Arlington, VA

A new hair salon that helps natural hair to thrive has opened in Ballston despite the pandemic

After initially hoping to open on June 19 to commemorate Juneteenth, Thrive Hair Bar (1010 N. Glebe Road) first opened its doors on Aug. 9.

“Thrive Hair Bar provides two-strand twists, braids, and leave out styles for kinky, coily, & curly haired naturalistas on the go. Embracing your hair texture with an emphasis on hair health,” the website says.

The website said Thrive Hair Bar aims to “revolutionize the luxury hair salon experience.”

Located inside the Sola Salon Studio, which hosts a number of solo entrepreneurs, the salon services its clients during a one-on-one, client and stylist experience.

“Our goal isn’t just for us to give them a hairstyle and they walk away, it’s really to help educate women on how to maintain their hair and care for their natural hair,” said Ajia Minnis, owner and founder of Thrive Hair Bar.

However, the single stylist and client combination is not the experience Minnis envisioned.

“It was definitely something that we had to adjust to. I had envisioned a salon with at least three to four stylists,” said Minnis. “I did definitely want to keep it small, to have that personalized experience, so the stylists themselves wouldn’t be rushed and because we’re just starting. But with the coronavirus, I realized that that wasn’t going to work. It just didn’t seem like the safest thing to do and I recognized that.”

Getting used to the restrictions on who can be in the salon wasn’t the only challenge Thrive Hair Bar faced.

“We still haven’t had our grand opening event yet because I had envisioned doing something where we featured local artists in the community and with the coronavirus, that doesn’t seem like the safest thing to do, even with masks,” Minnis said.

The good news is that clients have responded to Thrive’s policies positively.

“I think they like being the only one in the salon,” Minnis said. “Nobody likes having to wear a mask all day but it’s for the benefit of not only our customers, but for our stylists too. We want to make sure that they’re safe, so everybody has been respectful and keeping their masks on. We’re also using disposable capes — one-time use and throw it out. We’re disinfecting all chairs, door handles and anything that anybody touches after every single client, and then obviously staying within normal salon standards for disinfection with using Barbicide.”

“I think our clients have been comfortable with the precautions that we’ve been taking,” Minnis said, adding that she is optimistic about the future of the business as the country continues to make progress in the coronavirus fight.

Photos courtesy Ajia Minnis

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Those who mourned the closing of Finders Keepers in Westover (5906 Washington Blvd) should be happy to know a new consignment shop is coming to the same space, but with some significant new changes.

True to the consignment store spirit, Amber Scivolette is taking a second-hand retail space and breathing new life into it — Finders Keepers is becoming Blossom and Buds Consignment.

The store will serve both kids and adults. Offerings will include clothing, shoes and accessories, as well as toys, books, games, and other items.

“We’re going to have kids’ consignment as well as women’s consignment,” Scivolette said. “It’s basically two storefronts, with one whole side for kids and a kids’ play area.”

Inside, Scivolette said she has renovated the space.

“We pulled everything apart,” Scivolette said. “We just completed that, now we’re setting things into place.”

The exterior, which currently is mostly covered in plastic, is also getting spruced up. Scivolette said a new sign and a power wash are coming soon.

The new store is scheduled to open in September, possibly with a soft opening around Thursday, Sept. 10, or Friday, Sept. 11.

Though the exact details haven’t been nailed down yet, Scivolette said Blossom and Buds will implement COVID-19 safety measures. Early on, that will mean a big emphasis on selling items via Instagram, Facebook and other social media outlets. Scivolette said the store will offer contactless pickup if someone wants to buy something they spotted online.

While many locals opening new stores have had challenges, Scivolette says she’s found a silver lining.

“Opening now… it’s not ideal, but I feel like I’m not rushed,” Scivolette. “I can take the time to do what I want to do. The timing works out okay for us.”

Photo courtesy Amber Scivolette

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Two new businesses are setting up shop right next to an entrance to the Pentagon City Metro station

As previously reported, chicken nugget and sandwich purveyor Chick-fil-A is coming to the ground floor of the new Whitmer apartment building at the corner of S. Hayes Street and 12th Street S. The space is currently under construction.

Also coming to 710 12th Street S. is a new Chase bank branch. Construction workers could be seen inside the future bank this morning.

