Arlington, VA

Local graphic designer and artist Hermes Marticio was only searching for a cup of coffee, but found an art studio instead.

It wasn’t Marticio’s first time walking into East West Coffee Wine in Clarendon (3101 Wilson Blvd) when he strolled inside in mid-November. Every time he noticed the art on the walls.

“It’s not curated. It’s just like they put it up there,” says Marticio.

So, he approached the owner, Mehmet Coskun, and asked if he could use a corner of the shop to create a pop-up art studio for his works. Coskun readily agreed and the two made a deal.

“I’ve always wanted my own studio,” says Marticio.

Marticio grew up in the Philippines, immigrated to California, and moved to Arlington about a decade ago for a job and to be closer to his mother. He is a father of one: a 19-year-old daughter.

Marticio says that this area provides good opportunities and schooling, which was also a big reason why his mom came to the United States.

“My mom grew up on a farm in the Philippines,” he says. “Something clicked in her head that wasn’t how [her] family was supposed to live.”

He says it was her “third eye” that guided her, a concept of having an invisible, perceptive eye — often in the middle of the forehead — that’s knowledgeable beyond normal sight.

His mother’s third eye is also inspiration for his art. Marticio designs illustrative portraits of pop icons, from Jay-Z to Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Muhammad Ali , many of which are depicted with a third eye.

“I feel like those icons have seen something that a regular person hasn’t seen,” says Marticio. “That’s why they became so successful.”

Like many folks, Marticio has had his job prospects fluctuate during the pandemic. When he lost his job earlier this year, he focused his energy and attention on creating art. He did get another full-time graphic designer job in July, but by then, he had created a whole lot.

“All of my time, I really poured into [my art]. You know, what else am I going to do?,” he says. “It was also for my piece of mind.”

Marticio has also embedded his art with augmented reality. Each work has a QR code, which if scanned with a phone using Artivie mobile app, reveals animation and other features.

“A lot of artwork can be static,” says Marticio. “But this adds elements to it.”

This augmented reality component is another variation on the “third eye,” adding a perspective not seen by the naked eye.

Coskun says he’s thrilled to have Marticio’s art in his Clarendon coffee shop.

“I like to support local businesses just because I’m a local business myself,” he says. It’s a win-win, a local artist gets to have an art gallery and a local business doesn’t have to spend money on generic decor.

“I’d rather have [Marticio’s] paintings and help him make some money, then [for me] go to IKEA to buy some paintings,” says Coskun. In fact, he’s got a few more inquiries from other local artists as well about putting their work on his shop’s walls.

“If there’s a space available, then why not?,” Coskun says, “It makes the walls look ten times better.”

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After a little more than two years in business, the Burgerim at 3811 Fairfax Drive is closed.

Thanks to a reader tip, we can confirm that the restaurant closed before the new year. It opened on the ground floor of a Virginia Square office building in the fall of 2017, and is among a handful of Burgerim locations that have closed over the past year in Virginia.

At its peak Israel-based Burgerim had hundreds of locations throughout the country. It was listed as the fastest growing burger chain in the country in 2019, but that same year faced bankruptcy as its CEO fled the U.S. for Israel amid allegations of deceptive sales practices against franchise owners by promising unrealistic profits.

The burger joint features packages of up to 16 gourmet mini-burgers, in addition to other sandwiches, chicken wings and salads. Currently, the nearest Burgerim location is in Ashburn.

Neighboring businesses in Virginia Square include Thai Treasure and Tropical Smoothie Cafe.

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Arlington County’s annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is moving online this year, forgoing all in-person experiences due to COVID-19.

This 52-year tradition was first organized in 1969, about ten months after King’s assassination, by local community members and county staff.

This year’s edition honoring the civil rights leader life and legacy will be held on Sunday, January 17 at 5 p.m. It will include a collection of online performances, music, spoken word, and dialogue that participants will be able to select from.

The tribute is being produced in partnership with Encore Stage & Studio.

All videos and content will go live at 5 p.m on the event’s website, but will continue to be available on the site into the coming months.

In addition, Volunteer Arlington’s annual MLK Day of Service will also be online this year. On Monday, January 18, starting at 9:30 a.m., residents can participate in 12 different service opportunities, engage in volunteer trainings, or learn more about their community.

