(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) The Johnny Rockets in the Pentagon City mall has apparently gone the way of sock hops and McCarthyism.
The 1950s themed burger-and-shake restaurant has been closed and boarded up for the past several days. While the Pentagon City location’s Facebook account is still publishing generic food photos, it has been removed from the company’s website and customers asking about the closure earlier this week have gotten no response.
There was no answer at the restaurant’s phone line. We’re still awaiting confirmation that the eatery has closed for good.
A Johnny Rockets in Shirlington closed last year.
Expect Early Spring, Says Groundhogs — Updated at 9:40 a.m. — Punxsutawney Phil and Potomac Phil both did not see their shadow this morning and thus have predicted an early spring. Unfortunately, the former Phil is wrong more often than he is right. [CNN, Borderstan]
New County Manager Inks Contract — The Arlington County Board last week ratified a contract with Mark Schwartz, the county’s newly-appointed county manager. (Schwartz served as interim county manager for six months before his appointment.) Under the contract, Schwartz will earn $245,000 in his first year, which is less than the $270,000 annual salary of his predecessor and former boss, Barbara Donnellan. [InsideNova]
WeWork Now Open in Crystal City — The WeWork co-working space in Crystal City officially opened yesterday. The office space is decorated with plush couches, hardwood floors and oversized light fixtures, among other design elements. [Twitter]
Online Plan Review System Up and Running — Arlington County launched its Electronic Plan Review system yesterday, allowing plans for building permits and land use to be submitted, reviewed and approved online. The system is expected to save time and money compared to the previous, in-person submissions, though those submitting plans still have to go to the county offices to pay the permit fees in person. [Arlington County]
Praise for Texas Jack’s — A food critic finds a lot to like at Texas Jack’s, the new barbecue restaurant in the former EatBar space in Lyon Park. Writes Tim Carman: “[Chef Matt Lang’s] moist brisket is A-lister stuff, thick, succulent slices with a pink smoke ring lingering just below a dark outer bark of salt, pepper, smoke and fat, all fused together in a Southern Pride smoker set low and slow.” [Washington Post]
Photo via Twitter/Scott Kelly
It was hard enough for many Arlington residents to leave their house during last weekend’s blizzard — literally, two-plus feet of snow blocked many doors from opening — so imagine how hard it was to run a restaurant during the storm.
On Tuesday night, at ARLnow Presents: Running a Restaurant in Arlington, several prominent Arlington restaurant owners told attendees how they pulled it off.
Scott Parker, co-owner of A-Town and Don Tito, said his company paid for staff members to stay in nearby hotels — the Hilton in Ballston and the Holiday Inn in Courthouse — so they could get to and from work safely.
“We booked a big block of rooms in both of those… it was a big slumber party with all of our staff,” Parker said. “We were worried that if we sent people home and they fought through the storm on Friday night, they would then have to fight through it again to get back to work on Saturday, and that wasn’t really fair.”
Mark Fedorchak, co-owner of Liberty Tavern, Northside Social and Lyon Hall, said he and his team managed to keep Liberty Tavern open all weekend courtesy of an employee with a big SUV.
“We had one staff member with an ’85 Ford Bronco with huge wheels, that was able to go around and pick people up and take them back home all weekend long,” Fedorchak said.
Tim Ma, chef and proprietor of Water and Wall in Virginia Square, opened the restaurant on Sunday with only two staff members: his general manager and a server.
“I was able to get out of my house but the rest of my staff wasn’t,” said Ma, who was a 2015 “Culinary Rising Star of the Year” Rammy Award nominee. “I went into the kitchen, no dishwasher and no cook, and cooked the entire day by myself. We ran the entire day, with decent business, by ourselves.”
The next ARLnow Presents event, featuring new County Board members Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey, will be held at Mad Rose Tavern (3100 Clarendon Blvd) on Feb. 10.
ARLnow Presents: Running a Restaurant in Arlington will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight at A-Town Bar & Grill (4100 Fairfax Drive). It’s completely free to attend and a great excuse for getting out of the house and shaking off cabin fever.
