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Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo via Arlington County)

(Updated on 1/13/23) Several community service events are taking place in the coming days across Arlington in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King.

County offices may be closed on Monday (Jan. 16), but the county and local organizations are holding events on and around the federal holiday recognizing the civil rights icon’s birthday.

On Sunday, the county is set to hold its annual MLK Tribute event from 5-6:30 p.m. in the Washington-Liberty High. School auditorium at 1301 N. Stafford Street. This is a change from Wakefield High School due to a maintenance issue. The event will also be live-streamed.

The tribute will feature live music, spoken word, and dance while being produced by Encore Stage & Studio in Cherrydale. The program will highlight MLK’s visit to Arlington prior to the 1963 March on Washington.

Arlington’s annual MLK Tribute has been going on for more than five decades and “was first organized by Arlington County staff and community members in 1969, the year after Dr. King was assassinated,” per the county’s website.

Then, on Monday, Volunteer Arlington is working with a number of different local organizations to host its sixth annual day of service.

For the first time in a few years the event will be held in-person, though there will be virtual options as well.

It will begin at Washington-Liberty High School with opening ceremonies and t-shirt distribution for the first 500 volunteers at 9 a.m.

At 9:30 a.m., volunteers will disperse to participate in one of more than the 20 projects being hosted county-wide. These opportunities include making snack bags for students, cleaning up Barcroft Park, and learning how to help Arlington’s older residents. It’s recommended to sign up for the preferred project in advance since a number are already filled.

Also on Monday, Walk Arlington is planning a clean-up of the W&OD Trail.

Organizers are asking volunteers to meet on the trail where it intersects with Columbia Pike. A WalkArlington tent is expected to be set up near that intersection with the goal of walking the trail about half a mile toward S. George Mason Drive. The plan is to pick up litter and debris on “a beautiful trail that’s enjoyed by cyclists and walkers alike.”

In 1984, Virginia started officially commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. on the third Monday in January. But MLK Day was paired with the uniquely-Virginian Lee-Jackson Day, creating a peculiar and controversial holiday that recognized two Confederate generals and a civil rights icon on one day.

The two days were separated in 2000, though Lee-Jackson Day remained on the books as a state-wide holiday for another two decades. In 2020, a bill was signed into law that officially removed it as an official holiday in Virginia.

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Northside Social New Year’s (file photo)

There are plenty of places to celebrate locally as the calendar flips to 2023.

After two years of subdued New Year’s Eve parties due to the pandemic, a number of Arlington restaurants are roaring back with events.

Below are some of the Arlington restaurants, bars and spaces where you can ring in the new year.

The decked halls of B Live (courtesy Albert Ting)

B Live’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve
2854 Wilson Blvd
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $25

Mike and Christal Bramson opened B Live, one of Clarendon’s newest entertainment venues, opened in May. A ticket to the party gets you a drink ticket, a champagne toast, an hors d’oeuvres station and access to a photo booth. Live entertainment is provided by Klepto Radio.

Interior dining space at Wilson Hardware in Clarendon (photo courtesy of Wilson Hardware)

Sixth Annual Wilson Wonderland New Year’s Eve
2915 Wilson Blvd
Time: 9 p.m.
Cost: Starting at $60

Taking place in the Wilson Hardware’s newly revamped million-dollar space, admission to the party includes “party favors” and two drink tickets. There will be a DJ, a light show and a ball drop as well.

Pamplona Prohibition New Year’s Eve
3100 Clarendon Blvd
Time: 8 p.m.
Cost: $45

Pamplona, another Bramson nightlife venture in Clarendon, is hosting its sixth annual “prohibition party.” A ticket gets you three drink tickets, appetizers, party favors, a champagne toast and dancing.

Exterior view of Renegade in Clarendon (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

New Year’s Eve with Tunnels End at the Renegade
3100 Clarendon Blvd
Time: 10 p.m.
Cost: TBA

This Clarendon hangout at the forefront of Arlington’s live music revival will host a local pop/punk cover band Tunnel’s End that will have you remembering the early aughts.

