A concrete sculpture of an adult embracing a child has been moved from its home of nearly six decades, a planted median in Courthouse, and possibly damaged in the process.
This week, the statue — missing a chunk of concrete — could be seen on a pedestal of soil and flowers on a nearby sidewalk, surrounded by construction work.
A gift to Arlington County in 1969, the sculpture was decommissioned due to its age and significant damage it sustained from the elements, according to Arlington Cultural Affairs. The 54-year-old sculpture was moved as part of the decommissioning process and is set to be destroyed and replaced with a bronze replica.
“Over its nearly 55 years in the public realm, time and weather took their toll, eroding the surface and rendering the sculpture unrecognizable,” Arlington Cultural Affairs spokesman Jim Byers told ARLnow. “Due to the condition of the original sculpture, two independent conservators agreed that the sculpture could not be repaired.”
Una Hanbury, an England native, made the work — entitled Compassion — to pay tribute to Arlington’s values. It was one of several works she completed in the Mid-Atlantic, including large-scale commissions for the Medical Examiners Building in Baltimore and St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Springfield, Virginia.
During discussions about what to do with the aging sculpture, Hanbury’s grandson, Colin Poole, recommended recreating Compassion in bronze to match its original likeness, says Byers.
Fittingly, Poole is set to take on the replica, as he is a professional artist who apprenticed under his grandmother.
When it was still in one piece, Poole had “digitally scanned the weathered concrete sculpture, milled a replica in foam, and enveloped it in clay,” Byers said.
“Using his grandmother’s sculpting tools and referencing other sculptures she had crafted during that era, Poole skillfully reproduced the surface textures, and the renewed form was cast in bronze for longevity,” he continued.
Some of the material of the original sculpture will be incorporated within the base of the new piece, but the rest will be destroyed. Byers said this is the industry standard when a work of art is decommissioned due to severe deterioration.
The recreated bronze statue is set to be installed later this fall, somewhere “close to its original location,” Byers said. He added that he expects the piece to be incorporated into the county’s Public Art collection — adding to the roughly 70 permanent public art projects in Arlington.
“A dedication event is being planned for some time after the installation of the artwork,” he said.
The much-anticipated “tropical glam bar” Coco B’s in Clarendon hopes to open this weekend, co-owner Christal Bramson tells ARLnow.
Ownership is in the process of getting final permits before the doors can be thrown open, but the belief is that everything will be ready for the coming weekend.
The long-planned companion bar to B Live — or, for the moment, “Beach Bar Live” — at 2854 Wilson Blvd was originally supposed to start serving a full year ago. It was delayed a few times, however, due to construction and permits. But now the wait appears to almost be over.
Judging by photos, Coco B’s is set to be Arlington’s pink palace of nightlife. The color covers the 6,000 square feet of space, from the walls to the chair to the umbrellas, that the business is set to occupy inside and atop the building that was once Whitlow’s on Wilson.
While it’s the rooftop — featuring a mural of a flamingo wearing a hat — that many locals might be looking forward it, Bramson said the rest of the bar might actually be the real draw.
“I don’t think people realize that Coco’s is not only a rooftop, but has nearly 4,000 square feet directly below the rooftop (next to B Live),” Bramson wrote ARLnow in an email. “It’s a collection of three bays, with two gorgeous bars, dining room, and a stunning back patio.”
The main floor will feature pink chandeliers and clamshell chairs, while another bay is the “Bubble Bar,” a champagne-forward bar with lots more pink. The third bay is for private events.
The Carribean-inspired menu is set to be curated by Chef Juan Olivera, who previously worked at D.C.’s Lupo Verde. It will feature Caribbean delicacies like jerk chicken, ceviche, and Jamaican oxtail patties, Arlington Magazine reports.
Coco B’s will have signature cocktails, including the Dac-Dac-Doc. It will be served in half coconut shells with Caribbean rum, passion dragon fruit syrup, and coconut foam.
The opening of Coco B’s will mark another expansion of Christal and Mike Bramson’s Arlington nightlife empire under the B Social Hospitality banner. B Live opened last spring as a live music venue but has since shifted away from original acts to live karaoke. It also changed concepts, at least temporarily, earlier this month.