There is no word yet on when either will open. Chick-fil-A previously refused to confirm that it was coming to Pentagon City, even after “Chick-fil-A coming soon” signs were put up. (They were later removed.)

The Chick-fil-A and Chase will joining the recently-opened Wiseguy Pizza on the ground floor of the apartment building, which is directly adjacent to the Metro station’s eastern entrance, across from the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall and two blocks from Amazon’s under-construction permanent HQ2.

Hat tips to @KalinaNewman and @Calebfiles

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The pandemic forced Adagio Ballet to close in May, but long-time assistant director Jennifer Ferrigno wasn’t ready to give up just yet. Out of the ashes of Adagio Ballet, Ferrigno and Adagio instructor Evelina Petkova have founded the Virginia Dance Conservatory.

“The closing of the business was a shock to us all,” Ferrigno said in an email. “When the announcement became public, we had kids and parents reaching out in tears, completely devastated by the news. [Petkova] and I decided we needed to do something for these kids and families whose lives have been turned upside down.”

Ferrigno said there was support from within the Adagio dance community to try to open a new dance school, despite the pandemic. The program is currently run out of the Knights of Columbus facility at 5115 Little Falls Road.

“It was a nerve wracking decision to make, but with both us and our husbands without work, kids sending us Instagram stories in tears, parents willing to do anything to help, we had to at least try,” Ferrigno said. “Today, two months later, and nothing short of a miracle, we are proud to announce that we have successfully opened Virginia Dance Conservatory in North Arlington.”

The Virginia Dance Conservatory provides classes in ballet, jazz, modern, tap and lyrical for novice through pre-professional dancers with both weekday and weekend class options, according to the school’s website.

As countless other business owners are discovering, Ferrigno is finding that reopening is not easy, and Ferrigno said it’s kept the ballet school owners on their toes.

“Opening a business during a global pandemic is not for the faint of heart,” Ferrigno said. “The only reason our doors are open is through an outpouring of community support and the willingness of so many to help us in one of the worst situations of our lives.

Ferrigno said the school is partnering with the Knights of Columbus to offer classes to their members and to the community at large. A portion of the fall tuition will be donated to the Arlington Community Foundation.

“We are working day and night to get the word out and provide a bit of relief to so many who had their dance home ripped away from them in June,” said Ferrigno. “We are doing what we can to ‘rise from the ashes’ and create a happy & safe place for dance families across North Arlington.”

Photo via Virginia Dance Conservatory/Facebook

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The new Ballston Target is now open at 740 N. Glebe Road, with a grand opening celebration planned this Sunday.

Don’t go in expecting the full department store experience, though. Target says the new location is a smaller-format store that will focus on offering essentials. The move is part of sizing Targets to fit in increasingly dense urban areas where a traditional store might not fit.

“This location will be Target’s 10th small-format location and 49th total store in the greater D.C. area, which altogether employ more than 8,500 team members,” the company said.

The Target is on the bottom floor of The Waycroft, a new mixed-use development that will also eventually be home to a new Silver Diner and more.

According to Target, the new store will include:

  • Apparel and accessories
  • Home decor
  • Health, beauty and personal care items
  • Groceries and fresh produce
  • An “adult beverage” assortment
  • A CVS pharmacy

The location will also offer a pick-up where customers can order items and pick them up at the store.

Target said in the press release that employees and guests, except for small children or those with medical conditions, will be required to wear masks.

The store will be open from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

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D.C.-based Union Kitchen — a retail shop and restaurant that acts as an accelerator for food and beverage businesses — opened yesterday in Ballston at 4102 Wilson Blvd, next to Compass Coffee.

Inside the business looks like a sleek, modern version of any other convenience store, but much of the food and beverages inside are from small local brands, albeit alongside larger brands like La Croix and M&Ms.

“Why carry big brands?” Union Kitchen said on its website. “We want to build D.C. manufacturing companies that are going to last. This means they need to be so good that they outcompete the national options. Customers need to want to pick up a bag of Snacklins over Doritos, not because it’s local, but because it’s delicious. We need to build products that people want.”

Other offerings at Union Kitchen include coffee, pizza, beer and hard seltzer.

