Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Park Plaque to Honor Gutshall — “A memorial plaque honoring the life and contributions of the late Arlington County Board member Erik Gutshall soon will be a part of the neighborhood he called home… when it is in place near the North Highland Street side of Zitkala-Sa Park, the memorial will be situated within sight of Gutshall’s longtime home.” [Sun Gazette]

Ballston Local Now Open — “A casual new neighborhood bar serving New York-style pizza, smash burgers, cheesy crab fries, and generous “Vegas-style” portions of chicken Parm opened in Arlington, Virginia, over the weekend. Ballston Local (900 N. Glebe Road) comes from Jason Johnston, the opening executive chef at MGM National Harbor, and business partner Jonah Troth. Opening day was Saturday, May 1.” [Eater]

Arlington Unemployment Ticks Down — “Although it continues to report improvements, the latest unemployment date shows Arlington’s jobless rate remains more than twice what it was at the onset of the pandemic… the county’s jobless rate in March was 4 percent, according to figures reported April 28 by the Virginia Employment Commission. That’s down a tick from the rate of 4.1 percent reported in February, but remains well above the 1.8-percent rate of March 2020.” [Sun Gazette]

New Trails May Provide Economic Boost — “A proposal to add more than 400 miles to the region’s existing trail network could create more than 16,000 jobs and generate more than $1 billion a year in revenue from construction and local spending, according to a new report.” [Washington Post]

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Restaurant space at 1850 Fort Myer Drive in December 2017

An long-vacant, off-the-beaten-path restaurant space in Rosslyn appears to be getting a new tenant.

Yuraku Japanese Restaurant is coming to the ground floor of the high-end Turnberry Tower condo building at 1850 Fort Myer Drive, according to permit filings and the restaurant’s website.

According to filings, the space will remain largely as-is, with the addition of a sushi bar and some kitchen alterations.

Yuraku has an existing location in Germantown, Maryland. Its website says it was founded in 1998. The restaurant’s 12-page menu includes sushi, soups, salads, tempura, noodle dishes, and dozens of specialty rolls.

The restaurant space is located at the corner of Fort Myer Drive and N. Nash Street, a block from the Rosslyn Metro station and two blocks from the main N. Lynn Street drag.

Somewhat hidden behind some trees and bushes, and on the quieter side of two busy roads, the space proved challenging for its previous occupants. A restaurant serving Chinese cuisine, Secret Chopsticks, closed in 2016 after only three months in business. Its successor, Pancho Villa Mexican Cuisine, was open for a year-and-a-half before it closed in December 2017.

There’s no word yet on an opening day. The new location is only listed as “coming soon” on Yuraku’s website.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt

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At the end of the long road from a pop-up in 2019, The Freshman is ready to graduate this week from long-delayed concept to Crystal City’s newest restaurant.

The Freshman is the creation of Nick Freshman, owner of Spider Kelly’s in Clarendon. The restaurant, which offers an all-day breakfast menu as well as lunch and dinner options, advertises itself as one of the first to come into the area in the wake of the Amazon HQ2 announcement.

The Freshman — located in a 3,400 square foot space at 2011 Crystal Drive — is scheduled to open this Wednesday, April 21, after a soft opening last week for friends and family.

“We are really excited to open our doors and begin serving the neighborhood,” said Freshman. “We’ve created an all-day space so we can offer something thoughtful and housemade throughout their day, from a pastry and a great cup of coffee before work to a handcrafted cocktail with dinner.”

The website says the new restaurant will feature coffee and cocktails, along with a selection of beer and wine, in addition to a “locally-sourced and seasonally-driven menu.”

“The menu includes a range of small plates, tartines, flatbreads and salads, and, of course, breakfast (which is offered from open to close),” says a press release.

“Favorites include the Virginia Ham + Dried Fig + Goat Cheese tartine, the Grilled Broccoli + Brussels Caesar, and the Grilled Octopus Escabeche, which includes an apple-fennel pico de gallo, Chicken Fried Oysters and Spring Pea Hummus,” the release continues. “The Freshman‘s breakfast menu includes a vegan Tofu Scramble + ‘Cheese’ sandwich and a range of pastries, including Vanilla Cardamom Bread and a Bacon, Cheddar and Jalapeno Scone.”

