Arlington, VA

(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) It was poultry pandemonium at Popeyes on Pershing, the Pike and in Pentagon City today.

The fried chicken chain has been selling out of its wildly popular, critically acclaimed new chicken sandwiches nationwide, and Arlington is no exception — but one shining beacon of salty and fatty goodness in the county was still serving as of mid-afternoon today.

Spurred on by a social media war among Popeyes, Chick-fil-A and Wendy’s and lesser chicken sandwich purveyors, customers have been flocking to Popeyes restaurants and scarfing down every clucking sammy in the joint.

In Arlington today, we went searching for the coveted bread-chicken-pickles-and-mayo stack at three Popeyes locations in the county: at 4241 N. Pershing Drive in Buckingham, near Ballston; at 5007 Columbia Pike, near the Arlington Mill Community Center; and at the Pentagon City mall food court. (A fourth, right on the Arlington/Alexandria border at 4675 King Street, was left off our visit list.)

Arriving at the Pershing location around 1 p.m., the parking lot was full and a line wrapped around the interior of the restaurant. After finally advancing to the front of the line, a woman dressed in business attire and not the usual Popeyes uniform — was it the owner? — broke the news that the restaurant had sold out of the sandwich an hour earlier. She said a shipment on Friday is expected to restock their sandwich supply, and added in hushed tones that they may be restocked tonight (Wednesday) as well.

The story was even bleaker at the Popeyes on the Pike. Staff there said they’re out of the sandwiches, noted that many local Popeyes have been out for two days, and asserted they won’t be getting more until Friday at the earliest. One particularly spicy customer — the sandwiches come in classic and spicy varieties, it should be noted — said the viral online food fight is to blame.

“It’s crazy. I blame it on social media,” the customer said. “They [the Popeyes sandwiches] are good, but they’re not Chick-Fil-A good.”

Finally, at 3 p.m., the Popeyes at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City food court beckoned. Taking stock of the origin of the chain’s name — it’s supposedly named after a detective in the 1971 film The French Connection, not the spinach-swallowing cartoon sailor — it dawned on our intrepid reporter that we, too, were conducting an investigation into a dealer of addictive substances. But since chicken sandwiches are decidedly more benign than heroin, he soldiered on.

From a distance, a long line could be seen. Upon further inspection, it started at the Popeyes and stretched well past the McDonald’s. Approaching the counter, employees could be seen preparing it — The Sandwich — the most buzzworthy fried chicken fast food concoction since the KFC Double Down.

Sure enough, the chicken sandwich was still being served to hungry shoppers and office workers, pulled to the Popeyes stall at the mall at 3 p.m. as if by some magnetic force.

“It’s really good,” said Sedaya Moore, halfway through her first Popeyes sandwich experience, before continuing to chow down with her dining companions. There was nothing else to say.

Vernon Miles contributed to this report

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(Updated 10 a.m.) The Little Beet, a veggie-focused eatery, is scheduled to open in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.

Diners can find The Little Beet underneath the escalators on the food court level, next to the Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. A listing on the mall’s website said the eatery is expected to open on Sunday, Sept. 15.

The restaurant features an entirely gluten-free menu and a variety of vegetables, proteins and sauces, to be mixed into a bowl with rice, lettuce or quinoa, similar to chains like Sweetgreen and Cava. The restaurant offers fish and meat, but also features vegan options, which are largely lacking in the current food court.

The new Pentagon City mall eatery is the New York-based chain’s second location in Arlington, after one at 1800 N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn.

The wrap around the exterior of the store indicated that Little Beet is looking to hire staff for the eatery, though no job listings were available online as of Wednesday.

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Update at 5:15 p.m. — The store is actually expected to open next week, a PR rep says, correcting an error in an earlier press release.

Earlier: Hot on the heels of UNTUCKit’s Pentagon City opening, fellow trendy clothing store and caps-lock enthusiast G-Star RAW is set to open a location this fall.