Lyon Hall’s New Year’s Eve 2022
3100 Washington Blvd
Time: 9 p.m.
Cost: No cover.

Clarendon mainstay Lyon Hall hosts local jazz band Vanessa Ralls and the Berries for a New Year’s Eve concert. There will also be a holiday menu and drink specials.

Punch Bowl Social in Ballston in October 2020

Punch Bowl Social New Year’s Eve Celebration
4238 Wilson Blvd
Time: 9 p.m.
Cost: Starting at $10

General admission to the Ballston bar and entertainment venue on New Year’s Eve gets you live music from DJ and access to a photo booth. A VIP ticket at $50 gets light bites, a sectioned-off space, a midnight toast and “free activities” as well.

Clarendon Ballroom entrance on a Saturday night (staff photo)

New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball at Clarendon Ballroom
3185 Wilson Blvd
Time: 9 p.m.
Cost: Starting at $45

Clarendon Ballroom was also recently revamped and reopened over the summer. All three floors, including outdoors, will be open during the party. There will also be an ice luge, party favors, a photo booth, a champagne toast and live entertainment from several DJs.

Interior of WHINO in Ballston (Photo courtesy of Timothy Yantz/WHINO)

New Year’s Blowout at WHINO
4238 Wilson Blvd
Time: 10 p.m.
Cost: $25

WHINO, a restaurant and art gallery that opened at Ballston Quarter in June 2021, is hosting a party with two DJs as well as a countdown to and champagne toast at midnight.

Smokecraft’s Fire & Ice New Year’s Eve 2023
1051 N. Highland Street
Time: 8 p.m.
Cost: Starting at $125

This two-year-old barbeque joint in Clarendon will have a buffet for New Year’s. A ticket grants access to the buffet plus an open bar and a $25 gift card to be used in 2023.

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Snow falls in Rosslyn in 2020 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Christmas and Hanukkah are nearly here, which is undoubtedly provoking panic among last-minute shoppers.

Luckily, ARLnow has an Arlington-centric holiday gift guide for all those who looking for the perfect present for the the gondola fans and local literature enthusiasts in you life.

Below are eight great, last-minute Arlington-related gifts.

Silver Diner item up for auction (via Real Food for Kids)

After 26 years, the Silver Diner in Clarendon is now closed with the new Ballston location opening this past week. Now, a number of items from that restaurant are up for auction.

Money helps supports the local non-profit Real Food for Kids. The auction ends next week, on Dec. 22.

This summer, local elected officials again introduced joint legislation to remove Robert E. Lee’s name from the historic home at Arlington National Cemetery. While the bills stalled, it was actually George Washington Parke Custis who had the house built to honor George Washington.

This definitive biography by local author Charlie Clark provides the first-of-a-kind look into the life of George Washington Parke Custis and the history of Arlington’s first family.

Cans of New District beer (file photo)

With word coming that a new indoor dog park and bar may be replacing Green Valley’s New District Brewing, now is the time to stuff those stockings with beer.

Four packs of beer, including the National Landing IPA and Potomac Paddleboarder Blonde Ale, are available in the taproom whenever the brewery is open. All the beer is now packaged at their facility with its crowd-funded canning line.

Little Michael Visits Fire Station 8 book cover (via Amazon)

Help that little Arlingtonian in your life to learn local history with this book written by community leader Wilma Jones.

It tells the story of a third grader in 1955 who visits the Halls Hill fire station. For decades, Fire Station 8 was the only one in Arlington that was staffed by African-Americans.

The original station was demolished in June with a new station now in the midst of construction. It’s expected to be completed sometime late next year.

Pickleball being played outside at Walter Reed Community Center (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

Pickleball has taken Arlington by storm, even as the pickleball pop has driven some locals mad.

The county is providing a chance to get in on the craze by offering pickleball classes for all ages. The classes begin in February and continue through April, but can be purchased now.

But be careful about where you play so the county doesn’t get sued.

