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An outdoor concert in Long Bridge Park (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Events at Long Bridge Park and Penrose Square could get boozier.

Arlington County is considering amending ordinances to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages during special events at these two public parks located, respectively, near Crystal City and on Columbia Pike.

Currently, county code allows alcohol at approved special events at Fort C. F. Smith Park in the Woodmont neighborhood, Clarendon Central Park and Gateway Park in Rosslyn. But amid support from some residents and the National Landing Business Improvement District to expand approved locations, the county is conducting a public outreach effort.

Locals can share if they think allowing drinking during special events at these parks is “a great idea, a bad idea or something in the middle.” The survey, originally set to close last week, is now open through Sunday, Nov. 6.

“Both of these sites were designed to be event venues and currently host a variety of events where alcohol would be a complement, including concerts, movie nights and festivals. In fact, both locations have closed off streets or easements nearby for their events to include alcohol,” says county staff member Adam Segel-Moss, in a video (below)explaining the proposed policy change.

The survey — which has been advertised online and on at least one sandwich board sign on Columbia Pike — asks respondents if there are any other locations staff should consider in the future. People can also share their experiences at special events they have attended at the three parks where alcohol sales are allowed.

“The county is going to take this change slowly, and in stages,” Segel-Moss said. “To be clear, we are not proposing alcohol in all parks every day at any time.”

If the change were to go through, special events organizers would have to request a permit to serve alcohol. Police review is required for special event permits requesting to serve alcohol, and the county can choose to require a police presence at the event, per the video.

The National Landing BID expressed its enthusiastic support for the change in a recent email promoting the survey.

“Having the ability to serve beer and wine during County-approved special events at Long Bridge Park (just like Gateway Park does currently in Rosslyn) is critical to our success in bringing diverse entertainment options to our district,” the BID said.

This ability would help the BID “bring world-class programming and major events to Long Bridge Park, including a signature event for the National Cherry Blossom Festival,” the email said.

A few years ago, Arlington asked locals what they thought of alcohol sales in public spaces, in general, when the county was updating its Public Spaces Master Plan.

“Nearly 60% of survey respondents indicated that they would be supportive of the sale of food and beverages, at least on a temporary basis, in parks and public spaces,” according to the plan. “This rises to over 60% when asked about the sale of food and beverages in the County’s high-density corridors or certain designated parks and plazas.”

Given the support, the updated parks plan recommends the allowing alcohol sales at more parks.

This change to county code could go to the Arlington County Board for review in January, Segel-Moss said.

Survey respondents on allowing concessions in Arlington parks (via Arlington County)
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Taqueria el Poblano at Penrose Square (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

It appears there’s already a new tenant set to move into the Penrose Square space that Taqueria el Poblano will be vacating.

A digital brochure recently disseminated by the commercial real estate agency KLNB advertises Sabores, a South American restaurant, as a new edition to Penrose Square. This new eatery looks to be the one moving into the space that will be vacated by Taqueria el Poblano when it closes down its Columbia Pike location at the end of August.

The brochure features two illustrated maps that both show Sabores occupying the space at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Adams Street.

Map showing Sabores moving into Penrose Square (image via screenshot/KLNB)

Beyond that, not much else is known. ARLnow has reached out to both KLNB and BM Smith, which owns the space, for more information about when Sabores could open and who the new restaurant’s ownership might be.

A KLNB representative declined to provide further details and BM Smith has yet to respond to multiple inquiries.

A Google search for Sabores, which translates to “flavors” in English, did not turn up any additional information about the opening.

Taqueria el Poblano announced in March it was closing its Columbia Pike location. After agreeing to a couple of lease extensions, the Southern California-inspired Mexican restaurant is now expected to serve its last margarita at the end of August.

Co-owner Thomas Stevens told ARLnow at the time the reason ownership was closing the Pike location was because of decreasing revenue and increasing rent. When the restaurant opened a decade ago, it was one of the first tenants at the then-newly-revitalized Penrose Square.

The other two Taqueria el Poblano locations, at Lee-Harrison Shopping Center and the original in Del Ray, are both remaining open.

Currently, Penrose Square has eleven businesses. The last change at the development was earlier this year when Takohachi Japanese Restaurant moved into a space which was formerly occupied by Josephine’s Italian Kitchen.

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The 12th annual Columbia Pike Movie Nights is set to begin on Friday, July 8.

The free summer outdoor movie series will run run through Saturday, August 27, according to its website. Similar to previous years, a film is scheduled to be shown on Friday and another on Saturday each week. All screenings are set to begin at sunset between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., according to the Columbia Pike Partnership, formerly CPRO, which organizes the series.

