Ex-Redskin's upscale Largo restaurant goes under in red ink

By Nelson Hernandez
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 25, 2009

The game is over for the Sideline, LaVar Arrington's glitzy restaurant and sports bar in Largo.

Owing millions of dollars to numerous creditors and faced with possible eviction from the Boulevard at the Capital Centre, the money-losing business closed abruptly Wednesday. Employees showed up to work to find movers clearing the place out, and they told television station WJLA (Channel 7) that they were angry that they weren't getting paid.

"I can tell you that it closed," Carl Levin, the restaurant's manager, said in an e-mail. "I am no longer associated with the restaurant."

By Thursday, the restaurant, owned by the former Redskins linebacker, was deserted. A handwritten sign on the front door declared the business "CLOSED." Inside, tables and chairs were stacked, and trash littered the floor. Clumps of wiring dangled from empty mountings where 34 flat-screen televisions once showed sports events.

The closure is another disappointment for residents hoping that the Boulevard retail center would provide a safe, upscale alternative to strip malls. The Boulevard, just outside the Capital Beltway near FedEx Field, includes a Magic Johnson movie theater and chain stores including Borders. But it has been hit hard by the recession, and several businesses have closed.

The Sideline opened in January 2008 catering to a stylish clientele. Managers placed ads seeking attractive women as employees. Expensive mixed drinks and a dress code added to the air of exclusivity.

But the restaurant's reputation took a hit in March, when one man was killed and six other people were injured after an argument ended in a burst of gunfire just outside the main entrance.

The restaurant filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June and listed liabilities of $5.5 million against $136,900 in assets.

The filing listed more than two dozen creditors, including $766,000 owed to Commercial Interiors, an interior design company, and $109,000 owed in sales tax. Capital Centre LLC, which runs the Boulevard at the Capital Centre, had pursued court action claiming the Sideline wasn't paying its rent and filed a motion to compel the immediate surrender of the property in October.

Bennie Brooks, the lawyer listed as representing Arrington in the bankruptcy proceedings, said he was "not available to give any comment whatsoever."

A woman who answered the phone at Arrington's family home in Upper Marlboro declined to comment or put a reporter in contact with Arrington.

Staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.

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