A food pantry operating out of a residential garage in Lyon Village is closing down, after exactly a year of providing food to needy families.
On March 22, 2020, David Knepper was like many of us when the world shut down — housebound and unable to focus.
The 75-year-old had recently retired from being a home remodeling contractor and was using his garage near the corner of N. Cleveland and 18th Streets as a workshop for small projects.
But he was growing restless and wanted to help others who were struggling. So, he turned his garage into a makeshift food pantry.
“I decided… to share what I have with the people who are losing their jobs and can’t afford food to put on the table,” he tells ARLnow.
Knepper filled his garage with beans, rice, canned vegetables, peanut butter, tuna, oats and other non-perishables. He put out signs written in English, Spanish, and Arabic (thanks to a tenant from Saudi Arabia). People came immediately.
“Quite a few people came to pick up food right from the start,” he says. “Word just spread.”
Over the past year, he estimates that he’s gone through about 950 pounds of rice and hundreds of cans of vegetables.
Knepper declined to share exactly how much money he spent on the food, but estimates it was about the same amount he would have spent if he was feeding a family of seven or eight on a regular basis.
Despite its start as an individual initiative, the food garage became a community effort.
Knepper says dozens of people have dropped off food for donation, including a core group of 15 or 16 who did it on a regular basis.
“They would bring food, sometimes quite a lot of it,” he says. “I’d go out there and the shelves would be absolutely loaded with food.”
There’s one story of the man who caught sight of the garage on the way to visit his daughter. He worked at a Chevy Chase soup kitchen that was getting regular shipments of food but wasn’t using all of it. So, he dropped some off at Knepper’s garage.
Over the last year, Knepper has gotten to know a number of families who regularly picked up good.
“They are always so grateful,” he says.
More than once, a family would come get food and then, a bit later ,would come back after they’ve gotten a paycheck and donate food themselves, Knepper said.
Knepper has lived in his house with his wife Sally for more than three decades but has never seen his neighborhood come together like they have during the pandemic.
“The neighborhood is very supportive,” he says. “My neighbors are great and even better during the pandemic. I’ve gotten to know neighbors I’ve never known before.”
After 365 days, however, Knepper is finally shutting the pantry down. He believes it’s time: the pantry is not being used as often and economic impact payments are in the midst of being sent.
“The last two months, I’ve noticed people are not picking up as much stuff as they did before,” he says. “One year is a good time to close it down.”
He started taking down signs and reclaiming his garage on Monday. All the leftover food is being donated to the Arlington Food Assistance Center.
Knepper says he feels good about the community banding together to help to those in need.
“It’s been such a heartwarming experience,” he says. “Everybody pitched in.”
A 94-year-old water main that runs under the residential area north of Clarendon to Courthouse is finally set to be replaced.
On Saturday, the County Board approved a contract for the construction of a new water main along Key Blvd, running from N. Jackson Street to N. Danville Street in Lyon Village. It passed as a consent item, meaning it was deemed non-controversial and was acted upon by a single vote.
The new water main will replace the existing one, which was built in 1927. The new main will improve fire flow capacity and meet neighborhood demand, county staff wrote.
The staff report notes that the aging water main has “had an excessive number of breaks in the past few years.” This includes most recently in July, Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services (DES) confirms.
This project is one of a number of recent efforts to replace old, unlined cast iron pipes, which can more easily break and become corroded.
The contract for the Key Blvd water main was awarded to the lowest bidder, Crown Construction Services, which provided an estimate under the county engineer’s estimated cost. As approved, the authorized contract total is $1.4 million, including contract contingencies.
The county has previously worked with Crown Construction on the Glencarlyn Park renovations.
Construction is expected to start this spring, a DES spokesperson tells ARLnow, with completion set for fall 2022. Water disruption notices will be sent to all affected residents.
Planned water service disruptions will “typically less than a day,” according to the county staff report, and will be limited to 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Map via Arlington County
The soft opening this week will culminate in an open house on Saturday, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., with coffee and pastry samples. The shop is open from 8 a.m.-p.m. this week, and this coming Monday will transition to its regular hours of 7 a.m.-4 p.m.
