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.
County Moves to ‘Phase 4’ of Snow Cleanup — With all residential streets passable, Arlington County has moved to “Phase 4” of its snow removal operation. “Phase 4 will focus on clean up, widening primary and secondary routes, as well as addressing trouble spots in residential areas,” the county said. “Widening and hauling snow from major corridors will continue at night when it is safest — we will do our best to minimize disruption, but please expect some noise.” [Arlington County]
Heavy Traffic Again This Morning — Pretty much the entire stretch of northbound I-395 was a parking lot this morning, as the D.C. area continued to get back to work following this past weekend’s blizzard. Other traffic problem spots include eastbound Route 50, which was backed up starting around Courthouse, Washington Blvd around the Pentagon, and the southbound GW Parkway, which slowed near the first overlook.
McMenamin Digs Out Maywood Neighbors — One Arlington neighborhood that was particularly slow to be plowed after the blizzard was Maywood, along Lee Highway. Residents pitched in to clear the streets, including former independent County Board candidate Mike McMenamin, who “brought out his powerful snowblower and carved out walkways, driveways and helped clear a path for an Uber driver whose Chevy Suburban got stuck at the height of the storm.” [Washington Post]
Video: Marymount Swimmers Train in Florida — Want to think warm thoughts after this morning’s icy commute? Here’s a video of Arlington-based Marymount University’s swim team taking a recent training trip to Key West. [YouTube]
Photo courtesy Valerie Crotty
— Ben Celestino (@bencelestino) January 24, 2016
— Michael Peloquin (@mmp7700) January 23, 2016
Want to relive the snowstorm? Two new time-lapse videos from ARLNow readers show the effects of “Snowzilla” as it blanketed the area this weekend.
Another video that Youtube user Josh Wagner shot from his apartment in Pentagon City shows the monster storm’s progression between Friday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 8 a.m.
The pace of road paving in Arlington has more than tripled in the past five years, according to newly-released stats.
A new county-produced video (above) states that Arlington paved 91 lane miles of roadway in 2015. That’s up from 25 lane miles paved in 2009 and 30 lane miles paved in 2010.
Arlington County made “significant investments in road paving in 2015,” the video says, calling it “a banner year for roadwork.” The total cost of the paving program last year: $13 million.
The previously lethargic pace of road paving, combined with a number of unusually harsh winters, led to complaints from residents that Arlington’s roads were in poor shape, especially for a county that prides itself on providing a high level of government services.
The tide started to turn with the adoption of the FY 2013-2022 Capital Improvement Plan, which called for paving at least 72 lane miles per year to put the county back on an engineer-recommended 15 year paving cycle. Arlington has a total of 974 lane miles of county-maintained roadway.
In 2015, Arlington County paved portions of a number of major local roads, including Crystal Drive, Columbia Pike, Washington Blvd near Lee Hwy, and Army Navy Drive. The county was also especially proactive about filling potholes last year, filling 12,100 compared to the previous five-year average of 6,600 per year.
Mike Moon, Deputy Director of Operations for Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services, touted the county’s paving progress.
“The 91 lane miles we paved in 2015 was a doubling of our effort compared to 2012,” Moon said. “It was a significant effort and we’re really pleased with how the paving program went this year.”
The proof is in the pudding! Parks with game winner! 42-41 over Marshall – Boom! pic.twitter.com/OO4C5vqvWZ
— Wakefield Athletics (@WakeAthletics) January 13, 2016
A three-point shot with time expiring gave the Wakefield boys varsity basketball team the win at home over Marshall last night.
Trailing 35-41 with 3:28 to go, the Warriors’ defense stepped up and the team battled back to 39-41. With just seconds on the clock, Deng Nhial received an inbound pass and then fired it to Halil Parks, who was standing just beyond the three point line.
Parks drained the three with a jump shot for the game-winner, sending teammates and fans storming onto the court to celebrate the victory.
Arlington County released its year end video this week, highlighting how the community has progressed over the last twelve months.
The video, titled “Our Path Forward,” begins with County Board members reflecting on a difficult 2014 and being able overcome various challenges — unspoken but implied: the cancellation of Arlington’s planned streetcar project.
“Last year, we had some distractions,” said Jay Fisette. “We had a lot of angst in the community.”
Libby Garvey shared concerns over whether the Board could effectively address those tensions this year.
“There were a number of challenges facing us,” she said. “Can we properly manage change? That was a reasonable concern and definitely a challenge.”
One of the most prominent of those is housing. In the video, Board members cited the recent approval of the redevelopment of Arlington Presbyterian Church into affordable housing and the opening of the Homeless Services Center as major improvements in that category.
“Being there for the opening of that center was one of the highlights, by far,” Walter Tejada said in the video. “Frankly, if there’s a community in the United States of America that has a chance of ending homelessness, Arlington is it.”
The video also highlighted public-private and public-public collaborations the County established in the last year, including the Ballston mall renovations those that are still developing, like the land sale or swap with Virginia Center Hospital.
“It is all about partnership and how we can work together in a cooperative and synergistic fashion,” John Vihstadt said. “The County Board and the School Board are also working much more collaboratively than they have in the past.”
“That process was the epitome of what we can do and do well as a community,” Fisette said.
(Updated at 4 p.m.) Once one of Arlington’s top 5 intersections for collisions — particularly those involving pedestrians and cyclists — the “Intersection of Doom” in Rosslyn now isn’t even in the top 25.
Safety improvements at the intersection have dramatically reduced accidents at the intersection of Lynn Street and Lee Highway, said Larry Marcus, the county’s head of transportation engineering, in a new county-produced video.
The county faced a challenge with the intersection: how to design quick and relatively inexpensive improvements at an intersection where 1,700 bicyclists per day try to cross a street also being crossed by 600 vehicles per hour exiting I-66.
“The obvious thing to do is separate these movements,” Marcus said.
Bicyclists and pedestrians now get a 10 second head start to start crossing Lynn Street while the traffic exiting I-66 waits at a red light with an illuminated no right turn signal. Pedestrians and cyclists then get a don’t cross signal while traffic turning right onto Lynn Street clears out.
Those relatively simple “operational improvements,” along with traffic enforcement and a public education campaign by Arlington County police, have dropped the intersection out of the county’s top 25 most crash-prone, Marcus says.
Despite the improvement, Marcus said the county is getting ready to begin a planning process for a more permanent solution to pedestrian-car conflicts at the intersection.
“There’s certainly an opportunity to build something,” he said.
Remy Munasifi, the maestro behind the timeless Arlington Rap, has a new music video that’s sure to attract some attention.
Rather than parodying Arlington and its many brown flip flops and Starbucks, Remy has this time turned his comic crosshairs on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Borrowing the hook from Drake’s “Started From the Bottom,” Remy skewers Trump’s statement at a Today Show town hall event this week: “It has not been easy for me… I started off in Brooklyn, my father gave me a small loan of a million dollars.”
Throughout the video Remy juxtaposes Trump’s “I’m really rich” braggadocio with images of his failed business ventures.
Remy produced the music video for ReasonTV, which is part of the libertarian think tank Reason Foundation. Reason has been critical of Trump’s brand of politics, particularly his anti-immigration stances.
Clarendon filmmaker Mike Kravinsky is back with a new movie.
“Geographically Desirable” tells the story of Nicole, a TV news reporter whose life is turned upside down after she inherits a house in a small town and a dog from her recently deceased uncle. As she gets to know the town and its inhabitants, Nicole has to decide between the big city and small town lives.
“She gets to experience something other than the life of news. She lives and breathes this stuff,” Kravinsky said.
While Nicole will have to decide between the two lives, audiences members may not know which one she chooses. Kravinsky purposely chose to have an open ending for the movie.
