Ragtime in Courthouse may be getting a huge break on rent thanks to the Arlington County Board.
On Saturday (May 15), the Board is expected to vote to amend the county’s lease with the long-time local restaurant that would reduce Ragtime’s rent during the on-going pandemic “to a level that it can afford to pay.”
Ragtime is located at 1345 N. Courthouse Road, on the ground floor of an office building purchased by the county in 2012. It leases the 5,000 square-foot space, now owned by the county but previously owned by a private landlord.
Ragtime’s business has declined “precipitously” during the pandemic, the county staff report details. In April 2020, sales were less than 10% of normal. Although business has increased in recent months, it remains 50% below normal, the report says.
Due to the drop in sales, Ragtime is unable to pay rent at the rate called for in the current lease, which was signed in 2013 and expires in 2026, according to the county.
“When sales decline substantially below normal, inflexible overhead like employee salaries and utility charges does not decline to the same degree, and accordingly absorbs a greater percentage of sales,” says the report. “This leaves a smaller percentage of sales that can be applied to rent.”
As a result, an agreement was struck that would reduce Ragtime’s rent to the equivalent of 9.5% of its gross sales (as long it doesn’t exceed its base rent rate, which is approximately $19,000 a month).
“As a rule of thumb, restaurants can afford to devote roughly 10% of sales to the payment of rent,” the report notes.
That rate would remain in effect until the restaurant has two consecutive months in which 9.5% of gross sales exceeds its base rent, or for one year after the lease amendment is signed, whichever happens first.
The reduced rate is being backdated to April 2020, and Ragtime is being allowed to hold off on paying back rent.
“Ragtime will begin paying the discounted back rent (based on 9.5% of gross sales) when their sales return to normal,” the staff report says. “This discounted back rent will be payable monthly over a one-year period. The actual revenue impact to the County in FY 2021 and FY 2022 is dependent upon Ragtime’s gross sales as well as the timing of when their sales return to normal.”
“The total estimated revenue shortfall compared to budgeted amounts in FY 2021 and FY 2022 is approximately $100,000,” the report adds.
ARLnow has reached out to Vintage Restaurants for comment, but has yet to hear back as of publication.
There’s also another tenant in the 2020 14th Street N. building that the county owns: Courthouse Deli.
When asked if the county is working on a similar arrangement with that business, a county spokesperson declined to comment specifically due to confidentiality.
“We have worked with all County tenants that have requested relief due to pandemic-related hardship,” wrote a county spokesperson.
Photo via Ragtime/Facebook
Update at 7:35 p.m. — The suspect is now in custody, Arlington County police confirm. A video reportedly showing the arrest, near the Pentagon City mall, is above.
Jay Williams, who witnessed the arrest, said he saw officers chase the man on foot across 15th Street S. before taking him into custody. The video Williams took shows the suspect struggling as he’s placed in the back of a police SUV.
Earlier: Warrants have been issued for a man who police say shoved a restaurant employee in Crystal City after refusing to pay.
Part of the incident, which happened last Tuesday, was caught on video by a second restaurant employee. The man also allegedly used anti-Asian slurs, which is being investigated as a possible hate crime, according to Arlington County police.
Today, police announced that they’ve obtained warrants for a 28-year-old man, who remains at large.
“The suspect has been identified after a patrol officer recognized him from a previous interaction. Warrants for Defrauding an Innkeeper and Felony Assault and Battery have been obtained for Jordon Bevan, 28, of No Fixed Address,” ACPD said. “This remains an active investigation and officers continue to work to locate the suspect and serve the warrants.”
Court records show Bevan was charged with two counts of petit larceny and one count of resisting arrest two weeks ago. He was released on bond and his next court date was scheduled for June 3, records show.
A police spokeswoman tells ARLnow that Bevan was arrested in the Pentagon City area on Wednesday, April 28 for two other alleged dine-and-dash crimes.
“At approximately 3:40 p.m. on April 28, police were dispatched to the area of 15th Street S. and S. Fern Street for the report of a larceny that had just occurred,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 2:50 p.m. on April 27, the suspect dined at a restaurant and left without paying. On April 28, the suspect returned to the restaurant where an employee confronted him about the previous incident and he advised he would pay for both meals. He then proceeded to dine at the restaurant and allegedly left again without paying.”
