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by ARLnow.com — May 27, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Monique O’Grady describes herself as just a “regular Arlington resident.”

But this regular resident just convincingly defeated several candidates, including incumbent James Lander, in the Democratic school board endorsement caucus.

O’Grady, a mother of one current Arlington Public Schools student and two APS graduates (one of whom happens to be a well-known actress), says she wants to make a difference on the school board and help APS navigate its current period of rapid student enrollment growth.

We asked O’Grady about herself, her family and the various issues facing APS in this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast. Listen below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google PlayStitcher or TuneIn.p

by Chris Teale — May 26, 2017 at 1:00 pm 0

Arlington County schools and government offices will close Monday, May 29 for Memorial Day.

County offices, courts, libraries, human services, the sheriff’s office and commuter stores will all be closed for the holiday. All community centers will be closed, while all parks grounds will be open.

Also on Monday:

  • The county’s four spraygrounds will be open all weekend.
  • Three high school pools will be open to the public until 6 p.m.
  • Metered parking will not be enforced.
  • Trash and recycling collections are on a normal schedule.
  • ART’s 41, 45, 51, 55 and 87 routes will operate on Sunday schedules, while all other ART routes will not operate. Standing order rides are not provided on STAR, and the call center is closed. Any rides on Monday and Tuesday must be booked in advance.
  • Metrorail and Metrobus will operate on a Sunday schedule. The rail system is open from 7 a.m. to midnight.

Police will close roads for the annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally this weekend. Riders are scheduled to arrive later today at the event’s headquarters at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City.

On Sunday, Arlington and Virginia State Police will close Washington Blvd from 7 a.m. to approximately 4 p.m. from I-395 to the Memorial Bridge. Meanwhile, Arlington National Cemetery will only be accessible from southbound George Washington Memorial Parkway or northbound Route 110.

Police say they expect higher attendance than usual at the rally and other events for Rolling Thunder’s 30th anniversary.

Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin

by ARLnow.com — May 26, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

A Kung Fu Tea store is coming to Clarendon, according to a county building permit.

Interior demolition is underway in the former Larry’s Homemade Ice Cream location at 3018 Wilson Blvd, next to the new Hanabi Ramen restaurant.

Kung Fu Tea, which has locations across the United States, serves various types and flavors of bubble tea.

No word yet on an opening date.

Photo courtesy Bill Colton

by Chris Teale — May 25, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

A long-time diner closed its doors today after 32 years in business.

Arlington Diner, at 2921 S. Glebe Road in the Arlington Ridge Shopping Center, will now no longer serve its all-day breakfast — nor lunch or dinner. On Thursday morning, workers were in the building removing various appliances and other fixtures and fittings.

A sign on the door of the eatery announced the closure.

To our beloved customers,

The crew of Arlington Diner wants to thank you for 32 years of friendship and great memories.

We regret to inform you that we will be closing our doors on May 25, 2017.

We will miss you but we will remember you fondly.

It has been a pleasure serving you! Thank you very much.

In an interview with the Arlington Connection earlier this year, owner Louie Alpos said he was not able to negotiate a financially feasible lease renewal with his landlord.

The diner, a fixture of a shopping plaza that also includes a Domino’s Pizza and a Giant grocery store, was open every day except Christmas Day.

Hat tips to Thomas N. and Christina R.

by ARLnow.com — May 25, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Just like burgers, cupcakes, and froyo before it, there is clearly a new business boom in progress in Arlington. This latest business trend, at least, has the promise of subtracting pounds rather than adding them.

Boutique fitness studios have been popping up all around Arlington lately, and as if to reinforce the point, the two latest entrants have very similar names: E60 and F45.

F45, an Australia-based fitness franchise, is “opening soon” at 1101 S. Joyce Street in Pentagon Row, though an opening date has not yet been announced.

F45 describes itself as “a Group-Training facility that feature[s] the most dynamic and effective training styles to date.”

Meanwhile, a fitness studio called E60 — no relation — is getting ready to open next month in Rosslyn.

Located at 1524 Clarendon Blvd, E60 Fitness is described as the “home of Elevate 60, a gut-busting high-intensity interval training class” which “uses custom equipment and a hybrid of several exercise concepts along with heart rate monitoring technology to provide a uniquely exciting and invigorating workout.”

A grand opening for the business, which has an existing location in Ashburn, is set for Saturday, June 3.

by ARLnow.com — May 24, 2017 at 3:10 pm 0

A building adjacent the Crystal City Metro station is getting a bold new red paint job.

Property owner Vornado will be adding color to its currently beige office building at 251 18th Street S. The painting is expected to begin soon.

The new color “will create an iconic new landmark at [the Metro station] and at the gateway to Crystal City at 18th Street,” according to the Crystal City Business Improvement District, which has been “adding color, vibrancy and art to Crystal City” via projects like Artomatic, Art Underground and various murals around the neighborhood.

While efforts to add to the vibrancy of the neighborhood and improve its aesthetics have been well-received — they were a main topic of an extensive Washingtonian feature last week — the reality is that many of the buildings around Crystal City date back to the 60s and 70s; 251 18th Street was built in 1975 according to Loopnet.

