Established in 1975, just down the street from their current location, Heidelberg Bakery was started by Wolfgang Buchler for one very simple reason. “It was for me,” he said, “In America, I could not find any good bread.” As our interview with Wolfgang and his wife Carla unfolded it became apparent that this motivation for Wolfgang was among many other factors. But you cannot deny that bread is at the foundation of Heidelberg Bakery. We heard about their passion for the community and for the relationships that they’ve forged over the years. We heard about the cultural and regulatory challenges of running a business for over 30 years. And we left with a greater understanding and appreciation for local businesses like Heidelberg Bakery and how they have changed the Lee Highway community for the better.

The story of Heidelberg Bakery undoubtedly begins with a plane ride on August 2, 1969. The plane that carried Wolfgang Buchler from his hometown of Heidelberg Bakery to John F. Kennedy Airport touched down on a typical August day in New York. Wolfgang recalled the moment the plane doors swung open,  “I thought I died. I thought jeez did I land in Africa?” Buchler immigrated from Germany and brought with him the baking style and essence of his home town of Heidelberg, Germany. Exposing Arlingtonians to preservative-free, healthy bread, Wolfgang recalled several of his first customers bringing bread back because it would mold. Carla shared, “In the 70’s, an exotic bread was a french bread so switching over to the rye breads, hearty breads and seeded breads [was not normal]. Now it’s different. People are exposed to [these breads] and I think more international with their tastes.”

But this isn’t the only change the Buchler’s shared with us that has impacted their business over the years. A big challenge for their bakery has been a shift to a younger, more transient community. Older customers would call ahead with their big orders and return on a consistent basis. Younger customers, on the other hand, shop around, undermining the loyalty Heidelberg has relied upon. And calling ahead is something that has become the exception. “You guys don’t need to plan anymore, you have all your things on here [points to iPhone].”

Carla and Wolfgang also were able to share what makes their business so special; both for them and for their customers. Wolfgang shared when speaking about how they have tried to retain employees over the years that, “I work with my people. With people, it’s not a number. I want the best for you and you want the best for me.” Carla shared, “We have had some people 20, 30, 40 years. Sometimes they just leave because they turn 80 years old and can’t work anymore.” She also shared that they will have customers come back after several years after having left for college or moving out of town and reflect on the sense of community they experience at Heidelberg Bakery. “Arlington is sometimes transient and people sometimes don’t have something to come home to. But they know that they come here and it feels like their childhood or like visiting family and I think that’s really nice.”

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Full Interview on Arlington’s WERA 96.7

“​I like to accomplish things. There’s something in me. I’m not the type of person that will just [say], ‘ok I’m going to make my donuts.’ I had a lot of initiative.” At first he shared that he was going to go into partnership with another baker but when they sat down with the lawyer his partner backed out, “and it was in that moment that I knew I wanted to start my own business…I just knew I didn’t want to work my whole life for somebody.”

– Wolfgang Buchler, owner, Heidelberg Bakery


​“Its hard to get employees who want to work and can live close enough to be able to work. So I think affordable housing is a big challenge. And having a variety of people living in Arlington rather than just people who can afford million dollar homes.”

– Carla Buchler, owner, Heidelberg Baker


​“We get letters…customers move away and they send us cards. Arlington is sometimes transient and people sometimes don’t have something to come home to but they know that they come here and it feels like their childhood or like visiting family and I think that’s really nice.”

– Carla Buchler, owner, Heidelberg Baker


Gordon Riddle is the current manager of Brown’s Honda, and the subject of our feature interview. Mr. Riddle explained to Virginia Tech students that the owner of Brown’s Arlington Honda started at Brown’s Pontiac on Columbia Pike back in the 1970’s. He purchased the building that is now Brown’s Honda in 1976 from an old Lincoln Mercury dealer. It was run as a Lincoln Mercury dealership until 1981 when the owner came to an agreement with Honda and moved the Lincoln Mercury dealership to Fairfax. The owner now owns 16 dealerships and this was the second dealership that he opened.  He kept the name “Brown’s Honda” because it was familiar and easy.

