Arlington, VA

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties is proudly featuring a rare leasing opportunity at 1101 Wilson Blvd: 5 contiguous floors with exceptional views, building signage opportunity and brand new amenities. Enjoy all the perks of easy access and ample parking; a variety of food trucks at your front door; and enviable walkable amenities. Join YEXT and other leading tech companies at this vibrant location.14

The international coronavirus pandemic has put a brick on the gas pedal for one Ballston startup called GoTab, which was facilitating social distancing before it went mainstream.

GoTab locates nearby eateries and pulls up the menu, allowing customers to place their own orders directly into the business’s system and schedule a pickup. It’s more efficient than phone orders and is less costly to restaurants than delivery services like GrubHub.

“We do think the world is going to more online, it just went more online a lot faster,” said Tim McLaughlin, CEO of GoTab.

McLaughlin said the original design for GoTab was use in-restaurant for things like placing orders on your phone rather than waiting in line. It’s an idea that McLaughlin said is increasingly popular, pointing to Starbucks’ mobile order program. GoTab also benefits from having no need to create a profile or download an app.

Placing orders for takeout and delivery (by the restaurant’s own drivers) was just a side feature of GoTab, but COVID-19 changed that. McLaughlin said while the eventual goal is to get back to in-restaurant use, takeout and delivery orders have taken the spotlight.

“It had always been a feature but not something we sold by itself,” McLaughlin said. “Takeout was not usually the majority of the revenue, it was always something that was bundled along with on-premises. Now that’s changed. Because it’s cost-effective, we just kind of said ‘let’s help restaurants get online quickly and easily.'”

As also reported by Washingtonian, the company is offering its tool for free to restaurants, taprooms, breweries and others that have been affected by COVID-19 related shutdowns.

Seeing heavier use than normal, the website had some technical bumps last week, but McLaughlin said they’ve been worked out. The main struggle has been adapting the tool even further to the extremes of social distancing.

“There’s things that are different now that we’ve had to implement quickly,” McLaughlin said. “People used to come in and talk to the host, but now people are standing outside the restaurant. People might bring [food] out and never exchange cards. It’s clean and low-to-no contact, but in order for that to work, need a way to communicate without face to face.”

McLaughlin said the company took the texting tools utilized already for the hotel side of GoTab and repurposed those for restaurant use.

Even once the pandemic is over, McLaughlin said he thinks there will be an permanent impact on the restaurant industry, and more mobile ordering is going to be a part of that.

“We’re not going back,” McLaughlin said. “There’s a population shift towards using your phone to do that for a whole host of reasons, one of them is that you know your order is right because you put it in. People also don’t want to stand in line… I think this is just going to push it a lot further in that direction. People are going to be fearful for a while about germs and it’s just convenient.”

Photo via GoTab/Facebook

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Green Pig Bistro in Clarendon was among the restaurants that pivoted to curbside carryout after closing its dining room on March 16 amid the coronavirus outbreak.

That was a week before Gov. Ralph Northam officially ordered restaurants to stop dine-in service, in an effort to slow the spread of the highly-contagious virus.

But now Green Pig is closing temporarily because, it says, “one of our team members is exhibiting some early signs of COVID-19.”

“That person has been tested but until we know the results, and out of an abundance of caution, we will be closed until further notice,” the acclaimed restaurant said via Instagram on Sunday.

Recent Green Pig customers should take heart that thus far, experts have been saying there is very low to no of risk of virus transmission via food or food packaging.

“Thank you for your business, support and love,” wrote the restaurant, which first opened in 2012. “Please take care, be well, be safe and be kind.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-U6rMDhWDy/

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Morning Notes

Fire Union Raises Alarm About Lack of Quarantining — “An Arlington County firefighter tested positive for coronavirus this week and the union is concerned that colleagues were not told to quarantine.” [NBC 4]

The Toll for First Responders During the Outbreak — “We are starting to see the mental and physical toll that this pandemic is having on our members and their families. Please continue to practice social distancing and listen to the local leaders.” [Twitter]

Signs of Support From the Community — Signs and other expressions of appreciation for first responders have been popping up around Arlington, as have signs urging continued social distancing. [Twitter, Twitter, Twitter]

