Brandon Showell, a special education instructional assistant at Arlington’s Kenmore Middle School, is a contestant on the new season of NBC’s The Voice, ARLnow.com has confirmed.
On the show, Showell will be placed on the team of one of show’s four star coaches, which this year include Adam Levine of Maroon 5, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Hudson and Blake Shelton.
It is shaping up to be a big year for Showell, who married fellow Kenmore instructional assistant and GMU graduate Perla Farias over the summer. However, he is not the first person from Kenmore to appear on The Voice — that honor belongs to Samantha Rios, who competed on the Spanish-language version of the show while an eighth-grader at Kenmore in 2015.
The Voice premieres this coming Monday at 8 p.m. on NBC. No word yet on when Showell will first appear on the show.
Today Is ‘Terrible Traffic Tuesday’ — Today is the Tuesday after Labor Day, when students in Arlington and around the region go back to school. As a result of the extra school buses, parents and students on the roads, and the end of summer vacations, it is also dubbed “Terrible Traffic Tuesday” by AAA Mid-Atlantic. In reality, however, the day after — which now has a name: “Woeful Wednesday” — is worse in terms of commuting times, and next week should be even more woeful. [Washington Post, WTOP]
Chili’s Dying Out in D.C. Area — The Chili’s in Bailey’s Crossroads has closed. The restaurant chain closed its Crystal City location last year and its Reston location the year before that. The nearest Chili’s to Arlington is now along Route 1, outside the Beltway, in Fairfax County. [Twitter]
Roosevelt Profiled by Conservative Media — GOP candidate Adam Roosevelt is getting some attention from conservative media outlets. Roosevelt “is a moderate Republican running for the Virginia House of Delegates against current Democratic Delegate Alfonso Lopez, who has never before faced a GOP opponent during his six years in office,” writes the Daily Caller, calling the district he’s running in, which includes part of Arlington, “far left.” The lead sentence in Newsmax’s article about Roosevelt has a different focus: “A conservative Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates, who happens to be black, has recently emerged as one of the most spirited advocates of keeping Confederate statues up in the Old Dominion State.” [Daily Caller, Newsmax]
Webb Removed from Civ Fed Debate — School Board candidate Mike Webb has had his invitation to tonight’s Arlington County Civic Federation debate — the unofficial kickoff to campaign season in Arlington — rescinded because he reportedly “failed to return required paperwork in time to allow participation.” Allison Dough, the other candidate to challenge Democratic endorsee Monique O’Grady, has said she has other commitments and will be unable to attend the debate. [InsideNova]
Arlington Man Evicted From ‘Big Brother’ House — Arlington resident Matt Clines, 33, has been evicted from the Big Brother house. Clines had advanced about half-way through the CBS reality show before being voted off. [Reality TV World, Parade, Hollywood Reporter]
DeVos to Make Big Announcement in Arlington — Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is reportedly planning to make a “major announcement on Title IX, the campus gender equality law,” from George Mason’s Antonin Scalia Law School in Arlington on Thursday. [BuzzFeed]
Flickr pool photo by Jim Webster
Sunday’s Storm on Video — A Pentagon City resident captured one of Sunday’s storms on video, showing torrential rain, strong wind and a screen door that had blown off a building and got stuck in a tree. [YouTube]
Fairlington to Trap Raccoons — Following two well-publicized raccoon attacks in the past week, the Fairlington Villages condo association is taking action. In a letter to residents, the association says its Board of Directors has “authorized management to engage a wild animal control contractor to begin a program of trapping raccoons on the property.”
