Primary Voting Underway — It’s an election day in Virginia. On the ballot in Arlington is the Democratic race for County Board, between Chanda Choun and Matt de Ferranti, and the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, with candidates Corey Stewart, Nick Freitas and E. W. Jackson. Voting will continue through 7 p.m. [Twitter]
Post-Parade Party in Courthouse — Those heading to the Capitals Stanley Cup victory parade downtown today can head on back to Arlington for an afterparty at Arlington Rooftop Bar & Grill, hosted by the Caps blog Russian Machine Never Breaks. The event starts at 3 p.m. [RMNB]
Final Issue of ‘The Citizen’ — Arlington County’s “The Citizen” newsletter is publishing its last issue this week. The county-run publication is ceasing its print issues due to budget cuts. The move was lamented by the Sun Gazette, which wrote that The Citizen provided “information that, most likely, many local residents will now not get, despite the government’s plethora of online-centric public-relations efforts.” [InsideNova]
Clement: Strip Washington from W-L Too — Independent Arlington School Board candidate Audrey Clement says it is “hypocrisy in the extreme” for the “Lee” in “Washington-Lee High School” to be removed without also removing “Washington.” Wrote Clement: “Had not George Washington, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson — all Virginia native sons and all slave holders — greased the skids of institutionalized slavery by agreeing to write it into the U.S. Constitution, Lee would not have taken up arms against his own nation.” [Audrey Clement]
Apartment Building to Get Free Broadband — “Arlington’s Digital Inclusion Initiative, announced in December 2017, will leverage the County’s fiber-optic network, ConnectArlington, to bring free broadband Internet access to low- and moderate-income households in Arlington, including those with school-age children. Arlington Mill Residences, a low- and moderate-income residential development, will serve as the demonstration project for the initiative.” [Arlington County]
Paving on Lorcom Lane — Crews are paving Lorcom Lane between N. Fillmore and Daniel streets today. [Twitter]
Nearby: Second Northside Social Opens — The new Falls Church outpost of Clarendon cafe Northside Social has opened in the Little City. “The business itself will offer a menu similar to its Clarendon location, but a basement that allows for a commercial-sized bakery and chef Matt Hill’s creative inklings will provide new lunch and dinner options.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Fedorchaks on Why They Love Arlington — Mark and Stephen Fedorchak — the brothers behind Northside Social, Lyon Hall and Liberty Tavern — reveal in a Q&A why they built their lives and restaurant empire in Arlington, and whether they’ll stay. [Washingtonian]
Hula Girl Makes Best Restaurants List — Shirlington’s Hawaiian-influenced restaurant, Hula Girl, made the list of the 30 best restaurants in America, according to Yelp reviewers. The restaurant, whose owner competed on the cooking show “Chopped” last year, came in at #27. [The Daily Meal]
Fire Recruit Graduation — The Arlington County Fire Department will hold a graduation ceremony tonight for more than two dozen fire and EMS recruits. Class members will receive their badges and helmets after being sworn in. The ceremony takes place from 6-8 p.m. at the Founders Hall Auditorium (3351 Fairfax Drive) on the George Mason University campus in Virginia Square.
Northside Social Sued by Songwriters — Clarendon cafe Northside Social is being sued by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) for “unauthorized public performance of its members’ copyrighted musical works.” [Patch]
Phil Vassar Visits Animal Welfare League — “We had a special visitor at AWLA today: country music singer Phil Vassar stopped by the shelter today to meet three neonatal kittens that are named after his hit songs; Deputy Ray, Carlene, and Amazing Grace.” [Facebook]
Focus on Arlington’s School Resource Officers — The Arlington County Police Department has thirteen School Resource Officers, whose job it is to connect with and protect the 27,000 students at Arlington Public Schools. [WJLA]
Arlington’s First Black Firefighters Faced Hardships — “The first of Arlington County’s black firefighters — members of the Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department and the paid men at Station No. 8 — grappled with taunts and inequities in the days of Jim Crow, according to Arlington Public Library records.” [Arlington Fire Journal]
Dems Want More Social Followers — Arlington Democrats are pushing for more social media followers, particularly on Facebook, with the goal of having the most followers of any Democratic organization in the Commonwealth. At last check, Albemarle County Democrats had more followers than Arlington. [InsideNova]
A Clarendon bakery closed at the beginning of this year ahead of its move into local stalwart Northside Social’s new Falls Church location.
