Vornado, Arlington County’s biggest private landowner — with major collections of properties in Crystal City and Rosslyn — announced today that it is spinning off and merging its D.C. area operations with Chevy Chase, Md.-based JBG Companies.
The combined company would have both office and residential properties throughout Crystal City, Pentagon City and the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. Among JBG’s properties in Arlington are the under-construction Central Place project in Rosslyn and the iconic “Bob Peck” office building at 800 N. Glebe Road in Ballston.
In 2014, Vornado’s properties in Arlington were assessed at $3.8 billion, or 5.7 percent of the total assessed value of all property in the county, according to the Washington Business Journal. JBG’s properties in Arlington were assessed at $1.31 billion.
From a press release, issued late this afternoon:
VORNADO REALTY TRUST (NYSE:VNO) (“Vornado”) announced today that its Board of Trustees has approved a tax-free spin-off of its Washington, DC business, currently known as Vornado/Charles E. Smith, and that it has entered into a definitive agreement to merge SpinCo with the operating company and certain select assets of The JBG Companies (“JBG”), a leading Washington, DC real estate company.
The combined company will be named JBG SMITH Properties. It will be the largest, market-leading, best-in-class, pure-play Washington, DC real estate company. This transaction represents a key milestone in Vornado’s value creation strategy which will have produced three world-class, highly focused REITs – Vornado itself (RemainCo), Urban Edge Properties, and now, JBG SMITH. Each of these companies has a highly focused
management team, unique assets, and a clearly defined mission.
About JBG SMITH
- Vornado shareholders are expected to own approximately 74% of the combined company, JBG limited partners are expected to own approximately 20%, and JBG management is expected to own approximately 6% (all percentages subject to closing adjustments).
- JBG SMITH will be led by JBG’s senior management team which has a proven track record of superior execution in the Washington, DC market over the long term and through numerous cycles.
- The combined company’s portfolio will consist of 50 office properties totaling approximately 11.8 million square feet, 18 multifamily properties with 4,451 residential units, and 11 other properties totaling approximately 0.7 million square feet. These assets are located in premier submarkets within the Washington, DC metropolitan area, concentrated in Downtown District of Columbia, Crystal City and Pentagon City, the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor, Reston, and Bethesda.
- Importantly, JBG SMITH will have a pipeline of projects under construction and land for future development that could add over 20 million square feet to the portfolio, positioning the company for strong growth and attractive shareholder returns.
- JBG SMITH will be the largest landlord to the U.S. Government in the nation’s capital.
- The Company will be well capitalized, have substantial liquidity and a strong balance sheet.
- The combination is expected to result in approximately $35 million of synergies producing an overhead structure in line with best-in-class peers.
- The new company will continue to manage the JBG funds’ assets that are not being contributed for customary fees. The company will not raise new investment funds. JBG SMITH Board and Management
- JBG SMITH’s Board of Trustees will consist of twelve members, a majority of whom will be independent. Vornado and JBG will each designate six trustees.
- Steven Roth, Vornado’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, will be Chairman of the Board.
- W. Matt Kelly, a Managing Partner of JBG, will be Chief Executive Officer of JBG SMITH and a member of the Board.
- Rob Stewart, a Managing Partner of JBG, will be Executive Vice Chairman of the Board.
- The Board will also include seven independent trustees including Alan Forman of the Yale University Investments Office, JBG’s largest investor.
- Michael Glosserman, a Managing Partner of JBG, will also join the Board, as will Mitchell Schear, current President of Vornado/Charles E. Smith.
- From JBG, David Paul will be President and Chief Operating Officer, James Iker will be Chief Investment Officer, and Brian Coulter and Kai Reynolds will be Co-Chief Development Officers.
- From Vornado/Charles E. Smith, Mitchell Schear will be a member of the Executive Committee, Patrick Tyrrell will be Chief Administrative Officer, Jim Creedon will be Executive Vice President responsible for Office Leasing, and Laurie Kramer will be Executive Vice President focused on integration of the teams.
- The new company will look outside for a Chief Financial Officer and intends to have that individual in place before the close of the transaction.
- The new company will integrate the best talent from each of Vornado/Charles E. Smith and JBG.
- Vornado will provide transition services to JBG SMITH, in areas such as IT, tax and SEC reporting for an interim period.
