Arlington, VA

(Updated at 6:50 p.m.) It seems the Harris Teeter in the Pentagon Row shopping center, now rebranded as WestPost, will not be vacating its spot anytime soon.

And if it did, Arlington County will continue to hold the shopping center’s owner to a 1998 agreement that requires the space be filled by a full-service grocery and drug store. The County Board affirmed the status quo in a vote on Saturday.

Although Harris Teeter has at least 10 years on its lease, the Sun Gazette reports, residents in the 22202 zip code were worried about even the possibility that their neighborhood grocery store would one day be replaced with a smaller-scale grocer such as Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. (Pentagon City already has one Whole Foods, near Amazon’s future HQ2.)

Anticipating the end of Harris Teeter’s initial lease, Pentagon Row’s owner, Rockville-based Federal Realty Investment Trust, had requested the county modify the 1998 agreement to allow Federal Realty to find a smaller retailer that sells drug- and grocery-store items if it could not find a full-service store.

The ask, which included other requests for flexibility regarding space, went before the Arlington County Board last month. At the time, nearly a dozen community members voiced their support for keeping the language. Board members deferred the item for one month so County Manager Mark Schwartz could work with the property owner on changes.

The revised proposal that the Board saw on Saturday kept provisions allowing the shopping center more flexibility with leasing and architecture, nixed the grocery store request completely. Members of the County Board unanimously approved the revised proposal, without any modifications to the grocery store agreement, without discussion.

“Because of our combined efforts, the developer backed off on changing [the] section that would have allowed less than a full-scale grocery,” said Carol Fuller, the president of the Crystal City Civic Association and Open Space Coordinator for Livability 22202, an advocacy group for quality-of-life issues in the area. “We were very worried about losing Harris Teeter. We fought it hard. Once they dropped that, we were no longer concerned with the other amendments.”

The county previously said that “Federal Realty shared their full intent and interest in retaining the current tenant or other similar operator.”

The shopping center sought the flexibility, supported by the National Landing Business Improvement District and the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, “so that they can respond to changes in the market in the event that they need to replace the grocery store tenant and services.”

Scott Miles, president of the Aurora Highlands Civic Association, said last month that losing Harris Teeter, or an equivalent full-service store, would degrade grocery options in a core part of the county and hinder residents’ ability to buy necessities without a car.

“A large, full-service grocer at the site remains an essential community service,” he said. “This may sound harsh, but we want the applicant to be fearful of not maintaining a large grocer — it’s not enough to ask for commercially reasonable efforts.”

Image via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

New Irish Pub Now Open in Pentagon City — “If your notion of an Irish pub is a static menu of fish n’ chips in a shamrock-decked bar, chef Cathal Armstrong wants to change that perception with Mattie and Eddie’s. The James Beard-anointed chef, who championed seasonal Irish cooking over 14 years at Alexandria’s Restaurant Eve, just opened the gastropub with a large outdoor patio in Pentagon City.” [Washingtonian]

Extended Power Outage in Barcroft — A driver crashed into a utility pole at S. Buchanan Street and 6th Street S. in the Barcroft neighborhood Sunday, initially knocking out power to thousands. Hundreds of homes were still in the dark until early this morning. [Twitter]

Candidate Comes Out Swinging At Dem Meeting — “[Chanda] Choun, who is attempting to unseat sitting Democrat Takis Karantonis in a June primary, did not pull many punches in an April 7 kickoff speech before the Arlington County Democratic Committee rank-and-file. ‘Takis was not the best candidate to represent Arlington’ during a politically and racially charged era, Choun said… If elected, Choun said he would be an elected official who ‘goes beyond the platitudes and buzzwords’ to promote an aggressively left-leaning agenda. One example: Choun said he wanted the county to establish a ‘truth and reconciliation commission’ to focus on equity issues.” [Sun Gazette]

