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Spicy chicken sandwich purveyor Hot Lola’s is opening a second Arlington location, this time in Rosslyn.

The restaurant is opening at 1501 Wilson Blvd, sandwiched between Taco Rock and Miracles Salon. A Virginia ABC permit notice on the door announces the eatery’s intention to serve beer, wine, and mixed beverages.

Hot Lola’s first location at Ballston Quarter, which opened in May 2019, does not sell alcohol, though it’s available for purchase by another vendor inside the Quarter Market food hall.

DCist was first with the restaurant’s intent to open in Rosslyn.

Hot Lola’s is replacing Mediterranean fast casual eatery Roti, which appears to have closed a few months ago, after 10 years in business at that location.

ARLnow has reached out to Hot Lola’s about when the Rosslyn location may open, but has yet to hear back as of publication. The restaurant’s windows are papered over, making it difficult to see the construction progress inside.

The eatery from noted D.C. area chef Kevin Tien is known for its spicy “Nashville x Sichuan hot fried chicken sandwiches.” Other popular options include seasoned waffle fries and chicken tenders.

Hot Lola’s made some news when it instituted a 4% “Fair Wage + Wellness” charge to every check, to help pay for employee health insurance, including dental and vision.

Tien has had other ties to Arlington as well, having previously operated his Wild Tiger BBQ collaboration as a pop-up at Bun’d Up in Pentagon City.

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If you were looking for a place to procure a hearty sandwich, a lovely bouquet and a cold beer with the same swipe of a credit card, the wait is almost over.

Poppyseed Rye, a new restaurant and flower shop concept, is opening this week in the former Buzz Bakeshop space at 818 N. Quincy Street in Ballston. It will officially open to the public on Friday (Nov. 19), though a couple of private “soft opening” events are likely earlier in the week.

The shop will specialize in fresh flowers and craft sandwiches, while also featuring home goods, toasts, cold press juice, charcuterie, beer, wine, and champagne. That’s according to co-owner Scott Parker, who’s also a partner in Don Tito and a trio of other Ballston businesses: Bearded Goat BarberBASH Boxing, Bronson Bierhall.

Parker is opening Poppyseed Rye with partners Alex Buc, who formerly ran Jetties sandwich shops in D.C., and Akeda Maerdan, who owns Farida Floral in Fairfax. The opening can be seen as a vote of confidence in Ballston as a place that can support the kind of businesses that one might more commonly see in the city.

(Part of the neighborhood is, in fact, more population-dense than anywhere in the District.)

“Ballston is on fire,” Parker told ARLnow over the weekend. “We’re so excited to open in this buzzing neighborhood, and bring the best sandwiches and fresh flowers you can find in the area.”

Poppyseed Rye will we open from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily, starting Friday.

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A Subway location on the ground floor of Arlington County’s jail could be getting a rent lifeline this weekend.

The sandwich shop renting space at the base of the Arlington County Detention Center (1435 N. Courthouse Road) has struggled to stay afloat since the pandemic slashed its sales. Although it still operates in the space, it has not paid rent to the county since March 2020, according to a report.

“Subway’s business has declined precipitously during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report to the County Board says. “It was closed for business altogether in April 2020. Its sales in May 2020 were less than 15% of normal. Although Subway’s sales have recovered to a degree, they are still, as of the date of this report, around one-third below normal.”

On Saturday, the Board is set to review a proposal to lower Subway’s rent during the remainder of the pandemic to a level it can afford. County staff settled on a base rent equal to 9.5% of its gross sales, retroactive to April 2020, according to the report.

“Staff worked with Subway to determine what Subway could afford to pay in rent based on its reduced sales,” the report said. “As a rule of thumb, restaurants can afford to devote roughly 10% of sales to the payment of rent. 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. This leaves a smaller percentage of sales that can be applied to rent.”

If approved, the reduction would last until Subway has two months in a row of sales in which 9.5% of their sales is greater than the base rent it is paying, or until one year after the amendment is signed — whichever occurs first. Then, Subway would have 18 months to pay back the rent it owes from before the agreement went into effect.

The sandwich shop’s lease on its 1,360-square foot space in Courthouse, last renewed in 2017, is up in 2024, the report said.

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Buzz Bakeshop has closed in Ballston and a new cafe from some familiar local names will be replacing it.

Poppyseed Rye, which describes itself as “a craft sandwich and fresh flower café,” plans to open this fall at 818 N. Quincy Street, a block from Ballston Quarter mall.

“We’ll make tasty sandwiches, salads, toasts, and charcuterie… and serve beer, wine, seltzer, and champagne,” said Scott Parker, a partner in the shop who also co-owns a variety of Ballston businesses, including Bearded Goat Barber, BASH Boxing, and Bronson Bierhall, as well as Don Tito in Clarendon.

