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.
Key Bridge Marriott Lease Sold — The ground lease for the 57-year-old Key Bridge Marriott in Rosslyn has been sold to a luxury hotel and resort operator, leading to speculation that the hotel — Marriott’s longest continuously-operating property — may soon be replaced. [WTOP]
Sales Tax Receipts Nudge Up — Arlington received $39.68 million in sales tax disbursements from the state this year, up 0.2 percent compared to the year prior, pointing to an ever-so-slight increase in retail sales in the county despite some challenges dragging that figure down. [InsideNova]
Arlington to Host Community Conference — Arlington County is hosting the 17th annual Virginia Statewide Neighborhood Conference from Sept. 29-Oct. 1. Hundreds of neighborhood leaders, community activists and government agencies are expected to attend. [Arlington County]
Local Yoga Studio Featured on National TV — Spark Yoga, an aerial yoga studio on N. Pershing Drive in Lyon Park, was featured in a segment on business news channel CNBC with reporter Diana Olick. [CNBC]
Bikes With Roofs — Is the hot summer sun beating down on you during your bike commute? If so, perhaps you can follow the lead of these two local cyclists and attach a canopy to your bike. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi
A new independent coffee shop is slated to open at some point in the near future in the Clarendon area.
The shop, called Blumen Cafe, is coming to the space that formerly held CD Cellar at 2607 Wilson Blvd, which is about halfway between the Courthouse and Clarendon Metro stations. Signs for the forthcoming cafe state that the business is “coming soon.”
Though we were unable to contact the proprietor behind the cafe, Andira Jabbari, for comment, real estate agent Kenneth Matzkin — who helped lease the property to Jabbari — was able to provide some insight.
The cafe will bring “high-end teas and coffee” and snacks to the space as early as some time this month, Matzkin said.
“They’re putting in a boatload of money to make it look nice,” Matzkin said. “They’re also going to open it up in the front so you could walk directly to the sidewalk from the space.”
But Matzkin cautioned that the end result is still subject to change.
Muggles are set to descend on an Arlington children’s bookstore for crystal ball reading, wand-making and an owl visit this weekend in celebration of the latest installment in the Harry Potter franchise.
Child’s Play at 4510 Lee Highway is scheduled to have activities for aspiring witches and wizards Saturday before “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” comes out at midnight, according to a news release from the shop. The book, which is based on a J.K. Rowling story, is the script for an upcoming London play about Potter as an adult wizard.
The countdown until the book’s release is slated to begin at 10:30 p.m. But the shop also is planning to have free activities throughout the day to celebrate the event. According to the news release, they include:
- A “Platform 9 3/4” photo station
- A sorting hat station, where store visitors will receive their Hogwarts house assignment for Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin
- Wand-making and Hogwarts tie-decorating
- A “History of Magic” game, also known as Harry Potter trivia
- Exams in divination, allowing shop visitors to have their fortunes read and to test their crystal ball-reading abilities
- A Harry Potter-themed scavenger hunt
- A potions snack station
- A visit from a Potomac Overlook Park owl from 2 to 6 p.m.
“This party is going to be a glorious return to Hogwarts,” Child’s Play’s book buyer Molly Olivo said in the press release. “We will be supporting a good cause, enjoying fun wizard activities and sharing the excitement of a new Harry Potter book.”
Harry Potter fans can pre-order the book at Child’s Play or on its website. The shop will give 10 percent of the book’s proceeds to An Open Book Children’s Literacy Foundation, an organization that brings authors and books to underserved schools in the D.C. area.
Photo via Wikimedia
Goody’s Pizza in Clarendon is a small restaurant struggling to stay afloat in an increasingly expensive neighborhood.
The owners, Nick and Vanessa Reisis, say they’ve put a lot of time and effort into their family-run business, located at 3125 Wilson Blvd, but they are having trouble competing with the wave of newer, more upscale restaurants in Clarendon.
There is “a new generation that’s coming in, they’re all young people and they all have good jobs, and… they’re not looking for a little mom and pop shop anymore,” said Vanessa, who’s known to some customers as “Momma Goody.” Business has been “a little down lately,” she acknowledged.
Goody’s is tiny compared to some of Clarendon’s cavernous restaurants and nightspots. But even larger restaurants face the threat of closing. Earlier this month long-time local fixture Hard Times Cafe closed over Independence Day weekend.
Reisis said the feeling of community that was once unique to Clarendon businesses is dissipating.
“It’s not the friendly little neighborhood places anymore,” Vanessa explained. “[At] all these upscale kind of places, it’s just cold.”
Reisis was sad to see Hard Times close — the two restaurants had enjoyed a close relationship, she said. “We recommended them, they recommended us. We were working together.”