School Board Advances Budget Proposal — “The School Board adopted its FY 2022 Proposed Budget at its April 8 meeting. The proposed budget expenditures total $699,919,805. The School Board amended the Superintendent’s FY22 Revised Proposed Budget by reducing the budgeted expenditures by $6,796,056 and 35.00 FTE and replacing the 2% cost of living adjustment with Compensation Option 1. Compensation Option 1 provides different compensation models by employee scale to ensure that every employee in the school division receives a compensation increase.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Pentagon Police Officer Faces Murder Charges — “Takoma Park police have charged the off-duty Pentagon Force Protection Agency officer they say shot and killed two men Wednesday morning in Montgomery County, Maryland. The officer has also been charged for an alleged assault that happened last year. David Hall Dixon, of Takoma Park, has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of use of a handgun in commission of a felony and reckless endangerment.” [WTOP]

Don’t Hang Up on 911 — From Arlington County: “Oops, did you call 911 by mistake? It’s OK, just stay on the line and tell the friendly dispatcher it was an accident. That way, they can confirm there’s no emergency… Otherwise, we’ll have to call you back, taking away a dispatcher who could help someone who needs it.” [Twitter]

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Those who work at HQ2 have a new ABC store from which to procure their booze.

The new Virginia ABC store at 1301 S. Joyce Street is set to open next Tuesday, April 6, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority announced today. The space previously housed a Mike Bloomberg for President campaign office.

The CEO of Virginia ABC said the store, at the Westpost (previously Pentagon Row) shopping center, is opening in response to local demand. The 4,200 square foot retail location in Pentagon City will offer more than 2,700 items, including over 400 types of bourbon.

“Store hours are noon to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday,” noted a press release, adding that “the new Pentagon Row store will provide curbside service.”

The full press release is below.

Arlington County residents in the Pentagon City area will have a new retail outlet for purchasing distilled spirits, mixers and Virginia wine. On April 6, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) will open a new store at 1301 S. Joyce St., Suite D12, in the Pentagon Row shopping center.

“Today, approximately 93% of Virginians live within a 20-minute drive of an ABC store. But even with this reach, we heard there was a need to provide a higher level of convenience to the 190,000 people 21 or older who live in Arlington County,” said Virginia ABC Chief Executive Officer Travis Hill. “This new store is proof that we’re listening.”

This will be the ninth ABC store in Arlington County. The new store measures more than 4,200 square feet. The store’s product selection spans over 2,700 items, including 434 bourbons, 381 vodkas, 244 rums, 240 cordials and 217 tequilas.

“Arlington County has more than 250 businesses licensed to serve mixed beverages,” said Hill. “These businesses are also our customers. We are committed to providing them with excellent service.”

The store employs five sales associates, two lead sales associates, one assistant store manager and one store manager who are eager to help customers find what they are looking for and discover new products. Store hours are noon to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

Like most of ABC’s stores across the commonwealth, the new Pentagon Row store will provide curbside service. After placing an online order at www.abc.virginia.gov, customers can opt for contactless pickup of spirits, Virginia wines and mixers the same day the order is placed, as long as the selected products are available in the store.

Throughout the pandemic, Virginia ABC has implemented safety measures in all of its 393 stores using retailer guidance provided by the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to include:

  • Face mask requirement for customers and store employees. ABC will make every attempt to provide a face mask to customers who arrive without one.
  • Plexiglas shields at registers
  • Floor markers to ensure customers stand at least six feet apart from one another
  • Daily cleaning and sanitizing with particular attention to most frequented areas including checkout counters and high-touch surfaces such as door handles and knobs
  • Hand sanitizer at registers for customer and employee use

Customers are encouraged to visit Virginia ABC’s website at www.abc.virginia.gov to search for stores, determine the availability of products at any retail location and order spirits online for in-store or curbside pickup, or home delivery in select areas.

Per Virginia law, ABC’s profits from in-store and online retail sales are remitted each year to the commonwealth for designated state programs and services. For fiscal year 2020, ABC contributed a total of $545.3 million ($212.1 million from retail sales) to the commonwealth.

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(Updated at 10:30 a.m.) A Baltimore-based Mexican restaurant is the next buzzy eatery to open in Pentagon City.

Late last month, Banditos Bar & Kitchen announced via social media that they will be opening an outpost at Westpost, the shopping center formerly known as Pentagon Row.

This will be their third location, but the first in Virginia.

Owner Sean White tells ARLnow that they will be taking over the space that is currently Thaiphoon restaurant, likely in October. From there, the build-out should take about six months. He expects Banditos to open in March or April 2022. It was not immediately clear whether Thaiphoon will be closing in Pentagon City or moving to a new location.