Fox 5 contributor Sarah Fraser will host a panel discussion with some of the brightest starts of the local restaurant biz, including Tim Ma of Water & Wall, Mark Fedorchak of Liberty Tavern, Scott Parker of A-Town Bar & Grill, Mikala Brennan of Hula Girl and Javier Candon of SER.
If you’ve ever read the comments section of a restaurant-related article on ARLnow.com, the topics of discussion may seem familiar: What makes some restaurants succeed and others fail? Why are there so many or so few of certain types of restaurants in Arlington? What are the biggest challenges of opening a new restaurant in Arlington?
There’s plenty of room in A-Town, but you may want to arrive early to try to snag a seat. The program will get underway shortly before 6:30.
Also tonight, reps from the locally-made restaurant discovery app Spotluck will be on hand to talk briefly about the app and its local offerings. If you haven’t checked out Spotluck already, be sure to download it and enter the promo code ARL26 while setting it up.
After the jump: the bios of each of our panelists.
— Brian E (@bje22201) January 23, 2016
(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) The conditions outside still are treacherous for travel, so staying indoors for a while is the best idea. But if you’re already suffering from cabin fever and have the ability to easily and safely walk somewhere for a bite or a drink, there are options. Some places are even running winter storm specials.
Here’s the list of Arlington restaurants and bars that told us they’re definitely open, at the very least with limited hours and menu selections:
- A-Town Bar & Grill (4100 Fairfax Drive)
- Bakeshop (1025 N. Fillmore Street)
- Big Buns (4401 Wilson Blvd.)
- Bistro 360 (1800 Wilson Blvd.)
- Bracket Room (1210 N. Garfield Street)
- Brooklyn Bagel (2055 Wilson Blvd.)
- Cafe Asia (1550 Wilson Blvd.)
- The Celtic House (2500 Columbia Pike)
- Citizen Burger Bar (1051 N. Highland Street)
- Courthaus Social (2300 Clarendon Blvd.)
- Copperwood Tavern (4021 Campbell Ave.)
- Cowboy Cafe (4792 Lee Hwy)
- Crystal City Sports Pub (529 23rd Street S)
- Don Tito (3165 Wilson Blvd.)
- Fireworks Pizza (2350 Clarendon Blvd.)
- First Down Sports Bar (4213 N. Fairfax Drive
- Front Page (4201 Wilson Blvd.)
- Hard Times Cafe (3028 Wilson Blvd.)
- Ireland’s Four Courts (2051 Wilson Blvd.)
- Kona Grill (1776 Wilson Blvd.)
- Liberty Tavern (3195 Wilson Blvd.)
- Lost Dog Cafe (2920 Columbia Pike)
- Mussel Bar (800 N. Glebe Road)
- O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub (3201 Wilson Blvd.)
- Oz (2950 Clarendon Blvd.)
- P. Brennan’s Irish Pub & Restaurant (2910 Columbia Pike)
- Pepita Cantina (4000 Wilson Blvd.)
- Ragtime (1345 N. Courthouse Rd.)
- Rhodeside Grill (1836 Wilson Blvd.)
- Rock Bottom Brewery (4238 Wilson Blvd.)
- Samuel Beckett’s (2800 S. Randolph Street)
- Screwtop Wine Bar (1025 N. Fillmore Street)
- Sehkraft Brewing (925 N. Garfield Street)
- Sushi Rock (1900 Clarendon Blvd.)
- Tortoise & Hare (567 23rd Street S)
- Westover Beer Garden (5863 Washington Blvd.)
- William Jeffrey’s Tavern (2301 Columbia Pike)
- World of Beer (901 N. Glebe Rd.)