Brown’s Honda opened on Lee Highway because the building was there and the zoning was set up for a dealership. The building that exists today only 10 years old. The current manager, Mr. Riddle, thinks that the location on Lee Highway is great because anyone who lives in Arlington that works in DC can easily drop their car off and they will run a shuttle to the metro for their customers. Mr. Riddle also shared that they have maintained the longest standing customers of any Brown’s dealership. They have approximately 80 to 100 customers per day.

The car dealership is proud of how long its employees have worked at the business. There is usually a lot of turnover in car dealerships, but Brown’s manages to retain their employee much longer than other Honda dealers do. The business employs 105 people! Brown’s has tried to be an inclusive member of the local business community by offering a map of local businesses for people getting their car serviced to go get their nails done or to go get some coffee. Mr. Riddle noted that creating that document was a collaborative effort with the Cherrydale Business Alliance, which continues to foster collaboration between business owners in the area.

Brown’s Arlington Honda
3920 Lee Highway Arlington, VA 22207
(703) 522-8808

Photo credits (left to right): Business exterior from Google Maps street view; 2) Vehicle detail by Brown’s Arlington Honda; 3) Business sign from Bing Maps street view; 4) Service Repair by Brown’s Arlington Honda; 5) Business location, Bing Maps aerial view; 6) Angel Tree Donations (group photo) by business
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Full Interview on Arlington’s WERA 96.7
(minute 15:58)

Brown's Honda image

“​”We’re not always a welcome guest, because we do bring a lot of traffic… but that was a challenge [in securing this location]…”

– Gordon Riddle, manager, Brown’s Arlington Honda

​“Its hard to get employees who want to work and can live close enough to be able to work. So I think affordable housing is a big challenge. And having a variety of people living in Arlington rather than just people who can afford million dollar homes.”

– Gordon Riddle, manager, Brown’s Arlington Honda


Kenny Hakimi and his family had just moved to Northern Virginia from New York City when KH Art and Framing was founded in 1986. The family had always been in the art business but had never ventured out to own their own business until his brother’s success in the industry demonstrated to their father that the venture would be worthwhile. It was from stories like these and many others that we dug into that this Lee Highway staple business was founded

The story of KH Art and Framing begins in the 1950’s in Uzbekistan, the country of origin for the Hakimi Family, when Kenny’s grandfather, an influential civic leader in a small Uzbek town, was compelled to move his family out of the country. Fleeing political persecution from the newly founded Soviet Union, the Hakimi family “packed up seven camels” and moved to Afghanistan. After being born in Afghanistan, the family eventually immigrated to New York City in 1974 where the Hakimi work ethic was fostered.

“Even at eight years old I had a paper route…we’re just hard workers,” Kenny shared regarding his family’s resolve that helped found the business that has become a fixture on Lee Highway. And the results have shown. In operation for more than 30 years, KH Art and Framing has established a reliable customer base of both retail and government contracting. And while most of the business has now shifted to custom framing, Kenny and his brother who co-manages the business, have not given up on finding ways to exist in the digital age.

“Mainly, the internet has taken over art sales,” Kenny shared. He added, “One of the challenges for us is to change our model away from having sleeves with artwork, to taking these and making them available online on the website and using all the social media aspects…you have to work it like a real job.” You can follow KH Art Framing on Facebook for yourself by clicking here!

It was apparent from the interview and witnessing customer interactions in the shop that Kenny and his family have loved their time serving the Lee Highway community. Throughout the entire interview you could hear his passion for the business and his customers. When sharing a story about a customer who requested a Vietnam era display case, Kenny shared, “The guy was over here crying for literally a half hour.” This for Kenny was an indicator that, “Wow, we really do have an impact on people.”