“The employees contacted police and pointed out the suspect to the responding officers,” Savage continued. “The officers attempted to place the suspect into custody but he refused to follow commands and resisted arrest. With the arrival of an additional officer, he was taken into custody. He was arrested and charged with Petit Larceny (x2) and Resisting Arrest.”
The court records list Bevan’s address as Madison, Ohio. A booking photo from the April arrest shows a bearded man with similar glasses as those on the suspect in photos of the restaurant incident released by police.
Here is the full cell phone video of the incident. Henry Kim, the young man who took the video, sent it to us. We've blurred out his mom's face at her request. pic.twitter.com/XZWRuuxtMe
— Aimee Cho (@AimeeCho4) May 8, 2021
A man allegedly left a local restaurant without paying, shoved a restaurant employee, and used anti-Asian slurs, according to police.
The incident happened shortly before 6 p.m. on Tuesday along Crystal City’s restaurant row, on the 500 block of 23rd Street S.
Restaurant employees told police they confronted the man after he didn’t pay the bill, but he kept walking away. The man also allegedly pushed an employee to the ground while another recorded the encounter on video.
The alleged assault is being investigated by Arlington County police. The employees, who are of Asian descent, told officers that the man used racial slurs, which has been referred by ACPD to Virginia State Police as a possible hate crime.
More from a police press release, below.
The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating the assault of a restaurant employee and is seeking the public’s assistance identifying the suspect who was captured on cell phone image.
At approximately 5:54 p.m. on May 4, police were dispatched to the 500 block of 23rd Street S. for the report of an assault. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect left a restaurant without paying his bill. Two employees approached the suspect outside the establishment and requested he return to pay. The suspect continued walking away and when one employee began recording him, he pushed the other employee to the ground and ran off towards Richmond Highway. The victim of the assault did not require medical treatment.
During the course of the follow-up investigation by detectives, it was alleged that the suspect used racial slurs towards the employees, an Asian male and female. In accordance with Virginia law, this incident has been reported to Virginia State Police as a possible hate crime.
The suspect is described as a white male in his late 20’s to early 30’s with dark brown hair, a light brown beard, approximately 5’9″ to 5’11” tall and weighing between 150 to 160 lbs. He was wearing square rimmed glasses, headphones, a black t-shirt, gray and black sweatpants and black sneakers at the time of the incident.
This remains an active criminal investigation. Anyone with information related to this incident or who can identify the suspect is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
Photos via Arlington County Police Department
Va. May Lift Most Restrictions Next Month — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Thursday the state could lift most of its COVID-19 pandemic restrictions by mid-June, about 14 months after the state initially put those measures in place to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Northam said the state is planning to do away with social distancing requirements and restrictions on gathering sizes on June 15, provided coronavirus cases continue to drop and the pace of vaccinations does not let up.” [DCist, InsideNova]
Allegations of Hazing at ACFD Academy — “Over a year ago, firefighter EMT recruit Brett Ahern alleged extreme bullying and hazing at the hands of one firefighter who was an instructor with the Arlington County Fire Department’s Training Academy… there were other victims. Witnesses are speaking out on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.” [WDVM]
Mask Mandate for APS Athletes Questioned — From Sun Gazette Editor Scott McCaffrey’s blog: “Based on feedback we’ve been getting from our sources in the high-school-sports world, Arlington Public Schools has become something of a punching-bag of ridicule for its ongoing policy of requiring student-athletes to wear masks even in situations where it not only serves no good.” [Sun Gazette]
Woman Flees Knife-Wielding Robbers — “The female victim was outside her parked vehicle when she was approached by two male suspects. Suspect One brandished a knife and demanded her cell phone and money. The victim then ran to and entered her vehicle without providing any of her belongings. The suspects fled the scene when a witness approached the vehicle.” [ACPD]
Internal Pick for County Planning Director — “Arlington County has selected Anthony Fusarelli, Jr. to be the County’s new Planning Director after a nationwide search…. Fusarelli has worked in the County’s Department of Community Planning, Housing, and Development for 15 years and most recently served as Assistant Director. In this role he was responsible for development agreements and land deals, strategic initiatives, and demographic and development data research and analysis.” [Arlington County]
Warning About Rabid Cat in Falls Church — “The City of Falls Church Police and the Fairfax County Health Department are urging anyone who may have been bitten or scratched by a cat in the last fourteen days that matches the below description to please contact either agency immediately.” [City of Falls Church]
Bob & Edith’s Opening in Alexandria — “Bob & Edith’s Diner will open on King Street later this year, the company confirmed on Wednesday. The diner will take the place of Ernie’s Original Crab House, which closed in April, at 1743 King St. just a few hundred feet from the King Street Metro station.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]
“The only thing more authentically Neapolitan than the pillow-like pizzas practically flying from the oven at Pupatella in Arlington is [owner] Enzo Algarme himself,” reads part of the story’s blurb.
