Arlington, VA

(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) It was poultry pandemonium at Popeyes on Pershing, the Pike and in Pentagon City today.

The fried chicken chain has been selling out of its wildly popular, critically acclaimed new chicken sandwiches nationwide, and Arlington is no exception — but one shining beacon of salty and fatty goodness in the county was still serving as of mid-afternoon today.

Spurred on by a social media war among Popeyes, Chick-fil-A and Wendy’s and lesser chicken sandwich purveyors, customers have been flocking to Popeyes restaurants and scarfing down every clucking sammy in the joint.

In Arlington today, we went searching for the coveted bread-chicken-pickles-and-mayo stack at three Popeyes locations in the county: at 4241 N. Pershing Drive in Buckingham, near Ballston; at 5007 Columbia Pike, near the Arlington Mill Community Center; and at the Pentagon City mall food court. (A fourth, right on the Arlington/Alexandria border at 4675 King Street, was left off our visit list.)

Arriving at the Pershing location around 1 p.m., the parking lot was full and a line wrapped around the interior of the restaurant. After finally advancing to the front of the line, a woman dressed in business attire and not the usual Popeyes uniform — was it the owner? — broke the news that the restaurant had sold out of the sandwich an hour earlier. She said a shipment on Friday is expected to restock their sandwich supply, and added in hushed tones that they may be restocked tonight (Wednesday) as well.

The story was even bleaker at the Popeyes on the Pike. Staff there said they’re out of the sandwiches, noted that many local Popeyes have been out for two days, and asserted they won’t be getting more until Friday at the earliest. One particularly spicy customer — the sandwiches come in classic and spicy varieties, it should be noted — said the viral online food fight is to blame.

“It’s crazy. I blame it on social media,” the customer said. “They [the Popeyes sandwiches] are good, but they’re not Chick-Fil-A good.”

Finally, at 3 p.m., the Popeyes at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City food court beckoned. Taking stock of the origin of the chain’s name — it’s supposedly named after a detective in the 1971 film The French Connection, not the spinach-swallowing cartoon sailor — it dawned on our intrepid reporter that we, too, were conducting an investigation into a dealer of addictive substances. But since chicken sandwiches are decidedly more benign than heroin, he soldiered on.

From a distance, a long line could be seen. Upon further inspection, it started at the Popeyes and stretched well past the McDonald’s. Approaching the counter, employees could be seen preparing it — The Sandwich — the most buzzworthy fried chicken fast food concoction since the KFC Double Down.

Sure enough, the chicken sandwich was still being served to hungry shoppers and office workers, pulled to the Popeyes stall at the mall at 3 p.m. as if by some magnetic force.

“It’s really good,” said Sedaya Moore, halfway through her first Popeyes sandwich experience, before continuing to chow down with her dining companions. There was nothing else to say.

Vernon Miles contributed to this report

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Morning Notes

H-B’s Rosslyn Home Has New Name — The new Rosslyn home for the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program has a new name, after a School Board vote last night. The under-construction structure’s new name: The Heights Building. The vote came after the School Board voted to change the name of Washington-Lee to Washington-Liberty. [Twitter, Arlington Public Schools]

CPRO Gets New Interim Leader — “The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) has named Karen Vasquez as its Interim Executive Director. Karen has spent the last fifteen years working in the field of economic development, creating compelling stories to help recruit and retain Fortune 500 companies, non-profits, hotels and more to Arlington, Virginia.” [CPRO]

Animal Welfare League Nabs Chicken — “AWLA’s 75th animal control case of our 75th year came in just a few days ago! We received a call about a chicken on 8th Rd S., and Officer Swetnam was able to catch the chicken, now affectionately called Henny Penny, and bring her back to the shelter. [Instagram]

Arlington Housing Costs Top D.C. ‘burbs — “Homes in Arlington had the highest per-square-foot costs across the Washington suburbs, according to new sales data, although most jurisdictions saw lower averages from a year before. Arlington’s per-square-foot cost of $435 led the pack but was down from $473 in 2017, according to figures reported Jan. 10.” [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

Criticism of School Drug Searches — The Arlington School Board last week heard public criticism of a new initiative to conduct K-9 drug searches after hours at Arlington’s public high schools. Despite talk of a drug problem in local schools, one activist said of the K-9 plan: “I don’t think it is reasonable.” [InsideNova]

