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by ARLnow.com — August 13, 2015 at 10:15 am 1,990 0

Shake Shack (Photo via Wikipedia/Beyond My Ken)A Shake Shack will be coming to Pentagon City mall, according to permit applications filed with Arlington County.

The permits indicate that Shake Shack is planning a restaurant with outdoor patio seating and signage, indicating that it’s likely coming to the mall’s 50,000 square foot expansion along S. Hayes Street, which is currently under construction.

The location could be a boon to the New York-based burger restaurant, serving the legions of U.S. and international tourists who get dropped off at the mall by the busload in order to chow down at the food court and do a bit of shopping.

Rendering of changes to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon CitySo far there has been no official announcement of Shake Shack’s arrival from mall owner Simon. As for an opening date, spring 2016 seems to be the most likely timeframe. Two other restaurants announced for the mall’s addition — Matchbox and Sugar Factory — each have an anticipated spring opening.

While it will likely keep busy with tourists and shoppers, the Shake Shack will be losing some potential customers a year or two after it opens. It was announced yesterday that the Transportation Security Administration headquarters, located across the street, will be moving to Alexandria by 2018.

A Shake Shack in Pentagon City was presaged by Eater.com’s Missy Frederick, who reported last year that the company was looking closely at Bethesda, Reston and Pentagon City for potential future locations.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt. Photo (top) via Wikipedia/Beyond My Ken

by Heather Mongilio — August 11, 2015 at 10:05 am 5,269 0

Oz restaurant in Clarendon

Oz, a new Clarendon bar and restaurant with modern Australian cuisine, is planning to open its doors next month.

The restaurant, located at 2950 Clarendon Blvd., is currently under construction, but Oz’s grand opening is planned for Sept. 10 for media and invited guests.

After its grand opening, the restaurant will open to the public, said co-owner Ashley Darby, a former Miss D.C.

The restaurant’s interior is meant to feel like a house on the Australian outback and can seat 150 guests, Darby said.

The back dining area will be decorated like the inside of a house, the bar is meant to feel like a back porch of a house and the front dining area will look a front patio, she said. The restaurant will also have outdoor seating for 50 guests.

Oz's bar (Courtesy of Ashley Darby)

Darby said she wants the Oz to be a place that guests can come to relax with friends, enjoy a beer and taste authentic Australian food. The menu will feature dishes served in Australia, such as rissoles and eggs, a typical Australian brunch dish, and an Australian version of a s’more.

Darby’s husband and Oz co-owner, Michael, is an Australian native.

“It’ll offer a different perspective on some cuts of meat and plates we have in America,” Darby said.

The Darbys have lived in Arlington for four years, and the area’s young and diverse population made it the ideal location for the restaurant, she said.

“We just loved it so much that it seemed to be the natural thing,” Darby said.

Bar photo courtesy of Ashley Darby

by Heather Mongilio — August 4, 2015 at 12:15 pm 1,893 0

secret-chopsticksSecret Chopsticks, a contemporary Chinese restaurant in Rosslyn, may open its doors by the end of September.

The new restaurant, which sits along N. Fort Myer Drive on the lower ground floor of the Turnberry Towers building, is currently under construction, according to general manager Robin Li.

Construction and permit issues caused the restaurant to delay its opening, he said. It was originally planned to open last summer.

Once opened, the restaurant will have 120 seats inside along with outdoor seating. Li said the restaurant is still waiting to get the permit for outdoor seating.

The restaurant will be different than a typical Chinese restaurant that serves “Americanized” Chinese food, Li said. Instead, the restaurant will feature contemporary Chinese cooking.

“Whatever they are cooking in China now, we are going to cook,” he said.

The restaurant will also focus on high quality service, making the restaurant more of a sit down restaurant than a takeout place. It will also have its own wine list, Li said.