Also helming the shop is Alex Buc, who formerly ran Jetties sandwich shops in D.C., and Akeda Maerdan, who owns Farida Floral in Fairfax.

“At our shop Akeda will sell bouquets, vases, candles, and other household goods,” Parker said.

The cafe will be open from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily and will focus on lunch and dinner. The sandwich-focused menu will be offered all day. A weekend brunch is possible down the road, according to Parker, who notes that there will be a small patio area outside.

The space was formerly occupied by Buzz Bakery, which opened in 2011 and offered coffee, baked goods and other treats. Now known as Buzz Bakeshop, the cafe has a location on Slaters Lane in Alexandria that remains open. The Ballston location is listed on the Buzz website as “temporarily closed.”

The ownership group behind Poppyseed Rye includes Parker, Lee Smith, Jon Rennich, and Gary Koh, who co-owns Bronson Bierhall with Parker. The group is also working with chef Johnny Spero and Aslin Beer Company on the forthcoming Pentagon City brewpub Nighthawk Pizza.

More collaborations with notable chefs, artisans and producers may be on the way from the group, Parker hinted. But for now, he’s focused on getting the new venture off the ground.

“As Ballston continues to grow and become more vibrant, we’re excited to bring our unique new sandwich and flower shop to Wilson Boulevard,” said Parker.

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After opening in September, Arris Noble and his six-person team at Ballston’s newest sandwich shop, Superette, have gotten their sea legs.

The name, Noble explains, takes customers back in time to the corner store with hot food and a limited selection of grocery items. It was the kind of place that parents sent their kids to, list and basket in hand, for apples and milk. The cashier would gather and ring up the items and send the kids home.

“It’s an old-world concept that was forgotten, and shouldn’t have been,” said Noble.

The sandwich joint and grocery is in the lower level of the food hall at Ballston Quarter (4238 Wilson Blvd). Noble ultimately chose the neighborhood because he saw a gap in sandwich places that prioritize love and quality over speed and volume.

Noble said he is happy to own a business in Arlington, and Ballston in particular, adding that he “really likes the people.”

As for the food, while the sandwich is practical, Noble does not want his diners to sacrifice taste in order to gain convenience.

“If you’re going to dine and come to Superette, I want to give you that ‘Wow’ factor,” he said. “We just want them to know how much care we put into everything.”

When new customers walk in, Noble said he loves seeing “the surprised look” on their faces when they see not only the food but the beer, wine and cocktail menu.

Noble, who paid his way through school at the University of Maryland by bartending, geeks out describing his signature cocktails.

His winter whisky sour combines rye whisky and a simple syrup infused with allspice, star anise, clove, cinnamon and black pepper, with the classic foam rim made from emulsified lemon juice and egg white.

Guests enjoy his gin punch, made with oleo saccharum (or oil of sugar). Muddled sugar and citrus peel steeps in spices and hot water, creating a syrup that is “easy to make, with a ton of flavor.” For the punch, he adds gin, lemon juice and stone fruit tea.

He personally developed the menu, to which his growing waistline can attest.

“I gained 35 pounds,” he said. “The one that has done the most damage is the BLT-ish.”

The classic bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich does not do much for Noble. So he added cheese, braised pork shoulder and a sesame seed bun slathered with garlic aioli. The shoulder is the centerpiece: It marinates for a day before it is braised for seven hours with aromatics and chicken stock.

“That sandwich has a following,” he said. “I got a guy who comes here three days a week and gets it.”

Noble, who spent the last 18 years of his life in the restaurant business, said the challenge of managing a restaurant during the Great Recession more than a decade ago “does not hold a candle to the challenges restaurants are experiencing now.”

From idea to execution, Superette took 14 months, with the pandemic causing delays in deliveries and permitting. The price for a case of gloves increased by 300% times and third-party delivery apps charge double what they used to, but restaurants use them to keep the lights on and employees paid, he said.

“This environment is completely different because the virus creates government restrictions,” he said. “During the recession, you could have a holiday party — you may just have to take a discount — but people were still gathering.” 

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A new restaurant specializing in spicy chicken is now open in Ballston Quarter’s food hall.

Hot Lola’s is the one of the newest additions to the mall’s Quarter Market food hall and is helmed by Chef Kevin Tien from Petworth’s Himitsu. The menu features chicken sandwiches in four levels of spiciness, from mild to eye-watering. Each is $7.50 and topped with slaw, pickles and a special sauce.

Chicken tenders with slaw, pickles, and toast are available for $8.50 those who want to go bun-less.

