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A florist from Eastern Europe is bringing her passion for flowers to Arlington.

What started as an online business for floral delivery has blossomed into a brick-and-mortar storefront, Kat Flowers Design and Decor, which had its grand opening at 2342 Columbia Pike this past Friday, Feb. 9.

Yekaterina Allotey, the owner and lead designer, told ARLnow that she stumbled on the future home of her flower shop by accident, while pushing her baby in a stroller along the Pike. Once she laid eyes on the location, she knew it was the place for her.

Allotey says the Columbia Pike community welcomed her with open arms.

“You don’t feel alone when you’re starting something big like a floral business or flower shop,” said Allotey. “It’s so important to have supporters or someone who actually appreciates you here.”

Supporters from all over came to help Allotey settle in. She said her family flew from her home country of Belarus, as well as from Spain, for opening day. Other floral businesses showed their support at the ribbon-cutting, too.

“We are friends with every other shop I used to work with,” said Allotey. “We support each other.”

While the florist says she loves her new home, she still clings to memories of home.

Allotey told ARLnow that her fascination with flowers was sparked in her childhood home in Belarus, where her mother always displayed outdoor plants and flowers in the front and backyard of the house and had some arrangements inside, too.

“I remember in the summertime, when I would have guests coming over, she would ask me, ‘Hey, can you go pick up some flowers so that we can put them on the table as a centerpiece?” she said.

Allotey also recalled obsessing over flowers while at school, spending all of her lunch money on floral and landscaping garden magazines. Little did she know that her childhood obsession would become her career.

“I didn’t know that, at that moment, I was going to be a florist, ” said Allotey. “I think that’s where everything started.”

From then on, Allotey did everything she could to be around flowers. Before coming to the U.S., Allotey worked at a small wedding business, where she sometimes worked with flowers but mostly, due to the high price of flowers, decorated with drapes.

Allotey immigrated to the U.S. and settled on the East Coast, working for other floral shops before starting an online flower business in 2021. Now that her online business has transitioned to a physical storefront, she is eager to connect with customers face-to-face.

“Right now I’m waiting for more walk-in customers to buy flowers,” Allotey said.

As of Tuesday, Allotey served 40 customers and she says she hopes for an even bigger turnout today for Valentine’s Day. She says she is fully stocked up for the day of love and touted her arrangements and specialty roses.

“We have six special bouquets. We don’t use regular roses: Our roses are garden-style and it’s not like something you buy from any other grocery stores,” she said.

Allotey is also willing to break outside the mold of a traditional floral designer. She and her team have done unique requests ranging from money bouquets to sparkling powder on roses.

“None of the florists I worked for would ever accept this type of request because they have their style,” Allotey said.

She says she even works with artificial flowers, if that is what the customer wants.

“I want to try to keep quality and delivery,” said Allotey.  “You know they say happy customer, happy shop.”

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Clarendon Wine Club (staff photo by Madisson Weyrich)

The opening of a wine store and bar in Clarendon is approaching, after numerous delays and setbacks.

The aptly named “Clarendon Wine Club” at 1114 N. Irving Street originally hoped to open this past fall. According to one of the owners, who requested they not be named, there is no set timeline for opening but they are hopeful to begin operating “someday soon.”

The owners, a self-described “Lyon Village couple,” said the landlord of the space passed away and the estate changed hands several times, resulting in significant delays.

“Unfortunately, we have had a lot of setbacks, including several transfers of custodianship of the landlord estate that delayed signatures and paperwork,” the owner told ARLnow. “Arlington has our paperwork, and it is pending currently.”

The business is a couple of doors down from O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub and around the corner from Clarendon Ballroom, which was revamped in 2022 with a new interior, a renovated rooftop and a pizza take-out window.

Clarendon does have at least three other businesses that can reasonably be classified as wine bars. Screwtop Wine Bar on N. Fillmore Street recently underwent an ownership change but is still operating as a wine shop. Northside Social Coffee & Wine at 3211 Wilson Blvd. is a self-titled “neighborhood café, wine bar, bakery & coffeehouse,” per their website.

The Board Room at 925 N Garfield Street, meanwhile, has a Champagne lounge that serves wine of the bubbly variety.

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A bar and restaurant with French bistro inspiration and an “eclectic ambiance” is set to join several new businesses in Crystal City next year.

Bar Colline, created by D.C. brothers and hospitality entrepreneurs Eric and Ian Hilton, will join six street-level offerings at two new apartment buildings at 1900 Crystal Drive, announced developer JBG Smith in a press release.

