Arlington, VA

With the festive season upon us, Amazon has gotten into the giving spirit with a holiday donation for students who live in local affordable housing complexes.

On Tuesday, officials from Amazon’s charity group AmazonSmile met with residents at affordable housing developer AHC Inc.‘s Gates of Ballston property, distributing school supplies, board games, and more.

Amazon’s donation was made in effort to support AHC’s educational programming for residents utilizing the AHC’s AmazonSmile Charity List, an online wish list platform.

The donated items will be distributed across AHC’s five different community centers in Northern Virginia with children’s educational programming, which benefits dozens of students ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade.

“AHC Inc. is thrilled to be surprised by Amazon to receive donations of educational games and electronics from AHC’s AmazonSmile Charity List,” said AHC President & CEO Walter D. Webdale in a press release.

“The low-income families we serve in Arlington and the surrounding areas are especially struggling during the holiday season, and contributions to support the girls and boys in AHC’s afterschool and teen tutoring programs will not only brighten the holiday but help keep learning front and center.”

AHC is Arlington’s oldest and largest nonprofit affordable housing developer, managing 23 properties across Arlington with 3,000 low- and moderate-income residents. AHC also manages properties elsewhere in Virginia and Maryland.

Amazon has made recent local headlines for its affordable housing contributions. During the Arlington County Board meeting this Saturday, December 14, the board will vote on approval of the first phase of Amazon’s permanent HQ2 in Pentagon City, which would come with a $20 million contribution from Amazon to Arlington’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF).

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A Mexican restaurant just off Columbia Pike has temporarily closed, with plans to reopen in the new year.

The owners of Cantina Mexicana, located at 922 S. Walter Reed Drive, told ARLnow.com they needed some time off after a family member suffered from a stroke.

“We’ll reopen sometime right after the new year, hopefully during the first week even,” said owner Gloria Arias.

Several ARLnow readers reached out and asked whether the restaurant had closed for good, after a sign was posted to the door saying the restaurant had closed on December 4 “due to a power failure.”

“We will be back, we just needed to take some family time,” said Richard, a restaurant employee.

Cantina Mexicana opened on the Pike seven years ago. It closed its Crystal City location in 2017.

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(Updated at 10:20 a.m.) Arlington is kicking off a renovation project for the upper fields at Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

Officials have begun the design phase for the “TJ Upper Field Turf Conversion,” which will transform the sports field — which is also the side of the annual Arlington County Fair — from existing natural grass to synthetic turf.

In addition, other items up for consideration in the project include “new spectator seating, signage, athletic equipment, site furnishings, [and] pathways,” as well as landscaping to remove invasive plants and to improve stormwater management.

The design phase of the project is set to wrap up during the first quarter of 2020, with construction projected to run from the third quarter of 2020 to the second quarter of 2021.

Last year, the middle school’s lower field received new synthetic turf as part of the county’s Synthetic Turf Program. The upcoming changes to the upper field were recommended in the Public Spaces Master Plan, and approved by the County Board in the FY 2019-2028 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).

A public meeting to discuss the project is scheduled for next week on Wednesday, December 18 at 7 p.m. in the Thomas Jefferson Community & Fitness Center (3501 2nd Street S.).

Photo via Arlington County 

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One of Arlington’s most successful restaurants will open its second location very soon.

The Neapolitan pizzeria Pupatella, which opened its first brick-and-mortar restaurant in Bluemont in 2010, is expected to open at 1621 S. Walter Reed Drive next week.

“This week is training,” manager Anastasiya Laufenberg told ARLnow. “We should be opening next week. The community support has been great.”

Hopefully the new location will have better luck than past businesses at that address. A string of restaurants there who quickly shuttered after opening have given the Walter Reed corner the reputation as Arlington’s restaurant “Bermuda Triangle.”

Pupatella currently has two additional locations outside of Arlington, in Richmond and Glen Allen, Virginia.

Heading into 2020, Pupatella has also announced plans to eventually open a 2,700 square foot location at 1821 Wiehle Avenue in Reston as part of a new expansion push fueled by a $3.75 million investment.

Earlier this week, the restaurant introduced two “Pizza Lovers” wines, a red Merlot/Cabernet blend and a white Pinot Grigio-Chardonnay blend, to pair with its pies.

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(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) The latest addition to Rosslyn’s food scene is now open.