GMU Prof Trying to Spur Coronavirus Solutions — “George Mason University professor Tyler Cowen hopes to incentivize a stronger response to the coronavirus by distributing more than $1 million in prizes for research leading to immediate help in fighting the pandemic.” [George Mason University]

Beyer Supports Relief Bill — Said Rep. Don Beyer, regarding the record 3.3 million new unemployment claims: “These numbers are far worse than anything we saw during the Great Recession. We need to move quickly to help those that are getting hurt… That is why the bill passed by the Senate to increase unemployment insurance by an extra $600 a week for four months and make billions available for small business grants and loan payments is so important.” [House of Representatives]

Local Testing is Taking a Long Time — “An Arlington, Virginia, resident told Axios he got tested a week ago, but his results have now been delayed twice; he’ll likely end up waiting nine to 10 days for his results.” [Axios]

Ambar Offering Family-Style Meals to Go — “Street Guys Hospitality, renowned for its neighborhood restaurants that offer set price, next-level Balkan & Mexican dining without limits, is stepping up with a plan to help feed the communities it serves while supporting its staff members during this crisis.” [Press Release]

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Morning Notes

Reminder: Metro Station Closures — The Clarendon, Virginia Square and East Falls Church Metro stations are closed starting today. The closures will impact several ART bus routes, as well. [Arlington County]

Kaine Lauds Passage of Coronavirus Relief Bill — In a statement late Wednesday night, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed by the Senate “will backstop the American economy by protecting workers and their families.” [Press Release]

County: Hold Off on Spring Cleaning — “Although it is tempting to use the increased time in our homes to start ‘spring cleaning,’ please delay these activities or hold on to these items during this challenging time. Refuse collection crews are dealing with an increased volume of waste and disposal requests, while incorporating new protocols to limit their risk of exposure to COVID-19.” [Arlington County]

First Coronavirus Case at Pentagon — “A Marine assigned to the service’s headquarters office at the Pentagon has tested positive for COVID-19… becoming the first service member assigned to the Defense Department’s home base to contract coronavirus. The Marine tested positive March 24, Capt. Joseph Butterfield told Military Times, after a period of isolation spurred by symptoms in his wife.” [Military Times]

HQ2 Construction Still on Track — “Construction of the first of Amazon.com Inc.’s HQ2 towers remains on schedule, but the planning process for the green space around them may slow as the spread of the novel coronavirus forces public meeting cancellations. Clark Construction, lead contractor on Amazon’s first 2.1 million-square-foot office building, said that work at Metropolitan Park in Pentagon City is advancing with added coronavirus safety measures.” [Washington Business Journal]

Governor Orders Elective Surgeries Delayed — “Governor Ralph Northam and State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA today directed all hospitals to stop performing elective surgeries or procedures to help conserve supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE). The public health emergency order does not apply to any procedure if the delay would cause harm to a patient.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]

Ballston’s Punch Bowl Social in Trouble — “Cracker Barrel announced Wednesday that eatertainment brand Punch Bowl Social has closed all of its 19 locations and laid off most of its restaurant and corporate staff and that it would not prevent foreclosure on the brand.” [FSR Magazine, Marketwatch]

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Bracket Room, a sports bar in Clarendon co-owned by Chris Bukowski of Bachelor fame, is the latest victim of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Due to the national crisis from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is with a heavy heart that Bracket Room in Arlington has decided to close its doors,” the restaurant said on Instagram Tuesday afternoon. “We want to sincerely thank all of our patrons and employees for all their support over the years. We are going to miss each and every one of you.”

The bar opened in the fall of 2013, offering a “higher-end, ‘female-friendly’ experience.” Located at 1210 N. Garfield Street, Bracket Room closed a week ago, after a weekend St. Patrick’s Day celebration, for everything other than take-out and delivery.

In today’s Instagram post, Bracket Room promised to honor its earlier promotion to refund all receipts since November if the Washington Nationals win the World Series again this year.

ARLnow’s list of other Arlington restaurants offering delivery and takeout can be found here.