Reached by phone while visiting their parents in Naples, Italy, owners Enzo Algarme and Anastasiya Laufenberg tell ARLnow that they are “incredibly grateful” and “honored” for the distinction. In fact, they were not aware of the story until ARLnow reached out.
The married couple opened their first restaurant in 2010 on Wilson Blvd in the Bluemont neighborhood — from which they nearly moved last year — after getting their start selling pizza from a food cart.
Expansion is continuing, the owners confirm, with additional locations in the Mosaic District and Springfield planned for the coming months.
Laufenberg says they owe their popularity and the ability to grow, even after a rough pandemic year, to their customers. While it was a challenge those first months, says Laufenberg, they’ve been able to gain nearly all of their business back recently and have rehired staff they had to let go.
“We’ve had a lot of support from the neighborhood,” says Laufenberg. “Our customers didn’t forget about us and have left huge tips for our staff.”
They’ve also recovered by focusing on delivery and take-out, but additionally realizing the need to shift to more outdoor seating.
“One of the biggest ways the pandemic changed us…is our commitment to building out nice, large patios,” says Laufenberg. “People are still scared to eat inside, so having big outdoor patios is a way to help with that.”
Both the locations on Wilson Blvd and S. Walter Reed Drive now have expansive outdoor seating.
Last year, 90% of Pupatella’s sales were from delivery and take-out, she says, but now that ratio is closer to 50/50 with more folks dining outside.
“Every region, city in Italy has their own pizza, but everyone knows that Neapolitan pizza is the original,” says Laufenberg about their style of pizza. And that has a lot to do with the wood-fired oven used to them.
All of the ovens used at Pupatella restaurants are certified by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association, meaning they adhere to two-century-old Neapolitan techniques.
The oven bricks are even built using volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius, which last erupted in 1944.
The ash provides the bricks the ability to retain heat very well, explains Laufenberg, which allows the oven to heat up fast and cook the pizza very quickly.
“There’s still ash left… we don’t know when it’s going to run out,” says Laufenberg.
Back in 2010 when they first contemplated opening their own business, Laufenberg admits she and Algarme were scared. Building a Neapolitan pizza business is expensive and very labor intensive, after all.
Even training staff to use the ovens is difficult and requires a steep learning curve — hence, why a number of employees have been with them since nearly the beginning. But more than a decade later, even with a pandemic, it is paying off.
“You always wonder ‘is it worth it to go the extra mile? Will people know the difference?” she rhetorically asks. “Well, that extra work is worth it and people have noticed.”
