Arlington, VA

While coronavirus has disrupted the businesses of local restaurants across the country, a new one is popping up in Shirlington despite the tough times for the industry.

New fast-casual Mexican restaurant TACO + PINA is scheduled to open tomorrow (Tuesday) on Cinco de Mayo. The eatery is located at 4041 Campbell Avenue, formerly Lotus Grill and Noodles.

“TACO + PINA’s is a labor of love which has been in the works for almost a year and a half now” said owner Graham Bartlett, a protégée of famed chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval. “While some may question opening during a pandemic I believe it is our destiny to launch on Cinco de Mayo, which this year also falls on Taco Tuesday.”

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the support and constant positive encouragement from the Village of Shirlington community asking when we will open,” Bartlett continued. “We have an opportunity to offer truly great food with high-quality ingredients, and we get to do something positive for our new neighbors during this anxiety-driven time.”

The restaurant will be open from 11 a.m.-10 p.m., according to the website.

Bartlett said the restaurant will offer contactless pick-up and delivery. Takeout options include:

  • Tacos: fried chicken, pina+taco; “chile relleno,” ribeye asado, and baja bahia.
  • Enchiladas with rice and refried beans: garlic sambal chicken, roasted mushroom + cheese
  • Nachos: crab chilaquiles, shrimp + chorizo nachos, hot mess nacho fries
  • Party Size (6-8 people): chips + salsa, roasted poblano queso dip, and guacamole.

The press release noted that TACO + PINA will also offer a “backyard party” package for $55, which will serve 4-6 people. The package includes:

  • Chips, salsa and guacamole
  • Flautas
  • Two taco proteins (pork, mushroom, fried chicken)
  • 24 corn tortillas with rice and beans, salsa and cream

Tequilas, frozen margaritas, wines, Mexican imported beers, and local craft beers are also planned to be available for takeout starting Tuesday.

Photo via Taco and Piña/Facebook

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A new premium cigar store is open in the Ballston neighborhood.

Cigar Unlimited (4215 Fairfax Drive) sells a wide range of premium cigars, which are handmade and rolled in dried tobacco leaves. The cigars are manufactured in Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and the U.S., some of which are made specifically for the shop, Mo Fakhro, the owner, told ARLnow.

The store is the only cigar shop that has a personal relationship with their manufacturers in the D.C. area, Fakhro claimed.

“You’re not going to find [these cigars] anywhere else, except to come visit us in the store,” Fakhro said.

Fakhro also owned Cigar Connection, a shop previously located nearby, at the corner of N. Randolph and Fairfax streets in Ballston. The shop opened in 2004 but was forced to close in 2014 after the lease expired, Fakhro said.

The new store will include house blend cigars, which were not sold at the old store.

Cigar Unlimited is not fully stocked yet, Fakhro said, adding that the store plans to hold its grand opening sometime next month.

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Fast-casual Mediterranean grill Mezeh is scheduled to open tomorrow on the Glebe Road side of Ballston Quarter mall (4238 Wilson Blvd).

The grand opening is scheduled to run from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., with the restaurant then reopening from 5:30-8 p.m. According to a press release and signs around the restaurant, visitors can get a free bowl with purchase of a drink, though steak or lamb bowls are $1.50 extra.

A growing chain, Mezeh started in Northern Virginia and has locations throughout Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina. The company’s first stand-alone restaurant opened in Crystal City (2450 Crystal Drive) in 2015.

In Ballston, Mezeh will face some stiff competition in the “fast-casual Mediterranean grill” market. Cava at 4121 Wilson Blvd attracts a consistently large lunch crowd and Arlington-based Lebanese Taverna’s quick-service concept LEBTAV opened at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Quincy Street last month.

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Morning Notes

GMU to Expand Va. Square Campus — “George Mason University wants to transform its Arlington campus into an ‘innovation district’ as it kicks off an Amazon-inspired overhaul… Mason expects to use the expansion to add 3,000 to 4,000 graduate students to the campus by 2024.” [Washington Business Journal]

Man Arrested For Assaulting Police in Ballston — “At approximately 8:32 p.m. on September 11, police were dispatched the report of a disorderly subject inside a restaurant who had allegedly been throwing items and threatening staff. Upon police arrival, the business staff requested the subject be banned from the property. While speaking with the subject, he threatened an officer and took a defensive stance. While placing him under arrest, the subject became combative, kicked and spit at the officers.” [Arlington County]