A sign posted on the door of LeoNora (1108 N. Irving Street) said it closed as it prepares to open a new bakery at the forthcoming Northside Social in Falls Church (205 Park Avenue).
“In preparation for the opening of our custom-built bakery at Northside Social Falls Church, LeoNora Bakery is closed effective immediately,” the sign reads. “Please visit us at Northside Social Arlington, just across the street at 3211 Wilson Blvd, for our freshly baked pastries and breads.”
The bakery, next to O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub, described itself on its Facebook page as “the result of a never ending search for the best breads and pastries in terms of flavor, freshness and texture.”
Five Arlington restaurants are partnering with local nonprofit Doorways for Women and Families to raise awareness of sexual assault and help available for victims.
Starting tonight, Liberty Tavern, Lyon Hall, Northside Social and O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Clarendon and the Crystal City Sports Pub in Crystal City will provide customers with coasters that feature Doorways’ 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline (703-237-0881) and the message, “Sexual assault impacts everyone.”
The weekend campaign coincides with the end of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
“Our goal with this outreach is twofold,” said Doorways president and CEO Caroline Jones in a statement. “First and foremost, we want to show survivors that they’re not alone. Secondly, we want to ensure that everyone is aware of the resources here in Arlington, namely our 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline — help is available in our community.”
Last year, 187 adults and 40 children were served by Doorways’ hotline response as a direct result of sexual assault.
According to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds, and 54 percent of sexual assault victims are between the ages of 18 and 34.
Other services offered by Doorways include hospital accompaniment, counseling and court advocacy, which provides education about the legal system, companionship during the petition and court hearing processes and extensive safety planning for anyone impacted by family violence.
W-L Soccer Captures State Title — The Washington-Lee boys soccer team defeated First Colonial 3-1 on Saturday to win the school’s first Virginia 6A boys soccer state title. Despite an injury, Maycol Nunez led the team with two goals. [Washington Post, InsideNova]
Ceremony for W-L Grad Killed in WW2 — A special ceremony will be held today at Arlington National Cemetery to honor the memory of Merrill Walter Hoover, a star athlete at Washington-Lee High School who was killed while serving in the Coast Guard during World War II. Hoover’s body was never found following a ship collision in which he worked selflessly to save his shipmates. [Falls Church News-Press]
Arlington RAMMY Winners — Clarendon’s Northside Social and chef Jonah Kim of Yona in Ballston were big winners during last night’s RAMMY awards, picking up “Favorite Gathering Place of the Year” and “Rising Culinary Star of the Year” awards, respectively. The awards program for Washington’s restaurant industry also honored major Ballston restaurant operator Mike Isabella Concepts. [RAMW]
Worker Rescued in Crystal City — On Saturday, a worker whose lift platform became stuck 30 feet in the air in Crystal City was rescued by Arlington County firefighters. [Twitter]
Cousins Tweets W-L Senior’s Yearbook Quote — “Best of luck at VCU this fall!” Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins told Washington-Lee senior Joseph Langley, in a tweet, after Langley used Cousins’ famous “You like that?!” moment as his yearbook quote. [ESPN]
More on Applebee’s Ballston Plans — Applebees is opening in Ballston with a “new, urban-focused design.” Why Ballston? “There are lot of Millennials in the area, and it’s an area that has a lot of office buildings as well as residential,” a company spokesman said, as quoted in a 1,070 word magazine article about the restaurant’s Ballston plans. [Arlington Magazine]
CPRO Names New Executive Director — The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization has named its interim executive director, former Rosslyn BID honcho Cecilia Cassidy, as its permanent executive director. CPRO’s previous executive director, Takis Karantonis, resigned in January after five years on the job, and is currently working for County Board candidate Erik Gutshall’s campaign. [CPRO]
County Board Debate Tonight — Democratic County Board candidates Libby Garvey and Erik Gutshall will debate tonight at 8 p.m. at the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s monthly meeting. The meeting is being held at Lubber Run Community Center. [ACDC]
Northside Social Expanding to Falls Church — Clarendon favorite Northside Social will be expanding to the City of Falls Church this fall. The new Northside Social will be located in the historic Blue and Gray American Legion Post building. [Falls Church News-Press]
Metro Track Work at Rosslyn — In a bit of unscheduled maintenance, Metro replaced track insulators around the Rosslyn Metro station yesterday. Metro has been experiencing problems with its aging track infrastructure, particularly fire-prone insulators and electrical equipment. [Twitter]
Attempted Rape Suspect May Be in Arlington — A man who’s wanted for the attempted rape of a child in Alexandria may be hiding in Arlington, authorities say. The man is being sought the the U.S. Marshals Service. [Alexandria News]
Free Guac and Chips at Cal Tor — California Tortilla, which has locations in Courthouse and Crystal City, is offering free chips and guacamole today. “Just say ‘It’s Guac O’Clock!’ to the cashier while ordering and all that hand-smashed goodness is yours!” the company says on its website. [California Tortilla]
Remembering Tom Richards — Who is Tom Richards and why was he such a pivotal figure in the history of Arlington’s parks and trails? A new article from Arlington County explains. Richards would have turned 90 this month; he collapsed and died on the Metro system in 2011. [Arlington County]
Moving Day for ARLnow.com — We are moving our offices up the Orange Line to Clarendon today. As a result, you may notice some delays in posting articles.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Garvey Named 2016 Arlington County Board Chair — Libby Garvey, who is facing a challenge in this year’s Democratic primary, has been named the Chair of the Arlington County Board. Articles to follow.