View this post on Instagram

Due to the National crisis from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is with a heavy heart that Bracket Room in Arlington has decided to close its doors. We want to sincerely thank all of our patrons and employees for all their support over the years. We are going to miss each and every one of you. Our promotion of reimbursement of every purchase if the Nationals win the World Series is still in effect. If the Nationals are lucky enough to win the 2021 World Series and you have all your receipts, we will honor it. Please contact one of our owners, Jeff Greenberg, at 703-307-9600, and he will personally make sure you get your refunds. It’s been a wonderful few years, please everyone stay healthy & stay safe!

A post shared by Bracket Room (@bracketroomva) on

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El Pollo Rico, the oldest Peruvian rotisserie joint in the country located in Arlington Virginia is now offering delivery!

Delivery is within a five mile radius — one dollar delivery fee per mile —  and costs less than Postmates or Grubhub.

Starting today, March 23, orders in D.C. must meet $15.00 order minimum.

Delivery hours for D.C.: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Delivery hours for Arlington: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

Call (703)-522-3220 for more information! Follow along on Instagram @elpolloricoarl.

El Pollo Rico is located at 932 N. Kenmore Street Arlington, VA.

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Morning Notes

APS Expands Grab and Go Meal Locations — “Beginning Wed, March 25, APS will expand the number of sites that provide free grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches to five locations to better reach families. Meals will be set up outside the building for distribution from 11 a.m.to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday.” The new locations are Barrett, Campbell and Randolph elementary schools. [Arlington Public Schools]

Massage Therapist Charged with Assault — “At approximately 6:31 p.m. on March 9, police were dispatched to the late report of an assault. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 3:00 p.m. on March 7, the victim was receiving a massage when she was allegedly inappropriately touched by the suspect. Following an investigation by the Special Victims’ Unit, a warrant for Assault and Battery.” [Arlington County]

Rosslyn Launches Restaurant Support Program — “The Rosslyn BID is… launching #RosslynRewards, a program to support Rosslyn restaurants that are still operating during these uncertain times. When you order takeout or delivery from participating Rosslyn restaurants and share on social media with the hashtag #RosslynRewards, the BID will give you a $10 reward for every $20 you spend.” [Press Release]

ART Bus Rides Now Free — “Starting Tuesday, March 24, Arlington Transit bus riders will enter and exit all ART buses using the rear doors only. Customers who require the use of a wheelchair ramp can still enter the bus through the front door. ART will also be suspending fare collection on all ART buses since the farebox is located at the front door.” The ART changes mirror those implemented by Metro today. [Arlington Transit]

Signature Cancels Performances — “In response to guidance from the CDC and state and local authorities, Signature Theatre has made the decision to close its doors to the public through the beginning of June.” [Press Release]

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Last year Acme Pie Company on Columbia Pike went from pie wholesaler to restaurant. Now it’s becoming a delivery business as well.

With restaurants ordered closed to dine-in customers by Gov. Ralph Northam today, Virginia is now a takeout- and delivery-only zone. And that means big changes — and major hardship — for many Arlington restaurants and food businesses.

Acme, like other restaurants, has gotten creative to provide meals to those sheltering in place in their homes. It’s offering a “COVID-19 special,” with 1 quart of soup, fresh baked bread, and a 7-inch pie delivered to homes in Arlington County for $20. Tuesday’s deliveries are already sold out, owner Sol Schott said on Acme’s Facebook page.

“‘The Acme Soup Line’ experiment has been wildly successful!” said Schott. “I had no idea there would be so much demand. I hope this in some small way will help you all through this scary time.”

Acme is one of more than 150 Arlington restaurants ARLnow has checked in on over the past week, to compile the following COVID-19 Local Restaurant Status list. The Google Sheet includes information on whether a restaurant is open and providing deliveries and/or carry out.

Ordering delivery and takeout is the most tangible way to support these local businesses during trying times, but it is not a long-term sustainable solution for for many restaurants, particularly those that rely on bar sales from dine-in customers. Kevin Tien of Ballston’s Hot Lola told the Washington City Paper that one of his D.C. restaurants is “doing 2.5 times the normal amount of work for a quarter amount of original sales.”