The new restaurant is anticipated to open in early 2025 and will be an interpretation of French bistro Café Colline, which the brothers opened in the Lee Heights Shops along Langston Blvd in June 2020.

The Hilton brothers, operating as H2 Collective, have received national attention for their burgeoning D.C. restaurant empire, including Cafe Colline, Chez Billy Sud in Georgetown, Brighton at the Wharf and El Rey taqueria in Ballston and on U Street NW in D.C.

They are also behind Players Club, Parc de Ville in the Mosaic District, Solace Outpost in Falls Church and delivery-only burger purveyor Gee Burger.

The newest venture will boast a bar and private dining room with an “eclectic ambiance,” a press release from JBG Smith said. Bar Colline’s menu will feature shareable plates, wine and inventive cocktails.

The venue will join multiple businesses coming to the new apartment buildings, dubbed The Grace and Reva. They are Chinese-French fusion restaurant Bar Chinois, Cuban café and bar Colada Shop, national blowout and hair styling brand Drybar, a nail salon called nailsaloon, and popular chains Tatte Bakery & Cafe and New York-based Van Leeuwen Ice Cream.

JBG Smith is also behind an explosion of food options in Crystal City after opening a 1.6-acre dining destination in the Crystal City Water Park last October in an effort to “[cultivate] engaging places that create lively communities and exciting experiences,” JBG Smith Senior Vice President of Retail Leasing Amy Rice said in the release.

“We’re thrilled to welcome H2 Collective’s newest concept, Bar Colline, to the neighborhood and expect it to offer customers a unique and compelling reason to return again and again,” Rice said.

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The Rosslyn skyline and Arlington National Cemetery at sunset (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington County awarded $225,000 in grants to five local startups working to solve problems in their respective industries, from keeping track of freight trucks to helping veterans with disabilities.

The five winning startups are the first to receive grants — of $25,000 to $50,000 apiece — from the Arlington Innovation Fund. This new pot of money, which the county approved last year, is intended to support early-stage tech companies, particularly those owned by women, veterans and minorities, while pushing down office vacancy rates.

Arlington Economic Development (AED), which oversees the fund, says it selected the five startups from 22 applicants because of “their executive and and technical capabilities, as well as their potential for significant revenue growth and societal impact.”

The companies are as follows:

  • Dispatchr Technologies, LLC, which developed software to reduce the energy costs and carbon emissions of power plants.
  • Freely Payments, LLC, which aims to cut processing fees when  businesses accept credit card payments from customers.
  • GenLogs Corporation, an artificial intelligence company that tracks freight trucks and tractor-trailers.
  • Phalanx AI, Inc., a cybersecurity company that helps protect sensitive documents in online products such as Office 365 and Google Workspace.
  • Seamless Transition, a medical device company that helps wounded veterans transition from active duty to civilian life through use of “a prosthetic knee that mimics the movement of natural human limbs.”

“We are excited to support these innovative companies in their startup journey as they launch, scale and advance out-of-the-box solutions right here in Arlington,” AED Business Investment Group Director Michael Stiefvater in a statement. “Their dedication to innovation and entrepreneurship aligns with Arlington’s vision as a leading technology hub offering a dynamic and inclusive business environment for startups.”

The grants can be used for business expenses such as hiring employees, leasing office space, and purchasing equipment. Many recipients told AED they plan to add new hires, enhance current features of their products and increase their marketing presence.

One entrepreneur, Seamless Transition CEO Sarah Malinowski, said she plans to patent the design of the prosthetic knee.

“With these resources, we’ll be able to secure a full patent for our innovative design using the current provisional patent,” said Malinowski. “This grant propels us forward on our trajectory, eliminating any potential delays and allowing us to focus unwaveringly on out mission.”

AIF still has $425,000 to award, having received $650,000 in the county’s 2024 budget. A second round of applications opened yesterday (Monday) and will close on March 10.

Depending on how many approved in the second round, there may be enough funding for a third, AED spokeswoman Destiny Esper told ARLnow.

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NiHao Crystal City rendering (courtesy of Nahra Design)

(Updated at 10:10 a.m.) Arlington is set to see a number of new restaurants on the scene this year.

We’re tracking at least 19 eateries hoping to open in 2024, from burger joints to Chinese restaurants, and even some by acclaimed local chefs.

Which are you, personally, most looking forward to? For the purposes of this poll, we’ll exclude nationwide chains and one spot mostly serving desserts — Van Leeuwen in Crystal City.

When we asked this same question last year, the top vote-getter was Sabores, which was recently named a Top 100 U.S. restaurant by Yelp (more on that in an article later t0day).