Luna Grill and Diner (4024 Campbell Ave) in Shirlington has been closed since last week, but there are no signs or announcements explaining the closure.
The restaurant remained closed during lunchtime today. Chairs were still placed atop tables and nothing looked amiss, save the fact that it wasn’t open as usual.
There were no signs in the window, nor recent social media posts on the restaurant’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The Luna Grill website has a simple one-sentence line of text — “This site has been suspended” — and nothing else. The diner’s phone line has apparently been turned off.
Unconfirmed rumors suggest that Luna Grill was sold — it has been offered for sale, as we’ve previously reported — and that it would reopen later this year with a new owner.
“Luna is excited to have renowned Chef Scott Sunshine on board!” the post says. “Join Chef Scott Sunshine for a look at some of our new dishes: Roasted Duck Eggrolls, Watermelon Soup, Chard and Kale Caesar Salad, Crispy Red Curry Shrimp Wrap and Seared Scallop Pappardelle Pasta. Coming soon, [a] grand reopening with completely new exciting menu!”
Several indicators of the pace of restaurant openings in Arlington are pointing down this year.
While some new restaurants and bars are on the way, there have been more closings than openings this year, even while the overall Arlington population rises. (By our count: 22 openings and 24 closings, with many of the openings having been for chain restaurants with more than three locations.)
Though it’s not a precise measurement, in years past ARLnow.com has consistently published around 90 articles per year about new restaurants. This year, we’re on pace to publish 72 articles, a decrease of 20 percent.
Meanwhile, Virginia ABC permit applications are down, indicating that the pipeline of new restaurants may also be drying up.
The number of pending permit applications for businesses seeking beer, wine and liquor licenses usually hovers around 20. Currently, it’s at 13, including a number of wholesalers, a few existing restaurants and seven new restaurants that we’ve already reported on.
There’s talk of a national restaurant recession, but some factors particular to Arlington appear to be in play. For one, it follows years of net restaurant growth in the county. For another, a number of the restaurants that closed this year in Arlington were well regarded by others in the industry and not typical of other failed businesses.
“I think the closings this year have surprised everyone and some of them are concepts that people thought were pretty well done,” one restaurant industry insider told ARLnow.com. “Maybe the bubble has burst.”
While we’ve previously reported rumblings from restaurant owners that the Clarendon market in particular was too crowded with restaurants, this insider did not agree that the closings would necessarily be a good thing for the remaining restaurants.
“I’ve always thought it’s better to have a bustling industry where a lot of people are opening and can feed off being known as being in a good restaurant area,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s a good thing to see all of your competitors and everyone around you closing down.”
With continued growth in other parts of Northern Virginia, like Tysons and Loudoun County, it might be that Arlington is losing its status as a dining destination. While the weekend bar scene in Clarendon remains strong, pulling in customers from around the area, Arlington’s restaurants apparently aren’t having such success.
Or perhaps, some speculate, the continued high cost of living has been pushing out the 20-somethings who are key restaurant customers, leaving older residents with children who go out to eat more sparingly.
Either way, 2016 will be known as a bloody year for the local restaurant biz.
“It’s unbelievable how many places have closed,” said the insider.
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.
You might not think that a smartphone app that plays background sounds to help people sleep could be particularly lucrative or innovative. But then you would be underestimating both the market and the vision behind the app.
TMSoft, a small software company based in Crystal City’s 1776 space, released version 7.0 of “White Noise,” its flagship app, over the summer. The update pushes the app in the direction of being a social network, of sorts, for ambient sound.
White Noise, as we’ve previously reported, was released in 2008, just after the Apple App Store started letting iPhone users easily download third-party apps to their phones.
“When I first started I didn’t think anyone was going to download the thing,” said its creator, Ballston resident Todd Moore. “I just ran around my house with a recorder and recorded eight different loops: a bedroom fan, the outside crickets, rain, my HVAC [system]” and so on.
Thanks in part to media exposure — it was written up in the Washington Post, featured on the Today Show and made fun of by Jimmy Fallon — and a first-mover advantage, it became the No. 1 free app in the App Store. Through in-app advertising and a paid-for “pro” version, it was soon bringing in enough revenue that Moore quit his otherwise lucrative R&D job to focus on apps full time.
