By Anthony Baracat
Back in January of 2013, CEO Tina Leone and the Ballston BID (Business Improvement District) set out to enhance life in the Quincy Street, Glebe Road, Fairfax Drive area of Arlington—about 25 blocks.
Through marketing, promotion, maintenance and general beautification, the team hoped to make their neighborhood greater than it was before in terms of business, culture and entertainment.
As home of the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research and Marymount University and Virginia Tech campuses, the BID wanted to continue Ballston’s prominence as the place “Where Minds Meet.”
Their January venture, supported by Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, was to find the next big idea and to challenge local entrepreneurs. LaunchPad received over 200 applicants from varying lines of work as a local “Shark Tank”-esque competition.
Besides finding that big idea and weaning the challengers down to one, they also hoped to “encourage and support entrepreneurship, strengthen the connections within our community and attract more great minds to start-up and grow their businesses here in Ballston,” says Leone.
In addition, BID found strong partners in the Ballston Mall—to occupy vacant space and spice up creativity on Wilson Boulevard—as well as in Bruce Mancinelli, executive director of Reston’s startup incubator Spire.
Ballston-based organizations can claim to have created or funded the internet, the barcode and the first satellite, so nurturing an inventive culture was crucial for all those at BID.
On Dec. 4, four finalists gave their last elevator pitch and two winners were chosen for the $15,000 cash prize, including office space and furniture in Ballston and legal assistance from Saul Ewing LLP: CarSquare and BuilDATAnalytics.
By Lynn Norusis
A lot has happened for Reston’s indie-go-go band RDGLDGRN (that’s RedGoldGreen for those who need vowels) since last we spoke with them. First, they’ve changed their name (formerly “The Five One”). They’ve released a self-titled album that dropped this past September. And received quite the endorsement with their “Doing the Most” video premiering on Pharrell William’s I Am Other blog.
Let’s start with, yes, that was Dave Grohl. Did we forget to mention he played drums on the new album? (Williams also made a cameo.) They met while recording at Sound City Studios when Grohl was making his documentary on the famed studio.
RDGLDGRN got it’s start much like Grohl, in a home basement. “The most random things in life, will just change everything for you,” says Gold*. “Someone I played basketball with introduced me to these guys. Since the day I met these guys, we’ve written music [together]. We’ve never stopped writing music.” (Names have been changed to colors the trio has taken on that they feel express themselves the best. No legal names are known.)
Green was making music since he was 12. After high school Red joined in playing guitar. “I wanted a different type of vocalist,” says Green. “Basically a man with a white voice.”
“Let’s be honest. You wanted a Caucasian, noticeably Caucasian,” Gold chimes in.
“Yeah,” chuckles Green. But it works.
The trio, who met through different connections they had while at South Lakes High School, formed in 2011 as RDGLDGRN but has played together for more than 10 years. And just like their name, the music is changing, though the influences of D.C.’s Chuck Brown and slang of the Metro-D.C. area are constant. “Music was always changing anyway,” says Green of the change in group name. “From playing so much in D.C. that is something that seeped in. We love the music from here and around the world. Put that together, and that is what you get.”
The current album sticks with the indie go-go, though the sounds of rock is heard. “Last album, if you want to generalize, is more a rock album,” says Red. “This time, if going to generalize, [it's] going to be more hip-hop album. But it will always be eclectic. It’s going to be music, and you’ll probably like it.”
This year they are focusing on their upcoming album, which they are hoping will drop this summer, and still making a name for themselves.
The success of a nod on Williams’ blog was not their first appearance on the main stage. Four times they’ve played SXSW, and hit the stage at The Van’s Warped Tour and D.C. 101’s Chili Cook-Off. They want more.
“We have a lot of successes and strives, but it’s still, we’re nowhere to an extent,” says Gold. “There’s a lot of people who don’t know who we are. In the industry we’re nobody. We kind of have a problem with that, actually. We want everyone to know who we are and what we do.”
By Anjelica Michael
Have you recently moved or gotten a new job in the area and are worried about your pet adjusting? If your pet is getting lonely at home in a new environment, PetSmart’s Doggie Day Camp is a place for you to bring your dog to play, eat pet-friendly ice cream and bond with other dogs while you are at work. Dogs need friends just as much as their human counterparts, so this may be a place to set up future pet play dates. This service is available at the Vienna, Springfield, Reston, Chantilly, Fairfax and Alexandria locations.