Advisory Board Wants Birthday Cake Banned from Schools — Student birthday celebrations are getting out of hand in Arlington Public Schools, with too many sugary treats being consumed as a result. That’s the view of the Student Health Advisory Board, which made its case to the School Board last week. Some individual schools in Arlington have banned birthday celebrations or, at least, sweet birthday treats. The overall school system, however, does not currently have a formal policy on the matter. [InsideNova]
Del. Hope Wants to Ban ‘Conversion Therapy’ — Del. Patrick Hope (D) has introduced a bill to ban so-called conversion therapy for minors in Virginia. Practitioners of the controversial “therapy” claim that it can change the sexual orientation of individuals from homosexual to heterosexual. [Washington Blade]
The Corner Tex-Mix Lives? — Despite being pronounced dead by ARLnow and Google, it appears that The Corner Tex-Mix at 1621 S. Walter Reed Drive was open last night, at least for a short period of time. A tipster said lights were on and an employee answered the phone and confirmed they were open, shortly before a power outage sent everyone home. The county health department confirmed to ARLnow this morning that there have been no health code violations that would have closed the restaurant temporarily. The tipster said The Corner Tex-Mix seems to just be keeping “odd hours.” [ARLnow]
‘WeLive’ Apartments to Feature Free Cleaning, Sunday Supper — Details of a new apartment building in Manhattan from co-working company WeWork have been released, and they’re likely to also apply to the company’s second “WeLive” building, in Crystal City. The apartments will be fully furnished and will have cable TV, monthly cleaning and a communal Sunday supper included, among other amenities. [UrbanTurf]
$5 Ribs from Texas Jack’s Barbecue — Ribs at the recently-opened Texas Jack’s Barbecue in Lyon Park will cost you around $5. As in, nearly five bucks per rib. The restaurant, in the former Tallula and EatBar space, features a menu of smoked meat created by Executive Chef Matt Lang, winner of the Food Network’s Best in Smoke 2011 and formerly of Hill Country Barbecue in D.C. [DCist]
Va. Voter Registration Deadline Approaches — The deadline to vote in Virginia’s March 1 presidential primary is Monday, Feb. 8. On the GOP side, the election will feature a somewhat controversial loyalty pledge requested by the state party. “Voters who wish to vote in the Republican Primary must first sign the following non-binding statement, which is permitted under § 24.2-545.A of the Code of Virginia: ‘My signature below indicates that I am a Republican,'” county officials note. In-person absentee voting, meanwhile, starts Friday. [Arlington County]
Joe’s Place Pizza & Pasta
5555 Lee Highway
Arlington, VA 22207
At Joe’s Place Pizza & Pasta, we make our own authentic Sicilian style pasta dishes, sauces, pizza and desserts with recipes we brought from our hometown of Agrigento, Italy, and through all we’ve learned in this great country.
Our signature dish — Spaghetti alla Bolognese (spaghetti with meat sauce) — is zesty and delicious. Add a Sicilian thick crust or NY style thin crust pizza, along with our homemade minestrone soup, fresh salad bar and classic desserts such as mouth-watering cannoli, our grandmother’s own secret recipe. We proudly serve Sicilian wines from our home town and IPA’s for beer lovers, including locally brewed and veteran owned Old Bust Head.
Since opening the first Joe’s Place in 1978, we’ve earned a reputation for the best pizza in town, along with a warm, friendly atmosphere and strong support for the community. Many of Joe’s staff have been with us for 10, 20, even 30 years. They and our many longtime regular customers truly are like family. Ben venuti! Mangiamo!
Update at 11:20 p.m. on 1/12/16 — It’s possible that reports of The Corner Tex-Mix’s demise were premature. Another tipster says it was open Tuesday evening. However, Google’s listing for the business says it is “permanently closed.” The tipster notes that the restaurant seems to be keeping “odd hours.”
The restaurant Bermuda Triangle that is the intersection of S. Glebe Road and Walter Reed Drive may have claimed another victim.
The Corner Tex-Mix, at 1621 S. Walter Reed Drive in Nauck, has apparently closed, at least temporarily.
“I have driven by the restaurant about 5 times in the past six or so weeks anywhere between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. and the place is completely dark and the parking lot/patio is completely empty,” a tipster told us last week.
The restaurant opened last spring, promising a mix of Latin American, North American and Mediterranean cuisines. Online reviews suggest that diners were not satisfied with the quality of the food compared to other options along nearby Columbia Pike.