There will also be collection sites for the Arlington Food Assistance Center outside of eleven community and fitness centers.

The current schedule of programming for Arlington’s MLK Day tribute is below:

At 5 p.m. on Sun., Jan. 17, visit the MLK Tribute webpage for a dynamic experience that allows the user to select the content they wish to view. The content will remain online for the coming months.

Specific program elements will include content sections with videos from past MLK Tributes and never-before-seen works:

A video compilation highlighting clips of music, dance, spoken word and dialogue from recent MLK Tributes, including:

  • Duke Ellington School of the Arts Show Choir’s renditions of The Best Is Yet to Come and Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around
  • Original work by spoken word artist Kim B. Miller, Your Calling
  • Motherless Child and I’ll Rise Up, performed by the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Dance Ensemble
  • Scene from the 51st MLK Tribute, performed by actor Deshawn Harris (as MLK) and Yancy Langston (voice of Benjamin Mays)
  • Arlington native Joy Gardner solo rendition of A Change is Gonna Come
  • Remarks from Arlington resident Joan Mulholland, activist and educator
  • Lift Every Voice and Sing, produced by Balm in Gilead, Inc.

Specific Music Options

  • I’ve Been Buked and Scorned, soloist James Gibson
  • I Know I’ve Been Changed, soloist Karen D. Archer
  • You’re All I Need To Get By, duet with Duke Ellington School of the Arts students Kianna Kelly-Futch and Kyree Allen
  • Is My Living in Vain performed by local quartet The Four
  • The Wall Between Us, performed by Kimberly D. Gordon and written by Anne Smith
  • Arlington native Joy Gardner solo rendition of A Change is Gonna Come

Specific Dance Options

  • Chains, performed by Worship Without Words
  • Precious Lord Take My Hand and Glory, performed by the Inspire Arts Collective
  • If I Could, performed by Kailah Doles
  • Motherless Child and I’ll Rise Up, performed by the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Dance Ensemble

Specific Spoken Word Options

  • New original work from spoken word artist Kim B. Miller
  • Reflections from Encore Stage & Studio students
  • Original work by spoken word artist Kim B. Miller, Break the Chains
  • Original work, Stand, by Outspoken Poetress Audrey Perkins

Other options include historical footage and a presentation by Samia Byrd, Chief Race and Equity Officer for Arlington County.

About the Program

Arlington’s first tribute to Dr. King was in 1969, the year after his assassination. The goal of this program is to bring people together (virtually or in-person) to support the community’s vision of social justice and community. This year’s program is produced in partnership with Encore Stage & Studio.

Virtual Day of Service

Volunteer Arlington’s annual MLK Day of Service program has also pivoted to be online. On Mon., Jan. 18, from 9:30 a.m.-noon. Online volunteer opportunities include service projects, advocacy panels and volunteer trainings. Learn more and register by Thurs., Jan. 14. by visiting https://volunteer.leadercenter.org/mlk-day-service.

Food Donation Collection

Food donations to benefit Arlington Food Assistance Center clients will be collected outside at the centers below from Jan. 15-18.

Learn more about the 2021 MLK Tribute event at https://parks.arlingtonva.us/mlk-tribute/

Photo via Adam Fagen/Flickr

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Arlington resident Celia Edwards Karam is at the top of her game.

She is the Chief Audit Officer for Capital One, and was just named the first independent member of the Board of Directors for Zola, a popular online one-stop-shop for wedding planning services.

Zola’s founder, Shan-Lyn Ma, tapped Karam for the position, and after a series of conversations with the company’s leadership, Karam was officially in.

“I guess I must have done okay in those interviews,” she said, laughing.

While she got married before anything like Zola existed, Karam said she is joining the board to help Zola find opportunities for growth and new corners of the $55 billion wedding industry to explore.

The appointment adds to a resume that includes degrees from Harvard and Stanford universities, 14 years at Capital One and volunteer work with the nonprofit Commonwealth, which helps vulnerable people achieve financial security.

Her achievements seem to flow from one source. “It all comes back to [the question], ‘How might we make choices that are actually helping people get to better outcomes?'” she said.

Karam draws inspiration from her experience as a Jamaican immigrant. She came to the U.S. with her family when she was five years old, and watched her parents work hard to give her and her siblings access to education and better opportunities.

“Financially speaking, we didn’t have a lot to work with,” she said. “The sense you get instilled is one of gratitude and one to give back.”

This sense manifests in Karam’s concern for people, and making their lives easier. She says Capital One, Zola and Commonwealth share this customer-centered pursuit.

But these companies also share Karam.

In recent years, the chief audit officer has grown more confident in sharing her perspective as a Black woman — something that she did not always do. As a child, she was taught that the way to achieve equality was by ignoring color.

“The way to succeed, in my mind, was for my bosses not to notice the differences,” she said. That changed five years ago.

“I came to what might sound like a ridiculous conclusion: The fact that I am a Black woman actually makes me different,” she said.

Keeping in mind her bad experiences suppressing her identity, today she encourages business leaders to show employees that their perspectives, informed by their diverse identities, are valued. It is one reason she said she admires and wants to work with Ma — one of the relatively few women running successful new tech companies.

“If you don’t have the numbers, there’s nowhere to go from there,” she said. “But you only get a diversity of perspective if the people who are there feel like they can actually share what’s on their minds.”

Karam jokes that outside her work, she does not have too many hobbies she can pursue because she has three kids — ages seven, 10 and 12 — who she shuttles to “what feels like hundreds of sports activities.”

In the 10th month of remote work since the shutdown this March, she said she and her kids have started taking lots of walks with the family dog through Arlington. She, her husband and kids have called Arlington home since 2007.

“Arlington is actually a pretty amazing place to live,” she said. “It’s exactly right mix of urban and suburban for our family.”

Photo courtesy Celia Edwards Karam

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(Updated at 2 p.m.) Pasta lovers can take a sigh of relief, because the new owner of Ruffino’s Spaghetti House doesn’t want to change a thing.

Mina Tawdaros recently bought the long-time Arlington institution at 4763 Lee Highway. Ruffino’s first opened in 1975, and has satisfied Italian food cravings with a menu that includes the standards, from pizza to linguini to chicken marsala.

“The pasta is amazing, but you should really try the chicken parmesan and the pizza,” said Tawdaros, who is fulfilling his American dream with the purchase.

“Owning this place has been my dream since I came to America in 2013,” said Tawdaros, a 30-year-old lawyer from Egypt who now lives in Ashburn. “I worked for very little money for a restaurant for five years, and then later I was a shuttle driver, but that dream never left me.”

“Yesss my amazing husband Mina’s dream finally came true!” his wife Mary, a substitute teacher, posted on Facebook in October when the sale was completed. The couple wed in a Coptic Christian ceremony earlier this year.

Tawdaros said his mantra is this famous Napoleon Hill quote: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.”

He won’t be changing the menu and will keep the small staff from the previous owner, Robin Gamza, who bought the business in 1981.

Tawdaros declined to discuss terms of the sale. Ruffino’s was listed for sale on a business listing site this summer, though the page has since been taken down.

Ruffino’s is open for dining, takeout and curbside pickup every Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Friday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Photo (2) via Ruffino’s/Facebook

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A new fast-casual Indian cuisine spot has just opened in Ballston Quarter’s food hall.

Bollywood Bistro Express turned on the stove on January 1 in Quarter Market, joining other fast casual concepts like Sloppy Mama’s Barbeque and Turu’s by Timber Pizza in the mall’s lower level.

This is the third concept regionally from Bollywood Bistro and owner Pankaj Sharma, but the first fast-casual establishment. The company has sit-down restaurants in Fairfax’s Old Town Plaza (opened in 2010) and Great Falls (opened in 2014). Those restaurants were included in Washingtonian magazine as one of the “best bargain restaurants” in 2011 and 2012.

The menu includes Indian cuisine mainstays like Chicken Tikka Masala, Paneer Vindaloo, and Veggie Korma. The new spot also serves butter and garlic naan and Gulab Jamun, fried dessert balls soaked in a syrup.

Ballston Quarter has seen a mix of openings and closings in recent months.