Free Cinco de Mayo Rides — “Offered by the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP), the 2021 Cinco de Mayo SoberRide program will be in operation beginning at 4:00 pm this Wednesday, May 5, 2021 (Cinco de Mayo) and operate until 2:00 am on Thursday, May 6, 2021 as a way to keep local roads safe from impaired drivers during this traditionally high-risk holiday.” [Press Release]
Extra ACPD Traffic Enforcement — From the Arlington County Police Department: “As part of the regional Council of Governments StreetSmart campaign, officers conducted high visibility speed enforcement along Lee Highway today. With warmer weather upon us, there is increased pedestrian and cyclist traffic in the County. Remember to slow down, obey posted speed limits and remain alert for other travelers.” [Facebook]
School Board Hopefuls On Math Controversy — “With the Virginia Department of Education under attack – fairly or unfairly – for what critics say is an attempt to dumb down math instruction across the commonwealth, the two candidates for the Democratic endorsement for Arlington School Board gave state officials neither a rousing endorsement nor a ringing denunciation in a recent forum.” [Sun Gazette]
Critic Praises Local Restaurant — “Every once in a while, a restaurant comes along that checks off so many boxes, you wonder if it had taken a poll of diners’ wishes. Right now, that restaurant is a place in Arlington that combines a warm welcome with good food in a spot that locals might recall as a former paint store or a chocolate factory… Ruthie’s All-Day.” [Washington Post]
Covid Concerns for Local With India Ties — “Singh, a 28-year-old consultant, walked her dog in her Arlington, Va., neighborhood where people lined up to get inside a rooftop tiki bar and a group pedaled by on a party bike, drinking beer. She returned to her apartment and stayed up until 2 a.m. scouring Instagram for phone numbers of Indians who might have oxygen and getting no replies to a flurry of messages. Singh is among thousands of Americans struggling to help Indian relatives survive a catastrophic coronavirus surge that has caused the health care system to collapse.” [New India Times]
Nearby: Fairfax Co. Lowers Tax Rate — “Fairfax County adopted a budget Tuesday that lowers the residential property tax rate… the tax rate drops by a penny to $1.14 per $100 of assessed value. Prince William County officials also recently shaved a penny from their tax rate, now at $1.115 per $100 of assessed value. Loudoun County lowered its rate by 5 .5 cents, to $0.98 per $100 of assessed value, while Arlington County froze its rate at $1.013 per $100 of assessed value.” [Washington Post]
Our Arlington Agenda post is back for the first time since the pandemic started.
As a reminder: Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like your event considered, fill out the event submission form to submit it to our event calendar.
Monday, May 3
Patterns at Gallery Underground
Shops at Crystal City, 2100 Crystal Drive
Gallery Underground in May presents in the Focus Gallery, Patterns: an all-member show of works highlighting pattern and texture. Media used in the display include oil, acrylic, pastel, water media, sculpture, glass, ceramics, wood and metalwork.
Tuesday, May 4
Protecting What You Build: Intellectual Property as the Entrepreneur’s Core Asset
Virtually via Zoom
Time: Noon-2 p.m.
This free session hosted by the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property (CPIP) at GMU Law School will guide attendees through types of intellectual property and how experienced entrepreneurs rely on them to implement their visions.
Wednesday, May 5
This webinar will review all Virginia laws going into effect on July 1, 2021, ensuring landlords understand new laws and know they are operating within the law — particularly regarding the legalization of marijuana.
Thursday, May 6
Drop in our monthly 30-minute book buzz with local librarians, with library staff and the public swapping book recommendations.
Friday, May 7
Second Anniversary Fundraising Event
Troy’s Italian Kitchen (2710 Washington Blvd)
Time: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Troy’s Italian Kitchen is celebrating its two-year anniversary with a fundraiser to give back to the community. A portion of proceeds on Friday will go to the Arlington Food Assistance Center and the Lyon Park Community Center.
5K Fridays: The Great Inflatable Race
Courtyard Green (2121 Crystal Drive)
Time: 6-7 p.m.
Pacers and the National Landing BID’s annual 5K series returns this Friday with a wacky summer inflatable attire theme. Registration is limited to 250 participants, so make prospective runners should sign-up in advance.
*Denotes featured (sponsored) event.
Ballston Quarter’s Zofia’s Kitchen (4238 Wilson Blvd) is cooking up a limited edition batch of Star Wars-themed snacks, and missing out would be a Wookie mistake.
The restaurant is operating with limited staff but said in a press release that they decided to go all in on “May the Fourth” — a sort of quasi-holiday for Star Wars fans on May 4 rooted in a “May the Force be with you” pun.
“Zofia’s has decided to embrace its inner culinary nerd by going all-out for the International Geek Holiday that is May the Fourth by offering limited edition pierogi made a long time ago in a galaxy far far away,” the restaurant said. “Available 8 to an order, Steamed, sauteed, fried or frozen in carbonite by request.”