Hat tip to Nom de Guerre
Osteria da Nino
2900 S. Quincy Street (Shirlington area)
“Old-world charm” is one way to describe Osteria da Nino in Shirlington.
But that’s not commentary on the interior of the Shirlington restaurant, which is clean and modern. Rather, it’s a reflection of the personalized service you get from owner and Sicily native Nino Pino.
Arrive at Osteria da Nino for lunch or dinner and most of the time it will be Nino warmly greeting you at the door. If he’s met you before, he’ll ask about your kids, your dog, your house. He remembers those things.
Nino greets customers, supervises the staff and makes sure your meal has met or exceeded your expectations. But those expectations are getting higher with each Yelp review.
For an unassuming Italian restaurant tucked away outside Shirlington’s main drag, Osteria da Nino has attracted plenty of attention from Yelp users. The restaurant currently has a 4.5 star average, from 107 reviews. Most of the reviews laud the authenticity and rich flavor of the food, along with the personal service.
Nino grew up in Italy and started his first restaurant, a pizzeria called Il Papiro, at the age of 18. After working as a waiter on Royal Caribbean cruise ships in the ’70s, he came to the U.S. and settled in Northern Virginia about 30 years ago, continuing to work in the hospitality business. He’s managed numerous well-regarded restaurants in the area, including Primi Piatti and the former Fellini in D.C., Palio in Leesburg, Zeffirelli in Herndon and, most recently, Zibbibo 73 in Stafford.
It was at Zeffirelli that Nino first met Jim and Margaret Manchisi, natives of Queens, New York, who loved the experience at Nino’s restaurants. Jim’s grandparents, it turns out, are also from Italy – a small town in the Southeast called Bari. The Pino’s and Manchisi’s became great friends.and that friendship would become a business partnership, helping to fulfill Nino’s dream of opening his own neighborhood restaurant. Osteria da Nino started serving customers on April 3, 2015.
With his namesake restaurant, Nino has focused on freshness. Freshly-made pasta, fresh fish, fresh oysters, fresh sauces like his mother, Agatina, used to make in the picturesque town of Letojanni, Sicily, just outside of Taormina. It’s the freshness that stands out, helping to earn Osteria da Nino its stellar online reviews.
On the evening ARLnow.com stopped by, Nino had just been beckoned to the bar. Two customers wanted to talk to him.
“I was just going over the menu and I’m like, oh my God, there are all my favorite foods,” said Brandy Schantz. She and her husband, who live in Rosslyn, had first met Nino when he worked at Palio, and were pleasantly surprised to find out he had opened a restaurant in Arlington.
Not only is Osteria da Nino a neighborhood restaurant, it’s truly a family restaurant. Nino’s wife, Joginder, works as an accountant but helps out at the restaurant on weekends. She usually helps with the “front of the house” — greeting customers — but she’ll go into the kitchen and whip up a mean lasagna or tiramisu, if needed.
One thing that’s unusual about Osteria da Nino is something it lacks: a general manager. A common position at other restaurants, Nino says he doesn’t believe in it, at least not for a restaurant this size. The owner should be willing to do anything a general manager would do, especially when it comes to ensuring that customers are happy.
After decades in the local restaurant industry, Nino has seen plenty of things change. Fellini, for instance, used to turn into a jacket-and-tie-required nightclub in the 90s. But then again, some things never change.
“The basics are the same,” Nino said. “My secret has been welcoming people and helping them personally.”
The preceding was a sponsored profle written by ARLnow.com.
The Wendy’s in Courthouse has finally closed its doors to make way for a new 12-story office building.
Signs were posted in the windows at the fast food restaurant today saying that it has closed. The signs direct customers to the nearest Wendy’s, located three miles away at 5066 Lee Highway.
Also closed is the Wells Fargo Bank next door. Readers reported that the bank, which will also be torn down for the new office development, closed several weeks ago.
A sign in the windows at the bank directs customers to another Wells Fargo branch just up the road, at 2200 Clarendon Blvd.