4745 Lee Hwy Arlington, VA 22207
(703) 525-6132

Photo credits (left to right): 1) Building exterior view, by Virginia Tech students; 2) Building entrance view, by Virginia Tech students; 3) Store interior view, by Virginia Tech students; 4) Store interior view (close up), by Virginia Tech students; 5) Best of Arlington by KH Art & Framing; 6) Business owners, by Virginia Tech students
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Full Interview on Arlington’s WERA 96.7

“​My initial heritage is from Uzbekistan. Back in the [19]50’s, my grandfather, he was kind of like a mayor of a major town…”

– Kenny Hakimi, owner, KH Art and Framing

​“​”The internet has taken over arts. That’s what it boils down to… it’s more time-consuming [to come into a store]. One of the challenges for us has been to take artwork out of the [physical] sleeve, and make it available online.”

– Kenny Hakimi, owner, KH Art and Framing


Established in 1979, Lebanese Taverna has become a beloved local chain with 12 locations across the DC Metro area. But the business that has become familiar to many in Arlington began as a business with not only a borrowed space, but a borrowed name. Grace Abi-Najm Shea, current owner and daughter of the founder of the Lebanese Taverna shared with us that the building where they started their business, previously operated under the name Athenian Taverna and that the name Lebanese Taverna was “born out of necessity.”

And so it began. Originally selling Greek cuisine alongside the Lebanese food of her family’s upbringing and taste, Lebanese Taverna customers started asking more and more for the food the family would eat in the restaurant instead of the food they were selling. After about a year, the menu was converted to full Lebanese food. And while they still served some of the Greek specialties for the first 25 years, this coming summer will mark 31 years of serving the best Lebanese cuisine around.

If you listen to the interview, you will hear just some of the stories that have made this business into what it has become. Whether it’s stories of her brothers giving the keys to customers to lock up when they were done, or the occasional customer stopping to greet Grace in the middle of our interview, you can feel the trust between this business and its customers. Lebanese Taverna has become a cornerstone of the Lee Highway community and we are excited to see how this reputation and trust will ensure its successful operation for many years to come.

Lebanese Taverna
4400 Old Dominion Dr Arlington, VA 22207
(703) 276-8681

Photo credits (left to right): 1) Building exterior view, by Virginia Tech students; 2) Restaurant interior view, by Virginia Tech students; 3) Zoofari event, by Lebanese Taverna; 4) Food image by Yelp user ‘Alex V.’;  5) Cook in the kitchen by Yelp user ‘Donald C.’; 6) Family photo by Lebanese Taverna
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Full Interview on Arlington’s WERA 96.7

​”In 1979, my father found out that this little shop on the corner of McKinley and Washington Blvd. was for sale. It was owned by a Greek family, and at that time was called the ‘Athenian Taverna.’ My siblings helped my dad negotiate the lease, because his English was pretty poor. We didn’t have enough money to change the whole sign. Hence was born, ‘Lebanese Taverna.'”

– Grace Abi-Najm Shea, owner, Lebanese Taverna

​”Our customer base is so loyal. I mean it’s just, it’s unbelievable. We have grandparents, parents, children, that have all been coming here for so long, because we’ve been around for 37 years.”

– Grace Abi-Najm Shea, owner, Lebanese Taverna

​”We’ve become more than food to people. And people have become more than customers to us. It’s really what keeps us going.”

– Grace Abi-Najm Shea, owner, Lebanese Taverna


The land that the Lyon Village Shopping Center sits on was originally part of the overall Lyon Village development that was built at the beginning of the 20th century.  This leftover piece of land was the last one to be developed, as it had a ravine running through it and was difficult to build on. There were various businesses on the property at different points in time, including Bernie’s Pony Ring.  However, in 1960, the property owner decided that the site would make a good location for a modern strip mall.  The owners filled up the ravine and shored up the land to make it more stable.

They then endeavored to build a modern shopping center to be able to service the needs of the surrounding neighborhood, including the residents of Lyon Village.  The property owner was able to attract one of the first Giant Food locations to the site, and the grocery store was supplemented by a drug store, a High’s Dairy Store, a Chinese restaurant, a bank, a dry cleaners and a barbershop.