“There are a lot of differences between this restaurant and other Chinese restaurants,” he said.

by ARLnow.com — August 4, 2015 at 9:00 am 1,750 0

Evening jog (Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi)

Sweetgreen, Taylor Gourmet Coming to Crystal CityVenture capital-funded salad purveyor Sweetgreen plans to open a 1,700 square foot store in the former Corner Bakery space in Crystal City later this year. And that’s not the only trendy eatery coming to the neighborhood. Sandwich shop Taylor Gourmet is expected to open in a storefront next door. [Bisnow]

Sunglasses Store Closes on Pentagon Row — There’s still more than a month until Labor Day but sunglasses store Specs New York, which opened up three months ago on Pentagon Row, appears to be closing. [Twitter]

New Law Allows Cocktail Pitchers — A new Virginia law that took effect July 1 finally allows restaurants to serve pitchers of cocktails. Previously, it was against the law to serve any mixed drink other than sangria via pitcher. Pepita, which opened last week in Ballston, is taking advantage of the new law by selling margaritas in a skull-shaped pitcher for $40. [Washington Business Journal]

TV Station Profiles Arlington Fugitive — Rosslyn-based WJLA featured an Arlington fugitive as part of an “ABC 7 On Your Side” segment. Police say Jessie Kim, 25, assaulted the new owner of what had formerly been his family’s dry cleaning business. Kim is also accused of destroying the owner’s phone and other property before driving off in a silver BMW. [WJLA]

Bus Accident in Ballston — A minor collision between an ART bus and a Metrobus happened around 5:00 p.m. yesterday in front of the Ballston Metro station. No injuries were reported.

Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi

by Heather Mongilio — August 3, 2015 at 11:15 am 4,619 0

Sehkraft Brewing (Courtesy-of-Devin-Hicks)

Sehkraft Beer Garden and Haus, a new brewpub near Clarendon from the owners of the Westover Beer Garden, is looking to open its doors before baseball season is over.

The beer garden’s goal is to open its new location at 925 N. Garfield Street by the end of August, said owner Devin Hicks. The pub will definitely be open by mid-September “in time to watch the Nationals kill it in the playoffs and hopefully watch the Redskins be competitive,” he said.

Sehkraft’s 10-barrel brewing system is currently being installed in the establishment, Hicks said. Once open, the beer garden will have five beers flowing from the tanks and five house brews in kegs. The bar will also feature 30 “guest” beers from other breweries for its taps.

Sehkraft will collaborate with a number of local and national breweries, Hicks said. The first is a collaboration with Adroit Theory, a brewing company based in Purcellville, Virginia. The brew, an Imperial Gose, will be one of the first distributed at the bar.

“We definitely are excited to showcasing the several fantastic local breweries in the area,” Hicks said.

Head brewer John Peters also plans to collaborate with Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Growlers will also be a big part of Sehkraft Beer Garden, and customers will receive discounts on growlers if they use the bar’s Portland Growlers, Hicks said.

The establishment will also be home to a butcher shop. Customers will be able to buy cuts of meat to take home from the shop, which will also serve as the bar’s kitchen.

In addition to the beer and food, the venue will be a home for live music. Hicks is working with a booking agent to attract local and regional bands to perform at the bar.

The bar received its entertainment permit from the county last November, but it does not allow the venue to open its windows or doors. Sehkraft plans to have outdoor seating but guests will have to stay indoors if they wish to hear the music.

“We’re gonna give Arlingtonians an unbelievable venue to help celebrate our great community, beer, music and food,” Hicks said.

The company is hiring staff to help it get ready for its opening. Those interested in joining can email joe@sehkraftbrewing for general employment, [email protected] to apply for a kitchen position, [email protected] for the butcher shop and [email protected] to work in the brewery.

Photo courtesy Devin Hicks

by Heather Mongilio — July 31, 2015 at 3:15 pm 5,083 0

(Updated at 5:20 p.m.) District Taco is working with an unlikely contractor for the construction of its new Rosslyn location: a company that once laid the restaurant’s founder off.

