Arlington, VA

Lyon Park barbecue joint Texas Jack’s may be featured in a new reality TV show.

A crew of a new reality show about D.C. area young professionals visited the restaurant’s private dining room last month to film a conversation between one cast member and his father.

The restaurant’s Director of Operations, Remzi Yilmaz, told ARLnow that the cast member himself chose the restaurant as the location.

“This was one of his favorite places,” he said.

Yilmaz said he was not allowed to share details like the name of the show, citing a non-disclosure agreement, but said the crew might be spotted over the next four weeks filming at other area restaurants, as well as landmarks like the Washington Monument

The show is expected to air in January, though the network on which it is airing and other details are murky.

“I think they’re just giving insight into young professionals in this area, and how they live life, and what they go through,” he said.

A camera crew was also spotted last week at Pentagon Row, in Pentagon City, but it’s unclear if the crew was connected with the new reality series.

Texas Jack’s opened in 2015 and replaced the Tallula and EatBar at 2761 Washington Blvd in Lyon Park.

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(Updated at 4:20 p.m.) An Arlington Transit bus has careened into the Barton Street community garden after a crash near Courthouse.

The crash happened around 3:05 p.m. at the intersection of 10th Street N. and N. Barton Street.

At least two vehicles were involved: a sedan, which suffered heavy front-end damage, and an ART bus, which knocked over a light pole and street signs before coming to rest in the middle of the garden.

A passenger told ARLnow that the bus had a green light and was coming down the hill on Barton when it was struck by the sedan. The sedan’s driver was cited by officers for running a red light, Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage said.

Passengers could be heard comforting the bus driver after the crash, saying it “could have happened to anyone.”

No serious injuries were reported, though one female passenger said her arm hurt. Drivers should expect lane closures on 10th Street and slow traffic in the area while crews work to clean up the crash scene.

The crash follows an incident on Tuesday in which an ART bus crashed into a building after rolling through a rental truck depot.

Vernon Miles contributed to this report.

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A cyclist was struck and injured along an on-ramp in the Lyon Park neighborhood this afternoon.

First responders were dispatched to a scene just after 3 p.m. today (Wednesday) for a report of a cyclist struck by a vehicle on the ramp to and from from eastbound Washington Blvd and westbound Arlington Blvd. The cyclist was in a crosswalk when he was struck by the driver, said Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Michael Sheeran.

The victim was transported via ambulance to George Washington University Hospital with traumatic but non-life-threatening injuries, Sheeran said.

The ramp was closed for about 45 minutes, leading to backups on both Arlington and Washington boulevards, but has since reopened.

No word yet on whether the driver will face any charges.

Map via Google Maps. Ashley Hopko, Vernon Miles and Airey contributed to this report.

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Morning Notes

New Lyon Park Neighborhood Plan Approved — “The Arlington County Board today accepted the first update to historic Lyon Park’s Neighborhood Conservation plan since 1973. The update, spearheaded by the Lyon Park Citizens Association, seeks to address increased non-resident traffic and other challenges through 19 recommendations for improvements.” [Arlington County]

ACPD Traffic Enforcement in Crystal City — “Motor Officers conducted high visibility traffic enforcement along Crystal Drive today to curb illegal practices including stopping/parking in the bike and travel lanes. Increase roadway safety [by] being a PAL — Predictable | Alert | Lawful.” [Twitter]

How to Beat the Heat in Arlington — With a scorching weekend of dangerous heat ahead, and an Excessive Heat Watch issued, Arlington County is reminding residents of some ways they can keep cool, stay informed and help at-risk individuals. [Arlington County]

Metro Waterfall, Explained — Metro has an explanation of why a waterfall developed in the ceiling of the Virginia Square Metro station and inside a passing train during the Flash Flood Emergency last week. [DCist]

Grants for African-American Heritage Projects — “Two Arlington-based organizations are among 25 non-profits statewide that will share more than $140,000 in new grant funding from Virginia Humanities” for projects exploring local African-American heritage and history [InsideNova]