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In a bit of relief for hard-hit restaurants and hotels, Arlington County’s Treasurer says tax payments due between now and the end of April can be deferred temporarily.

Treasurer Carla de la Pava said in a statement that her office will not impose penalties and interest on late tax payments, though tax returns are still due. The decision mostly affects meals taxes, paid by restaurants, and hotel taxes, and requires payment by May 31.

More from the Treasurer’s Office:

Carla de la Pava, Treasurer of Arlington County, has determined that late payment penalty and interest will not be imposed on local taxes with a payment due date between March 13 and April 30, 2020, if such taxes are paid in full by May 31, 2020. This decision primarily but not exclusively affects Arlington County Meals, Food, and Beverage Taxes and Transient Occupancy Taxes, which would ordinarily be due March 20 and April 20. Taxpayers should still file the required returns even if they are not paying the tax until a later date. Taxpayers are encouraged to pay their taxes on time if they have the financial means to do so. Any taxes previously paid will not be refunded. Taxpayers should direct questions to [email protected]

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(Updated on 2/23/20) The sports bar and restaurant Champps in Pentagon Row has permanently closed.

Coronavirus wasn’t the sole cause of the bar and restaurant’s demise — a staff member at the now-closed restaurant said they’d been struggling for months — but he said that it had been the final nail in the coffin.

“We’re battling through the leases but as soon as coronavirus came through [the company] decided they couldn’t keep operating the ones that were losing money,” the staff member said.

The Pentagon Row Champps first opened in 2001, shortly after 9/11, and donated the first couple days of beverage sales to a relief fund for victims of the attack on the Pentagon. It was one of the first large restaurants in the then-new shopping center.

In the classic Arlington cycle of restaurant death and rebirth, Twitter users both mourned the late restaurant and started wondering what could be next for the large space.

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Morning Notes

APS Creates Learning at Home Guide — “We have created a Learning at Home webpage that pulls details on instruction, additional educational resources for families, activities and resources for coping with stress. If you have questions, please send them to [email protected]” [Arlington Public Schools, Twitter]

How to Report Price Gouging in Virginia — “If you see excessive price increases for coronavirus (COVID-19) necessities, report it to Attorney General Mark Herring’s office.” [Facebook, Attorney General Mark Herring]

Costco Encouraging Social Distancing — Costco in Pentagon City has had lines out of the door every morning since the start of the coronavirus crisis. The line has gotten longer — and more spread out — in the interest of social distancing. [Twitter]

Airports Remain Open — Reagan National Airport remains open, reportedly with no plans to limit access. Most stores and restaurants at DCA also remain open, but with modified hours. [Twitter, Twitter]

Signature Theater Show Goes Online — “Signature Theater in Arlington, Va., is looking to make its production of Dani Stoller’s ‘Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes’ available online to ticketholders.” [New York Times]

Ramen Shop Offering Free Food for Seniors — “Gaijin Ramen Shop management and staff are heartbroken by elders without food because of the COVID-19 pandemic… We are offering FREE delivery of fresh vegetable ramen soup to any elderly in need.” [Community Post]

Free Pizza for Kids at Troy’s Italian — “On March 20, from 12-8 p.m. we will be doing free pizza slices for kids. We are also offering contactless curbside pickup. Call us at (703) 528-2828 when you get here, and we will bring the food out, and put it into the trunk of your car for you.” [Facebook]

Vehicle Inspection Enforcement Suspended — “Governor Northam has directed the Virginia Department of State Police to suspend the enforcement of Motor Vehicle Safety Inspections for 60 days.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]

New Local Facebook Page — “Community activist and Arlingtonian Kellen MacBeth has centralized tools and resources for people in need during the coronavirus outbreak. His Facebook page, Arlington Neighbors Helping Each Other Through COVID-19, is up to 2,000 members in just one day of its existence.” [WDVM]

Nearby: Coronavirus Strikes Falls Church Senior Center — “A resident at The Kensington assisted living center in the City of Falls Church has tested positive for COVID-19, the Fairfax County Health Department reported today. It is the first reported case of the coronavirus in the City.” [Falls Church News-Press, Twitter]

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