In 2008, Osiris Hoil was working as a superintendent for Patriot Contracting, the construction company that is building the new District Taco in Rosslyn and has built locations in Alexandria and Dunn Loring — which is celebrating its grand opening today.

The company originally hired Hoil despite his lack of construction experience because of his “can do” attitude and work ethic, said Jeff McGee, the co-owner of Patriot Contracting. The company struggled during the 2008 financial crisis, however, and Hoil was laid off.

“When I got laid off, I was very sad and I asked if I could stay on payroll, sweeping floors,” Hoil said. His wife was pregnant at the time and he needed the health insurance.

Laying off Hoil was one of the toughest days McGee has experienced on the job.

“I walked away crying,” he said.

Laying Hoil and the other employees left its mark on the company. McGee vowed that the company will stay small in order to avoid ever laying someone off again.

Undaunted by the adversity of losing a job during a major economic downturn, Hoil went on to start his original District Taco cart in 2009. He had a passion for cooking and his family’s recipes — and they turned out to be a hit.

That first cart eventually spawned a second, and then a brick and mortar restaurant followed on Lee Highway. That in turn led to what is now a growing regional chain. And when Hoil started building additional restaurants, he ultimately returned to Patriot Contracting, this time as a client.

“Instead of being angry about what they did, I’m right next to them saying let’s try this again,” Hoil said. He says he signed a multimillion dollar contract with Patriot because the company has good people and the owners get involved in the project.

The construction company has built two new stores and remodeled one of the existing locations, McGee said. It is currently working on the Rosslyn location.

“We really enjoy working with him [Hoil], and we’re proud of what he’s done,” McGee said.

Hoil is also eying Bailey’s Crossroads in Virginia and the Tenleytown neighborhood in D.C. for two more restaurants, he said. Hoil says he also wants to expand into Maryland, possibly in College Park. The company currently has 270 employees.

The new District Taco in Rosslyn will be located at 1500 Wilson Blvd, next to the future TargetExpress store. Both are expected to open this fall.

by Heather Mongilio — July 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm 1,237 0

Potbelly Sandwich Works logoSandwich shop Potbelly is coming to Rosslyn’s International Place building at 1735 N. Lynn Street.

Potbelly has leased a 2,525 square foot space, according to Liz Wainger, a spokeswoman for real estate firm CBRE. An opening date has not been decided, she said.

There’s no word yet on which storefront Potbelly will occupy. There are at least three vacant or soon-to-be-vacant ground floor retail locations in the building:

  • The former FroZenYo frozen yogurt shop, which recently closed
  • The Wilson Florist shop, which had a moving sale sign outside today
  • A retail bay between Chop’t and the building lobby

The new store will be the third Potbelly in Arlington. The company also has a location by the Ballston Metro and in Crystal City.

CBRE’s D.C.-based retail leasing team tweeted out the news about Potbelly’s lease on behalf of Beacon Capitol Partners, a real-estate firm in Arlington.

by Mariah Joyce — July 28, 2015 at 10:00 am 2,101 0

Alexandria Restaurant Partners, a local restaurant management and consulting company, is planning to open new restaurant Palette 22 at the Village at Shirlington (2700 S. Quincy Street) in December.

The restaurant is envisioned as following in the footsteps of ARP-managed restaurant Cafe Tu Tu Tango in Orlando, Florida, a small-plates eatery which boasts the theme of “Food, Art, Fun.” The company describes Palette 22 as Cafe Tu Tu Tango designed “for the local, millennial crowd,” and says the restaurant will emphasize authentic international street food, street art and a creative craft bar program.

According to Paul Beckmann, the architect on the project, the building permits for the restaurant were submitted on July 13 and are currently under review. Beckmann anticipates that construction will start mid to late August and last about three months.

Palette 22 is opening in the space formerly occupied by Italian restaurant Extra Virgin, which closed in 2013.

“The space right now is pretty rough,” said Beckmann. “Much of the equipment has more than lived out its life span. We’re having to clear out the entire space.”