The Bramsons also own Pamplona on Clarendon Blvd, Roll’d in Ballston, run operations at Clarendon Ballroom, and are celebrating local beer garden The Lot’s last season before redevelopment happens on the site. The couple owns several restaurants in the District as well, including Rebel Taco and soon-to-open The Cove in the District’s Navy Yard neighborhood.
(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) A new vape shop is set to open in the coming months in a prominent Courthouse storefront on Wilson Blvd.
“Tobacco Vape Cigars” is moving into the former home of SuperStar Tickets at 2305 Wilson Blvd, the very visible building at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Wayne Street.
Where there once was SuperStar Tickets’ name in black, there’s now a new white, red, and yellow declaring the business set to waft in soon. The shop is in the midst of a build-out and isn’t open yet, building owner Omar Sider told ARLnow, but it is expected to start selling in the coming months.
SuperStar Ticket hasn’t shuttered but simply no longer needs a prominent, large storefront due to employees now working remotely, Sider told ARLnow. He owns SuperStar Tickets as well as the building. He said the business is doing quite well, with some live events setting attendance records.
“Live events are bigger than ever,” Sider said. “Covid’s silver lining… is that it gave us a reset button to restructure.”
With no reason to work out of the building, leasing out the space provided a chance for cash flow. There was other interest in the building but the vape shop was able to move in immediately, Sider noted.
The shop owners own “60 or 70” other businesses across the country. The lease is for three years, though the business owners initially wanted a longer commitment.
“We will see how it goes. They are paying what we are asking,” Sider said. “And they were pretty adamant.”
Sider was born in Arlington and currently lives in the Woodmont neighborhood. He’s owned the building since 2010 and put it back on the market in 2017, though he never ended up selling it.
Sider understands why some would want a business besides a vape shop in that prominent storefront but, he says, the building sat unused essentially for the last three years.
“It has to have some cash flow,” Sider said. “At least for now, it will be [a vape shop], but maybe in a couple of years, we will think about building it out for something different in the community.”
As we move through the dog days of August, several highly anticipated local restaurants are looking ahead to openings in the coming late summer or early fall.
Coco B’s is finally set to open on the roof of Clarendon’s B Live next week, pending permits, co-owner Christal Bramson confirmed to ARLnow. Besides the roof, the “tropical glam bar” consists of nearly 4,000 square feet of bars, dining rooms, and a back patio. Coco B’s has been in the works for a year and was originally supposed to open this past spring. This comes as B Live continues to revamp, including shifting away from hosting original acts and debuting a new beach bar concept this weekend.
Astro Beer Hall in Shirlington was also finally hoping for an opening this month, but that’s being pushed back at least a few weeks. While no exact timetable has been set for the two-level bar and coffee shop, a spokesperson confirmed a debut is likely coming next month. So, it will be a bit before its donut robot starts its world takeover, one pastry at a time.
Peruvian Brothers is aiming for a “soft opening” at Amazon HQ2 as soon as later this month, co-owner Giuseppe Lanzone told ARLnow. A grand opening is scheduled for September in Pentagon City, he said. It was July 2022 when the fast-casual Peruvian restaurant announced it was moving into 1400 S. Eads Street. The initial hope was to open earlier in the summer, but permitting is again the culprit.
Westover Taco also had planned to start serving this month, but that’s been pushed back. Co-owner Scott Parker told ARLnow that the new spot in Westover will “for sure” open this year but couldn’t provide an exact timetable yet. It was almost exactly a year ago when ARLnow first reported that Parker, along with owners of Lost Dog Cafe, was taking over the space once home to Forest Inn.
Carbonara, the self-described “old school” Italian restaurant in the Ballston area, is now aiming for a November debut, a spokesperson told ARLnow. The Italian eatery and wine bar is moving into the former home of Next Day Blinds on Wilson Blvd and was originally supposed to open this summer. But “difficulty with [the] mechanical system” and permitting hang-ups has pushed it to later in the fall.
Wagamama in Clarendon is coming along. While the British restaurant chain has announced several timelines for opening, none have proven to be the case. Construction does appear underway, but a spokesperson declined to give ARLnow any substantial information. “There are no updates to share regarding the opening timeline for Wagamama Arlington,” they wrote in an email.
A new live music and events venue is opening in Ballston this weekend.
The venue will focus on hosting live music, comedy, and private events, per its website.
“Filling Station is an intimate venue with an elevated stage that will be host, with no cover charge, to a rotating schedule of musicians, bands and comedians,” says a press release.