Update: Family Given Lease Extension — An Arlington family with a disabled son has been given a 30-day lease extension, after they went to the media to protest the landlord’s reported refusal to renew their lease. The family said the manager of Columbia Pike apartment complex complained about them making too much noise. [Washington Post]
Dorsey to Serve on Metro Board — Christian Dorsey, who along with Katie Cristol began his first County Board term on Jan. 1, has been chosen to serve as Arlington’s non-voting representative on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board of directors. [InsideNova]
Reminder: Arlington Is the Smallest Governing County — Arlington County is the smallest self-governing county in the United States. Kalawao County in Hawaii, New York County in Manhattan and Bristol County in Rhode Island are smaller, but don’t have their own separate county governments. [Arlington County]
Favola Proposes Allowing Cigarette Tax Hike — State Sen. Barbara Favola (D) has proposed a bill that would allow Arlington and Fairfax counties to double local cigarette taxes. The extra funds would be used to support education. [InsideNova]
Free Breakfast at Northside Social — It’s unclear whether the promotion is still going on as of publication time, but Northside Social this morning was giving away free breakfasts and coffee courtesy of the new CBS show Angel from Hell, starring Jane Lynch. [Twitter, Twitter]
Christmas Tree Collection Starts Today — Christmas tree collection in Arlington County starts today and runs through Friday, Jan. 15. Trees will be collected curbside on regular trash collection days. Those who live in apartments or condos without county trash collection can bring their trees to the Solid Waste Bureau near Shirlington. [ARLnow]
(Updated at 2:20 p.m.) Three years after the Fedorchak brothers, Stephen and Mark, opened The Liberty Tavern in Clarendon, they were working to open two new businesses within, they hoped, “six months to a year of one another.”
But, as is common in the restaurant industry, the opening dates changed, and the timetables of the coffee shop and brasserie the Fedorchaks were trying to open kept lining up more and more.
“I remember when it happened, it was like a freight train coming down the tracks,” Stephen Fedorchak told ARLnow.com last week. “We thought ‘these things are going to open within days of each other.’ We’re proud that we pulled it off, but we wouldn’t necessarily try to do it like that again.”
Five years ago this month, Northside Social, the coffee house and wine bar, and Lyon Hall, the brasserie, opened seven days apart. Combined with Liberty, they give the Fedorchaks and their partner, Brian Normile, a trifecta of staples in the Clarendon restaurant scene.
“They really are anchors in the Clarendon community,” Matt Hussmann, the executive director of Clarendon Alliance, said. “The three restaurants they have, each are distinctive, they fit in really well with the community.”
That’s not a surprise, since the owners of three of Clarendon’s most celebrated restaurants all live in the neighborhood. They’ve seen it grow, seen it change, and they have had hands in both.
Before Northside Social Coffee and Wine opened, the distinctive red building at the intersection of Washington, Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards was home to Murky Coffee, where Fedorchak said his team “must have met 100 times” when discussing their burgeoning business. When Murky was closing and the space opened up, they felt they had to jump on it.
“It has a legacy of not only a coffee shop but a community gathering place, and the building itself has been a community gathering place for 100 years,” he said. “We wanted to offer a place where you could visit every day if you wanted to. We liked the idea of something versatile, open a lot of hours, and the idea of an old-fashioned coffee house vibe with a cultural center feel to it.”
