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Arlington’s long regional nightmare has ended: the Taco Bell Cantina at 2039 Wilson Blvd will open at last next week.

A company spokesperson confirmed to ARLnow today that the restaurant will open on Monday, March 13.

Unlike traditional Taco Bells, Taco Bell Cantinas serve alcoholic beverages including beer, sangria, and frozen drinks. The Arlington location will also have a walk-up window for faster service.

The Taco Bell Cantina is opening in the space that was once Guarapo Lounge, a Peruvian restaurant and hookah lounge that closed in 2016.

There are Taco Bell Cantinas in neighboring D.C. as well as one on King Street in Old Town Alexandria — a popular post-City Council meeting spot given that it’s one of the few Old Town restaurants open until 2 a.m.

The new Courthouse Cantina has been the object of intense local interest. ARLnow has been bombarded by emails and social media messages from readers wanting updates.

“Are there any updates for when the Taco Bell Cantina in Courthouse will open?” one reader inquired last month, just over two weeks into the 3-4 week timeline given for the opening. “I saw your 2/8/23 article but wanted to know if it will keep to its timeline.”

Prior to the February article, other eagle-eyed readers noted that the project was running behind schedule.

“I was just reading one of your posts from December… you quoted a representative from [Taco Bell] who said the TB should be ‘open within the next 30 days.’ 30 days have passed and I don’t believe the TB Cantina has opened yet,” the reader astutely pointed out. “It’s a matter of universal importance and essential to my quest to eat TB with a high BAC that was achieved in-house. Godspeed.”


A branch of Arlington Public Library housed in the lobby of Arlington County government headquarters in Courthouse will reopen next week.

On Monday, March 13, the library will debut a new name and new amenities added as part of $4.8 million  in renovations to the government office building. Interior renovations to some floors of the building at 2100 Clarendon Blvd in Courthouse began in September 2021.

“The new Courthouse Library, formerly known as Plaza Library, will feature contemporary furnishings, a new children’s book and media collection, and space for library programming such as storytimes and author talks,” Arlington Public Library Communications Manager Anneliesa Alprin tells ARLnow.

“Courthouse Library, a full-service branch, will feature the ‘Grab & Go’ express book collection and a ‘Library of Things,’ including do-it-yourself tool kits and handy gadgets,” she continued.

The renovations were funded through a $23.7 million tenant improvement allowance that was provided by landlord JBG Smith when the county renewed its lease in 2018.

Starting Monday, patrons can place holds and use the book drop then, Alprin said.

Courthouse Library will have the following hours:

  • Monday: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • Tuesday: 12-8 p.m.
  • Wednesday-Thursday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Friday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Sunday: Closed

There will be a grand opening for the county government building on April 12 from 3-6 p.m.

“We’re opening the new full-service Courthouse Library, debuting a new Arlington Welcome Center and new Permit Arlington Center,” the county said in a release. “We will also be joined by the USS Arlington Community Alliance and the Arlington Historical Society to unveil a full model of the USS Arlington. Join us for a festive afternoon with an open house featuring government services, music, children’s story times, crafts, and many more surprises. All ages are welcome.”

The county also added conference rooms and renovated the lobby, second and third floors, the ninth-floor break-room and parking garage-level common areas.

The opening comes ahead of planned community engagement effort to discuss how the library system can best to meet the needs of residents.

“In the second half of 2023, the County Manager’s Office and Arlington Public Library leadership will engage with the community in longer-term strategic discussions about these issues and how to best provide library services in a changed and changing environment,” County Manager Mark Schwartz wrote in his proposed 2023-2024 budget.

These conversations will likely cover how to prioritize the competing needs of new locations and established locations, how to build a sustainable budget for library collections and how to staff libraries  reliably. Arlington libraries have stayed afloat via “an over-reliance on temporary employees,” Schwartz says in the budget.

Arlington police car outside police headquarters (file photo)

A man is in jail after a pair of alleged sexual battery incidents in the Courthouse area Sunday evening.

Both happened along Wilson Blvd and involved the 22-year-old suspect approaching women and hitting them on the buttocks, police said.

From an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

SEXUAL BATTERY, 2023-03050171, Wilson Boulevard at N. Courthouse Road. At approximately 6:47 p.m. on March 5, police were dispatched to the police station for the report of a suspicious person. Upon arrival, it was determined the female victim was walking her dog in the area when the male suspect approached her and allegedly hit her on the buttocks before fleeing the scene on foot. During the course of the investigation, it was determined a second female victim was approached by the suspect in the area of Wilson Boulevard and N. Troy Street, during which he hit her on the buttocks before fleeing the scene. A lookout was broadcast and responding officers located the suspect in the area and took him into custody without incident. [The suspect], 22, of No Fixed Address, was arrested and charged with Sexual Battery (x2). He was held without bail.

