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Tacombi in Crystal City will be opening its doors tomorrow (Wednesday).

The long-awaited New York City-based taqueria chain will be open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. in the revamped Central District Retail shopping plaza, also known as “Crystal Square.”

The taco spot, with indoor and outdoor seating, is the newest retail spot to open within JBG Smith’s recently redone property at 1550 Crystal Drive. It follows on the heels of a CVS, a Mah-Ze-Dahr bakery and a Solidcore gym location. What appears to be an Amazon Fresh grocery store is still under-construction.

Tacombi’s Crystal City menu will reflect its NYC menu, says a spokeswoman. There will be a variety of tacos, including its classic fish tacos, as well as burritos and quesadillas, all of which can also be ordered online via Grubhub.

All will be served on from-scratch corn and flour tortillas shipped from NYC daily until they can be made in Crystal City, Eater DC reports.

To drink, there will be tequila-based cocktails, Mexican beers, sodas and agua frescas. There will not be any opening specials, we’re told.

The grand opening fell behind schedule, as construction and inspections extended beyond the originally anticipated September debut.

These last few weeks, however, the taqueria has not just been busy finalizing its Crystal City location, but also opening two other locations: a second spot in Queens, New York and a new location in Miami’s Design District.

The openings in Arlington and Miami will mark Tacombi’s first ventures outside of New York City, the spokeswoman said.

She added that a Bethesda outpost — originally anticipated to open in September — will open in the spring of 2022. Another D.C. location is set to come to 14th Street NW, according to Eater.

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After a four year hiatus from Arlington, CarPool will again start pouring beers in Ballston tomorrow.

The new CarPool at 900 N. Glebe Road — in the Virginia Tech building, next to Ballston Local — will open at 4 p.m. Thursday, owner Mark Handwerger tells ARLnow.

Though delayed a month or two by supply chain issues, the opening will mark the return of the popular local watering hole, which closed its former Fairfax Drive location in 2017 ahead of a redevelopment. Between then and earlier this year it operated a location in the Fair Lakes area of Fairfax County.

CarPool’s new 6,400-square-foot space, which was formerly occupied by Greene Turtle and then Bistro 1521, will feature familiar retro decorations, including antique gas pumps outside the entrance, along with billiards tables, dart boards, pinball machines, lots of TVs, plenty of beer taps, and garage doors leading to an outdoor patio space.

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Morning Notes

Local Man Charged in Bailey’s Xroads Shooting — “Fairfax County police have charged a 33-year-old Arlington man in connection with a shooting that occurred Nov. 20 at the Food Star supermarket at 5521 Leesburg Pike. According to police, officers were called to the store at 6:43 p.m. by Harvey Coleman, of Arlington, after he reported to police he had shot someone in self-defense… Following several interviews and the review of surveillance footage, detectives have charged Coleman with malicious wounding and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.” [Sun Gazette]

Ice Cream Store Now Open in Pentagon City — “Have I got a scoop (get it?) for my followers! For those who may be in search of a sweet treat this afternoon, Mimi’s Handmade Ice Cream opened today at ⁦@PentagonRow⁩ (Westpost). Impressive variety.” [Twitter]

Arlington Vet Chooses Health Career — “After graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point, she was commissioned as an Army officer and chose to attend flight training, following in her late father’s footsteps. Soon, she was soon piloting Blackhawk helicopters… it was the time she was in the military that really prepared her for physician-assistant school.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Monday — Today will be mostly sunny, with a high near 46. Northwest wind 10 to 18 mph, with gusts as high as 26 mph. Sunrise at 7:06 a.m. and sunset at 4:47 p.m. Tomorrow will be mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 51. South wind 5 to 8 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Opening Date Set for Aquatics Center — The new Long Bridge Park Aquatics and Fitness Center will open on Monday, Aug. 23, the Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation announced yesterday. [Twitter]

Local Org Resettling Afghan Refugees — “Besides Lutheran Social Services, the [Arlington-based] Ethiopian Community Development Council, the International Rescue Committee, and Catholic Charities do a lot of work to resettle Afghan [Special Immigrant Visa] holders in this area. Christy McCaw of African Community Center DC  Metro, the ECDC’s resettlement branch, says her organization needs leads on apartments that will rent to newcomers without proof of income.” [Washingtonian]

Broken Water Main Causes Pressure Problems — From the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services yesterday: “A crew is stabilizing a broken water main that has caused pressure issues in the vicinity of Campbell Elementary School along S. Carlin Springs Road. Pressure should be returning to normal within the hour. Traffic diverted around work site. The break is on a 20-inch main. Greatest impact of pressure loss along Carlin Springs Rd from Rt 50 south to Columbia Pike and near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and George Mason.” [Twitter]