This isn’t a new issue — Reisis was once the main subject of an article with the tagline “Can Arlington’s mom-and-pop eateries survive in an increasingly upscale restaurant landscape?” Five years later, Goody’s is still open, still serving a voracious late night bar crowd, and still offering only two types of pizza by the slice: plain and pepperoni.
Despite being an old school spot in a neighborhood full of shiny new places, Goody’s is looking to the future. Tentative plans include getting new furniture and maybe a new outdoor sign.
“We love this restaurant, it’s our passion, it’s like our little baby,” said Reisis.
“We’re thinking of upscaling,” she added, “but that costs money, which we don’t have in our budget.”
Man Arrested for Upskirt Photos — Updated at 10:35 a.m. — Arlington County Police yesterday arrested a man who allegedly took photos up a woman’s skirt as she was on the Courthouse Metro station escalator. The man smashed his phone after he was confronted by the woman and some passersby surrounded him to stop him from leaving. [NBC Washington]
Virginia on Best States for Business Ranking — Virginia is losing ground on CNBC’s Best States for Business rankings, placing No. 13 this year after being No. 5 in 2013. Some blame economic conditions caused by military and federal budget cuts. CNBC said high costs and “weak infrastructure” hurt the Commonwealth’s standing. Virginia did, however, rank No. 2 on a cumulative Best States for Business list from over the past 10 years. [Richmond Times-Dispatch, CNBC]
Lots of $1 Million Home Sales — There were 53 properties in Arlington that sold for more than $1 million in June. All but four of those properties were single family homes. [InsideNova]
Pokemon Lure at Food Truck Event — The Crystal City Business Improvement District is getting in on the Pokemon Go craze. The BID says it’s placing a Pokemon “lure” at its Food Truck Thursday event today. [Twitter]
Coming Soon: ARLBBQ — Later this month ARLnow will be hosting our first “ARLBBQ,” featuring free beer, food and games for all in attendance. The event is taking place outside on the 16th floor loft of The Bartlett in Pentagon City. Want an invite to this RSVP-only event? You’ll need to subscribe to our email newsletter.
Photo by Jackie Friedman. Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
We talked with managers and owners of several businesses in the area about how to snag a summer job.
Anne-Marie Schmidt, owner of Backyard BBQ & Catering Co., said she is looking for summer help now. However, she won’t hire someone for the summer unless the prospective employee seems committed to working, rather than vacationing.
“One or two vacations is fine, but… before I hire them I make sure that they’re available when I need them,” Schmidt said.
Another option is working at a pool. The pool at Yorktown High School is among the local swimming area that have summer help. At that pool, employees must be at least 15 1/2 years old and have a lifeguard certification. Other than that, “we like fun energetic people, and enthusiastic people,” Luis Garcia, the pool’s manager said.
But not every business is looking for summer help.
Lost Dog Cafe is among those places.
“By the time they learn our system, they are ready to leave, so we spent two months training somebody that’s never gonna be capable of working,” said a manager there.
Lisa Ostroff, owner of Trade Roots gift store and coffee shop, also doesn’t hire college or high school students for the summer.
“It takes a while to learn how to work here, learn the products, and the histories, and the stories, and make the coffees and teas, you can’t just learn it in a summer,” she said. Trade Roots is, however, currently looking to hire for the fall.
The new Sweetgreen restaurant in Clarendon opened today to big lunchtime lines.
Located at 3100 Clarendon Blvd, the popular salad shop had a line stretching all the way out the door this morning for its official opening. It was similarly busy on Wednesday and Thursday as the restaurant gave away free food during RSVP-only “preview” events.
One hundred percent of today’s opening day proceeds were to be donated to the FRESHFARM Markets Matching Dollars program, which provides fresh, local produce to under-privileged communities in the D.C. area.
“It’s awesome that they donate the first day’s proceeds to a local nonprofit,” said one woman who was enjoying a “Guacamole Greens” salad inside the restaurant’s small dining area. She and her friends “actually biked [to Sweetgreen] from Rosslyn,” despite temperatures in the 90s.