Once completed, the restaurant will be able to seat 168 inside and an additional 34 on an outdoor patio running along Campbell Avenue.

This will be ARP’s first restaurant in Arlington. The company currently owns Old Town Alexandria restaurant The Majestic, manages Virtue Feed & Grain, and has plans to open Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap in Alexandria in September.

Photos via Beckman Architects

by Heather Mongilio — July 21, 2015 at 10:30 am 7,176 0

A new restaurant on Lee Highway is looking to serve customers a hug, in the shape of a bowl of ramen.

Gaijin Ramen Shop (3800 Lee Highway) opened its doors last week on Tuesday for its soft opening and already the restaurant has had repeat customers, said co-owner Nicole Mazkour. On Friday, three days after opening, the restaurant had a waitlist of 65 people hoping to try its various  ramen recipes.

The restaurant’s success so far is a bit surprising because it is summer and ramen is a hot soup, Mazkour said. It is also shocking because the Mazkour and co-owner Tuvan Pham have no prior restaurant experience.

“We’ve been best friends, and something we’ve dreamed of independently is owning our own restaurant,” Mazkour said.

The two pulled together their savings to build their restaurant, despite many people telling them they wouldn’t be successful. They originally looked to open in Georgetown but the landlord pulled out at the last minute. When they got the space in Cherrydale, four different construction companies refused the project, Pham said.

“This is our shot. This is our dream,” Mazkour said. “It is literally our skin, bones, sweat and tears. We’re positive that God has helped us.”

The two set out to bring an authentic, friendly ramen experience to Arlington. They traveled to Japan to learn how to make ramen and South Korea to learn the art of making kimchi.

“If you could describe us in one word, it’s passion,” Mazkour said. “That’s all it takes.”

Everything is made fresh at the restaurant, the owners say, and the ramen soup can take eight to 10 hours to make. The owners and their staff hand shuck the corn and peel the fuji apples that go into the ramen broth, and Mazkour said the amount of organic waste they produce from the fresh vegetables and meat is “unbelievable.”

A bowl of ramen costs between $10 and $11, which does not include extra toppings that one can add. Mazkour and Pham said that the soup is a bit expensive, but it’s the best price they could set in order to afford the fresh ingredients and preparation.

The restaurant offers traditional ramen like a miso ramen or spicy miso ramen, but also more creative ones like BBQ chicken ramen. Mazkour said that she hopes to get more even creative and is playing with the idea of a lobster ramen or a kobe beef ramen.

In addition to the ten types of ramen currently served, customers can also purchase chicken, pork or beef  “buns.” Buns are similar to sliders, but the buns are a white, thick and doughy instead of a traditional bread. The restaurant is a family business, with Mazkour’s son making the buns.

Without a financial backer, Mazkour and Pham have been somewhat limited in their operation. They both have full time jobs outside of the restaurant, and can only open from 4-10 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. They want to expand the hours, either in the afternoon or late night Friday and Saturday, but they are seeking customer feedback to help them make their decision.

During the restaurant’s soft opening, the two owners want to hear customer feedback. They did a soft opening because they are currently training the staff to make the ramen and they are still hammering out other details.

When hiring, the two owners kept all the staff from the Kite Runner Cafe, which was previously in the spot. The two paid the employees for two months while the restaurant was being built because they knew the staff relied on the paychecks, Pham said.

“We’re not about business,” she said. “We’re about heart.”

They are also still working to accept credit cards and get their liquor license, but they expect to have both in the next few weeks.

The restaurant can seat 44 people and there will be about 17 seats outside as well. Mazkour and Pham want to give the restaurant the kind of friendly feel that they found in Japan, instead of the hip and exclusive feel that some other trendy ramen places have, Mazkour said.

Their light attitude is reflected in the restaurant name. Gaijin in Japanese means foreigner, and neither Mazkour nor Pham are Japanese, but they respect the culture and the food, so the name is a bit of a light-hearted joke.