Inner Ear Recording Studios t-shirt (screenshot via Amazon)

Demolition day may be looming for the building that once housed legendary Inner Ear Studios, but the recording studio still lives in Don Zientara’s Arlington basement. Some have called it “the Abbey Road of Arlington.”

A t-shirt with the original Inner Ear logo is available from ARLnow on Amazon.

Ballston resident Isa Seyran serves up dishy stories in his new book detailing working in the local restaurant scene.

The subject of a recent ARLnow Press Club feature, Seyran shares a number of anecdotes in the book about working for some of the most famous chefs in the D.C. area.

Arlington Gondoliers sweatshirt

Sure, it’s actually Arlington, Texas that’s getting an XFL team, and not Arlington, Virginia, but that didn’t dissuade us from asking readers on social media what they would have named the football team.

One answer stood out:

The Arlington Gondoliers

ARLnow designed a logo and put it on a bunch of swag so everyone can support the local team that never was.

  • Bonus: Items from a local holiday market

If you are still in need of more last-minute gifts, the Forever Grateful Market in Crystal City is happening this weekend.

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Our Savior Lutheran Church on S. Taylor Street (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 4 p.m.) Two weeks before Christmas, someone has apparently stolen a nativity scene from a church in the Barcroft neighborhood.

But the pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church (825 S. Taylor Street), Wayne Fredericksen, is turning the other cheek.

“My focus is fresh hope and fresh encouragement,” he said. “This is where my head and heart are going, to remind us of the Bible story and see how it provided hope and encouragement before the birth and also still for us today.”

He was still processing the news when ARLnow spoke with him Monday morning. Fredericksen says he wished whoever stole the scene, if the intent was to resell, would instead connect with the resources that the church support, including Path Forward, Bridges to Independence and Arlington Food Assistance Center.

“Since we don’t know the circumstances or the situation, we wish the best for that person,” he said. “We’re sad they thought that was an action we thought was good for them. We wish them good in other ways and we move forward in forgiveness.”

Police were called but do not have much to go on at this point.

“Between December 11 at 12 a.m. and December 12 at 12 a.m., the unknown suspect(s) stole an outdoor nativity set,” Arlington County police spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow via email. “There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.”

Fredericksen called the loss of the scene, which was a gift to the church, “disappointing.” He says the decoration contributes to the communal celebration of Christmas and reminds people to support the ministerial work of houses of worship as well as local nonprofits that help people in need.

“It can feel overwhelming, but when you see how many people are at work trying to do good, it doesn’t take a lot to come alongside and support in some way, whether it’s with a gift, or a gift of time,” Fredericksen said.

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The central tree in Welburn Square, waiting to be transformed into a “singing tree” (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

A “singing tree” is set to bring holiday cheer to Ballston.

Next week the Ballston Business Improvement District (BID) is debuting the “Ballston Singing Tree.”

That’s 12 strands of 1,200 sound-responsive lights that “[come] alive as harmonies and melodies grace its branches” draped across the central tree in Welburn Square right off N. Taylor Street.

To celebrate, Ballston BID is hosting an event at 5 p.m. on Wednesday (Dec. 14) at the square. It’s set to include performances by the Arlington Children’s Chorus and local musicians Kara & Matty D as well as food from nearby We, The Pizza, a “Jingle Bar” for adults, and a free hot cocoa bar for kids.

And, of course, the lighting of the tree. More technically, the singing tree will use microphones to turn sounds into a show.

“Microphones capture audio input from the environment around the system, which interprets that data into colors and patterns to display throughout the tree,” says a press release.

The software was designed specifically for Ballston by Canadian developer Limbic Media. Mastercard is listed as a sponsor for the event.

“We are so grateful to our partner and fantastic neighborhood steward, Mastercard, for their generosity and for helping us celebrate this wonderful time of the year,” BID chief Tina Leone said in the press release. “Supporting local Arlington organizations and Ballston businesses is the most special way to give back, and we encourage folks to come down to the tree lighting, enjoy some Christmas carols, try their hand at activating the tree, and enjoy all Ballston has to offer!”

