(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) A new restaurant appears to be coming to the former Heritage Brewing spot in Clarendon.
The brewpub closed its doors at 2900 Wilson Blvd in November, citing the difficulties of making ends meet during the pandemic. A restaurant called Maison Cheryl is set to take its place, according to a recent permit filing.
No contact information was listed in the filing, but a job ad for a General Manager, posted in late December, sheds some light on what type of restaurant Maison Cheryl will be.
“We will be offering refined New American cuisine with a French influence as well as top shelf cocktails, beer and wine,” the ad said. “Our restaurant will have around 70-80 seats, a large bar with a staff of 15-20. The menu is incredibly refined, often changing and hits many price points.”
The ad says the restaurant is owned by the chef and was, as of its posting, planning to open in a few months.
Photo courtesy Joseph Morrell
Every day, Executive Chef Lindsey Ayala fires up a smoker outside the Crowne Plaza hotel in Crystal City and feeds the fire with hickory wood.
She is smoking meats “low and slow,” slathering them with scratch-made sauces and serving sides such as mac and cheese, collard greens, and cheddar cornbread for a new pop-up restaurant concept within the hotel called Tom Bones BBQ.
The food is available for delivery through on GrubHub and UberEats or can be picked up from Potomac Social Tavern at 1480 Crystal Drive. It is how Potomac Social Tavern, managed by B. F. Saul Company Hospitality Group, is looking to weather the limitations on indoor dining while still cooking food for restaurant patrons and hotel guests.
Ayala, a pastry chef by training who came to barbecue later in her career, said she tries to be faithful to regional barbecue styles from in Memphis to Missouri. Even Baltimore, her hometown, has its own horseradish sauce, although people may not realize it, she said.
“Anywhere you go on the map, I have the sauce for that,” she said.
She delivers region-specific tastes through her sauces, whether it is a South Carolina-style mustard sauce or an eastern North Carolina-style spicy vinegar sauce.
“Southern states are usually where you get serious barbecue, so when people come to Virginia, they think we’re Northerners who don’t know anything,” she said. “Hopefully, it’ll remind you of how they do it at home.”
Ayala dove into barbecuing when she developed recipes to help her father launch a family restaurant in 2014. The two ran the restaurant and sold their food at flea markets, farmers’ markets and church events. Not long after, however, he had to leave to attend to his health.
Now, Ayala is picking up where she and her father left off, smoking brisket for up to 16 hours a day on the pool patio of the Crowne Plaza (the pool is still closed as a COVID-19 precaution).
So far, Ayala said the new concept is going well enough that she needed to hire a second cook. Generally speaking, she said these pickup and delivery-only concepts — sometimes called ghost kitchens — provide restaurant owners with a good safety net, helping to generate extra revenue at a tiny fraction of the cost of launching a new bricks-and-mortar restaurant.
“I think this will stick around,” she said. “If this happens again, we need a safety net to get our food out there without people having to sit down and dine.”
The pop-up concept is a pilot program within the hospitality group, Ayala said. The other restaurant testing out the idea is O’Malley’s Pub inside the Holiday Inn near Dulles airport. There, she said, Chef Stephon Washington is operating a pickup and delivery concept for Caribbean-style food, inspired by his Jamaican roots, called Grandpa Hank’s Jamaican Kitchen.
“It’s an equally great story,” she said.
(Updated at 2:45 p.m.) A new Ethiopian restaurant on Columbia Pike could help fill the vegan and vegetarian option gap near the S. Glebe Road intersection after the closure of Elizabeth’s Counter.
The restaurant is called Greens N Teff (3203 Columbia Pike), reflecting the restaurant’s meat-free menu and traditional Ethiopian grain teff. Beakal Melaku, one of the restaurant’s owners, said the restaurant had been in planning before the pandemic started and was originally going to have meat but took a green turn over time.
“I started with grilling, but then started cooking more and I changed my mind to make it vegetarian,” Melaku said.
The proteins are primarily lentil or mushroom based, and Melaku said part of his goal is helping to make people aware that they don’t need meat to have a balanced, health diet.
The restaurant has a variety of plate sizes, from regular individual platters for $9.99 with one base, protein and two grains, to extra large platters for $13.99 with the base, three proteins and four greens.
Greens N Teff opened this past weekend and so far, Melaku said the restaurant has gotten good feedback and support from the nearby community.
“This has been our first week, and so far it’s been really good,” Melaku said.
Photos via Greens N Teff/Facebook
After some holiday-season delays set the opening back two months, the pizza shop in the Village at Shirlington will start serving customers at 4 p.m.
The Arlington eatery and market is an outpost of the Michelin-recognized pizzeria in D.C. and is located in the former Cafe Pizzaiolo space at 2800 S. Randolph Street. But those who venture to Union Market for Stellina pizzas — heralded by the Washington Post and Washingtonian — will find a few variations on the flagship restaurant.
“We want to bring the Stellina experience to our guests in the region, while also being mindful of their specific needs and preferences,” said restaurateur and co-owner Antonio Matarazzo. “Knowing the South Arlington community as a resident here with my family, I thought that a retail element for prepared foods and ingredients to cook at home would be a nice addition to our curbside pick-up, delivery, and outdoor dining offerings.”
For now, guests can only dine outside in the heated, 20-seat patio; once the indoor dining room opens, the restaurant will seat 75 inside. Starting today, customers can also shop Stellina’s market, stocked with Italian pantry goods, deli counter offerings and frozen lasagne and pizza.
The Shirlington menu focuses on Chef Matteo Venini’s signature “neo-Neapolitan” pizzas. Customers can order the traditional Margherita pizza, the celebrated Cacio e Pepe pizza, or pies with any seasonal toppings. The menu also offers other Southern Italian street food, paninis, homemade pasta, classic desserts and coffee.
Both Matarazzo and Venini are natives of Italy who worked together at a trio of upscale Italian restaurants in D.C. before striking out on their own.
The Shirlington outpost is their first location to have a deli counter that offers fresh pasta by-the-pound, homemade sauces, pizza dough, cured meats, cheeses, olives and desserts such as panna cotta and tiramisu. Decorative details inside Stellina include tiles from the Amalfi Coast and murals of beloved Italian actors by D.C. artists No Kings Collective.
Unlike its D.C. sibling, the Shirlington location will not have a bar, but diners can still imbibe a glass of red wine or a Negroni with dinner. Bottled cocktails will be served tableside and Italian wines and beers will also be available.
Those who prefer a vending machine’s convenience and lack of human interaction can frequent it until the end of spring. Then, it moves to 508 K Street NW to preview Stellina’s third location.
The new eatery will be located at Westpost, the shopping center formerly known as Pentagon Row, at 1101 S. Joyce Street. It takes the place of Aabee Express Mediterranean, which closed in August and was next to the F45 training studio.
Lucky Danger is hoping to open in April, according to Washingtonian, and will be takeout and delivery only. Unlike D.C., where Lucky Danger exists as a pop-up in Prather’s Alley in Mt. Vernon Triangle, the Arlington location is expected to be permanent.
The ease of drive-up for pickup and delivery drivers and the large parking lot, a Lucky Danger spokesperson writes ARLnow, is why the owners were attracted to Westpost.
There’s no sit-down capacity at the location, so Lucky Danger will remain only take-out and delivery.
According to Washingtonian, Lucky Danger has sold out of its food — a menu that includes classic Chinese-American takeout fare like sweet and sour chicken, duck fried rice and orange beef, as well as a “secret menu” of more traditional Chinese dishes — every day since opening in November.
Additional locations may be planned after opening in Pentagon City, the article suggests.
There has been significant turnover at the shopping center once called Pentagon Row.
Late last month, Origin Coffee Lab and Kitchen opened in what was formerly a Starbucks. Also in January, Irish pub Siné closed its doors and Unleashed was let off the hook. The shopping center’s Bed Bath & Beyond disappeared into the great beyond in September.
But Westpost has also become a somewhat unexpected location for pop-ups and buzzy restaurant concepts.
In August, Wild Tiger BBQ opened inside of Bun’d Up. In November, Napoli Salumeria debuted as a market concept version of D.C.’s now-closed Napoli Pasta Bar. While Champps closed earlier in the pandemic, it’s currently being converted into Nighthawk Pizza, a neighborhood gathering spot and watering hole that is set to open in the fall.
Nighthawk Pizza is a collaboration whose backers include local nightlife heavyweight Scott Parker. Likewise the duo behind Lucky Danger includes a restaurateur with prior Arlington experience: Tim Ma, who formerly helmed well-regarded Virginia Square restaurant Water & Wall, which closed in 2017.
“I’m overwhelmed by how much love this new concept has received since we opened as a year long pop-up just three months ago in D.C.,” Ma writes in a press release, “Now we have the opportunity to bring the full vision to life in a location in my backyard of Northern Virginia.”
Owner Nick Freshman told ARLnow that he’s looking at opening The Freshman sometime in April or May, though no date is set in stone yet.
A limited version of the restaurant had opened as a pop-up in Crystal City Shops in 2019 and all the signs of an impending opening were in place last year, but a plan to ride out the pandemic has been less feasible as the virus’s impacts continue to drag on. Freshman, who also owns Clarendon bar Spider Kelly’s, said he remains optimistic about a turn-around ahead.
“We are facing the same challenges to opening as so many others in the business, but we have been fortunate to be able to wait this out,” Freshman said. “I am optimistic that things are starting to turn a corner, but we are still a long ways away from a return to normalcy as far as dining out. I am hopeful that vaccinations will continue to increase in pace, and that along with Spring will make people feel safer about dining out.”
