Arlington, VA

The McDonald’s at 4834 Lee Highway is backing off plans to reconfigure its drive-thru, at least for now.

The fast food restaurant withdrew a use permit application at the Arlington County Board over the weekend. That followed a drubbing at the Board’s April meeting, during which county officials blasted the plans, which included a second drive-thru lane and a new recirculating lane that would run between the restaurant and Lee Highway.

After deferring the restaurant’s application to this summer, then deferring it again, the Board accepted a request by McDonald’s to withdraw it entirely.

From a county staff report:

The applicant has requested withdrawal of the use permit request due to the physical constraints in accommodating on-site vehicle circulation, as well as the growing trend toward mobile orders and curbside pick-up. This application was initially heard at the April 2020 County Board meeting and was deferred twice to allow the applicant time to evaluate how it might address concerns regarding pedestrian safety and site circulation with the proposed design of the drive-thru; most recently from the July 2020 County Board meeting to the September 2020 County Board meeting. Therefore, staff recommends the County Board accept the applicant’s request to withdraw the subject use permit application.

In addition to the second ordering lane, intended to reduce incidence of drive-thru traffic backing up to Lee Highway, the plans called for the 1960s era building to be rebuilt as a modernized, two-story restaurant with around the same floor area but a smaller overall footprint.

The new restaurant would have included a kids play area, as the current one has, and was designed to be more efficient for preparing drive-thru and online orders. Other amenities would have included new landscaping and McDonald’s restoring a mural at the nearby Langston-Brown Community Center.

County staff and the John M. Langston Citizens Association opposed the plans, citing concerns about pedestrian safety for those needing to cross the new recirculation lane to access the restaurant, as well as potential backups caused by the lane being blocked by those waiting for the drive-thru.

Despite agreeing to some changes, McDonald’s and its land use attorney continued to argue for the merits of its plan during the April meeting. ARLnow has asked about whether a new plan is in the works, but has yet to hear back.

Photo (1) via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

McDonald’s Rebuild Decision Delayed — “Action on a proposal to rebuild the existing McDonald’s fast-food restaurant in the 4800 block of Lee Highway has been put off for another two months. Arlington County officials and the applicant had sparred over the plan, which also would include a revamped traffic-circulation design.” [InsideNova]

Bollards Deter Dangerous I-395 Driving — VDOT has installed new bollards to prevent drivers from cutting across northbound I-395 to access the HOV bridge. The barriers appears to be doing the trick, succeeding where orange barrels previously failed. [Twitter]

Crystal City Farmers Market Moving — “Arlington County Board members on July 18 approved the temporary relocation of the once-a-week Crystal City Farmers’ Market, so services could continue to be provided during the COVID-19 pandemic. The traditional spot of the market – the 2000-2100 block of Crystal Drive – does not have enough room to space out vendors.” [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

County Opposes Second McD’s Drive-Thru Window — “Maybe, in the end, they can all sit down amicably over a Happy Meal. But the mood was decidedly unhappy when the Arlington County Board and representatives of McDonald’s recently tangled over redevelopment of the restaurant chain’s 60-year-old outlet in the 4800 block of Lee Highway.” [InsideNova]

Sloppy Mama’s to Reopen Today — “Sloppy Mama’s BBQ owner Joe Neuman also isn’t in a rush to open his dining room, though he is launching takeout at his Arlington restaurant on Friday. He received a Paycheck Protection Program loan, which has terms that reward businesses that rehire staff. Neuman closed Sloppy Mama’s on March 16, just as barbecue season beckoned.” [Washington City Paper]

Va. Trying to Ramp Up Testing — “As the state plans to reopen on Friday — though it will delay Northern Virginia’s reopening until after Memorial Day — the commonwealth is still not meeting Gov. Ralph Northam’s testing goal of 10,000 tests a day. This week, Virginia’s Department of Emergency Management signed contracts with three commercial labs in an effort to ramp up testing as the state gears up to reopen.” [DCist]

March Hotel Occupancy Rate Shows Big Drop — “Arlington hotel and motel occupancy took a pummeling in March as the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold… March’s occupancy rate of 34.5 percent for Arlington resulted in a first-quarter occupancy rate of 52.3 percent.” [InsideNova]

