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by ARLnow.com — October 25, 2016 at 11:45 am 0

Medium RareIs well-liked steak frites eatery Medium Rare planning an Arlington location?

That certainly seems like the implication of a cryptic series of early morning tweets from the restaurant’s Twitter account.

The steakhouse hinted that it’s bringing something to Arlington “in [the] next few months.” Asked by ARLnow.com for additional information, the restaurant replied, “not yet.”

Noted for its simplicity, moderate prices, selection of sauces and crowd-pleasing desserts, Medium Rare currently has two locations in the District: on Barracks Row and in Cleveland Park.

by ARLnow.com — October 21, 2016 at 10:05 am 0

Spirits of 76, new bar with a patriotic name and Americana decor, has opened.

Specializing in whiskey and American comfort food, Spirits of 76 aims to be a neighborhood hangout. Live music is also part of the plan.

The bar quietly opened its doors Wednesday as part of a soft opening. It’s now open from 4 p.m. to last call on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to last call on weekends.

by ARLnow.com — October 11, 2016 at 10:45 am 0

Sweetgreen opening in Clarendon

Several indicators of the pace of restaurant openings in Arlington are pointing down this year.

It’s been a tough year for eateries in Arlington, with at least seven restaurants closing in the Clarendon area alone — the latest of which is Park Lane Tavern.

While some new restaurants and bars are on the way, there have been more closings than openings this year, even while the overall Arlington population rises. (By our count: 22 openings and 24 closings, with many of the openings having been for chain restaurants with more than three locations.)

Though it’s not a precise measurement, in years past ARLnow.com has consistently published around 90 articles per year about new restaurants. This year, we’re on pace to publish 72 articles, a decrease of 20 percent.

Meanwhile, Virginia ABC permit applications are down, indicating that the pipeline of new restaurants may also be drying up.

The number of pending permit applications for businesses seeking beer, wine and liquor licenses usually hovers around 20. Currently, it’s at 13, including a number of wholesalers, a few existing restaurants and seven new restaurants that we’ve already reported on.

There’s talk of a national restaurant recession, but some factors particular to Arlington appear to be in play. For one, it follows years of net restaurant growth in the county. For another, a number of the restaurants that closed this year in Arlington were well regarded by others in the industry and not typical of other failed businesses.

“I think the closings this year have surprised everyone and some of them are concepts that people thought were pretty well done,” one restaurant industry insider told ARLnow.com. “Maybe the bubble has burst.”

While we’ve previously reported rumblings from restaurant owners that the Clarendon market in particular was too crowded with restaurants, this insider did not agree that the closings would necessarily be a good thing for the remaining restaurants.

“I’ve always thought it’s better to have a bustling industry where a lot of people are opening and can feed off being known as being in a good restaurant area,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s a good thing to see all of your competitors and everyone around you closing down.”

With continued growth in other parts of Northern Virginia, like Tysons and Loudoun County, it might be that Arlington is losing its status as a dining destination. While the weekend bar scene in Clarendon remains strong, pulling in customers from around the area, Arlington’s restaurants apparently aren’t having such success.

Or perhaps, some speculate, the continued high cost of living has been pushing out the 20-somethings who are key restaurant customers, leaving older residents with children who go out to eat more sparingly.

Either way, 2016 will be known as a bloody year for the local restaurant biz.

“It’s unbelievable how many places have closed,” said the insider.

by ARLnow.com — October 4, 2016 at 6:30 pm 0

Balkan small plate restaurant Ambar is set to open its doors for dinner Wednesday night (Oct. 5).

The restaurant is opening in the former Boulevard Woodgrill space at 2901 Wilson Blvd. It’s location No. 3 for the well-reviewed Ambar; the original is located on Barracks Row on Capitol Hill and a second is located in Belgrade, Serbia.

Ambar will at first be open seven days a week for dinner, but will eventually serve both lunch and weekend brunch as well.

Since Boulevard closed at the end of July, the interior has received mostly decorative changes, helping to modernize a restaurant space that had remained largely the same for a decade and a half. Nya Gill, the wife of Ambar owner Ivan Iricanin, designed the 3,600-square foot interior.