The movies scheduled for Fridays are expected to be shown at next to Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street). Those set for Saturdays are expected to be shown at Penrose Square (2503 9th Road S.).

The movies scheduled are set to be shown in English with Spanish subtitles, according to a press release. All are rated at or below PG-13 and come from genres such as animation, musicals, documentary and others.

The full list of movie screenings is listed below.

  • Friday, July 8: Soul
  • Saturday, July 9: Ghostbusters: Afterlife
  • Friday, July 15: Mulan
  • Saturday, July 16: Summer of Soul
  • Friday, July 22: Jungle Cruise
  • Saturday, July 23: The Way I See It
  • Friday, July 29: The Secret Life of Pets
  • Saturday, July 30: Respect
  • Friday, August 5: In The Heights
  • Saturday, August 6: Spiderman: No Way Home
  • Friday, August 12: Encanto
  • Saturday, August 13: Minari
  • Friday, August 19: The Princess & The Frog
  • Saturday, August 20: Hercules
  • Friday, August 26: West Side Story
  • Saturday, August 27: Cruella

Amazon and the Washington Forrest Foundation are underwriting the series. The Columbia Pike Partnership is still looking for local businesses to sponsor individual movie screenings, according to its website.

Parking is free at both locations and audience members are welcome to bring their own chairs or blankets for seating. Leashed pets are also allowed, according to the event’s website. However, alcohol is prohibited.

In case of bad weather, the partnership is expected to post updates on its Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages, as well as the event’s website. Such updates are set to be posted at 3:30 p.m. on the day of each screening.

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Takohachi Japanese Restaurant at Penrose Square is planning to finally open within the week, owner Tsutomu Nakano tells ARLnow.

Back in July, the four-year-old sushi restaurant was forced to close its location at Westmont Shopping Center on Columbia Pike due to the shopping center’s impending redevelopment. However, plans were in place for the restaurant to move up the Pike to Penrose Square with a hoped-for opening date in September.

But the restaurant still wasn’t open in November, due to supply chain issues and delays in getting county permits.

While the Takohachi is finally readying itself to start serving in January, hiring employees has continued to be a challenge (something that’s been the case across the region and country). Nakano says he’s still looking to hire, particularly servers.

Takohachi Japanese Restaurant is known for its sushi, tempura, and Japanese food. The interior of the new space is quite a bit larger than the previous iteration, with a wooden bar in the middle with sectioned-off seating areas to the left and right.

Nakano, who is the chef and owner, moved to America from Japan about two decades ago and opened his first restaurant in Bethesda, Maryland. In 2017, he opened Takohachi at Westmont Shopping Center. However, only two years later, the Arlington County Board approved a redevelopment plan that included a six-story mixed-use building with 250 apartments and 22,500 square feet of retail space.

The sushi restaurant and a number of other longtime businesses there have since closed. The shopping center is now rubble, demolished earlier in 2021.

Takohachi did get a reprieve, thanks in part to the Columbia Pike Partnership, which assisted the restaurant’s move a few blocks away to 2501 Columbia Pike.

It’s been more than two years since that space was occupied, with the last tenant being Josephine’s Italian Kitchen. Prior to that, Marble & Rye and Red Rocks were in the location. None of the three restaurants made it more than three years there, though.

Nakano says the reason he wanted to continue to keep Takohachi on Columbia Pike is because of the “regulars” who helped support the business over the years.

Along with this new Arlington location, Nakano also owns another Takohachi in Centreville which opened a few months ago.

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Takohachi Japanese Restaurant sign at Penrose Square (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

Takohachi Japanese Restaurant is planning to reopen along Columbia Pike, albeit at a different shopping center.

The restaurant expects to open within the next month at Penrose Square, the owner tells ARLnow, provided it can secure the proper county permits in time.

The sushi restaurant was one of the last holdouts at Westmont Shopping Center prior to the development’s demolition to make way for a six-story mixed-use building. It there in early July, but it was reported at that time that Takohachi was set to move into the space formerly occupied by Josephine’s Italian Kitchen, below the Giant supermarket.

That space in the Columbia Pike development hasn’t been occupied in more than two years and has been somewhat of a revolving door in terms of tenants. Prior to Josephine’s, Marble & Rye and Red Rocks had been in the space. Both eateries closed without making it two years in that location.

The newly-renamed Columbia Pike Partnership helped Takohachi make its move down the Pike.

“Columbia Pike Partnership has been actively engaged with Takohachi, the owner, their representatives, BM Smith, and the County in effort to welcome Takohachi to its updated location on Columbia Pike,” writes CPP spokesperson Andrea Avendano to ARLnow. “We are glad to assist Takohachi in continuing to call Columbia Pike home.”