A half dozen special menu items are listed for the week.
- The Obi-Won Pierogi: Tatooine Tagine. Braised Chicken, Raisin, Almond, Tunisian Harissa and Couscous — $11.99
- The Baby Yoda Pierogi: Peas, Mint, Midichlorians, Lemon and Ricotta — $11.99
- The Vader Pierogi: Chorizo and Provolone. Note that the white cheese inside represents the good that must be in him still! The Vader pierogi comes with a mandatory force choking hazard warning of course.(please take your time groaning at this joke) — $12.99
- The C-Threepierogi: Blanched multicolor vegetable pasta / standard Android wiring — $11.99
- The Tauntaun Wonton: And you thought they smelled bad on the outside! Red-wine pear and stinky Gorgonzola — $12.99
- Blue Milk Cocktail: In a pouch for Jedi on-the-go! — Price TBD
“This deal is available for a limited time,” the restaurant said. “We’ve altered the deal by offering it May 3-7. Pray that we don’t alter it further.”
The restaurant is open for dine-in, pick-up or delivery from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. If you’re trying to find it in Ballston Quarter: this is the way.
Photo via Zofia’s Kitchen/Facebook
Rent Rising in Arlington — “Of the 10 top apartment markets in the D.C. metro tracked by Apartment List, average rents are lower than a year ago in six of them. Arlington County, Virginia, remains the most expensive apartment rental market, with an average monthly rent of $2,144. Arlington County rents are still 9.7% lower than a year ago, but rents have bounced back the most, rising by 2.7% over the past month.” [WTOP]
Local Spots on Spring Dining Guide — Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema’s prestigious Spring Dining Guide includes three Arlington or Arlington-connected restaurants: Cafe Colline on Lee Highway, Spice Kraft Indian Bistro in Clarendon, and the soon-to-open Lucky Danger in Pentagon City. [Washington Post]
Arlington, D.C.’s Factory District? — From WAMU’s Martin Austermuhle: “Apparently the idea of re-retroceding Arlington and Alexandria to D.C. was being debated in the late 1800s and early 1900s in Congress. Some believed it would give D.C. a bigger tax base, others said Arlington would be a good place for factories. (Not of cheesecake variety.)” [Twitter]
Thieves Steal Cars With Found Keys — “Between 10:00 p.m. on April 25 and 9:38 a.m. on April 26, the suspect(s) gained entry into the victims vehicle parked in their driveway where a garage door opener was located. The suspect(s) allegedly used the garage opener to gain entry into the victims garage where a second vehicle was located with keys for both vehicles inside. The two vehicles, along with the victims personal property and an undisclosed amount of cash, were stolen.” [ACPD]
F.C. Lowers Tax Rate, Renames Schools — The City of Falls Church has lowered its real estate tax rate by 3.5 cents, the first time it has reduced the rate since 2006. The city’s School Board also selected new names for George Mason High School and Thomas Jefferson Elementary. [Falls Church News-Press, InsideNova]
Vote By Mail in June Primary — From Arlington’s elections office: “More than 3,900 mail ballots for the June 8 Democratic Primary are on their way.. Deadline to request a mail ballot: May 28 @ 5 p.m.” [Twitter]
Restaurants Cited For Covid Violations — “Twenty-nine Arlington restaurants were cited for violating Gov. Ralph Northam’s COVID-19 restrictions between Jan. 1 and April 4 of this year, according to data obtained exclusively by Patch from Arlington County Public Health.” [Patch]
Auction of Art Institute’s Equipment in Rosslyn — “Former Art Institute of Washington… has closed and will make a complete liquidation of super high end kitchen, catering and food service equipment including 1,000s of small wares, appliances, and high-end kitchen equipment… [plus] all technology, educational equipment, furnishings, A/V, business equipment and supply.” [Rasmus Auctions, Rasmus Auctions]
Local GOP Holding Online Meeting This Month — “The chairman of the Arlington County Republican Committee is anticipating face-to-face gatherings in coming months, but for now is sticking with an online format. ‘I am looking forward to holding in-person meetings again in the very near future,’ GOP chair Andrew Loposser said in an April 21 e-mail to the party rank-and-file. The e-mail noted that the monthly meeting set for April 28 would be held online via Zoom.” [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Native Named Head Basketball Coach — “Loyola women’s basketball has named Danielle O’Banion the program’s 12th head coach. The Arlington, Virginia native who played at Boston College, most recently was an assistant at Minnesota. She takes over for Joe Logan, the program’s all-time winningest coach who was relieved of his duties after the 2020-21 season. The Greyhounds finished 0-13.” [Fox 45]
Fundraiser for Murder Victim’s Family — “The family of Hernan Leiva, who was killed in a parking lot in the Skyline area of Bailey’s Crossroads April 17, launched a GoFundMe site to raise funds to help with funeral costs. Leiva, age 58, worked at the Target in Skyline. He was attacked by a coworker when he arrived at work early Saturday morning.” [Annandale Blog]
In the short time that Colony Grill has been in Clarendon, the pizza place has garnered a lot of love.