To ensure business from sunrise to sunset, they installed a wine bar on the second floor, and the idea clicked. “The business has been busy since day one,” Fedorchak said. They also expanded the outdoor patio, which rarely has an empty seat on sunny days, and the food menu, a tricky feat considering the building’s historic status precludes the owners from installing some industrial kitchen equipment.
The building is part of the secret sauce that makes Northside unique. Fedorchak said people ask him all the time if a second Northside Social is in the works somewhere.
“I tell them, ‘when we can find a space we like as much as this one,'” he said. “Between the two floors and the outside capacity, it’s awesome. The visibility is unparalleled, there’s great sunshine, the upstairs during the day is quieter; it allows us to have a variety of ambiences.”
“We thought it would provide some diversity to what’s out there,” Fedorchak said. The French-style brasserie — with some German influences — serves dishes like a Bohemian sausage platter. It provided variety to a Clarendon restaurant scene which at the time was experiencing an influx of frozen yogurt and pizza restaurants.
“Lyon Hall has been a lot of fun for us because the business continues to improve every year,” Fedorchak said. “It’s kind of worked for us, because it is perceived as distinctive. People wouldn’t normally go to a German restaurant, but we tried to offer a fun bar, we have happy hour there seven days a week, we really love the patio. It worked out great.”
While the Fedorchaks and Normile love their own restaurants, they also make a point to visit their neighbors and competitors.
“I love going to O’Sullivan’s, the guys at Green Pig Bistro do a great job, we hang out at Ray’s the Steaks all the time,” Fedorchak said. “I hear people talk about the fact that Clarendon’s changing fast, some people think it’s changing for the better or worse. I lived in North Arlington for the first time in 1992, going to places like Whitey’s and Strange Ways. And I’ve got places I love to go to now. I think it’s always been a neighborhood that’s evolved relatively steadily over the years.”
The three businesses have also evolved steadily, adding Executive Chef Matt Hill last year to oversee all three restaurants. Fedorchak also sang the praises of Sean Lowder, who has been the general manager at The Liberty Tavern since it opened, and Alison Christ, the GM who opened Northside Social, now opening up a wine bar in Hong Kong.
But, above all, Fedorchak said his primary goal has been growing the community around the restaurants. They hold fundraisers for the Clarendon Alliance, Virginia Hospital Center and Doorways for Women and Families. They participate in Clarendon Day every year, and the heart of each restaurant is a bar that the owners want people to feel comfortable congregating in.
“We’re big believer that restaurants not only physically nourish but emotionally nourish, where people can put their cares aside, put the cell phones away and relax for a while,” Fedorchak said. “We’ve been fortunate to feel largely supported by the community since day one.”
That mindset has kept the business successful — “we’d feel different if we were struggling to get to five years,” Fedorchak said — and kept them in Clarendon.
“We are hoping to grow those businesses for a long time,” Fedorchak said. “Liberty Tavern is turning 10 in a couple of years, and that’s a big milestone. We’re going to be looking forward to the next 10 years.”
The restaurant group announced today it has hired Matt Hill, former executive chef at Charlie Palmer Steak and, most recently, the chef de cuisine at Range. Hill replaces former executive chef Liam LaCivita, with whom the group “amicably” parted ways earlier this week.
Along with whatever changes Hill brings to the three Clarendon eateries, Liberty Tavern has been planning an American Heritage menu, according to Eater DC. The menu would feature different culinary traditions with American roots, like Polish, Irish and Greek foods popularized in immigrant communities around the country.
Liberty Tavern sous-chef Miljohn Dimaano has been promoted to Chef de Cuisine to serve under Hill. Owners Mark and Stephen Fedorchak announced that the change in the kitchen at all three restaurants is effective immediately.
“[Hill] looks forward to blending his culinary talent experience, and passion in leading these three restaurants to ongoing success,” Mark Fedorchak wrote in a press release.
Photo courtesy Mark Fedorchak
Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.
One by one, he would walk in and see every restaurant, every coffee shop, every boutique had a different method for gift certificates; Some took as long as 15 minutes to provide one.
“I saw it as really ripe to be automated,” Robertson said. “The whole concept needed to be redone. I was doing software managemnt for years, and all of those experiences made me think ‘I could do better than that.'”
Two years ago, Robertson “just quit the day job and decided to do it.” He launched GiftRocker, with no outside funding, and brought in veterans of the local retail scene — head of business development Michael Scruggs in 2011 and Vice President of Sales Michael Rosen a few months ago — to try and revolutionize the way small businesses handle gift cards.