The hope is that this will be the start of an annual tradition, per Ballston BID.

The “Singing Tree” will be in Welburn Square from Dec. 14 through the new year.

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‘Tis the season to get tipsy with cozy cocktails and two-buck beers.

B Live, the live music venue and restaurant in the old Whitlow’s on Wilson space at 2854 Wilson Blvd, says it has created Arlington’s “most immersive holiday popup.”

“‘Jingle Bell Rock’ is the latest popup in B Live’s completely decked-out space, fit with sparkling light displays, festive garland and life-sized holiday fan favorites like the Grinch, Santa Claus and Nutcrackers,” a PR rep for B Live said. The venue is owned by local nightlife duo Mike and Christal Bramson.

Passersby can see the spot’s windows painted with beloved Christmas characters playing instruments — in a tribute to the music scene for which Whitlow’s was known.

Inside, B Live is offering weekly holiday-themed specials, including Christmas karaoke on Tuesdays, a “Santa Mug Night” every Thursday with $2.50 beers and live entertainment every weekend. The pop-up runs through mid-January, meaning guests can live by Buddy the Elf’s code to “treat every day like Christmas.”

The bar is making spirits bright with holiday-themed drinks, too. For an extra-cozy night out, guests can order the “Santa Baby,” a boozy hot chocolate topped with a torched marshmallow.

If your heart hasn’t shrunk three sizes, there is a “Patron Christmas Tree” cocktail tower that serves four.

Only Santa will know if you were naughty and kept all of the tequila for yourself.

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Rabbi Mordechai Newman lights the menorah at Chanukah on Ice 2012 at Pentagon Row (file photo)

Arlington is set to celebrate the festival of lights with two menorah lightings later this month.

Hanukkah begins the night of Dec. 18 this year, but the menorah is going to be lit a bit early this year in Pentagon City.

The annual “Chanukah on Ice” event at the Pentagon Row ice skating rink is set for Thursday, Dec. 15 at 5:30 p.m. Organized by the Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington, the evening will feature skating, hot latkes, kosher hot dogs, a raffle, and the lighting of a six-foot menorah.

This family-friendly celebration will also include ice skating, latkes, kosher hot dogs, a raffle, and the lighting of a six-foot menorah for the fifth night of Hanukkah. It will take place from 6-8 p.m.

In case of heavy rain, the rink will be closed.

This fire and ice event has been going on for at least a decade and, often, local officials show up to help light the menorah.

Another Hanukkah celebration is planned a few days later in Clarendon.

Light Up Arlington” is set for Tuesday, Dec. 20, the third night of Hanukkah, at 1307 N. Highland Street. This event is also being hosted by Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington and being held outside, in front of its community center.

There will be latkes, donuts, chocolate gelt, dreidels, hot cocoa, the lighting of a nine-foot menorah, and “lively” Hanukkah music. It begins at 6 p.m.

This event is free, but there’s limited capacity.

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Wreaths Across America in 2021 (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) As many as 40,000 people are expected to attend Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery later this month.

The annual holiday event is set to take place on Saturday, Dec. 17 this year, starting at 8 a.m.

Wreaths Across America provides the public a chance to lay wreaths and other symbolic items at the graves of fallen service members and their families. This tradition was first started in 1992. Some 30,000 to 40,000 people are expected to volunteer this year, per a cemetery spokesperson.

However, for those who’ve attended in the past, the process for attending the event and entering the cemetery will be slightly different.

There’s a new registration system that grants timed entry into the cemetery at either 8 or 9 a.m. through one of four gates — Memorial Avenue, Service Complex gate, Old Post Chapel, and the recently-restored Ord and Weitzel gate.

The South Gate is closed this year, due to the cemetery’s expansion project. The expansion is set to add 60,00 burial sites and space for the new 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center.

Registration is required to enter the cemetery this year, ANC officials said. This new step is being instituted to ensure the “safety and security” of visitors and employees.