Links to more info, below, on each of the new-for-2024 restaurants.

  1. Carbonara (Ballston)
  2. Thakali Bhatti (Ballston)
  3. Immigrant Food (Ballston)
  4. Roggenart Bistro & Cafe (Ballston)
  5. Zazzy (Clarendon)
  6. Kirby Club (Clarendon)
  7. Mister Days (Clarendon)
  8. Burger Billy’s Joint (Cherrydale)
  9. Yunnan by Potomac (Pentagon City)
  10. 2910 Kitchen & Bar (Columbia Pike)
  11. For Five Coffee (Rosslyn)
  12. NiHao (Crystal City)
  13. Lantern Restaurant and Bar (Crystal City)
  14. Tatte Bakery and Cafe (Crystal City)
  15. Bar Chinois (Crystal City)
  16. Colada Shop (Crystal City)
  17. Bar Colline (Crystal City)
  18. Columbia Pike Deli (Columbia Pike)
  19. Andy’s Pizza (Virginia Square)
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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring Three Ballston Plaza

(Updated at 9:45 a.m. on 2/6/24) A private equity firm has partnered with Arlington-born juice and smoothie bowl shop South Block in a deal that will help the local chain advance its plans to add dozens of locations up and down the East Coast.

South Block owner and founder Amir Mostafavi will stay on as CEO post-acquisition, per a press release announcing the deal. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Mostafavi tells ARLnow he calls this deal a “strategic growth partnership,” as he and the whole South Block team will stay on while Savory Fund will help with its plans to reach 50 locations from the Mid-Atlantic up to the Northeast. The investment fund will also help with business operations, including human resources, finance and accounting, marketing, legal and facilities management.

“First and foremost, we have a great team at South Block already, a great foundation to build on,” Mostafavi said. “We’re excited about growing the business… My team is going to work alongside them and gain knowledge and experience as we’re building our team up in South Block, as we’re continuing to grow.”

South Block Owner Amir Mostafavi in Rosslyn (courtesy of Amir Mostafavi)

Savory’s Managing Partner and Co-Founder Andrew Smith told ARLnow that, when it acquired a majority position in the company, keeping Mostafavi on was a non-negotiable.

“He’s done an incredible job leading this team to the successful level that he has,” Smith said. “He absolutely stands, amongst his peers, way ahead [in] the way that he runs [South Block], and I think it’s because he’s been patient: He hasn’t worried really about growing as fast as he can. He’s been growing as methodically as he can.”

Mostafavi started South Block with its first location in Clarendon, naming the company after its position on the south side of the block, near Trader Joe’s. As the juicery added locations, all within the D.C. area, Mostafavi started searching for a capital partner in 2022 to help him continue to expand the business.

“We’ve done what I think is a great job getting us to 15 locations and we could probably navigate on our own getting to 50, but to have a partner that… has your back, that will support you and that you can learn from just makes the journey feel a lot more relaxed and attainable,” Mostafavi said. “Any time as an entrepreneur that you can try to reduce some of the pressure and stress, that’s a good thing.”

Mostafavi says he was drawn to the Savory Fund after their initial introduction.

“They’re just great people, they genuinely care about the founder of their portfolio brands, the culture and that’s what they go looking for is brands that have a great fan base, a great company culture, that are founder driven, that put people first and that’s what I was looking for,” he said.

The Utah-based investment group says it “specializes in taking fast casual and polished casual food and beverage concepts” and scaling them “into 30-unit+ powerhouse brands.” Smith, Savory Fund’s co-founder, told ARLnow he wants to maintain South Block’s cult following amid the planned expansion.

“More important than scale, where we add dozens more units, we want to grow the business from within and make sure that we grow the base of our cult following and the locations we currently have,” he said.

By focusing on South Block’s leadership ranks and its business processes, he said, Savory Fund will help it “continue to maintain the great business that it is and continue to maintain the cult following that we have within South Block, and continue to maintain that leadership presence, especially in the Northeast.”

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A D.C.-area pizza shop known for its pepperoni cups and specialty slices appears to be opening in Virginia Square.

Andy’s Pizza will replace the now-closed Ballston Place Gourmet, a local deli operated by the Chang family since 2004. It sold everything from wine and local beer to breakfast platters, Korean bibimbap, condiments and microwave popcorn.

A commercial electric permit posted on the window of the former deli at 901 N. Pollard Street was issued on Jan. 12. The storefront is largely vacant with the exception of some bare equipment and furnishings.