County Moves Forward on Fairfax Drive Ownership — “Arlington County wants to own State Route 237 (Fairfax Drive/10th St. North) from roughly Ballston to Courthouse. The County Board voted at its July 18, 2017 meeting to request that the Commonwealth transfer ownership of the stretch of road to Arlington.” [Arlington County]
Arlington Mulls Lee Highway Ownership — Now that it owns Columbia Pike and is requesting ownership of Fairfax Drive, should Arlington also consider asking VDOT for ownership of Lee Highway? “It’s an intriguing idea,” said one County Board member. [InsideNova]
Darbys Dish on Their Split — Even friends of Real Housewives of Potomac castmates Ashley and Michael Darby might not have suspected that the couple had split up before revealing it on a RHOP reunion show. The pair, who jointly own Oz restaurant in Clarendon, “still spend time together socially” but as of February both have separate apartments in Arlington. [Bravo]
Road Closures for 5K Race in Crystal City — The annual Crystal City Twilighter 5K race will shut down parts of Crystal Drive, Long Bridge Drive and other adjacent roads Saturday night. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy “ARLnow Reader”
Tens of Thousands of Bees Found in Nauck Building — An elaborate series of bee hives were found in a now-county owned building set for demolition in Nauck, prompting the county to call a husband-and-wife beekeeping team that lives in the area. The couple helped “rescue” the hive — estimated to contain 70,000 bees and 100 pounds of inedible honey — and transport it to the community park at 10th Street and N. Barton Street near Courthouse. [Arlington County, Washington Post]
‘Oz’ Owners Splitting Up — “Real Housewives of Potomac” cast members and Oz restaurant owners Ashley Darby and her husband, Michael Darby, have reportedly split. Ashley Darby said she moved out of the luxury Courthouse condo she shares with Michael, but also “dangled the possibility of reconciliation” on a “reunion” show for the series. Despite the drama, the pair were all smiles when they jointly hosted a tasting dinner at Oz in Clarendon on June 27. [Washington Post]
County Wants CSX to Consider Fewer Train Horn Blasts — Arlington County has been working with CSX to try to encourage the railroad to cut down on trains blowing their horn while traveling through densely populated Crystal City. CSX has rules in place that require a horn blast on certain sections of track at certain times for safety reasons. [InsideNova]
Sycamore Street, Carlin Springs Projects Approved — At its Saturday meeting, the Arlington County Board approved a pair of major road projects. One, intended to improve pedestrian safety along N. Sycamore Street in the Williamsburg neighborhood, “will reduce travel lanes from four lanes to two lanes by adding raised medians planted with trees and grass,” at a cost of $1.4 million. The other will replace the Carlin Springs Road Bridge over North George Mason Drive at a cost of $7 million. [Arlington County, Arlington County]
Fox 5 Zip Trip Comes to Arlington — Fox 5 brought its “Zip Trip” morning news segment to Pentagon Row in Arlington on Friday, highlighting a variety of local organizations, businesses and leaders. Among those making an appearance on live local TV: Bayou Bakery, Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters, Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, District Taco, Lebanese Taverna, the Arlington County Fire Department and County Board member Katie Cristol. [Fox 5, Twitter, Twitter]
Park Improvements Approved — The Arlington County Board has approved a $2.1 million series of improvements to Stratford Park — including new, lighted tennis and basketball courts — and the replacement of the artificial turf at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. The turf replacement is expected to cost just under a half-million dollars. [Arlington County]
County Can’t Halt Development — Despite the desires of some anti-development advocates, Arlington County does not have the legal authority to impose a moratorium on development, County Board members and the County Attorney told a speaker at Saturday’s Board meeting. [InsideNova]
Forest Inn Makes Dive Bar List — The Forest Inn in Westover has made the Washington Post’s list of the “best true dive bars in the D.C. area.” The Post’s Tim Carman and Fritz Hahn recommend ordering “a cold Budweiser, which was, for years, the only beer on tap.” [Washington Post]
Monday Properties Refinances 1812 N. Moore Street — Monday Properties has obtained fresh financing for its 1812 N. Moore Street tower in Rosslyn, which was once on uncertain financial ground as it sought its first tenant but is now set to be the U.S. headquarters of food giant Nestle. A portion of the new financing will be “used for tenant improvements and building upgrades featuring an expanded fitness center and new 12,000-square-foot conference facility on the building’s 24th floor.” [Washington Business Journal]
Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Map Updated — The County Board has voted 5-0 to update its Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area map. “The more accurate map will help Arlington protect environmentally sensitive lands near streams and ensure that the County can comply with local and State regulations,” and “will allow the County to review development projects fairly and provide accurate information to residents and other stakeholders,” according to a press release. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Peter Golkin
Police to Hold Anti-DUI Event During Bar Crawl — The All American Bar Crawl will be taking place in Clarendon from 1-9 p.m. Saturday, and the Arlington County Police Department is planning some complementary programming. ACPD and the Washington Regional Alcohol Program are holding a “free interactive anti-drunk driving event” from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday on N. Highland Street, in the heart of Clarendon. [Arlington County]
Local ‘Big Brother’ Houseguest Getting Attention — Matthew Clines, a 33-year-old renovation consultant and fitness buff from Arlington, is being mentioned as a frontrunner on the new season of CBS’ Big Brother. “Many ladies swooned over” him, US Weekly writes. Clines has suggested he “would rather have America love him… than actually win the game and the $500,000.” [Us Weekly, Reality TV World]
Woman Wanted for Hit and Run Near Columbia Pike — Arlington County Police are looking for a woman who struck a pedestrian on the 3400 block of 7th Street S., in the Arlington Heights neighborhood, Wednesday night. The suspect, described as a “white female in her mid-twenties to early thirties, approximately 5’6″ tall… wearing a white sweater,” fled the scene after the collision, which sent the victim to a local trauma center with significant but non-life-threatening injuries. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Bradley Teague
ACPD Releases New Video of Sex Assault Suspect — Arlington County Police have released new video of the man suspected of sexually assaulting a woman in her Rosslyn condo last month. Police are still seeking more information about the suspect. [Twitter, YouTube]
Big Brother Contestant Is From Arlington — One of the contestants on the upcoming season of CBS’ Big Brother is Matthew Clines, a 33-year-old renovation consultant from Arlington. The show premieres on Wednesday, June 28. [CBS, Hollywood Reporter]
Nam-Viet Closing in D.C. — The Cleveland Park outpost of Arlington’s Nam-Viet restaurant is closing, citing “competition to remain significant and relevant in this fast-paced D.C. restaurant market.” There have been a number of restaurant closings in the neighborhood as of late. [PoPville]
New Cafe in Takoma Park Draws Arlington Talent — A new coffee, beer, wine and cocktail spot called Takoma Beverage Co. has opened in Takoma Park, Md. The cafe features a bevy of Arlington restaurant vets, including alums of Northside Social and the former Sehkraft Brewing in Clarendon. Helping to fund the venture is Mothersauce Partners, the restaurant investment firm and consultancy founded by Nick Freshman of Spider Kelly’s. [Eater]
Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards
The most hotly-anticipated Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in recent memory is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Though the lack of a spectacular new revelation in Comey’s prepared remarks may be tamping down the enthusiasm a bit, many are still eager to hear what Comey has to say about President Trump — and, on Twitter, vice versa.
Here in Arlington, Liberty Tavern will be opening early, at 10 a.m., and putting the hearing on its five large TVs.
“We will serve free covfefe! And White Russians and Stoli and grapefruits during the hearing will be $5,”a rep for the Clarendon restaurant once visited by President Obama told ARLnow.com. “Lastly, we’ll offer all of our 12-inch wood-oven specialty pizzas for $10, including our popular brunch pizza that features our homemade breakfast sausage, house cured bacon, fried eggs, tomatoes, cheddar and sage.”
Also hosting hearing watchers is Ballston watering hole A-Town Bar and Grill, which will open at 10 a.m. and put the proceedings on its many TVs.
In Courthouse, Ireland’s Four Courts will be open for lunch and have hearing coverage on its TVs with the volume on. The pub will also offer lunch specials during the hearing.