White says they’ve wanted to open a restaurant in the D.C. area for sometime. Arlington is a particularly good fit for the brand, he says, due to Amazon’s continued expansion into the county.

Banditos is owned by White Oak Hospitality Group, a Maryland restaurant group with a number of ventures in Baltimore and surrounding areas. This will be their third restaurant at a property owned by Federal Realty Investment Trust, the owner of Westpost and the Village at Shirlington.

The Arlington location of Banditos will be roughly the same size as the other locations, about 3,000 square feet, according to the Washington Business Journal. There will also be outdoor seating.

On its website, the restaurant describes itself as “a TACO temple inspired by the mouthwatering flavors of Mexican street food.” The menu includes classic fare like tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and margaritas.

In recent months, a slew of restaurants have also announced impending arrivals at Westport.

James Beard-nominated local chef Cathal Armstrong is opening an Irish restaurant this spring in the former Siné space, next to the future Banditos. Northern Virginia-native Chef Tim Ma’s popular Lucky Danger is readying for a likely April opening. Johnny Spero and Scott Parker’s Nighthawk Pizza is planning to start serving in the fall.

Several notable businesses have already opened including Wild Tiger BBQ pop-up, Origin Coffee Lab and Kitchen, and Napoli Salumeria. Both Westpost and the Village at Shirlington now allow restaurant patrons to take alcoholic drinks to go, for consumption in other parts of the dining and shopping district.

Photo courtesy of Banditos Bar & Kitchen

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Morning Notes

Tornado Drill Today — “Virginia’s annual Statewide Tornado Drill will occur on Tues., March 16 at 9:45 a.m. If widespread severe weather threatens the Commonwealth on that date, the drill will be rescheduled for Wed., March 17, at 9:45 a.m. The Statewide Tornado Drill is an opportunity to prepare Virginians for tornado threats and to test public warning systems.” [Va. Dept. of Emergency Management]

Pentagon Row Harris Teeter’s Future in Flux — “Despite concerns from nearby residents, Arlington County Board members on March 20 could give the owner of Pentagon Row the ability to, potentially, significantly downsize grocery-store operations… Located on a 15-acre parcel in Pentagon City, the site has long included a Harris-Teeter supermarket. But that initial lease term is expiring, and there is no guarantee the supermarket chain will want to stay in the existing space.” [Sun Gazette]

Coronavirus Tests Available at DCA — “Coronavirus testing launched Monday at Reagan National and Washington Dulles International airports, which became the latest airports across the country to offer the tests. The centers are outside the security checkpoints at both airports and are operated by XpresCheck, which runs centers at a number of U.S. airports.” [Washington Post]

New Building to Have Temporary Hotel Rooms — “Arlington County Board members next month are expected to allow another developer to temporarily convert apartment space to hotel use. The developer of the 809-unit property at 1555 Wilson Blvd. is asking permission to use 100 of the residential units as hotel space starting in late summer. Eventually, the units would revert to their originally intended purpose.” [Sun Gazette]

Cherry Blossom Sculptures Arrive in Arlington — From the National Landing BID: “Two official @CherryBlossFest sculptures have landed! One at the Esplanade at Long Bridge Park and one at the Crystal City Water Park. They will be up through May 31.” [Twitter]

Bill Would Allow 15 MPH Speed Limits in Va. — “Currently, any city or county looking to slow traffic in a busy shopping district or on a quiet residential street can go no lower than 25 mph. A bill passed during this year’s General Assembly session, however, would change that, permitting posted speed limits to drop as low as 15 mph. A ten miles per hour difference may not seem huge, but for pedestrian safety advocates and the families of victims of traffic collisions, the change could mean the difference between life and death.” [Greater Greater Washington]

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Siné may be no more, but its expansive former Pentagon Row location will remain a destination for Irish food and drink.

Renowned local chef Cathal Armstrong is planning to open a new restaurant concept in the Siné space this spring. Called Mattie & Eddie’s Irish Bar and Restaurant, it will off “a full Irish farm-to-table menu, a signature style of the chef,” according to a press release.

The name of the restaurant holds special meaning for Armstrong, a native of Dublin.