Iricanin told ARLnow.com that he has been looking to open in Arlington for some time.

“I was looking at Arlington County because there are so many young people that fit our demographics but there’s also families… it’s a very healthy mix of people,” he said. “We [also] want a presence here because I really see the future and I really believe in the growth of Virginia.”

He said Boulevard Woodgrill presented an ideal opportunity in terms of layout and location.

“I wanted to have a really great location and interior space, with a nice corner,” Iricanin said. “I think that this place hit it on every single target: location was great, outer patio, a lot of windows, high ceilings, open kitchen, we have a charcoal grill which is crucial for us and which we don’t have in Capitol Hill… those are the elements that made my decision easy.”

While it hasn’t been finalized yet, Ambar’s menu in Clarendon will be substantially different than that of the Capitol Hill location, Iricanin said.

“We want to do everything differently because it’s easy to copy and paste, but I don’t want my chefs to get their guard down and get relaxed,” he said. “I want to push it to the limits and that’s what I’m going showcase here.”

The menu will include dishes made with fresh, organic meats sourced from Amish farms in Pennsylvania. Lest one think that “Amish farm” is a marketing term, an Amish man — complete with beard and straw hat — was at the restaurant, talking with the chefs Tuesday afternoon.

Iricanin said diners should expect high-quality food at affordable prices. There will be all-you-can eat meal options, he said, the most expensive of which is a $35 all-you-can-eat dinner.

“We really, really want to be a neighborhood spot and we are very price-conscious,” said Iricanin. “For $35… you can try 10-15 different flavors, different textures, different things and we can take you to the whole Balkan region in 2-2.5 hours.”

Iricanin wanted to offer an all-you-can-drink option as well — the all-you-can-drink brunch is popular in D.C. — but Virginia ABC laws prohibit it.

Another notable feature of the restaurant is that it has a DJ booth near the bar. But Iricanin was quick to point out that Ambar is not trying to be a danceclub — instead, the DJs are more about sophisticated nighttime ambiance.

“Obviously any time you dine, you have the background music… and I want to control what I’m playing,” he said. “This is not going to be a club, it’s not going to be a restaurant club, it’s just going to be thoughtfulness behind the process. We have a very nice sound system put in place, and what I want to achieve is that you come here like 10:30 and have a nice dinner while the DJ is playing music. Nothing too loud, nothing too abrasive… but you’re going to feel like you’re at a funky, cool vibe restaurant.”

The full press release about Ambar’s opening, after the jump.


by ARLnow.com — October 4, 2016 at 11:15 am 0

A new quick-service pizza restaurant on Columbia Pike is offering free pizza tomorrow as the eatery holds its grand opening.

1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza, billed as “a fast-casual American spin on authentic, hand-tossed Neapolitan pizza,” is opening at 3400 Columbia Pike, near the intersection with S. Glebe Road.

The first 10 customers will get free pizza for a year, according to a press release, while anyone else stopping by on opening day will get a free 10-inch personal pizza for following the restaurant on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

From the press release:

To celebrate the new restaurant, the first 10 guests through the doors on Oct. 5 at 11 a.m. will win free pizza for a year. In addition, all guests who visit the grand opening between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. and like 1000 Degrees on Facebook or follow on Instagram or Twitter will receive a free 10″ pizza of their choice.

1000 Degrees serves personalized, made-to-order authentic Neapolitan pizza. Each pizza starts with fresh, never frozen, hand-tossed dough, created with authentic Neapolitan flour and available in both a personal 10″ and sharable 14″ sizes. Guests then choose to create their own pizza or order one of the 1000 Degrees Favorites.

The Arlington 1000 Degrees is the first location in the D.C. area, and is owned and operated by long-time, local entrepreneur of the area. Prior to 1000 Degrees, the owner had owned several different businesses in the area, and chose to open 1000 Degrees after being drawn to its fresh, quality ingredients and fun atmosphere.

