 years.”
Their quality has been recognized as an Angie’s List Super Service Award Winner (2011-2015).
A Cleaning Service is independently owned and operated and is deliberately not a franchise. “I like being my own boss and I like being competitive,” Beatriz said. “And I’m very creative.”
In what spare time has she enjoys listening to jazz and classical music, playing classical guitar, painting and solving math problems.
To reach Beatriz Sampaio to schedule service or arrange for an estimate, call 703-892-8648. See their website here.
The preceding was a local business profile written by Buzz McClain and sponsored by A Cleaning Service.
Imagine your meals being prepared by fitness trainers who eat like gourmets.
No, plain chicken breast and steamed broccoli are not on the menu. But you would expect good, clean protein, a lively variety of vegetables and fruit, all of it seasonal and flavorful and sourced at local farms that eschew chemicals.
Even if you are not a gym rat, Crossfit enthusiast or marathoner — and even if your idea of exercise is your nightly walk with the dog (that counts!) — MightyMeals will bring to you freshly prepared, multi-course meals and snacks created with meats and produce from nearby small farmers that will improve your lifestyle by adding time and nutrition to your busy schedule.
Hence the motto, “Where quality meets convenience.”
And as it happens, MightyMeals was founded by two fitness trainers — Dan Graziano and Alex Lebonitte — who stumbled onto a viable startup business when Graziano, as a favor, cooked meals for a few of his fitness clients. Their enthusiastic response led him to conclude, happily for the rest of us, a home-delivery prepared-food service is cheaper than opening a gym.
Chef Stefano Marzano, also a founding owner who learned his craft at his family’s longtime Washington Italian eatery Luigi’s, brings an experienced hand and versatile culinary skills to the kitchen.
Clients throughout Northern Virginia, stimulated by the quality and preparation, not to mention the health-conscious portion control and the ever-changing menu, have signed on to the year-old business to have their orders either delivered to their doors on Sundays or arranged for pick up at locations throughout the region, including several convenient locations in Arlington.
Because of the rapid acceptance, the company has been able to leverage its scale to purchase quality meats and vegetables from local producers — including Cibola Farm, Parting Ridge Farm, Saddle Ridge Farm, Whippoorwill Farm and the famed Polyface Farm — at rates that allow MightyMeals to price their rotating 14 entrees and snacks at reasonable prices.
For example: Jerk chicken with mango salsa, lemon pepper bistro steak with Brussels sprouts and pasteurized bacon, and bison lasagna are about $10. Penne primavera with beef and bison meatballs? About $10. Cobb salad with free-range chicken or grass-fed truffle burger? About $10.
Among the menu categories are “lean,” “farm to table,” “Paleo friendly,” “protein packed” as well as vegetarian and gluten free. Graziano says clients report that children enjoy the meals as much as their grownup dinner companions.
Graziano, who looks every bit the fitness trainer that he is, says the name of the service was intentionally “not too masculine and not too feminine. But we wanted something strong.”
MightyMeals. It would seem they’ve cooked up a good idea.
The preceding was a local business profile written by Buzz McClain and sponsored by MightyMeals.
When Olivia Davison opened Ballston Therapeutic Massage in 2012 in Ballston, she had just five tables for her clients and considerable competition from better-funded national massage chains.
Flash-forward to today: Ballston Therapeutic Massage has 10 tables, a dedicated roster of certified masseuses, and a loyal clientele that could not care less about the big massage chain locations that surround Olivia’s business.
There are several reasons for that. One, their type of massage is perhaps unique in Arlington, and for another, Olivia herself.
“Most of my therapists are from China and Korea,” Olivia said, “so we practice Eastern Massage; they learned Eastern Massage in their home countries.”
And when those therapists go on vacation, they are continuing to learn and practice.
“We encourage continuous education focusing on new techniques, not just here but when they return home to China and Korea for visits,” she said.
Of course, Swedish massage is also offered for those who enjoy the familiar method. They also do “deep tissue surrender,” reflexology, pre- and post-natal massage, hot stone massage, cupping and other therapies.