New W-L History Marker Under Consideration — “Four years after the installation of a marker celebrating the history of Washington-Lee High School was scotched by leaders of the county school system, a proposed revised marker – honoring the school now known as Washington-Liberty – is wending its way through the development process.” [Sun Gazette]

Next Community Convo with Police Chief — “Join Chief Penn and members of ACPD at the next Community Conversations with the Chief to share your thoughts on the future of policing in Arlington! Our next conversation will take place on Friday from 10 AM to 12 PM at Metro 29 Diner located at 4711 Lee Highway.” [Twitter]

Huske Signs Sponsorship Deal — “2020 U.S. Olympic medalist [and Arlington resident] Torri Huske announced that she’s signed a swimwear deal with TYR on Friday, making her the third high-profile swimmer set to begin their freshman year of college to do so. Huske, 18, will join Stanford University in the upcoming collegiate season. Terms of the deal have not been made public.” [SwimSwam]

Youth Baseball Team’s Championship Run — “Overcoming four tournament losses, the 9-under Arlington Storm Black managed to finish second in the Babe Ruth World Series. The Storm lost in the ultimate title game of the baseball tournament in Jensen Beach, Fla., by a 7-3 score, to Florence, Ala. The meeting was the fourth between the teams in the competition. About 90 minutes earlier that same day, Arlington had previously routed Florence, 11-1, to force a playback game between the two teams in the championship round.” [Sun Gazette]

Reminder: N. Glebe Road Closure — “All lanes of N. Glebe Road between Military Road and Chain Bridge Road, in the northern tip of Arlington, [are now] closed for construction… The nine-day closure is the culmination of the $10 million rehabilitation project for the nearly 50-year-old bridge over Pimmit Run, just before Chain Bridge. Between Friday, Aug. 13 and Monday, Aug. 23, crews will work to replace the entire bridge deck and its underlying beams.” [ARLnow]

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The new Lubber Run Community Center, which operated as a vaccination clinic this spring, will open for its intended purpose on Tuesday, July 6.

“After opening the park in fall 2020, and now that the vaccination clinic has ended, it’s time to prepare to open the new center,” the Department of Parks and Recreation said in an email. “Come by the gym, fitness center and indoor track.”

Fitness memberships are required for those working out at the center.

Construction started on the new community center in 2018. It was set to open in late 2020, but due to budget cuts the opening of the community center lagged behind that of the park’s playgrounds and courts, which made their debut last September.

At the time, the county said the community center would open “sometime after July 2021, which is the start of the County’s next fiscal year.”

Before the official opening, the customer service desk will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting next Monday (June 21). Staff will be available to accept forms for in-person summer camp, fee reductions, facility rentals and program and class registrations.

“Shortly after the facility opens, we will host a ribbon-cutting and community celebration,” according to the email, which added that more information on this event will be announced later.

The parks department did not hold a ribbon-cutting for the playground and courts when they opened in September due to the pandemic, Arlington County Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish previously said.

This summer, the hours for the center will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Those operating hours are set to be extended later this year.

“This fall, the center will be open later, and on Sundays too,” the email said. “Indoor programming, such as the senior center and preschool, will return this fall.”

The community center and park at the intersection of N. George Mason Drive and N. Park Drive is across the street from Barrett Elementary School and is walkable from Ballston. Parking is also available.

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Expanding, D.C.-based grilled chicken restaurant Farmbird is opening its new location in Ballston next week.

The restaurant at 4121 Wilson Blvd, in the Ballston Exchange development, is opening for customers on Tuesday, employees tell ARLnow. It replaces the Miami-based, health-oriented restaurant Dirt, which closed in January 2020.

Farmbird has existing locations at 625 H Street NE and in Penn Quarter in D.C. The company was founded in 2015 and first operated as a catering business for a year at D.C.’s Union Market. It aims to make fast-casual dining more healthy, humane and sustainable.

“Since its founding, Farmbird has strived to change the way people think about chicken by serving only the highest quality, never-frozen birds,” a PR rep said. “Farmbird’s chickens are humanely raised on regional farms with no antibiotics ever and fed an all-vegetarian diet. All of the food served, from salads and sandwiches to Farmbird’s signature grilled chicken plates and roasted vegetable sides, are prepared from scratch with fresh ingredients daily.”

“Farmbird has seen great success at its location on H Street and is ready to bring flavorful food with sustainable origins to Arlington where Ballston Exchange has reimagined the area’s streetscape,” the PR rep added “The space will feature indoor and outdoor seating, accommodating patrons in a safe and socially distanced manner.”

Neighboring businesses in Ballston Exchange — across the street from Ballston Quarter mall — include Philz CoffeeCAVA, and the yet-to-open Hawkers Asian Street Fare.

This morning Farmbird employees could be seen sitting outside the restaurant, sampling the food in anticipation of next week’s opening.

