A mainstay of the Clarendon bar and restaurant scene celebrates a significant milestone Friday, as Mister Days (3100 Clarendon Blvd) marks its 40th anniversary.
It first opened in an alleyway off Dupont Circle on November 21, 1977 serving prime rib, ham sandwiches, a soup and a salad. And in the years that followed, including a move to 18th Street NW between L and M Streets NW before opening in Arlington in 2000, it gained a strong following.
The bar has served famous guests like movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Washington Redskins greats like Sonny Jurgensen and John Riggins, and had live entertainment from singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter early in her career.
But owner Robert E. Lee said it is the relationships he has built that are most memorable.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Lee said of the anniversary. “You start losing friends, not customers, but friends that you met through business. After you get out of school, you have professional relationships. In the bar business and restaurant business, you meet hundreds of people that become friends.”
Lee said that initially, he was unsure about having televisions showing sports in Mister Days, figuring it would be a distraction from the dancing and food. But when he saw customers leaving to go home and watch “Roots,” a 1970s miniseries, he began to think differently.
Instead of relying on the major network broadcasts, Lee did something new for customers by, as he put it, putting on “all games all the time.”
“We figured out how to do back-channels through satellite dishes, so we got the satellite dishes,” he said. “We started doing all games all the time. Nobody else had it. We weren’t the first sports bar, but I believe we were the first where you could get all the games. You couldn’t buy them.”
Much of Mister Days’ popularity in D.C. came from its “Rally in the Alley,” an outdoor event held in conjunction with other nearby bars that included food, drink and live entertainment and at times hosted 15,000 people.
What began as a party one St. Patrick’s Day morphed into a charity event, just one of the bar’s charitable ventures that also included paying for kids to attend basketball camps and get basketball scholarships to DeMatha Catholic High School and donating food for free Christmas and Thanksgiving meals.
“[Rally in the Alley] became a major event,” Lee said. “That’s like the acorn that became an oak tree. That was just an idea, and that’s what I love to do. You have an idea, and all of a sudden it works.”
Family Still Searching for Missing Arlington Woman — Family and friends spent the weekend searching for Katherine Hawald, who went missing Thursday, last seen in Arlington. Volunteers checked places Hawald would hang out and handed out flyers, enlisting others to assist in the search effort. [Fox 5]
Veep Participates in Veterans Day Ceremony — Vice President Mike Pence participated in the annual Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday. “From the hour of our nation’s birth, our best and bravest have stepped forward to defend our freedom,” Pence said. “And as we speak, a new generation of American veterans is being forged across the wider world.” [Dept. of Defense]
Millennials Moving Out = Lower Rents — “More millennials are leaving Greater Washington than moving in, and that could spell trouble for commercial real estate developers across the region. Those young professionals helped the region avoid oversaturation of new apartments, but the diminishing pool will likely shrink demand for those units, among other potential consequences.” [Washington Business Journal]
Which Restaurants Are Open on Thanksgiving — Those hoping to avoid the hassle of making a turkey at home have a few options for dining out in Arlington on Thanksgiving. [Patch]
Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk
(Updated 4:45 p.m.) A fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant is set to open in Ballston.
According to permits filed with the county, Cava Mezze Grill is set to move into 4121 Wilson Blvd, on the ground floor of the Stafford Place II building, the former headquarters of the National Science Foundation.
It will replace the Matsutake Steak and Sushi restaurant at the location, which closed in 2014. Cava Mezze Grill is not to be confused with Cava, which already has a location in Arlington: a full-service restaurant at 2940 Clarendon Blvd in Clarendon.
A reader sent a photo of construction showing the space has been more or less stripped out, ready for the build-out.
Photos via ConciergeTim R.
Called The Stand, it features a rotating menu of what it describes as “the best new food trends the area has to offer, right in the comfort of your own neighborhood.” It officially opened for business today (Wednesday).
The Social Restaurant Group partnered with venture capital firm Catalyst Venture Group on the project. It opened a few months after the water park’s former concession stand was forced to close when landlord Vornado declined to renew the lease.
November’s line-up at The Stand is as follows:
- All day, every day: Breakfast with B Doughnut and La Colombe Coffee
- November 1-3: Cookie Dough & Co. (cookies)
- November 6-10: Capital Chicken & Waffle (comfort food)
- November 13-17: Donburi (Japanese)
- November 20-22: Pinch Dumplings (traditional Chinese)
- November 27- December 1: Timber Pizza (pizza)
The partners are also behind the upcoming Common Ground Food Hall in Rosslyn, set to open in late 2018.
“We are so excited to introduce The Stand in Crystal City,” said Zi-Heng Zhu, co-founder of Common Ground Food Hall, in a statement. “Crystal City is full of creative people with an appetite for discoverable new kinds of food. It’s the perfect canvas for our chefs to share and test ideas in a fresh outdoor setting.”