“We’re thrilled to open the doors of our third 1000 Degrees restaurant in Virginia,” said 1000 Degrees CEO and Founder Brian Petruzzi. “I’m confident that we serve the best hand-tossed Neapolitan pizza in the area and provide an unparalleled customer experience that will keep people coming back for more.”

Customizing a 1000 Degrees pizza is truly a unique experience, as guests can choose to top theirs with any of the more than 50 high quality cheeses, sauces, meats, vegetables and other toppings all for one flat price. While choosing their toppings, customers are guided down an assembly line of pizza consultants to create a pizza that is totally unique to them.

Outside of the build your own option, there are more than 12 varieties of specialty pizzas including favorites like The Smokey Pollo, also known as Barbecue Bourbon Chicken, which features sweet and smokey bourbon barbecue sauce, roasted chicken, red onion, pineapple, shredded Grande brand mozzarella and blue cheeses, and The Philly, which is a cheese steak pizza topped with thinly sliced rib-eye, caramelized Spanish onions, balsamic glaze, shredded Grande brand mozzarella and provolone cheeses. Pizzas are then fired to perfection at 1000 degrees in a custom, handmade, revolving Neapolitan brick oven in just two minutes.

Unlike traditional Neapolitan pizza which has a slightly undercooked center and requires a fork and knife to eat, 1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza has fused this classic style with American flare. The result is a thin crust pizza that maintains the light and airy appeal of a Neapolitan style pizza.

1000 Degrees pizza captures American appeal and old world Neapolitan flavor. The company currently has more than 18 domestic restaurants open and one international location in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 1000 Degrees is growing at a rapid pace, on target to have more than 25 units open by the end of this year.

1000 Degrees Arlington is open Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

by Tim Regan — September 30, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

2915 Wilson Blvd

(Updated at 1:44 p.m.) The new business slated to open in the former Ri Ra space in Clarendon will be a lounge and restaurant called Wilson Hardware.

An ownership group signed a lease for the space at 2915 Wilson Blvd earlier this year. The forthcoming bar’s co-owners include Jad Bouchebel, Faris Ghareeb and Alex Haje.

“Wilson Hardware is a dining bar experience,” Haje said today when reached by phone. The bar’s name is an homage to Virginia Hardware, the hardware shop that occupied the storefront until 2005, he explained.

“In terms of the aesthetic, there’s going to be a real contrast between the name and look,” Ghareeb said. The duo added the bar will have a “trendy, cool” vibe and will serve “good food” alongside a “good selection of wine, beers and craft cocktails.”

If those descriptions sound a bit vague, that’s because they’re supposed to be. The bar’s owners “don’t want to give away too much” before it opens, Haje said.

A black wooden facade currently obscures the bar’s ongoing construction, but that’s by design, Haje said. Once construction nears completion, the barrier will be removed.

“Arlington’s got a lot of beautiful places but they’re somewhat similar in design,” Haje teased. “I think this is going to be something fresh.”

If construction goes as planned, the bar could open by the end of the year. If not, it will likely open early next year, Haje said.

“We’re going to try to get it open as soon as possible,” Haje added.

by Tim Regan — September 29, 2016 at 1:45 pm 0

A new bar steeped in Americana and rustic patriotism is slated to open soon in Clarendon.

The Spirits of ’76 will open its doors at 3211 Washington Blvd over the “next few weeks,” according to owner Patrick Doody. George Kennedy, former general manager at Georgetown’s former Rhino Bar, is partnering with Doody to open the bar.

When the hangout finally opens, it will be a “small, intimate, cozy neighborhood bar” that specializes in whiskey and American comfort food like Maryland crab cakes and meatloaf, Doody said.

“We’re going to be heavy on bourbons and ryes. Definitely feature your old fashioneds and your manhattans,” Doody added. “All of your well-known and well-liked American standard cocktails will be made at the bar.”

Though the patriotic bar will be decked out in stained wood, exposed brick and a big American flag, Doody also plans to hang photos of Johnny Cash, JFK and Elvis Presley on the walls.

“In the bar, the decor will be presidential,” he explained. “A lot of Americana pop culture, as well.”