GMA Profiles YHS Senior Photo Project — “In Arlington, Virginia, photographer Matt Mendelsohn has made it his mission to give the senior class of Yorktown High School the celebration they deserve… With the growing popularity of his project, which he’s named ‘Not Forgotten: The Yorktown Seniors of 2020,’ he’s enlisted the help from his daughter on shoots and a parent.” [Good Morning America]

Library Launches Virtual Career Services — “Arlington Public Library is offering virtual one-on-one appointments to job seekers who want career help or to improve their resume. All appointments are free and confidential. Appointments are available Mondays and Thursdays, 5:30-7 p.m., and Tuesdays, 9:30-11 a.m. No library card is required.” [Arlington County]

Signature Helps With Inn’s Mannequins — “Instead of letting tables sit vacant, the [Inn at Little Washington] chef plans to outfit his dining rooms with mannequins… The chef (who majored in drama in college) has been working with Shirlington’s Signature Theatre to get the faux humans costumed in 1940s-era garb. Servers will be instructed to pour them wine and to ask them about their evening.” [Washingtonian, Eater]

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Arlington may be the landing spot for Amazon’s HQ2, but it was selected for an even tastier honor today: the unveiling of a new Blueberry McGriddles breakfast sandwich from McDonald’s.

Corporate officials, including the company’s national Culinary Innovation Spokesperson, were on hand to debut what is basically an egg sandwich with a pair of blueberry pancakes as buns.

Offered with sausage or bacon, along with egg and cheese, the new McGriddles sandwich is being tested in the D.C. area market, including at the Rosslyn McDonald’s (1800 N. Lynn Street) where the event was held this morning.

Carol Martino, the Chicago-based culinary innovation spokeswoman, donned a black McDonald’s chef jacket as she described the process of creating the sandwich, a variation on the existing McGriddles sandwich.

Martino said her team was seeking to create a “cravable, indulgent” breakfast sandwich with a “sweet-savory balance.” The sweetness, she said, will likely mean that it’s more of a treat “for certain days of the week.”

The company’s chefs whittled down 30 recipes before selecting the one featured today, which has not only a distinct blueberry-and-maple-syrup flavor — “reminiscent of mom’s blueberry pancakes,” Martino said — but actual, embedded blueberries visible in the blue-tinted buns.

Currently, the sandwiches are only being offered as part of a test in the D.C. area before being, potentially, rolled out nationally. Part of the process of creating the new McGriddles, Martino said, was obtaining a national-scale supply of blueberries should the sandwich prove popular.

Currently, the Blueberry McGriddles are available only at certain McDonald’s locations in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. In Arlington, those locations are:

  • 1800 N. Lynn Street (Rosslyn)
  • 4834 Lee Highway
  • 3013 Columbia Pike
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(Updated at 4 p.m.) Arlington County Police responded to a stabbing outside the McDonald’s at 2620 Jefferson Davis Highway in Crystal City this morning.

The incident happened around 10:30 a.m. Police say a man was stabbed with a knife by another man in the restaurant’s parking lot, following a verbal dispute. The victim was treated by paramedics and rushed to the hospital with reported non-life-threatening injuries.

A suspect was arrested and later identified as 61-year-old Anthony Jones. He was charged with Aggravated Malicious Wounding and Stab while in the Commission of a Felony and held without bond.

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Crystal City’s McDonald’s has now reopened, following several months of renovation work.

The fast food restaurant, located at 2620 Jefferson Davis Highway, has been serving customers again since at least late last week. The McDonald’s shuttered back in mid-May for renovations.

The restaurant now boasts a new facade, a revamped drive through and an improved lobby area.

The McDonald’s parking lot has become a point of contention for neighbors in recent weeks, particularly as people looking to avoid traffic generated by the new staging lot for rideshare drivers waiting for passengers at Reagan National Airport have sought to cut through the lot and save a bit of time.

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Crystal City’s McDonald’s is closed for renovations.

Signs posted at the restaurant located at 2620 Jefferson Davis Highway say only that the location is closed during construction, urging visitors to head to the McDonald’s locations along Columbia Pike instead. Construction materials litter the restaurant’s parking lot.

No one answered the phone number listed for the restaurant and construction fencing currently blocks off its parking lot. McDonald’s didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on how long the restaurant might be closed.

A tipster first notified ARLnow about the renovations this past Wednesday.

