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A new bar and restaurant is set to fill a long-vacant space in Crystal City

Lantern Restaurant and Bar, located at 320 23rd Street S. (staff photo by Madisson Weyrich)

A new restaurant is set to fill a decade-long vacancy in Crystal City.

Lantern Restaurant & Bar, owned by Shen Zhao and Bing Liu, is moving into a storefront at the base of an apartment building at 320 23rd Street S., last occupied by Matsutake Hibachi Steak and Sushi until its closure in 2014.

The property, next to a Virginia ABC store and across from a Hilton hotel, appears to have sat vacant since.

Window dressings on the property say Lantern Restaurant & Bar is “coming soon.” Neither the owners nor the leasing agents for the space responded to requests for comment before deadline.

The new bar-restaurant is moving into the base of an apartment building plagued by stubborn business vacancies. Around the corner, storefronts have been vacant since the departure of Bar Louie and Legal Sea Foods.

The main attraction on this block, which also formerly was home to a Chili’s, is now the bowling alley Bowlero — which, for a while, drew a rowdy crowd that rankled apartment residents living atop it.

Crystal City has seen several restaurant closures in the wake of Covid. Most recently, The Freshman closed earlier this month and San Antonio Bar & Grill shuttered its location in the underground Crystal City Shops in December.

Not far away, however, the neighborhood received an infusion of new dining options last October when developer JBG Smith opened a 1.6-acre outdoor food hall and park in the Crystal City Water Park. There, visitors can get everything from duck-fat fried chicken sandwiches to Indian-style crêpes filled with lentils and chutney to gelato.

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