Sweet Science founder Sandra Wolter told ARLnow on Tuesday that she is ready to kindle in her customers a love of great coffee. Her philosophy can be taste-tested at 2507 Franklin Road, where she said the unpretentious space will make high-quality coffee feel approachable.
“We are doing the best we can to show a good variety of complex flavors while being open and welcoming,” she said.
In November 2019, Wolter announced her plans to move in after the community hub, owned by Commonwealth Joe, said it would close by Thanksgiving. But the road to opening was bumpier than Wolter anticipated.
The acclaimed coffee shop closed its basement location in Adams Morgan and moved to D.C.’s NoMa district in January 2020. Wolter planned to open in the Lyon Village neighborhood last March or April, but renovations and the coronavirus delayed the opening for 10 months.
First, the building needed new plumbing and electricity. By the time the unanticipated construction ended, summer was over, cases and restrictions were mounting and her NoMa location was struggling. She once more pushed off the opening.
“But hey, now we’re here,” she said.
Once Wolter receives her outdoor seating permit and a wine and beer license, she will extend her weekend hours so people can visit for coffee and a pastry, before slowly transitioning to a glass of wine and a snack — a nod to her European roots.
“I grew up like that,” said the Berlin native. “Over there, it’s so normal.”
The shop offers house drip coffee and espresso drinks as well as seasonal roasts. The beans are sustainably sourced, sometimes directly from farmers. A chef makes the pastries in-house and from scratch.
Still, Wolter is careful to avoid intimidating people into uncomfortably ordering “just a cup of coffee.”
“I don’t want people to walk in and feel like they need a code word to order,” she said. “If [a coffee] piques your interest, we’re more than happy to talk about it.”
She only wishes she can devote less time to surviving and more time to sharing flavors and menus with others.
“That would be really nice,” she said.
(Updated at 3 p.m.) Arlington had an unusual occurrence this morning: two drivers in two separate parts of the county struck parked cars, flipping their vehicles over, within 5-10 minutes of each other.
The first incident happened on N. Danville Street, in the Lyon Village neighborhood near Clarendon. The driver of a white Toyota sideswiped a parked SUV, flipping the sedan on its side.
By the time ARLnow arrived on the scene, a crowd of neighbors had gathered and a tow crew had already placed the car back on all four wheels. No injuries were reported.
Minutes later, police and firefighters were called to the 200 block of S. Barton Street, in the Penrose neighborhood, for another overturned vehicle.
This time, a young male driver of a black Jeep sideswiped a parked vehicle, flipping the Jeep on its roof.
The driver was able to get out but was in a daze, a neighbor said. He was transported to a local hospital after initially refusing medical treatment, we’re told.
Police closed both sections of road while the wrecks were cleaned up. Officers could be heard remarking at the uncanny timing of the two crashes.
Social distancing is keeping lots of people at home, but that hasn’t necessarily resulted in a drop in notable police incidents in Arlington.
In just the past 72 hours, there have been multiple police chases, incidents involving guns and thefts.
Around 12:30 p.m. today, police swarmed the Lyon Village Shopping Center after a report of a fight in progress. It turned out to be a robbery in which the victim was assaulted and ultimately transported to the hospital.
“At approximately 12:39 p.m., police were dispatched to the report of a fight in the 3100 block of Lee Highway,” Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Upon arrival, it was determined the suspect approached the victim and stole his cell phone. When the victim confronted the suspect, the suspect assaulted him. The suspect was taken into custody by arriving officers. Charges are pending.”
On Sunday evening, a Virginia State Police pursuit of a vehicle that originated in the Alexandria area ended in Arlington’s Long Branch Creek neighborhood. The Fairfax County Police helicopter hovered overhead while police searched for suspects that bailed out near the intersection of Army Navy Drive and 28th Street S.
“At 4:56 p.m. Sunday, Virginia State Police attempted to initiate a traffic stop on a stolen vehicle traveling north on Route 1 near Ft. Hunt Road in Alexandria. The vehicle refused to stop and a pursuit was initiated,” VSP spokeswoman Corinne Geller told ARLnow today. “The pursuit ended in Arlington County at 28th Street and Army Navy Drive and three male subjects ran from the stolen vehicle on foot. All three were apprehended a short time later with the assistance of Arlington County Police. Two of the three were male juveniles and one adult male was transported to Arlington County Adult Detention Center.”