Photos by Alex Koma

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Morning Notes

ACFD Black History Month Tweets — The Arlington County Fire Department has been recounting the history of black firefighters in Arlington in commemoration of Black History Month. There were several African-American volunteer fire departments in the county during the first half of the 20th century, serving neighborhoods like Hall’s Hill and “Hell’s Bottom,” which was cleared to make way for the Pentagon during World War II. [Twitter, Twitter]

ARLnow Wins ‘Amazon Thirsty Thursday’ Recognition — Our scoop that an internal Amazon website devoted to its “HQ2” search steered thousands of visits to a two-month-old ARLnow article, has earned us the distinction of being named the “winner” of Washingtonian’s “Amazon Thirsty Thursday” weekly feature. Our article pointing out that Amazon has an office in Arlington was apparently the icing on the thirsty cake. [Washingtonian]

Arlington Among Top Places for Women in Tech — Arlington is tied with St. Paul, Minnesota as the No. 6 best place in the U.S. for women in tech. The District ranks No. 1. [WTOP]

Shamrock Shake Sighting — The Shamrock Shake is back at McDonald’s. We spotted it on the menu at a Lee Highway McD’s yesterday. Some locations have gotten the shake, a harbinger of spring, earlier than others, according to social media reports. [Fox News, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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The McDonald’s on Arlington’s western end of Columbia Pike has reopened after a renovation.

The fast food restaurant at 5005 Columbia Pike closed on June 20 for the refit, and reopened to the public on this past Monday, a spokeswoman said, with updated decor and fixtures and the addition of some new ordering technology.

During the closure, workers added self-service kiosks for customers to place their orders electronically. A spokeswoman said that technology has been rolled out in more than 2,500 McDonald’s restaurants, which includes the recently-opened one at Central Place in Rosslyn.

The restaurant also introduced table service as part of the revamp, which a spokeswoman said “provides a more relaxing and custom dining experience.”

A grand re-opening ceremony is planned from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 5), and will include face painting, games, food and drink and music by local Spanish language radio station El Zol.

Courtesy photos.

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A 27-year-old D.C. man has been arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer after an incident at a McDonald’s on Columbia Pike.

Just after 6 p.m. yesterday (Monday) police responded to the McDonald’s at 3013 Columbia Pike for a report of “a group of disorderly subjects refusing to leave a restaurant, as requested by store management,” according to an Arlington County Police Department crime report.

“As officers were attempting to conduct their investigation and ban the subjects from the property, one subject became combative and shoved an officer resulting in a physical struggle,” the crime report said. “Derrell Taylor, 27, of Washington D.C., was arrested and charged with assault and battery on law enforcement, obstruction of justice, and failure to I.D.”

The incident prompted a large police response to the McDonald’s, alarming some locals, but no serious injuries were reported.

Taylor was held at the county jail on a $5,000 bond.

Photo courtesy Eric Dobson

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Morning Notes

Homeless Population on the Rise in Arlington — “Most jurisdictions saw declines in homelessness from 2016, though the population… increased by 33 percent in Arlington County. Kathleen Sibert, the president and chief executive of the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, noted that because Arlington has a relatively small homeless population, modest fluctuations can create dramatic-looking percentage increases or decreases.” [Washington Post]

More on New Rosslyn McDonald’s — The new state-of-the-art McDonald’s in Rosslyn has some food offerings not available elsewhere in D.C. It has an in-house bakery that serves fresh pastries; the other closest McDonald’s with a bakery is in New York City. Also, the restaurant will soon offer two special ice cream sundaes: turtle brownie and strawberry shortcake. [Rosslyn BID]

County Seeks Volunteers for ‘BioBlitz’ — “Arlington County is seeking dedicated volunteers to support its May 20 ‘BioBlitz,’ a quick-but-intense wilderness exploration that will produce a catalog of our natural holdings spotted within a 24-hour window. Think of it as a snapshot of the common-to-rare wildlife that can be found hiding in plain sight within our borders.” [Arlington County]

Drafthouse Continues to Critique Kennedy Center — Arlington Cinema Drafthouse owner Greg Godbout has penned another letter to customers that makes the case for why the Kennedy Center is competing unfairly for comedy acts. The letter also accuses the center of “lying” and a “cover up” after Godbout went public with his initial criticism. [Drafthouse Comedy]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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