In December, a new pierogi stand opened. However, Punch Bowl Social — a combo bar and entertainment venue that opened in late 2018 — filed for bankruptcy in late December and closed its Ballston location on Christmas Eve “until further notice.”

Photos courtesy Bollywood Bistro Express

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Last month, we announced the launch of The Arlies, ARLnow’s awards for the top local places, people and organizations in Arlington.

Now, we’re revealing the Winter 2021 categories, which you can vote on starting next week. Here’s a sneak preview of the categories included in the Winter 2021 Arlies:

  1. Best coffee shop
  2. Best spa
  3. Best hill to go sledding
  4. Best bakery
  5. Best family dinner spot
  6. Best pet boarding
  7. Best insurance agent
  8. Best place of worship
  9. Best beer/wine shop
  10. Best chiropractor
  11. Best place to catch a show
  12. Best real estate agent for first-time buyers
  13. Best family physician
  14. Best restaurant for takeout/delivery
  15. Best nail salon
  16. Best electrician or electrical company
  17. Best private elementary school
  18. Best mental health professional
  19. Best personal trainer
  20. Best plumber or plumbing company

Because these awards are strictly reader-driven, we’re counting on you to choose your favorites in each category. Be sure to keep an eye open for when voting opens next Tuesday.

The Arlies will be held seasonally, with a winter, spring, summer and fall edition, each with different categories. Have suggestions for future categories? Let us know in the comments!

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A pair of Rosslyn restaurants within a block of each other in Rosslyn have shut their doors.

The Subway at 1401 Wilson Blvd and the Tom Yum District at 1515 Wilson Blvd are empty and have had their exterior signage removed. It’s unclear when each closed. Both primarily served a workday lunch crowd that was dramatically thinned out by the pandemic and office workers working from home.

Tom Yum District opened in 2013, and offered made-to-order Thai food in a fast-casual setting.

The Subway is no longer listed in the franchise’s locator, and the nearest location is at 1435 N. Courthouse Road. There are now nine Subway restaurants in Arlington, according to the company website.

By ARLnow’s count, Subway and Tom Yum District are the 21st and 22nd restaurant to close in Arlington since the start of the pandemic last March.

Map via Google Maps

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Another business is closing at Pentagon Row.

The Unleashed by Petco store is closing on Saturday, Jan. 23, according to signs in the window. The store is currently holding a 10-50% off sale ahead of the closure.

Unleashed, a smaller-format version of the big-box Petco stores, opened at Pentagon Row in January 2013, replacing a Hallmark store.

Signs in the window direct customers to two other stores that are remaining open: an Unleashed location at 3902 Wilson Blvd in the Ballston area, and a full Petco location at 5825 Leesburg Pike in Bailey’s Crossroads.

The closure is the latest at the shopping center, which is in the process of being rebranded as “Westpost” and which now allows to-go alcohol consumption in common areas.

Other recent closures include Siné, Aabee Express, A Deli, Bed Bath & Beyond, Champps, Starbucks, World Market, and the Mike Bloomberg campaign office.

There are a number of new businesses, replacing some of the closures, including the currently open Bun’d Up, Wild Tiger BBQ, and Napoli Salumeria, as well as at least two that are coming soon: Nighthawk Pizza, Origin Coffee Lab and a Virginia ABC store. Signs for the latter recently went up in the windows of the former Bloomberg office.

https://twitter.com/CartChaos22202/status/1346162560110895106

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(Updated at 6 p.m.) Metro 29 Diner has closed until further notice due to “COVID-19 concerns.”

The Arlington staple at 4711 Lee Highway made the announcement on its Facebook page on Dec. 26, and it is not yet clear when it will reopen.

“We had a very small contained outbreak and the people who were sick are now well,” co-owner Marta Bota told ARLnow. “We’re looking at the numbers rising, and we’re playing it safe. We’re evaluating it on a daily basis.”

Bota said that updates on reopening will be posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page and website.

“We’re always so appreciative and grateful for the support of the community, and our priority is their safety,” she said.

Metro 29 — which was named one of the top diner in Virginia in 2017 by the website Mental Floss — celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. The pandemic forced the restaurant to close from March until mid-June. It was back open, serving dine-in customers through most of December.

https://twitter.com/DCCelebrity/status/1344470403276632067

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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