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.”
Police closed part of westbound Arlington Blvd during the Friday morning rush hour after a collision between two cars in Arlington Forest.
Officers shut Route 50 from just before N. Henderson Road to the intersection with N. Park Drive at around 8:30 a.m. Drivers heading west on Arlington Blvd. were diverted around the crash scene.
A police officer at the scene said it appeared that the driver of a gray Acura tried to turn left from the westbound lanes collided with a white Honda heading in the other direction. Neither driver appeared to sustain injuries, and the Acura was able to drive from the crash to a tow truck.
Firefighters and medics spread sand on the street to soak up any spilled fluids from the cars.
Both cars were removed from the accident scene at around 8:50 a.m. The eastbound lanes remained open, with traffic passing through as normal.
The robbery happened around 11:40 p.m. The men fled on foot with cash from the business’ cash register.
Police would not reveal which store was robbed, but the only business in the shopping center that is open past 10 p.m. is the Brick’s Pizza shop.
From an Arlington County Police Department crime report:
ARMED ROBBERY, 161010039, 4800 block of N. 1st Street. At approximately 11:39 p.m. on October 10, three unknown black males entered a business armed with handguns wearing black ski masks. The suspects stole an undisclosed amount of cash from the register and fled the area on foot. Investigation is ongoing.
The planned events are held as part of National Night Out, a “community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie,” according to a flyer distributed by the police department.
National Night Out celebrations are a chance for police and members of the community to come together, usually over free food and activities.
National Night Out events will be held at the following locations:
- Arlington Forest (200 block of N. Galveston Street) at 7:30 p.m.
- Nauck Town Square (24th Road S. and S. Shirlington Road) from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
- Barcroft Community House (800 S. Buchanan Street) from 6:00-7:30 p.m.
- Farlington Villages Pool 2 (3045 S. Buchanan Street) from 5:00-7:00 p.m.
- Park Glen Condo Associations: (800 block of S. Arlington Mill Road) from 7:00-8:00 p.m.
- Whitefield Commons: (106 N. Thomas Street) from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Image via ACPD National Night Out Flyer
Bald Eagle Spotted on Fourth of July — A bald eagle was spotted in the area of N. Park Drive, in the Arlington Forest neighborhood, yesterday on the Fourth of July (see above). The eagle “finally flew away after half an hour of harassment from a bunch of crows,” noted a neighborhood listserv email, but not before delighting adults and children in the neighborhood who gathered to see the patriotic sight.
Vietnam Vet Survives Stroke Thanks to Medics — Quick-acting Arlington County paramedics, a Good Samaritan who helped direct traffic at an intersection to let the ambulance through and skilled emergency room doctors helped to save the life of a Vietnam veteran who suffered a stroke while visiting his son in Arlington. [Fox 5]
School Board Chair Focused on Achievement — The Arlington School Board’s new chairman, Nancy Van Doren, says her focus is on individual student achievement, even in the midst of ongoing school growth and capacity challenges. “Our litmus test must be: Does each and every child receive the support he or she needs?” Van Doren said. [InsideNova]
Faked Fireworks Included Arlington Angle — The internet is abuzz about PBS’ use of “rerun” fireworks footage intermixed with live footage during its Capitol Fourth broadcast last night. One of the camera angles used showed an impossibly clear view of the fireworks and of the Capitol building from Arlington. In actuality, rain and low clouds made for a dreary, hazy view of the fireworks display. [WTOP]
Photo courtesy of Paul Fiorino
The incident happened around 10:30 p.m. Monday night, in the Arlington Forest neighborhood near the entrance to the Lubber Run Amphitheater.
From an Arlington County Police crime report:
BURGLARY W/ INTENT TO COMMIT ASSAULT, 160627052, 200 block of N. Columbus Street. At approximately 10:35 p.m. on June 27, a male homeowner witnessed a male subject assaulting a female victim in the street. The homeowner announces that he is going to call police, at which point the male subject forces entry into the home. Once inside the home, the male subject assaults the homeowner causing him to lose consciousness. Another resident of the home witnesses the assault, yells for him to leave, and the male subject threatens her and attempts to steal items before being led away by the initial female victim.