Vehicular traffic will not be permitted in the cemetery and parking will be off-limits for the general public in the garage on Dec. 17. There will be “limited” general public parking at the Pentagon North and South parking lots.

Large crowds and road closures near the cemetery should be anticipated.

ANC officials are recommending attendees use public transportation or a ride-share service for traveling to and from the cemetery. The drop-off location will be at the parking lot at 880 Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City. From there, visitors can walk to the Service Complex gate along Columbia Pike.

The annual “Escort to Arlington” parade will also be arriving at the cemetery that day. Billed as the “country’s longest veterans’ parade,” a caravan of vehicles transporting Gold Star families and veterans will travel down the East Coast starting this weekend, en route to Arlington.

Family Pass Holder Day is being held on Sunday, Dec. 11 this year, a week prior to the event for the public. This separate event allows family pass-holders to place a wreath at their loved one’s grave ahead of the more-crowded public Wreaths Across America event.

Last year’s event was, more or less, back to normal after 2020’s version — initially canceled due to the pandemic — ended up being conducted only by military personnel and family members.

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Ballston Quarter’s outdoor Christmas tree (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

It’s holiday time and the lights are coming on in Arlington.

Over the next several weeks, a slew of tree lightings, Santa visits, markets, and holiday celebrations are happening around the county. That’s in addition to last night’s Shirlington tree lighting and the Santa photo shoots already underway at the Pentagon City mall.

Next week, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District is set to turn on the lights at its annual tree lighting ceremony, which now takes place at Central Place Plaza near the Metro station. It’s happening on Thursday, Dec. 8 at 5 p.m. and will be aired on ABC 7 with a countdown from local reporter Kidd O’Shea.

There will be musical performances from Cherry Blossom Organ Trio and HB Woodlawn’s Choir, as well as raffle prizes, holiday cocktails, free photos, and a coat drive benefiting PathForward.

Other upcoming Rosslyn holiday activities include:

  • Dec. 7 at 6 p.m.: Rosslyn Cinema featuring”Elf” at Bennet Park Atrium

Santa is making his way to Ballston, meanwhile, and will be taking holiday photos with well-behaved children every weekend until Christmas starting this Saturday, Dec. 3, as well as the entire week between Dec. 19 and Dec. 23.

Santa will be stationed on the first floor of the mall near the Wilson Blvd street entrance.

Additional Ballston holiday events include:

The annual Peppermint Mocha Competition put on by the National Landing BID returns this weekend as well.

On Saturday, Dec. 3 starting at 11 a.m., three local businesses — The Freshman, Commonwealth Joe, and Beauty Champagne & Sugar Boutique — will compete to see which has the best peppermint mocha.

Other holiday activities in Crystal City and Pentagon City include:

There are also holiday markets at Wakefield and Washington-Liberty high schools as well as a number of Christmas tree sales across Arlington.

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The Arlington Public Schools Syphax Education Center (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Francisco Durán is proposing an earlier start to school next fall and more instructional days than the current academic year.

If approved, the 2023-24 calendar would have 180 instructional days for all students and would start on Aug. 21, 2023. This year, elementary and high school students have 175 instructional days and middle schoolers have 174, falling under the state standard of 180 days and APS calendars pre-pandemic.

The proposal comes after APS received more than 7,100 responses from families and staff earlier this fall in a survey gauging approval of the current calendar and asking for input on three possible calendars for next year. Some respondents urged APS to align its calendar with neighboring jurisdictions, such as Fairfax County Public Schools, and others suggested reducing the number of cultural and religious holidays, per presentation materials for the upcoming School Board meeting this Thursday.

“It is important to align with neighboring districts for holidays and start day… so that our schools can be fully staffed with your teachers,” one respondent said, per a presentation.

Another said they “support the spirit of inclusiveness, but do not support APS adopting so many religious holidays.”

Durán’s proposal has the same start date for students as the proposed or approved calendars for many neighboring jurisdictions, except FCPS, which appears not to have a proposal yet.