The restaurant will be open from 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and from 8 a.m.-11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The Freshman will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

The press release said the restaurant will offer dine-in service with masks required, as well as patio service and takeout. There is season for 120 inside and 50 on the patio.

Freshman had originally planned to open the restaurant early last year, but the pandemic disrupted those plans. Instead, relief program Hook Hall Helps used The Freshman’s empty space as a hub for distributing care kits and family meals to hospitality workers and families in need. The press release noted that the program has since moved into the former Cosi space next door and will remain open.

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Morning Notes

APS to Offer Coronavirus Testing — “Beginning the week of April 19, APS will begin providing free medical testing for students and staff who are symptomatic, or who have been exposed to COVID-19. Walk-up testing will be conducted after school hours with parent/guardian consent. Walk-up testing sites at Glebe Elementary, Kenmore Middle and Wakefield High Schools provide trained staff to assist in mid-nasal swab testing using the RT-PCR test after school hours.” [Arlington Public Schools]

New DCA Concourse Opening Next Week — “The shuttle buses will soon be relocated to Philadelphia. And the air stairs, no more. After nearly 25 years, officials at Reagan National Airport on Thursday unveiled a much-anticipated addition, a sleek 14-gate concourse that will mark the end of operations of the much-maligned Gate 35X. American Airlines will begin service Tuesday out of the new concourse.” [Washington Post, NBC 4, DCist]

New Concessions Coming to DCA — Timber Pizza Co. and Peet’s Coffee are among the new food and drink options coming to National Airport and its new concourse. [Twitter, Twitter]

Group Rallies for Affordable Housing –“I’m at a rally hosted by the ACE Collaborative, community organizers who work with Asian American residents in Arlington. They’re in [Pentagon City] this evening, asking the county to take steps to end displacement as rents rise. In the immediate term, the group is calling for the county to add $8 million to its housing grant program in the next budget.” [Twitter]

Car Fire on GW Parkway — “ACFD is on scene of a vehicle fire on the GW Parkway near Spout Run. The vehicle is fully engulfed in flames, per the first arriving firefighters.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Animal Control Saves Turtle — “We need to thank Officer Davis for helping this snapping turtle, who was trying to cross I-395 during rush hour. Thankfully, she was able to safely remove him, bring him to the shelter for a check-up, and then release him back into the wild where he belongs!” [Twitter]

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Morning Notes

New Irish Pub Now Open in Pentagon City — “If your notion of an Irish pub is a static menu of fish n’ chips in a shamrock-decked bar, chef Cathal Armstrong wants to change that perception with Mattie and Eddie’s. The James Beard-anointed chef, who championed seasonal Irish cooking over 14 years at Alexandria’s Restaurant Eve, just opened the gastropub with a large outdoor patio in Pentagon City.” [Washingtonian]

Extended Power Outage in Barcroft — A driver crashed into a utility pole at S. Buchanan Street and 6th Street S. in the Barcroft neighborhood Sunday, initially knocking out power to thousands. Hundreds of homes were still in the dark until early this morning. [Twitter]

Candidate Comes Out Swinging At Dem Meeting — “[Chanda] Choun, who is attempting to unseat sitting Democrat Takis Karantonis in a June primary, did not pull many punches in an April 7 kickoff speech before the Arlington County Democratic Committee rank-and-file. ‘Takis was not the best candidate to represent Arlington’ during a politically and racially charged era, Choun said… If elected, Choun said he would be an elected official who ‘goes beyond the platitudes and buzzwords’ to promote an aggressively left-leaning agenda. One example: Choun said he wanted the county to establish a ‘truth and reconciliation commission’ to focus on equity issues.” [Sun Gazette]