“I was making more money in a week than I was making all year at my job, and I said to myself, why don’t I quit and do this full time,” Moore recounts.
White Noise remains popular to this day, with the main app and its variants — including a “White Noise Baby” version for parents that includes a built-in baby monitor — generating the bulk of TMSoft’s revenue. (The company has some popular games and novelty apps in its catalog, but none were sustained smash hits on the scale of White Noise.)
“Putting people to sleep is our bread and butter,” Moore quipped, although White Noise is also used by those who want to use background sounds to help them work or study. “It was definitely the story of an app that bootstrapped a company.”
“The goal is to catalog the world’s sounds,” Moore said. “I want every country covered and every sound available.”
Why do that when a simple fan or rainstorm noise will usually suffice? User feedback, Moore said, has made him realize that the most impactful sounds represent a specific time and place in people’s memories.
“People are most comforted by sounds of their childhood,” Moore said. Thanks to user submissions, if someone wants to find a loop of a certain type of frog they heard once upon a time in Bermuda, for instance, there’s a sound for that.
Version 6.0 of White Noise introduced the feature that allows users to record sounds on their phone and, through an algorithm, seamlessly loop the sound so that it can play on repeat without distracting clicks or pops — no small engineering feat.
With version 7.0, users can now upload those sounds — and mash-ups of existing sounds — and download others from a marketplace that can be searched geographically. Users can then “heart” and comment on each other’s sounds.
The rumors were true, unfortunately: Fuego Cocina y Tequileria in Clarendon is closing.
The restaurant confirmed in a press release this evening that its last day will be Sunday, Oct. 16. Fuego opened four years ago, in October 2012, at the corner of Clarendon Blvd and N. Fillmore Street.
“Even great-tasting restaurants battle tough odds, but we cannot thank our devotees enough who were a constant support and presence at our bar and in our dining room,” chef and co-owner Jeff Tunks said in a statement.
There was no notice of a closing in the windows and nothing posted on the restaurant’s social media accounts, but the doors were locked and the phone disconnected throughout the day today. Numerous boxes littered the restaurant’s interior. So far, however, there has been no confirmation that it is permanently closed.”
“[Spice] is a favorite for my coworkers and me,” one regular customer told ARLnow.com. “Do you know if it’s officially closed? Too bad, if so! It was a great place.”
This has been a turbulent year for Clarendon restaurants, with at least a half dozen — including local staples Hard Times Cafe and Boulevard Woodgrill — closing since the end of April. At the same time, however, there are a number of new restaurants and bars opening — like Ambar and Wilson Hardware.
The full press release about Fuego’s closing, after the jump.
Gun Store Has New Owner — Lyon Park gun store Nova Armory has reportedly been sold to one of its employees. Shawn Poulin, the store’s manager, says he is now also its majority owner. The previous owner, Dennis Pratte, at one point claimed that the store was actually owned by his 16-year-old daughter. Poulin says the store is profitable and he plans to expand it to a second floor, “with a showroom to feature rifles, tactical gear and an expanded clothing line.” [Washington Post]
New Bishop for Arlington — Updated at 9:25 a.m. — The Catholic Diocese of Arlington is getting a new bishop. Bishop Michael Burbidge, 59, is transferring to Arlington from Raleigh, N.C. Burbridge is scheduled to be installed as bishop on Dec. 6, replacing current bishop Paul Loverde, 76. Some local Catholics have been pushing for a new bishop who will take the diocese in a different direction than Loverde, a traditionalist who decried the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage. Burbridge was critical of North Carolina’s HB2 “bathroom” law, which was seen as anti-LGBT, though he was also against an anti-discrimination ordinance in Charlotte that HB2 was intended to undo. [Fox 5, InsideNova]
The Evolution of Ballston — GGW takes a look at the past, present and future of Ballston. The article notes that Ballston was once the end of the Orange Line and that ridership at the station fell in the 1980s when the line was extended to Vienna. [Greater Greater Washington]
Immigrant Women to Protest at DCA — Immigrant women and labor union allies are planning a protest at Reagan National Airport today. They’ll be protesting the treatment of immigrant women who work at the airport, claiming poor working conditions for immigrant mothers in particular. [Patch]
Flickr pool photo by ksrjghkegkdhgkk
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.