Doody, a veteran of next-door O’Sullivan’s, said he hopes The Spirits of ’76 can become a place where Clarendon residents will gather on a regular basis.

To achieve that goal, Doody said he’ll book local musicians and partner with local organizations. He’ll also pour drinks behind the bar and manage the business most days of the week.

“I believe in the neighborhood,” Doody said. “I’m trying to break the trend of smaller local places that have been shutting their doors.”

by ARLnow.com — September 28, 2016 at 8:45 am 0

Smiling backyard deer (Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann)

New Restaurants Coming to Rosslyn — A bunch of new restaurants and a cafe are coming to Rosslyn as part of the under-construction Central Place project. Fast casual eateries Sweetgreen, Nando’s Peri-Peri and The Little Beet are signing deals with developer JBG. A Compass Coffee is also set to open and negotiations are reportedly underway with Cava Grill. [Washington Business Journal]

Sidewalk Cafe for Pike Beer Garden — The Arlington County Board last night approved a use permit that will allow the future beer garden at the corner of Columbia Pike and Walter Reed Drive to operate a 32-seat outdoor cafe. The outdoor seating will “enliven the restaurant space and provide greater activity on this corner” of Columbia Pike, county staff wrote. County Board members expressed enthusiasm for the business, from the owner of nearby Twisted Vines, with Jay Fisette calling it “a fabulous use for this site.” [Arlington County]

Neighborhood Conservation Projects Approved — Last night the County Board approved $4.7 million in funding for six neighborhood conservation projects. The projects include a neighborhood sign for the recently-renamed Arlington Mill neighborhood; street improvement projects in Yorktown, Waverly Hills and Lyon Park; new LED streetlights in Arlington Heights; and a vegetation and sidewalk project in Boulevard Manor. [Arlington County]

Guas Appears on ‘Chopped Junior’ — Chef David Guas of Bayou Bakery in Courthouse was back on national TV last night, starring as a judge on the Food Network show “Chopped Junior.” [Patch]

WERA Anniversary Nears — Arlington’s own community radio station WERA will be celebrating its first anniversary in just over two months. The low-power FM station is “having an impact,” with some ninety producers generating local programming. Fundraising for the station, however, has been sluggish. [InsideNova]

Fmr. Sen. Warner to Endorse Clinton — At an event in Alexandria this morning, five-term former U.S. Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) is expected to endorse the presidential ticket of Hillary Clinton and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). It will be the first time Warner has endorsed a Democrat for president. [Politico]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

by ARLnow.com — September 26, 2016 at 1:30 pm 0

A new barbecue restaurant and pub may replace the now-closed Hard Times Cafe in Clarendon.

The owners of A-Town Bar and Grill in Ballston, Don Tito in Clarendon and Barley Mac in Rosslyn are planning the thus-far unnamed venue in Hard Times’ two-story space across from the Clarendon Metro.

The plans were revealed during a County Board review of a site plan amendment for A-Town (see below).

“We’re soon to take over Hard Times,” Mike Cordero, a partner in the restaurants, told the County Board. The new venture was described as “a really big barbecue restaurant or pub” that may be sports-oriented.

The restaurant could open as soon as next spring or summer, although a source says the deal to take over the Hard Times space has not been finalized.

Meanwhile, a fight prompted a big police response at A-Town (4100 Fairfax Drive) on Sunday night.


by ARLnow.com — September 15, 2016 at 4:30 pm 0

“A Deli” is coming to Pentagon Row.

A sign recently put on the front of the former Subway at 1301 S. Joyce Street announces that a deli serving “Italian food and wine” will be “coming soon.” The storefront has been vacant for about three years.

No other information about the new restaurant was available. A search of county records for the address did not reveal any recent applied or active permits.

Separately, the shopping center’s biggest “coming soon” business, TJ Maxx, is set to open later this fall, according to signs around the former Hudson Trail Outfitters location.

Hat tip to Michelle S.

by ARLnow.com — September 13, 2016 at 3:35 pm 0

The new Nando’s Peri-Peri in Ballston will hold its grand opening celebration this coming Saturday, Sept. 17.

