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by ARLnow.com — March 30, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

It’s the end of the road for P. Brennan’s Irish Pub and Restaurant at 2910 Columbia Pike.

The cavernous local pub will shutter after closing on Friday. Owner Brian Dolphin, who also owned the ill-fated McGinty’s near Potomac Yard, says P. Brennan’s “did pretty well” by staying in business for seven years, but never made much money.

“It never kicked off to the extent we thought it would,” Dolphin told ARLnow.com Thursday morning. He said P. Brennan’s liquor license expires after March 31 and he chose not to renew it.

Also contributing to the bar’s demise: its large size — “too big,” Dolphin said, in retrospect — and the cancellation of the Columbia Pike streetcar, which seemed to deflate some of the excitement and prospects for change along the Pike.

“Things went south on us a bit and never picked up,” said Dolphin regarding the aftermath of the cancellation.

Nothing out of the ordinary is planned for P. Brennan’s last day tomorrow, but Dolphin said he expects that many long-time patrons will be there enjoying a pint or two.

by ARLnow.com — March 27, 2017 at 10:15 am 0

Metro to Raise Fares, Reduce Service — In order to plug a budget gap, Metro will be raising rail and bus fares and cutting service starting in July. [WTOP, NBC Washington]

Pupatella Expanding to RichmondBeloved Bluemont pizzeria Pupatella is expanding via franchising. One of the first places getting new Pupatellas: Richmond, where a local franchisee is opening four new locations. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

McAuliffe to Talk Self-Driving Cars in Arlington — On Thursday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe will be in Arlington to “give remarks at [a] workshop hosted by the Secretary of Transportation on autonomous vehicles,” according to the governor’s public schedule. The workshop is taking place at 1776 in Crystal City (2231 Crystal Drive).

People Are Increasingly Leaving the D.C. Region — All of the D.C. region’s population growth in the latest U.S. Census estimates were from births and international immigration. The region’s domestic migration is negative and increasingly so, with more people moving from D.C. than to D.C. Writes the WBJ: “The challenge for Greater Washington is there are other metro areas that offer jobs and high quality of life, and are also far less expensive — driving people away for what they see as greener pastures.” [Washington Business Journal]

Does Our Site Seem Faster? — We were working Saturday, moving ARLnow and our sister site Reston Now to a powerful cloud-based server from a traditional dedicated server. Things should be faster today, but if you notice any glitches please let us know. [Twitter]

Photo courtesy Erinn Shirley

by ARLnow.com — March 20, 2017 at 9:05 am 0

Soggy jog (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Florida Men Arrested for Credit Card Skimming — Three men from Miami, Florida were arrested earlier this month on the 5600 block of Columbia Pike, in Fairfax County. They’re suspected of using Bluetooth-enabled credit card skimming devices to steal credit card numbers from gas station customers. [Falls Church News-Press]

School Board to Consider Wakefield Modifications — The Arlington School Board is expected to approve a $4 million internal modification project at Wakefield High School that will increase its student capacity to 2,300 from 1,900. [InsideNova]

School Board Members Can Now Get Raises — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed a state bill that removes a cap of $25,000 on the salaries of Arlington School Board members. Arlington was the only jurisdiction in the state the salary cap applied to; school board members will now have the ability to approve a salary increase in 2021. [InsideNova]

Northern Virginia Restaurant Week Kicks Off — Nineteen Arlington restaurants are participating in Northern Virginia Restaurant Week, which starts today and runs through Monday, March 27. [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

Top 10 Shirlington Area Restaurants — Eater has compiled a list of the top 10 restaurants to try in and around Shirlington. And yes, the Weenie Beenie is on the list. [Eater]

It’s the First Day of Spring — “While warm spring days will be tough to come by in the short term, the equinox is a reminder that the sounds of chirping birds and humming lawn mowers aren’t too far off.” [Capital Weather Gang]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by Chris Teale — March 14, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

With the worst of the snow over, businesses and restaurants around Arlington appear to be mostly back to normal ahead of a potential refreeze tonight.

In Clarendon this afternoon, only Crate & Barrel and Barnes & Noble appeared to still be closed as their doors were locked.

There are also some early closings: The Container Store is set to shutter at 6 p.m. tonight because of the weather, while the Washington Sports Club gym posted a sign informing members that no group exercise classes would be held.

Although main roads are plowed and largely clear of snow and ice, it appears that those who did get a snow day mostly chose to spend it inside — especially as winds picked up and dropped the wind chill well below freezing.

The lunch rush was virtually non-existent at Clarendon fast casual salad eatery Sweetgreen. While lines usually snake to the door, today employees said it was “not anywhere near” as busy as it usually is at lunchtime.

Similarly, the Trader Joe’s grocery store had lines almost out the door on Monday evening as shoppers prepared for the onset of the storm, but on Tuesday afternoon was quiet and still had plenty of items on the shelves.