Happy Endings Eatery, an Asian food hall with a Vietnamese focus, opened last week in Rosslyn’s Central Place complex (1800 N. Lynn Street). The two-level, 5,000-square-foot space features two counters serving a variety of different cuisine and drinks, including as bubble tea, banh mi sandwiches, pho, and more.

A counter downstairs serves coffee and Teas’n You bubble tea. Upstairs is a larger walk-up counter, touch-screens for food and drink orders, and a back room with lots of indoor plants and cozy seating.

Other options include “Roll Play Grill” for customized wraps and bowls, and “Xin Coffee” for Vietnamese iced coffee. The entire food hall is cash-free and only takes electronic payments, per a sign on the wall.

The food hall is a project of Happy Endings Hospitality, an area restaurant group responsible for local eateries such as Chasin’ Tails in East Falls Church and Lei’d Hawaiian Poke in Tysons Corner.

“As you know, today’s consumer is much more experiential than in the past,” said Happy Endings co-owner Tuyet Nhi Le. “They search out new experiences including authentic cuisines and flavors. Our food is all made from scratch using recipes that have been in my family for four generations. I think people in the area really appreciate the different menu options and flavors that we offer and how fast and efficient our system is, especially when they don’t have a lot of time during lunch!”

The food hall is scheduled to hold its grand opening party on January 25, to celebrate the Lunar New Year, said Nhi Le. Future plans for the eatery include “launching breakfast,” along with opportunities for private events.

“Happy Endings Eatery is family-owned and -operated, which is keeping with the community feel of Rosslyn,” said Mary-Claire Burick, president of Rosslyn BID. “With a leadership team that is 50% women and a cuisine that will wake up your senses, there’s no question that this brings wonderful diversity to our lively food scene.”

Happy Endings has faced some criticism for its innuendo-laced brands, but that did not deter the owners from moving forward with the opening.

Happy Endings Eatery is the first of three food halls coming to Rosslyn in a two-block radius.

Coming to the same address as Happy Endings is Common Ground Social Eatery, which has pushed its opening date back three times. Common Ground is now expected to open by the spring or summer of 2020 on the second floor of the Central Place complex, “above the McDonalds overlooking the plaza.”

Another food hall is set for the Rosslyn City Center development, above the Rosslyn Metro station.

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(Updated at 5:45 p.m.) A new cafe and bar is now open in Clarendon.

East West Coffee and Wine” opened last week at 3101 Wilson Blvd, serving tapas, coffee, wine, and more. It joins a bevy of other coffee shops — including chain locations and indie cafes — in the Clarendon area.

According to permits, East West has a seating capacity of up to 65 inside. In warmer months, the restaurant will have seating for up to 34 guests outside.

“I’m excited to see returning customers already, and some people who showed up on Monday and Tuesday were already back on Wednesday,” owner Mehmet Coskun tells ARLnow.

Coffee selections include nitro cold brews, espresso drinks including cortados, and more. Its food menu features small-plate tapas, include muhammara, which Coskun describes as hot pepper dip made from “feta cheese, walnuts, red peppers, and garlic.” The cafe also offers a brunch menu available only on weekend mornings.

It’s the second location for East West. The first location, formerly known as Central Coffee Bar, opened two years ago in Rosslyn (1901 N. Moore Street). It rebranded recently as “East West Coffee and Wine” to match the new location.

Plans are already in the works for a third East West location, which is listed as “Coming Soon” to Tysons.

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

After five years in Arlington, Eastern Foundry — a co-working incubator focused on government contractors as tenants — has expanded outside of Virginia.

In September, the company opened its third location in Fayetteville, North Caroline, ten minutes way from Fort Bragg — the largest Army installation in the world.

“When we were thinking about our next expansion, we were looking at places that would be both affordable and expand our network access, and Fort Bragg was perfect,” said Regina Burke, director of client operations and development for the company.

“In Fayetteville, we can still have a strong reach from other North Carolina cities like Raleigh, Charlotte, and Greenville, so in addition to soldiers who choose to stay in the area after being stationed in Fort Bragg, we get government workers from all over,” Burke said.

The Fayetteville campus features three conference rooms for up to fifty people, a rooftop deck, and flexible space for both private offices and single workers.