The “eco-friendly, luxury denim brand,” as a press release describes it, is expected to open in October next to the Victoria’s Secret on the first level of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.

The Dutch fashion brand is a destination for Canadian tuxedo enthusiasts, in addition to celebrities and race car drivers. G-Star RAW sells jeans, denim shirts and jackets, in both men’s and women’s varieties, in addition to an array of non-denim clothing and accessories.

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The man who was shot in the parking garage of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall has died, police say.

In a press release, Arlington County Police say the shooting happened during an attempted robbery. The man who died was wearing a mask and brandished the gun, demanding the cell phone of a man inside a car, police say; a struggle ensued and the alleged, would-be robber was shot.

The deceased robbery suspect’s name has not yet been released. Police say they have not filed charges against the victim of the robbery attempt “at this time.”

More from ACPD:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating a fatal shooting that took place in the Pentagon City area of Arlington on the afternoon of July 1, 2019.

At approximately 1:43 p.m. on July 1, police were dispatched to the report of shots fired in a parking garage in the 800 block of Army Navy Drive. The preliminary investigation indicates that the victim was inside of his vehicle when he was approached by a masked subject displaying a handgun. The subject brandished the firearm and threatened the victim demanding his cell phone. A physical struggle ensued between both parties outside of the vehicle, during which the firearm was discharged.

Arriving officers located the suspect suffering from an apparent gunshot wound and immediately began to render aid. He was subsequently transported to an area hospital with life threatening injuries and later succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased.

The identity of the decedent is being withheld pending proper identification and notification of next of kin.

This incident remains an active criminal investigation. No charges have been sought at this time.

Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to contact Detective G. Seibert of the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4199 or [email protected] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

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Update at 1 p.m. on July 2 — The man who was shot was also the suspect in a robbery, police say. He has died from his wounds

Update at 8:45 p.m. — “ACPD continues to investigate this incident,” police said in a tweet. “Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Detective G. Seibert at 703-228-4199 or [email protected]

Earlier: Arlington County Police are on scene of a shooting outside of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall.

One person was shot in the mall’s parking garage, near the entrance to Macy’s.

Police were dispatched to the scene just before 1:45 p.m. for a report of four gunshots heard and a man seen with a gun on the fourth level of the parking garage, following a possible robbery attempt.

Officers located one person suffering a gunshot wound to the abdomen, according to scanner traffic. The victim has life-threatening injuries, according to ACPD.

The shooting occurred during a struggle between two people, but police are still investigating what led up to the struggle and how the shooter and the victim know each other, according to ACPD spokeswoman Kirby Clark.

“The are no outstanding suspects,” the police department said. “Police are on scene investigating. Avoid the area.”

A gun believed to be the weapon used in the shooting was found by police and roped off by crime scene tape near the Macy’s entrance.

Portions of the mall and the parking garage have been blocked off by police.

 

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Amid difficulties for American shopping malls, Arlington’s two malls are betting on new eateries to turn more diners into shoppers.

Management at the newly-renovated Ballston Quarter and the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City say elevated dining options — from Ballston Quarter’s trendy local eateries to newer, healthier options at Pentagon City mall — are becoming an increasingly important part of mall design.

Commercial real estate experts say food options are now the key driver of mall traffic.

A new study released by the International Council of Shopping Centers shows that 40 percent of customers choose which mall they go to based solely on the food there, and nearly 38 percent of those surveyed said healthy options were a priority, according to CNBC.

“People increasingly value experience-based shopping and place higher expectations on how they spend their time,” said Will Voegele, senior vice president of mixed-use development for Brookfield Properties, in an email to ARLnow. “We designed the revitalized Ballston Quarter with the community in mind and our vision reflects a strong focus on experiential retail, innovative food and beverage concepts, and diverse entertainment offerings to create a new all-season neighborhood experience with the density of an urban center that is purposeful, thoughtful and unique.”