“In addition to being Armstrong’s grandparents, the restaurant’s namesakes — Martha and Edward — were also drapers, a nod made through the appearance of scissors and well-dressed caricatures in the restaurant’s logo, designed by Armstrong’s brother,” the press release says. “As their story reads, they handmade curtains for a living, but their lives revolved around food.”

The menu includes Irish classics, prepared with a more modern touch. Among the offering are shareable Irish sausage rolls, a black pudding with onions and crusty bread appetizer, and a house cured corned beef with cabbage confit and parsleyed potato entree.

Also on the menu: Eamonn’s fish and chips — centerpiece of the late, lamented Old Town Alexandria eatery of the same name — with seven “secret sauces.”

“This restaurant is particularly personal for me, as it honors the very people who created my sense of place and purpose,” Armstrong said in a statement. “The menu will feature my version of familiar Irish dishes, with modern ingredients. We’re eager to create an Irish comfort food experience, paired with a great beer or glass of wine, in the company of the people you love. In honor of the people I love.”

Pentagon Row, now rebranded as “Westpost,” has seen considerable turnover recently, shedding old favorites while adding buzzy new options.

Among the recent closures of note are SinéAabee Express, A Deli, Bed Bath & BeyondChamppsStarbucksWorld Market, and Unleashed. New additions include:

“As we look towards the impending arrival of Amazon’s HQ2 along with the continued evolution of National Landing, we are focused on delivering a true destination, an outpost, that exceeds the expectations of the long-time residents and the newcomers that call National Landing, and the greater Arlington area, home, work, and all things in between,” said Stuart Biel of Westpost owner Federal Realty Investment Trust. “Westpost’s location is ideal, with just a short walk west from Amazon’s campus, but a world away as far as amenities and offerings.”

Armstrong’s other current restaurants include Kaliwa and Tiki TNT at the Wharf in D.C. and Hummingbird in Alexandria. His former concepts include Restaurant Eve and Society Fair.

No exact date was given for when Mattie & Eddie’s might open. The LLC associated with the restaurant in a recent Virginia ABC filing was formed a few weeks after Siné closed. A construction permit for the restaurant could be found, suggesting that Armstrong will be using much of the existing space as currently built, with perhaps new paint and furnishings.

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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.

Read More

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(Update 5:45 p.m.) The popular D.C.-based Chinese-American restaurant Lucky Danger is opening an Arlington outpost, as first reported by Washingtonian.

The new eatery will be located at Westpost, the shopping center formerly known as Pentagon Row, at 1101 S. Joyce Street. It takes the place of Aabee Express Mediterranean, which closed in August and was next to the F45 training studio.

Lucky Danger is hoping to open in April, according to Washingtonian, and will be takeout and delivery only. Unlike D.C., where Lucky Danger exists as a pop-up in Prather’s Alley in Mt. Vernon Triangle, the Arlington location is expected to be permanent.

The ease of drive-up for pickup and delivery drivers and the large parking lot, a Lucky Danger spokesperson writes ARLnow, is why the owners were attracted to Westpost.

There’s no sit-down capacity at the location, so Lucky Danger will remain only take-out and delivery.

According to Washingtonian, Lucky Danger has sold out of its food — a menu that includes classic Chinese-American takeout fare like sweet and sour chicken, duck fried rice and orange beef, as well as a “secret menu” of more traditional Chinese dishes — every day since opening in November.

Additional locations may be planned after opening in Pentagon City, the article suggests.

There has been significant turnover at the shopping center once called Pentagon Row.

Late last month, Origin Coffee Lab and Kitchen opened in what was formerly a Starbucks. Also in January, Irish pub Siné closed its doors and Unleashed was let off the hook. The shopping center’s Bed Bath & Beyond disappeared into the great beyond in September.

But Westpost has also become a somewhat unexpected location for pop-ups and buzzy restaurant concepts.

In August, Wild Tiger BBQ opened inside of Bun’d Up. In November, Napoli Salumeria debuted as a market concept version of D.C.’s now-closed Napoli Pasta Bar. While Champps closed earlier in the pandemic, it’s currently being converted into Nighthawk Pizza, a neighborhood gathering spot and watering hole that is set to open in the fall.