Calendars for Arlington Public Schools and nearby jurisdictions (via APS)

Durán’s calendar starts a full week before the preference of many survey respondents and a calendar committee comprised of a group of principals, PTA members, teachers union representatives and central office staff. It has a longer winter break than these two calendars as well.

APS 2023-24 calendar options (via APS)

The School Board will receive more information on the preferred calendar and alternatives on Thursday. It is then slated to vote on Durán’s proposed 2023-24 calendar on Thursday, Dec. 15.

The proposed increase would mark a return to aspects of pre-pandemic calendars, something for which watchdog group Arlington Parents for Education has advocated over the last year. It says this is one way to address its focal point of learning loss.

“Abandoning our longstanding commitment to providing at least 180 days of school, especially given the historic learning loss currently facing APS students, is the wrong approach,” the group said in a recent calendar analysis. “Our students deserve for their school system to return to its historical practice of meeting both the 180-day and 990-hour Virginia state standards.”

Over the last 10 years, the APE says, 181 days has been the norm for student attendance days. APS dipped under 180 days during the 2020-21 school year, at the onset of the pandemic, and has not returned to 180 days since, it said.

APS calendars over the last 10 years (via Arlington Parents for Education)

A few years ago, APS began starting the school year before Labor Day after former Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam authorized schools to start up to two weeks before the September holiday.

“Despite that change, APS has tended to start later than neighboring divisions,” the group said. “The result is fewer days of school for Arlington children.”

Comparative calendars for D.C. area public school systems for the 2022-23 school year (via Arlington Parents for Education)

Starting with the 2021-22 school year, APS also added four non-Christian religious holidays, a move to which some survey respondents objected.

The proposed 2023-24 calendar would observe Yom Kippur (Sept. 25) and Eid al-Fitr (April 10). This fall, APS took days off for Rosh Hashanah and Diwali, but those are not included in next year’s calendar, possibly because they are set to occur on weekends next fall.

“This look-back at 10 years of calendar history and the comparison of the current APS calendar with that of our neighbors indicates that whether it is an earlier start, later finish, use of federal holidays, or different patterns around winter break, APS has options for how it can meet 180 days,” APE said.

Durán proposes 31 days off for federal holidays, winter break, and religious holidays, as well as grade and reporting days.

Proposed days off for students in Arlington Public Schools (via APS)
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The Village at Shirlington is hosting its annual holiday event “Light Up the Village” (Photo courtesy of Federal Realty Investment Trust)

The lights are being turned back on in Shirlington for its annual holiday event next week.

Shirlington’s “Light Up the Village” is set for Thursday, Dec. 1 from 6-8:30 p.m.

Like previous years, the holiday event will include a Christmas tree lighting, horse-drawn carriage rides, selfies with Santa, and a holiday market featuring local makers. There will also be strolling entertainment, face painting, and balloon twisting.

Additionally, students from Bishop O’Connell High School and Shirlington-based Signature Theatre are both scheduled to perform holiday music.

The schedule with times is below:

  • 6:00 pm Holiday Musical Performance by Signature Theatre
  • 6:30 pm Tree Lighting celebration
  • 6:40 pm Horse and Carriage Rides
  • 7:00 pm Photos with Santa (located at Hardwood Artisans)
  • Live Holiday Music Performance by Bishop O’Connell High School
  • FREE Face Painting and Balloon Twisting
  • Strolling Entertainment
  • Merchant specials and promotions

The event is free. It first started about 20 years ago.

Attendees will continue to be able to “sip and stroll,” as has been the case since 2020.

Food items and donations to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) will also be accepted at the event.

The Village of Shirlington, which is owned by Bethesda-based Federal Realty Investment Trust has had a slew of business openings in recent months with more likely on the way.

Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls and Diament Jewelry opened at the shopping center over the summer. Greek restaurant Our Mom Eugenia is looking to open soon, while Jeni’s Ice Cream is still setting up shop in a space formerly occupied by a Thai rolled ice cream business.

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