“[Japanese people] love it,” Pham said.

by ARLnow.com — July 21, 2015 at 9:20 am 1,588 0

Flowers in Arlington (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

Community Pushes Back on Fire Station Plan — Arlington County Board members are hearing an earful from residents who live around Fire Station 8 on Lee Highway. The county is considering relocating the station to improve fire response times in far northern neighborhoods. However, residents say the fire station is historic because it was the first in Virginia to be staffed mostly by professional black firefighters, in the 1950s, and should not be moved. [InsideNova, WTOP]

Kojo and Kaine in Crystal City — WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi will host a “Kojo in the Community” discussion with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) tonight. “The discussion will focus on the ways in which the military and defense industry shape our region, ranging from jobs and the economy to infrastructure and traffic,” organizers say. The talk will take place at Synetic Theater in Crystal City. [ARLnow Events]

New Restaurant at DCA — Former “Top Chef” finalist Carla Hall has opened a new 110-seat restaurant in Reagan National Airport’s Terminal A. The menu features contemporary American cuisine with a Southern flair. [Eater, Washington Business Journal]

Now Showing: Shrek, the Musical — Arlington’s Encore Stage and Studio is currently performing Shrek, the Musical at Thomas Jefferson Community Theater. The family-friendly show runs through Sunday. [DC Metro Theater Arts]

Bunnies Galore Near Clarendon — There sure are a lot of bunnies around Clarendon these days, at least according to some concerned bunny spotters who have contacted us about it. Now, there’s some photographic proof. [Twitter]

by Mariah Joyce — July 20, 2015 at 12:15 pm 882 0

Mezeh, an assembly-line-style Mediterranean lunch and dinner joint, has opened a restaurant in Crystal City at 2450 Crystal Drive.

Mezeh replaces a similar restaurant in the space: Black Lime, which closed last year.

The restaurant officially opened for business on June 29, and is now in its fourth week. Director of Marketing Patrick Mika said that lines were out the door on opening day, and in the three weeks since then “business has been really good.”

Mika believes Mezeh distinguishes itself from similar businesses like Roti and Cava because of its emphasis on offering a wide variety of Mediterranean cuisine and its use of fresh, local produce.

“We really feel that if a customer comes in one time, they’ll taste the difference and keep coming back,” said Mika.

The restaurant has had locations in Annapolis and Wheaton for the past two years, but both are located in mall food courts. The Crystal City Mezeh is the first stand-alone restaurant, and can seat about 60 people.

Mezeh is open daily from 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

by ARLnow.com — July 17, 2015 at 12:45 pm 1,820 0

Pepita, chef Mike Isabella’s new Mexican cantina in Ballston, has announced that it will open Thursday, July 30.

Pepita, located at 4000 Wilson Blvd, will have a “small menu of casual Mexican favorites.”

“About 15 dishes will be featured, including ceviche, Mexican-style corn on the cob, house-made salsas and guacamole, a salad of watermelon, jicama and cucumber, and a Caesar salad dressed with cotija cheese, pepitas and avocado,” according to a press release. “Mexican classics, including a trio of tacos, a torta, enchiladas and a mushroom quesadilla anchor the menu. Dessert items include a Mexican tres leches and frozen, boozy push-pops.”

Despite Isabella’s culinary chops, the cantina’s menu will give a stronger focus to its beverage selection, created by Taha Ismail, Mike Isabella’s beverage director. The 35-item cocktail menu will be a blend of classic Mexican and American cocktails, plus more contemporary creations.

“Tequila and mezcal are two of the main stars, but they share the spotlight with an extensive list of fruit juices that are squeezed in-house daily,” said the press release. “The list includes five margaritas, one of which is frozen, and many classics given a Mexican twist, think old-fashioneds and negronis, plus more contemporary cocktails by Ismail’s bartender friends from around the country.”

One of the restaurant’s distinguishing features is its all-day happy hour, which has drinks and food specials that will rotate in blocks during the day, as opposed to during a set time each evening.

