What do a Thai restaurant, cycling studio and parking lot have in common? The sense of community they’ve managed to create in difficult times.
Nestled at the top of Rosslyn’s hill on Wilson Blvd., Colonial Village is a community with a variety of fitness studios, international restaurants and other businesses that, like the rest of the country, have had to rapidly adapt to the new world brought on by COVID-19. Among these are Good Sweat cycling studio and Thai Select; two businesses that are evolving everyday to meet the needs of customers and the larger community.
Good Sweat takes the indoor experience, outdoors
Like a lot of local business owners, Good Sweat’s owner and founder, Ali Hashemi, recognized early on that her business would need to make a dramatic operational shift—and fast—if her studio was going to survive the effects of the pandemic.
Just 24 hours after the initial shutdown in Arlington, Hashemi was already sending communications to her team and loyal riders about the studio’s plans to go entirely virtual. From there she began renting out the studio’s bikes so that clients could get a similar experience at home while following along with virtual classes. Good Sweat also contributed videos to our Wellness page, which offers virtual wellness videos to our community.
But even as Virginia entered Phase Two of reopening in June, Hashemi struggled with the idea of opening her indoor studio when the health of her team and riders still seemed at risk. Thus, in Hashemi’s eyes, expanding into the building’s parking lot to host outdoor classes became the only plausible option.
“I was always going to fight as hard as I could to create a healthy, sustainable option, and if we were going to accomplish all three pillars of our mission—health, wellness, and giving back—the parking lot was going to be the difference,” Hashemi told the BID in a recent interview.
Now, Good Sweat is able to host regular, in-person classes in the parking lot, creating a safe, fun environment that both her staff and riders can feel good about. And it’s paid off in other ways too.
“We’re getting so many new people everyday! In addition to it being a fun environment for our regular riders to enjoy a class, new people can walk by on the street and see first-hand what a class is like,” Hashemi noted.
It’s also meant that Good Sweat has been able to continue in their mission of giving back to the community, even before they are profitable themselves. With every dollar spent, Good Sweat gives a portion to local and national nonprofits, such as AFAC, A-SPAN, Black Lives Matter D.C. and the Center for Black Equity.
Thai Select adjusts with patio seating and new menu items
The sense of community these outdoor classes has contributed to is apparent all around Colonial Village. Right next door to Good Sweat, Thai Select is also doing what they can to meet the needs of diners in the safest way possible.
With the addition of temporary seating in the parking lot, not far from Good Sweat’s outdoor classes, diners can enjoy Thai Select’s cuisine in an open, clean space. With new patio seating and the recent introduction of sushi to the menu, Thai Select is working to adapt to the needs of its customers as quickly, and safely, as possible.
One of the owners, Ann Chevas, says that loyal customers continue to patronize the Colonial Village location, but their Georgetown location has had to close its doors temporarily. This means that Thai Select in Colonial Village is currently filling all orders from both Georgetown and Arlington.
For now though, Chevas remains hopeful that the loyal patrons in and around Colonial Village will keep Thai Select going through these difficult times. “People tend to choose to eat outside and use our new seating, and our hope is that if reopening continues and once fear subsides, we’ll eventually get to return to normal,” Chevas concluded.
Thai Select was one of the first restaurants to participate in our #RosslynRewards program, which rewards customers $5 for every $10 they spend when they share on social media. The program is also valid at The Simple Greek, just a few doors down from Thai Select.
For both, the parking lot has made all the difference
The combination of this outdoor seating and the nearby cycle classes has created an experience that projects the feeling of a strong community and close-knit neighborhood that is Rosslyn. Hashemi noted that the beauty of the shopping center where both Good Sweat and Thai Select are located is the familial unit it represents.
With a general “open-door policy,” all of the local business owners continue to check-in with each other on a regular basis. For both Hashemi and Chevas, this sense of community has made the shutdown and trials of the past several months less isolating for them as small business owners.
The silver lining? Thanks to Arlington's Temporary Outdoor Seating Permits, the addition of patio seating has allowed Thai Select to keep their doors open and shoulder the weight of two locations in one. At Good Sweat, Hashemi is grateful for the new riders that might not have been drawn to her classes if not for the outdoor benefit. Plus, the new virtual options that resulted from this shift will become a permanent option for the Good Sweat community.
While every business owner, employee and even customers have had to adjust greatly in order to prioritize health, communities like Rosslyn’s Colonial Village are an example of what it looks like to pull together to face the challenges of the present and future, together.