The restaurant, in the former Vapiano’s space at 4401 Wilson Blvd, is celebrating its opening with appearances by Washington Capitals players, media personalities and the Caps’ Red Rockers squad.

The new Nando’s will be open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and all opening day sales will be donated to the Capitals’ official charity, the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation, according to a press release. The guest appearances will take place between noon and 7 p.m.

Among those expected to help flip chicken on the grills during the opening event, are:

  • Radio personality Elliot Segal from “Elliot in the Morning”
  • Left winger Andre Burakovsky
  • Center Lars Eller
  • Right winger Stanislav Galiev
  • Defenseman Nate Schmidt
  • Right winger Tom Wilson
  • Capitals alumnus Paul Mulvey
  • Red Rockers squad
  • Caps announcer Wes Johnson
  • CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Capitals analyst and Caps alumnus Craig Laughlin
  • Capitals contributor Courtney Laughlin

“Nando’s is thrilled to partner with the Caps to Rock the Red in Ballston and support Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation,” said Nando’s U.S. CEO Burton Heiss. The Capitals practice facility, Kettler Capitals Iceplex, is located in Ballston.

From the press release:

Nando’s has built an intensely loyal following by providing fresh food in a relaxed atmosphere with friendly service. Nando’s is known worldwide for its succulent PERi-PERi chicken, marinated for 24 hours, flame-grilled to perfection, and basted to the customer’s preferred flavor and spice.

Every Nando’s is painstakingly designed and completely unique, with earthy textures and bright colors that reflect its sunny African-Portuguese heritage. With thousands of pieces of original works of art that are a constant reminder of where the restaurant came from, Nando’s has become the largest collector of South African contemporary art in the world. In the United States alone, there are more than 600 pieces of original African art in Nando’s restaurants.

by ARLnow.com — September 6, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

A Stone Hot Pizza is coming to Arlington’s bustling Clarendon neighborhood, according to a construction permit application.

The eatery will be located on the ground floor of the Beacon at Clarendon apartments (1200 N. Irving Street). That’s according to the permit application, which was filed on Thursday, Sept. 1.

Stone Hot Pizza’s future neighbors include Park Lane Tavern and O’Sullivan’s. It will most directly compete with neighborhood fixture Goody’s and four-year-old Bronx Pizza.

The small Northern Virginia pizza chain has three existing locations, in Alexandria, Falls Church and Fairfax. Its menu includes specialty pizzas, calzones, sandwiches, pastas, salads, wings, meat pies and various appetizers and desserts.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt

by ARLnow.com — August 23, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

Matchbox American Kitchen + Spirit will be opening in Pentagon City on Thursday, according to a spokeswoman.

The restaurant, which is the company’s tenth Matchbox location, will launch with an updated menu.

Located in the newly-expanded portion of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall, at 1100 S. Hayes Street, it will feature an expansive, 12,000 square foot, multi-level dining space with a second floor patio.


More from a press release:

matchboxfoodgroup will roll out new offerings in all of its matchbox American Kitchen + Spirit locations in August, including the company’s tenth and eleventh matchbox locations, scheduled to open in Arlington, VA and Short Pump, VA in late summer.

matchbox will debut in Arlington, VA in the bustling Fashion Centre at Pentagon City (1100 S Hayes Street) with a sprawling 12,000 sq. ft. restaurant, set across two levels with an elevated outdoor dining terrace. Deepening the brand’s roots on the east coast, the company will also debut near Richmond with matchbox slated for Short Pump Town Center (11720 W Broad Street) in a freestanding 7,000 sq. ft. multi-level dining space complete with an outdoor patio. Both locations will prominently feature wood-fired masonry ovens as well as reclaimed materials – highlights of the concept’s signature open, energetic design.