“Set with community-style and small group tables, the rustic interior harkens to mid-century culture with the walls filled with that era’s album and magazine covers and music posters,” the press release continues. “Large screen TVs and mounted televisions will show NFL football games and sports this fall.”
Food will be available from the next-door El Rey, including quesadillas, nachos, torta sandwiches, fries, wings and 17 beers on tap.
ARLnow first reported last month that Filling Station’s opening was imminent, though signs had been up dating back to August 2022.
The venue is part of the Hilton brothers’ burgeoning local restaurant empire. Cafe Coline on Langston Blvd was named one of Washingtonian’s Top 100 restaurants earlier this year. El Rey in Ballston opened in late 2021 as a second location of the popular D.C.-based taqueria.
Arlington’s live music scene has seen some changes in recent months.
B Live opened in May 2022 as a music venue and restaurant in the former Whitlow’s space in Clarendon. But this summer, the venue announced it was shifting to featuring more live karaoke and becoming a “beach bar,” at least temporarily.
The Renegade in Clarendon, which opened in 2019, also features live music.
The live music venue and watering hole on Wilson Blvd is changing concepts, at least temporarily, and becoming a “divey beach bar popup,” co-owner Christal Bramson tells ARLnow. The shifting sands reflect what’s working at the former Whitlow’s space, Bramson says.
“Due to the popularity of the Jingle Bell Rock popup theme during the holidays, we temporarily closed to convert the space to a summer fling theme with an inland divey beach bar popup: Beach Bar Live,” she wrote in an email.
The outdoor patio will also change, becoming a tiki bar with an “aggressive happy hour.”
“Think Coyote Ugly on the beach,” Bramson writes.
A tipster had reached out, thinking that the business had shuttered permanently. B Live — er, Beach Bar Live — is currently closed for the makeover, but Bramson said the hope is to reopen by August 4 with updated decor, menu, drink specials, and vibes. The opening weekend of the new concept will feature complimentary food, drink specials, and a battle of the bands, she said.
This is the second time in less than two months that the venue has made significant changes. In June, ownership decided to “pivot” towards having more live band karaoke while decreasing the number of live original acts it hosted.
Live karaoke as well as a limited number of original acts will continue at Beach Bar Live, Bramson said.
“Tropical glam bar” Coco B’s is also hoping for an opening in early next month on the rooftop. The long-planned rooftop compliment to B Live has been delayed for months, but it’s looking to finally open within the next two weeks “pending permits.”
“If you think of B Live as the male version of the two of us, then Coco B’s is the female version… the his and hers,” Christal Bramson told ARLnow in June 2022. “It’s definitely going to be more female-focused. There’s going to be a lot of pinks, velvets, feathers, and it’s going to attract the softer side of Arlington.”
For the moment, Beach Bar Live is being considered a pop-up but Bramson said that if the concept ends up being popular, it could stick — somewhat like wet sand at the beach.
“If the popup grows in popularity, there is a possibility of combining both spaces into one massive (inland) beach destination,” she said.
Houses at the former site of the Febrey-Lothrop House are set to go on sale this fall, with a delivery set for early next year.
Toll Brothers announced last week that the “boutique community” off of Wilson Blvd in Dominion Hills, dubbed The Grove at Dominion Hills, is nearing the finish line.
It will feature 40 single-family homes on more than nine acres, with houses ranging from 3,470 to 5,834 square feet. They all appear to have five bedrooms and up to six bathrooms, per the website.
Sales are set to begin this fall with pricing starting at $2.1 million, said a Toll Brothers spokesperson in an email. The houses are expected to be move-in ready by “early 2024.”
The site where houses now stand was once where the historic Febrey-Lothrop House stood before it was demolished more than two years ago, much to the dismay of local preservationists, the county’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB), and the Arlington Historical Society.
Also known as the Rouse estate, the original house was built before the Civil War but was largely replaced in the early 20th century. Historians cited the estate’s role in hosting Civil War encampments, past residents including business mogul Howard Hughes, and the likelihood it was built by enslaved peoples as for reasons to preserve the site. The land it was on was also potentially a hunting ground for Indigenous peoples.
But its future became in doubt when its last owner, sportsman Randy Rouse, died in 2017. The property hit the market in 2020, with some pushing the county to purchase it and turn it into a public park, a school, or another public facility.