Arlington GOP Votes Down Anti-Trump Measure — The Arlington County Republican Committee voted 27-10 against a proposal that would support an anti-Donald Trump coup at the Republican presidential-nominating convention. “Supporters of the resolution, which called on delegates to the upcoming national convention in Cleveland to be freed to vote their consciences, said the Republican brand would suffer with Trump at the top of the ticket in November.” [InsideNova]
Arlington Built Temporary Bikeway — During the Air Force Cycling Classic bike races in Clarendon, Arlington County converted a block of Wilson Blvd into an “Active Streets Festival” with “bike-oriented games and activities, plus a collection of temporary bikeways ‘built’ with tape, paper, and potted plants.” [Greater Greater Washington]
‘Bike to the Beach’ Happy Hour — A happy hour is being held from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday on the Whitlow’s rooftop in Clarendon for “Bike to the Beach,” which raises funds for The Autism Society of Northern Virginia and Autism Speaks. Bike to the Beach is a 100+ mile bike ride from D.C. to Dewey Beach, Delaware to raise money and awareness for autism. [Event Calendar]
Anti-Gang Soccer Tournament — On Sunday the Arlington Gang Prevention Task Force will hold an all-day soccer tournament at Washington-Lee High School. “No city or town is immune to gangs,” said Robert “Tito” Vilchez, the task force coordinator. [Arlington County]
(Updated at 5:45 p.m.) Arlington has more to do to make the county friendlier to small businesses, particularly those with brick-and-mortar storefronts.
That was one of the messages sent by Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey during her State of the County talk this morning.
Garvey discussed the county’s efforts to compete economically during the talk, which is hosted by the Arlington County Chamber of Commerce. While Garvey lauded the county’s push to attract large employers — particularly tech-related firms — to Arlington, she lamented that small businesses are still encountering regulatory road blocks. As an example, she cited the experience of former Democratic state delegate Rob Krupicka, who opened a Sugar Shack Donuts location along Columbia Pike in February.
Garvey noted that Krupicka — who served in the House of Delegates for four years, representing parts of Arlington and Alexandria — had been expressing frustration on Facebook with the process of opening a shop in Arlington. She later reached out to him, asking that he share his experience with county staff.
“It was a little hard as a Board member to sit there and hear it,” she said. “He had to come in six times to get approval for a sign… And this was a small business, [Rob] is the one doing it all. [He also] had to come in to pay for permits and things because you can’t pay online.”
“We need to be thinking of the big guys, going to China [to attract businesses],” said Garvey, “but we also need to be down on the very granular level and make sure people don’t have to come six times for a sign — and can pay online. We’re working on it, we’re not there yet, but we’re absolutely committed to making it work.”
Asked about his experience, Krupicka said it was “definitely easier” to open his first donut shop in Alexandria than it was to open his second in Arlington.
“Both have their issues. Both have good staff. Alexandria has put a lot of effort into streamlining and it shows,” Krupicka told ARLnow.com. “The Arlington permitting process is in need of streamlining and modernization.”
There were five areas in particular where Arlington County could improve, according to Krupicka.
- “Payments have to be made by mail or in person rather than online and for some things you can’t move forward without payment, so that means waiting in line in the planning office for hours to get your name called so you can hand a check to somebody.”
- “Planning, Zoning, Health, etc. don’t talk to each other and it appears they don’t understand where each other fits in the process. The process actually seems to assume the small business person will force that communication and coordination. That is crazy, as the small business person shouldn’t have to be an expert on government process, the process should be designed to be easy. The big guys just hire lawyers. Small businesses should not have to.”
- “Many permits need to be applied for in person. You can’t just submit them online. You have to sit in the office and wait to be called, wasting hours of time. I have spent days waiting in the county offices. I have overheard a lot of very unhappy individuals and business people. The elected officials should spend some time walking through this process.”
- “In Alexandria you only need one permit to put up a building sign. It takes 20 days or so. In Arlington, you need two permits, zoning and construction, and it takes 60 days plus. In Alexandria you can apply online and never have to go into the office. My Arlington sign had me to to the County Offices at least 5 times wasting a lot of money on parking and more importantly time.”
- “There is an online system for some things, but in my experience, it was very cumbersome and I spent hours working with tech support to get it to work. I’m hoping that is fixed now.”
“All of this could be streamlined without impacting the proper county regulatory role,” Krupicka concluded. “I was impressed the way Libby Garvey reached out to me, tried to help and then made time and organized county staff to listen to my experience in order to try and fix it. She, [County Board member John] Vihstadt and Commissioner [of Revenue] Ingrid Morroy were the three that made a real effort to help me.”
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Join Mission 2 Market and friends for an evening of one-on-one coaching, practical and real world business advice from the area’s top seasoned professionals. Topics include marketing, branding, design and packaging, social enterprise, finance, e-commerce and more. No small business subject is off-limits.
Speed coaching is free, but pre-registration is required. Please come prepared with question regarding specific concerns or challenges your business is currently facing along with any samples of product, packaging, or logo design you seek feedback on. The event is hosted by Link Local and NeoNiche Strategies with refreshments provided Cava Grill and Whole Foods Market.
What: Mission Possible: Speed Coaching for Local Makers and Entrepreneurs
When: Thursday, June 23 from 6-9 p.m.
Where: Link Locale at 3140 Washington Blvd (Wells Fargo Building, 2nd Floor, two blocks from the Clarendon Metro)
The preceding post was written and sponsored by Mission 2 Market.