ARLnow.com often reports on the opening and closing of restaurants in Arlington. Such articles are among the most consistently well-read on the site, which can probably at least partially be attributed to the growth of foodie culture.
At a time when chefs are the new rock stars, what does it take to run a successful local restaurant? What makes one restaurant thrive while others down the block struggle? What is it like to run a restaurant in Arlington and how to local government policies help or hinder local establishments?
We will attempt to answer those and other questions you might have about the local restaurant industry at the first of a series of events ARLnow.com is holding in 2016.
The event is will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 26 at A-Town Bar & Grill (4100 Fairfax Drive). It will be hosted by local media personality Sarah Fraser.
Panelists include some of the brightest stars of Arlington’s restaurant scene: Tim Ma of Water & Wall, Mark Fedorchak of Liberty Tavern, Scott Parker of A-Town Bar & Grill, Mikala Brennan of Hula Girl and Javier Candon of SER.
This event is FREE for all. You can see if your friends are going on Facebook.
A limited number of reserved seats are available for those who book through Eventbrite. (Update on 12/22: The reserved seats are sold out.)
The program — a panel discussion discussion followed by an audience Q&A session — will start at 6:30 p.m.
Clarendon live music venue and restaurant IOTA Club and Cafe (2832 Wilson Blvd) is “not closing soon,” says co-owner Jane Negrey Inge.
On Monday we reported that A&R Engravers, next door to IOTA, had closed its Clarendon storefront and moved to North Carolina. A&R had reportedly been given a Jan. 31, 2016 move-out date by the owner of its building, Market Common Clarendon owner TIAA-CREF.
IOTA’s building is also owned by TIAA-CREF. In a response to an inquiry from ARLnow.com, Inge said she was “sorry to see our good old neighbors move to North Carolina” but denied that IOTA would be forced to close anytime soon.
“IOTA is still rocking in the free world doing live shows — supporting local and touring musicians, hunting down those rising stars,” Inge said. “Stephen and I are still dedicated to doing the art thing as much as possible, fighting the good fight, especially on stage with many performances that send you to the moon and back.”
(Stephen Negrey is Inge’s brother and her IOTA co-owner.)
“IOTA serves a full menu featuring gourmet smasher sandwiches and craft brew — open Monday through Friday at 5:00 p.m. for Happy Hour until 7:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday for breakfast/brunch at 10 a.m.,” Inge noted. “IOTA is opening at 5:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve and Christmas Night.”
Photo via Google Maps
Guns Stolen from Nova Firearms in McLean — A burglary has occurred at Nova Firearms, the gun store that wanted to open a location in Cherrydale before residents pressured the store and the landlord to scuttle those plans. Two handguns were stolen from Nova Firearms’ McLean store just after midnight this past Friday. Police are seeking tips in the case. [Fairfax County Police Department]
Taxicab Fares Raised in Arlington — A taxi ride in Arlington will now cost an extra 25 cents per ride and an extra six cents per mile. The County Board on Saturday unanimously approved new taxi rates that also include a $25 cleaning fee for those who “dirty or foul a cab enough that the cab must be removed from service.” [Arlington County, WJLA]
Locals Make ’50 On Fire’ List — A number of Arlington-based companies and individuals have been named to this year’s DC Inno “50 on Fire” list. Local honorees include Vornado/Charles E. Smith honcho Mitchell Schear, Crystal City incubator Eastern Foundry, newly-IPOed Evolent Health in Ballston, Ballston-based tech firm Distil Networks and Rosslyn-based advertising agency LMO Advertising. [DC Inno]
Nauck Town Square Design Meeting — A community discussion will be held at Drew Model School to help officials arrive at a final plan and design for its Nauck Town Square project. The meeting will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. tonight (Monday). [Arlington County]
Review of Oz in Clarendon — Oz restaurant in Clarendon, which opened in September, continues to receive so-so reviews from the critics. The latest review suggests that Oz suffers from the inherent blandness of Australian cuisine, which it attempts to recreate faithfully. Oz may benefit, however, from its co-owner’s casting on the Real Housewives of Potomac. [Washington Post]
Arlington Fire Captain Retires After 35 Years — Arlington County Fire Department Captain Robert Patterson has retired after 35 years on the job. [WJLA]