School Board Advances Budget Proposal — “The School Board adopted its FY 2022 Proposed Budget at its April 8 meeting. The proposed budget expenditures total $699,919,805. The School Board amended the Superintendent’s FY22 Revised Proposed Budget by reducing the budgeted expenditures by $6,796,056 and 35.00 FTE and replacing the 2% cost of living adjustment with Compensation Option 1. Compensation Option 1 provides different compensation models by employee scale to ensure that every employee in the school division receives a compensation increase.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Pentagon Police Officer Faces Murder Charges — “Takoma Park police have charged the off-duty Pentagon Force Protection Agency officer they say shot and killed two men Wednesday morning in Montgomery County, Maryland. The officer has also been charged for an alleged assault that happened last year. David Hall Dixon, of Takoma Park, has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of use of a handgun in commission of a felony and reckless endangerment.” [WTOP]

Don’t Hang Up on 911 — From Arlington County: “Oops, did you call 911 by mistake? It’s OK, just stay on the line and tell the friendly dispatcher it was an accident. That way, they can confirm there’s no emergency… Otherwise, we’ll have to call you back, taking away a dispatcher who could help someone who needs it.” [Twitter]

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Ballston Quarter is getting several new businesses, a new art installation, and a weekly bingo night.

The “Beer and Bingo” nights are taking place at the Quarter Market food hall on Wednesdays through the end of May. Registration is free on the shopping center’s website. Individuals or small groups will be sat at tables spaced apart, for safety’s sake.

“Guests can expect a safe and socially distanced night full of fun and amazing prizes for those lucky bingo winners,” says a press release. “The free ticket will guarantee 6-8 rounds of bingo with a prize available for each round.”

Meanwhile, the “Prismatica Kaleidoscope Experience,” fresh from a stint in Richmond, is being installed in the outdoor mews near CVS. It will open May 1 and run until the end of that month.

The art installation is “composed of 25 pivoting prisms standing at more than 6 ft tall, that will make for a colorful photo op,” according to a press release. The “towering rainbow prisms” immerse visitors in “an infinite interplay of lights and reflections,” says the Ballston Quarter website.

In addition to the art, three new businesses are set to open.

Heart + Paw, a full service veterinary center, groomer and doggy daycare, is also opening in the shopping center in May. This is the company’s first location in the area, with most existing locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Large windows will face out as to “allow pet parents to watch their fur babies being groomed,” the press release says.

Also opening is REWILD, the popular and trendy D.C.-based flower and plant shop. That’s expected to open between July 1 and August 1, the shop tells ARLnow.

“We also hear a lot of our clients who visit us at our D.C. locations say they’ve traveled to see REWILD in person, and many of those clients are coming from Virgina,” owner Lily Cox wrote in an email to ARLnow. “We pride ourselves on our selection of unique houseplants, and find that there’s a space to fill in Virginia for a shop like ours. We have already received so much positive feedback from some of those Virginia-based residents, that we’re anticipating a very engaged community in Ballston.”

Beyond selling house plants, REWILD also does consultations and workshops.

Finally, after being first announced in August 2018, Art Whino appears to be planning to finally open soon.

The D.C.-based art gallery, which once had a presence at Tysons, is opening up a new 6,000 square foot venue that will bring “art, food, cocktails and events under one roof.”

There will be a seating area for more than 150 guests, three bars with “full immersion mural installations,” and an art retail space. The venue is being described as a “multidimensional experience.”

The opening date is listed as “late spring 2021.”

Two other Ballston Quarter businesses have reopened or appear poised to reopen soon.

Cooking school Cookology “has finally reopened its doors to welcome those who want to learn everything about cooking in-person,” according to the press release.

“They will be hosting teen nights every Friday night and CRAVE @Cookology which will be a series of culinary experiences allowing visitors to drop in and participate in fun activities like making their own sushi & sake or competing in cake decorating competitions,” the press release notes. “CRAVE will begin April 3 and will be open Wednesday-Friday from 5-9 p.m. and Saturday 1-9 p.m.”

As ARLnow reported last week, three-story food, drink and entertainment complex Punch Bowl Social is also expected to reopen in the coming weeks or months. The company recently started hiring ahead of an expected reopening, after remaining closed during much of the pandemic and going through bankruptcy.

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After first announcing their move to Crystal City in September 2019, Rasa is finally planning to open this summer.

The D.C.-based, fast-casual Indian restaurant applied for a Virginia ABC permit to sell beer, wine and mixed drinks earlier this month, typically a prelude to an opening within a few months. A restaurant spokesperson confirms to ARLnow that the Rasa Crystal City location is, in fact, planning to start serving customers this summer.

