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New Restaurant Moving in Next Door to Drafthouse

The Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse will soon be getting a new neighbor.

Mazagan Restaurant, at 2901 Columbia Pike, recently put up posters on the windows of its storefront, advertising a restaurant with “Cuisine. Cocktails. Culture.”

Chef/owner Riyad Bouizar signed the lease for the space last month and said construction will begin next week, with an estimated opening in late December or early January. Mazagan will be a Moroccan restaurant, Bouizar said, with three different sections: a “big bar” with seating for about 50, a dining room with seating for about 60 and a lounge area in the back for cocktails and appetizers.

Bouizar, who was born in Morocco, where he went to culinary school, also owns Ristorante Murali and Brasserie Creperie at Pentagon Row. He said Mazagan’s future location on Columbia Pike inspired him to re-enter the kitchen and open a restaurant that builds on his culinary passion.

“It’s an upcoming area, I like it because of the international people there, and they’re from everywhere,” Bouizar said. “That’s where the concept came there, to do something a little different, bring something new. I’ve always wanted to open a Moroccan restaurant, and there are not too many around here.”

Mazagan said he envisions a “half-open kitchen” concept with a wood-fired grill in the middle of the dining room. The fare will stray a little from traditional Moroccan cuisine; Bouizar wants the theme to be a “kebab bar,” offering more than 20 different styles of kebabs from the grill.

Bouizar plans to start dinner slightly early, at about 5:00 p.m., and continue serving it later, to accommodate the movie-going crowd at the Drafthouse.

The restaurant replaces Venus Stereos & TVs, a quirky electronics store that also sold soccer jerseys, which closed February 2012.

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