The emphasis is on the “therapy.” Her regular clients enjoy the benefits of targeted massage that is proven to decrease pain, increase range of motion, relieve stress, lessen depression, relieve migraine pain and boost the immune system, among other life-changing benefits.
“We focus on therapeutic,” she said. “Other places have showers, saunas — what do we do? Just massage. That’s our specialty.”
Olivia has made a point to become involved in the Arlington community, offering massage services at public events such as marathons and school events, and volunteering to work with those with disabilities.
“We love Arlington,” Olivia said. “And we love helping people.”
The preceding was a local business profile written by Buzz McClain and sponsored by Ballston Therapeutic Massage
The California Tortilla location in Crystal City location has closed.
The locally-based Mexican fast casual chain opened the location at 2450 Crystal Drive in 2012. It apparently closed this week.
A sign posted on the door reads: “California Tortilla is closing! We thank you for your patronage these past four years, and wish you the best of tacos in the years to come!”
An employee was removing the lettering with the restaurant’s hours from the door this afternoon.
Separately, the former Seattle’s Best Coffee location down the block is under construction. Permits displayed on the windows indicate that a Navy Federal Credit Union location will be moving in.
Hat tip to @34smiley
(Updated at 5:55 p.m.) About 4,600 businesses in Arlington County are newly subject to stringent recycling requirements this year.
Putting the changes and goals into action, on Jan. 1 the county began requiring that businesses, in addition to property owners, create and implement recycling plans. Like commercial and multifamily properties — those who manage office buildings and apartments — local businesses are also now subject to an annual inspection by an “Arlington County Recycling Outreach Specialist” and a $66 fee to pay for that inspection.
Including the property owners that were previously subject to the requirements, some 6,000 businesses total in Arlington are now required to:
- Register and submit a trash and recycling plan.
- Establish a recycling program to collect and dispose of recyclable items separately from trash.
- Place a recycling container next to every trash container.
- Clearly label recycling containers.
- Provide educational materials to employees (or tenants), telling them about the recycling program.
The requirements are far from onerous for large companies, but for some smaller companies, where every minute and every dollar counts, it’s producing some confusion and consternation.
The owner of a five-employee non-profit organization told ARLnow.com that she had to go back and forth with the county before getting a letter that finally explained the requirements and the fact that her organization was, in fact, subject to the new rules.
“Over the last month, I’ve spent a ton of my time dealing with the new recycling rules — mostly because Arlington County has been terrible at planning for and implementing their rules changes,” she said. “It’s been a very frustrating thing during [a time that is] normally busy anyway, and I’m sure [it is] for others too.”
The $66 fee, we’re told, can only be paid by check or by paying via credit card in person at county government headquarters — not online. An online payment system is in the works, the business owner was told.
Phil Bresee, manager of Arlington’s Environmental Management Office, said the inspections are new but the recycling requirement is not.
“All businesses have been required to recycle since 1994 — just not all have been subject to the fee and inspections,” he explained. “The changes to the Code apply the requirements to all businesses in the County.”
“Until this year, the code focused on and placed the responsibility for ensuring compliance on property managers and owners,” Bresee continued. “While most properties had recycling systems in place, we found that a large percentage of individual businesses or commercial tenants were not participating in those systems. Addressing that disconnect was the key driver for the Code changes.”
Bresee said the county intends to inspect all 6,000 businesses this year, though county code “does allow us to consider exemptions on a case-by-case basis.”
“In these unique situations, we mainly focus on ensuring that an overall recycling system is in place,” Bresee said. “Coworking spaces and virtual offices are usually covered under the recycling plans filed by the property manager or owner.”
The letter sent to businesses notes that two-thirds of all solid waste in Arlington is generated by commercial and multi-family properties. Business participation in recycling programs, the letter says, it key to meeting the county’s “zero waste” goals.
“Arlington County strives to be a world-class urban community and maintaining a clean and environmentally sustainable city is a top priority,” the letter said.
Originally founded as a food truck, Pupatella opened its current Bluemont location, at 5104 Wilson Blvd, in 2010. Co-owner Enzo Algarme is now teaming up with the partners behind Elevation Burger to expand via franchising.
“After a decade of perfecting their craft, the owners have joined forces with two of the founding partners of Elevation Burger to begin offering franchises,” said a PR rep.
Additional Pupatella locations may be in store for the D.C. area, according to a press release. Other potential expansion locations, should franchise owners sign on, include Philadelphia, Richmond, Virginia Beach, Raleigh-Durham, Chapel Hill, Wilmington and as far away as the Middle East.
The full press release from Pupatella is below.
Started as a food truck in 2007, today Pupatella is a favorite Neapolitan Pizzeria among Northern Virginians, winning loyal fans with its classic artisan Neapolitan pizza. Due to high demand, Pupatalla has decided to expand through corporate development and franchise opportunities. To accomplish this, Enzo Algarme, Pupatella’s founder and owner, has joined forces with founding partners of Elevation Burger who grew the country’s first organic burger chain from one to more than 50 restaurants worldwide. Pupatella is now seeking entrepreneurs and franchisees that have a passion for classic, artisan pizza to help grow the brand.
Born and raised in Naples, Italy, Algarme takes tremendous pride in Pupatella’s “back to the basics” philosophy. The restaurant proudly possesses aVPN certification, a designation given to qualifying pizzerias by the Naples-based Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. To obtain the VPN certification, the pizza is made according to the 200-year-old Neapolitan technique. Only wood-fired ovens are permitted; the dough is made of only four ingredients: 00 Italian flour, sea salt, fresh yeast and water. The toppings for the D.O.C. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) pizza may only include sauce made of San Marzano tomatoes grown in Italy, fresh cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella made with buffalo milk or fior di latte, sea salt, fresh basil and olive oil.
“I came to the U.S. for college and the one thing I missed the most was classic Neapolitan pizza that you could find on every corner in Naples,” said Algarme. “Cooking was a huge part of my upbringing in Italy and I felt a calling to start a business that was true to my roots. We’ve experienced tremendous success, with lines out the door everyday, and I feel confident that our pizza will be embraced around the world as we move forward with our expansion plans.”
Pupatella is consistently named as one of the country’s best pizzerias by media and has received accolades by Business Insider and Washington Post. Its current location has experienced solid growth and high profit, totaling nearly 2.5 million dollars in gross sales in 2015. Pupatella has a top rating from more than 1,200 reviewers on Yelp. In addition to its classic artisan food, Pupatella is also known for it’s fast and affordable format. From a family outing to a romantic date night, guests appreciate Pupatella’s commitment to simple, true Neapolitan pizza served in a casual atmosphere where all are welcome.
Pupatella is now seeking entrepreneurs to help expand the pizzeria in key markets across the United States and Middle East. The ideal franchise partner has restaurant experience and a passion for executing a proven system. Specific areas for U.S. expansion include Washington D.C Metro, Philadelphia Metro, Richmond, VA, Virginia Beach, VA, Raleigh-Durham, NC, Chapel Hill, NC, Newark, DE, and Wilmington, DE. Franchise opportunities are also available in the Middle East.
To learn more about franchise opportunities, visit pupatellafranchise.com to submit an online application or call 703.825.6334.
It’s September — Bid an especially hot and sweaty August adieu, September is here. Get ready for kids going back to school, fall beer tastings, outdoor festivals, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and cooler weather. As a reminder, however: it’s still summer until Sept. 22.
Author Talk at Kenmore — Best-selling author Ann Patchett will be discussing her new book Commonwealth, which is set in part in Arlington, at an event on Thursday, Sept. 15. The event, at the Kenmore Middle School auditorium, is open to the public, with RSVP; it’s sponsored by One More Page Books and Arlington Public Library. [Eventbrite]
CEB CEO Stepping Down — Tom Monahan, the CEO of the publicly traded, Rosslyn-based firm CEB, is stepping down. The search is now on for a new chief executive for the 4,500-employee company, which will be moving to a gleaming new office tower after construction wraps up, likely in 2018. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
With plenty of turbulence in the Clarendon restaurant scene this summer — opening, closings, rumors — it’s worth noting that some long-time establishments are doing just fine, thank you very much.
Clarendon Grill, which has been in business since 1996, is still among the local winners. The cover band, trivia night and happy hour destination, at 1101 N. Highland Street, just extended its lease.
Owner Peter Pflug says Clarendon Grill is continuing to do well enough that he decided to extend its lease by five years, through March 2022.
Pflug, who has been dubbed the “one of the godfathers of Clarendon nightlife,” chalks the recent turmoil up to an “oversupply of restaurants” in the area.
He said normal supply-and-demand dynamics aren’t working in Clarendon because once there’s an oversupply of restaurants it’s hard to get back to an equilibrium.
“Once a retail space becomes restaurant space, it usually stays that way,” he said. “It’s expensive to put in ADA bathrooms, kitchens, etc.”
Additionally, with the bricks-and-mortar retail industry on the decline thanks to competition from online retail, non-restaurant retailers are not rushing to fill empty space. Who is filling empty space? In some cases it’s savvy restaurant operators who execute well and are effective at carving out their local niche; in other cases it’s owners who are new to the Clarendon market and “may not be the best at doing their homework.”
Yes, rents are high, but that’s not the most important factor at play.
“I don’t think rental rates are nearly as important as oversupply,” Pflug said.
Clarendon Grill, which was renovated in 2010, continues to have a full slate of live entertainment on tap, including the aforementioned cover bands, “hilarious” Wednesday trivia nights, karaoke nights and salsa dancing nights.
It can be called a “hidden gem” and a “buried treasure” because of its subterranean location and the nature of its business: Protea Diamonds has been creating custom designer jewelry for an educated and cultured clientele for 30 years in the same North Arlington location, in the lower level of the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center.
And, unless you have refined taste and a passion for one-of-a-kind jewelry, you most likely have never heard of Protea, until now.
Anthony Taitz is okay with that. In fact, contrary to just about every other retailer, he prefers appointments at his quiet boutique shop with clients over walk-in foot traffic. That way, he can devote the time and attention required to craft exactly the piece the client sees in their dreams.
And some of his clients dream big. Here’s a recent example:
“My client wanted to propose marriage at the bottom of the ocean, while scuba diving,” Anthony says. “So we made a cubic zirconia copy to look like the real thing in case he lost it.” The diver-boyfriend proposed with the impressive copy underwater but gave his fiancée the real ring safely back at the hotel.
That’s just one of Anthony’s seemingly endless stories about a career that has taken him from his hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa, to the dusty back roads of Texas to the bustling community of Arlington where he has earned his reputation as the “anti-mall, anti-mass market” jeweler.
“We give attention to detail, to quality,” he says. “We make exclusive, high-end, one-of-a-kind pieces that you won’t find anywhere else.”
Ideal-cut South African diamonds and precious gems are used to craft engagement rings, wedding bands, anniversary bands, earrings, necklaces and bracelets, and just as vital as the material is the education that the client receives when Anthony explains their creation.
Anthony cautions that “we are not inexpensive.” Of his pricing, he says, “on a scale of five we are between two and three.”
Modern jewelry shoppers, he said, “study the market on the Internet, and we welcome that. They know what they want and they know what they should pay. It is up to us to create exactly what they see in their dreams.”
Anthony has created his own dream along the way. He came to the U.S. from South Africa in 1983 and found a position in Dallas, driving an immense territory as a travelling salesman throughout the American Southwest. He saw hundreds of jewelry stores along the way, each one contributing to his own ideas of how he would build his own business.
After he met his soon-to-be-wife Rhonda in Dallas, “I followed her like a lovesick puppy to Arlington,” he says. Once in Arlington, Anthony made friends with the then-landlord of the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center who let him have a room in the lower level for a fabulously low rent. “It was perfect for me,” he says 30 years later. “It was a vault.”
The business grew as his reputation as a reliable, affordable craftsman spread, and it continues to spread to this day. Protea Diamonds may still be a “hidden gem” and a “buried treasure,” but there are many who are in on the secret.
To make an appointment at Protea Diamonds at 2499 North Harrison Street, call 703-536-9822 or [email protected]
The preceding was a promoted post written by Buzz McClain and sponsored by Protea Diamonds.
After interning for the past three months at ARLnow, we all had different experiences working in and learning about the area.
The three of us came in from different backgrounds: One of us is an Arlington native (Jackie Friedman), another is a New Yorker who moved last year to the D.C. area (Adrian Cruz) and the other (Omar DeBrew) commutes from Maryland.
As a result, we all had different experiences and opinions to share about our summer covering news in Arlington.
While I had lived in Arlington for most of the past year, there were still a lot of places and areas I had no idea existed. Because I lived in Lyon Park, I tended to stick around the Orange Line corridor, wandering into Pentagon City and Columbia Pike once in a blue moon. Throughout the summer, my work has sent me to all corners of the county, allowing me to explore and learn about neighborhoods I had never even known existed. Now, I can say with confidence that I know my way around the county and that names such as Cherrydale, Buckingham and Fairlington aren’t just stereotypical names for small English towns.
Arlingtonians as a people are an interesting bunch. The county is extremely diverse with people from all walks of life and one never knows what to expect. Just in my time working here, I have encountered people ranging from a lawyer who’s a finalist on “American Ninja Warrior” to a grumpy British man. Also, by reading our comments section, I’ve also learned they’re an opinionated and sarcastic bunch, with lots to say.
As a place to live in, Arlington is what I’d like to call Washington’s Disneyland. What I mean by that is that it’s cleaner, safer, quieter than anywhere I’ve ever lived in, almost as if it was designed by Walt Disney himself. Coming from New York City, I’m used to a dirty, gritty city with lots of crime and weird stuff going on. In contrast, the weirdest things that happen in Arlington are weekends in Clarendon. I currently live in Buckingham, an area that many call “Arlington’s ghetto.” I come from the South Bronx. Buckingham is no ghetto. What it does have is a thriving Latin American community with many amazing restaurants. The only drawback about living in Arlington is that it’s expensive! Finding a decent meal under $10 in Clarendon is close to impossible, and as my fellow interns will attest to, finding cheap parking is just as difficult. Nonetheless, this is definitely somewhere I could see myself living in the future.
While I have lived in Arlington my whole life, I wasn’t really aware of everything that goes on in the area. It’s amazing how someone can live in the same place their whole life, but have no clue about the people living around them. Your next door neighbor could be a craftsman like Jeff Spugnardi or the person working out next to you at the gym could have starred on “America Ninja Warrior” or even be 100 years old. Interning this summer at ARLnow allowed me to meet different people living in my community and learn about their interesting stories and lives. Everyone has an interesting story, especially in Arlington, so I encourage you to get to know the people around you. Maybe if you strike up a conversation with a stranger about how sad you are about Minh’s closing (I’m still mourning the loss), you could find out that the person you are talking to happens to be an Olympic gold medalist. But beware that person could go on and complain to you about the Clarendon stores that keep their doors open during the heat or how their child’s swimming instructor has man boobs.
Covering Arlington as a videographer is easy with all the history and new development taking place. Any issue big or small has some meaning to the community, such as a restaurant closing, a new 7-Eleven, or a fire station about to be demolished. The coverage helps Arlingtonians form opinions and decide for themselves. My only advice to those driving in Arlington is to take Metro when possible, and if you have to drive, find 24-hour parking areas near parks. Some spots are free; with others, you’ll have to pay. But that parking is cheaper than city areas.
Tech Firm Staying in Arlington, Expanding — Applied Predictive Technologies, which was acquired by MasterCard last year, has decided to stay in Arlington after being courted by other jurisdictions. The company plans to move to a new office in Ballston and hire 368 employees. It was offered $6 million in conditional incentives by the state and the county. [Washington Post]
Archaeological Excavation Underway — The Arlington Historical Society is conducting an archeological dig at the historic Ball-Sellers House, hoping to learn more about a section of the property that was torn down a century ago. [InsideNova]
It’s National Farmers Market Week — This week is National Farmers Market Week and the Arlington Farmers Market in Courthouse will be celebrating with a raffle and a cooking demonstration by celebrity chef David Guas of Bayou Bakery. Arlington has eight official farmers markets countywide. [ARLnow Events]
Flickr pool photo by Eric
Arlington resident Jeff Spugnardi’s interest in woodworking began with skateboard ramps he built in grammar school. Decades later, after retiring from a career in the Marine Corps, he turned his hobby into a business in his Leeway Overlee home.
Since 2008, the 46-year-old craftsman has sold wood chairs, tables and other furniture he’s designed and built in his personal workshop.
“So many people can’t believe that someone builds something in Arlington because it seems like everybody is a professional and going to D.C., and here I am building things,” Spugnardi said. “I take ugly slabs and turn it into this stuff.”
Spugnardi only uses walnut, maple and cherry wood to make his furniture, including chairs that range in price fromAll the wood is from a Northern Virginia supplier.
Spugnardi said he focuses on making comfortable furniture with character. He often adds special touches, like glow-in-the dark features, to his works. For his chairs, which take 80 hours to build, he puts in flexible back braces that are designed to conform to sitters’ backs. A 6-foot-11 man once commented on how comfy the chairs were and how he couldn’t find similar furniture for his size, Spugnardi said.
“Everything is custom-sized, so I have a bunch of templates based on your height and your arms,” he said. “Everything is proportionate to the legs and where your knees are. We custom fit everything.”
Spugnardi said most of his customers are locals. His work has appeared at art shows in Reston and D.C. and regularly catches the eye of people in his neighborhood.
“I’ll often do a lot of sculpting and grinding in the driveway,” Spugnardi said. “I used to be in the Marines so I will wear my flight suit. People will come by [and ask], ‘What are you doing or what type of wood is this?’ And so I’ll get some people who will [ask if I can] build them a table or if I can see their dining room.”
In April, we published a list of businesses offered for sale in Arlington.
Here are some of the businesses that are currently listed on the site and have either been added or updated since our last check. We are only naming the business if a name or website is provided in the listing.
- “At Luna Grill and Diner, we take pride in our passion for fresh, delicious foods that warm the soul in our restaurant’s lively and intimate setting.” The Shirlington restaurant was established in 1996. Listed at $250,000.
- A “beautiful state of the art restaurant and bar in Arlington. No expense spared in customer area or commercial kitchen… 4,200 sq ft with additional outdoor seating… Car included with sale of business!” Listed for $300,000.
- “This prestigious nail salon is located in one of the busiest street in Clarendon. It has established clientele. Established for over ten years, it consistently grosses over $600K per year and very profitable and has a lot of potential to grow even more.” Listed for $297,000.
- “Little Caesars is the fastest growing and largest carry out pizza chain in the world with locations on five continents. Prior food experience is preferred, not essential. A net worth of $150k with minimum liquidity of $50k is required.” Listed for $160,000.
- A 1,000 square foot deli in Crystal City that “used to do more than $15K per week sale. But currently, they are doing little bit more than $7K per week.” Listed for $175,000.
- A franchise restaurant in the Pentagon City mall food court that opened in 2013. “Connection with Metro and recently renovated shopping mall bring in tons of customers in this food court. 750 SF with $16,500 per month rent (HOT SPOT) 6 years and 2 X 5 years option left.” Listed at $320,000.
- “This pizza restaurant is in the perfect area of Arlington. A lot of foot traffic with offices and residential in this location.” Restaurant seats 60 in 2,000 square foot space. Listed for $399,000.
- “Very well established and profitable 5 days Deli, Hot Bar and Salad Bar business need[s] new owner. Located very busy commercial area, 1 Floor of High Rise B/D. Currently, they are doing about $100K per month in Gross Sale, due to the nearby B/D are filling up.” Listed for $599,000.
Amid a turbulent period for restaurants in Clarendon, there are rumors circulating about two other prominent neighborhood eateries.
Multiple sources have told ARLnow.com that Pete’s New Haven Apizza (3017 Clarendon Blvd), which opened in 2011, has been looking for another business to take over its space. One source said a deal is in the works which would bring a new Chipotle location to the current Pete’s space.
“That’s news to me,” Pete’s co-founder Joel Mehr said, when asked about it in June. He declined further comment.
There have also been persistent rumblings that Fuego Cocina y Tequileria (2800 Clarendon Blvd), which opened in 2012, may be closing by the end of the year. A spokeswoman said the Mexican restaurant is doing well and reports about a potential closure are false.
“Those rumors are not correct,” said Simone Rathle, on behalf of Fuego owner Passion Food Restaurant Group. She said the rumors may have started after Fuego stopped serving lunch on weekdays.
Over the span of a month this summer, three prominent Clarendon restaurants — Hard Times Cafe, Boulevard Woodgrill and American Tap Room — closed their doors. Brixx Pizza in Clarendon closed earlier this year after just six months in business.
While there are more new restaurants and bars on the way — Ambar, Pamplona, Opera — some insiders question whether there might be more restaurants in Clarendon than the market can handle. That would explain why even generally well-liked spots, such as Boulevard Woodgrill, have been closing.
Insiders say middle-of-the-road restaurant concepts that branch out as small chains after finding success in the suburbs — American Tap Room would be one example — are particularly vulnerable. Drawn to Clarendon by allure of the area’s young, affluent potential customers, they find that consumers have tastes more in line with D.C. than Fairfax County.
“I think the mini-chains don’t realize this clientele is so used to D.C. and big city ideas,” said one industry insider. “In a town far out it would probably do well, but people here want something different.”
There’s also the issue of quickly-changing consumer habits — the reason why the once-hot frozen yogurt and cupcake shops have been whittled down to one survivor apiece in Clarendon.
Still, neither explanation would apply to Pete’s, which originated in D.C., or Fuego, which was launched in Clarendon by savvy, successful D.C. area restaurateurs. In the end, it might come down to supply and demand: too many restaurants in one place, not enough potential customers.
It’s been a busy summer for local restaurateur Reese Gardner.
Gardner has two new Arlington establishments in the works — Dudley’s Sport and Ale in Shirlington, which we first reported on in August 2015, and Quinn’s on the Corner, which we first learned about this past June, while lease negotiations were still reportedly in progress.
Despite Dudley’s nearly one year head start, it’s going to be Quinn’s, at 1776 Wilson Blvd, that opens first.
The neighborhood bar and restaurant, which will offer sports on the TVs and Irish and Belgian beers on draft, is aiming for a September opening, Gardner tells ARLnow.com. Work appeared to be in progress at the restaurant today.
Dudley’s, meanwhile, had been beset by permitting and regulatory delays stemming from its addition of a rooftop patio.
The county permit page for Dudley’s, at 2766 S. Arlington Mill Drive, tells the tale of the tape — a solid column of rejected permit applications, with comments from county inspectors like:
- “This is not a tenant improvement. The conversion of the roof to a terrace with roofs over stairs, restrooms, and bar is an addition. Change permit information from CTBO to CADD or submit another permit for the addition.”
- “The drawings indicate that new storefront will be installed. However, no information is presented regarding the U-factor of the storefront system, the air infiltration rate of the storefront system or the SHGC of the glass used in the storefront system.”
- “Sheet E0002 includes motion sensor switches in the restrooms. It is unclear if these switches meet the requirements of section C405.2.2.2 of the 2012 VECC. In the resubmission, include a note on sheet E0002 that states that these motion sensors will shut off all non-emergency lighting within 30 minutes of all occupants leaving the space.”
Gardner, who in February said he was hoping to open Dudley’s in time for the beginning of the summer, did not provide an updated estimate on when it might open now. He said the process has been excruciating, ballooning in complexity as time has gone on.
“We actually had to divide the permit into and interior permit and exterior permit because of the rooftop and new facade,” Gardner said. “If you read they are also making us go through a special inspection process over and above the normal one.”
Though some improvements have been made in recent years, Arlington County has been criticized for having a permitting process that many business owners describe as unfriendly to smaller, brick-and-mortar businesses.