Posted by Editorial / Monday, January 27th, 2014
By: Natalie Manitius
Set in a 1930s Prohibition era-theme, Ted’s Bulletin—opening this Thursday in Reston Town Center—recreates the environment in which owners, and brothers, Ty and Mark Neal‘s father, Ted, grew up. From rural West Virginia, Ted, as Chef Travis Weiss puts it, was “known as the guy with the pot on the stove,” often feeding postal workers and neighbors, evoking “hospitality at its best.” Between the atmosphere and the menu, Ted’s Bulletin serves “comfort food with a Southern influence: large portions, hearty breakfast, breakfast all day, and a from- scratch kitchen,” Weiss says. This is the third location of Ted’s, with spots in Capitol Hill and 14th Street in Washington, D.C.
Using salvaged pieces—door trim from the original Philadelphia Convention Hall, subway tile, tin ceilings and old-timey law office doors serving as the bathroom entryway—the vintage theme begins at the front countertop and extends all the way to the back of the restaurant, where an antique-like projector hangs from the ceiling. The bulletin theme comes into play with menus that are black felt bulletin boards with white letters pressed in, hearkening back to a time before digitization.
Ted’s classics include the “Walk of Shame,” a burrito with skirt steak, eggs, hash browns, cheddar cheese and spicy green chili sauce; crispy fried steaks; smoked Alabama chicken; and apple and hickory smoked pork. Sweets include a line of “adult milkshakes” and homemade pop-tarts (strawberry, blueberry cheesecake and peanut butter bacon). With its barrel-aged program, Ted’s uses homemade bitters, syrups, and vermouth for cocktails and boozy milkshakes.
It seems no flavor is out of reach here, as Pastry Chef Kelsey Pitta crafted a Thanksgiving pop-tart consisting of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes, while the milkshake end honored a customer request to place a slice of pie in their milkshake. Weiss explains how Ted’s Bulletin “lives and dies by a phrase called ‘giving the pickle,’” where no customer request is too far-flung. / Ted’s Bulletin, 11948 Market St., Reston.
Posted by Editorial / Thursday, January 9th, 2014
The Farmer’s Almanac has projected that Virginia will experience a particularly snowy winter this year. It’s about time.
One of our favorite past times during the winter months is enjoying the simple pleasure of gently gliding down a hill of powder on a comfy sleigh. Or nestling with the family on a Toboggan and holding on a long stretch down the slopes. Or speeding like a bullet down the steepest plunges around. Whatever your speed, sledding is a must this winter. Be prepared. —Robert Cameron Fowler
Sonic Snow Tube
When you climb into a tube and tilt yourself over the precipice, you’ve given yourself over to fate, blasting down the slope without any control. Which is why you want something sturdy and insulated, like L.L. Bean’s Sonic Snow Tube, built to last for years and able to zip along any type of snow, be it packed or powdery. Speed: Whoa! Control: It’s in God’s hands now.
Lucky Bums Wooden Toboggan – 48 in.
Get the entire family on the happiest of road trips—straight down a wintry slope. Toboggans are the most beautiful of sleigh rides, and the Lucky Bums Wooden Toboggan has all the features you want: built from smoothed wood, front curl to the leader of your pack to slot their feet into, and a comfy sled pad your family to sit back and enjoy the fun. Speed: Whoa! Control: Make sure you have a clear path.
PT Blaster Sled
Some slopes require the deft touch. When you are gliding past trees and jutting rocks, maneuverability is essential. The PT Blaster Sled, constructed from high-impact plastic and complete with steering, is a great way to navigate the more treacherous hills. Speed: Moderate Control: Easy to pilot.
Pelican Kinder Sleigh
Plastic is efficient, but it lacks winter magic and polish. This nostalgically crafted sleigh by Pelican Sports is perfect for your children, a safe and durable little sleigh that recalls the wooden sleds of yesteryear to mind. Speed: Moderate Control: Make sure you have a clear path.
Snow Sled Saucer Heavy Duty
If you are the straight-forward kind of rider and just want to zip down the slope at awesome speeds, go with a saucer. The Snow Sled Saucer Heavy Duty by MH Sleds is an incredibly sturdy and affordable dish for you to surf the snow on. Speed: Whoa! Control: Surrender to fate on this one.
Enjoy the winter wonderland of the best local hills for a sleigh ride.
A cherished favorite amongst Reston and Herndon residents, this broad and expansive hill beside the Unitarian Church provides enough open space for people of all ages
to glide down the packed-in snow at thrilling speeds. 1625 Wiehle Ave., Reston.
The Big Hill at Wolftrap
A quintessential sledding destination, this big ol’ hill will accommodate an army of sleigh-riders. Expect a smooth, long ride down the slope, which is not to steep and makes for a great time for the entire family. 1551 Trap Road, Vienna.