Tien previously told Eater he use Sichuan chili oil and spices to flavor the signature sandwiches, making for a style that’s akin to Nashville hot chicken, but unique.

“The only question is, how hot do you want it?” reads Ballston Quarter’s website for the eatery.

Patrons can indeed order on a scale from “TOO HOT” down to “O.G. HOT” down to “Warm + Numbing,” according to the menu. A non-spicy version is also on the menu.

A 4 percent “Fair Wage + Wellness Provision” that pays for employee health insurance, as well as dental and vision, is added to the price.

“After careful research, we have come to the conclusion that this is the best way to reduce wage disparity and provide health benefits for all full time employees,” the restaurant wrote in an open letter about the fee. “No portion of this Hospitality Provision will go to ownership wages or investor dividends.”

The eatery is part of the 25,000 square-foot “food hall” in the newly-renovated Ballston Quarter mall, where only about half of the planned restaurants are open amid construction delays.

Ice Cream Jubilee opened in the space last Friday, following Hot Lola’s and Spanish small plate restaurant Copa Kitchen and Bar earlier this month. Mi & Yu Noodle Bar was the first Quarter Market eatery to open, on March 4. Korean rice bowl restaurant Rice Crook also appeared to be open earlier this week.

Second photo via Hot Lola’s Menu

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Potbelly Sandwich Works logoSandwich shop Potbelly is coming to Rosslyn’s International Place building at 1735 N. Lynn Street.

Potbelly has leased a 2,525 square foot space, according to Liz Wainger, a spokeswoman for real estate firm CBRE. An opening date has not been decided, she said.

There’s no word yet on which storefront Potbelly will occupy. There are at least three vacant or soon-to-be-vacant ground floor retail locations in the building:

  • The former FroZenYo frozen yogurt shop, which recently closed
  • The Wilson Florist shop, which had a moving sale sign outside today
  • A retail bay between Chop’t and the building lobby

The new store will be the third Potbelly in Arlington. The company also has a location by the Ballston Metro and in Crystal City.

CBRE’s D.C.-based retail leasing team tweeted out the news about Potbelly’s lease on behalf of Beacon Capitol Partners, a real-estate firm in Arlington.

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Which Wich in Ballston (photo by Joy Asico)Which Wich Superior Sandwiches is planning to open its second Arlington location in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City this summer.

The eatery is noted for its selection — it offers over 50 sandwich varieties and more than 60 toppings.

Dallas-based Which Wich has an existing location in Arlington, adjacent to Ballston Common Mall at 4300 Wilson Blvd, and seven other locations in Virginia.

The new sandwich shop within the Pentagon City mall will be owned by a team of two brothers who are gunning to make it the company’s highest-grossing location in the U.S.

“Franchise owners and brothers Faisal and Irfaan Lalani are particularly excited about the expansion opportunity in Pentagon City because with the high traffic in the mall with tourists and commuters, it has the opportunity to be the highest grossing Which Wich location in the country,” said a PR rep. “The brothers have prior business experience, owning over 53 Little Caesar’s locations across the country and employing nearly 1,000 people.”

The restaurant will be located in the mall’s food court and is expected to open in August, we’re told.

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Just over 13 months after opening with a mini-sandwich giveaway, 100 Montaditos in Rosslyn is now closed.

The Spanish-style restaurant at 1776 Wilson Blvd specialized in serving all different kinds of mini sandwiches, with a variety of ingredients like pulled park, Iberican ham, brie and chocolate. Its parent company declared bankruptcy back in March, which appears to have been the Rosslyn location’s death knell.

An anonymous tipster tells us that 100 Montaditos packed up the interior overnight last night, coinciding with the end of the month. The interior is bare and the door is now locked — there are splotches of missing paint on the walls where artwork used to hang.

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Sandwich chain Capriotti’s plans to open its storefront at 1500 Wilson Blvd on Tuesday, July 29.

The shop is currently finishing renovations, but Director of Operations for Capriotti’s D.C. franchises Joe Combs was passing out flyers to passersby last week in an effort to recruit employees.

Capriotti’s had hoped to open the Rosslyn location last January, but only announced it had signed its lease in April. The Rosslyn location will be open Monday through Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday 11:00 p.m. to 7:00.

“We’re known for our fresh pulled turkey and our fresh roast beef,” Combs said. “Our sandwich ‘The Bobbie’ was voted best sandwich in America by AOL. It’s basically Thanksgiving on a roll.” The Bobbie comes with pulled-turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and mayonnaise.

Founded in Delaware in 1976, Capritotti’s is now based in Las Vegas and has 105 locations nationwide. Some Arlington residents may have already gotten their first taste of The Bobbie from Capriotti’s booth at Taste of Arlington.

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