A burger restaurant and bar is set to open a second location in Pentagon Row in the coming months.
Basic Burger hopes to open in the plaza at Pentagon Row (1101 S. Joyce Street) by the end of this year, next door to the Starbucks and facing the central square. Its first location opened in Courthouse last year.
The restaurant already pairs a relatively straightforward menu — burgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, fries, salads, shakes — with a clean, modern interior and a bar offering beer, cider and wine.
And general manager Guillermo Castillo said the new location will have all those favorites as well as some new items like a new side salad, spicy chicken sandwich and between four and eight craft cocktails.
“We’re going to add to our menu, we’re not going to take away from it,” Castillo said.
Castillo said the new location will have around 1,200 square feet of outdoor seating with lighting, while two walls will be made of glass to give the whole restaurant what he called “an indoor/outdoor feel.”
“It’s thankful for us that it has been received really well, and so for our design, we want to be modern and a little bit contemporary, we wanted it to be very clean, sharp lines,” he said. “We wanted it to be welcoming. We didn’t want it to look like a franchise company. We wanted it to look like something where you’re comfortable eating there.”
Castillo said Basic Burger is “hoping and shooting for” a soft opening in December as a “bare minimum.” He said the full build-out will take around six or seven weeks once it has been prepared by the landlord.
After just a year in business, Castillo said Basic Burger’s expansion shows it is going in the right direction.
“Our first year was incredibly strong,” he said. “We’re fortunate: Arlington is really receptive to us… South Arlington, for us, is a market that we were looking to get into.”
A Lebanese fast-casual restaurant will replace the former NKD Pizza in Ballston.
Badaro is set to move into 933 N. Quincy Street, according to signs in its window and its social media accounts.
“You don’t have to travel far to soak up the flavors, hospitality and culture of Beirut,” the restaurant wrote. “Badaro is a fast casual restaurant bringing it to your neighborhood.”
Signs say it is aiming to open this fall. The restaurant is next door to the 9Round Fitness studio.
The new eatery means that both of Arlington’s former NKD Pizza locations have replacements in place. Its other former site at 1101 S. Joyce Street in Pentagon Row is set to become a Mediterranean restaurant and kabob house.
— Bob Gabriel (@RGGabriel6) October 22, 2017
The kabob restaurant to replace the former Pio Pio restaurant between Clarendon and Virginia Square is now open.
Naan Kabob at 3300 Wilson Blvd opened earlier this week. It serves Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi food and offer carry-out and catering services. Outside, balloons and bunting remains from the restaurant’s opening celebration. In its initial days, the restaurant has offered a ready-made buffet for $9.99.
Inside, the seating and décor looks relatively unchanged from the Pio Pio days. And while it is still early days — Naan Kabob only has a limited menu for now and did not accept credit cards this week — it has already won mostly positive reviews on Yelp.
“Delicious!” wrote one reviewer. “We had the channa, daal, cauliflower and veggie korma. I’m pretty picky about this kind of food–I have cooked many curries and have traveled to the Subcontinent a number of times. This stuff is excellent. The flavors are strong but not overwhelming, especially the daal, which I my daughter and I fought over. The fluffy rice and superbly textured naan were unexpected treats, too.”
Experience an unforgettable dining service at Pamplona every Saturday at 9 p.m. as guests enjoy delicious Spanish dishes, champagne specials, DJ and live music playing next to your table. According to Chuck Lee, a partner at Pamplona, “this will be the most fun you’ll have while dining out.”
We launched our supper club to friends and family last Saturday, and the reactions and feedback were amazing. The supper club concept is big in NYC, LA and Miami, and we believe it’ll catch on in D.C. and Arlington. “We are trying to change the mindset that dinners out can also be a night out.” said Lee.
After a successful friends and family, tables are filling up fast for this Saturday’s service. Be sure to make your reservation for this Saturday at 9 p.m., as tables are booking up fast. Pamplona’s “Supper Club” dinner experience awaits you.
Fisette Has To-Do List for Final Months — Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette has a number of items left on his to-do list as he nears retirement from the Board at the end of the year. Among the items with some momentum is a plan to name the county government headquarters after long-serving Board member Ellen Bozman. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
Purple Ribbons on ACPD Cruisers — “During the month of October a purple ribbon, donated by [local nonprofit Doorways for Women and Families], will be displayed on many Arlington County Police Department vehicles in support of the efforts to reduce the incidence and severity of domestic violence in our community.” [Arlington County]
Beyer Gets Press for Security Clearance Letter — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is getting some national media attention for his continued push — alongside Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) — for the Trump administration to revoke the security clearances of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. [CNN]
History of Sushi Zen — Sushi Zen, a Japanese restaurant on N. Harrison Street, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year by holding 20 fundraisers for local nonprofits. But the path to success for the sushi spot was bumpy. The family-owned restaurant struggled in its early years and enlisted the help of Georgetown MBA students to help turn things around. [Connection Newspapers]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
A cigarette reportedly sparked a fire that has closed the patio at Freddie’s Beach Bar in Crystal City.