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Arlington has long had a childcare shortage problem. During the pandemic, strangely, that helped its programs survive.

Although childcare programs across the nation have shuttered due to the coronavirus, in Arlington, only three licensed programs have closed, said County Board member and childcare advocate Katie Cristol. One is reopening in a new location better equipped for social-distancing, while two others closed permanently (one of those closures was virus-related).

“The good news is, what has been one of the biggest challenges of the landscape of Arlington has been an asset,” she said, adding that demand remained strong locally, buoying Arlington’s centers, “most of which have faired fairly well.”

Amid the three closures, Cristol — who helped launch the county’s Child Care Initiative in 2017 — helped welcome a new addition to Arlington’s stock of early education and childcare options this week. Looking to help address Arlington’s demand for early education options, two sisters, Saniya Dhala and Zahra Isani, opened Primrose School of Arlington in the Courthouse area yesterday (Thursday).

“There continues to be a great need for high-quality early education and child care options in our community and Primrose Schools delivers that in a convenient setting, close to neighborhoods and businesses,” Cristol said.

It is independently owned and operated by Dhala and Isani, who quit their jobs in the finance and food industries to open this Primrose School location, the 450th nationwide. The school at 2107 Wilson Blvd can accommodate up to 185 children.

“The pandemic has been devastating to so many businesses and industries, and the childcare industry is no exception to that,” the sisters tell ARLnow. “Some schools have had to shut their doors, and some have had to reduce hours and capacity. As we start to return to normalcy things are opening back up, many schools are ready to welcome families again and we are excited to be opening a high-quality option in an area where it’s needed.”

This location is one of five Primrose locations scheduled to open in the D.C. area — joining 11 existing outposts — in the middle of a pandemic that has shined a light on deep problems in the industry, such as a shortage of spots, high staff turnover and thin operating margins.

There are some signs of relief, however. President Joe Biden announced that $39 billion of the American Rescue Plan will help sustain these programs, Gov. Ralph Northam announced $203 million to expand eligibility for the Commonwealth’s Child Care Subsidy Program.

While Dhala and Isani said they started the process of opening their franchise location before the pandemic hit, the coronavirus did reinforce their decision to open a school.

“Being in the process of opening during the pandemic allowed us to be agile and adjust our space on the front-end to ensure we met and innovated around all the new safety guidelines,” they said. “Childcare is essential to our workforce and to our nation’s economic recovery, not to mention to prepare our next generation of leaders for the future.”

The pandemic made more people realize the dearth of options available, as waves of women have exited the workforce to take care of their children full-time, Cristol said. The county initiative she helped launch is still working to address the high demand and low supply of options.

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After first announcing their move to Crystal City in September 2019, Rasa is finally planning to open this summer.

The D.C.-based, fast-casual Indian restaurant applied for a Virginia ABC permit to sell beer, wine and mixed drinks earlier this month, typically a prelude to an opening within a few months. A restaurant spokesperson confirms to ARLnow that the Rasa Crystal City location is, in fact, planning to start serving customers this summer.

We asked why the nearly year-long delay — the pandemic seems a likely culprit — but have yet to hear back as publication time.

“Rasa National Landing” will be located at 2200 Crystal Drive, near a Sweetgreen, a Chick-fil-A, and an Amazon-assisted COVID-19 vaccination clinic.

While Crystal Drive’s row of restaurants have always been popular with the lunch-time crowd, that crowd has thinned during the pandemic. Still, new residential development and hopes of turning National Landing into a “vibrant 18-hour environment” raise the possibility of a more robust dinner crowd down the line.

Rasa was founded by locals Rahul Vinod and Sahil Rahman. There are currently two other restaurant locations, one in Navy Yard near Nationals Park and the other on K Street NW in the Mt. Vernon Triangle neighborhood that opened in August 2020.

The menu and design of Rasa’s Arlington location is expected to mirror the D.C. restaurants.

The menu is bowl-based, featuring punny names like “Caul Me Maybe” (which features tofu, cauliflower, peanut sesame sauce, rice, and spinach) and “Goa Your Own Way” (featuring spicy beef, coconut ginger sauce, green beans, and lentils).

The restaurants’ colorful interiors have basket swingsets, bookshelves stocked with titles by South Asian authors and paintings from local artist Nandita Madan (who happens to be co-founder Rahman’s aunt).