FYI: ACPD is assisting @VSPPIO with a subject search in the area of the 28th/Army Navy Dr. A helicopter is also being utilized. VSP is the primary investigating agency and ACPD has no further details to provide on the original incident.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) April 12, 2020
Early Sunday morning, Arlington County Police were involved in another foot chase just a couple of blocks away in the Long Branch Creek neighborhood. A trio of suspected of breaking into and stealing cars allegedly rammed a police cruiser and tried to flee the scene.
More from an ACPD crime report:
GRAND LARCENY (significant), 2020-04120036, 1500 block of 28th Street S. At approximately 5:05 a.m. on April 12, police were dispatched to the report of multiple suspects tampering with vehicles in the area. Arriving officers located numerous suspects inside a vehicle, which was later determined to have been previously stolen. The driver allegedly put the vehicle in reverse, causing it to strike a police vehicle and all suspects attempted to flee on foot. Officers in the area located and detained three juvenile male suspects. During the course of the investigation, officers located two additional stolen vehicles, another vehicle which had been damaged, and multiple vehicles which had been tampered with and items of value stolen. Petitions for Suspect One were obtained for Grand Larceny – Motor Vehicle Theft, Hit and Run – Attended Property, Obstruction of Justice and Conspiracy to Commit a Felony. Petitions for Suspect Two were obtained for Grand Larceny – Motor Vehicle Theft (x2), Unauthorized Possession of 2+ Credit Card Numbers and Conspiracy to Commit a Felony. Petitions for Suspect Three were obtained for Grand Larceny – Motor Vehicle Theft (x2) and Conspiracy to Commit a Felony. The investigation is ongoing.
On Friday and Saturday, police responded to two incidents — one in Long Branch Creek, the other in Virginia Square — involving suspects that brandished firearms.
BRANDISHING, 2020-04110090, 1700 block of 26th Street S. At approximately 2:48 p.m. on April 11, police were dispatched to the report of a person with a gun. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victims were inside their apartment when they heard the unknown suspect allegedly kicking at their door and observed him displaying a firearm. Arriving officers developed a possible suspect description and canvased the building. The suspect then exited his apartment and was taken into custody without incident. Cedric Dickson, 40, of Arlington, Va., was arrested and charged with Brandishing, Possession of a Firearm While In Possession of Drugs, Possession of Marijuana, and Possession of Schedule I/II Controlled Substance. He was held on no bond
BRANDISHING, 2020-04100066, 3500 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 12:38 p.m. on April 10, police were dispatched to the report of a brandishing. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim, an employee, and the suspect were engaged in a dispute inside a business. The victim asked the suspect to leave, which he initially complied with, but then re-entered the business attempting to take a photograph of the victim. The suspect then entered his vehicle, and, as the victim attempted to photograph his license plate, he displayed a firearm and threatened the victim. The suspect is described as a black male. The vehicle is described as a black Dodge pick-up truck. The investigation is ongoing.
Students: Keep the Career Center’s Farm Animals — “A staff proposal to revamp the animal-science program at the Arlington Career Center, including the removal of on-site large non-domesticated animals, is drawing brushback. The proposal calls for focusing more on smaller, domestic animals at the expense of farm animals, which have been part of the program for years and have come to be a beloved part of the Career Center family.” [InsideNova]
NBC 4 Profiles ACFD Mass Shooter Plan — “The Arlington County Fire Department is leading a national shift in how rescue squads respond to mass shootings.” Arlington fire trucks are now equipped with bulletproof vests and personnel are trained to treat victims as soon as possible. [NBC 4]
Arlington Rent on Par with D.C. — “The District and Arlington County are virtually tied for average apartment rent, at $2,233 and $2,236 respectively. Rents in D.C. and Arlington County are both up 4.3% in the last year.” [WTOP]
Local Tech Firm Not Meeting Job Hype, Yet — “Blockchain software developer Block.one promised in September to add 170 jobs in Arlington over three years, so we’re checking in on where its local employee numbers stand. Out of the 231 employees the company has listed on LinkedIn, 24 are now located in the D.C. area.” [Washington Business Journal]
How One Young Resident Affords Housing Here — “In 2013, [Mallory Scott] and one roommate moved into a three-bedroom, World War II-era Arlington house where the monthly mortgage and property taxes totaled $1,200. She had a connection that helped her find the place: Her parents, who now live in Nevada, purchased the home in 1991 for $190,000 when the Army assigned Scott’s father to Arlington. Today, it’s worth roughly $800,000.” [WAMU]
Neighborhood Near Clarendon Profiled — “Lyon Village is a chic, charming neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia, that resides regally just across the river from Washington, D.C. The 191-acre community of 6,000 residents, which was established in the mid-1920s by developer Frank Lyon for whom it is named, still retains a small-town, good-to-see-you feel yet offers access to all the cultural activities and amenities of the nation’s capital.” [Mansion Global]
Arlington County is working to fix a pair of water infrastructure issues ahead of an expected evening snowstorm and freezing overnight temperatures.