“As an Army veteran, I know how important the units and contractors in and around Ft. Bragg are to our nation, so I’ve wanted to open a location here for years,” said Eastern Foundry co-founder Andrew Chang, in a statement. “The access to government tailored business support services can act as a major catalyst to any business looking to grow.”

In addition to their latest outpost, Eastern Foundry has also expanded both of its Rosslyn and Crystal City offices by about 15,000 square feet each, according to Burke. 

“We still have a few vacancies left in our Rosslyn space, but that’s about it,” Burke said.

By solely leasing office space to government contractors, Eastern Foundry creates a unique, collaborative ecosystem for people to share ideas and have an open discussion.

“There’s a stereotype that government contracting is dog-eat-dog– which is not true,” Burke said. “When companies come to our space, that wall that they have kind of comes down.”

Going forward, the company is still easing into their its space, but is now looking to continue to expand nationwide.

“We would love to find a place in Tampa, Florida, or Huntsville, Alabama, these cities where there’s a need for both government contractors and co-working spaces,” said Burke.

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Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form.

Also, be sure to check out our event calendar.

Monday, December 9

First Time Home Buyer Seminar*
Keri Shull Team (1600 Wilson Blvd) 
Time: 6-7:30 p.m.

Learn about the possible mistakes that come with the first time you purchase a home at this seminar. Topics covered include how to avoid double-paying a rent and mortgage, and how to properly calculate a budget.

Capital Caring Health: Coping With Loss During the Holidays
Arlington Public Library, Columbia Pike (816 S. Walter Reed Drive)
Time: 4-5 p.m. 

This free support group service is available to all who are grieving during the holidays, helping individuals and families navigate emotions and support each other.

Wednesday, December 11

Holiday Shopping Mixer
Sheyla Boutique – Village at Shirlington (2800 S. Randolph Street)
Time: 5:30-9:30 p.m. 

Join Sheyla’s Boutique for an evening of shopping and networking, with light bites and wine tastings available. The event, hosted in collaboration with District Beauty Guide, is free with an RSVP recommended.

Thursday, December 12

Marcey Road Park Renovation Final Design Concept Meeting
Madison Community Center (3829 N. Stafford Street)
Time: 6-7:30 p.m.

Come see the final design concept for the Marcey Road Park Renovation Project, which will replace the basketball court, three tennis courts, parking, the picnic shelter, and more.

Friends of Urban Ag: What Our Region Grows 
Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street)
Time: 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Join the Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture for its winter meeting, including an interactive presentation on the region’s agriculture, as well as general food production, demand, and economic contributions.

Friday, December 13

She Kills Monsters
Wakefield High School (1325 S. Dinwiddie Street)
Time: 7-9 p.m. 

Wakefield High School theater presents “She Kills Monsters,” the story of a young girl and her journey to self-discovery after the death of her teenage sister. The ticketed event is $10 for students and $15 for adults.

Guided Beer Tasting and Entrepreneur Event
Three Whistles (2719 Wilson Blvd)
Time: 6-10 p.m.

Come hear the story of the beginnings and growth of local Old Ox Brewery, and experience a tasting of brewed favorites including a “Keg Nog” beer and a beer/gelato paring.

Saturday, December 14

National Chamber Ensemble – Holiday Cheer!*
Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (4444 Arlington Blvd)
Time: 7:30-9:30 p.m.

The NCE will be performing holiday classics such as Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” and “Chanukah Festival.” A group of young violinists ages 11 to 17 will perform festive film music by Shostakovich, followed by a wine and cheese reception.

GRUMP Holiday Arts and Crafts Show
Crystal City Shops (2100 Crystal Drive) 
Time: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

GRUMP is back for its ninth year, where you can shop from over fifty local arts and makers selling everything from handmade toys and letterpress cards. In addition, there will be creative workshops and yetis present for photo ops.

Sunday, December 15

Breakfast with Santa, The Nutcracker
The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City (1250 S. Hayes Street)
Time: Breakfast from 8:30-10:30 a.m., The Nutcracker from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. 

The Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City will host two festive events that day. In the morning, enjoy a ticketed breakfast with Santa, and then in the afternoon a performance of the classic holiday ballet, The Nutcracker.

*Denotes featured (sponsored) event

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Up to three new businesses are set to replace the long-vacant Cardinal Bank building at the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center.

According to the shopping center’s developer A.J. Dwoskin & Associates, the bank’s demolition began earlier this week, and the new building will be “going up as quickly as possible.”