“My thoughts were both lifestyles are good as long as there is balance,” he said.
Kravinsky is no stranger to the late nights that come with TV news. An editor with ABC News for 29 years, it would be fair to say that he lived and breathed the “life of news.” He decided to take a buyout in 2010 and turned to filmmaking. He released a web video-series in 2011 about a middle-aged man deciding what to do after being fired.
“This is sort of my second career,” he said.
While Kravinsky’s ABC career taught him how to use different camera equipment, he said creating and editing a film was completely different.
“People think if you can edit [for news], you can edit [for film], and that’s not true,” Kravinsky said.
Changing from a facts-only news mindset to a more creative one was also a challenge, he said. In news, reporters are telling someone else’s story, but when it comes to filmmaking, the creators have a chance to tell their own, he added.
“With writing fiction, every character is you in some way,” he said. “And every character’s experience comes from your own. It’s nice in a way because the story is some version of you and how you see life. I guess that’s the best way to describe it.”
New Homeless Shelter to Open Next Month? — Months delayed, Arlington’s new year-round homeless shelter is getting closer to opening. The facility in Courthouse, located across the street from police headquarters, is now expected to open by late September or early October. [InsideNova]
Orange Line Delays Reported — Passengers are reporting delays of 10-20 minutes on the Orange Line this morning. Metro says inbound trains are indeed delayed from Vienna. No problems have been reported with Silver Line trains so far. [Twitter]
County Producing International Tourist Videos — Arlington County is working with the group Brand USA to produce tourism videos aimed at international visitors. Filming took place around various Arlington landmarks last month. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Mark White
Last year, two kittens rescued by the Animal Welfare League of Arlington became Internet sensations thanks to a viral video of them dancing to the hit song “Turn Down for What.”
This year, another AWLA kitten is getting some Internet love. Winnie, a foster kitten, stars in a video of her “dancing” to the tune of Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ pop hit “Uptown Funk.”
Since the video was uploaded to YouTube in May, it has received more than 600,000 views.
The AWLA wasn’t able to provide much information about Winnie, but did confirm that she was a foster kitten and has apparently since been adopted.
“Our foster coordinator recognizes the video kitten as one we had in the spring,” said league COO Susan Sherman.
Sherman said the organization, through its foster program, helps to rescue hundreds of kittens over the course of the summer. More kittens like Winnie, along with adult cats, are currently available for adoption.
“Kittens go to foster care when they are too young and sometimes too unsocial (feral) for adoption,” she said. “Once they reach two pounds in weight and are socialized to people, they come back to the shelter for adoption. We currently have nine kittens up for adoption and 24 in foster care who will be available in the next few weeks. Every summer our foster families help 200-300 kittens.”
ITT Tech Protest Only Included One Student — A protest outside ITT Tech’s shareholder meeting in Rosslyn earlier this week reportedly included only one person who had actually been a student at the for-profit school. The rest were from advocacy groups and a labor union. [Inside Higher Ed]
New Food Delivery Service Comes to Arlington — DoorDash, an online food delivery business that promises to get food to your door in 45 minutes or less, has launched in Arlington. DoorDash joins similar food delivery services like Seamless and Eat24 in entering the Arlington market. [WUSA 9]
Arlington Teacher Recognized at the White House — Arlington Career Center teacher Thomas O’Day was one of 10 educators nationwide to be honored as a 2015 Career and Technical Education Innovator. O’Day, who has been teaching television production at the career center for 27 years, received his recognition at an event hosted by the White House. [Arlington Public Schools]
New Affordable Housing Video — The group Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE) is producing a series of videos in support of affordable housing efforts in Arlington. The first video profiles Marcos Rubio, a janitor at H-B Woodlawn who currently commutes from the Springfield area. [Vimeo]
House Fire in Alcova Heights — A small house fire broke out on the 3800 block of 6th Street S. in the Alcova Heights neighborhood around 7:00 this morning. The fire was extinguished and no one was hurt. [Twitter]
Fairfax County Approves Seven Corners Plan — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this week approved a sweeping redevelopment plan for the Seven Corners area, near Arlington. The plan, which was fought by residents in nearby single family home neighborhoods, calls for several thousand new homes, a revamped street grid and new shops and restaurants. [Washington Post]
Arlington County has released a series of public service announcement videos touting the benefits of affordable housing.