Economic Segregation at APS — Arlington Public Schools is just below the threshold of “hypersegregation” in a new study of de facto economic segregation in public schools. Neighboring districts like Alexandria and Fairfax score well below Arlington on the “hypersegregation index,” though Prince William scores just above Arlington and is above the level considered hypersegregation. [Center for American Progress]

County Honors ‘Women of Vision’ — Arlington County’s 2017 Women of Vision honorees have been announced: emergency preparedness advocate Jackie Snelling, Washington Business Journal Editor-at-Large Jennifer Nycz-Conner and La Cocina VA founder and CEO Patricia Funegra. Arlington’s Commission on the Status of Women also honored former Arlington School Board member Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez with a lifetime achievement award. [Arlington County]

Backyard Chickens Blamed for Salmonella — There have been eight salmonella outbreaks sickening more than 370 people this year due to contact with backyard or pet poultry, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In Arlington, backyard chickens are legal for only a handful of residents with very large backyards. In 2013, after dueling lobbying campaigns by chicken enthusiasts and opponents, Arlington’s county manager recommended against allowing more residents to keep egg-laying hens. [Washington Post]

Delta Experimenting With Biometrics at DCA — Delta is experimenting with a biometric identification system at Reagan National Airport. For now, the system is only being used by members of both CLEAR and Delta’s Skymiles program to enter the airline’s Sky Club lounge. If all goes well, in Phase 2 members will also be able to use their fingerprint to check a bag and board a flight. [Delta]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to Rocky Run Park, apparently.

A chicken was found in the park, on N. Barton Street in the Clarendon-Courthouse area, by an animal control officer Thursday. No one seems to know how the chicken got there.

An Animal Welfare League of Arlington spokeswoman said stray chickens are actually more common in Arlington than one might think.

“We periodically pick up chickens ‘running at large,'” said Susan Sherman.

She said the chicken will be housed at the animal shelter for a couple of days before being shipped off to live out its days on a farm.

“It is being cared for at the shelter as a stray until November 6,” said Sherman. “If it is not claimed by an owner by that date, then we can adopt it to a person with a farm or transfer it to a farm sanctuary.”

“We do not send the chicken to any place where it would be eaten,” Sherman noted. “In our experience stray chickens are almost never reclaimed by owners since very few Arlington residents have the property to keep chickens legally.”

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Morning Notes

Aerial view of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor

Fire on Ballston Sidewalk — Last night around 6:45 p.m., Arlington County police and firefighters responded to a fire on a sidewalk in Ballston, near the intersection of 9th and N. Stuart Streets. Initial reports suggested that a woman had deliberately set something on fire. No injuries were reported. [Twitter]

Metro Police Seeking Man Who Set Fire at Station — Metro Transit Police are looking for a man who lit something on fire in the Pentagon City Metro station Wednesday morning. The man is later seen on video boarding a train and displaying a sign. [WTOP]

Smoke Closes Pentagon City Station — Smoke in a tunnel near the Pentagon City Metro station prompted a large emergency response and a temporary closure of the station last night. The smoke was caused by an electrical issue. [Washington Post, Twitter, Twitter]

Urban Chicken Issue Still Clucking — The issue of whether Arlington should allow more households to raise egg-laying hens in their yards isn’t quite dead yet. The issue was raised briefly at an Arlington Civic Federation meeting and county staff say they’re willing to consider it if residents bring it up again. [InsideNova]

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There’s a new donut offering at Sugar Shack Donuts (3400 Columbia Pike), and it’s definitely not vegan. The store is now offering not one but two varieties of Korean fried chicken donuts.

The spicy option has a Sriracha maple glaze with spicy chicken on the top. The milder option has a maple glaze with honey chicken on the top.

It’s a collaboration with another Arlington eatery. The chicken comes from Dak! Chicken, which is a Korean style chicken restaurant in Shirlington.

Yesterday was the first day that the donuts were served. Sugar Shack has been advertising the donuts throughout the week on its Twitter and Facebook pages.

“We have sold quite a few,” said Sugar Shack employee Andy Barry. “We’ve definitely had people come in just for the donuts.”

Just don’t expect the fried chicken donuts to be an everyday offering. The donuts will be served only on the last Thursday of every month.