Passenger Thrown from Minivan in Crash — Three people were hurt in an early morning crash on S. Arlington Ridge Road today. Police say a car traveling at 55 mph on the residential street slammed into the back of a minivan near 23rd Street S., causing one passenger in the van to be ejected from the vehicle. [WJLA, NBC Washington]
School Board Approves $100 Million H-B Design — The Arlington School Board has approved a concept design for the Wilson School in Rosslyn, future home of the H-B Woodlawn secondary program. With a 92-space parking garage factored in, the construction cost of the school may exceed $100 million. Also last week, the School Board confirmed that it will again ask the County Board for permission to build a new elementary school on the Thomas Jefferson Middle School campus. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
County Facebook Post Raises Eyebrows — Democratic political operative Ben Tribbett, among others, is calling an Arlington County Facebook post about a local Democratic resolution on the Redskins team name an “inappropriate use of a government Facebook account.” Tribbett was previously hired by the team to defend its name. [Facebook, Blue Virginia]
Nine Arlington Restaurants Make Top 50 List — Nine Arlington establishments have made Northern Virginia Magazine’s Top 50 Restaurants list. The highest on the list is new-this-year Kapnos Taverna in Ballston. [Patch]
Fisette on County’s Support for I-66 Plan — Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette says the county supports a plan for tolling I-66 because it is a regional compromise that’s cost effective, multimodal and not “the typical knee-jerk reaction [of] just widening roads.” Fisette notes that Arlington “was traumatized by the building of I-66 right through some of our neighborhoods” in the 1970s and 80s. [Washington Post]
Four Mile DMV Moving After Losing Lease — Dozens of angry Fairfax County residents came out to a meeting Thursday night to express opposition to a new DMV office in the Barcroft Plaza shopping center. The meeting also revealed more information on why the DMV is moving from its current location on S. Four Mile Run Drive. The DMV reportedly lost its lease due to a planned redevelopment, which has since fallen through. [Annandale VA]
More Info on Courthouse Redevelopment — We now know a bit more about the planned redevelopment of a low-rise office building in Courthouse. A 15-story, 91-unit condo building with 2,000 square feet of ground floor retail space is planned to replace the office building at 2000 Clarendon Blvd. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Eric
Dems Vote For Redskins Team Name Change — The Arlington County Democratic Committee voted Wednesday to officially call on Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change the team’s “offensive” name. Some Democrats opposed the vote, suggesting that “nobody would take the resolution particularly seriously.” [InsideNova]
New Trend: Karaoke Leagues — Team karaoke leagues and costumed karaoke competitions are all the rage in Arlington, D.C. and New York City, according to a Wall Street Journal trend piece. [Wall Street Journal]
Kudos for Local Chinese Restaurant — Peter Chang’s restaurant in the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center is “the best neighborhood Chinese restaurant in Washington,” according to food critic Tom Sietsema. [Washington Post]
Marymount Tree Lighting Ceremony — The public is invited to attend Marymount University’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony tonight. The ceremony will take place in front of Marymount’s Lodge building starting at 6 p.m. and will feature music from the Randolph Elementary School Choir.
Arlington Tech Co. Raises $4 Million — Rosslyn-based LiveSafe has raised $4 million in a new venture round. The company makes mobile campus safety software for universities, large companies and government agencies. [DC Inno, Washington Business Journal]
Winners of Startup Competition Announced — Arlington County has announced the winners of the U.S. round of the Dongsheng/AC Bridge Entrepreneur Competition. The global competition is a partnership between Arlington Economic Development and China-focused investment company Dao Ventures. [Arlington County]
New Patch for 74-Year-Old Marathon Runner — Retired Marine Al Richmond, who at the age of 74 recently completed his 40th Marine Corps Marathon, has been presented with a special patch at a ceremony at his Arlington home. Richmond said he plans to keep running and improve on this year’s performance. [CBS Local]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf