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Rāko at 2016 Wilson Blvd remains closed due to what a sign says is an “out of order” espresso machine.

The Courthouse coffee shop has reportedly been closed since at least early this month. A handwritten sign remains outside of the store noting it is “temporarily closed” and that the “espresso machine [is] out of order… we are sorry for the inconvenience.”

The cafe’s interior appears to be unchanged, with furniture set up and the suspect espresso machine still sitting on the counter.

A number of readers have written to ARLnow asking if the closure is permanent due to how long it’s been closed.

“Hi! I am desperate to know what happened to Rako coffee shop in Courthouse. They have had a sign up that their espresso machine is getting fixed for about three weeks?” read one email. “Seems like a bad sign. No phone number or notice on Google/their website. I love their business and it fills a much needed local coffee gap around here!”

ARLnow has reached out to the company and a spokesperson multiple times but has yet to hear back.

Lorton-based Rāko Coffee opened its first brick-and-mortar shop in August 2021. A year ago, the coffee shop signed a lease to open a new location at Amazon’s HQ2.

The row of shops and restaurants along the 2000 block of Wilson Blvd will be dealing with a notable challenge for the next couple of years: construction activity on the former Wendy’s lot, at the top of the block, potentially driving away some customers.

George Ishak, owner of Burger District at 2024 Wilson Blvd, told ARLnow this week that some safety measures are hurting business.

“There’s a new construction starting in the adjacent plot of land but the thing is that they have put a fence in front of my store and also fenced around the tree pit that is exactly in from of my store entrance,” he said. “I filed a complaint with Arlington County requesting to remove the fence in front of my store and around the tree pit since this is negatively impacting my small business.”

Update on 11/19/22 — It appears that the business may owe money to Arlington County, as seen in the photos below.

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A new vintage clothing shop owned by a Washington-Liberty grad is looking to open in Clarendon next week.

People’s Place Blvd is opening up at 3179 Wilson Blvd, a prime spot near Clarendon Ballroom and Spider Kelly’s. The plan is to open on Saturday, Nov. 12, co-owner Fabricio Gamarra tells ARLnow. The store will specialize in buying, selling, and trading vintage clothing.

Gamarra is a 2018 graduate of Washington-Liberty High School and grew up in Arlington. He was previously the manager of the People’s Place location in Manassas but is partnering with that store’s ownership to open his own shop closer to home. It will feature his brand Forbiiidden Vintage.

He’s also the founder of the Barcroft-based pop-up flea market Euphoria, which was so popular two years ago that it went viral on TikTok and resulted in traffic jams in the neighborhood after people flocked to the market from miles around.

Gamarra soon realized the popularity of what he was doing and wanted to expand to a brick and mortar storefront. He found one in the hole-in-the-wall, office and retail space above Spider Kelly’s.

Clarendon is a great place to open his new vintage shop, he said, because of the clientele.

“The area is a popular scene for a lot of kids who are into fashion,” Gamarra said. “Obviously, there’s a lot more income [here]… than in Manassas.”

While he was previously doing plenty of business online and at other local markets, the pull of opening a brick-and-mortar location was too much.

“Having a flea market once or twice a year is cool, but I wanted to open up more opportunities… I like to have that face-to-face connection with other people,” Gamarra said.

There are relatively few vintage clothing shops in Arlington. There’s Current Boutique, which advertises itself as a consignment shop and is located about a half mile away from where People’s Place Blvd is opening. There’s also Amalgamated Costume and Design on Langston Blvd, which is both a store and a rental provider for film, TV and stage productions.

Gamarra said that with more customers turning to small businesses and the “fast fashion” trend waning, people are looking for vintage clothing shops where they can buy and trade back clothes when they are done wearing them.

“People will be able to stop by and recycle their clothing or trade it in for other clothing that they are buying,” he said. “I think buy, sell, trade [shops] are vital.”

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The new Foxtrot store in Rosslyn (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

Boutique market Foxtrot‘s newest location in Rosslyn is aiming to open in mid-December.

With window stickers now up, a company spokesperson confirmed to ARLnow that the Foxtrot at 1771 N. Pierce Street in Rosslyn could open its doors within six weeks.

“We are looking at the second week of December,” District Manager Adriana Stavreva wrote in an email.

The initial estimate for the store’s opening right off of Wilson Blvd, basically next door to the year-old Fire Station 10, was “early fall,” but that’s been pushed back by at least a couple of months.

Chicago-based Foxtrot is a delivery-focused upscale corner market and cafe. It makes much of its inventory — everything from a rainbow-sprinkled crispy cake to non-alcoholic whiskey — available for delivery within an hour.

ARLnow reported in April that the company was opening a Rosslyn location, part of a local aggressive expansion that includes several other planned stores in the region. A Foxtrot location opened in Old Town Alexandria earlier this year and another is currently open in Georgetown.

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The sun has set on the British-inspired Salt Pot Kitchen in Ballston Quarter Market.

The “upscale British street food” eatery closed down its Quarter Market stall back in early August, co-owner Wendy Salt confirmed to ARLnow. Salt Pot first opened there in May, making its run rather short.

“Our contract was only ever for 3 months as a trial run/pop-up. There was always going to be an option to extend, which we would have been happy to consider but it just never got busy enough,” she wrote ARLnow. “Other opportunities came our way, and we have been busy exploring those since August.”

Salt also noted that they are not completely gone from Ballston, keeping a presence at the weekly farmers market on Thursday evenings until mid-November.

“This has been very successful, and we have many repeat customers every week,” Salt said.

The restaurant also continues to sell its food online.

Salt Pot Kitchen is from the Loudoun County-based mother-son team of Wendy and Charlie Salt and the mall stall was their first brick-and-mortar location. It served traditional English fare, like sausage rolls, meat pies, soups, and Wiltshire plaits.

The stall where Salt Pot Kitchen was, near the escalator and across from Bollywood Bistro, is currently dark, as it’s been since August. There’s no word as of yet on what new tenant might move in.

Prior to the British eatery, the stall was the home of Rogi. That pierogi pop-up, which replaced Italian spot Cucina al Volo, closed early this year, making way for Salt Pot Kitchen in the spring.

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Nightlife venue Wilson Hardware in Clarendon is now back fully reopened after a million-dollar renovation.

The five-year-old restaurant underwent a significant facelift over the last several months that added a new garden terrace, expanded the rooftop, redesigned the interior dining space, and redid the menu.

While Wilson Hardware never fully closed, the nightlife venue and restaurant on 2915 Wilson Blvd made its new and improved debut this past week.

The three-level venue now has distinct spaces on each level and the intent is to be open year-round. The rooftop added a retractable awning so it’s now “suitable for all seasons.”

“Overall, the team wanted to reinvest in the space that has served the Arlington community for five years strong and create a more elevated atmosphere for guests, giving them the chance to experience three distinct environments in one setting,” a restaurant spokesperson told ARLnow about why they decided to embark on the renovation.

Wilson Hardware opened in the late summer of 2017. Its name is in homage to the hardware store that occupied that space for decades prior before closing in 2005. After that, Ri Ra Irish Pub moved in before making way for Wilson Hardware.

The concept for the revamp is “industrial-chic” while also emphasizing greenery and floral decor.

“The redesigned dining space on the first level features updated seating in a sleek, industrial-style setting,” reads the press release. The second level includes lounge seating for cocktail hour and double doors that lead out to a newly-designed garden terrace, where guests can grab a drink from the bar outside or order a bite to eat at several dining tables. The third-level rooftop bar is nearly doubled in size and features floral decor reminiscent of its downstairs terrace as well as a retractable awning to block out the sun on hot days or keep the winter breeze at bay.”

There’s also a bit of a reworked menu that includes several new options like truffle hanger steak and garlic shrimp skillet. In terms of cocktails, the major addition is the PSM — yes, that’s a pumpkin spice martini with vodka, Kahlua, pumpkin liqueur, and espresso. Brunch has also been extended on Sundays until 6 p.m.

Back in July, a small fire broke out reportedly at or near the roof of Wilson Hardware. There’s no word back from the restaurant as of the publication if the fire was indeed at the restaurant and related to the renovation.

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Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop in Rosslyn appears to have made its last sub.

The Delaware-founded and currently Las Vegas-based fast-casual sandwich chain seems to have closed its eatery on the ground floor of 1500 Wilson Blvd, across from the Target. Closed signs are posted on its doors, while equipment inside has been moved out.

Additionally, the store seems to have been scrubbed from Capriotti’s website.

ARLnow has reached out to the company to confirm its closure in Rosslyn but has yet to hear back as of publication.

Capriotti’s first opened on Wilson Blvd in August 2014 to considerable fanfare, with people camped out in order to get free sandwiches for a year. It was part of a torrid expansion for the company, with a number of other locations also opening in the D.C. area around the same time.

The sandwiches were famed for being a favorite of now-President Joe Biden, who attended the opening of the first Capriotti’s in D.C. in 2013 and reportedly liked to tell people that the shop was proof that Delaware makes the best sandwiches. During the first week of November 2020 and with Biden on his way to becoming the 46th president, sales rose by about 30% at the Capriotti’s in Rosslyn.

Despite that brief uptick in sales, though, it was already clear that Capriotti’s was struggling to generate enough sandwich sales to maintain its expanded presence in area. The location in Dupont Circle closed in 2018 and the location in Arlington was the last of the shops in the region.

The closest Capriotti’s currently open is in Chester, Maryland, southeast of Baltimore. An outpost is also reportedly coming to Dulles International Airport, which brings to mind the fact that the last Virginia location of once high-flying regional chain Taylor Gourmet is still slinging sandwiches at Reagan National Airport.

The first Capriotti’s opened in Wilmington, Delaware in 1976. It now has more than 100 locations and is based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Clarendon’s Maison Cheryl says it is not closing for good but rather undergoing a “fall refresh.”

Over the last week, ARLnow has received several emails from readers asking whether the French-American bistro had closed permanently.

That does not appear to be the case. The restaurant is planning to reopen on Monday (Oct. 3) after a two-week hiatus for repairs, to hire staff, and complete training, a spokesperson confirmed to ARLnow.

“We are simply changing with the season! We’ve had some maintenance and repairs done on the inside of the restaurant. We also hired a new General Manager, Jody Sultan, that we are very excited about,” the spokesperson wrote in an email. “She’s bringing some great staff with her and we are currently training and implementing some new processes so that we are ready to hit the ground running when we reopen fully on Monday, October 3rd. Our new fall menu will be debuting along with the reopening.”

Maison Cheryl first opened about a year ago at 2900 Wilson Blvd near the intersection with N. Fillmore Street. As chef and co-owner Robert Maher told ARLnow at the time, the restaurant’s aim was to be a great date night spot for “older millennials” in a neighborhood that often caters to a younger crowd. It has garnered generally favorable reviews online, with many of the less favorable reviews mentioning the pricing.

With Maher being a trained French chef, the cuisine is billed as “French-New American.” Popular dishes include the Maison Wagyu burger, duck breast, and bucatini with fried burrata in a zucchini sauce.

Earlier this year, Maher shared with ARLnow that Covid concerns and difficulty securing an outdoor seating permit were posing some challenges for the relatively new eatery in a storefront that has seen some turnover. However, he expressed optimism at the time that it was going to all work out in Clarendon and, possibly, beyond.

“One day, I might think of [opening] another one, but right now just trying to become a staple in the community,” he said. “I’m having the time of my life doing that.”

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Chicken + Whiskey moves into Clarendon (photo courtesy of Twitter/David Kinney)

(Updated at 5 p.m.) Chicken + Whiskey is crossing the river to get to Clarendon.

The new South American rotisserie chicken restaurant and whiskey bar is hoping to open this spring, co-owner Des Reilly confirmed to ARLnow.

Permitting and construction remain ongoing in the nearly 6,000 square-foot space at 3033 Wilson Blvd, where window stickers are now advertising the restaurant. One sticker reads, “Chicken in the front, Whiskey in the back.”

The new eatery and bar moves into a space that was formerly occupied by Hunan Number One, which closed three years ago. It will be in the same building as Waterhouse Coffee and the newly-opened Bar Ivy while across the street from Mexicali Blues.