During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the suspect was involved with additional incidents. At approximately 10:25 p.m. on June 27, the same suspect attempted to gain entry into a residence in the 100 block of N. Columbus Street, through the back door and the garage. Both attempts were unsuccessful. A witness reported then seeing the suspect proceed to a neighbor’s yard in the 100 block of N. Columbus Street and attempt to open a vehicle door, but was unsuccessful.
Victor Omar Suarez, 20, of no fixed address, was arrested and charged with burglary with intent to commit assault, malicious wounding, attempted grand larceny, and possession of marijuana. He is being held without bond.
The alleged incident happened around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, on the 200 block of N. Columbus Street in the Arlington Forest neighborhood.
The victim told detectives that two men approached her from behind as she was walking down the street. One tried to place something over her head while the other tried to muffle her screams and also touched her inappropriately, she said.
The woman was able to break free and the men fled on foot, according to a crime report. Despite the presumed commotion, there have thus far been no reports of neighbors who heard or witnessed the incident.
Police are planning to canvass the area to further investigate the crime and are also planning to increase foot patrols in the neighborhood, said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
From the crime report:
ATTEMPTED ABDUCTION, 160322052, 200 block of N. Columbus Street. At approximately 8:30 p.m. on March 22, two unknown male subjects approached a female from behind. One subject attempted to place an unknown object over her head while the other subject touched her inappropriately. The female was able to break free from the subjects and they fled the scene on foot. The first suspect is described as a Hispanic male, approximately 5’7″ tall and weighed 130 lbs. He was wearing a dark colored shirt and white/black checkered shorts. The second suspect is described as a Hispanic male, approximately 5’7″ tall and weighed 130 lbs. He was wearing dark colored pants and a dark colored shirt.
The call for a fire in the rear of a home on the 300 block of N. Greenbrier Street came in at 6:38 p.m., according to Arlington County Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani. The first responding unit arrived on scene, in the Arlington Forest neighborhood, at 6:45.
Firefighters found heavy fire coming from the deck in the back of the home. The flames were spreading to the home’s kitchen, Marchegiani said.
A second alarm was called but in the end it was not needed — firefighters were able to make quick work of the flames, extinguishing the blaze before it had a chance to spread any further.
There was extensive damage to the rear deck, Marchegiani said, and minor damage to the kitchen, but the home was otherwise spared.
This is the second “save” for ACFD in a week. On Sunday Arlington firefighters quickly extinguished a basement fire on the 3600 block of 21st Avenue N., in the Maywood neighborhood, before it could spread to the upper floors of the house.
While most hunkered down in their homes to weather Superstorm Sandy last night, the wind and the rain didn’t slow down a thief (or thieves) in Arlington Forest.
A resident on the 4700 block of Arlington Boulevard came out of her house this morning to inspect damage from Sandy, but instead of finding storm damage she found her car up on a jack and two wheels missing. The criminal(s) left two of the Scion coupe’s wheels on, but took those on the driver’s side. The lugnuts were scattered about under the car.
Police were called and investigated the incident, but were doubtful about finding finger prints at the scene given all the rain from Sandy. A mail carrier said he recently saw at least one other such wheel theft in the neighborhood.
About a dozen residents of the Bluemont and Arlington Forest neighborhoods woke up Tuesday morning only to find that their vehicles were broken in to overnight.
According to police, an unknown suspect broke in to at least 12 unlocked vehicles on the 100 block of N. Columbus Street, the 500 block of N. Jefferson Street, and the 5600 blocks of N. 5th and N. 7th Streets. All four streets are within easy walking distance of the Bluemont and W&OD trails.
The suspect stole various items like change and GPS units, according to police.
One vehicle was also stolen during the break-in spree, according to Arlington County Police spokeswoman Det. Crystal Nosal. NBC4 is reporting that stolen vehicle was a van belong to the charity Treats 4 Our Troops. The van was filled with candy and care packages for wounded and deployed military servicemembers, the station reported.
Police say they don’t have any suspects at this time.
Police are urgently calling in salt trucks to the Arlington Forest neighborhood, where a number of cars have been sliding down a steep hill on North Edison Street.
Cops are starting to block off access to the road in the area of Carlin Springs Road and North Emerson Street. They’re reporting on the radio that the street is coated with ice.
At least two cars are reported to have been involved in a collision, and at least one county vehicle is stuck at the bottom of the hill.
Update at 9:55 a.m. — Dangerous, icy conditions are also being reported in the area of South Hayes Street and Fort Scott Drive in Aurora Hills.