Do not take the name lightly. This short-but-steep slope will have you jetted off into high speeds—into a condo resting at the bottom of the hill if you’re not careful. Only true thrill seekers should take on this gnarly hill—and make sure to be riding on a sled that is very, very sturdy. Martha Custis Drive and Preston Road, Alexandria
While not as perilous as Suicide Hill, this hill is not a good idea for beginners. Popular and packed, it’s a great destination for more seasoned sledding families to go and enjoy some great powder. 7550 Magarity Road, McLean.
Wintry sledding locales don’t get much cooler than a Civil War monument. Head over the Stone House in Manassas Battlefield Park and you’ll find a hill between 300-400 feet of smooth riding. Speeding down the snow with cannons overlooking on the precipice of the hill is an exciting way to spend your winter holiday. Intersection of Sudley Road and Lee Highway.
Posted by Stefanie Gans, Dining Editor / Tuesday, December 17th, 2013
By Stefanie Gans
Starting in the restaurant business 23 years ago at the defunct Le Canard (now Maplewood Grill), the Vienna-raised John-Michael Hamlet is the new executive chef at Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro. Hamlet, 38, was most recently at the foodservice management company Compass Group USA and previously worked at Stone Manor Inn (Middletown, Md.), appeared on Food Network’s “Chopped” in 2010 (the last episode of the third season) and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1996.
The Reston Westin’s restaurant will keep its Mediterranean theme, but Hamlet says he plans to add a “French flair” including smoked oyster fricassee and his signature dish, FoiejitasTM. This trademarked dish—”My wife is a lawyer,” explains Hamlet, and she said, “‘let’s throw a mark on there’ … Happy wife, happy life”—follows Hamlet from his eponymous restaurant in North Salem, N.Y. (2007-2011), and includes four pieces of foie gras served with marinated red peppers, candied shallots and nutmeg crepes. “It’s like eating heaven,” says Hamlet.
Hamlet started working in Vinifera’s kitchen last Wednesday—the previous chef, Bo Palker, left for Arlington’s Pinzimini, also in the Westin—and will implement the current winter menu as is. He plans to start adding his own dishes next year, including the famed FoiejitasTM. Another reason for the trademark: “I do plan on writing cookbook,” says Hamlet. “It’s kind of a dish I’ve become known for.”
This is not the first chef-change from restaurants named to Northern Virginia Magazine’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2013; Middleburg’s Goodstone Inn also tapped someone new.
By Eliana Reyes
Today marks the start of the most extensive recount in modern Virginian political history. Fairfax County, Alexandria and Chesapeake kick off the race between Democrat Mark Herring and Republican Mark Obenshain for attorney general with Friday marking the finish line. (Loudoun Times)
The Reston family of Mary Frances DeLorenzo Knight, one of the victims of the Navy Yard shooting, has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Navy and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for failure to properly evaluate the shooter’s mental health. (Fairfax Times)
Building developers can now create below the minimum of parking spaces in exchange for giving county transportation funds. (ARLnow)
Bailey’s Health Center blunder leaves 1,499 clients’ health information open on an “unsecured computer server,” compromising information such as personal addresses and social security numbers. (Annandale Patch)
WAMU’s The Kojo Nnamdi Show remembers local “It’s Academic” host, Mac McGarry. (WAMU)
Posted by Stefanie Gans, Dining Editor / Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
“Am I an optimist or a pessimist?” I asked Warren Rojas, the former Northern Virginia Magazine dining editor, at dinner last night. Over fried calamari (with a wasabi aioli at a Chinese restaurant; I’ll get to that in the February issue), we were talking about hope. I want every restaurant meal to be wonderful. Glorious. To flush me with enough fodder to create taste memories forever. But sometimes they don’t. And then I’m heartbroken.
“You have to manage your expectations,” Warren tells me, as I’m about to finish my second year as a restaurant critic.
“So, if I always want the best, but then am disappointed, does this make me a deluded optimist? Or a perpetual pessimist?” We didn’t figure it out.
Eating for the 50 Best Restaurants issue is a balance in presumptions and, after the swallow, reality. Will my favorite restaurants from last year continue producing thoughtful food? Will a new restaurant fail to fulfill its promise? Will an established restaurant suddenly feel more vibrant than ever?