Initially, Takohachi was expected to open earlier this fall, but supply chain issues (recently, a common refrain) and securing proper permits pushed the timeline by a few months.

While the sushi restaurant has found a new home after exiting Westmont Shopping Center, Mom’s Pizza hasn’t. The pizza and Greek restaurant was on the Pike for more than three decades before being ousted due to the redevelopment. The owners of Mom’s are currently selling a few of their more popular dishes online, but told ARLnow back in March they had no plans to retire and wanted to revive the restaurant elsewhere.

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Takohachi Japanese Restaurant, one of the last holdouts at the soon-to-be redeveloped Westmont Shopping Center, closed over the weekend, but will be reopening just down Columbia Pike.

The Japanese and sushi restaurant’s last day of service was this past Saturday (July 3), confirmed the owner, Nakano, to ARLnow.

However, Nakano also said he’s going to reopen his business at Penrose Square in the space formerly occupied by Josephine’s Italian Kitchen (and before that Marble & Rye and RedRocks), near the Giant grocery store. That space hasn’t been occupied for more than two years.

He expects to open his restaurant there in early September.

ARLnow reached out to the developer BM Smith for further details, but has yet to hear back as of publication.

Takohachi Japanese Restaurant is one of the last businesses still open at Westmont Shopping Center. Mom’s Pizza closed earlier this summer after more than three decades there. Boston Market closed last May as did Papa John’s earlier this year (the chain pizza place moved across the street).

In September 2019, the Arlington County Board approved the aging shopping center’s redevelopment. Described as an “extreme makeover,” it will include 22,500 square feet of new retail space with 250 market rate apartments built above. A small-format grocery store could be one of the new retail options. Parking will be pushed underground, into a two-floor parking garage.

Demolition of the shopping center is expected to happen very soon, with construction expected to start late this year and project completion in 2024.

ARLnow has reached out to the property management company Polinger Company for an updated timeline but has yet to hear back.

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Morning Notes

Procession for Long-Time ACPD Chief — “[On Friday] ACPD and our regional law enforcement partners paid final respects to retired Chief of Police William K. ‘Smokey’ Stover. He passed away from natural causes on Friday, April 17, 2020 at 89 years old. His service was held today at” Arlington National Cemetery.” [Twitter, Legacy]

No Local GOP Candidates So Far — “As of yet, Arlington Republicans have not lined up candidates for County Board and School Board. The monthly meeting of the Arlington County Republican Committee came and went April 28 with no candidate announcements for the two local races, and no inklings that there may be possibilities in the pipeline.” [InsideNova]

Pentagon Says No to Motorcycle Rally — “The Department of Defense denied a parking permit to the American Veterans organization to use the Pentagon as a rallying point for the Memorial Day ‘Rolling to Remember’ ride, ending a 32-year tradition… [The Pentagon said] it would reconsider the request once COVID-19 conditions change.” [Washington Examiner]

Tables, Chairs Coming Back to Penrose Square — “Penrose Square plaza tables and chairs coming back soon. Make your outdoor lunch plans for next week accordingly.” [Twitter, Twitter]

History of Arlington’s Rail Lines — “By 1924, the larger Washington-Virginia Railway had 64 trolley stops in Arlington alone, on four branches. Lines crossed the Potomac on the old Aqueduct Bridge and on another branch on what became the 14th Street bridges, taking passengers through ‘Arlington Junction’ in what became Crystal City and all the way to Mount Vernon.” [Falls Church News-Press]

New Section of 9/11 Trail in PA — “Somerset County and other officials cut the ribbon Friday in Garrett for the first 1.5 miles of the newly developed, off-road section of the 1,300-mile-long 9/11 National Memorial Trail. Currently, the recreational trail is a patchwork of about 55% off-road trails and 45% roads connecting the three 9/11 memorial sites in New York City, Arlington, Va., and Shanksville.” [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]

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The Starbucks at Penrose Square is closed due to an employee testing positive for coronavirus.

The coffee shop at 2413 Columbia Pike closed over the weekend and is not expected to reopen until Wednesday, a Starbucks representative confirmed Monday afternoon.

“We recently learned that a partner (employee) at the store received a positive diagnosis for COVID-19,” company spokesman Jory Mendes tells ARLnow. “As soon as we learned of the diagnosis, we quickly activated our protocols, closed the store and initiated a deep clean (which has already taken place) following all recommended guidelines from public health authorities.”

