Arlington, VA

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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The commentariat has spoken and ARLnow has listened.

The second item in our lineup of locally-themed apparel, just in time for the holidays, is our exclusive GONDOLA NOW! shirt.

Available in multiple hues so you can stand out at local meetings, the GONDOLA NOW! shirt tells the world that ariel lift transportation is, in fact, a perfectly modern and practical way to get from here to there. For instance, from Rosslyn to Georgetown.

The proposed Potomac gondola may be down — given its lack of support from the Arlington County Board — but it’s not completely out. After all, current Democratic County Board candidate Chanda Choun said last year that he would support “exploring this proposal” after exclaiming the very words on this shirt.

ARLnow does not endorse candidates nor transportation policy positions, but we do endorse looking good in shirts we designed. So get your GONDOLA NOW! apparel on Amazon in any of the following styles:

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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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So perhaps you’re not familiar with 90s-era German digital hardcore band Atari Teenage Riot. But you are undoubtedly familiar with the infamous Cheesecake Factory incident in Clarendon that happened around this time last year.

To mark the one year anniversary of that nationally-reported piece of uniquely Arlington local news (and as the first in a series of ARLnow merch we’re offering in time for the holidays this year) we have a new t-shirt for your online shopping pleasure.

Show your local pride and get the shirt today from Amazon, with either a black or a white logo.

We’ll get a few bucks from your purchase but more importantly you’ll get a novelty t-shirt that only about a half dozen other people will truly understand. Happy holidays from ARLnow!

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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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The Starbucks store at the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center has closed, to make way for a new location down the street.

It was business as usual at the coffeehouse chain’s location at 2441 N. Harrison Street this morning — right up until it closed at 10 a.m. and employees started politely asking customers to leave.

The closure precedes the opening of a new stand-alone Starbucks at 5515 Lee Highway, currently planned for Thursday. That store will have a drive-thru window and its own parking lot, though construction was still well underway this morning.

For Starbucks aficionados who need their Frappuccinos, there’s another location in the Safeway store across the street, at 2500 N. Harrison Street.

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Over a dozen Arlington firefighters descended on U.S. Air Force veteran Frank Price’s house in Hall’s Hill on Saturday afternoon.

They weren’t there to fight a fire — but to decorate. The firefighters hung lights and ornaments and trimmings with the help of Decorate A Vet, a non-profit that helps area veterans with decorations and light yard maintenance for the holidays.

The group has decorated veteran’s homes for the holidays for 10 years, according to event organizer and board member Moe Jafari.

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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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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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