Home Inventory Tight in Arlington — “New listings in Arlington declined 16.5% in August compared with last year, said Chris Finnegan, vice president at Bright MLS. The median sale price for all home types in the 22202 ZIP code, where Amazon is building and staffing up HQ2, was $749,000 in August. It’s a 23% jump since the company made its HQ2 announcement in November 2018.” [Washington Business Journal, InsideNova]

Coffee Beanery Open in Va. Square — Coffee Beanery, a coffee chain with locations across the northeast, has opened a new location at 3444 Fairfax Drive in Virginia Square. [Facebook]

Tech Company Picks Arlington for U.S. HQ — ” Varjo, the technology leader in industrial-grade VR/XR headsets, today announced the opening of its U.S. headquarters… in Arlington, Virginia, located just outside of Washington D.C.” [Varjo via Potomac Tech Wire]

Potomac Kempo Now Open — Martial arts studio Potomac Kempo yesterday held a grand opening ceremony for its fifth location, at 3650 S. Glebe Road, in the Potomac Yard area. The studio started holding classes on Aug. 31, we’re told. [Facebook]

Video: USS Arlington Crew Welcomed at Fire Station — “Crew members from the USS Arlington were welcomed at Arlington’s Fire Station 5 before running in the The Arlington Police, Fire & Sheriff 9/11 Memorial Race. The USS Arlington honors the 184 victims and the thousands of emergency, fire and rescue personnel of Arlington County and localities in the National Capital Region who provided critical emergency assistance after the attack on 9/11.” [YouTube]

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Morning Notes

Ovi Visits Local Elementary School — “In conjunction with the launch of Ovi O’s, Alex Ovechkin’s limited-edition breakfast cereal, the Washington Capitals’ captain surprised Arlington Traditional School, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, and a local Giant store with a visit on Sept. 10.” [NHL]

9/11 Remembrance Ceremony in Courthouse — “Officials in Northern Virginia held a moment of silence to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. Sen Tim Kaine, Rep. Don Beyer, military commanders, local Arlington County officials and members of the Virginia House attended the remembrance ceremony on Arlington County government plaza.” [NBC 4, WUSA 9]

Local Leaders Set Housing Goals — “Local governments around Greater Washington now plan to set targets for housing production over the next decade, as part of a regional initiative to build 320,000 new homes by 2030 and ease the region’s cost pressures.” [Washington Business Journal, Twitter]

ACPD Plans ‘Coffee With a Cop’ — “Wednesday, October 2 is National Coffee with a Cop Day and the Arlington County Police Department is hosting four events with our Community Outreach Teams to celebrate. Community members are invited to join police at these informal events to ask questions, voice concerns, get to know their neighbors, interact with the Community Outreach Teams and meet officers from other sections of the department.” [Arlington County]

Orthopaedic Office Celebrates Grand Opening — “Ortho OIC Orthopaedic Immediate Care, the area’s first independent orthopaedic specialty urgent care… will be holding a grand opening event on September 19 from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. The event is open to the public and will feature a ribbon cutting ceremony.” [Press Release]

Farewell, Subway-Centric Paper — “The Washington Post is closing down its free daily commuter paper, Express, this week. The final edition of Express will be published on Thursday. The staff learned of the news at a meeting at noon on Wednesday.” [DCist]

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The new Rosslyn location of juice, smoothie and acai bowl emporium South Block is expected to open its doors on Monday.

Located at 1550 Wilson Blvd, the new South Block — the “Arlington born and bred” company’s 10th location — is next to BASH Boxing in the former Cafe Asia space. The 1,300 square foot space includes a mural created by local artists MasPaz and CheLove.

South Block is planning to host a soft opening in Rosslyn starting Monday, August 26. The eatery is scheduled to be open weekdays from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

“When I opened my first location, I had no idea what to expect,” said owner and Northern Virginia native Amir Mostafavi, in a statement. “I’m not sure what ‘making it’ really means! I still don’t think I’ve made it… but I hope my story inspires others to pursue their passions.”

A subsequent grand opening event is planned next month. More from a press release:

South Block’s “good vibe tribe” will be out in full force at the Grand Opening “Block Party” on Saturday, September 7 at 9 a.m. The first 100 “Block Party” attendees will receive a swag bag complete with a reusable smoothie cup, sunglasses, and some fun surprises from local community partners. There will be plenty of fun surprises for all who attend while a live DJ keeps the good vibes rolling!