The 30-second “Faces of Affordable Housing” videos were created in advance of hearings scheduled for September on the county’s proposed Affordable Housing Master Plan. The draft plan calls for the creating of 15,800 new affordable housing units by 2040.
The videos, which were published on YouTube and will air on the county-run Arlington TV cable channel, include the tagline, “Affordable housing, a foundation for our future.”
The video above is intended to show how the county’s affordable housing program “creates community and helps people age in place. Other videos show how the program:
The partnership began in late 2013, when AHS President John Richardson approached WETA digital manager Mark Jones about starting a video web series. According to AHS spokesman Garrett Peck — also the subject of the above video — Jones immediately took to the idea, and they’ve produced a video a month since.
“The videos have really helped a lot of awareness,” Peck said. Each video is paired with AHS’s monthly lecture series, with topics like local brewing, Arlington’s fire department and a noted local civil rights leader. “Mark interviews each speaker about a month beforehand. It’s a nice little promo and it stays online forever.”
Considering the nonprofit’s interest in permanence, Peck said he’s enjoyed WETA creating a library of sorts of the short videos they’ve produced.
“It’s a permanent record of history, and people really like seeing video,” Peck said. “That’s the way people want their information nowadays.”
For sneak peeks into the next video and speaker program, you can visit AHS’ website. Coming up next month: a history of the Arlington County Police Department.
Video of ESPN reporter and WJLA alumna Britt McHenry’s dealings with Advanced Towing after her car was towed from the Hunan One parking lot in Clarendon earlier this month has been leaked.
LiveLeak, an open-source video sharing platform, published the video today, which was promptly amplified by the sports site Deadspin. McHenry can be seen and heard berating the towing lot’s employee, insulting her education, teeth and weight. During the video, the employee warns McHenry “I’ll play your video, so be careful.”
On April 6, McHenry tweeted that she was towed from Hunan One’s parking lot. When we asked for clarification, she said she had been eating dinner at the restaurant and therefore was legally parked and, apparently, improperly towed. McHenry has since taken down her initial tweet.
With that story, we asked readers if tow companies were doing their job or preying on their customers. Of the 2,740 poll responses, 2,298 — 83.9 percent — answered “They’re mostly shady predators out to make a buck.”
After the video went viral on the Internet this afternoon, McHenry tweeted an apology.
“In an intense and stressful moment, I allowed my emotions to get the best of me and said some insulting and regrettable things,” she said. “As frustrated as I was, I should always choose to be respectful and take the high road. I am so sorry for my actions and will learn from this mistake.”
In Britt McHenry’s defense, the advanced Towing people are the most revolting company. Cash only and they don’t make change.
— Tom Bridge (@tbridge) April 16, 2015
The thing is: they taunt you the whole time you’re there instead of just charging your card and letting you go.
— Tom Bridge (@tbridge) April 16, 2015
Have been towed 4x by Advanced Towing, all from my home lot where I have permit. They held car hostage, had no time to argue, paid $135 4x.
— Brad Dayspring (@BDayspring) April 16, 2015
@971theticketxyt if you've ever seen Advanced Towing and the way they operate, you'd think Britt didn't go far enough.
— Kevin H. Watson (@Kevin_H_Watson) April 16, 2015
An ARLnow.com reporter went to Advanced Towing’s lot in Ballston this afternoon, and was given an email address to contact the owner. The owner has not yet responded to our inquiry.
Warning: Explicit language