A new business called “Beauty by Society Fair” is coming to 576 23rd Street S. in Crystal City, the former location of Agents in Style.
The establishment’s Instagram account describes it as a “champagne boutique.” The business also has an alcohol license pending, showing it’s looking to serve wine and/or beer both on and off the premises.
It also seems clear that the business is associated with the former market and eatery Society Fair and Bar PX in Alexandria, touted as the D.C area’s “original speakeasy-style bar.” Both establishments closed in 2019. An offshoot of Society Fair was also briefly open on Columbia Pike in Arlington in 2014.
Alexandria’s tourism blog promoted in April the eventual opening of “Beauty by Society Fair,” noting that it’s owned by Meshelle Armstrong. She’s the co-owner of several notable local restaurants with her husband, chef Cathal Armstrong, including Mattie and Eddie’s in Pentagon City. Armstrong’s Eat Good Food Group counts Society Fair, Bar PX, Eamonn’s and Restaurant Eve among its former restaurants.
ARLnow has reached out to the owners but haven’t received an on-the-record statement as of publication. A Sept. 30 Instagram post said Beauty by Society Fair would be “coming soonish” to “a darling spot [in] National Landing.”
The building, which is accessible via S. Fern Street, formerly housed the consignment boutique Agents in Style, but that shop moved to Charlottesville in July.
And to celebrate the grand opening of the café at 2016 Wilson Blvd, RĀKO will offer $1 coffees from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, with specially-priced natural wines available all day Saturday until 9 p.m.
The roasting company, founded by sisters Melissa and Lisa Gerben in late 2019, sources and roasts sustainably farmed, single-origin coffee. They planned to open a café last year, but the pandemic delayed that, and they launched an online store and a D.C. pop up location instead.
Now, the Gerbens have a space, in the former location of The Olive Oil Boom, to sell fresh roasted coffee from around the world, espresso drinks, food, cocktails and natural wines.
“Through its thoughtful offerings like the signature baklava latte made with cinnamon, cardamom, and clove infused honey syrup, RĀKO aims to make specialty coffee approachable,” according to a press release.
The company and shop are named for a mountain in Ethiopia called Rako, which translates to “challenge.”
“The brand’s name underscores its mission to create elevated and exceptional coffees while giving back to the communities it touches, both locally and globally,” the release said.
Weekday happy hours will start at 4 p.m. The drinks menu will center natural wines, a collective term for wines that eschew the chemicals, additives and extra processes found in many commercial wines, from cultivation to harvest to production.
“Much like its coffee program, the natural wine program is both approachable and dynamic, with the opening menu aptly named Summer Crush, boasting a curated selection of refreshing summer wines by women winemakers,” the release said.
Coffee will seep into the cocktail menu, from an espresso martini to a Negroni made with coffee-infused Campari.
To eat, RĀKO will offer seasonal foods, such as cucumber gazpacho and strawberry and manchego salad, meze and cheese boards. It will also serve “pocket foods” such as salteñas, empanadas and sambussas, a nod to the coffee-growing regions of Bolivia, Colombia and Ethiopia, respectively. Breakfast and baked goods will come from local bakeries.
All this will be in a trendy space that can accommodate 55 people and double as a private event space. RĀKO will be decorated with local art, textiles from Guatemala and vibrant paintings of Ethiopian flora.
“Lush and comfortable, the café is designed to be a space where guests can recharge and connect over a specialty coffee or a glass of biodynamic wine,” the release said.
The sisters aim to host a variety of events at the space, including wine tastings and latte art classes.
RĀKO regular hours are Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
(On Monday, RĀKO updated its regular hours of operation.)
In two days, Montgomery County will start allowing alcohol consumption in select parks as part of a pilot program.
More from Washingtonian:
Beginning Thursday, September 24, alcohol consumption will be allowed in nine designated parks as part of a pilot program approved by the Montgomery County Planning Board on Thursday. It will run at least through May.
The change is one facet of the county’s “Picnic in the Park” initiative, which aims to bolster takeout business for nearby restaurants while providing venues for safe social distancing. The MoCo Eats website shows picnic-goers which restaurants will deliver to them, and each park has drop-off spots for drivers.
In Arlington, alcohol consumption is banned in parks, with the exception of serving beer and wine during permitted events in two parks: Rosslyn Gateway Park and Clarendon Central Park. On top of the restrictions, Arlington has a program called Park Safe in which repeat offenders of rules like the alcohol ban — often homeless individuals with substance abuse problems — can be temporarily banned from all county parks.
Montgomery County’s program is specifically aimed at boosting outdoor dining during the pandemic and does not legalize public intoxication. But it’s the latest example of how long-standing laws concerning where you can buy and consume alcohol have become malleable as a result of COVID-19, allowing restaurants to deliver cocktails and parking lots to turn into watering holes.
The pandemic continues to loosen some of the U.S.’s parochial insanity about drinking alcohol https://t.co/D1xDnOqgEV
— Andrew Beaujon (@abeaujon) September 18, 2020
Arlington has thus far declined to close streets to give restaurants more room to seat diners outside, as D.C. is doing, but perhaps adopting Montgomery County’s new temporary park rules could be the thing to give local eateries a boost.