Photo courtesy of Rasa

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Morning Notes

Grants for National Landing Restaurants — “The National Landing Business Improvement District and the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington have a new round of grant aid for restaurants and small businesses… Grant applications will be accepted online until March 28. They will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis, and will amount to at least $1,000 for each approved business.” [WTOP]

New Clarendon Salon Opening Next Week — The new Smitten on Washington salon is set to open on Tuesday, March 23, at 3000 Washington Blvd in Clarendon. The salon replaces Hendricks Gentlemen’s Barbershop, a men’s venture from the Smitten owners that closed in December after four years in business. [Facebook]

Silver Line Ext. Not Opening Until 2022 — “Metro officials say that the Silver Line extension to Dulles International Airport will open for use in early 2022, most likely in February. ‘What we’re looking at is early 2022, first quarter in calendar 2022, as the likely start of operations,’ Laura Mason, Metro’s executive vice president for capital delivery, said at a board meeting Thursday.” [DCist]

Local Leaders Want Metro Changes — “Representing the cities and counties that fund Metro in Virginia, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission outlined its priorities for Metro’s proposed FY 2022 budget… While the Commission recognizes the major funding relief made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act, the Commission presses Metro to: Maintain a dependable and sufficient level of rail and bus service throughout FY 2022, Open Silver Line Phase 2 as soon as possible, Rebuild ridership, [and] Minimize shifting operating expenses to the capital program.” [Press Release]

Single-Family Homes Are Red Hot — “Typically, markets tend to favor sellers when the supply of homes drops below six months. For much of the last decade, the local supply has hovered at around two months, but has been trending ever lower in recent years. For single-family homes, the D.C. region’s supply dropped to a mere 0.6 months in February, according to the data, and those homes are selling within seven days on the open market.” [Washington Business Journal]

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(Updated at noon) The new W&OD Trail bridge over Lee Highway in East Falls Church is now open.

VDOT announced the opening of the $6 million bridge Friday morning, touting “a safer, faster crossing over busy Route 29.” Previously, trail users would have to wait to cross Lee Highway at a crowded intersection, next to ramps to and from I-66 and Washington Blvd.

The trail is used by cyclists and pedestrians for both commuting and recreation. About 1,500 people travel on the W&OD near new bridge each weekday, while more than 2,000 use it on weekends.

The project prompted trail detours over its nearly two years of construction. It was funded — along with upgrades to I-66 ramps, repairs to overpasses, sound wall replacements, and a new Custis Trail roundabout — as part of the larger I-66 eastbound widening project.

Some finishing touches on the bridge and the nearby intersection will be completed through this summer, VDOT said. As of noon, however, the bridge was officially open.

https://twitter.com/VaDOTNOVA/status/1370416729227137038

More from a press release, below.

The new Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail Bridge over Route 29 (Lee Highway) in Arlington will open this afternoon, Friday, March 12, announced the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). This new bridge will provide bicyclists and pedestrians with a safer, faster crossing over busy Route 29 adjacent to I-66. The new bridge was built as part of VDOT’s I-66 Eastbound Widening Project.

“This new W&OD Trail bridge is another step forward in VDOT’s commitment to expanding multimodal transportation options in the I-66 corridor and across the region,” said Bill Cuttler, P.E., VDOT Northern Virginia District Construction Engineer. “The new bridge will benefit a range of trail users, from people walking and bicycling to the nearby East Falls Church Metrorail Station to the dedicated bicycle commuters who use the trail year-round to reach destinations across Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.”

The new crossing separates trail users from motorists at the signalized intersection of Route 29 and Fairfax Drive. The new bridge will enhance safety for both trail users and motorists and improve operations at nearby intersections on Route 29.

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A new massage studio is opening this summer in Pentagon City.

Elements Massage is targeting June 5 as its grand opening at Westpost, the shopping center formerly known as Pentagon Row, at 1101 S. Joyce Street. It specializes in customized and therapeutic massage services.

It’s taking the place of the hair salon Aveda in Suite B10.

While Elements Massage is a national chain, this studio will be independently owned and operated by Annapolis, MD-based Stratus Wellness LLC.

“For the business, the vibrant growth-oriented future of National Landing made it a target location,” wrote owner George Armendariz in the press release.

Demolition of the previous space and build out of the massage studio is expected to start March 8, a Westpost spokesperson confirms to ARLnow.

The shopping center on S. Joyce Street has had a lot of comings and goings in recent months.

Earlier this year, both Irish pub Siné and pet store Unleashed closed. In the late summer of 2020, Bed Bath & Beyond and Aebee also shuttered.

In their place have come a slew of independently-owned businesses and attention-getting local restaurant concepts.

Origin Coffee Lab and Kitchen opened in a former Starbucks in January. Late last year, Napoli Salumeria started slinging fresh pasta and sandwiches as a market concept version of the now-shuttered Napoli Pasta Bar in D.C.

In the summer, a “raman-rubbed” barbeque pop-up opened in Bun’d Up.

And there are still more openings to come.

The very popular D.C.-based Chinese-American restaurant Lucky Danger is opening in April in Aebee’s former location.

Champps, which closed early in the pandemic, is being turned into Nighthawk Pizza. That’s a pizza and beer bar whose backers include local nightlife heavyweight Scott Parker. It’s planning to open in the fall.

The full press release is below.

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