The company is early in its efforts to lease the 4,312 square feet of available space and “[does] not have any signed leases yet.”

“Depending on what deals come our way, we could have up to three new businesses,” said A.J. Dwoskin Marketing Director Lindsay Gilbert.

A county building permit submitted by A.J. Dwoskin at the bank’s current address (5335 Lee Hwy) details the building’s demolition, and adds that “the proposed building will be a 3,476 square foot restaurant space with a maximum of 125 seats.” The company would not comment on the permit or its mention of a restaurant.

Per signage at the construction site, the “retail pad building delivery” is expected in the first three months of 2020, but Gilbert said she does not expect any businesses operating in the spaces until later in the year.

“We’re particularly excited about the demolition, as that always creates a little neighborhood buzz,” Gilbert said.

In addition, the developer is also currently looking to lease two spaces in the lower levels of the busy shopping center, which houses a Harris Teeter store and restaurants like Peter Chang.

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Ballston Quarter will be hosting a festive, day-long “Holiday Kick Off” event this Saturday, December 7 from 11 a.m.-6 p.m..

Across all four levels of the mall, there will be family-friendly holiday activities — “from holiday movies, to crafts (for all ages), to photo ops, and of course a special appearance from Santa.”

Beginning on the lower level in Quarter Market and outside plaza, there will be a snowman ice sculpture and photo booth, along with face painting, glitter tattoos, and a hot chocolate bar from District Doughnut.

On level M1, there will be a “Ballston Quarter Gingerbread House” for take-home photo ops. In addition, children can write letters to Santa and leave it in the “Ballston Quarter mailbox for special delivery,” per the event website.

On M2, crafting opportunities include making holiday ornaments with local art studio Art House 7 along with special Ballston greeting cards.

Starting a 11 a.m., there will be a pajama party at the Regal Cinemas with a free movie screening of the animated Disney movie, The Polar Express, as well as train rides around the M3 level of the mall until 5 p.m. (Seats for the movie are reserved, so advanced tickets are required).

Continue Saturday’s festivities into the evening at Ballston Exchange (4201 Wilson Blvd), where the Ballston Business Improvement District has begun pop-up weekly holiday movie nights.

“Each movie will be held in our pop-up theater in Ballston Exchange, so bring your own chair, and blanket to complete your experience,” the BID said. “DIRT, Shake Shack, CAVA, We The Pizza, Philz Coffee will have food and drink specials prior to showtime for moviegoers. Guests will also enjoy free popcorn, candy, and drinks in the theater. For the adults in the family, Movie Night is BYOB!”

The movie schedule is:

  • December 7: A Christmas Story (PG)
  • December 14: The Polar Express (G)
  • December 21: Elf (PG)
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Arlington County has announced the recipients of its 21st annual James B. Hunter Human Rights Award, an honor given each year to individuals, community groups, non-profit organizations and businesses that promote diversity and equal rights in the county.

This year, three individuals and three community groups were honored and a new category for the award was established: educators. A ceremony to honor the award winners will take place on Thursday, December 12 from 7-9 p.m. in the Bozman Government Center (2100 Clarendon Blvd).

Among the winners are former Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada and civil rights activist Joan Trumpauer Mulholland.

Tejada served on the County Board from 2003 to 2015. Following his retirement from the Board, he was appointed to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board of Directors by former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

During his time on the Board, Tejada served as an “unapologetic progressive” and an advocate for diversity, affordable housing, and Latino issues.

“He was instrumental in establishing the Office of the Public Defender, the Arlington Non-Profit Assistance Center, and the Community Volunteer Network,” the county said in a press release.

Mulholland, a local civil rights activist, took part in sit-ins and demonstrations that took place around Arlington from June 9-23, 1960. Throughout the decade, she also participated in the Freedom Rides, the March on Washington, and the Selma to Montgomery March, among others. After protesting in Mississippi in 1961, she was jailed and housed on death row for nearly three months.

“The James B. Hunter Award recognizes those in our community who champion the rights of underrepresented people,” said County Board Chair Christian Dorsey in a press release. “My colleagues and I are grateful to the Human Rights Commission for honoring these individuals and organizations, who have worked tirelessly to ensure Arlington is safe and welcoming for everyone.”

Find the full press release is below, after the jump:

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