WHO: South Block Rosslyn
WHAT: South Block Rosslyn’s Grand Opening “Block Party”
WHEN: Saturday, September 7, 2019 at 9 a.m. (Store opens to the public on Monday, August 26).
WHERE: South Block | 1550 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209

All proceeds on September 7 will go to South Block’s fundraising initiative, Fruitful Planet, to support the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC), a community-based non-profit that provides supplemental groceries to Arlington neighbors in need. South Block created Fruitful Planet as a way to give back to those in need and build healthy communities. “We believe that small acts can make a big impact! The Arlington community has been so great to South Block… we want to do everything we can to support the community and show love back said Mostafavi.

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Maizal is planning to open tomorrow (Thursday) with a free food giveaway.

The new restaurant serves South American street food, like arepas, yuca fries, plantains and street corn.

For its Aug. 1 grand opening in the Quarter Market food hall in Ballston Quarter mall, Maizal will be offering a free arepa and a side — with the purchase of a drink — from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and again from 5:30-8:30 p.m., according to a PR rep for the mall.

Employees could be seen preparing fresh ingredients in the restaurant’s open kitchen this morning, but a manager said it would not be serving customers today.

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South Block is hoping to open its new Rosslyn location by late August.

Owner Amir Mostafavi told ARLnow yesterday (Monday) that he’s “excited” about the summer opening, and is planning a block party to celebrate.

“We anticipate opening in late August followed by a community block party in September,” said Mostafavi. “The block party will consist of a live DJ, Bash will be there, we will be handing out swag bags to the 100 blockstars in line, free samples and more.”

The new eatery (1550 Wilson Blvd) will take up part of the space that previously housed Cafe Asia, next to Bash Boxing.

This will be the fourth South Block to open in Arlington and the tenth total since its founding in 2011. The latest South Block to open was the Ballston Quarter location in March.

The burgeoning local chain serves juice, smoothies, acai bowls and toasts. The new Rosslyn location will serve up a similar menu.

Mostafavi previously told ARLnow that he picked the location for its proximity to Bash.

“We’ve always had a really strong relationship with Arlington’s fitness community, so this is just a really good fit,” he said.

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Update at 12:20 p.m. — The gym is opening this Saturday, July 27, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., according to its owner.

Earlier: Potential patrons of an upcoming gym in Courthouse may have to wait a few more days before they can give the facility a test run.

Owner Mike Savitch, a bobsledder who represented the Virgin Islands in the 2002 Winter Olympics, told ARLnow that The Conditioning Room (2050 Wilson Blvd) should be open within two weeks, but hasn’t settled on an exact day.

Located near the Courthouse Metro station, in the former Cosi space, the new gym has missed Savitch’s desired opening date of June 1. But progress is being made: Savitch said he has moved in the exercise equipment in and hired artist Jack Labadie to put the finishing touches on the space with his graffiti-style artwork.

Unlimited memberships will be available for $205 per month. Once the gym opens, scheduled classes are set to run throughout the day Monday through Saturday.

The gym will also offer a free trial class on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m.

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The expanded EvolveAll fitness studio near Columbia Pike is now open, after missing the mark on its original goal to open in May.

Owner Emerson Doyle said that the company had problems “trying to line up getting out of our old lease, coordinating the move, finishing the build out, and getting our [certificate of occupancy] with Arlington County.”

“Everything always takes longer then our optimistic minds think,” Doyle said.

The Columbia Pike studio, which is located at 1058 S. Walter Reed Drive, has 10,000 square feet of space, separated into four rooms that allow trainers to run simultaneous classes.

EvolveAll has nine instructors who teach a wide gamut of classes including children’s martial arts, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing, yoga and fitness boot camps. Personal training and massage therapy are also offered.

“We have the same schedule as before but are adding early morning yoga and bootcamp classes, starting with Tuesday and Thursday at 6:15 a.m.,” Doyle said of the new class schedule.

The company’s website notes that the fitness studio aims to serve as a “meeting space for local communities of growth minded people.”

Photos courtesy EvolveAll

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A new LensCrafters store is now open in Ballston.

Last week marked the grand opening of LensCrafters in Ballston Quarter (4238 Wilson Blvd). It replaces a former LensCrafters store at the mall that closed prior to its renovations. 

Located on the ground floor of an outdoor portion of the mall, LensCrafters offers eye exams and sells prescription glasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses. 

“Customers can expect to find innovative technology, the newest styles, and unparalleled personalized service,” at the store, a mall PR rep said in an email. “They offer a wide range of prescription lenses for eyeglasses and sunglasses, perfectly tailored to your lifestyle.”

The location is open Monday-Saturday, from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and on Sunday, from 12-6 p.m.

The store is running a 50% discount on complete pair of glasses though Friday, Aug. 2. 

Photo (3) courtesy Ballston Quarter

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