The suspect is expected in court tomorrow (Tuesday) for a bail hearing, per court records.

File photo

A 69-year-old Connecticut man is in jail after police say he shot himself and falsely claimed he had been shot during a robbery attempt.

The shooting happened two weeks ago in the parking garage of the Hilton Garden Inn in the Courthouse neighborhood, a block from Arlington County police headquarters.

The man was hospitalized with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, police said at the time.

This morning, police announced that the man who was shot had been arrested and faces a number of charges, including filing a false police report.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is announcing an arrest in a shooting that occurred in the 1300 block of N. Courthouse Road on February 15, 2023. Chester Dunican, 69, of Waterford, CT, is charged with Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Discharge Firearm in Public and False Police Report. He is being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.

The suspect initially reported to police that he was placing items into his vehicle when an unknown male wearing a ski mask approached, demanded his wallet and shot him. During the course of the investigation, detectives uncovered numerous inconsistencies between the suspect’s account of the incident and evidence recovered. The investigation ultimately determined the suspect shot himself and tried to make it appear as though an attempted robbery had occurred. He was taken into custody on the afternoon of February 27, 2023, after his release from the hospital for injuries sustained during the incident.

News reports suggest that Dunican’s felony conviction was quite recent.

He pleaded guilty in a Michigan federal court this past October to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The charge stems from a scheme that defrauded a Native American tribe of more than $1 million, various news outlets reported. The reports also note that it’s not the first time Dunican had been implicated in a business scheme.

“Dunican is known in Maine for several business ventures that became entangled in financial and legal problems,” the Portland Press Herald reported, adding that, according to Dunican’s attorney, he previously served in the military and has “serious and chronic health conditions.”

Dunican was set to be sentenced on Feb. 14, a day before the shooting, but “informed the court he had car problems and was unable to make it to the hearing,” another Maine newspaper reported. He faces up to 20 years in prison and three years of supervised release for the fraud charge, though federal sentences are typically lower than the maximum under statute.

According to ACPD, Dunican is currently being held without bond at the county jail in Courthouse, following his release from the hospital yesterday (Monday).


Corner Bakery Cafe has closed its last remaining Arlington location, in the Courthouse neighborhood.

Closed signs were posted on doors of the restaurant at 2111 Wilson Blvd this morning and employees could be seen inside organizing items. The fast-casual bakery-slash-cafe chain just declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy and has struggled amid the pandemic and work-from-home trends.

Known for serving breakfast and lunch to an office-dwelling crowd, and for catering meetings and other workplace events, Corner Bakery has also struggled to compete with larger rival Panera.

A sign on the door of the Courthouse cafe, which is no longer listed on the company’s website, encouraged fans to visit the nearest location, on L Street NW in the District. There are now three Corner Bakery locations in D.C. and one in Bethesda, according to the website.

A Crystal City location closed in 2015.

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A United States flag and a Ukraine flag along the W&OD trail bridge over Langston Blvd (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington County is holding a remembrance event tomorrow on the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The event, co-organized by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, is scheduled to kick off at 10 a.m. Friday, outside of Arlington County government headquarters, at 2100 Clarendon Blvd in Courthouse.

“During the event, members of the Arlington County Board will offer remarks, the County’s Honor Guard will raise the flag of Ukraine, and the national anthems of both the United States and Ukraine will be performed,” the county noted in a media advisory.

In a press release today, the county noted some of the work undertaken by the association to support Ukraine since the start of the conflict. The western Ukrainian city of Ivano-Frankivsk is one of Arlington’s five sister cities.

Ukraine support infographic (via Arlington County)

The press release is below.

Feb. 24 marks the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with the effects of the invasion profoundly impacting the Ukrainian people and the international community. Over the past year, Ukrainians have remained resilient and strong as they continue their fight for freedom against tremendous odds.

Ukraine has held its defense and resisted Russian influence with unwavering support from the U.S. and the international community. Arlington County is proud to be part of that community as we maintained a show of support and solidarity for Ukraine and Arlington’s sister city, Ivano-Frankivsk.

“As we recognize one year of conflict in Ukraine, Arlington proudly continues to stand with the people of Ukraine and our sister city, Ivano-Frankivsk. We applaud the resiliency, courage, and strength the people of Ukraine have shown the world in their struggle for democracy,” said County Board Vice-Chair Libby Garvey. “Many people in Ukraine today are living under unimaginable conditions as they fight for their freedom against the aggression and cruelty of another nation. The free world cannot let such aggression and cruelty stand, so, in many ways, they are fighting for all of us. On this one-year anniversary, we hope the people of Ukraine are heartened by the support they continue to receive from around the world, including here in Arlington.”

About Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine

Ivano-Frankivsk, renamed in 1962 in honor of Ukrainian poet and writer Ivan Franko, has become one of Ukraine’s most innovative and modern cities. Arlington and Ivano-Frankivsk share several similarities including a population of approximately 230,000 residents and a size of 26 square miles (67 km²) and 32 square miles (83 km²), respectively. Much like Arlington, Ivano-Frankivsk has made major efforts to ensure that streets and public spaces are open, inviting, and accessible to pedestrians and cyclists.

Arlington and Ivano-Frankivsk were formally declared sister cities on March 4, 2011, when they signed the agreement. Since then, both communities have hosted government delegations, student exchange programs, and share information with public safety responders.

“Arlington’s response to the crisis in Ukraine is a powerful reminder to us of the importance of sister cities and the strength of the relationship between Arlington and Ivano-Frankivsk,” said Hanna Eun, Chair of the Arlington Sister City Association (ASCA)’s Board of Directors. “ASCA is an integral part of Arlington’s international community that works to provide special programming, cultural promotion, and encouraging understanding between sister cities, especially during times of conflict. Whether it be in 2014 or 2022, Arlington and the Arlington community continue to promote global awareness and international support.”

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Bayou Bakery in Courthouse is once again going all out for Mardi Gras.

The New Orleans-themed eatery at 1515 N. Courthouse Road is hosting a Fat Tuesday “Bayou-Gras Mardi Pardi” starting at 6 p.m. tonight (Feb. 21)

The celebration will feature food, beverages, and live jazz from Louisiana native Nick Adde. There, of course, will be King Cake too.

Bayou Bakery opened in 2010 by David Gaus, a nationally-known chef who has appeared on a number of Food Network cooking competition shows over the years.

He’s also made a name for himself locally for his community work including the “Chefs Feeding Families” program, delivering meals to the National Guard after Jan. 6, and cooking for Ukrainian refugees.

Even during tough times, Bayou Bakery always makes a point to celebrate Mardi Gras. In 2021, the restaurant put together a take-home “Mardi Gras in a Box” so that folks could enjoy the holiday safely at home. (It proved popular and was still being offered for this year’s Mardi Gras.)

For close to two decades, there was an annual Clarendon Mardi Gras parade that always traveled past Bayou Bakery. But winter weather and other larger events led to it being changed or canceled a number of times. Finally, after another cancellation in 2019, it was confirmed that the parade was likely permanently on hold.

ARLnow has reached out to the Clarendon Alliance, the organization that had put on the parade, to confirm that the parade remains a no-go this year but has yet to hear back as of publication.

More details about tonight’s Bayou-Gras Mardi Pardi, below.

Revelry explodes on Fat Tuesday, hosted by Chef David Guas, born and bred in New Orleans, with a BAYOU-GRAS MARDI PARDI at Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery [Arlington, VA] – featuring authentic dishes, famous drinks, and live, Jazzy music.

Fat Tuesday – February 21, 2023 – the day is festive with a Pardi at the DMV’s only Mardi Gras Headquarters, indulging in New Orleans signature eats and beverages. Open ALL DAY from 7AM to 5PM. Staff Break! Bayou Gras begins 6PM – 9PM for the annual celebration. A menu of Parade specials and LIVE MUSIC. Purchase Tickets upon entry, and with each Ticket you get Three Items within the corresponding category:

BOOZE [$22]

  • Hurricane
  • NOLA Swinger
  • Hurricane Daiquiri
  • King Cake Daiquiri

GRUB [$16]

  • Gumbo
  • Muffuletta
  • Veg-a-lotta [veggie muffuletta]
  • Shrimp Jambalaya
  • Red Beans & Rice [veggie will also be available]

BREW [$18]

  • Abita [Amber, Purple Haze, IPA]

SWEETS [ A la carte desserts]

  • Slice of King Cake
  • Traditional Pralines
  • Beignets
File photo

A man was shot and seriously injured in Courthouse early this morning.

Initial reports suggest a man was shot in the lower torso in the parking garage of the Hilton Garden Inn on N. Courthouse Road, a block from Arlington County police headquarters, potentially as a result of a robbery.

The victim was hospitalized with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, police said. Police are working to sort out the exact circumstances surrounding the shooting.

“The investigation into the events that preceded the shooting is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to contact ACPD’s tip line at 703-228-4180 or [email protected],” police said via social media.


Captain Cookie & the Milkman is soaring into Courthouse today, opening its new location on Clarendon Blvd.

A ribbon-cutting is set for 10 a.m. at 2600 Clarendon Blvd for the first Arlington location of the D.C.-based cookie shop. It’s moving into a 700-square-foot space that was formerly a GNC. There will be indoor and outdoor seating.