Local Girl Featured on Today Show — Ellie McGinn, the 8-year-old Fairlington resident who’s battling a rare, degenerative disease, was featured on the Today Show on Tuesday. Ellie and her parents have been raising awareness and funds to search for a cure. [Today Show]
Tree Down on Glebe Road — A tree fell across N. Glebe Road this morning, blocking traffic between Chain Bridge and Military Road. Crews were able to clear the fallen tree and reopen the road by 7 a.m. [Twitter, Twitter]
Safety Changes for School Buses — Some Arlington school buses will be retrofitted over the summer with a brake interlock device, which prevents the parking brake from being disengaged before the brake pedal is pressed. The safety measure is being mandated statewide by the Virginia Department of Education. [InsideNova]
Car Break-in Spree Over Weekend — Yet another series of car break-ins was reported over the weekend. Police say more than 20 mostly unlocked vehicles were broken into. Police are reminding residents to lock their cars and to remove valuables from plain sight. [Twitter]
McDonald’s to Open Next Week in Rosslyn — The new McDonald’s restaurant in Rosslyn is expected to open on Monday, May 8. It will feature “mobile and kiosk ordering, with six touch-screen kiosks,” as well as “table service, with servers bringing customers their food after orders are placed using the screens.” [Washington Business Journal]
Petition Against Proposed APS Policy — Among those signing a petition against a proposed new school enrollment and transfer policy is former U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra. He writes: “We need to be expanding, not restricting access to Arlington’s award-winning, integrated elementary school science curriculum! Counter to the data-driven ‘Arlington Way,’ this proposal is inappropriately rushed with debate or impact analysis. Sad!” [Change.org]
ACPD Officer to Be Added to Memorial — Arlington County Police Cpl. Harvey Snook is being added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in D.C. Snook died last year of cancer caused by his service during the recovery effort at the Pentagon following the 9/11 attack. Snook will also be added to Arlington’s Peace Officers Memorial on May 10, the first name added since 2005. [WTOP, Arlington County]
Arlington Woman, 109, Still Stays Up Late — Viola Graham, a 109-year-old resident of Arlington, says she still feels young and still doesn’t go to bed until midnight. Graham also “takes no medicine, besides the occasional Tylenol.” [WUSA 9]
Britt McHenry Goes Off the Air — Arlington’s own Britt McHenry is among the mass layoffs at ESPN. Though the sportscaster is going off the air, she said last week via Twitter that her fans would see her again on TV “soon.” McHenry formerly worked for WJLA (ABC 7) in Rosslyn. [Florida Today, Twitter]
Gubernatorial Candidates in Arlington — Democratic candidates for governor in Virginia, Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello, will be debating at a progressive forum in Ballston tonight. [Facebook]
Flickr pool photo by GM and MB
Heaps of new customers have been saying g’day to Oz restaurant in Clarendon over the past year, its owners say.
Contrary to its portrayal on the new Real Housewives of Potomac season — a teaser video showed proprietors Ashley and Michael Darby arguing about it “not doing well” — Oz (2950 Clarendon Blvd) is currently a profitable business, according to Mr. Darby.
The argument happened in real life on June 22, 2016. Since then, Oz’s brunch business has boomed and helped reverse its fortunes. And a revamped food menu has been greeted with generally positive customer reviews.
That’s a welcome change from when the Washington Post panned Oz’s Australian cuisine as “bland,” shortly after it opened in September 2015, and locals took note of the empty tables one could see inside around dinnertime.
Darby, the Australian-born cofounder of D.C. developer Monumental Realty, admits that things were “not up to scratch” when Oz opened, but said issues with the service and the food have since been corrected. What viewers see at the beginning of “RHOP” season two is part of the restaurant’s “rebuilding” stage.
“We made a significant change that has brought about the success we’re having now,” Darby said. “Over the course of the show, you will find that the restaurant turns that corner and becomes the busy restaurant we have today.”
The other half of the power couple, Ashley Darby — a former Miss District of Columbia who is active in the restaurant’s day-to-day management in between her Instagram-chronicled globetrotting — echoed Michael’s words.
“America witnessed my candid reaction to the growing pains we were experiencing at Oz during the RHOP premiere, filmed last year,” she said. “It has taken some time to find our groove in the trendy Clarendon neighborhood, but we’re really getting into the swing of it. Our weekends are so busy I barely get time to sit down.”
Oz’s $35 bottomless brunch — with unlimited food, penny mimosas, 50 cent beers and $2 bloody marys — has packed them in, according to Michael Darby. Some 500 customers a day visit Oz on the weekends, he said. And the restaurant has high hopes for increasing its weekday bar business and becoming more of a nighttime going-out destination on weekends.
“This is a very fun bar, we have that Australian attitude,” Darby said. Oz is proud of its craft cocktail menu and Australian wine selection; it now brings in a DJ on Saturday nights and, yes, you can order didgeridoo shots, if so inclined.
Darby credits the chef they brought on after the “mediocre” opening for being a big part of Oz’s transformation. Chef Brad Feickert, a tattooed Northern Virginia native who worked for celebrity chefs and also spent time at restaurants in Australia, has created an Australian-influenced menu adjusted for American palates.
“The quality of the food improved significantly when he came in,” Darby said. “The chef is just a good chef, that’s what it comes down to.”
The menu, which is ever evolving, includes both Australian and American staples, along with culinary mashups and exotic meats, including kangaroo, camel and ostrich. (It’s not exotic, but Darby recommends the Australian lamb.)
Just don’t confuse Oz with that well-known “Australian” restaurant chain — needless to say, there are no bloomin’ onions on the menu.
