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A crew putting up signage above the entrance of the new Taco Bell Cantina in Courthouse in December (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

After the pandemic disrupted the restaurant business, there was something of a lull in new restaurant openings in Arlington.

But 2023 looks to be a eventful year for restaurant openings in Arlington, as Amazon opens its HQ2 and a number of long-anticipated establishments open their doors. We’re currently tracking about 25 eateries that are hoping to open this year.

So which are you, personally, most looking forward to? For the purposes of this poll, we’ll exclude two that are mostly dessert spots — Crumbl Cookies (Langston Blvd) and Jeni’s Ice Cream (Shirlington) — as well as a couple whose progress towards opening is questionable.

Here are links to more info on each of the above:

  1. Taco Bell Cantina (Courthouse)
  2. Astro Beer Hall (Shirlington)
  3. Carbonara (Virginia Square)
  4. Our Mom Eugenia (Shirlington)
  5. Westover Taco (Westover)
  6. Gyu San Japanese BBQ (Ballston)
  7. All About Burger (Langston Blvd)
  8. Chicken + Whiskey (Clarendon)
  9. Tawle (Clarendon)
  10. Hangry Joe’s (Ballston)
  11. Wagamama (Clarendon)
  12. Grill Kabob (Ballston)
  13. Haute Dogs (Williamsburg)
  14. bb.q Chicken (Virginia Square)
  15. Sabores (Columbia Pike)
  16. Peruvian Brothers (Pentagon City/HQ2)
  17. Good Company Doughnuts & Cafe (Pentagon City/HQ2)
  18. Chase the Submarine (Pentagon City)
  19. Stella Restaurant and Lounge (Columbia Pike)
  20. Eli’s Taqueria y Restaurante (Columbia Pike)
  21. Slipstream (Ballston)

Matt Blitz contributed to this post

Arlington school bus on a snowy morning, Nov. 2018

Some potentially unwelcome news if you’re a K-12 student in Virginia: some in the legislature want to effectively end snow days.

From our Alexandria sister site ALXnow:

new bill could mean the end of snow days for Virginia public schools.

Currently, during severe weather conditions, schools have the option to switch to remote learning. House Bill 1666, pre-filed yesterday by Del. Danny Marshall (R-Danville) would change that to a requirement rather than an option: school divisions must declare unscheduled remote learning days to provide instruction and student services.

The school divisions are also not allowed to claim more than 10 unscheduled remote learning days per year without an extension granted by the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

While snow days are forever popular among students and teachers, the change is likely spurred on by concerns about learning loss in Virginia students over the last few years. Before disheartened teachers and students start shaking their fists at the state legislature, it’s worth noting that Alexandria City Public Schools had already started moving in that direction.

Last January, when a snowstorm made a mess of local roads, Alexandria city schools went into virtual learning mode, while Arlington Public Schools gave students a couple of days off.

What do you think of replacing snow days with virtual learning days? Right call to boost learning or wrong call that would take away a bit of childhood tradition and provide some restorative days off?

The ARLnow Afternoon Update email newsletter

Some 16,000 of you are big fans of our ARLnow Afternoon Update newsletter, giving us email open rates near the tippy top of industry averages.

The Afternoon Update, for the uninitiated, sends out headlines, links and article previews at 4 p.m. daily, for the past 24 hours of ARLnow content. It is the defacto local homepage for just shy of 10% of Arlington’s adult population.

Our ARLnow Press Club members, meanwhile, also receive an Early Morning Notes email at 3 a.m. daily, with the as-yet unpublished Morning Notes post and a preview of the stories we’re planning to cover that day. The open rate for the Early Morning Notes is even higher, suggesting that our members really enjoy starting their day by getting a quick look at what’s going to be in the local news that day.

Both the Afternoon Update and the Early Morning Notes are no-nonsense, with no cutesy prose or writerly musings to wade through to get the info you want.

Given the above, you might think that we’re maxed out in terms of email offerings. But, not wanting to rest on our laurels, we think there might be room for another — and wanted to get your thoughts on it.

We think some subset of readers would prefer to get their local news entirely in the email, in summary form. Think: Axios.

A possible solution would be a daily 8 a.m. email that has:

  • The entire Morning Notes post
  • AI-generated bullet point summaries of the past day’s articles

An example of the article summaries is below.

AI-generated article summaries

Would this be something you’d be interested in subscribing to if we were to launch it?

Let us know what you think in the poll and the comments.

Crowd at Sunday’s anti-Missing Middle housing rally at Innovation Elementary (photo courtesy Esther Bowring)

Several hundred people gathered early Sunday afternoon at Innovation Elementary School for what was dubbed the “Reality Check Rally.”

As others were glued to their TVs for the last day of the NFL regular season and its playoff implications — or going about errands, children’s activities, or jobs — the attendees spent their afternoon hearing a dire picture being painted about the proposal to allow multifamily housing of up to 8 units per property in single-family home neighborhoods, also known as Missing Middle.

As outlined in a press release from organizers Arlingtonians for Upzoning Transparency and Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future, plan critics are concerned that it will “accelerate gentrification, reducing Arlington’s diversity; displace moderate-and low-income households, including seniors, persons with disabilities and renters; raise property values and taxes; reduce tree canopy and greenspace; and further overload schools, infrastructure and services.”

Of course, not everyone agrees.

A handful of Missing Middle supporters also showed up at the event, according to Patch, including those representing the Arlington branch of the NAACP. Supporters have also showed up to pivotal County Board meetings, albeit not in the numbers seen at Sunday’s rally.

Meanwhile, in November’s County Board election, the two candidates supportive of Missing Middle to various degrees — incumbent Matt de Ferranti and independent Adam Theo — took about 71% of the vote to 28% for independent Audrey Clement, who based her campaign around her opposition to Missing Middle.

The Missing Middle debate in Arlington is a particularly pitched version of debates that often play out here and elsewhere across the country, particularly when it comes to proposals to build infrastructure, build new housing, or change the physical built environment in general.

It raises the question of just how local governments should handle such opposition.

Often, opponents of such projects will make the case that their numbers, their passion, and their arguments should be enough to put a stop to what they’re protesting, or at least to grant additional time for more studies and community input. (An online petition against Missing Middle in Arlington has more than 5,000 virtual signatures.)

On the other hand, those who are supportive of building — more housing, in particular — have been saying that there is a well-formed playbook for stopping things from being built and that elected officials should not be so quick to grant those with the loudest voices and largest crowds what they want. They argue that there is a mostly silent majority that’s okay with things being built —  a group that does not have the time, desire nor, in some cases, economic ability to wage a support campaign to counter the opposition.

It’s difficult to boil this very fundamental debate about the role of local government and community input — a county-specific form of which is known as the Arlington Way — into a concise poll. But today we’re going to try!

In general terms, how pivotal should community input be to county decision making, when there’s a large contingent that opposes a given proposal?

Sunset along Columbia Pike near the construction site for the Arlington National Cemetery expansion (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Last December, we asked whether you thought 2022 would be a better year than 2021.

With over 1,300 votes, 64% of respondents predicted that yes, 2022 would be better. But was it?

After a year that started strong but then saw war in Europe, an economic downturn, devastating storms, a resurgence of flu and RSV, and — most recently — holiday travel woes — we’re wondering how you feel, personally, about the year.

Was it better for you, all things considered, or was it actually worse than 2021? Either way, here’s hoping for a better 2023!

Person working on laptop (Photo by Burst on Unsplash)

More many in Arlington, the Friday after Thanksgiving is an off day, often spent with family and friends (or braving the malls).

For others — including those with jobs that don’t take holidays off and those whose jobs only take official federal holidays or major holidays off — it’s a work day like any other.

Today we’re wondering: what’s the split? How many Arlingtonians worked on Black Friday vs. enjoyed an off day?

Photo by Burst on Unsplash

Kleenex box (file photo)

(Updated at 11:30 a.m.) It’s been a rough fall for many, healthwise.

Flu and and RSV have been surging, straining hospital capacity, school staff and parental patience. Young children have been particularly hard hit, with the 0-4 age group recording the highest percentage of visits to medical offices for flu, according to the Virginia Dept. of Health.

Nationwide, it’s so bad that some pediatric medical organizations are seeking a federal emergency declaration.

Flu activity in Virginia and in the D.C. region is at the highest level on the CDC’s scale. In Arlington, meanwhile, Covid is still circulating, though at roughly the same level of daily cases as a month ago — 33 cases per day, as of today.

Flu activity map (via CDC)

Local hospitals are feeling the effects. From VHC Health emergency department chair (and 2022 Spirit of Community honoree) Mike Silverman’s latest public social media update:

Although our percent positivity rate is not higher than it was earlier this fall, we have seen an increase in the number of people we are diagnosing with COVID the last few weeks compared to earlier in the fall. We’re also sitting a much higher percent positivity rate then we were this time last year. We are definitely having more positive tests a week than we did a year ago.

The Tripledemic that you’re hearing about on the news is real. The combination of COVID, Flu, and RSV is bringing more people to hospital ERs and causing more hospitalizations than we’ve seen over the last few years. Every year, emergency departments face a month or so of surging volumes because of the flu. I have seen flu surges in the fall, and I have seen them in March. Prior to the pandemic, I had never had a year as an attending physician without some sort of impact by a flu surge. What has me concerned about this year is how early the flu has impacted our community and the potential for how long the ER volume surge will continue. What’s to say we will not see an increase in COVID this winter as we did last winter?

Despite many continuing to work from home, people are still socializing, going to school and traveling, arguably more so than this time last year. It’s almost as if the non-Covid diseases that had been relatively quiet during the pandemic are now “catching up.”

Given how much disease is circulating out there, today we are wondering: how many separate times have you gotten sick already this fall?

A pedestrian with an umbrella crosses N. Lexington St. in Westover amid a wet snowfall (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

NBC 4 Chief Meteorologist Doug Kammerer revealed his annual winter forecast last night — and it was disappointing if you like snow.

Doug is calling for a measly 1-6 inches of snow during the entire winter in Arlington and D.C. He believes it will be an unusually warm and wetter than average winter, making for plenty of cold rain but very little snow.

It follows a trend: five of the six most recent winters in the D.C. area have seen below average snowfall, Kammerer said.

Long-range forecasting is far from an exact science and there are other predictions that call for more snow. The meteorologists at WUSA 9 and Fox 5 are both calling for average to above average snowfall. The Farmer’s Almanac, meanwhile, while decidedly not a scientific authority, is predicting above average snowfall and below average temperatures for the region.

Should Kammerer’s prediction come to pass and we see six or fewer inches of snow this winter, how would you feel about it?

Sunrise over D.C., as seen from Arlington (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, when clocks “fall back” by one hour and we gain an extra hour of sleep (well, those without kids at least).

There’s a possibility that this could be the last end to Daylight Saving Time.

The U.S. Senate passed a bill earlier this year that would make DST permanent next year, though it’s currently stalled in the House. Should it pass, we would “spring forward” on Sunday, March 12, 2023 and stay there permanently.

Arlingtonians prefer permanent DST, and an overwhelming majority want the twice-yearly times changes to end, but it’s not unanimous.

In November 2012, 43% of ARLnow readers said they were sad about the annual end of Daylight Saving Time, compared to 29% who said they were happy about it. In March, 59% of poll respondents said they support year-round DST, compared to 28% who prefer year-round standard time and 13% who want to keep things as-is.

As with most things in life, there’s a trade-off involved with making DST permanent. As the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang points out, in the western parts of time zones winter sunrises under permanent DST would be pushed out past 9 a.m., and in some northern areas even past 10 a.m.

More eastern and southern portions of time zones will have more moderate sunrise and sunset times. The D.C. area, for instance, would have its latest sunrise at 8:27 a.m. and its earliest sunset at 5:45 p.m., according to the Post.

All things considered, if this is the last time setting the clocks back, would you have any regrets or second thoughts about it?

Jeff Bezos at the Economic Club of Washington on Sept. 13, 2018 (staff photo)

(Updated at 9:05 a.m.) Dan Snyder may finally be selling the Washington Commanders.

News reports yesterday heralded the news that Snyder, who has provided over a long stretch of football futility and ugly controversies, has hired bankers to explore a partial or full sale of the NFL team.

While the “sell the team” masses rejoice, it’s by no means a done deal and now speculation turns to who might buy the ‘manders.

The current betting favors Snyder selling, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is atop the list of potential buyers. And Bezos is reportedly “looking into” buying the team, potentially in partnership with Jay-Z, People and TMZ reported Thursday afternoon. Given that Amazon’s under-construction HQ2 is in Arlington, this seems like a local story for us!

We’ve taken the liberty of coming up with six other Arlington-affiliated potential buyers, for your consideration.

Some of the following are actually mentioned elsewhere as potential buyers, while others are purely wild speculation or wishful thinking.

Jeff Bezos
One of the world’s richest men has transitioned from tech CEO to being a buyer of huge yachts and enjoyer of fancy vacations, so he seems like a Prime candidate to buy an NFL team.

MacKenzie Scott
The ex-wife of Jeff Bezos has turned her 4% ownership of Amazon into an increaingly lauded career as an unassuming philanthropist. Buying a controversy-riddled football team seems out of character, but you never know.

Ted Leonsis
The former AOL executive owns the Wizards, the Mystics, and the Capitals — which has team offices and practice facilities in Ballston — so clearly he is someone who enjoys owning professional sports franchises. But he’s currently trying to buy the Nationals so might be a bit stretched at the moment.

Charles Koch
His libertarian-leaning institute and other associated organizations are based in Arlington, and he’s got more than enough money. Plus, selling the team to Charles Koch, noted for his financial contributions to the GOP, would allow Snyder one last thumb of the nose at those on Capitol Hill most vocal about driving him out.

Michael Bloomberg
The former New York mayor’s media and financial information empire has a major office in Crystal City and he previously had a campaign office in Pentagon City for his failed presidential bid. He wasn’t able to take the White House, but maybe FedEx Field is within reach?

Sands family
Sands Capital manages tens of billions of dollars from its Rosslyn offices and its late founder, who grew up in Arlington and attended W-L High School, made the largest ever gift to the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business prior to his passing. We have no idea if they have the money — net worth figures could not be found — but this is the most Arlington-connected family with significant wealth we could come up with.

Mars family
The Mars family and their eponymous, multi-national candy corporation are most associated with McLean, where the company is headquartered, but Mars, Inc. chair John Franklyn Mars (worth some $50 billion) was born in Arlington in 1935. The family has been mentioned elsewhere as potential local buyers, though a spokesperson told ARLnow after publication that “the Mars family is absolutely not going to buy the Commanders.”

Sheila Johnson
The co-founder of BET and CEO of Salamander Hotels and Resorts isn’t on the Forbes billionaires list, but her net worth is reported to be at least in the upper $100s of millions. Johnson is a co-owner of the Caps and Wizards and managing partner of the Mystics, so she has pro sports ownership experience. Her Arlington connections include being married to Arlington County Circuit Court Chief Judge William T. Newman, Jr. and speaking at last year’s Marymount University commencement.

Given those Arlington-linked options, who would you most like to see buy the Commanders?

ARLnow columnist (and immigration attorney) James Montana

Sometimes, it seems like half of the people commenting on our stories are lawyers.

There are the fights over the exact technical meaning of words, citations of state and federal law, and — on occasion — people actually self-identifying as lawyers. That’s not to mention the ability to comment on news stories throughout the day.

And apparently we’re not the only site with a comment section that seems pretty lawyerly.

Defector, the site started by former employees of Gawker, noted in its recent annual report that, no, all of its commenters are not lawyers.

“The fact that nearly half of churned subscribers were experiencing financial hardship served as a good reminder that our readership is not a monolith,” the report said. But surely there is a not insignificant cohort of attorneys in there.

There is a decent chance that significant portions of the ARLnow commentariat and overall readership are, in fact, lawyers, given how many folks in the legal profession seem to live in Arlington. In Lyon Village, for instance, you can hardly ride an e-scooter down a curving single-family home street without passing a half-dozen two-lawyer households.

So today, we’re going to try to (unscientifically) see just how esquire-y our readers actually are. Feel free to discuss it ad nauseum in the comments while billing by the hour.


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