Several businesses looked to cash in on many people not being at work, or their children being out of school. Ireland’s Four Courts on Wilson Boulevard opened its doors and let children eat for free all day.

Also in Courthouse, Bayou Bakery is celebrating Pi Day — the date is 3/14 — with a $3.14 special on slices of pie. However, the business is closing early so you’ll have to hurry.

by Chris Teale — March 13, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

A Shirlington restaurant owner brought her Hawaiian-influenced cooking to one of the Food Network’s most recognized shows.

Mikala Brennan, owner of Hula Girl Bar and Grill, competed on season 32 of “Chopped,” the competitive cooking show where four contestants are handed a basket of mystery of ingredients with which to cook across three rounds.

A panel of expert judges tries the creations and after each round one contestant is eliminated — “chopped” — from the competition.

Brennan’s episode, entitled “Raw Deal,” was the 400th in the show’s history. She competed against Steven Londono and Timothy Walker, both from New York City, and eventual winner Marie Yniguez, from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Brennan was eliminated after the second round and did not reach the final course, and said that while she enjoyed the experience, being chopped was still emotional.

The corridor chopped contestants exit through “is a hall of shame when you walk down that thing,” she said. “I was definitely trying not to pop a tear, because it’s really upsetting.”

Brennan’s episode was filmed in the network’s New York studio in August, one month after the show’s production staff descended on her Campbell Avenue eatery to film and gather background information. Brennan and her staff signed non-disclosure agreements promising not to share the news, then had to wait until the Food Network announced an air date.

The episode premiered on February 28, and will be re-run at various times throughout the network’s schedule.

In the first round, Brennan and her fellow competitors had to make an appetizer using sushi burgers, fresh wasabi, longan berries and pork floss as main ingredients, with the help of the show’s well-stocked pantry and fridge.

Then the entrée round called for the use of buffalo top sirloin steaks, porcini mushrooms, aji dulce and sea buckthorn juice.

In the dessert round, held after Brennan was eliminated, the final two chefs used polenta cake, bechamel sauce, plums and pink Himalayan sea salt.

Such ingredients required some creative thinking to prevent the episode’s judges Chris Santos, Amanda Freitag and Maneet Chauhan from eliminating her.

“It’s one of those things where you almost go into a surreal mode,” Brennan said. “You start flipping through every single recipe you’ve ever done or come across, and you’re trying to figure out what you can do. I’ll be honest, I really didn’t have a plan that quickly.”

Brennan has some experience with the Food Network, having previously competed on the show “Rewrapped” which aired in 2014 and asks chefs to recreate classic snack foods before making a new dish using that same snack food as the main ingredient.

But she said the experience of cooking in the “Chopped” kitchen, surrounded by cameras and being asked questions by host Ted Allen while planning and executing a meal against the clock, is a whole different ball game.

“It’s a very weird experience, because as a chef you’re just trying to figure out what you’re cooking, and then you’re also jumping over cables to get the things in the pantry, then you’re trying to get around camera people and other people you’re competing against,” Brennan said. “Then there’s Ted Allen over there asking questions. It’s a high-stress situation, but that’s the whole point of it.”

by ARLnow.com — March 9, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

Osteria da Nino
2900 S. Quincy Street (Shirlington area)
Tel: 703-820-1128

There’s a lot new at Shirlington’s Osteria da Nino since we last checked in with owner Nino Pino.

The chef who’s hard at work in the kitchen started last summer, bringing some new flair to the menu, which changes with the seasons to incorporate the freshest ingredients.

The crowds have grown since this time last year, in particular those booking the private event space, which now sports a brand new 65-inch TV.

On our Arlington Agenda you might have seen one thing that started last year and is bringing in new customers, also known as future regulars: wine seminars featuring some of Italy’s best and most interesting wines.

What else drives Osteria da Nino’s increasing popularity and stellar online reviews? There’s the food, of course. It’s delicious. There’s the service, which is attentive. And then, naturally, there’s Nino.

The owner and seven-day-a-week public face/greeter/manager/avuncular converser of Osteria da Nino knows your name and possibly your birthday and anniversary and pet’s name if you’ve been to his restaurant twice. Maybe just once.

He is, as of this sentence being typed, sitting at the bar, grabbing a quick bite (it’s 9 p.m., guests come first) and conversing in Italian with a fellow who’s visiting from Italy. Nino’s practice of chatting with every guest is remarkable for its dichotomy: when he’s talking with you, he’s focused on you and how you’re doing today and how the dog/kid/business is doing, to the extent that it’s almost like no one else in the restaurant matters. But they do, and then with a “grazie” he’s off to seat a couple that just walked in or to chat with another table. Most of them, by the way, are regulars.

Before you finish your meal, he has talked and seated everyone. And then he’s back to you, with little sense of being rushed even if the place is packed, checking on just how great, exactly, your dinner (or lunch) was. It’s amazing.