“We’re not Outback Steakhouse in any way,” Darby said. Outback is “not even an Australian product.”
A Shirlington restaurant owner brought her Hawaiian-influenced cooking to one of the Food Network’s most recognized shows.
Mikala Brennan, owner of Hula Girl Bar and Grill, competed on season 32 of “Chopped,” the competitive cooking show where four contestants are handed a basket of mystery of ingredients with which to cook across three rounds.
A panel of expert judges tries the creations and after each round one contestant is eliminated — “chopped” — from the competition.
Brennan’s episode, entitled “Raw Deal,” was the 400th in the show’s history. She competed against Steven Londono and Timothy Walker, both from New York City, and eventual winner Marie Yniguez, from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Brennan was eliminated after the second round and did not reach the final course, and said that while she enjoyed the experience, being chopped was still emotional.
The corridor chopped contestants exit through “is a hall of shame when you walk down that thing,” she said. “I was definitely trying not to pop a tear, because it’s really upsetting.”
Brennan’s episode was filmed in the network’s New York studio in August, one month after the show’s production staff descended on her Campbell Avenue eatery to film and gather background information. Brennan and her staff signed non-disclosure agreements promising not to share the news, then had to wait until the Food Network announced an air date.
The episode premiered on February 28, and will be re-run at various times throughout the network’s schedule.
In the first round, Brennan and her fellow competitors had to make an appetizer using sushi burgers, fresh wasabi, longan berries and pork floss as main ingredients, with the help of the show’s well-stocked pantry and fridge.
Then the entrée round called for the use of buffalo top sirloin steaks, porcini mushrooms, aji dulce and sea buckthorn juice.
In the dessert round, held after Brennan was eliminated, the final two chefs used polenta cake, bechamel sauce, plums and pink Himalayan sea salt.
Such ingredients required some creative thinking to prevent the episode’s judges Chris Santos, Amanda Freitag and Maneet Chauhan from eliminating her.
“It’s one of those things where you almost go into a surreal mode,” Brennan said. “You start flipping through every single recipe you’ve ever done or come across, and you’re trying to figure out what you can do. I’ll be honest, I really didn’t have a plan that quickly.”
Brennan has some experience with the Food Network, having previously competed on the show “Rewrapped” which aired in 2014 and asks chefs to recreate classic snack foods before making a new dish using that same snack food as the main ingredient.
But she said the experience of cooking in the “Chopped” kitchen, surrounded by cameras and being asked questions by host Ted Allen while planning and executing a meal against the clock, is a whole different ball game.
“It’s a very weird experience, because as a chef you’re just trying to figure out what you’re cooking, and then you’re also jumping over cables to get the things in the pantry, then you’re trying to get around camera people and other people you’re competing against,” Brennan said. “Then there’s Ted Allen over there asking questions. It’s a high-stress situation, but that’s the whole point of it.”
Media personality Sarah Fraser has been on the D.C. radio and TV airwaves for a decade. What you might not know about her is that she is a Virginia Square resident and is active locally here in Arlington.
On this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast, we talked with Sarah about her podcast and new media ventures, about the business of broadcasting, and about Arlington restaurants from Oz to Crystal City Restaurant.
Vornado Scraps Development Proposals — Ahead of the closing of its merger with JBG, Vornado has indefinitely put on hold a number of development proposals, including: all but one building of its proposed RiverHouse development in Pentagon City; a revamp of the shops at 1750 Crystal Drive that was to include a new 12-screen multiplex; and a pair of retail pavilions at 2101 and 2201 Crystal Drive. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington a ‘Best City’ to Go Car-Free — According to a new list in Forbes, Arlington County is one of the top 25 U.S. cities for one to live without a car. Arlington was also one of nine places whose walkable neighborhoods were profiled in the magazine. [Forbes]
Video of Apartment Fire — The weekend fire at the Serrano apartments on Columbia Pike was caught on video. The dramatic video shows firefighters arriving and starting to douse the flames with water. [Statter 911]
‘Taming of the Shrew’ Review — A review of Synetic Theater’s new production of Taming of the Shrew says the physical theater performance “speaks colorful volumes” despite the lack of dialogue. [Broadway World]
Leadership Change at Community Foundation — Arlington Community Foundation Executive Director Wanda Pierce is stepping down next month after eight years of leading the local nonprofit.
Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak