Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that highlights Arlington-based startups, founders, and local tech news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn.
Sip n’ Clip, a portable drink holder for airplanes devised by a local inventor, is ready to take off.
The cup holder that clips into tray tables, which first launched on Kickstarter, is now on available on Amazon. Meanwhile, on the promotional products circuit, it has gotten into the hands of some big clients, according to the company’s founder, Seth LaPierre.
The Clarendon resident, who taught himself 3D printing to design and build a prototype, says getting the product listed by the e-commerce giant was also a big learning curve.
“I thought it was a platform you put stuff on and sell. There are so many layers to selling and marketing on Amazon,” he said.
LaPierre devised the cupholder to slot into tray tables after his wife couldn’t figure out what to do with her coffee cup on a flight to France. As a bonus, he says, it doubles as a phone stand and can hold certain baby bottles. He previously told ARLnow that there is nothing like it, specifically for airplane travel, on the market.
On Amazon, LaPierre aims to get enough reviews for Sip n’ Clip to participate in Amazon Launchpad, a service the company offers to help products get discovered faster.
“My ultimate goal is to be really proficient by the holiday season,” he said.
Earlier this year, LaPierre flew to Las Vegas to look for knock-offs and competitors at the Promotional Products Association International expo. There, he said, he did not find quite anything like it on the show floor.
“I walked 12 miles in one day, talking to people, and some said it was the best thing they had seen in years,” he said. “This was really encouraging because that’s going to be the main core of my business.”
While there, he connected with HALO, which he describes as the largest commercial product distributor in the industry, grossing some $1 billion in branded swag sales. LaPierre says the company asked him to supply Sip n’ Clips to them; after getting everything set up with HALO about a week ago, he is hopeful about the product being introduced to more corporate clients.
Sip n’ Clip will be sponsoring a corporate travel-related event in New York City as well as a airport customer experience symposium in Louisville, Kentucky, hosted by the Alexandria-based American Association of Airport Executives.
“I think that will be a really good growth opportunity and a good way to introduce Sip n’ Clip to airport channels on a larger scale,” LaPierre said. “We already have the Daytona Beach International Airport and the Akron-Canton Airport as customers.”
Additionally, LaPierre submitted a pitch to host his product on the shopping channels QVC and HSN.
“Those are huge things that I’m really excited about,” he said. “Now I’m getting more inbound leads, and people calling me and saying ‘Can you give me a quote?’ instead of me knocking doors.”
Travelers can expect several new eateries and stores at Reagan National Airport later this year.
A travel supply store with “Just Walk Out” technology, a D.C.-based bookstore, a local burger restaurant, and Chinese food chain P.F. Chang’s are all planning to open at DCA at some point this year, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) spokesperson Rob Yingling confirmed to ARLnow.
While a number of those businesses were announced last fall, many are now targeting a summer 2023 debut.
The Goods will be a traditional travel supply store located in Terminal 2 near the D gates, but what will make it unique is use of Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technology. Meaning, customers can exit the store without going through a checkout line because ceiling-mounted cameras and artificial intelligence track selections.
Locals might be familiar with this technology since it is also employed at the Crystal City Amazon Fresh.
Inside “The Goods” will be a “store-within-a-store,” D.C.-based Mahogany Books. The Black-owned independent bookstore has a popular location in Anacostia and the airport shop will be its first location outside of the District.
Mahogany Books will not employ the “Just Walk Out” tech but will have a more “traditional purchasing experience,” per Yingling.
Both The Goods and Mahogany Books inside are expected to start selling this summer.
Also moving into Terminal 2 and near the B gates will be Lucky Buns, a popular burger and chicken sandwich spot originally started in D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood. It’s run by celebrity chef Alex McCoy. The fast-casual spot, which now has several D.C. locations — as well as Baltimore and London outposts which have since closed — is expected to open this summer.
U.S.-based Chinese restaurant chain P.F. Chang’s, meanwhile, is moving into the new $400 million 14-gate concourse that opened in 2021, near the E gates. Despite a recent alcohol permit application, it remains unclear when that restaurant might open to the public.
“We are getting close to the opening of P.F. Chang’s at DCA but don’t have a date to announce yet,” Yingling said.
Over the last two years, DCA has welcomed a number of other popular and local eateries to the airport. Wolfgang Puck Bar + Bites, Peet’s Coffee, Mezeh Mediterranean Grill, Timber Pizza Company, and Elevation Burger have all opened since 2021.
(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) A major storm affecting most of the eastern U.S. and midwest is set to ramp up tomorrow, making for hazardous holiday travel.
Ahead of the storm, the Virginia Dept. of Transportation sent a clear message this afternoon: start your trip now, if you can.
The storm will mostly bring the D.C. area copious amounts of rain starting Thursday morning, along with gusty winds and bitter cold temperatures on Friday. Frozen precipitation beyond some possible snow flurries is not expected in Arlington, but points west and north will likely see snow, sleet and freezing rain.
Along I-81 and the Blue Ridge, the storm is expected to be a high-impact event, and travel on Thursday is “not advised,” VDOT says.
More from a VDOT press release, below.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is advising motorists traveling in and through Virginia to adjust their holiday travel ahead of winter weather expected in parts of the Commonwealth beginning Wednesday night and continuing through Friday.
Travelers are advised to shift holiday travel to Wednesday if possible. Travel on Thursday is not advised, especially through the western regions of Virginia along the Interstate 81 corridor, to avoid potentially hazardous conditions created by forecasted winter weather.
According to current forecasts, wintry precipitation is expected to arrive as soon as 11 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 21 in the southwestern regions of the state, and move northward through the western third of the state, and into portions of northern Virginia through Thursday. Periods of heavy snow are expected along the northern sections of I-81 and the mountain passes including Interstate 64 over Afton Mountain and Rt. 33 between Standardsville and Harrisonburg early Thursday. Temperatures are expected to drop rapidly through the day on Friday leading to the potential for refreeze in areas where the pavement remains wet.
VDOT crews are pretreating roadways and interstates today in anticipation of the weather event.
With extreme low temperatures expected to move in Friday, motorists, if traveling, should pack an emergency kit and blankets, and have mobile devices fully charged in the event of a breakdown or emergency.
“Please continue to monitor forecasts closely as forecasts can improve or worsen quickly,” VDOT said in a separate advisory. “Drivers should expect roads to be impacted Thursday and Friday… Treat anything that looks wet as if it could be icy, especially bridges, ramps, overpasses, and elevated surfaces. If there is snow or ice on roadways, travel is hazardous.”
The transportation agency is currently pretreating roads and “will begin deploying trucks early Thursday morning to treat roads as needed.”
“Adjust travel plans and avoid all nonessential travel during the height of the storm,” VDOT said “This helps to avoid deteriorating conditions and to allow crews room to work.”
A Flood Watch, meanwhile, has been issued for the D.C. area ahead of the rain.
322 PM EST Wed Dec 21 2022
…FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT FROM THURSDAY MORNING THROUGH LATE THURSDAY NIGHT…
* WHAT…Flooding caused by excessive rainfall is possible.
* WHERE…DC and portions of Maryland and northern Virginia, including the following areas: District of Columbia. In Maryland, Anne Arundel, Cecil, Central and Southeast Howard, Central and Southeast Montgomery, Prince Georges, Southeast Harford and Southern Baltimore. In northern Virginia, Arlington/Falls Church/Alexandria, Fairfax and Prince William/Manassas/Manassas Park.
* WHEN…From Thursday morning through late Thursday night.
* IMPACTS…Excessive runoff may result in flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations. Flooding may occur in poor drainage and urban areas.
* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…
– Moderate rainfall is expected Thursday into Thursday evening, with rainfall totals of one to two inches. This may lead to isolated instances of flooding, especially in urban and poor drainage areas.
You should monitor later forecasts and be alert for possible Flood Warnings. Those living in areas prone to flooding should be prepared to take action should flooding develop.
VDOT released the following timeline of expected conditions in Northern Virginia and western zones through Christmas.
Thanksgiving week is here and, based on past polls, that means about 45% of you are traveling.
Our 2015 morning poll on the topic found that most local Thanksgiving travelers — about 75% — will do so by car, while 20% will travel by plane.
With that in mind, we have three key tips for Thanksgiving road and air travelers.
1. If driving, leave earlier or later in the day
Expect plenty of traffic if you’re planning to drive to your destination on Wednesday, but you can avoid some of it by leaving earlier in the morning or later at night. The same applies for those driving back on Saturday or Sunday.
“Based on the traffic data, periods of heavy congestion are most likely to occur from mid-morning to evening on Wednesday, Nov. 23, afternoon on Saturday, Nov. 26, and all day on Sunday, Nov. 27,” said a VDOT press release last week.
Based on a VDOT map of past travel trends, there is likely to be a fair amount of traffic in and out of Northern Virginia on Tuesday as well, particularly around the evening rush hour.