What do you think?
An Ohio-based company that offers boozy, candy-covered gifts is planning to open at Pentagon City mall, according to a permit filing.
Bliss in a Bottle, which previously opened a kiosk at Tysons Corner Center, sells beer and wine bottles covered in chocolate, sprinkles and other candies.
“In the perfect pairing, flavors from different families collide, creating a taste explosion that sends a wake-up call from your mouth to your brain. It’s not just delicious. It’s a truly novel experience,” says the company’s Facebook page. “Our fine Belgian chocolate, hand-painted on to a wine bottle covered with a removable food grade sleeve, is a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.”
The company, which also has a location at Westfield Montgomery mall in Bethesda, has been expanding via franchising. So far there’s no word on an opening date for the Pentagon City location.
A video, below, shows how customers can peel the chocolate off the bottle before opening.
(Updated at 8/16/19) Wine and cheese store and restaurant Cheesetique is opening a new location in the Village at Shirlington.
According to permits, the Luna space is being renovated on the first floor and the basement level, while exterior changes are being made to the storefront. There will be a new sidewalk cafe outside the restaurant and operable windows, the county permits suggest.
“After 8 years in Shirlington, Cheesetique will open a new, larger location at 4024 Campbell Avenue this autumn,” owner Jill Erber confirmed to ARLnow, following the original publication of this article. “The new Cheesetique will be home to private dining and event spaces, more generous restaurant seating, and an enhanced retail cheese and wine shop. Our current location at 4056 Campbell Avenue will close once we relocate.”
Cheesetique has locations in Shirlington, Alexandria’s Del Rey neighborhood and the Mosaic District in Fairfax County. A Cheesetique location in Ballston closed in June.
A Sense of Place Cafe is considering catering to the happy hour crowd by serving wine and beer in the evenings.
Earlier this month, the independent coffee shop at 4807 1st Street N. in the Arlington Forest Shopping Center submitted an application to Virginia ABC to serve wine and beer on premises.
Owner Kim Seo said the cafe was still awaiting an inspection and that she doesn’t expect to receive a permit decision until early August, but that hasn’t stopped her and her sister from planning ahead.
Seo is hoping to cater to an after-work crowd, potentially staying open in the evenings (the cafe currently closes at 3 p.m.) for a happy hour and light appetizers.
“Once we get the license we will work on our actual menu,” said Seo.
Seo said she and her sister, Kay, decided to rethink the hours of operation after taking note of how many people visit the shopping center in the evening, after Sense of Place closes for the day.
For now, A Sense of Place will continue with its usual hours of operation: from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, Saturday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).
A Twitter thread caught my attention recently from Raven Book Store, an independent retailer in Kansas.
The story is familiar to anyone in retail, especially in the age of Amazon and other online outlets. Beer and wine haven’t really had to deal with e-commerce as a threat to smaller brick-and-mortar shops — not yet, anyway. The conversation has centered on “big boxes vs. little guys” instead. Now, though, it appears that big-time online beer and wine retail is just over the horizon.
Washington Business Journal reported earlier this month that Amazon is looking to hire a Manager of Public Policy focusing on alcohol, fueling speculation it’s looking to take another run at becoming as potent a force in the booze business as it has been everywhere else.
Amazon isn’t the only giant sniffing around online retail: ZX Ventures, the growth/investment wing of AB InBev (Budweiser) is already working with larger retailers like Walmart and Kroeger, along with delivery services like Drizly. Bryan Roth offers a good, comprehensive deep-dive here.
Giant corporations see something they want, and they usually get their way. So what does this mean for independents? For the foreseeable future, I wouldn’t expect the price difference to be as dramatic as in books or other items: with sales taxes and delivery fees, online retail prices will hang near an independents’ for now.
Imagine, though, if one of these services really takes off — say, after regulations are rewritten or struck altogether. Amazon might start moving enough of a local favorite at $11, versus $11.99 at an independent, that the distributor gives them a discount to buy per pallet, knocking off $3-4 per case. Then you’re looking at $8.99 online versus $11.99 at an independent that can’t buy by the pallet and can’t match that price.
That’s the realities of the market, you say, and you’d be right. This is the reality we’ve lived with, as big chains and boxes build an interest in “craft” beer. What I keep circling around is an Amazon-type taking it one step further: working with breweries directly.
Ever see your favorite go-to beer pop up at Costco at a price that shocked you? Just wait: if the big guys get their way, this is the game-changer. This is the move that drops the big guys’ cost dramatically enough to see book-like price discrepancies.
Back to books, actually: I support local bookstores as much as I can. I secretly harbor a daydream of opening one, if I’m honest. But if you’ve given me an Amazon gift card over the past few years, I’ve used it to find books on my wish list, used, as cheaply as possible. I do this because it’s fun, it’s convenient, and because I’m a massive hypocrite.
While those purchases usually end up being made through indie bookstores, after Amazon takes its cut who knows how much I’m actually supporting them? Still I do it: pictured are just some of the books I’ve picked up via this method over the past year.