The space, meanwhile, is intended to be reminiscent of something you might find in a Mexican beach town.

“The design is inspired by Mexican coastal cantinas and highlights light wood furniture with a motif of yellow, light green and marigold tiled patterns adding colorful accents to a charcoal and white design,” according to the press release. “A concrete bar will serve tacos and drinks to the 32-seat dining room. The partially-covered patio will be fenced-in and decorated with greenery.”

Starting July 30, Pepita will be open Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Isabella, who has appeared on the TV shows Top Chef and Top Chef All-Star, is the chef and owner of three restaurants in the District and Kapnos Taverna in Arlington, which is next door to Pepita. He’s also planning an opening for a noodle shop called Yona in the same building.

by ARLnow.com — July 17, 2015 at 9:55 am 2,260 0

Air Force Memorial and a bus stop along Columbia Pike (Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi)

More on Texas Jack’s BBQ — Texas Jack’s Barbecue, which is replacing the former Tallula and EatBar in Lyon Park, will be helmed by a pair of Hill Country BBQ vets. The 145-seat restaurant will also have a 26-seat patio. It will serve meats that are smoked on site and plans to remain open until 2 a.m. seven days a week. [Washingtonian]

CEO’s $3.7 Million Rosslyn Condo — Gracia Martore, the former CEO of Gannett and current CEO of the newspaper company’s broadcast and digital spinoff, Tegna, has purchased a condo in Rosslyn for $3.65 million. The 4,447 square foot condo in Turnberry Tower (1881 N. Nash Street) features a 900 square foot outdoor balcony with sweeping views of D.C. [Washington Business Journal]

Police Chief Prioritizes Community Engagement — New Arlington Police Chief Jay Farr says he will make community engagement one of his top priorities. Farr plans to “realign how we do business a little bit,” adding more interaction with residents, he told the local Kiwanis Club. [InsideNova]

Arlington Arts Center Director Departs — Stefanie Fedor, executive director of the Arlington Arts Center, is leaving her position next month to head the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. AAC’s Director of Exhibitions will take over as Acting Executive Director while the organization’s board searches for Fedor’s permanent replacement. [Patch]

Rosslyn Employer Leaving for D.C. — The American Psychiatric Association, currently based at 1000 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, has signed a lease at The Wharf project on the Southwest D.C. waterfront. The association has about 250 employees. It is expected to move in 2017. [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi

by Heather Mongilio — July 14, 2015 at 3:30 pm 1,008 0

Future Papa John's location in the Camden, near Potomac YardA Papa John’s may be coming to an Arlington storefront near Potomac Yard.

The pizza store applied for a permit to operate a delivery business from a new store to the Camden apartments at 3535 S. Ball St. The spot was previously occupied by a Jerry’s Subs and Pizza.

County staff is recommending the County Board approve the permit at its meeting on Saturday.

The store would be open from 10 a.m. to midnight on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekends, according to the permit application. The store also asked to be able to deliver within a 1.5 mile radius.

At this time it is unknown when the new store, which will have 11 seats inside for dine-in customers, will open.

While the location is currently empty, there is still equipment and decorations leftover from when Jerry’s was in the space.

by ARLnow.com — July 13, 2015 at 2:30 pm 2,791 0

Dak Chicken in ShirlingtonA large window sign is up for a new Korean-style chicken restaurant that’s coming to Shirlington.

The Village at Shirlington announced late last month that DAK Chicken would be opening in the former Bonsai space on Campbell Avenue.

“DAK Chicken, a modern Korean fusion restaurant will offer Korean style soy garlic, spicy, or honey glazed chicken, as well as a variety of Korean style fusion food and unique Korean drinks,” the shopping center said via Facebook.

The concept is similar to Bonchon, a Korean-style chicken restaurant that opened on N. Pershing Drive in Lyon Park in 2013.

DAK, which will serve lunch and dinner, is expected to open “later this summer.” It joins two other restaurants that are planning to open relatively soon in Shirlington: Hula Girl and Palette 22.


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