Nighthawk Pizza is a collaboration whose backers include local nightlife heavyweight Scott Parker. Likewise the duo behind Lucky Danger includes a restaurateur with prior Arlington experience: Tim Ma, who formerly helmed well-regarded Virginia Square restaurant Water & Wall, which closed in 2017.

“I’m overwhelmed by how much love this new concept has received since we opened as a year long pop-up just three months ago in D.C.,” Ma writes in a press release, “Now we have the opportunity to bring the full vision to life in a location in my backyard of Northern Virginia.”

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A new boutique coffee shop and roaster is now open at Westpost, formerly known as Pentagon Row.

Origin Coffee Lab and Kitchen served up its first morning cup of joe last month after initially announcing their arrival early last year. It’s located at 1101 S. Joyce Street, in the former Starbucks space between Basic Burger and Lebanese Taverna.

The coffee shop has a variety of options, including five different origins of coffee to choose from plus six methods of brewing.

Besides coffee, it also serves all-day breakfast like pancakes and benedicts as well as a “noon to night” menu with schnitzel and sliders.

Owner Andy Mekonnen tells ARLnow he opened the first iteration of this concept in Dubai in 2015. But he moved to the D.C.-area nearly five years ago and quickly realized Arlington could be a perfect place for another Origin.

“Arlington is vibrant… I thought the concept would be well-received here,” he says.

The shop was initially supposed to open in 2019, but COVID-19 related delays pushed it to 2021.

While recognizing that there are a number of boutique coffee shops in the county, Mekonnen says that what sets Origins apart is attempting to do it all in-house.

“The focus is not only on the coffee, but the food and pastries,” he says. “We are not out-sourcing anything, but trying to do everything in-house.”

That includes roasting. The shop has a glass-enclosed roastery inside that fully displays the roasting process to customers.

Mekonnen is also working on setting up roasting workshops, trainings, and coffee cupping sessions for customers.

“[Cupping sessions] is very similar to wine tastings,” he says. “Coffee isn’t just coffee. Coffee from different origins actually tastes very different.”

While opening up a small business in the midst of a pandemic comes with challenges, Mekonnen says a coffee shop like his has a natural advantage since most of his menu items can easily be offered as take-out.

“[We] have it sorta easier than other industries… because people have adapted to take-away,” he says. “People have learned to live with COVID.”

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Another business is closing at Pentagon Row.

The Unleashed by Petco store is closing on Saturday, Jan. 23, according to signs in the window. The store is currently holding a 10-50% off sale ahead of the closure.

Unleashed, a smaller-format version of the big-box Petco stores, opened at Pentagon Row in January 2013, replacing a Hallmark store.

Signs in the window direct customers to two other stores that are remaining open: an Unleashed location at 3902 Wilson Blvd in the Ballston area, and a full Petco location at 5825 Leesburg Pike in Bailey’s Crossroads.

The closure is the latest at the shopping center, which is in the process of being rebranded as “Westpost” and which now allows to-go alcohol consumption in common areas.

Other recent closures include Siné, Aabee Express, A Deli, Bed Bath & Beyond, Champps, Starbucks, World Market, and the Mike Bloomberg campaign office.

There are a number of new businesses, replacing some of the closures, including the currently open Bun’d Up, Wild Tiger BBQ, and Napoli Salumeria, as well as at least two that are coming soon: Nighthawk Pizza, Origin Coffee Lab and a Virginia ABC store. Signs for the latter recently went up in the windows of the former Bloomberg office.

https://twitter.com/CartChaos22202/status/1346162560110895106

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Siné Closes at Pentagon Row

Long-time Pentagon Row watering hole Siné has closed its doors.

The Irish pub, a popular gathering spot that was perpetually packed around St. Patrick’s Day, announced the closure on Saturday.

“It is with sadness that we have to say goodbye!” the bar said on Facebook. “We have closed our doors permanently. It has been a pleasure serving you and we hope that you all find a new home at one of the other fantastic restaurants here in Pentagon Row.”

Siné has a second location, in Richmond, that appears to still be open.

By ARLnow’s count, Siné is the 20th Arlington restaurant to close during the pandemic. Early during the public health emergency, in March, Champps sports bar — next to Siné — also closed its doors; it is now set to be replaced by Nighthawk Pizza, a beer-centric hangout, as Pentagon Row rebrands as “Westpost.”

Photo via Facebook

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