The shopping center has been renovated three times – in the 1970’s, in the mid-1980’s and most recently, in 2010. The Lyon Village Shopping Center has always strived to have a mix of chain stores and local businesses.  Therefore, while there is a Starbucks on the site, there is also the original location of The Italian Store, a legacy business. Today, this neighborhood shopping center not only serves local residents, but residents of Washington, D.C., who frequent the center because of its easy parking!

Lyon Village Shopping Center
3004 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22201

Photo credits (left to right): 1) Building location aerial view, from Google Maps; 2) Giant Food Store entrance, by Yelp user ‘William S.’; 3) The Italian Store entrance, by Yelp user ‘Azucena H.’; 4) Starbucks beverage and entrance, by Yelp user ‘Ann P.’; 5) Big Wheel Bikes entrance, posted to Yelp by the business owner; 6) Lyon Village shopping center, from Google Maps street view
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Full Interview on Arlington’s WERA 96.7


Bill Preston started Preston’s Pharmacy in 1934. When Mr. Preston retired in 1985, he sold the business to another pharmacist. The second owner kept the store for one year before selling to John Eklund. Mr. Eklund decided to buy Preston’s when it became available because Preston’s had always had a very good reputation both with the public and with physicians.  What Mr. Eklund brought to the business was presence.  The business was located at a main intersection, but Mr. Eklund felt that many people did not know it was there.  Increasing Preston’s visibility was Mr. Eklund’s mission.

At the time Mr. Eklund bought the business, Preston’s was located in the nearby Glebe Lee Shopping Center.  Rents were high for the space that the business occupied, and so he looked to move to a new location, especially since a Rite-Aid had opened up in the same shopping center.  Still, Preston’s thrived until their lease ended, despite threats and buyout offers from Rite-Aid.

Luckily, a property that used to house a Texaco service station became available just down the street.  Mr. Eklund was able to purchase it, and set out to design a distinctive building, one that would have presence.  Although the sign was a refashioning of the old Texaco sign, Mr. Eklund was able to redesign the building to his specifications.  He wanted the new building to have the look of an old building, with small windows that would save energy, and gooseneck lamps to make it look like it is as old as the business was.

Preston’s has always tried to position ourselves a little differently than the chains.  The entire focus of chain pharmacies is selling large volumes of cosmetic products, food products and other things Mr. Eklund, as a pharmacist, was never interested in selling. Preston’s was able make up the difference by opening up a compounding laboratory, a clean room and a gift department. Doctors appreciated Preston’s valued customer service more than the chain pharmacies.  The business was willing to incorporate innovative products into their sales model, which helped them for a while, until the health care providers took on the product sales themselves

Mr. Eklund always felt that the pharmacy as a profession belonged to pharmacists.  Therefore, when he became ready to sell the business and retire, he never really wanted to ignore that and sell to a chain. In 2016, Mr. Eklund sold the business to Frank Odeh, who Mr. Eklund knew and felt comfortable selling to, based on his experience as a pharmacist in McLean. Mr. Eklund never had any intention of changing the name from Preston’s Pharmacy when he bought it, and when Mr. Odeh purchased it, he had no intention of changing the name from Preston’s Pharmacy either.  Why change the name of the business when its reputation is so good?

Preston’s Pharmacy
5101 Lee Hwy Arlington, VA 22207
(703) 522-3412

Photo credits (left to right): 1) Pharmacy entrance, photo by Virginia Tech students; 2) Pharmacy interior, by Yelp user ‘Sheila C.’; 3) Pharm. D. Sharon Grant, posted to Yelp by the business; 4) Pharmacy technician, posted to Yelp by the business; 5) Washington Post Business section newspaper scan, April 5 2004; 6) John Eklund, RPh, posted to Yelp by the business owner
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Full Interview on Arlington’s WERA 96.7


Established in 1978, Sterling Framing has become a Lee Highway legacy business under the leadership of current owner Chuck Kipp. But when Sterling Picture Framing was founded, Chuck was like many who live in the DC Metro area; a government employee. In our interview with Chuck he shared how he found his way into the art and framing industry, how Sterling Picture Framing found its way to Lee Highway and some fascinating stories about serving the DC Metro community. Like so many others we interviewed, what CHuck believes set this business apart is not the content of his sales, but the quality of the care he displays for his work and for his customers.