Neither the permit holder nor the property owner have responded to requests for comment, but a Virginia filing for “Andys Pizza Pollard St LLC,” filed last July, is consistent with LLC filings for other Andy’s Pizza locations in Virginia.

The forthcoming pizzeria joins eight existing Andy’s Pizza locations: five in D.C., one in Maryland, and two in Virginia — at Tysons Galleria and in Old Town Alexandria.

It is unclear when Ballston Place Gourmet shuttered but it could have been upwards of one year ago, per a social media post.

Hat tip to several tipsters

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Amid closures at The Crossing Clarendon, a few other retail shake-ups may be coming to the shopping center.

Florida-based Regency Centers recently ended leases for menswear clothier Jos. A Bank Clothiers and outdoor outfitter Orvis. Both are now closed and comprise some of the five storefronts listed as “available” or “available soon” on a leasing map.

One new addition will be Corobus Sports, moving into a below-grade spot on the same block as the Container Store and Colony Grill. The reported hockey training facility has a sparse internet presence, though its arrival is teased in a press release about the opening of a hot yoga studio, SoulFire Collective.

Corobus is taking the place of Jumpin’ Joeys, an indoor children’s bounce gym that “never got to take off as they opened soon after COVID restrictions went into place,” Regency Centers communications manager Eric Davidson said.

Meanwhile, two spaces listed as available currently have tenants — but Davidson says Regency is just keeping its options open.

One of the “available” stores is the 27,069-square-foot space home to Barnes & Noble. The bookseller tells ARLnow it has no plans to stop operating there and Regency Centers confirmed that nothing will change, for now.

“We’ve been working on short-term lease renewals with Barnes for a bit and are hoping to keep them in place — we love their new store prototype and are interested in continuing that discussion with them as things progress,” Davidson said.

The national bookseller recently started allowing local managers to make more decisions about store layout and products. Some have undergone renovations while a few new locations have debuted with a more “open” feel, creating places to gather for events and book signings, much like independent bookstores.

The bookseller did not say whether it had plans to experiment with alternative store formats in Clarendon.

After a 15-year slump prompted by the rise of Amazon, Barnes & Noble is making a comeback with a new CEO at the helm who helped turn around sales for the U.K.’s biggest bookseller, Waterstones.

While B&N closed more than 100 stores in the last 15 years, it notched a win in 2022 when it opened more new bookstores in a single year than it had from 2009-19, per a press release. Last year, the bookseller opened about as many stores as it closed, around 30, including one in Reston that was heralded as its largest store to open in the last decade.

The company plans to open more than 50 stores this year.

Another ‘Crossing’ listing teases “great retail coming soon” to a 2,000-square-foot space overlapping with an existing Ann Taylor store. Like the Barnes & Noble space, Davidson says Regency is doing “leasing diligence on a lease extension” — marketing it to prospective tenants just in case, essentially.

The parent company for Ann Taylor, which also owns LOFT, and the parent company of Jos. A Bank Clothiers filed for bankruptcy in 2020, resulting in a wave of closures. The LOFT at The Crossing Clarendon closed in 2022 and is now home to The Golden Fox Boutique, a purveyor of products from women-owned and D.C.-area businesses.

The general manager for The Crossing Clarendon previously told ARLnow that Regency Centers is working to “modernize” the business mix in the shopping center and bring in “new and exciting concepts.”

This shift might be reflected in changes in consumer habits, too.

Traditional workwear is going out of fashion and American consumers — while concerned about inflation and trying to prioritize essentials like baby supplies, gas and food — say they are more apt to splurge selectively, on things like going out to restaurants and bars, according to consumer insights from McKinsey and Company.

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For Five Coffee is opening a new location on Lynn St. in Rosslyn next to Chopt (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The Rosslyn location of For Five Coffee Roasters is set to open in the next three weeks — and it will serve more than coffee and pastries.

The café at 1735 N. Lynn Street will be the company’s first to offer a bar with wine, beer and liquor, “making it the perfect after work destination or residential happy hour spot,” Vice President of Marketing Tracy Imhof said.

The Rosslyn location of the New York City-based coffee company will be the biggest one yet at 4,316 square feet. Initially predicted to open this time in 2022, the new location next to Chopt will fill a gap in cafés on the block left by the closures of Cosi and Starbucks.

For Five Coffee Roasters in Rosslyn will boast a full coffee menu, artisanal pastries, stuffed cookies and made-to-order breakfast and lunch items with a “For Five twist,” Imhof said.

The company was founded in 2010 in Queens, New York, and has since branched out to Chicago, Los Angeles, D.C. and Northern Virginia. For Five’s Rosslyn shop is about a mile from its Courthouse location, which opened in 2020.