The menu consists of Peruvian chicken, homemade sauces, sides like yucca fries and black beans, and a wide selection of whiskeys. There are also cocktails, churro donuts, arepas, and salads.

This will be Chicken + Whiskey’s fourth location, but first outside of the District. The restaurant is led by Chef Enrique Limardo who is “commonly credited as the pioneer of modern Venezuelan cooking in the U.S.,” per Huffington Post. He’s also the head chef at Immigrant Food and D.C.’s Seven Reasons, which was named 2019’s best new restaurant in the country by at least one publication.

Reilly said that the reason Clarendon was chosen as the next location for Chicken + Whiskey is that they believe good Peruvian chicken is “missing” from the neighborhood.

“In my opinion, we are the best in the DMV,” he said. “No one is doing what we are doing at this price point.”

That section of Wilson Blvd, the two blocks between N. Highland Street and N. Fillmore Street, has been undergoing some changes recently. Bar Ivy opened this summer while the former sports bar G.O.A.T. is being converted into a bank. Meanwhile, Maison Cheryl is currently closed for a “fall refresh.” Just beyond N. Fillmore Street, buzzy Middle Eastern restaurant Tawle is looking to open in the spring as well.

Hat tip to David Kinney

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Street scene from Clarendon Day 2017 (file photo)

A number of in-person events are back in Arlington this weekend after extended pandemic-related hiatuses. With those, though, comes road closures.

Clarendon Day is returning this Saturday (Sept. 24) for the first time since 2019. One of Arlington’s largest street festivals, the event will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and include music, food, vendors, and art.

There will be road closures throughout the neighborhood, including large swaths of Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd. The closures will begin in the middle of the night, around 3 a.m., and go as late as 10 p.m.

The closures include:

  • Wilson Boulevard, from N. Highland Street to Washington Boulevard
  • Clarendon Boulevard, from Washington Boulevard to N. Garfield Street
  • N. Highland Street, from 11th Street N. to Wilson Boulevard
  • N. Herndon Street, from Wilson Boulevard to alleyway behind CVS
  • N. Hudson Street, from Wilson Boulevard to alleyway behind CVS
  • Southbound N. Highland Street, from N. Hartford Street to Wilson Boulevard
Clarendon Day 2022 road closures (image via ACPD)

The Prio Bangla Multicultural Street Fair is also making its comeback after a pandemic hiatus, taking place on Saturday (Sept. 24) in the Arlington Heights neighborhood between Columbia Pike and the Arlington Career Center. The annual festival has been going on for about a decade.

There’s only one road closure related to this event and that’s 9th Street S. from S. Highland Street to S. Walter Reed Drive. The closure will be from 6 a.m. Saturday until midnight on Sunday (Sept. 25).

There are also two events in the Shirlington and Green Valley neighborhoods this weekend.

Beckett’s Celtic Festival is also set for Saturday in the Village of Shirlington. Campbell Avenue from S. Randolph Street to 28th Street S. (the alleyway near the Harris Teeter) will be closed from 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Finally, Valley Fest is taking place near Four Mile Run Drive on Sunday. The beer-centric event, organized by New District Brewery, did take place last year. The festival is set to begin around noon and go until 5 p.m.

S. Oakland Street, from S. Four Mile Run Drive to S. Nelson Street, will be closed to traffic from 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. on Sunday to accommodate the event.

Valley Fest 2022 road closures (image via ACPD)

Arlington County police are cautioning that roads may be congested with vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the areas around these events, asking drivers to “remain alert.”

Parking will be restricted and there will be a larger police presence in the area, according to ACPD.

“Street parking near the events may be restricted. Motorists should be on the lookout for temporary ‘No Parking’ signs. Illegally parked vehicles may be ticketed or towed,” said a press release. “If your vehicle is towed from a public street, call the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222.”

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(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) Arlington might be getting chalupas for Christmas.

The new Taco Bell Cantina at 2039 Wilson Blvd in Courthouse is aiming for a December opening, a company spokesperson tells ARLnow.