At the grand opening there’s set to be a wheel where locals can spin to win free t-shirts, cookies, ice cream, and other Captain Cookie merchandise.

Ten percent of sales on opening day will be donated to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC), per a social media post, which also noted that Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz and Arlington Chamber of Commerce president Kate Bates are expected to be in attendance at the ribbon cutting.

Captain Cookie’s new location was first announced a year ago. Started as a food truck by a husband and wife team in 2012, the couple opened its brick-and-mortar location in D.C. three years later. They have since opened two other shops, but this one will be the first outside of the District.

The menu features eight types of cookies, milk from South Mountain Creamery, scoops of ice cream from Ice Cream Jubilee, ice cream cookies, shakes and floats. Captain Cookie also delivers.

Co-owner Kirk Francis told the Washington City Paper last year that he noticed customers from Arlington were coming to the Foggy Bottom shop since they were outside of that store’s delivery radius.

A crew putting up signage above the entrance of the new Taco Bell Cantina in Courthouse in December (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

It appears as if Courthouse’s newest date night spot won’t be open for Valentine’s Day.

The opening for the hotly anticipated Taco Bell Cantina at 2039 Wilson Blvd has been pushed back again. A company spokesperson told ARLnow that “we are hoping to be open within the next three to four weeks.”

Meaning, if that timeline is accurate, chalupas won’t likely be served until late February or early March.

As was the case in December when ARLnow last reported that the fast food eatery was delayed, it seems the electric system is to be blamed, with crews set to stop by this week to hopefully fix the issues.

And locals are getting hungry.

In an ARLnow poll conducted last month, Courthouse’s Taco Bell Cantina garnered the second-most votes for the new restaurant that readers are most looking forward to.

The biggest difference between a regular Taco Bell and a Taco Bell Cantina is the latter serves alcoholic beverages. The Courthouse location will also have a walk-up window, allowing for faster service.

The walk-up window and location in Courthouse — next to the post office and several doors down from the Ireland’s Four Courts where restoration work is underway — appears to be an effort to serve a late-night crowd coming from bars and nearby apartment buildings.

The space at 2039 Wilson Blvd was previously home to Guarapo Lounge, a popular Peruvian bar and after-work staple. It closed in 2016 and there has not been a tenant in that space since.

The Courthouse restaurant isn’t the only new Taco Bell Cantina opening in the region soon. Last week, it was announced that another Cantina location was opening in D.C.’s Chinatown neighborhood.

If a few weeks is too long to wait for a Gordita, there are also Taco Bell Cantinas on King Street in Old Town Alexandria and in Columbia Heights in D.C., as well as a regular standard-issue Taco Bell on Langston Blvd.


Many drivers have circled around blocks in Arlington, looking for a quick parking spot to slide into and pick up a mobile food order.

Or they may have skirted around a car double parked in a bike or vehicle travel lane, hazards flashing, rather than waiting for a spot to appear.

During the pandemic, the county created temporary “pick-up, drop-off spots.” Coming out of the emergency, most of these spots were converted to short-term parking spaces, with input from business improvement districts and neighborhood stakeholders, Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien tells ARLnow.

Still, food deliveries and contactless ordering options are likely here to stay. Some businesses that are now more reliant on takeout and delivery are concerned they’ll soon lose revenue as curbside parking spots are repurposed for, among other uses, protected bike lanes.

The county says one solution could be adjusting parking times, armed with data that will be collected through new parking pilot program.

Brooklyn Bagel Bakery in Courthouse (2055 Wilson Blvd), for instance, says it has lost four spots to a bike lane that developer Greystar agreed to install during construction for the “Landmark” block redevelopment project across the street.

(There is also a small private parking lot behind the retail strip.)

Speaking on behalf of Brooklyn Bagel — as well as neighboring businesses Courthouse Kabob, California Tortilla and TNR Cafe — Dawn Houdaigui asked the Board on Jan. 21 for a compromise.

“We believe in the protected bike lanes that have already gone in, that are blocking our spaces now, but we need to understand how we can share the space in front of us and how things can be reconsidered,” she said during the public comment period. “This is super important to the businesses who changed our business model after Covid. We have a lot of deliveries, we have people who come run in out front.”

She asked for more notice of proposed changes as well as notice when spots will be lost.

“A letter went out — supposedly it was hand-delivered by someone having lunch at our bagel store — and supposedly an email went out the same day,” she said. “We missed the meeting. Only one person from the businesses were there.”

County Board Chair Christian Dorsey and County Manager Mark Schwartz referred her to the county’s ombudsman and constituent services.

In general, the county is looking into the twin issues of temporary parking and combatting double-parking both systematically and on a case-by-case basis, O’Brien said.

As for specific cases, like Brooklyn Bagel’s, the county follows a six-step public engagement process for projects that impact neighbors, businesses and property owners.

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