Customers coming by the new store will receive a free Blind Dog chocolate chip cookie, according to the Union Kitchen Facebook page.

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It wasn’t the opening owner Tsega Haile was hoping for, but Kaldi’s Social House (3110 10th Street N.) is finally planning to open this weekend in Clarendon.

“We’re opening — a soft opening — on Saturday,” Haile said. “We’ll have free espresso drinks and free juice. That’s for Saturday and Sunday.”

Haile said the location will be selling fresh croissants and such this weekend, but full service starts in earnest on Tuesday with food, beer and wine being offered. Kaldi’s has a Virginia ABC license and will have beer at 16 of its 20 taps — the other four are for nitro cold brew coffee.

Haile said the menu will be substantially different from his popular Silver Spring coffee house by the same name. Breakfast will focus on smoothies, toast, waffles and sandwiches, while afternoon meals will be more soup and salad focused. The one item carrying over from the other location is the restaurant’s vegan Italian toast — a local favorite.

The interior will have social distancing, Haile said, with signs around the restaurant and on the floor telling customers where to stand. Tables will be assigned with over six feet of distancing between seats, according to Haile.

“It’s mixed feelings,” Haile said. “With the COVID situation, we weren’t expecting to open, but we are now. We wanted to make it big, but with the pandemic, we couldn’t do that. But we’re happy being in Arlington. We are so excited.”

Photos courtesy Kaldi’s Social House

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After some setbacks, including minor delays caused by the pandemic, Bob and Edith’s Diner owner Greg Bolton said he’s planning to open his new Lee Highway location (5050 Lee Highway) at the beginning of next month.

Bolton says the pandemic delayed the diner’s opening by, at most, a few days. If everything goes smoothly over the next few weeks, he said, the new location should be open on August 1. The diner will replaces what was once Lee Highway restaurant Linda’s Cafe.

COVID-19 has still impacted the diner — with locations on Columbia Pike and 23rd Street S. in Crystal City, as well as in Huntington and Springfield —  in other ways. Bob and Edith’s has had to reduce its reliance on in-person dining and boost its pick up and delivery business.

“When coronavirus hit, Bob & Edith’s made a quick and crucial pivot to implement new technology, update packaging to better accommodate pickup and delivery, create a digital-friendly menu and utilize third-party delivery apps,” a PR rep said. “Bob & Edith’s created their own personalized app through ChowNow, an online food ordering service that allows the diner to keep menu prices the same as dine-in prices and keep 100% of the proceeds.”

“Today, they are operating at 50% dine-in sales and 50% off-premise sales, a true transformation compared to just one year ago,” the rep said.

Bolton said the diners have had to adapt to required distances between staff and customers — not easy for small spaces.

“Because of social distancing, we can’t use the counter,” Bolton noted. Despite that, Bolton says in-house dining has been growing every day.

“Everything has changed,” Bolton said. “Hopefully it goes back to somewhat normal. Everyone will move forward and we’ll do whatever we have to. But it may never go back to the same. We may have to keep six feet apart. Things have changed, it’s going to be harder to run a business.”

Coronavirus hasn’t been the only challenge for the diner in recent months. Bolton said the heatwave has stunted what had been burgeoning outdoor dining demand. Diner food and hot weather “don’t really mix,”  he said, but the restaurant chain is hoping to keep a long-term focus on outdoor dining even after the pandemic recedes.

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After years of planning and some delays, Bowlero (320 23rd Street S.) in Crystal City is ready to rock and bowl.

The combination bowling alley and restaurant has hit a few snags, not the least of which was the most recent global pandemic, and staff said that’s also impacted the business’s opening.

Alan Morrison, district manager for Bowlero, said that after yesterday’s ribbon-cutting around 25 customers came in the early afternoon to bowl, drink, or play in the arcade. In other circumstances that might have seemed low, but Morrison said the bowling alley — like other new businesses — is having to adapt to different expectations.

“The pandemic has affected us,” Morrison said. “People aren’t coming out and rightfully so. We’re adhering to guidelines and seeing less traffic than normal, but I’m confident once it’s passed they will.”

Morrison said the bowling alley has a “three-tier” approach to trying to combat the spread of a virus in sport that’s inherently very hands-on.

