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A great new Ethiopian restaurant in Fairfax

25 Apr

I love Sheba, the new Ethiopian restaurant in Fairfax.

Keep in mind that I’m no foodie, and my perspective is extremely narrow. Although I’ve eaten food from Sheba at least a half-dozen times now, it’s always been takeout. So I’ve never actually had a meal inside the restaurant.

And I’ve ordered the same dish every time  — the vegetarian combination.

Like I said: My perspective is narrow.

The injera (the pancake-looking thing in the photo) is fresh and spongy, and the vegetable dishes — green beans and carrots, lentils, collard greens, cabbage and a couple of other things that I haven’t figured out yet — are delicious and not too greasy.

Tyler Cowen reviewed Sheba recently. He liked the food, but complained about the service. Of course, I wouldn’t know anything about the service.

Although I’ve never had a meal inside Sheba, I’m the Foursquare mayor. A proud accomplishment.


Great news for Northern Virginia movie buffs

2 Feb

According to the Cinema Arts email newsletter issued Wednesday afternoon, Angelika will be opening a movie theater in Merrifield.

Any new theater in Fairfax Co. would be welcome, but Angelika is special. The Angelika Film Center in Soho is one of New York City’s most prominent arthouses.

The programming at the theater they open in Merrifield will be probably be less adventurous than the one in Manhattan (where they are currently featuring The Artist, Carnage, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Coriolanus, Miss Bala and Melancholia) but we’ll take it.

According to its website, Angelika also operates the Village East Cinema in New York, as well as Angelika Film Centers in Dallas and Plano, Texas. The programming at each takes the blockbusters-plus-indies approach of Cinema Arts in Fairfax, and that’s probably what we’ll see in Merrifield.

I don’t know yet when or where (the site of the old Multiplex Theaters on Route 29 across from the Home Depot?) the new theater will open, but I sent an email to the company and when I learn the details I will report back to my many millions of adoring readers.

And by the way, the business strategy that leads a company to open movie theaters in Soho, the Village, Dallas, Plano and Merrifield is not obvious. Maybe I should ask them about that too.

The Financialization of Northern Virginia

2 Jan

There are five bank branches clustered at the intersection of Chain Bridge and Hunter Mill, all within a quarter-mile of my home in Oakton. Four of them — Bank of America (2936 Chain Bridge Rd.), Capital One (2938 Chain Bridge), Wells Fargo (2946 Chain Bridge) and PNC (2964 Chain Bridge) — have moved into the neighborhood within the last two years, displacing a Blockbuster, Appalachian Outfitters (which opened in 1969) and who knows what else. BB&T (2941 Chain Bridge), formerly First Virginia, has been here awhile.

If that doesn’t sate my desire for banking services, I can always take a right on Chain Bridge and drive two miles, where I can choose from among seven banks in the mile-long stretch of Maple Ave. between Nutley and Lawyer’s Rd. In this thriving financial district in Vienna, Virginia, I can open an account or take out a loan at SunTrust (501 Maple), Freedom Bank (502 Chain Bridge), BB&T (415 Maple), Burke & Herbert (302 Maple), United Bank (226 Maple), Bank of America (235 Maple) or HSBC (214 Maple).

And if I’m still not satisfied? Turn right on Nutley and drive another two miles to the intersection at Lee Highway in Fairfax, where there are five more banks clustered around the Pan Am Shopping Center: SunTrust (9401 Lee), PNC (3050 Nutley), Wells Fargo (3019 Nutley), Bank of America (3065 Nutley) and Capital One (3095 Nutley).

That’s 17 different bank branches within three miles of my front door, and most of them are relatively new tenants located in standalone properties. And that’s not even counting the three 7-Elevens in the same radius where I can access a Citibank ATM, or the Giant or Safeway stores with their PNC and SunTrust mini-branches.

Clearly, this blight on our retail space is one of the many unfortunate consequences of the financialization of America. But that alone doesn’t explain why banks are leasing all of this real estate at the very moment when most information-intensive businesses are abandoning bricks-and-mortar for the internet.

What is going on here?

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