VDOT will be suspending most work zones and lane closures from Nov. 23-28, but that will only marginally ease the traffic onslaught.
2. Reserve your airport parking now
If you’re flying out of Reagan National Airport and planning to drive there, parking is currently widely available in all three lots.
However, you’re unlikely to find much — if any — parking by the time Wednesday rolls around. Fortunately, as of publication, online reservations were still available for Terminal 2 and economy parking.
Meanwhile, if you’re flying out of Dulles International Airport, don’t forget that the new Silver Line extension to Dulles is now open.
3. Drive carefully (and if you don’t, State Police might stop you)
With so many people on the roads, sometimes after having a few drinks, Thanksgiving weekend is sadly a time of many serious crashes nationwide.
That’s why authorities regularly encourage drivers to be extra careful this time of year.
Virginia State Police announced this morning that it would be conducting extra patrols and enforcement for Thanksgiving. More from a press release, below.
For many Virginians, gathering with family and friends is the true meaning for Thanksgiving. Some will even travel long distances to share in these wonderful family moments. Just as important as it is to make sure those pies and casseroles make it to the dinner table safely, motorists need to make their own safety a priority, as well. Virginia State Police is reminding all drivers and passengers of all ages to buckle up this holiday weekend. Preliminary data show that 54% of those who have died in traffic crashes this year were not wearing a seatbelt or safety restraint.*
“The fact that more than half of those who have lost their lives in traffic crashes this year were not wearing a seatbelt is a tragic and inexcusable reality for Virginia,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Your family wants you to arrive safely and clicking a seatbelt can help that happen. Virginia State Police and your loved ones want you to arrive at your destination safely – ditch distractions, comply with posted speed limits, never drive buzzed or drunk, and, again, always buckle up.”
The Memorial Day holiday weekend is almost here and with it comes the kickoff to the unofficial summer travel season.
AAA expects 39.2 million people will travel 50 miles or more this weekend, an increase of 8.3% over 2021. Most — nearly 35 million — will travel by car. Another 3 million will travel by air, a 25% increase from last year, the automobile association predicts.
Overall, that’s still down from the pre-pandemic 2019 figures of 42.8 million overall travelers, including 3.22 million air travelers.
When we asked ARLnow readers about their upcoming travel plans last month, 27% said they had no plans at the time to spend 2+ nights away from home this summer, while 60% said they were planning between one and three trips.
Of course, this Memorial Day weekend comes amid yet another Covid wave that, while less deadly than past waves, still means plenty of disruption to plans and apprehension about visiting vulnerable loved ones. Then there are those sky-high gas prices — a national average of $4.60 per gallon, per AAA.
With all that in mind, today we’re asking readers: are you planning to travel this weekend? And we’ll be comparing the results to a similar poll in 2013 when just shy of 35% said yes (at the time, the federal government sequester was blamed for dampening D.C. area residents’ enthusiasm for holiday travel).
As commuters left to wet roadways this morning, predictions about when rain would switch to snow, and how much snow would fall, shifted.
Arlington is still under a Winter Weather Advisory until 1 p.m. today but Capital Weather Gang reports that the changeover to snow may be delayed in the D.C. area, lowering snow accumulation predictions.
The National Weather Service says snow accumulations up to 1 inch would mostly be on grassy areas. Arlington Public Schools closed today, using the school system’s last traditional snow day, in response to the initial weather advisory that forecast up to 2 inches of snow following rain during the morning commute.
Arlington County Department of Environmental Services tweeted that crews would focus on preventing ice buildup.
“With expectations dwindling for any significant snow today, County crews will focus on preventing ice buildup as temperatures drop below freezing this p.m. and stay there into Sunday. Plan for a slow Friday,” DES posted.
The National Weather Service said to plan on hazardous road conditions, slow down and use caution while driving.
“When venturing outside, watch your first few steps taken on steps, sidewalks, and driveways, which could be icy and slippery, increasing your risk of a fall and injury,” the NWS advisory reads.
Wires were also down in the Lyon Park area, closing a section of Washington Blvd. between 2nd Road N. and 4th Street N., Arlington County Police said.
6:30a update: Switch from rain to snow may be DELAYED until 8 to 10a in DC area. This could lower accumulation potential somewhat to more like a coating to 1" (rather than closer to 2"). But quick burst of snow still possible after switch.
Details: https://t.co/QzFeGlwLwV pic.twitter.com/WTeKasytP4
— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) January 20, 2022
See the latest update to the advisory below.
URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
National Weather Service Baltimore MD/Washington DC
732 AM EST Thu Jan 20 2022
District of Columbia-Southern Baltimore-Prince Georges-
Anne Arundel-Charles-Central and Southeast Montgomery-
Central and Southeast Howard-Southeast Harford-
Prince William/Manassas/Manassas Park-Fairfax-
732 AM EST Thu Jan 20 2022
…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1 PM EST THIS
* WHAT…Rain briefly changing to snow by the end of the morning
commute, with snow accumulations of up to one inch mainly on
* WHERE…The Interstate 95 corridor from northeastern Maryland
through the Fredericksburg area, including the DC and Baltimore
* WHEN…Until 1 PM EST this afternoon.
* IMPACTS…Plan on slippery road conditions. The hazardous
conditions will impact the morning commute.
Slow down and use caution while traveling.
When venturing outside, watch your first few steps taken on
steps, sidewalks, and driveways, which could be icy and slippery,
increasing your risk of a fall and injury.
Folks wanting a weekend trip to Virginia Beach can now catch a luxury motor coach — with leather seats and hot towels — that has regular departures from Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.
Rides with the bus company, ROX, started July 1, 2020, and ended 90 days later as coronavirus cases rose in the fall. Service between Arlington and Virginia Beach started back up in July, and the company is set to bring a Charlottesville-Virginia Beach route online in September.
Today, the Virginia Beach-based company has three motor coaches that seat up to 23 passengers (a normal bus has 56 seats). Buses leave Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Each ROX bus has WiFi, individual charging outlets and chargers available on-demand. Riders can choose from a digital library of books, movies and TV shows, and are served a complimentary meal, snacks and soft drinks, with the option to buy alcohol.
“It’s better than any first class flight you’ve been on,” said ROX founder Jeff McWaters, a businessman and former Virginia state senator, who represented part of Virginia Beach.
McWaters, who founded the health insurance company Amerigroup, got the idea from his personal experience traveling for work between Virginia Beach and D.C.
If all the employees drove, “no one could work, it was dangerous, and we had issues,” he said, while flying was a hassle with frequent delays, and trains had poor WiFi and food.
With ROX, the former senator is looking to invigorate the commercial connection between the two hubs while taking advantage of a growing preference for remote work, with occasional trips to the office.
“We learned during the pandemic, you can work from home, you can work from the park, you can work with a glass of wine, but you can’t work on I-66, working on trains is spotty, and you can’t work on airplane,” he said. “You can work on the ROX.”
So far, most riders are using the bus for leisure, but McWaters predicts business travel will return.
ROX stops at Fashion Centre because it is well-connected and offers shopping and dining, he said. The mall, which offers luggage storage, alos has an Avis rental car outpost, and riders can catch the Metro or a car to get to other parts of Arlington, D.C. or the airport.
“It’s got everything,” he said.
While the bus service was shut down, the company earned income from private charters of a fourth bus. That coach features reclining seats, a kitchen, a sofa and eight televisions, including one outside for tailgating.
The bus has been to “some fun places,” and is set to embark on a 10-day hunting trip to Wyoming this fall, said Janice Tuckman, a sales representative for ROX.
“We picked up group at the The Greenbrier and drove them on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, where they visited distilleries and stayed at an Airbnb. They had a whoopin’ good time, and after four days, headed back to Greenbrier.”
The Courtyard Arlington Rosslyn hotel (1533 Clarendon Blvd) is now under new management as Sonesta Select Arlington Rosslyn.
Although management under Marriott International, Inc. ended on Jan. 31, Boston-based Sonesta International Hotels has been preparing for the transition since last year.
While other hotels shut their doors in 2020, Sonesta started opening them. In fact, Sonesta acquired the Rosslyn hotel and 97 other Marriott-branded hotels in October because the hotelier had fallen behind on payments to property owner Service Properties Trust (SVC), the trust said.
“This is a momentous time for the company, underscoring the continued growth and amplifying the long-term success of Sonesta and its branded hotels,” according to Sonesta’s website.
Last fall, after it said it attempted and failed to collect $11 million in missed payments from the hotel chain, SVC ended its 26-year relationship with Marriott. The international hotel chain lost 122 hotels, which together had only generated $2.6 million in eight months.
Sonesta, which is 34% owned by SVC, took on the management of 98 of the 122 hotels. The remaining 24 hotels were sold for more than $150 million.
“We believe that the rebranding of these hotels with Sonesta will benefit SVC as an owner of Sonesta, create greater flexibility in managing these hotels through these challenging market conditions and have a positive impact on this portfolio’s performance in the future,” said SVC President and CEO John Murray in a statement last fall.