We asked why the nearly year-long delay — the pandemic seems a likely culprit — but have yet to hear back as publication time.

“Rasa National Landing” will be located at 2200 Crystal Drive, near a Sweetgreen, a Chick-fil-A, and an Amazon-assisted COVID-19 vaccination clinic.

While Crystal Drive’s row of restaurants have always been popular with the lunch-time crowd, that crowd has thinned during the pandemic. Still, new residential development and hopes of turning National Landing into a “vibrant 18-hour environment” raise the possibility of a more robust dinner crowd down the line.

Rasa was founded by locals Rahul Vinod and Sahil Rahman. There are currently two other restaurant locations, one in Navy Yard near Nationals Park and the other on K Street NW in the Mt. Vernon Triangle neighborhood that opened in August 2020.

The menu and design of Rasa’s Arlington location is expected to mirror the D.C. restaurants.

The menu is bowl-based, featuring punny names like “Caul Me Maybe” (which features tofu, cauliflower, peanut sesame sauce, rice, and spinach) and “Goa Your Own Way” (featuring spicy beef, coconut ginger sauce, green beans, and lentils).

The restaurants’ colorful interiors have basket swingsets, bookshelves stocked with titles by South Asian authors and paintings from local artist Nandita Madan (who happens to be co-founder Rahman’s aunt).

Photo courtesy of Rasa

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Two foodies are opening a restaurant and bar called Ballston Local in the former location of Stageplate Bistro.

Co-owners Jonah Troth, a former Silicon Valley executive, and Jason Johnston, a Las Vegas chef, expect to welcome customers on Saturday, May 1, just in time for summer.

“Ballston Local is an elevated fast-casual restaurant, focusing on the conveniences of the ever increasingly popular service model, merging it with a vibrant cocktail bar and exceptional crave-worthy foods,” they said of the restaurant at 900 N. Glebe Road.

Troth left the tech world after 18 years because “it wasn’t crazy enough” and decided to pursue his dream of opening a bar and restaurant. He’s also a former beer brewer with a degree in biochemistry.

The restaurant will have to draw a sizable crowd to the foot traffic-challenged western side of Glebe Road in order to fill the large space, which can seat more than 150. The owners believe they have the formula to do just that.

In developing the menu, Johnston drew from his 30 years of culinary experience and his former roles as executive chef of the MGM at National Harbor and Bellagio. The menu boasts approachable and fast fare inspired by classic comfort foods, such as Brooklyn-style pizza, juicy burgers, loaded sandwiches and colorful salads, the duo said.

To drink, customers can pick craft cocktails or fan favorites, as well as “unique” beer offerings and wine, the duo said.

“Each dish will showcase the freshest possible ingredients and thoughtful techniques, while mindful of busy clientele who don’t want to exchange quality for efficiency,” they said.

“When I lived in Las Vegas, New York and LA we always had our go-to spot, and good pizza was the No. 1 requirement,” Johnson said. “I have been perfecting my own pizza recipe for the last 10 years, and I am excited to bring my passion for the classic NY style pizza my grandma use to make to Ballston.”

“We hope Ballston Local will be a place for our guests to experience a comfortable atmosphere, excellent fast service and most importantly, delicious food,” the chef added.

Additional details on Ballston Local’s food and beverage menu are expected to be revealed in the coming weeks.

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A little over one year after signs went up for The Freshman (2011 Crystal Drive), the coffee shop, restaurant and gathering spot in Crystal City is finally preparing to open its doors.

A PR firm representing the cafe said it will have both dine-in and takeout options when it opens next month.

“We can confirm [a] mid-April timeline… we will offer takeout, delivery and dine-in,” a representative said. “The Freshman will be an all-day spot — coffee-to-cocktails — and feature dishes inspired by local, seasonal ingredients.”

The restaurant is the latest project from Nick Freshman, who also operates Spider Kelly’s in Clarendon.

The Freshman built anticipation in 2019 with a small but popular pop-up in Crystal City Shops, but the pandemic left grand opening plans up in the air. While the restaurant was on hold over the last year, relief program Hook Hall Helps used The Freshman’s empty space as a hub for distributing care kits and family meals to hospitality workers in need.

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(Updated at 10:30 a.m.) A Baltimore-based Mexican restaurant is the next buzzy eatery to open in Pentagon City.

Late last month, Banditos Bar & Kitchen announced via social media that they will be opening an outpost at Westpost, the shopping center formerly known as Pentagon Row.

This will be their third location, but the first in Virginia.

Owner Sean White tells ARLnow that they will be taking over the space that is currently Thaiphoon restaurant, likely in October. From there, the build-out should take about six months. He expects Banditos to open in March or April 2022. It was not immediately clear whether Thaiphoon will be closing in Pentagon City or moving to a new location.

White says they’ve wanted to open a restaurant in the D.C. area for sometime. Arlington is a particularly good fit for the brand, he says, due to Amazon’s continued expansion into the county.

Banditos is owned by White Oak Hospitality Group, a Maryland restaurant group with a number of ventures in Baltimore and surrounding areas. This will be their third restaurant at a property owned by Federal Realty Investment Trust, the owner of Westpost and the Village at Shirlington.

The Arlington location of Banditos will be roughly the same size as the other locations, about 3,000 square feet, according to the Washington Business Journal. There will also be outdoor seating.

On its website, the restaurant describes itself as “a TACO temple inspired by the mouthwatering flavors of Mexican street food.” The menu includes classic fare like tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and margaritas.

In recent months, a slew of restaurants have also announced impending arrivals at Westport.

James Beard-nominated local chef Cathal Armstrong is opening an Irish restaurant this spring in the former Siné space, next to the future Banditos. Northern Virginia-native Chef Tim Ma’s popular Lucky Danger is readying for a likely April opening. Johnny Spero and Scott Parker’s Nighthawk Pizza is planning to start serving in the fall.

Several notable businesses have already opened including Wild Tiger BBQ pop-up, Origin Coffee Lab and Kitchen, and Napoli Salumeria. Both Westpost and the Village at Shirlington now allow restaurant patrons to take alcoholic drinks to go, for consumption in other parts of the dining and shopping district.

Photo courtesy of Banditos Bar & Kitchen

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Morning Notes

Pandemic Doesn’t Change Amazon’s Plans — “Schoettler, who oversees Amazon’s global portfolio of office space, said the past year hasn’t changed the way the company thinks about its office strategy… Amazon still views the office as the best place for work because of the ability for employees to collaborate, and it still envisions its footprint centered around large corporate campuses like its Seattle headquarters and its HQ2 development in Northern Virginia. ” [Bisnow, Twitter]

Sheriff’s Deputy Charged with Fraud — “India Middleton, a deputy sheriff with the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, was indicted in Georgia by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service on conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Middleton was one of 10 defendants indicted in a multi-state scheme to submit fraudulent loan applications for non-[existent] businesses as part of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), according to a U.S. Department of Justice release.” [Patch, Arlington County]

New Irish Pub Opening Soon — From the social media account of Mattie & Eddie’s, Chef Cathal Armstrong’s new Irish restaurant and bar in Pentagon City: “Practice test! All your grand Irish pints coming soon!” [Facebook]

APS May Cut Magnet High School from Budget — “As part of his proposed budget for the 2022 Arlington Public Schools (APS) fiscal year, Superintendent Francisco Dúran has suggested cutting funding for Arlington students to attend [Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology]. Should the proposed cut pass, current Arlington students at Jefferson will be allowed to remain, but all future classes — including this year’s rising 9th graders — will be barred from attending the school.” [TJ Today]

Lopez’s Gun Loophole Bill Signed — “Introduced by House Majority Whip Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), HB 2128 was one of the first pieces of legislation signed into law by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam before the end of the session. The bill expands the amount of time state police and agencies have to conduct a background check on a ‘default proceed’ gun sale, from 3 days to 5 days.” [Press Release]

View of Old Coal Trestle from New Bridge — “A new view of the 1926 W&OD Railroad coal trestle remnants next to the new Lee Hwy bridge.” [Twitter]

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