Voegele said part of the redesign for Ballston Quarter was to maintain a focus on local vendors for the 25,000 square-foot food hall.

“The uniform array of national names that we associate with the traditional food court does not provide the richness and authenticity that is so important to our mission at Ballston Quarter,” Voegele said. “Families and young professionals still want grab-and-go, but they are also looking for better quality and healthy dining options. Food halls offer the perfect solution in this case.”

Voegele said the new food hall design has gradually supplanted the traditional fast food-oriented food court of the archetypical ’80s and ’90s malls.

“The fundamental design of the traditional mall no longer supports the way people like to shop and dine as consumers are craving visually stimulating and creative experiences,” Voegele said. “The boxy retail behemoths of yesterday are just not practical for today’s landscape.”

Healthy options were also a big part of the expansion and renovation of the Pentagon City mall.

“Fashion Centre at Pentagon City has introduced enhanced dining options over the recent years, including Matchbox American Kitchen + Spirit, honeygrow, Sugar Factory and Shake Shack,” management at the mall said in an email. “In addition, the center added modern furniture, finishes and additional seating during the renovation in 2016 to offer an even better experience for shoppers visiting the dining pavilion.”

But does this translate into sales at other retail options in the mall? Voegele said the Ballston Quarter’s food hall, Quarter Market, has seen consistent traffic across all age groups — and events like Quarterfest last weekend boosted its local profile. The study said transactions increase as much as 25 percent at malls with quality food and beverage options, with shoppers who eat at the mall spending 15 percent more per trip.

Shoppers inside Ballston Quarter weren’t so sure. While several said they came for the food hall and loved the dining options, many also said this wouldn’t necessarily translate into going into the upstairs part of the mall to shop.

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UNTUCKit, a clothing brand focused on untucked, professional shirts, has just launched a new store in Pentagon City.

The new store opened late last week on the second floor of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall.

According to a press release:

UNTUCKit was created in 2011 to solve the problem of the long, sloppy look of untucked and ill-fitting dress shirts, by designing shirts that are meant to be worn untucked. They’ve since introduced categories ranging from t-shirts and polos to sports jackets and performance wear — plus, the launch of women’s and boys’ lines in 2017.

UNTUCKit at Pentagon City was the brand’s 61st store nationwide and the third in the region.

“We’re excited to be here, even closer to the District,” said Tomas Kurtz, assistant manager at the Pentagon City location. “It’s a new brand and we’re excited to see it grow.”

Kurtz said the store stands out for the way staff works closely with customers to find the right cut and style for them.

“It’s interesting because it’s not at all like a department store,” said Kurtz. “If you come in, you get fitted and staff will help walk you through it. It’s very personalized.”

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Morning Notes

Fatal Crash Along I-395Updated at 10:05 a.m. — Virginia State Police are investigating a fatal motorcycle crash that happened on the ramp from northbound I-395 to Washington Blvd. [ARLnowWTOP]

County Board Planning Tax Rate Hike — “Owners of a typical Arlington single-family home will see this year’s real-estate tax bill rise 4.95 percent to more than $8,400 under the county government’s fiscal 2020 budget slated for approval this week. County Board members on April 18 tentatively opted for a 2-cent increase in the real estate tax rate, bringing it to $1.026 per $100 assessed value and making Arlington the only jurisdiction in Northern Virginia’s inner suburbs to impose a tax-rate increase on homeowners this year.” [InsideNova]

UNTUCKit Coming to Pentagon City Mall — Internet-born clothing brand UNTUCKit, which specializes in button-down shirts intended to be worn untucked, is planning to open on the second level of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall, next to Nordstrom. [Twitter]

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Arlington County wants to demolish part of a multi-million dollar Pentagon City project after officials say it caused a leak in a Metro tunnel.

The County Board will vote on the demolition of a storm run-off basin near the Pentagon City mall next week because the structure caused water to leak into the Metro tunnel below.

The basin was installed in 2014 as part of upgrades made along S. Hayes Street from 15th Street S. to Army Navy Drive. The basin was part of the landscaping between the road lanes.