What do my shelves look like when all of our favorites start popping up online for less than I pay wholesale? What will make sense for me to carry? As our success leans more heavily on the experience, and the service we offer, which breweries will rise to occasion to support small retailers?
Will beer go the way of books, shoes, and widgets of all types? If you’re in the business and not thinking about this stuff now, you need to start. Bezos is coming.
WHEN: Every Friday, May through October — 5-9 p.m.
WHERE: The Stand (at the Crystal City Water Park) — 1601 Crystal Drive, Arlington Virginia
Open every Friday starting in May, Fridays at the Fountain features a fantastic selection of beer and wine, live music from local bands and musicians, and a rotating lineup of local restaurants and food vendors brought to Crystal City by The Stand.
Attendees also have the option of joining the Fridays at the Fountain “Mug Club” featuring a 16-ounce, branded mug, while supplies last. The Mug Club is $10 and comes with a reusable glass mug and your first drink!
Mug Club members will get discounts on draft beers for the entire Fridays at the Fountain event series (May-October).
Buy your mug today for 1/2 price and enjoy 16 oz pours for the price of a 12 oz beer all summer long!
Arlingtonians won’t have to go far to sample wines from all across the state this weekend.
The Virginia Wine Festival will hold its 43rd annual gathering in Rosslyn’s Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway), offering up hundreds of wines and ciders from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The event will also feature entertainment and food from a variety of vendors, including an “oyster tent” that showcases offerings from the state’s newly burgeoning oyster industry.
Tickets remain on sale for the event, and will be sold at the entry gate as well, with a glass and unlimited tastings included in the price of admission. The festival will be “largely cashless,” according to its website, and attendees will need to buy tickets to purchase, food and beer.
Organizers say that outside food and drinks won’t be permitted at the event, though they say “blankets, chairs, bags/coolers [and] reasonably sized shade canopies” are all welcome. Pets are also not permitted at the festival, outside of service animals.
County police are also planning on closing a variety of streets in the area each day. They’re warning drivers of the following changes:
- The eastbound lanes of Lee Highway, between Fort Myer Drive and Lynn Street, will be closed from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. All eastbound traffic will be diverted onto Fort Myer Drive and detour signs will be posted.
- Southbound Fort Myer Drive (inbound traffic from Georgetown and the George Washington Parkway) will be closed at Lee Highway from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.. All traffic must turn west onto Lee Highway and can access Rosslyn and Clarendon via N. Scott Street or N. Veitch Street.
- N. Nash Street, between eastbound and westbound Lee Highway, will be closed from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.
- Exit 73 from eastbound I-66 to Rosslyn will be closed from 10 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Police are warning drivers to avoid the area, and note that “no parking” signs will be posted along many local streets.
The event won’t be the only entertainment offering in Rosslyn this weekend. A Halloween-themed “Bats in the Belfry” concert is planned for the Netherlands Carillon (1400 N. Meade Street) on Saturday starting at 3:30 p.m.
Photo via the Virginia Wine Festival
A bar encouraging patrons to grab a glass of wine and a paintbrush could soon be on the way for Ballston’s biggest new development.
A new Muse Paintbar location seems set to be included in Ballston Quarter, according to new county permit applications. The bar’s listed address is on the first floor of 4238 Wilson Blvd, just down the block from the CVS pharmacy.
Spokespeople for both Muse and Ballston Quarter’s developer, Forest City, did not respond to requests for comment on the matter.
Muse dubs itself as “the premier paint and wine experience” on its website, offering events and private parties to help people learn how to paint while sipping on their adult beverage of choice. The chain has several locations around Northern Virginia, including ones in Falls Church, Woodbridge and Gainesville.
Yet the bar’s opening could be a ways off — Muse only applied for a permit at the site on Wednesday (Sept. 26), with several rounds of review by county inspectors still on tap. The bar also has yet to apply for a permit to serve alcohol at the location, state records show.
Ballston Quarter itself is set to open to patrons by the end of October, though Forest City has long said that the restaurants and businesses inside the new-look Ballston Common mall will open on a rolling basis over the next few months.
Photo via Muse Paintbar. H/t to Chris Slatt
Arlington wine lovers can sample wineries from across the state without traveling far from home this fall.
From Oct. 13-14, Gateway Park in Rosslyn will host the 43rd annual Virginia Wine Festival. The event promises to offer over 200 wines plus “dozens” of ciders.
Those in attendance can also enjoy food vendors, live music and an oyster pavilion serving oysters from the Chesapeake region, according to the festival’s website.
Two-day general admission passes are available for $55. General admission grants attendees a tasting glass, unlimited wine tasting and access to concessions and music.
The 2017 festival took place in Alexandria’s Oronoco Bay Park, and was met with criticism from Visit Alexandria, the city’s tourism booster, for being “inadequately planned,” leading to “crowding and unacceptably long lines.”
Gateway Park does not lack experience in hosting large events — the sizable Rosslyn Jazz Festival, which drew more than 10,000 attendees last September, has called the venue home for the past 28 years.
Photo via Twitter