However, Rouse’s trust ended up selling the property to a developer intent on building single-family homes on the site.
The HALRB voted to consider a historic designation for the property in late 2020, but it came too late, and the County Board ended up denying the recommendation anyway. The house was demolished in March 2021 and construction began on the new houses shortly thereafter.
ARLnow asked Toll Brothers whether anything came from a preservationist’s request to partner with archeologists on potential artifacts at the site. The company did not respond to the inquiry.
A buzzy new Mediterranean restaurant in Clarendon has pushed back its opening again.
When it was first announced in May 2022 that a casual kebab-centric restaurant was coming to Clarendon, the hope was to open in about a year. That was later moved back to fall 2023. But, now, the eatery is looking at serving starting in early spring of next year.
No specific reason was given for the push.
“The restaurant plans are moving along as planned, just taking more time than originally planned,” a restaurant spokesperson told ARLnow.
This will be the second location of the Eastern Mediterranean-inspired casual restaurant, with the other opening in Mosaic District late last year to plenty of fanfare and has received a number of accolades ever since.
A restaurant spokesperson said that diners should expect Clarendon’s Kirby Club to be “similar” to the Mosaic District location.
In an interview last year, Previte told ARLnow that she was excited to open in Clarendon because she had attended school at nearby George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government and also had worked for Arlington Economic Development as part of a fellowship. While going to school and working, she often went out to Clarendon restaurants and bars.
“I maybe had too much fun in Clarendon because I was 25,” she said at the time. “So, to think we are going to have a bar and restaurant there is very cool.”
A petition filed by a Union Kitchen employee is calling for the end to its relationship with its labor union, but the union is dismissing the effort as a ploy by management.
It was announced on Friday that a Union Kitchen employee has filed a petition with the National Labor Review Board (NLRB) to end its relationship with United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400. The petition has reportedly been signed by a number of Union Kitchen employees, including those who work at the Ballston location
This would effectively end UFCW Local 400’s ability to bargain and support unionized employees at Union Kitchen.
“Employees of five Union Kitchen Grocery locations in the Washington, DC, metro area have filed a petition seeking to end United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400’s monopoly bargaining power over workers,” reads a press release. “The employees submitted their decertification petition to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 5 with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.”
But a UFCW Local 400 spokesperson insisted that this effort isn’t legit, accusing Union Kitchen management of being involved in the petition and using potentially illegal tactics, like intimidating employees, to sign the petition.
“Our take is that it’s basically bullshit,” Travis Acton said. “We knew this was coming. This is not a surprise. The only thing, honestly, that caught me by surprise is how blatantly illegal they’re going about it.”
It was just over a year ago when employees at five Union Kitchens voted in favor of forming a union, including the one in Ballston on Wilson Blvd. That came after a long-running effort that was delayed due to challenged ballots and charges of unfair labor practices. It has continued to be a contentious relationship ever since.
In November, the NLRB determined that Union Kitchen management violated 26 counts of labor law including union-busting tactics and wrongfully terminating employees. In March of this year, the union filed a wage theft lawsuit against management. And just last month, the union called for a boycott of all Union Kitchen locations.
The boycott remains ongoing, Acton said.
The employees who are calling for the decertification are being provided “free legal aid” by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to “eliminate coercive union power and compulsory unionism abuses.”
In the press release sent out by National Right to Work, the organization said that a single employee submitted the petition but it has been supported “by the vast majority of her coworkers.” The employee claimed in a letter sent to Union Kitchen CEO Cullen Gilchrist that close to 90% of workers signed the petition, as reported by the Washington Business Journal.
Acton said that those numbers might be misleading. He told ARLnow that in recent months the company has significantly added to the list of employees that are eligible to be represented by the union. Acton claims that a number of those added employees are actually people in management roles, those who own brands sold at the store, and those who might have personal relationships with Gilchrist.
“Nobody’s ever seen them work in the store or work an actual shift in the store,” he said.
Plus, Acton claimed, that he’s heard from employees who felt like they were forced to sign the petition or they would get fired.
“Based on our experience over the last six months to a year of them firing anybody who comes to the bargaining table, who supports the union, I believe them,” he said.
Intimidation of this nature is potentially illegal, according to federal law.