Beyer on Trump Impeachment Vote — “I strongly support an impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Trump. I voted to table H. Res. 489 because it would effectively prevent the House from conducting such an inquiry… It would initiate an impeachment trial in the Senate solely to consider whether the President should be removed from office for his recent racist tweets.” [Twitter, Blue Virginia]

Dueling APS Letters to the Editor — On one hand, Arlington Public Schools should stick to funding only the basics, like providing textbooks and pencils, according to one letter to the editor published in the Sun Gazette. On the other hand, APS should have a comprehensive approach to sustainability, including recycling and excess cafeteria waste, according to another letter to the editor writer. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

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A recent spate of car thefts and break-ins in North Arlington is continuing.

Arlington County Police are investigating two car thefts and seven car break-ins in the Lyon Park neighborhood this week. The crimes were first reported Wednesday morning on the 2900 block of 2nd Street N. and the 300 block of Edgewood Street, about a half mile south of Clarendon.

At least one car was stolen after the thief found the keys in an unlocked vehicle, police said.

“Keys to one of the stolen vehicles were located inside an unlocked vehicle involved in the larceny from auto series,” and ACPD spokeswoman told ARLnow. The second vehicle was unlocked and “stolen by unknown means.”

Additionally, seven vehicles were broken into “and items tampered with.”

Police are again reminding residents to lock their cars at night. Yesterday the department announced a new public safety initiative dubbed the “9 P.M. Routine,” which encourages Arlingtonians to make a habit of ensuring their vehicles and homes are locked at night.

“Burglaries and thefts are often crimes of opportunity with thieves taking advantage of unsecured doors and windows to steal unattended items or items left in plain view,” police said in a press release. “The 9 P.M. Routine encourages residents to conduct security checks in their homes and vehicles each evening to ensure their property is secure.”

The campaign also encourages residents to report suspicious activity by calling the Arlington Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222 or 9-1-1 in an emergency.

The full crime report item from the Lyon Park thefts is below.

LARCENY FROM AUTO/STOLEN VEHICLE (series), 2019-07100052/07100064, 2900 block of 2nd Street N./300 block of N. Edgewood Street At approximately 6:54 a.m. on July 10, police were dispatched to the report of a stolen vehicle. Upon arrival, it was determined that between approximately 9:00 p.m. and 6:54 a.m., an unknown suspect(s) obtained the keys to and stole an unlocked parked vehicle. While investigating the stolen vehicle, officers were notified of a second unlocked vehicle in the area that had been stolen and located approximately seven additional unlocked vehicles that had been entered and items tampered with. There is no suspects descriptions. The investigation is ongoing.

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(Updated at 2:44 p.m.) The county could soon take a step forward in its plan for road improvements along N. Pershing Drive, pending Board approval.

The Arlington County Board will review requests for several easements at an intersection in the Lyon Park neighborhood as part of the county’s N. Pershing Drive Street Improvements Project, which aims to add bike shadows and more safety measures for pedestrians along the road.

The easements are centered around the tricky intersection of N. Pershing Drive, 5th Street N., and N. Garfield Street. The county will use the easements to extend curbs, add grass along curbs and in a median, paint two new additional crosswalks in the intersection, and add a bus stop, according to a copy of its plans online.

The county began discussing the Pershing Drive project with neighbors in Lyon Park in 2016, per a recent staff report to the Board, and began piloting the program in October 2018.

Now the County Board is set to vote on approving the purchase of several easements that would allow the county to install sidewalks and curbs during the Board meeting this Saturday, July 13.

The three sets of easements are for roadside properties at:

  • the Lyon Park Community Center
  • a home near the intersection of Pershing and N. Garfield Street
  • a home near the intersection of Pershing and 5th Street N.

Arlington is offering to pay $23,000 for the two easements at the private Lyon Park Community Center (420 N. Fillmore Street), which will allow work on the sidewalk, curb, gutter, traffic signal, and utilities. The amount is based on the property’s deed value and the 800 square feet of space that the county will use.

The county is also seeking to pay homeowners on the corner of N. Garfield Street and Pershing Drive $7,300 for an 82 square foot easement on the curbside of their property.

Arlington is offering a third set of homeowners on the corner of Pershing and 5th Street N. $1,218 for 21 square foot area of their property.

Staff noted the payments to homeowners were “discounted” because “the interest sought is a sidewalk and utilities easement, and not a fee interest.”

The roadwork is located just blocks away another planned project at the Henry Clay Park where officials hope to add new swings, benches, and trees.

Images via Arlington County

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A man in a car exposed himself to girls who were walking down the street in the Lyon Park neighborhood, south of Clarendon.

The incident happened last Wednesday around 7 a.m.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2019-06050059, 2800 block of 4th Street N. At approximately 7:01 a.m. on June 5, the juvenile female victims were walking in the area when an unknown male suspect pulled alongside them in a vehicle and exposed his genitals. The victims ran from the area and sought assistance. The suspect is described as a white male driving a black vehicle. The investigation is ongoing.

Other crime reports of note from the past week are below, after the jump.

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A man has been accused of stealing from a Lyon Park church.

Police were called to the Clarendon United Methodist Church just before midnight Saturday for a “report of a burglary in progress.” A man who had broken into the church before had burglarized the church and was leaving the building with several items when officers arrived, according to Arlington County Police.

More from this week’s ACPD crime report:

BURGLARY, 2019-04200282, 600 block of N. Irving Street. At approximately 11:48 p.m. on April 20, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined that the property manager was alerted to the presence of a known male suspect who had gained entry to a church. Arriving officers located the suspect exiting the building in possession of items allegedly stolen from inside. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the suspect had entered the building unlawfully on multiple prior occasions. William Barker, 56, of No Fixed Address, was arrested and charged with Burglary (x2) and Trespassing (x2).

More highlights from this week’s crime report, including some we’ve already reported, are below.

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(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) It’s not clear how they got there, but thousands of blank Virginia Lottery tickets are currently littering 10th Street N. near Clarendon.

The lottery tickets — unplayed Pick 4 and Cash 5 tickets — are spread across a five-block span of 10th Street, from N. Barton Street to Washington Blvd. They’re in the street, on the sidewalks and piled atop the medians.

Thus far, as of 2 p.m., no one seems eager to pick up the tickets — traffic is driving by and people are walking past the ticket-strewn roadway as usual. An Arlington County Police spokeswoman said police are aware of the situation and county crews will be cleaning up the mess soon.

“At approximately 12:18 p.m. police were called to a traffic complaint for trash in the roadway at the intersection of 10th Street N. and N. Daniel Street,” said ACPD’s Ashley Savage. “Upon arrival, the trash was determined to be blank… lottery tickets. The Emergency Communications Center contacted the Virginia Lottery who advised the tickets were not sensitive. The Department of Environmental Services was contacted and will handle trash pickup.”

John Hagerty, a Virginia Lottery spokesman, stressed that the tickets are merely “play slips,” which have no value.

As best as lottery officials can tell, a nearby business deposited a box of the slips in a dumpster, he said. But once a truck came to empty the dumpster’s contents, the play slips flew everywhere.

The business has now notified the waste management company of the slip up, Hagerty added.

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Nawal Rajeh was doing some housework and listening to an audiobook in the moments before her life turned upside down.

Rajeh’s home, a small duplex on N. Garfield Street in Lyon Park, caught fire back on Jan. 3, forcing her to jump from her second-story apartment to evade the blaze.

She was left in tattered clothes, sitting on the street in the harsh cold. But Rajeh was soon moved by the kindness of her neighbors, who rushed to her aid to give her clothes and comfort while first responders arrived, even though they’d never met.

Now, about a month later, she’s hoping to thank them for their generosity, in part by sharing her story from that harrowing day.

“It was just shocking the way people jumped in and helped in an emergency like that,” Rajeh told ARLnow. “I’m really glad I lived in that neighborhood.”

Rajeh moved into the apartment just last September, as she pursues a doctorate in conflict resolution at George Mason University’s Virginia Square campus.

She had just returned home from visiting family in Ohio for the holidays the night before the fire broke out, and only just started her day with some house cleaning when she says heard “a loud crashing sound coming from the basement.”

At first, Rajeh didn’t think much of the noise. But she grew increasingly concerned when she heard her downstairs neighbor’s dog, named Bling, begin barking.

“He’s such a quiet dog normally, it seemed odd,” Rajeh said.

The building’s fire alarm then began sounding, prompting Rajeh to throw open the front door of her apartment.

“The entire stairwell was this thick, black tornado of smoke barreling in, I couldn’t see anything,” Rajeh said. “So I shut the door, I knew there was no way I could go down those stairs.”

Accordingly, she ran back to her bedroom, kicked out the screen to her window and decided to hang on the ledge until someone could help her down. Rajeh began screaming for help, but no one noticed her — the window was located on the side of the building, away from the street.

“I knew I could hang there for a while, I go to climbing gyms a lot,” Rajeh said. “But I couldn’t keep inhaling the smoke much longer.”

So she made the difficult decision to let go, plummeting into a bush below her window.

Luckily, Rajeh didn’t break any bones during the fall, though she did suffer some injuries from landing on the bush. She says firefighters later told her she managed a “very athletic jump,” given the circumstances.

Rajeh hobbled her way to the street, where a crowd of onlookers had gathered. Some were daycare workers who had been walking past the duplex and noticed the fire; others simply lived nearby and had called 911.

“I was wearing leggings when I jumped, and those were completely ruined,” Rajeh said. “I didn’t have any shoes on or anything… but people went up into their houses, brought me socks and shoes and a jacket.”

She says first responders arrived soon afterward, and she urged them to get inside the building and rescue Bling, the only other occupant of the duplex when the fire broke out. He inhaled a bit of smoke, but Rajeh says he’s since recovered well and is “back home, with an appetite again.”

Rajeh still isn’t sure what caused the fire — county fire department spokesman Ben O’Bryant says fire marshals determined “that the fire started in a mechanical room in the basement, but weren’t able to tell if it started in the HVAC unit or hot water heater.”

She’s since moved into another vacant property owned by her landlord elsewhere in Arlington, but lost most of her belongings in the fire. She says just about everything in the apartment was either burned to a crisp or “reeked of smoke” and was beyond saving.

But she says the local chapter of the American Red Cross has helped out with some essentials, and her wounds have mostly healed.

Some of her neighbors are now planning to bring Bling by the local fire station so he can properly thank his rescuers, and Rajeh hopes to deliver her own expressions of gratitude to her neighbors who helped her when she was in need.

She doesn’t know all of their names, but she hopes to swing by her old neighborhood to offer her thanks all the same.

“It’s just the kind of thing you don’t expect from city living, but there were a lot of caring people I’d never met before,” Rajeh said.

Photos 1, 2 and 3 via @ArlingtonVAFD, headshot courtesy of Nawal Rajeh

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Despite a dining space that’s limited to less than a dozen foot stools in a cramped row, few neighborhood eateries have had a more indelible effect on the community than El Charrito Caminante since its founding in 2000.

Unbeknownst to most of its customers, the hybrid Salvadoran-Mexican restaurant, located at 2710 Washington Boulevard, has a long history in Arlington’s food scene.

“What makes up for the space is they have a really friendly atmosphere,”said Jennifer Hernandez, who, like the owners of El Charrito Caminante, is Salvadoran. “The owners are really nice and acknowledge every single person who comes in.”

“I lived across the street for several years, from 2003 to 2006, and basically survived on it,” recalled former Arlington resident Evan Vischi.

Owner Jose Zalaya Sr. hails from San Miguel, El Salvador, and he faced quite the journey before founding the Lyon Park eatery. Even before the country faced a massive civil war in the 1980s, which led to a mass exodus of Salvadorans that continues to this day, the Zalaya clan was targeted by rebel insurgents.

“Anyone who owned land was in danger; we didn’t know anything about them or their names,” said Jose Jr., who plays a major role in managing the restaurant.

According to local resident Frick Curry, who worked as a foreign policy analyst for the Center for International Foreign Policy at the time, the military was closely aligned with a ruling class that consisted of an oligarchy of less than fifteen families.

“Being part of the opposition was really your only alternative because the elections were rigged and the economy of the country was run by the 14 families or their minions,” Curry said. “They did try to seize land from land owners and this is an issue still in Central America today because of the growing populations and the pressures on land.”

The Zalayas estimate half of the family was killed, in all. While Jose Sr. and his parents were spared, they no longer had a base of wealth.

Accordingly, Jose Sr. chose to head to America in 1976 at just 19 years old, leaving his pregnant wife behind. Unlike many immigrants from Central America, who rely on family to sponsor their journey to the U.S., Zalaya didn’t know anyone when he began his trip.

Instead, Jose Sr. got by thanks to the people he met along the way during his months-long journey, including a fellow traveler who linked him to his first construction job when he got to Northern Virginia.

Seven years after arriving here, Jose Sr. was able to send for his son, who was raised in Alexandria and went to Edison High School alongside his two younger sisters — one is in the military and the other is out of the restaurant business.

In the 1990s, Jose Sr. and his wife, Anna, opened up a food truck based on family recipes. They sold at the intersection of N. Pershing Drive and Arlington Boulevard with a customer base that was boosted by military personnel stationed at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (then known just as Fort Myer). Jose Sr. estimates it was one of four or five food trucks in the county at the time.

But when the Zalayas decided to expand and open a brick-and-mortar restaurant in 2000, they never considered changing the menu.

“Around here, this was a close place where everyone in the neighborhood knew us, we didn’t want to change,” Jose Jr. said.

The menu is well-known for its authenticity. Dishes are referred to as “cabrito” for goat, or “gallina” for hen, rather than more palatable terms, like chicken or lamb.

The make of the sandwiches is very unconventional as well. Order the gallina sandwich and you will get red cabbage with slices of egg.

Jose Jr., who has been working since the age of 16, is often seen at the front taking orders. His father still works daily and can be seen in the back.

“Every time my dad came in, the owner [Jose Sr.] would have a conversation with him, so we’ve become personally loyal,” said Hernandez.

Vischi also remembers befriending Jose Jr., who never forgot him even once he moved away from Arlington.

“When I visited El Charrito [Caminante] in 2012, Jose had thought that I’d been absent for other reasons, but where I told him where I’d been [living in the Czech Republic], he refused payment for our meal, even refusing payment for a symbolic tip,” Vischi said.

The 2015 Census American Community Survey counted 288,000 Salvadoran residents in the D.C. metro area, accounting for one third of the region’s Hispanic community. It is also the highest population of Salvadorans in the nation.

As such, the local culinary scene is marked by plenty of other, long-standing Salvadoran restaurants, such as Pupuseria Dona Azucena (71 N Glebe Road), Restaurante El Salvador (4805 Columbia Pike), Sofia’s Pupuseria (3610 Columbia Pike), La Union (5517 Wilson Boulevard) and Atlacatl (4701 Columbia Pike).

“We have a lot of customers who aren’t Salvadoran because we’re in a primarily white neighborhood,”said Mexican-Salvadoran restaurant La Union manager Henry Gutierrez. “Salvadoran is a whole different cuisine than Mexican, which people are more familiar with, but people really like the steaks and shrimps and meats.”

When asked about expansion, Jose Jr. says the family has no plans — they have the perfect location in the neighborhood.

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