With a wholesale redevelopment of older buildings financially infeasible at a time of high office vacancy rates, Crystal City and its property owners have instead been finding ways to refurbishcreatively re-purpose — and now repaint — existing buildings.

Courtesy photo

by ARLnow.com — May 24, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

Thousands of soldiers will participate in a time-honored tradition at Arlington National Cemetery tomorrow: the placement of flags at each headstone and columbarium for Memorial Day.

There are more than 400,000 interred at the cemetery, but soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment — The Old Guard — will place a flag in front of each in about four hours, rain or shine.

The monumental task is known as “Flag-In,” and is conducted every year prior to Memorial Day to honor the nation’s fallen military heroes. This year, it’s happening tomorrow (Thursday) starting at 1 p.m.

The event also includes a special ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

“While the public is welcome to observe the Flags-In tradition, the public cannot participate in the flag placement,” the cemetery noted in a news release.

by ARLnow.com — May 23, 2017 at 2:15 pm 0

Newly-signed Seattle Seahawks running back Eddie Lacy spent part of his weekend in Clarendon.

Lacy, who was earned NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Honors in 2013 while on the Green Bay Packers, was photographed hanging out with Arlington County police officers who were patrolling the bar district. The department posted some of the photos on Twitter Monday, including one with Lacy sitting on a police motorcycle and another in which he is smiling while holding a pair of handcuffs.

Lacy also was spotted at Don Tito, where he posed with co-owner Nick Cordero.

Other professional athletes have been spotted at Don Tito over the past couple of years, including former Washington Capitals player Brooks Laich (with fiancée Julianne Hough) and United States women’s national soccer team defender Ali Krieger.

by Chris Teale — May 23, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

The proprietor of a food truck that would park near the now-closed Food Star grocery store is set to take over the former Green Room next to the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse.

The truck, Tortas Y Tacos La Chiquita, sold Mexican food like tacos, quesadillas and tortas from the parking lot at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive.

Owner David Villalobos said on the eatery’s official Facebook page that their new digs at 2911 Columbia Pike will be open in the first or second week of June. He also said that customers can expect “new cakes and tacos” after the grand opening.

The restaurant replaces “The Green Room,” which hosted stand-up comedy and other events adjacent to the main theater. It closed earlier this year as owner Greg Godbout looked for a new tenant.

The changes are part of a wider revamp for the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse, which is preparing to show first-run and art-house movies, up its ticket prices and overhaul its food menu.

by ARLnow.com — May 22, 2017 at 3:35 pm 0

The old Ballston pedestrian bridge is no more.

The bridge was torn down over the weekend, closing part of Wilson Blvd in front of the under-construction Ballston Quarter mall and prompting a new location for the Taste of Arlington festival. The demolition included the use of a large crane to lower sections of the bridge.

Today, a construction crew was working to clear leftover debris, while a large section of the bridge sat largely intact, fenced off along the sidewalk.

Via Twitter, one local resident called the dismantling of the bridge and its “Ballston” sign an “end of an era.” A new pedestrian bridge will be built nearby, however, with its opening set for the fall of 2018.

by Chris Teale — May 22, 2017 at 1:35 pm 0

Rosslyn’s new 180-seat indoor and outdoor beer garden is slated to open next month.

The Continental Beer Garden at 1901 N. Fort Myer Drive transforms what was once a service station under an office building.

Continental’s outdoor space is equipped with bocce courts, patio sofas and lounge chairs, picnic tables and a long communal high top table for 150 people. Workers also added lights, flower boxes, tree planters and a mural.

Inside, reconditioned garage doors open to an indoor bar and kitchen with seating for another 30 people. The beer garden is owned by Curt Large, who also owns the nearby Continental Pool Lounge. The project received support from the Rosslyn Business Improvement District and landlord JBG.

Beers from Virginia and Germany will be served by the pint or pitcher, while wine can be ordered by glass or carafe from kegs. A slushy machine will also be among the drink offerings.

On the food menu, chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley has introduced a selection of sausages including bratwurst with sauerkraut and a classic D.C. halfsmoke with grilled onions and cheese.

Meek-Bradley, who was a finalist on the 13th season of the Food Network’s “Top Chef,” has added other snacks, entree salads, a selection of skewers served over basil quinoa salad and hot sandwiches like grilled cheese and pulled pork.

Once open, Continental’s hours will be 3-11 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. A firm opening date has not been set yet.

Courtesy photo

by Kalina Newman — May 19, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

There’s a new group of art enthusiasts in town. Called Embracing Arlington Arts, the new citizen group focuses on informing others about the importance of art in the Arlington community.

Some of the main goals of Embracing Arlington Arts include raising public awareness of the art events within the community, celebrating the contributions artists have made towards the county and honoring the diversity within Arlington arts.

Within Arlington County there are over 50 art groups and hundreds of independent visual artists, with specializations that range from the preforming arts to dance, symphony and children’s theater. These artists hail from dozens of different cultures, such as Bolivia, Mexico, Argentina and Vietnam. Together there are over 4,000 annual programs that attract over 600,000 people.