The spot opened last October at 2800 Clarendon Blvd in The Crossing Clarendon (formerly known as Market Common). Colony Grill, a small Connecticut-based chain, is known for its short menu featuring one innovation to pizza: the thin-crust, hot-oil bar pie. On weekends, it becomes a breakfast pizza best served with a mimosa or Bloody Mary.
Co-owner Ken Martin tells ARLnow that the company is as excited to be in Arlington now as it was a month before the opening.
“I think we’ve been well-received by local guests and the community, which has been great,” he said.
Small, out-of-town restaurant chains setting up shop in Arlington have not always found the county to be a fruitful place to pursue an expansion. What worked in one place often does not work here, for one reason or another.
But reviewers on Google and Yelp seem to agree with Martin that Colony Grill has found a good fit: “Finally a solid pizza place right in the heart of Clarendon! Place looks amazing on the inside,” said one.
A Stamford native who now lives in Arlington said she “had high expectations for this location,” given its Connecticut provenance, and was not disappointed, praising the service and the local addition of “a down-to-earth, inexpensive, quality pizza joint.”
But business could be better, Martin said. Back in the Constitution State, most sales are inside rather than take-out. In Clarendon, most sales are inside too, but Colony Grill is limited by booth spacing. Restrictions have been lifted faster in New York and Connecticut, allowing customers to be seated back-to-back in booths so long as a barrier is in place, he said.
“We certainly need more capacity,” Martin said.
Martin observed that people in Virginia seem more reluctant to dine out than those in Connecticut and New York, where the original restaurant and its four outposts are located.
“It seems like some of our guests in Virginia, they just want to be given permission to leave their house — they’ve tried to follow the rules and do their best,” he said. “We want to get through this. We’ve been fairly healthy because of the type of restaurant we are, but we’re so desperate to get more bodies into the restaurant.”
He said he hopes to see some additional restrictions lifted in the coming weeks and months, which Colony Grill will need “to remain healthy as a business.”
“Our dine-in business has been very strong but within a context that’s a bit limited,” he said. “Takeout has been okay, but typically, takeout business lags for a year or two until we establish ourselves.”
The pizza joint is still working to establish itself as a member of the community. A “Wall of Heroes” features photos of those who have served in uniform as first responders or members of the military. For Veteran’s Day, Colony Grill offered free pizza to current and former military members.
This year, Colony Grill is sponsoring the Armed Forces Cycling Classic, which was canceled last year. The races through Crystal City and Clarendon are set to take place on Saturday and Sunday, June 5-6, respectively — pending final permit approval and an easing of restrictions on outdoor gatherings.
“We’ve tried to be a good partner for our size of business,” he said of the sponsorship.
Although uncertainty exists, Martin said his restaurant will continue its focus on its thin-crust pizza, hospitality and a wecoming atmosphere.
“That’s going to get us returning customers over the long haul,” he said.
Remember the Stamford native? She later updated her review to say she’s “been going consistently once a week.” Her one pro-tip: “Ask for your pizza on the well-done side, it’s my favorite.”