Every fifteen minutes staff sweep through the facility and clean all of the balls and equipment. There are supplies at the lanes to help facilitate cleaning equipment between use, and there are sanitation stations throughout the facility with disinfectants.

All employees and guests at the facility are required to wear face masks, Morrison said, and the seating is set up at every other lane.

“Folks are nice and spaced out,” Morrison said. “It’s a huge venue so we can seat people pretty far apart. We have directional arrows to stop people from getting close to each other, and that’s worked pretty well so far.”

Still, like many in Arlington, Morrison is hoping sometime soon people will be able to gather and roll at Bowlero without concerns about spreading COVID-19.

“We’re looking forward to folks in the neighborhood being able to check us out,” Morrison said. “And if you’re in the mood to just come in and have a drink we have an awesome bar.”

Photos courtesy Bowlero

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This past Saturday was a heck of a time to open a new gym.

Despite a globe-spanning pandemic keeping Arlingtonians at home, despite delays in the construction, VIDA Fitness has opened at 4040 Wilson Blvd in Ballston.

General Manager Richie Poe didn’t shy away from saying COVID-19 and other factors made opening the location — the first non-D.C. location for the high-end local fitness chain — a challenge. But he said the gym’s budding community has been supportive.

“The opening was originally challenging,” Poe said. “This is the third VIDA location I’ve opened, but this is much different. Opening the gym was challenging. We have a lot of construction delays and COVID-19. But once we were able to finally get the doors open, the members have been happy and positive.”

Part of that opening process has been regular health inspections to ensure that the gym’s equipment is properly spaced and mechanisms are in place for frequent cleaning.

“We had to have a health inspection specifically for what we’re doing in response to COVID-19,” Poe said. “We were prepared for that and had everything in place. We’re following the mask policy for indoor use, social distancing orders by putting equipment out of service. Every day we switch the out of service equipment to make sure people are 10 feet apart and we have hand sanitizer stations around the club.”

Poe said the gym follows protocols above and beyond the state requirements, like using a machine that creates a sort of disinfectant fog that cleans the dumbbells between uses. So far, Poe said that’s paid off with support from gym members.

“A member just emailed me and said she felt safe and comfortable,” Poe said. “It was really nice to hear. She commented on all the protocols in place and that she felt comfortable. Members I’ve talked to feel safe and comfortable here.”

Poe noted that VIDA Fitness offers a delay in membership to people who don’t feel coming to gyms yet but don’t want to cancel their services.

“It does affect our revenue, but because this club is brand new, we were able to modify the budget to accommodate those things,” Poe said. “We’re not making money, but hoping to continue to build the trust in the community. We want to make sure people are safe.”

Another challenge Poe said he’s facing is signage, noting with a laugh that it seemed to be one of those specific regulations Arlington County seemed very intent on enforcing. There’s very little signage outside the building directing patrons around the side to where the gym entrance is, but Poe said he’s looking into putting up sandwich boards or some other form of wayfinding reminders.

Further east, a new VIDA Rosslyn at the Highlands development is still in the works. Poe said the plan was to launch the gym later this year, but with everything that’s going on, it would not be a surprise if the Rosslyn opening date gets pushed back to 2021.

Photo via VIDA Fitness/Facebook

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A new high-end coffee shop is open in Arlington.

For Five Coffee Roasters opened yesterday in Courthouse, at 2311 Wilson Blvd. With every order, the cafe will serve a Nutella-stuffed cookie at no charge for the next three months, according to the owner.

“[Giving the cookies out] is us saying thank you, and we’re happy to serve you,” the owner, Stefanos Vouvoudakis said. “And giving back to the customer.”

The menu includes sandwiches and breakfast items, but Vouvoudakis is especially proud of the pastry selection at For Five, calling it “second to none.” The cafe serves a variety of cookies, including a “fruity pebbles” cookie with cream cheese frosting, plus red velvet, triple chocolate chip, and apple crumb pie filling cookies.

The coffee menu includes pour-over and cold brew options, and an espresso bar. Vouvoudakis’ favorite drink is the latte, for its “perfect balance between the milk and espresso.”

This is the second D.C. area location for the small, New York City-based chain. It has an existing location in Alexandria and others in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Vouvoudakis says For Five is also planning to open a location in Tysons within the next three to four months.

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