Several Arlington political members have joined the group, including Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) and County Board vice chair Katie Cristol.

“The arts are important to Arlington in so many critical ways,” said Janet Kopenhaver, the chair of Embracing Arlington Arts, in a press release.

Kopenhaver said nearly $7.5 million of economic activity in Arlington is derived from audience expenditures associated with arts events.

The group already has an active social media presence and will host the first annual celebration of the arts in Arlington on October 5.

by Chris Teale — May 19, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

Since opening Filipino grocery store Fiesta Oriental in 1991, Fred Sunga and his family have done much more than sell food and provide other services to a bevy of loyal customers.

“When you have a Filipino business, your country people, they come to you for information,” he said. “They always call you, if they have a problem they will call you. Even if sometimes their car won’t start they will call and ask if I know a mechanic.”

But next month marks the end of an era, as the 67-year-old Sunga is set to retire on June 30 and close the Arlington Forest staple at 4815 1st Street N. That means that the area’s growing Filipino community must go elsewhere for groceries or to send money and packages to family back in the Philippines.

Sunga moved to the United States in 1978 and started working in a bank before opening Fiesta Oriental. He prides himself on staying true to his Filipino roots, right down to watching television shows from the Philippines in the store and speaking to customers in Tagalog, the country’s official language, or one of its many dialects.

And in addition to Filipinos, who come from as far away as Manassas and Maryland to shop at his store, local schoolchildren will now have to go elsewhere for their after-school snacks.

“When the school bus stops there, the kids are going to come and get their candy and soda,” Sunga said. “Just last week I told them that I’m closing up the store next month, and they said, ‘Why? Why are you doing this to me?'”

For the family, Fiesta Oriental was a major part of growing up in Arlington. Sunga’s three daughters, Audrey, Alyssa and Angelica, all worked there at least part-time from elementary school onwards and helped on Sunday when they would cook and sell homemade Filipino dishes.

The store is open every day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., except Sundays, when it closes at 6 p.m.

Audrey Sunga, who has a 2-year-old son, Emmett, and another baby due in August, said it is a shame that the family business will close before they are old enough to appreciate it.

“We’re going to start buying rice for the first time in our lives,” she joked. “For Emmett and the baby on the way, it’s kind of sad they won’t be able to see this. We grew up with it our whole lives, so it’s sad to see it go.”

Fred Sunga, meanwhile, said he is looking forward to being a “stay-at-home grandpa,” and enjoying more time with his family. Both Audrey and Alyssa work in Arlington and graduated from VCU, while Angelica is still there studying electrical engineering.

While he is excited to start the next chapter of his life, Fred Sunga said it is hard when customers are clearly upset he is leaving.

“I’m going to miss the store that I’m doing every day,” he said. “Especially when my customers, when they come here and I’m telling them I’m retiring next month, I feel so sad when they say, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to miss you.’ Some old people, they cry when I tell them I’m retiring.”

by Chris Teale — May 17, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

The long-awaited and long-delayed Dudley’s Sport & Ale in Shirlington appears to still be far from ready to open.

Owner Reese Gardner had hoped the sports bar would be open in either June or July, but in a brief email he said the planned sports bar at 2766 S. Arlington Mill Drive is still plagued by the same permitting problems “as before, unfortunately.”

Gardner said the county has still not approved all of its necessary permits. A 28-seat bar, a 125-seat dining area, and a “stadium style” viewing area are planned, as well as a rooftop bar — Shirlington’s first — with a game area, a 15-seat bar, and patio seating for about 114 people.

The original plan was to open Dudley’s last March, but work associated with the planned rooftop deck greatly delayed that timeline.

A spokeswoman for the county’s department of community, planning, housing and development confirmed the project has been going through the administrative change process. The spokeswoman referred further questions to the county’s lead planner on the project, who did not respond to requests for more information.

Gardner, who also owns the nearby Copperwood TavernQuinn’s on the Corner in Rosslyn and Irish Whiskey in the District, said he would have further information on an opening date once permits are approved.

by Chris Teale — May 17, 2017 at 2:00 pm 0

Less than a year after it opened in Ballston, the Rock ‘n’ Joe Coffee Bar has rebranded.

Now known as the Republik Coffee Bar, the spot at 4401 Wilson Blvd made the switch “a few days ago,” according to an employee Wednesday morning. There are still various references to its former name — right down to the “Rock ‘n’ Joe” cup sleeves still in use and the murals still on the wall.

Republik still serves coffee, tea and food, including sandwiches and salads. The interior appears unchanged from its previous iteration.

The original plan had been for Rock ‘n’ Joe to open five stores in the D.C. metro area under franchise owner Talha Sarac, with the potential to expand beyond the region.

According to paperwork filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission, the new coffee bar is registered under Sarac’s name. Rock ‘n’ Joe no longer lists the Ballston location on its website; only its locations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Sarac did not respond to requests for comment, but a spokeswoman for the county’s department of community, planning, housing and development confirmed an application was submitted last month for a change of tenant for the business.

Hat-tip to Richie F.

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