Stephen Lyons, Vice President of Culinary Operations, has spent the summer developing original spins for the concept’s updated menu, and will introduce a number of new sandwiches, entrees and salads. The restaurant’s all-day menu will include two grinders, each served on stuffed and baked wood-fired pizza dough, with flavors such as Italian with salami, prosciutto, and capicola or meatball. The sandwiches join a new fried chicken cobb and seared salmon salad, as well as chicken + walnut pesto fettuccine. Longtime favorites like the 3.6.9 mini burgers and artisanal pizzas continue to anchor the revitalized menu, due to roll out progressively in late summer beginning with matchbox 14th street in Washington, DC.

In 2013 matchbox announced a partnership with famed California winemaker Jed Steele, creating its proprietary “matchbox blend” red wine. This month the partnership expands with a white wine blend, which Steele expects to fully roll out in fall with limited availability beginning late summer. matchbox Co-Founder Ty Neal shares, “Outstanding wine does not have to be expensive, and we are so happy with the blend Jed has developed for us. It’s approachable and refined, and we are proud to serve it.”

The brand’s proprietary bottled wines join a focused list of American craft spirits and beers, as well as an innovative draft wine system that is now standard at new locations.

by ARLnow.com — August 15, 2016 at 11:15 am 0

Ballston (photo courtesy Noah Kaufman)

NAACP Wants War Memorial Plaque Changed — The Arlington chapter of the NAACP wants a plaque on the war memorial in Clarendon updated. The plaque lists Arlingtonians killed in World War I, but separates two “colored” military members from the rest of the local war dead. The NAACP says it would like to get the plaque removed and replaced. “We owe it to those who fought and died,” said local NAACP president Karen Nightengale. [InsideNova]

Two Restaurant Chains Coming to Arlington — Two regional franchise operators have signed agreements that will bring two expanding restaurant chains to Arlington. A former Domino’s Pizza franchisee is planning to open an Arlington location of Wisconsin-based Toppers Pizza, in addition to locations elsewhere in Northern Virginia. Meanwhile a Five Guys franchisee says it will be opening 10 Newk’s Eatery locations in Arlington and Fairfax counties. The Mississippi-based soup, salad, sandwich and pizza chain is big in the Southeast U.S., with more than 100 locations in 13 states and an aggressive expansion plan. [WTOP, Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Hotels Hacked — Two Arlington hotels have reportedly had their payment systems compromised by hackers. HEI Hotels and Resorts says malware was found on its systems at 20 hotels, including the Le Meridien in Rosslyn and the Sheraton Pentagon City on Columbia Pike. The hack potentially exposed the credit card information of hotel guests and customers. [Associated Press]

Pokemon Go at the Pentagon — Department of Defense officials have put the kibosh on DoD employees playing Pokemon Go on government phones, citing concerns about the game tracking the movement of its employees. The DoD has also reportedly told Pentagon employees to only play the game outside of the building. A Pokemon “gym” inside the Pentagon has been removed. [The Guardian, Twitter]

Bethesda Man Bought $1 Million Lottery Ticket in Arlington — The $1 million-winning Powerball ticket that was sold at a Ballston 7-Eleven store last month was sold to a Bethesda resident. Larry Elpiner says he plans to “share his winnings with family and friends,” in addition to paying for his daughter’s college education. [WUSA 9]

Photo courtesy Noah Kaufman

by Adrian Cruz — August 11, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

A fast-casual eatery in Pentagon City gave select locals a taste of its noodle, rice and salad bowls and its automated ordering and payment system today, ahead of its scheduled opening next week.

Honeygrow, which is slated to make its official debut Monday in the recently-expanded Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall, served up samples of its sesame garlic and Philly roast pork stir-fry bowls and other food during an RSVP-only preview lunch.

The restaurant follows a Chipotle-style ordering model that allows customers to pick between its suggested salad and stir-fry noodle or rice options, or create their own meals. Diners also can order a “honeybar,” a dessert with fresh fruit, honey and other toppings, such as coconut flakes and granola.

But unlike Chipotle, customers use touch screens to order and pay for their food, which they can eat in the restaurant or take away with them.

Honeygrow’s Arlington outpost is the Philadelphia-based company’s ninth restaurant and its first location in the D.C. area. The chain is slated to open a location in the District’s Chinatown neighborhood later this year, along with two other outposts in Baltimore.


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