A six-inch water main burst on the 1600 block of N. Jackson Street in Lyon Village this morning, potentially knocking out water service to some 70 customers. Repairs are expected to wrap up by 6 p.m.
Meanwhile, a valve leak on the 4800 block of 1st Street S. in the Arlington Forest neighborhood is affecting the water service of up to 50 customers. Repairs are expected to be complete around 3 p.m.
In both instances, traffic is blocked around the water work; drivers should expect detours.
Map via Google Maps
(Updated at 6:45 a.m.) The Java Shack near Courthouse is closing soon, but a new local coffee shop will be taking its place.
D.C.-based Sweet Science Coffee, which was called “the best coffee shop in Washington” by the Post’s Tim Carman in 2017, is expanding into Arlington and taking over the long-time cafe space at 2507 N. Franklin Road. It had an existing location in Adams Morgan and a new D.C. location is on the way.
Sweet Science Coffee announced the plans Thursday afternoon, saying that it hoped to open by March after some renovations.
“We were not actively looking for a second location at this time, but when the opportunity came along, our decision to go for it was unanimous,” said founder Sandra Wolter, in a press release. “We will change the look, and upgrade fixtures to reflect our concept, but it won’t be a total 180. It’s about making people feel welcome, and we really hope that the neighborhood will like what we do with the place.”
More from the press release:
Good news for local coffee lovers: The Java Shack on Franklin Road will continue to be a Coffee House after the current tenants leave.
D.C. based Specialty Coffee Shop Sweet Science has signed a ten year lease and will officially take over in January.
“We were not actively looking for a second location at this time, but when the opportunity came along, our decision to go for it was unanimous,” says founder Sandra Wolter. As both of her partners, Ricardo Iglesias and Jad Bouchebel, have roots in the local community, the group was quickly sold.
For those who have not heard about the concept, Sweet Science Coffee is best known for their meticulous manual brews, often made with traditional tools like German Karlsbad Brewers or Chemexes.
Another staple are their hands-on classes and events that aim to make specialty coffee fun and approachable.
But no one needs to fear long wait times as the brew bar is only one part of the shop. Espresso based drinks, quick drip coffees, teas and seasonal specials are made with just as much care, but faster.
The new owners will rename the space, but say they are respectful of the almost 25 year long tradition of the Java Shack. “We will change the look, and upgrade fixtures to reflect our concept,” says Wolter, “but it won’t be a total 180. It’s about making people feel welcome, and we really hope that the neighborhood will like what we do with the place.”
As for offers besides coffee and tea, the menu will feature pastries made from scratch by the groups’ pastry chef in DC, rotating soup and toast options for lunch, as well as snacks. Eventually, a small wine and craft beer selection is planned as well, for guests to enjoy in the evenings.
Sweet Science Coffee plans to open by March 2020.
The Coffee Project Group behind Sweet Science Coffee consists of Ricardo Iglesias, Entrepreneur, Realtor and Builder in Arlington for more than 30 years, Jad Bouchebel, Marketing Professional and serial Entrepreneur (Wilson Hardware, JBC Events, Provision no 14) and Sweet Science Founder Sandra Wolter, a fifth generation Coffee Professional, Coffee Business Consultant and former TV Journalist.
The Java Shack, a beloved local coffee shop in the Lyon Village neighborhood near Courthouse, is planning to close.