As expected, Union Kitchen CEO Cullen Gilchrist supports the petition to end the company’s employees’ relationship with the union and specifically noted the ongoing boycott as the reason for his support in the following email to ARLnow.
A new “live music and event venue” is coming to Ballston, posting up right next to El Rey.
The Filling Station is set to open soon on Wilson Blvd in Ballston, per an Instagram post last week. It aims to be a “great new spot for live music, comedy and more,” reads the post
The Filling Station will be adjacent to El Rey at 4201 Wilson Blvd and, like El Rey, owned by brothers Ian and Eric Hilton.
The brothers’ growing list of bars and restaurants include Cafe Coline on Langston Blvd, which was named one of Washingtonian’s Top 100 Restaurants earlier this year. Originally on U Street NW in the District, taco spot El Rey opened its second location in Ballston in late 2021.
The new venue is set to host a variety of events including stand-up comedy, live music, private parties, salsa brunches and podcast recordings, a spokesperson told ARLnow. A link on El Rey’s website has a sample menu that includes typical pub fare, like nachos, chicken wings, loaded fries, and 17 beers on tap.
It’s not immediately clear when The Filling Station might open, with the website noting only that it’s “coming soon.” ARLnow reached out to a restaurant spokesperson who replied that they were still “ironing out exact details” and more information be available in the future.
Signs have been up for The Filling Station since at least August 2022, but the business has faced delays related to its live entertainment permit application, ARLnow was told last year.
There’s been a bit of a shifting in Arlington’s live music scene. B Live opened last year, looking to fill the void left by Iota Club’s closing in 2017. But last month, the venue announced it was moving away from original acts to host more karaoke. The Renegade in Clarendon remains open with a full live music calendar, though.
(Updated on 7/25/23) A tricycle serving Turkish coffee has started serving in Ballston.
The three-wheeled coffee contraption is from long-time restaurant veteran and local author Isa Seyran, who told ARLnow late last year he was working on a new concept that would come after leaving his server job at The Salt Line.
This mobile, custom-designed red tricycle offering Turkish coffee and baklava is that new business. It has been parking along the 4000 block of Wilson Blvd after opening earlier this month.
Seyran named the small coffee stand “Ballstonian,” in homage to the neighborhood in which he has lived for over two decades.
The coffee tricycle is currently open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (or until supplies last) seven days a week.
“I was a waiter for 23 years and worked with some of the greatest chefs in our region. Some of the food I served, like [at] Rasika and Zaytinya, was simply divine, but it was never my thing,” Seyran told ARLnow about why he decided to open a Turkish coffee spot in Ballston.
“So I decided to sing my own song at my own humble stage and wanted to bring a piece of Anatolia, Medietterrenea and Mesopotamia, a cradle of civilization where I spent the first half of my life, to Ballston, where I spent the second half of my life.”
Besides coffee and baklava, Ballstonian also serves cheese pastries and masala chai from a recipe Seyran learned while working at D.C.’s famed Indian restaurant Rasika.
The Ballston resident worked at some of the region’s most popular and renowned restaurants, including Zaytinya, Bombay Club, and Fiola Mare in D.C., before ending his tenure at The Salt Line in Ballston.
Beyond those jobs, Seyran is also an author, playwright, and filmmaker often producing art based on his experiences as a waiter in the D.C.-area. And, now, he’s added entrepreneur to that list.
He told ARLnow that the first few days have gone well so far and he’s been “humbled by the overwhelming support and love Ballstonian received from my fellow Ballstonians.”
But Seyran is not particularly surprised by the reception, noting that no other Ballston business is selling Turkish coffee.
“At The Salt Line… I got to know my client base, their spending habits, who they are and what they want,” Seyran said. “Having done my market research, I knew people were hungry for something different.”
His ambitions go beyond a coffee stand. The hope is one day to set up an “urban oasis” in Ballston with a tent, cushions, coffee, and books where “members of the community could take a breather from the bustling urban landscape around them.”
He also would love to do coffee ground fortune tellings, like he did while working at Zaytinya, and introduce “Bark-lava,” which would be “a bone-shaped, dog-friendly baklava.”
But, for now, all of that will have to wait, including the coffee ground fortune telling.
“That requires time and space to seat people so that I could serve the coffee in a ceramic cup as opposed to a paper cup,” Seyran said. “[A] food truck parked on the side of the road is not suitable for that ancient tradition but I hope to do that in the near future.”