Vaccination numbers are on the rise in Arlington, but Freshman said the success of The Freshman is also partially contingent on a return of office workers to buildings around Crystal City, which may lag vaccinations by months.
“It sounds like it will be well into the Summer or even Fall before most people return to their offices, and that is a big part of our business model here in National Landing, but our style and product will appeal to the many residents who live here, and we hope to be able to serve them this Spring,” Freshman said. “In the meantime, it has been great to be able to serve a part of our community through our partnership with Hook Hall Helps.”
“It was certainly not how I planned to open the doors to the restaurant, but we are a community-focused business, and there are people right here in the National Landing and Arlington community that are hurting,” Freshman said. “I feel very fortunate to be able to use the space to help in some way while we wait to serve the entire community.”
The company recently filed for a permit to build a new bakery within the existing building, adding new interior partitions and finishes throughout the facility.
Tatte Bakery and Cafe is a small bakery franchise with around 18 locations, mostly around Boston. The cafe offers pastries and desserts along with brunch and some dinner offerings, like maple chicken and potatoes.
Staff at Tatte Bakery’s lone D.C. location, at 1200 New Hampshire Avenue NW in the West End, said the Arlington location will open in July if all goes well with permitting and renovations. The Arlington location will have the same menu as the D.C. location.
Locals can now buy handmade pasta and sauces from a vending machine outside the future home of Stellina Pizzeria, a soon-to-open Italian restaurant and market in Shirlington.
The machine delivers food in a pandemic-friendly way and helps preview the opening of the restaurant in the former Cafe Pizzaiolo space at 2800 S. Randolph Street, co-owner Antonio Matarazzo said.
The second outpost of the Michelin-recognized pizzeria in D.C.’s Union Market was set to open at the end of 2020, but the holiday season delayed equipment and furniture shipments. It’s now slated to open “in a couple of weeks,” Matarazzo said.
Matarazzo and Chef Matteo Venini, both Italian transplants, got the idea for the vending machine in March. The pandemic had just hit the East Coast, and they were trying to find ways to deliver food to their guests.
“We did not want to just tape up a hole, but do something that could be good for the future,” Matarazzo said.
While vending machines in the U.S. just offer snacks and bottled drinks, Matarazzo said he has seen Prosecco vending machines in Europe and in Japan, “you can buy everything you want in a vending machine there,”
Granted, he said he has “never seen a pasta vending machine before.”
Like the restaurant, the vending machine was also delayed. It arrived from California — where it was custom-made — a few weeks ago, and six months late.
“It’s a tough time for everybody,” he said. “You have to be more patient these days.”
The machine will stay in Arlington until the end of spring. Then, it will move to 508 K Street NW to preview Stellina’s second location in D.C. Its flagship location opened in April 2019 at 399 Morse Street NE.
Right now, the machine has three kinds of pasta, sauces, dessert, merchandise and coffee.
Matarazzo recommends pairing the paccheri — a large, smooth tube-shaped pasta — with a bolognese sauce; the fusilli goes with ragus made with lamb and wild boar; and the tonnarelli pairs with a cacio e pepe sauce, literally, “cheese and pepper” sauce.
“That is a typical sauce from Rome, and a perfect dish for today’s weather,” Matarazzo said, referencing the recent snowfall.
For dessert, people can choose babà al rum, a 400-year-old dessert from France via Naples, or tiramisu. The coffee comes from Ready Set! Coffee Roasters, a Cleveland-based roaster run by some friends.
“This is just the start,” he said. “We’ll see what else we can put in there.”
After the pandemic, Matarazzo plans on installing 10 more in select office buildings.
He keeps tabs on the products through his phone, and said it seems like he has to restock the pasta and sauces “every two minutes.”
“People are excited about it,” he said.
Update at 10:20 a.m. — Stellina is planning to open on Friday, Feb. 12, the restaurant just announced.
Photos courtesy Rey Lopez
One of the co-owners confirmed with ARLnow that Ballston Local could open in late April or early May after some renovations to the space. The partners, who do not wish to be named yet, want to time the opening with springtime and more positive news about the coronavirus vaccine.
“It’s a new and exciting concept that is focused on crave-worthy food with a full bar,” said one of the co-owners, adding that he and his business partner live in Fairfax County and intend Ballston Local to be a “local, non-chain based environment.”
The partners, who together have decades of restaurant experience, are still hammering out menu details. Ballston Local will meet the demand for fast-casual, office worker-friendly lunches as well as a more traditional service with a full-service bar for happy hour, dinner and drinks.
Despite optimism from its owner, Mary Marchetti, Stageplate Bistro succumbed to the reputation haunting the western side of N. Glebe Road for being a difficult place for restaurants to survive. The bistro temporarily closed in February 2020 for hiring and staff training and internal reorganizing, with plans to reopen in March.
Then, the pandemic hit and by June, Stageplate Bistro had closed for good.
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.