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Morning Notes

View of Washington, D.C. from the side of the GW Parkway at night

Doughnut Truck Comes to Arlington — A new food truck devoted to doughnuts has hit the streets of Arlington. The truck, from the Penn Quarter eatery Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, is so far only selling doughnuts and coffee. It plans to stop in Rosslyn, Clarendon and Ballston. [Washingtonian]

Fundraising for Hot Car Mom — A local couple is trying to raise $50,000 for the legal defense of Zoraida Magali Conde Hernandez, the mother accused of accidentally leaving her 8-month-old son in a car for 6 hours on a hot day, leading to his death. The couple says they were “heartbroken” for Hernandez, who is facing a charge of felony child neglect. [Patch]

Flashback: Arlington’s Last Chicken Debate — It turns out this is not the first time that there has been a strong debate in Arlington about urban hen raising. Late in 1945, after the end of World War II, Arlington was preparing to reinstitute an urban chicken ban that had been dropped during the war. The renewed restrictions “drew public debate and strong views on both sides.” [Sun Gazette]

Republican Running for Moran’s Seat — Republican Micah Edmond says he’s planning to run for the Congressional seat of the retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). Edmond has previously worked in banking, defense policy and as a Marine Corps officer. [National Review]

Pyzyk Poached by Arlington County — ARLnow.com freelance reporter Katie Pyzyk has accepted a full-time position with Arlington County. Pyzyk, who joined us in 2011 and who holds the crown for our most-viewed story of all time, will be a spokeswoman for the Dept. of Community Planning, Housing and Development. We wish Katie the all best in her new position.

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Chicken (file photo)The Virginia law that allows dogs to be shot for attacking chickens could be changed thanks to legislation proposed in the General Assembly.

Del. Jennifer McClellan, a Democrat representing Richmond, says she will introduce a bill that would change the law, intended for chicken farms, for urban chickens, according to Style Weekly. Richmond legalized keeping up to four backyard hens in residential areas last April.

“I think we can agree if we’re in a densely populated urban area that it’s not a good idea to have people killing each other’s pets,” McClellan told the Richmond population. She also said that in areas where “chickens are a luxury, not a livelihood, it isn’t clear that a hen’s right to life trumps that of a hungry dog’s.”

Virginia law section § 3.2-6552 allows for citizens to kill any dog caught in the act of killing or injuring poultry. After the fact, Virginia courts have the power to order animal control officers to kill any dog found to be a “confirmed poultry killer.” McClellan’s bill would allow localities to enact ordinances overruling that provision.

There’s a competing law that may also be introduced strengthening chicken protections, which would remove the cap on the amount of money a chicken owner can recoup if its chicken is killed by a dog. The cap is currently set at $10.

The Arlington County Board has been mulling whether to allow backyard hens in denser urban areas for the better part of a year. In November, County Manager Barbara Donnellan recommended against taking action to allow more hens in the county. A plurality of Arlington’s Urban Agriculture Task Force recommended hens be allowed in larger backyards, one of 27 recommendations the task force made in a presentation in June.

File photo

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Morning Notes

A man watches a child ride a bike on the first day of winter (Flickr pool photo by Ddimick)

Va. Bill Would Stiffen Chicken Protections — A bill currently proposed in the Virginia General Assembly would remove a cap on the penalty for dog owners whose pets kill chickens and other fowl. If passed, the legislation could give new ammunition for opponents of urban hen raising in Arlington. Virginia law already allows for dogs found to be attacking chickens to be shot on sight. [Sun Gazette]

Party Tonight to Include ‘Drunk Santa’ — Fresh off a grueling evening of world-wide present delivering, Santa Claus is apparently ready to party. Wilson Tavern (2403 Wilson Blvd) in Courthouse is hosting a “Misfits Christmas Party” tonight. According to a poster for the event, it includes the opportunity to “get you picture taken with drunk Santa.” [Clarendon Nights]

Vihstadt Has a ‘Very Real Chance’ — Local political prognosticator Ben Tribbett, who runs the Not Larry Sabato blog, says independent Arlington County Board candidate John Vihstadt has a “very real chance” of ending Democrats’ total sweep of Arlington elected offices. “Arlington Democrats always have massive underperformance issues in special elections,” Tribbett writes. “There is a very real chance that in March, Arlington’s time as being controlled by all Democratic elected officials will come to an end.” Tribbett also notes that Vihstadt, despite running as an independent and attracting some Democratic endorsements, is “a large GOP donor.” [Not Larry Sabato]

Flickr pool photo by Ddimick

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The Right Note is a weekly opinion column published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Mark KellyThis week, County Manager Barbara Donnellan raised a number of concerns about allowing backyard hens in Arlington. On her list: difficulty of enforcement, public health, sanitation, and even a Virginia law that could put local dogs in jeopardy from overzealous hen owners. In short, rumors that county staff were no fans of the hen proposal have finally been confirmed.