The fire was reported last night around 10:30 p.m. The fire department quickly arrived on scene and extinguished the flames, which scorched parts of the patio and its awning, owner Freddie Lutz told ARLnow.com.
Patrons were evacuated during the fire and no injuries were reported.
The bar, located at 555 23rd Street S., expects to open as usual at 4 p.m. today, though the patio will remain closed indefinitely, pending repairs, Lutz said.
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) October 5, 2017
The new 5,500 square foot restaurant and retail store is located in a newly-expanded portion of the mall, facing S. Hayes Street. It opened to its first customers in May but is now preparing for a grand opening celebration.
Disick, 34, rose to fame on the reality show Keeping Up With the Kardashians and is the father of three children with ex Kourtney Kardashian. His personal life remains a source of fascination in tabloids and celebrity magazines.
Sugar Factory sells celebrity-endorsed sweets and seats up to 200 people in its restaurant, which serves a wide variety of signature cocktails alongside mostly standard issue American fare.
The grand opening event will take place Thursday, Oct. 12 from 6-10 p.m. Dinner reservations are available by calling 703-258-3374 or online through OpenTable.
Whole Foods provided public notice that it “recently received information regarding unauthorized access of payment card information used at certain venues.”
The breach does not affect purchases within the regular Whole Foods grocery section, but rather at the taprooms and full-service restaurants inside some locations. Paper Horse, a ramen restaurant inside the Pentagon City Whole Foods, is one of the locations named in the security breach.
Whole Foods’ statement said it notified authorities and has launched an investigation. Customers who may have visited Paper Horse or one of the other affected locations listed online should monitor their credit card statements and contact their bank to report unauthorized charges.
Whole Foods also noted that its systems do not connect with those of its new parent company, Amazon, so purchases on Amazon.com are not involved.
Dave’s Seafood & Subs, at 3235 Columbia Pike, has permanently closed.
The take-out restaurant located in a strip mall at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. Glebe Road was especially popular with regular customers for its fried seafood platters.
Although the owners of Dave’s didn’t wish to go into details about the business or its closure, a loyal customer told ARLnow.com that the owners have decided to retire.
Dave’s served its last meals on Saturday (September 30). So far there’s no word on what will replace the restaurant.
County Celebrates ART Maintenance Facility Opening — Arlington County officials drove a bus through the ribbons at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Arlington Transit Light Maintenance Facility near Crystal City. “The facility provides… fueling, maintenance and wash services for the entire ART fleet,” noted a press release. “Washing and fueling services for ART buses had been contracted from an adjacent Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) facility at a higher cost and with restricted hours.” [Arlington County]
Banned Books Week at Libraries — Arlington Public Library is marking Banned Books Week, which runs through Sept. 30, by encouraging readers to check out at least one “challenged” book this week. [Arlington Public Library]
Lamenting Construction Inconveniences — From “Our Man in Arlington” columnist Charlie Clark: “My East Falls Church neighbors and I are at nerves’ end about a seemingly perpetual construction project we drive or walk past daily. The county’s stormwater drainage system expansion has been underway for a year at N. 24th and Rockingham streets. It has necessitated countless automobile and pedestrian detours… Construction improves our shared living space and boosts the economy. But it’s tough on neighbors.” [Falls Church News-Press]
W-L HOF Noms — The Washington-Lee High School Athletic Hall of Fame is accepting nominations for new inductees through Nov. 1. [W-L Athletics]
Lost Puppy in Va. Square-Ballston Area — A local resident is searching for her puppy, named Faith, who got loose Sunday night and was “lost by Quincy Park running towards Washington Blvd.” The dog is described as “a very sweet, incredibly timid boxer mix. Her identifying markings are: light brown body, black/white muzzle, white dipped paws, and a large spot of missing hair on her right hind thigh.” [Facebook]
Legal Drama for Matchbox — Matchbox Food Group, which counts a large Matchbox restaurant in Pentagon City among its locations, is locked in a messy legal battle between two of its cofounders and two of its financiers: a bank and the bank’s CEO, who is also an investor in the company. [Washington Business Journal]
Scott Parker is part of a group of partners who together have built something of a nightlife empire in Arlington.
A-Town Bar and Grill, Don Tito and Barley Mac have all been hits along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. And now Scott and his partners are getting ready to open (in the next couple of weeks) The G.O.A.T., a new sports bar right across from the Clarendon Metro station in the former Hard Times Cafe space.
Scott has helped to build this empire based on Sunday Fundays and happy hour drink specials all while having a somewhat unique personal background for a bar impresario: he does not drink.
On this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast, we sat down with Scott to discuss how he achieved success after success in the notoriously difficult restaurant industry, what to expect with the G.O.A.T., what comes next, and what he thinks of the current state of the Arlington bar and restaurant scene.