The fast food restaurant is currently in the midst of training and hiring for “all positions from assistant managers to team members for all types of hours,” the spokesperson said.

Flyers advertising the job openings can be seen stapled to trees around the neighborhood.

It was first reported in May that a Taco Bell was coming to Courthouse. The location looks — at least in part — to be an effort to appeal to the late-night, hungry crowds leaving the nearby bars.

The main difference between a regular Taco Bell (there’s a location on Langston Blvd) and a Taco Bell Cantina is that the Cantina sells alcohol, including beer, wine, sangria and — just in time for the cold winter months — brightly colored frozen cocktails called “Twisted Freezes.”

There are two other Taco Bell Cantina locations in the region, including in D.C.’s Columbia Heights neighborhood and on King Street in Old Town Alexandria.

Those locations are quite popular and can get crowded, which is why the forthcoming Courthouse location will have three food production lines, as opposed to two, general manager Tim Morgan told ARLnow.

“We want to get service and food out faster,” he said.

There will also be a walk-up window “to streamline mobile orders,” per the company spokesperson.

The space at 2039 Wilson Blvd was previously home to Guarapo Lounge, a Peruvian bar, restaurant and hookah lounge. It closed almost six years ago and the space has not had a new tenant until now.

This is also a return to the neighborhood for Taco Bell. The fast food chain once had a standalone location on the hill between Courthouse and Rosslyn, near where the 7-Eleven and Ace Hardware now sit. It closed about a decade ago, along with Dr. Dremo’s, to make way for new development.

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A 3D image of the proposed Courthouse West development on Wilson Blvd (image via Arlington County)

The Arlington County Board is finally set to vote this weekend on the potential height of a new development coming to Wilson Blvd between Clarendon and Courthouse.

For months, height has been the topic of conversation for the proposed project being dubbed “Courthouse West” at 2636 Wilson Blvd on what is currently a parking lot housing ghost kitchen trailers.

Back in July, the Planning Commission voted to amend the General Land Use Plan (GLUP) from “service commercial” to “Office-Apartment-Hotel.” That designation allows the development to be between 6 and 16 stories high.

However, that is where the differences in opinions lie.

Last week, after a public hearing, the Planning Commission recommended that County Board adopt the county staff’s GLUP study — but with one very notable change.

In the study, county staff recommended a designation of “Medium Office-Apartment-Hotel” which would cap the height of the building at 12 stories, reasoning that height is in line with the rest of the planning for the corridor, would “fit well into the existing skyline,” and would minimize shadows on nearby residential properties.

This is also seemingly closer to what nearby residents who voiced their opinions on the project want. In December, an online survey was disseminated to the public where more than half of the respondents voted for a maximum height of 6 to 10 stories.

At its early September meeting, however, the Planning Commission voted to amend the study to change the designation to “High Office-Apartment-Hotel,” which would allow up to 16 stories. This is also what the applicant, the Ballston-based developer CRC Companies, wants as well.

The Planning Commission went against staff recommendation not to guarantee the highest possible building, several commissioners said, but to allow the height talk to continue without ruling out up to 16 stories.

More affordable housing, concentrating more residents in proximity to transit, and an increased likelihood of a revamped Courthouse Metro entrance all are potential advantages of a taller building, several noted.

“I want to make sure the community knows we are not approving a 16-story building… We are giving the option to allow staff to potentially negotiate up to that height if they provide community benefits that the Planning Commission thinks are valuable,” said commissioner Tenley Peterson at the Sept. 7 meeting.

The vote was not unanimous, with other commissioners calling the 12-story height cap proposed by staff a “reasonable compromise.”

Now, the decision goes to the County Board this weekend. Even if the Board allows consideration of a 16-story building, it would still have to go through a public review and engagement process prior to any final approvals and construction.

“After the Board’s action this weekend, adopted guidance would be in place to inform a future application for development, and a property owner would have to submit an application that would go through the County’s public review and engagement process on the specifics of the development proposal,” Erika Moore with the county’s Dept. of Community Planning, Housing, and Development told ARLnow.

Beyond this particular project, there was a clear sentiment from the Planning Commission that the way the county is conducting comprehensive community planning may need a revamp.

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