Both sides jumped into the fray after the County Board work session to claim their position was winning the day. If you have not been following, the groups have taken on the name Backyards Not Barnyards and the Arlington Egg Project.

What we know is that we will be waiting a bit longer for a final decision on whether chicken coops will ultimately be allowed in Arlington yards. Based on the slow pace this issue is making along the Arlington Way, it is more likely than not that the final decision will not come to a vote before Chris Zimmerman resigns in late January.

The current scoreboard indicates the remaining County Board Members are split. It seems as though Mary Hynes and Libby Garvey would prefer to table the issue and focus on other priorities, while Jay Fisette and Walter Tejada want to get it done. So, the next County Board member could hold the deciding vote next year. Soon-to-be Chairman Fisette will most certainly keep this issue alive once he assumes control over the gavel.

With Democrat candidates already out lining up support for the special election they should be prepared to tread lightly on this issue as it could be a deciding factor in a low turnout firehouse primary. Add hens to the Columbia Pike trolley as issues candidates will need to “finesse” as they work to build support for their campaigns.

More than an election issue, it represents a rare 3-2 split for a panel that usually agrees to agree. It is refreshing to see a difference of opinion on the Board instead of single party groupthink, but these instances are still too few and far between.

Chris Zimmerman’s departure will create a new dynamic on the Board, in more ways than just hens — or even the Columbia Pike trolley’s future. A new Board Member who has political independence from one-party rule, and pledges to create a new era of transparency, accountability and fiscal responsibility, would be a breath of fresh air for Arlington.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

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County Manager Barbara Donnellan presents her FY 2014 budget on Feb. 20, 2013Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan is recommending that the County Board take no action on the hot-button issue of urban hen raising.

At a work session with the Board last night (Tuesday), Donnellan and county staff presented their work thus far on the recommendations of Arlington’s Urban Agriculture Task Force.

While the task force made a total of 27 recommendations on various urban agriculture issues, the issue of whether to allow residents of single family homes to keep egg-laying hens in their backyards has garnered the most public attention. Donnellan told the Board that there are too many “unanswered questions” about hen raising in Arlington County and enforcement of new hen-related ordinances could prove to be a “drain on county resources.”

She recommended that the current county code on poultry — which requires that the poultry owner keep the animals so far from neighboring property lines that only 15 properties qualify countywide — be maintained. Should the Board decide to move forward with a more permissive ordinance, Donnellan recommended moving slowly — spending up to a year on a public process to try to achieve community consensus.

In a presentation, county staff expressed concern over a number of issues requiring, in their words, further “eggsploration.” Those included:

  • How to dispose of dead or dying hens
  • What to do with abandoned hens
  • How to best enforce hen-related laws and how to find the funding for that enforcement
  • The potential of overstressing the Animal Welfare League of Arlington and its animal control officers
  • Health and pest concerns
  • Virginia laws authorizing hen owners to kill dogs that chase or kill their poultry

Donnellan said a pilot program for urban hens is not possible under the current zoning ordinance. She cautioned that pushing through the hen issue now would require additional county resources at a time when Arlington is facing a $10 million budget gap for Fiscal Year 2015.

In response to Donnellan’s recommendation, the two chicken-related advocacy organizations in Arlington weighed in with dueling statements. Backyards Not Barnyards, which opposes hen-raising in Arlington, wrote the following.

Obviously, we are hugely in agreement with the County Manager… We agree that there are higher priorities for this county than figuring out how make hens to “lay an egg” or two.  The benefits don’t come close to the setup and enforcement costs, environmental impacts, health issues and likely neighbor vs. neighbor conflicts.  Let’s hope the County Board has the same priorities.

The Arlington Egg Project, which has been promoting the idea of backyard hens for nearly 3 years, said it is confident that the Board will overrule Donnellan’s recommendation.

Thankfully, the County Manager works for the County Board, not the other way around. Chairman Tejada has been clear and persuasive in calling for new efforts on urban agriculture, including those related to restoring our freedom to keep small numbers of backyard hens. We are looking forward to moving ahead under the leadership of Chairman Tejada and his colleagues.

We know that writing clear and enforceable regulations on backyard hens is achievable because hundreds of urban communities have done so — including some that started and completed that process since the Urban Agriculture Task Force was commissioned.

Three County Board members — Jay Fisette, Walter Tejada and Chris Zimmerman — expressed support for allowing urban hen-raising during the work session. Libby Garvey and Mary Hynes said they would rather put the issue aside indefinitely and focus on other priorities.

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