“Shortly thereafter, WMATA notified the County about leakage issues in the tunnel,” said county spokeswoman Jessica Baxter today.

“Working closely with WMATA, the County conducted dye testing which demonstrated that when the bioretention facility filled during storm events, it contributed to leakage issues in the Metro tunnel,” Baxter told ARLnow. “The leak was corrected in 2017 after filling in the bioretention facility.”

A Metro spokesman did not immediately return requests for more information about the leak.

The $9 million project along S. Hayes Street also added rain gardens and new crosswalks, bike lanes, ADA ramps, traffic lights, and Metro canopies. VDOT was to reimburse most of the project’s expense, per an agreement with the county.

This week’s staff report referred to the basin demolition proposal as “Phase B” of the “Pentagon City Multimodal Improvements project.” The item was included in the Board’s consent agenda which is reserved for measures expected to pass without debate.

If the Board passes the proposal, the county will allocate $645,342 to remove the basin, and to modify a nearby U-turn.

The board document notes that while the U-turn was designed using “industry standard modeling software to ensure that buses would be able to complete the turn without problems” nonetheless “several buses have hit the wall while making the turning movement, creating a maintenance issue.”

During a 2014 ribbon cutting ceremony, then-County Board Chair Jay Fisette said the Pentagon City project was “key to Arlington’s efforts to make it easier to travel to, around or through Pentagon City, whether you are traveling by car, bus, bike or Metro.”

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Morning Notes

Arlington County Suing Opioid Makers — “The Arlington County Board has emulated nearly two dozen other Virginia localities in taking to court a large number of opioid manufacturers, distributors and retailers, including some of the biggest names in the health-care industry.” [InsideNova]

HQ2 Affordable Housing Funds Going to Loudoun? — “When Virginia officials promised $75 million over five years for affordable housing in the wake of Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters announcement, Arlington officials assumed that those dollars would be split between the county and neighboring Alexandria. They were not thrilled to find out other localities might get a piece.” [Washington Business Journal]

Pedestrian Struck in CVS Parking Lot — “Police and medics are on scene of an elderly pedestrian struck by a car in the CVS parking lot on the 6400 block of Williamsburg Blvd. The victim reportedly suffered a broken bone and is being transported to the hospital.” [Twitter]

Early Video of Nauck House Fire — Video posted to Facebook shows the scene as firefighters start to arrive at yesterday’s house fire in the Nauck neighborhood, near the W&OD Trail. [Statter 911]

Discussing Nightlife Safety — “‘A Conversation about Nightlife Safety’ will take place on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m… The event will feature panelists from various Arlington County departments speaking about how they collaborated to build trusting relationships with restaurant staff and improve safety.” [Arlington County]

What’s in a Name? — At the Pentagon City mall, Panda Tea House is now bustling where Kokee Tea struggled last year. Was it the name change, or the addition of Thai rolled ice cream to the menu? [Twitter]

Photo courtesy @eugeneksoh

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The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City may welcome a new candy store next month.

“Why Not Candy?” is scheduled to open in the third floor of the mall next to the GNC health and nutrition store on Wednesday, May 1, according to the mall’s website. The confectionery shop will feature an “ultimate candy ‘fun room’ with an unending supply of tasty confections,” the website says.

It will open in a 1,541 square-foot space, according to the store’s leasing agent.

Pentagon City mall will be the second location for the owners, who opened their flagship store In nearby Springfield Town Center two years ago, according to a Facebook page. It’s also these second sweet-tooth temptation in the mall: restaurant and candy shop Sugar Factory opened in the Fashion Centre two years ago.

The Fashion Centre is bringing a bevy of boutiques onboard this spring, including watch retailer Invicta. Women’s clothing store Windsor is also expected to join the mall in the a 4,500-square-foot space near Lids, reported Northern Virginia Magazine.

Photo via Flickr user sayo ts

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