According to its website, the company has direct connections with small coffee farms “renowned for their top-tier crops.” For Five provides signature blends and single origin coffees sourced from 30 different regions around the world.

“For Five’s coffee philosophy is firmly rooted in the essence of the coffee bean,” the website says. “It’s not the familiar brown bean we recognize, but the vibrant green bean plucked fresh from coffee trees that truly reveals coffee’s quality.”

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For three decades, Westover was home to a dive bar called The Forest Inn that, in yesteryear, sold cigarettes and garnered a reputation for attracting a “rough crowd.”

Now, it is home to a taco and margarita spot with a kids’ menu.

The Forest Inn first opened in 1981 in a former post office space, under the name of The Black Forest Inn. In 1994, it moved a few blocks to its location on Washington Blvd where it remained until it closed in 2022. The bar had a blue-collar atmosphere — though it attracted judges and congressmen in addition to cops and teachers — and earned a reputation as one of Arlington’s last dive bars.

When it closed in 2022, however, times were changing. At the time, General Manager Ken Choudhary told ARLnow that he guessed the landlord, Van Metre Commercial, did not renew the lease because it wanted “something new… something that’s not a bar.”

Nearly a year and a half after The Forest Inn’s closure, Westover Taco opened at 5849 Washington Blvd. According to local serial entrepreneur and restaurant co-owner Scott Parker, the clientele at Westover Taco is less like a dive bar and more family-oriented — but cocktails are always available.

“There are people that come in and just have a couple margaritas but the great majority of people that come in are… having at least some food,” he said. “We’re open to people just having drinks if they want. There’s some people that come just for drinks, there’s some that come for food, and we’re happy with both.”

While the recently opened restaurant now has some regulars, Parker says he is mostly seeing an influx of new patrons trying it out.

“There are definitely some regulars from the neighborhood that have come quite a few times, some that come weekly for sure, but at the same time there are definitely folks that are just trying it out for the first time as well,” he said.

The entrepreneurs behind the taco shop also reflect the new focus. At the helm is Sarah White, a restaurant industry veteran who also runs the Cowboy Cafe on Langston Blvd, which many lovingly consider a dive bar, as well as several local Lost Dog Cafe locations. White co-owns the business with Parker and Cowboy co-owners Mike and Jim Barnes, Mike Danner and Wes Clough, who are all Yorktown High School grads.

Tacos and margaritas are the backbone of the menu but the casual eatery also serves a variety of tequila-based cocktails. The space features three roll-up doors that create an indoor-outdoor feel for spring and summer months.

Westover Taco might not hold the dive-y appeal of The Forest Inn to its former regulars, but Parker says it is finding success in its own, community-centric way.

“We had big expectations just because we love the neighborhood and know how much that neighborhood supports the local businesses, but even as much as we had hoped for I think it’s surpassed our expectations,” Parker said. “It’s just been really an amazing experience. I really love being there and it’s blown us away with how much the neighborhood has supported us.”

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Burger Billy’s Joint (via @alysonphoto/X)

A new burger restaurant with a novel take on contactless service is coming to Cherrydale.

A sign for Burger Billy’s Joint has been installed above a ground floor retail space at the condo building at 3800 Langston Blvd.

There are no specifics on when the burger joint might open, but a Facebook page associated with the restaurant says that “Burger Billy’s Joint is coming to the Cherrydale community in Arlington, VA, very soon!”

Burger Billy’s Joint promotes quick and simple service, locally sourced ingredients and “food lockers” to get customers “in and out quickly,” the restaurant’s website says. Customers can place their order and pick it up from the no-contact locker system or have it delivered through an app-based delivery service.

“We love and appreciate you but we know you’re busy,” the website says. “That’s why our restaurants are designed to get you in and out quickly. Our Food Locker system will ensure you get the correct order, fast!”

The burgers at Burger Billy’s Joint will be fresh and made-to-order, using ingredients from Virginia farms, including grass-fed beef from Cottonwood Ranch in Front Royal and fries and hot dogs from Winchester, the website says.

The burger joint will join L.A. Leaf, a CBD and vape shop which opened in 2023, and an existing ATM-only Chase Bank vestibule, in the building’s street-facing retail bays.

The condo building in Cherrydale has seen a few homegrown businesses open on the ground floor and gain popularity, only to close a few years later. Among them were tea house and foot-soaking “sanctuary” House of Steep, closed in 2018, and Gaijin Ramen Shop, which closed in 2022.

Photo via @alysonphoto/X

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