Originally moving to the DC area as a recent graduate who had passed a civil service exam, Chuck worked in Alexandria for a year before he realized his calling was somewhere else. “I was taking art classes at the time, and I ended up with a bunch of artists. And that’s how I got in the studio, I got in with a bunch of GW artists and became sort of an apprentice to some of them. I was very young then. But that’s how I ended up in the art studio,” Chuck shared. He got into business with Mr. Sterling who founded the business a few years later. When asked why he didn’t change the name upon owning the business for himself, Chuck shared that he thought Sterling Framing, “sounds nice.”

While in business he has experienced ups and downs, all the while serving a very interesting market. When asked about some of the most interesting people he’s had as customers, he shared that among them is undoubtedly former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Chuck shared that, “he’d come in and look around and we’d frame some things for him and then he’d go around and get a video. Yeah, he was just a nice guy.”

And while the burden of owning a business is not far from Chuck’s mind, the theme of personal care for the people he works with and for ran through all of his stories. “In this business, you really get to know people,” Chuck shared. “Because they bring in diplomas… they graduate, or their kids graduate….over the years. It’s really kind of interesting. It’s not like a retail business where people come and go and [you say], ‘we’ll see you later.’ You get to work with them for an hour and you get to talk with them.”

Preston’s Pharmacy
2103 N Pollard St Arlington, VA 22207
(703) 522-8393

Photo credits (left to right): 1) Main entrance, from the business website; 2) Business entry doors, from the business website; 3) Framing examples, from the business website; 4) Frame samples, from the business website; 5) Interior shelf display, from the business website; 6) Interior store view, from the business website
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Full Interview on Arlington’s WERA 96.7


The following is a summary of a prior interview conducted by Virginia Smith of Arlington’s  Center for Local History on April 27, 2016.

Sam Torrey Shoe Service was opened in 1945 when Sam Torregrosa returned from World War II.  Torrey opened his shop in the Cherrydale Firehouse, and it remained in Cherrydale until he moved the business to the corner of Lee Highway and North George Mason Drive in the early 1960’s.  In 1986, the father of the current owner, Kevork Tchalekian, bought the business from Mr. Torrey.

Mr. Tchalekian’s family had been in the shoe repair business, and after his father bought the business, he brought in his son to learn it as well.  After 30 years, Mr. Tchalekian has gained a devoted following that appreciates the craftsmanship that only somebody who has been in the business for years can achieve.  Mr. Tchalekian has multiple employees working for him that have been there for over 15 years.

The store offers more than shoe repair.  Mr. Tchalekian has expanded the range of repair services to luggage, jackets and other things that go with his type of business.  He also offers a wide array of polishes, laces and foot care products to be a one-stop shop for all things shoe and leather-related. As the demand for artisan shoe repair keeps shrinking, more of these types of businesses are closing.  Right now, that is keeping Mr. Tchalekian busy with hundreds of pairs of shoes to repair moving in and out of the store every couple of weeks. Mr. Tchalekian doesn’t need to advertise anymore, because word of mouth and the review websites out there do all the advertising he needs.

Sam Torrey Shoe Repair
5267 Lee Hwy Arlington, VA 22207
(703) 532-4933

Photo credits (left to right): 1) Sam Torrey entrance, photo by Virginia Tech students; 2) Workshop interior, photo by Virginia Tech students; 3) Classic signage, photo by Virginia Tech students; 4) Washington Post newspaper clipping, Local Living section, 11/6/2014; 5) Washington Post newspaper clipping part 2, Local Living section, 11/6/2014; 6) Kevork Tchalekian, business owner, photographed by Virginia tech students

Glebe Radio and Appliances is owned by Dabney Wharton. Mr. Wharton’s half-brother (referred by him as his “father” due to a large age difference) started the business in 1946. The first location of Glebe Radio & Appliances was at Lee Highway and Glebe Rd. (which is now a Wells Fargo bank). In the 1940’s, Dabney’s father sold a lot of radios as well as appliances, and in the 1950’s, he started selling televisions and stereo sets as well. He used to sell an even amount of televisions/stereos and appliances.

In the old store, his father also did repairs of appliances, televisions and radios. In 1964, he was going to buy the building he was in, but it fell through. So instead, he bought the building where they are located now (5054-5064 Lee Highway). After getting out of the army in 1972, Dabney joined the business.  Dabney started by mostly doing deliveries and hooking things up.  In 1984, he took over the business and has been running it ever since.

TV’s and appliances continued to sell equally until end of the century. TV sales then started to decline when other stores started selling TV’s at cost.  Other businesses sold service contracts with their TV’s, but Dabney never believed in service contracts, as he felt that they were a rip off. Since he didn’t want to compete by selling TV’s at cost, he stopped selling them. Today, the business only sells appliances. Dabney stopped selling radios in 2001 or so, due to the decline in sales.

Dabney’s business is unique because it is individually-owned. People can talk to the owner, as opposed to a box store. Dabney hardly advertises at all anymore, because word-of-mouth and online reviews bring customers into his store.  He provides good service, so he gets favorable comments. Dabney hasn’t had a big problem with large appliance stores taking business away from him. He is selling to a third generation of families now.

The neighborhood he is in used to be referred to as “Hall’s Hill,” a black neighborhood. Now it’s diverse because the housing is so expensive that a lot of the old families who lived there couldn’t afford to stay. In the 1950’s and 60’s, his father provided credit on his own to several young couples who couldn’t get credit, after some older members of the community vouched for them. So he would sell a washer or an appliance to them and he always got paid.

During the riots of the late 1960’s in the neighborhood, some of the people in the Hall’s Hill neighborhood stationed themselves in front of the store in order to protect it from being vandalized. Such was the respect this business had with the community.

Glebe Radio & Appliances
5060 Lee Hwy Arlington, VA 22207
(703) 538-4400

Photo credits (left to right): 1) Glebe Radio entrance, from Bing Maps street view; 2) Dabney Wharton, business owner, photographed by Virginia Tech students; 3) Store interior, photographed by Virginia Tech students; 4) Antique goods, photographed by Virginia Tech students; 5) Dabney Wharton in front of interior store display, by Virginia Tech students; 6) Dabney Wharton, business owner, photographed by Virginia Tech students
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Full Interview on Arlington’s WERA 96.7
(minute 14:22)

​”[Glebe Radio] is individually owned. There aren’t many stores left like that. At all.”

– Dabney Wharton, owner, Glebe Radio and Appliance

​”I remember the men who worked for my father had some good stories about the radio station down near George Mason and Lee Highway. Back then it was called WGAY. It was owned by a man named Connie B.K, and he introduced country music to this area. I remember they talked about Patsy Cline, and Roy Clark, and Jimmy Dean. The three I really remember, because at the time, they would put on a show over the radio down here and I remember hearing about them going out over the hillside on Saturdays to perform. And if enough people showed up it blocked traffic, so the county wouldn’t let them do it anymore.”

– Dabney Wharton, owner, Glebe Radio and Appliance

​”I know my first tip! I was thirteen years old, and our Congressman at the time was a man named Joe Boyle, he was friends with my father, and he had gotten his little 13-inch T.V. repaired at the store. And I carried it up for him and threw it in his car, and he gave me a quarter. And I was like, “Wow!” Because a quarter went a long way in 1961 or whatever year it was. So that was my first tip.”

– Dabney Wharton, owner, Glebe Radio and Appliance