Rosen and Scruggs are gregarious sales types with connections all over the area. While Robertson is engaging when talking about his company and product, he is most comfortable building the product itself, and letting his work do the talking.
“As a technology guy, building the product, that was fun for me,” Robertson said. “It’s like a long crossword puzzle.”
GiftRocker is a tool for businesses to create customizable gift certificates, sold online, on mobile or in store. It can also be used for pre-selling event tickets and designing and creating promotions, among other services. The biggest distinguisher between GiftRocker and well-known sites that offer comparable services, like Groupon or Eventbrite, is each service is offered as an extension of the client’s brand, not GiftRocker’s.
The GiftRocker icon is just subtly placed at the bottom of each gift certificate page, which, despite being hosted by GiftRocker.com, are designed to strongly resemble the client’s website.
The GiftRocker team has already brought its services to about 30 Arlington businesses, and approaching 100 in the greater Washington, D.C., area.
One of the businesses Robertson has partnered with is House of Steep at 3800 Lee Highway in Cherrydale. Owner Lyndsey DePalma is about to celebrate her one-year anniversary of running the store, and started offering gift cards with GiftRocker last October.
“I tried traditional gift cards and it not work out for me,” DePalma said. She was managing a spreadsheet that was getting unmanageable. Now, about 30 percent of her gift card sales occur online. “I just remember reconciling my books after the first round of online orders and saying ‘where did all this money come from?'”
Before GiftRocker, Scruggs was working for the group that owns Lyon Hall, The Liberty Tavern and Northside Social in Clarendon. Now, the three restaurants are all GiftRocker clients, coming on board after Backyard BBQ, Giftrocker’s first customer, and Lebanese Taverna, GiftRocker’s first “anchor client,” as Rosen puts it.
“The system is really a victory for consumers,” Rosen said. “There’s so much noise in the marketplace in this area. Cutting through it is very difficult, and we have a tool to do that.”
They’re still operating remotely — out of their homes in Arlington and various coffee shops — but nimbly enough to adapt to each client’s needs. GiftRocker’s next step is to expand nationally, but Robertson, Scruggs and Rosen are still deliberating over how to do it.
“When we figure it out, we’ll tell you,” Robertson said.
The sister establishments will be holding a joint anniversary event at Liberty Tavern (3195 Wilson Blvd) tomorrow night (Thursday, April 12). From 4:00 p.m. until close, the restaurant will be offering two specialty cocktails from its opening menu — the “Pursuit of Happiness” and the “Industrial” — for $5. Starting at 9:00 p.m., at the bar and lounge, Liberty Tavern will also be offering complimentary Liberty pizza, Lyon Hall frankfurters and Northside Social confections.
For the second time this fall, a car has burst into flames in the parking lot adjacent to Northside Social in Clarendon.
A gray sedan caught fire in the lot just after 2:00 this afternoon. An Arlington County fire marshal spotted the blaze and was the first to call for a fire engine. The flames were extinguished by 2:15, according to witness accounts.
Unlike the car fire in September, which occurred on the end of the lot closest to George Mason University’s Arlington campus, this fire occurred on the end closest to Northside Social (3211 Wilson Boulevard) and the Clarendon business district.
No injuries were reported as a result of the blaze.
Photos courtesy @miqci
About 10,000 people participated in the online nomination and voting process, according to Arlington Economic Development, which sponsors the annual contest. That’s about twice as many nominations and votes as last year.
Among the big winners were Northside Social, voted Arlington’s Best New Business, and Lost Dog Cafe, the only business to win in two categories.
The winners, which will announced at the county board meeting that’s getting underway now, are:
- Best Boutique: ShoeFly
- Best Brunch: Carlyle
- Best Community-Based Nonprofit: AFAC
- Best Customer Service: Eventide
- Best Dessert: Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe
- Best Late Night Spot: Bob and Edith’s
- Best Performing Arts Organization: Signature Theatre
- Best Place to Care for Your Pet: Ballston Animal Hospital
- Best Place to Dance the Night Away: Clarendon Ballroom
- Best Place to Learn Something New: Arlington Public Library
- Best Happy Hour: Liberty Tavern
- Best Neighborhood Bar: Whitlow’s on Wilson
- Best “Bargain” Restaurant: Lost Dog Café
- Best Family Friendly Restaurant: Lost Dog Café
- Best New Business: Northside Social
The incumbent winners from 2009 had a particularly strong showing. Only the Best New Business, Best Happy Hour, and Best Customer Service categories changed hands this year.