Sonesta has experienced 350% growth in less than six months, and will soon have 300 operating properties across seven brands operating in North and South America, Egypt and St. Maarten, according to a press release.
The growth comes amid early signs of recovery in the hard-hit hotel industry. Still, travel is not projected to bounce back fully until 2024, according to some projections.
Photo courtesy Sonesta
Yesterday, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that Americans should avoid travelling during the holiday season, but get tested if they do travel.
“Cases are rising. Hospitalizations are increasing, Deaths are increasing. We need to try to bend the curve, stop this exponential increase,” said the CDC’s incident manager for the COVID-19 pandemic, as quoted by USA Today.
The federal agency has additional guidance for family holiday gatherings on its website.
Despite the CDC’s advice, many will still travel, gather and celebrate. Today we’re wondering how many Arlingtonians are planning to head out of town for Hanukkah, Christmas or the new year.
Are you planning to travel this holiday season?
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Prosecutor Files Petition Against Judges — “A northern Virginia prosecutor who says her county’s judges are infringing on her discretion to dismiss charges and enter plea bargains is asking the state Supreme Court to intervene on her behalf. Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti filed a petition Friday asking the court for a relief from a policy imposed by the county’s four Circuit Court judges.” [Associated Press]
New BBQ Pop-Up Coming to Pentagon City — “In their spare time [chefs Kevin Tien and Scott Chung] dreamed up Wild Tiger BBQ, which launches Thursday, August 20 next to Bun’d Up at Pentagon Row in Arlington. The pop-up will run Thursday through Saturday for the first few weeks.” [Washingtonian]
‘Bumper Crop of Mosquitos’ — “With the floods of summer come the pests of summer — bloodsucking mosquitoes. It takes several days to a couple of weeks for mosquitoes to hatch, molt and fly out of floodwater, but the swarms eventually arrive, in greater numbers than before the flood. After the recent flooding from thunderstorms and Tropical Storm Isaias in the Washington region, a bumper crop of mosquitoes has emerged.” [Washington Post]
Retired Colonel Helps With COVID Response — “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early March, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel David Ashley quickly found his planned spring and summer mountain climbing trips canceled. He spent about a week doing projects around his Arlington home, but after 27 years in the military, he realized he need something else, something with more purpose.” [Arlington County]
Cab Exec’s Offensive Post Makes Headlines — “An elected town council member in Strasburg, Va., who also is chairman of the 6th Congressional District’s Republican Committee admitted this week that he posted, then removed, a sexually offensive meme targeted at Sen. Kamala D. Harris… [John] Massoud, who is vice president of Arlington’s Blue Top taxi service and was an unsuccessful candidate against ex-Del. Bob Brink for a House of Delegates seat from Arlington in 1997 and 1999, moved to the Shenandoah Valley about 10 years ago.” [Washington Post]
Analysis of Rents Near Metro Stations — “The most expensive rents ($2,200 and up) are found in areas of Arlington and Washington, DC. Rent near the Ballston-MU station is in the mid-range among DC Metro stops. But while the median price increased near Court House, it decreased near Ballston-MU, according to the analysis. The median rent for a one-bedroom unit near Ballston-MU is $1,975, a 1.3 percent decrease from 2019.” [Patch]
Clement Rips Dems for Redistricting Stance — “An independent candidate for Arlington County Board has criticized the Arlington County Democratic Committee for its opposition to a nonpartisan-redistricting constitutional amendment on the state ballot in November. Audrey Clement, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Libby Garvey for County Board, said the Democrats’ vote seems disingenuous for a party that claims to be about good government.” [InsideNova]
Arlington Makes Top Travel Destination List — “For all the talk of a move to small, less densely populated destinations, Hotwire also ranked much bigger cities. Its ‘midsize must see’ picks were St. Louis; Tampa, Florida; Atlanta; Arlington, Virginia; Tucson, Arizona; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Pittsburgh; Miami; and Cincinnati.” [CNBC]
A three-day Fourth of July weekend is fast approaching.
This would usually be one of the busiest travel times of the year. Instead, airports have barely a quarter of the travellers as last year, and traffic maps are mostly a sea of green. The pandemic has affected nearly all aspects of normal life, including the willingness of people to leave one’s house and visit other places or people.
The anemic level of air travel is expected to continue, though driving may take up some of the slack: this summer is being dubbed the summer of the road trip.
How has coronavirus affected the Independence Day travel plans of Arlingtonians? Let’s find out.