Java Shack will serve its final mugs of coffee on Nov. 24, unless Commonwealth Joe can find a buyer for the business “that understands and respects the rich heritage of the cafe and the important role it plays in the community.”
One frequent customer said the loss of Java Shack would be a detriment to the sense of community that unique local businesses like it help to build.
“I live down the street from Java Shack and it’s a huge loss for me to know that they’re closing,” Jacob Gersh told ARLnow, noting that he recently filled his fourth punch card at the shop, marking 40 cups of coffee. “It’s such a powerful feeling of connection to the community to be able to sit in their garden.”
Commonwealth Joe says it was not able to negotiate a new lease that would allow it to continue operating Java Shack. It will instead focus on its Pentagon City cafe, near Amazon’s future HQ2, and its growing coffee keg business.
Maintenance of the aging building on Franklin Road — which once housed the headquarters of the American Nazi Party but is now home to Java Shack, a barber and a pet store — has been a challenge for the cafe’s owners.
“The Java Shack holds a special place in our hearts,” said Commonwealth Joe co-founder and CEO Robert Peck. “However apart from the great memories and successes we had at the cafe, our building lease brought some hardships.”
The full press release is below, after the jump.
Police say about 10 unlocked vehicles were tampered with and “items of value” stolen. From Arlington County Police:
LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2019-07200087/07200104/07200106/07200138/07200156, 1500 block of N. Johnson Street/3100 block of Key Boulevard/3100 block of Key Boulevard/3100 block of 17th Street N./1400 block of N. Hancock Street. At approximately 6:18 a.m. on July 20, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny from auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 11:00 p.m. on July 19 and 5:30 a.m. on July 20, two unknown suspects gained entry to approximately ten unlocked vehicles, tampered with items and stole items of value. Suspect One is described as a female, approximately 5’2″-5’8″, with a slim build and long, dark hair. Suspect Two is described as being approximately 5’2″-5’8″. The investigation is ongoing.
ACPD is continuing to urge residents to lock their car and home doors to prevent crimes of opportunity.
You’ve seen these messages nightly. Now we’re waiting for you to get on the #9PMRoutine!
Help prevent thefts from home, vehicles and businesses. Conduct a security check and verify that:
✅Valuables are secured
✅Home and vehicle are locked
✅Outdoor lights are activated pic.twitter.com/LhR8oymfGg
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) July 23, 2019
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Real Estate Smoking Hot Near HQ2 — “Since Amazon announced in November its choice of Crystal City and Pentagon City, the median home sale price in that area has increased 17.7%, leaping to $655,000, and the typical home was placed under contract in just six days, down from 10 days last year, according to fresh data from real estate brokerage Redfin.” [Washington Business Journal, Axios, WTOP]
Marymount Names Tech-Oriented Interim Business Dean — “Tech expert and entrepreneur Jonathan Aberman is the new interim dean of Marymount University’s School of Business and Technology. Aberman replaces outgoing dean Marianne Ward-Peradoza and officially takes the reins of the school July 1.” [Washington Business Journal, PRNewswire]
Missing: Firefighter’s Keys — “A firefighter left his keys on the bumper of a fire truck while rushing to an emergency! If you happened to pick up this set of keys along Wilson Blvd from Ballston to 7 Corners, kindly return them to Fire Station 2!” [Twitter]
Water Main Work in Lyon Village — “Emergency Water Main Repairs: Crews are working on an 8-inch main at the 2800 block of Key Boulevard. Some 150 water customers could be affected. The street is detoured around the work site.” [Twitter]
Metro Summer Shutdown Underway — “After long lines and packed buses shortly after opening, commuters on Metro’s Yellow and Blue lines are seeing more frequent pick-ups but some traffic delays… Tuesday is the first work day that six stations on Metro’s Blue and Yellow lines south of Reagan National Airport are closed for platform repairs and other upgrades until Sept. 8.” [WTOP]
Photo: Tomb Sentinel in Thursday’s Storm — “On Thursday, Arlington was hit hard with rain and wind with gusts up to 70mph, but that didn’t stop one man from honoring the fallen. A Tomb Sentinel withstood torrential rains and wind gusts to honor the fallen at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.” [WJLA, Facebook]
Photo courtesy Peter Golkin