“The respective partner and all other partners that were determined to have been in close contact with them are currently self-isolating – all partners affected will be compensated for the time they will miss during the recommended 14 days of self-isolation,” Mendes added. “The store is planned to re-open this Wednesday, 7/22 with partners who were not in close contact with the infected individual.”

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The second time was not the charm for a robbery victim who was trying to get his stolen property back.

Police say they were called to the area of Penrose Square, along Columbia Pike, around 3:15 p.m. this past Friday for a report of a theft. The victim told officers that he tried for confront two men who previously stole his phone, but during the confrontation the pair stole his iPad.

To add insult to injury, the suspects allegedly shoved the victim as he attempted to call police, before then fleeing the scene. So far, no arrests have been announced.

The full Arlington County Police crime report item is below.

ROBBERY, 2020-01170195, 2500 block of 9th Road S. At approximately 3:14 p.m. on January 17, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim made contact with two subjects who previously stole his phone. He attempted to confront them to retrieve his phone, however, during the encounter, the suspect stole the victim’s iPad. When the victim attempted to call police, the suspects pushed the victim and fled. Suspect One is described as a black male, with long black dreads, about 5’8″, medium build, late 20’s years old and wearing a blue jacket. Suspect Two is described as a male, homeless, possibly from Pakistan, in his 40’s, about 6’2″, with a skinny build, short black hair and wearing a green jacket. The investigation is ongoing.

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On Sunday, Josephine’s Italian Kitchen (2501 9th Road S.) closed its doors for good and marked the end of an era for a Columbia Pike restauranteur.

The restaurant opened in Penrose Square last October as the newest eatery for Tony Wagner, who also owned Twisted Vines Bottleshop & Bistro and BrickHaus.

Both Twisted Vines and BrickHaus closed last year, which at the time Wagner said was part of a plan to regroup and focus on the new Josephine’s Italian Kitchen. All of the restaurants were located within a few blocks of each other on Columbia Pike, where Wagner lives.

(Twisted Vines has since been replaced by Acme Pie Company while BickHaus has been replaced by Rebellion on the Pike.)

Wagner said the decision to close was brought about by family issues and he hopes that the closure will allow him more time to focus on other priorities.

Following the closure, Wagner said he’s still on the lookout for new opportunities in the area, but for now, there’s nothing planned.

Wagner is still deciding what to do with the neon “Gelato” sign in Josephine’s, which he called the “most Instagrammed” thing in the restaurant.

“It might find a place in our home,” Wagner said.

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A vacant storefront under the Penrose Square Apartments on Columbia Pike (2501 9th Road S.) is currently bulking up for a transformation into an F45 gym.

F45 is a gym franchise that started in Australia and has been expanding throughout the D.C. region, with recently-opened locations in Ballston and Tysons. The new gym is underneath the Giant grocery store on the second floor of the complex, sandwiched between a barber shop and a dry cleaner.

Trip O’Connell is the very enthusiastic managing partner of the Penrose F45. He also manages the U Street F45, which opened a little over a year ago.

“We were the first location in D.C.,” O’Connell said. “It’s been going great. We have a lot of people in the area who liked the vibe and wanted more.”

O’Connell said he turned his attention across the Potomac, where there were already successful F45 gyms like the one at Pentagon Row.

“Finding locations is tough,” O’Connell said. “There’s a lot of new builds going on in Maryland and D.C. and Virginia, but those locations always jack rents up.”

O’Connell said that he was lucky to find the space in Penrose that had previously been occupied by 9round Fitness, a boxing-oriented gym. Currently, O’Connell and his partner are in California getting final approvals from the F45 HQ, but if things go smoothly he hopes to start a pre-marketing campaign on May 15.

“We’re hoping to start running people through test classes,” said O’Connell. “If that goes smoothly, we’re looking at an opening mid-June.”

The plan is to offer first-time visitors a two-week free trial on which they can take as many classes as they want. After that, membership is $55 per week for unlimited access to the gym or $45 for those purchasing membership for those signing up to the gym early on.

It can sound like a steep price, especially with the $10 per month Planet Fitness moving in nearby at Pentagon Row, but O’Connell said the program offers a specialized workout routine.

“The F45 program speaks for itself,” said O’Connell. “Everyone’s heard about high-intensity interval training. F45 breaks new ground on how that applies to a workout. You’re coming to a new gym every day and it’s the same room, but a different set-up.”

O’Connell said the free trial gives people a chance to experience the program first-hand and get hooked.

“We want people to come in and try it,” said O’Connell. “You can’t describe the feeling of doing it with 36 other people — getting through the pain of the workout, and then it’s over. Unless you get people in the door to experience that, it can’t be described.”

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