It takes a lot of meals, money and miles to put together a list of upstanding restaurants from Arlington to The Plains, from Lovettsville to Fredericksburg. It also requires some intuition. When the Loudoun County chef shuffle placed some of the area’s top chefs in new restaurants—just before our deadline to close the list—we had to decide how to handle the switches. The magazine’s policy would normally allow the chefs to gain comfort in their new kitchens before formally reviewing the food. But we didn’t have the editorial time in bizarre magazine world where we work on Christmas stories when it’s still jacket-less weather. My editor and I decided to judge them immediately because they were established chefs at established restaurants. It was a time I hoped for the best and a time when these newly rearranged talents rewarded me with lovely dishes. Maybe I am an optimist.
The 2013 Best Restaurants list was compiled differently than last year: Only the top 10 restaurants are ranked and the remainder of the restaurants are compared to other restaurants in that same county, which should help you find a great place to eat, much closer to home.
After the jump: Updates on the list, as the chef shuffles continue.
Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
By Lynn Norusis
Planned as a resort-residential community, Potomac Shores is located on the Cherry Hill Peninsula in Woodbridge along the Potomac River. This transit-oriented, mixed-use development will feature a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, five-star hotel and spa, town center, 450-slip marina, 40-acre corporate campus, two schools, more than 15 sports fields, eight miles of trails and a future, on-site Virginia Rail Express (VRE) commuter rail station.
Phase one of the residential section includes six neighborhoods with homes built by both Ryan Homes and NVHomes. These first homes are a contemporary translation of the Tidewater style with large porches and hipped roofs often found throughout coastal communities. Homes, starting in the upper $500s, are available with views of the 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course and mature hardwood forests of the Potomac waterfront.
The new 7,500 square-foot golf clubhouse at the golf course is currently under construction. The clubhouse follows suit with the architecture of the residential area, pairing the romantic spirit of a bygone era in the Tidewater style. The finishing touches are being completed on the outdoor dining terrace, where golfers can enjoy views of the Northern Virginia woodlands as well as the 18th green.
The official public opening of the new clubhouse and golf course will take place in spring 2014.
Landmark Mall Redevelopment
City of Alexandria
Status: Project approved June 2013; Developer submitted the first final site plans on Aug. 19
Scope: Howard Hughes Corporation is redeveloping the interior portion of what is now Landmark Mall, keeping adjoining retailers Sears and Macy’s intact, and turning the center of the mall into a mixed-use residential (350 to 400 apartments) and retail center (250,000 to 300,000 square feet of retail and restaurants) with sidewalks, trees and open space.
Springfield Town Center
Status: Vornado has set a tentative opening in fall of 2014 with an expected 20-year build out
Scope: A multi-phased project including a 225-plus-room hotel, over 2,000 residential units, office buildings, retail shops, restaurants, food court and state-of-the-art movie theater, multi-use pathways, and open spaces and recreational facilities including: central plaza, dog park and indoor and outdoor recreations opportunities for concerts, farmer’s markets, events and public exhibits. Other improvements include a complete redesign of the interior, the addition of two plazas, and pedestrian improvements between the mall and the Joe Alexander Transportation Center.
Lake Anne Village Center
Status: Republic Land Development chosen to start revitalization of area in July 2013; Sept. 2013 plans unveiled; Construction not beginning until fall of 2015 with completion being eight to ten years
Scope: The mixed-use development project plans includes additional retail being built in the current Lake Anne Plaza parking lot, turning Village Drive into a main entrance with a straightened path to the lake plaza, a mid-rise apartment complex replacing the current 181 affordable units with 1,000 more units possible (including townhomes, mid-rise, high-rise and an active senior center). Plans also include an amphitheater, additional retail, office space, underground parking and public transit. The North Shore/Village Drive gas station, convenience mart, parking lot-facing office buildings and the current Crescent apartments will be torn down.
Posted by Editorial / Monday, October 21st, 2013
Brad Russell, founder of Washington West Film Festival, believes in the power of storytelling. “Our tagline is that story can change the world,” he says. “A story of hope, a story of second chances is compelling. One good story should lead to another.” This, he says, is what defines the film festival he began, now celebrating its third year.
Held primarily at Reston Bow Tie Cinemas, the Washington West Film Festival will screen films ranging from documentary to comedy, short running time and feature length, unified by a mission to enamor festival-goers with the power of cinema. Russell, a resident of the D.C. area, wanted to begin something that could grow into a substantial hub for film enthusiasm, where creativity could be nurtured. “We dream of it becoming a prominent East Coast film destination,” he says.
Up until very recently, the D.C. area has not been known for being film-friendly. A recent push by Gov. Bob McDonnell has led to an increase in film and television shows being filmed or set in Northern Virginia. “I’m excited about that,” Russell shares. “I think we need to be as film-friendly as possible. I think the established film market here needs to be encouraged by our leaders or politicians. It not only attracts film making but it attracts dollars to the area.”