There’s just one thing that bugs the most patient, Old World restaurateur in town, and that’s the relatively new habit of diners going home and giving so-so reviews online. (Nino has been running restaurants since well before the internet was a thing.)

Granted, Osteria da Nino doesn’t get a lot of bad reviews, but when he does it’s personally disappointing. Because he has checked once, twice, thrice to make sure everything is up to everybody’s expectations. And if not, he’s gracious and quick to offer to fix whatever’s wrong.

But Nino insists the customer is always right and will try to make his guests happy even after the fact, after the review — and yes, he reads every single one — is out there. Everybody has an occasional off day, a day that hasn’t gone well, that then leads you in your frustration to being particularly persnickety on Yelp because your ravioli wasn’t at your preferred temperature. And that’s okay.

Mi scusi, Nino will say the next time you’re in, above the din of conversation as Dean Martin plays over the sound system, and bentornato mio amico.

Be sure to check out mouth-watering food videos from the kitchen of Osteria da Nino, courtesy of Nino’s daughter, on the restaurant’s Facebook page. And if parking is an issue, phone ahead and see if any of ODN’s reserved parking spaces are available across the street.

The preceding was a sponsored profile of Osteria da Nino written by ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com — March 7, 2017 at 9:30 am 0

Demolition work in the former Mad Rose Tavern and future Bao Bar space

Resident Helps ACPD Arrest Break-in Suspects — On Saturday an Arlington resident spotted a group of people breaking into car and immediately called 911, leading to the arrest of three juvenile suspects. Police say such cooperation from the community can help them fight crime. Over the weekend more than 30 vehicles were “entered and rummaged through” in Arlington. [Facebook]

Alexandria Schools Closed Wednesday — Alexandria City Public Schools will be closed on Wednesday after more than 300 staff members requested leave. That coincides with Wednesday’s “Day Without Women” protest. Arlington Public Schools will remain open, a spokesman said, although Wednesday is an early release day for elementary schools. [Twitter, InsideNova]

Orange Line’s Abysmal On-Time Rate — Last year trains on Metro’s Orange Line were only on time 56 percent of the time. [Twitter]

Spotlight on Uyghur Cuisine — Crystal City’s Queen Amannisa is one of three restaurants serving Uyghur cuisine — with its mix of Chinese, Central Asian and Middle Eastern influences — in the D.C. area. Uyghur “is going to be the next big thing in the United States,” said a partner in the restaurant. [Washington Post]

Chick-fil-A Coming to DCA — A new Chick-fil-A restaurant is coming to Terminal C at Reagan National Airport, in the former Cosi space. [PoPville]

Grand Opening for Xfinity Store — On Saturday Comcast celebrated the grand opening of its new 6,700 square foot Xfinity store in Courthouse. The store replaces the former Comcast Service Center in Clarendon. The store “features a comfortable seating area and informational, interactive displays where customers can learn more about Comcast’s products and services, including Comcast Business services, the X1 Entertainment Operating System, Xfinity Home automation and security offerings and Comcast’s suite of mobile apps.”

by Buzz McClain — March 7, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

There is a lot going on in and around Bistro 360. It’s a restaurant, yes, but it’s also an elegant wine bar, a neighborhood wine and food market, and a source of fresh-made prepared entrees and sides to go.

The theme? A little of everything, from everywhere.

The name of the restaurant, Art Hauptman explains, reflects the global intentions of the offerings. “We have food and drink from around the world,” he said. “We want to give people a sense of what’s possible, but right here in Arlington.”

So you don’t have to go to Armenia to get Armenian string cheese. It’s right there in the case, next to the peanuts and garlic chips from the Philippines. Not far from the trio of tasty dips from New Zealand. Near the Asian-inspired lemongrass pork chops with kimchi puree.

“We’re trying to do interesting things you don’t see all the time,” says Hauptman, a well-traveled and long-time Arlingtonian who has owned the restaurant since it opened in 2014.

Located on a corner between Rosslyn and Courthouse, convenient to both neighborhoods, Bistro 360’s dining room boasts a menu ranging from lamb ragu with Thai basil to pan-roasted Asian duck breast to murg makhani, an original take on Indian butter chicken.

The daring menu lives up to its name: It’s not every restaurant that has shrimp and grits, potato gnocchi and Indonesian nasi goring with shrimp and chicken side by side.

In the wine bar, which also serves cocktails and beer, a menu of exotic nibbles and fresh house-made bread, along with a wide assortment of wines by the glass, keep the international conversation going during happy hour (daily from 4:30 to 7). Free wine tastings take place each Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30. (Many wines are half-price on Wednesdays in the bar and the dining room.)

Small plates available in the bar or dining room include deviled eggs with candied bacon, tuna tempura, Spanish garlic lemon chili shrimp, lamb sliders and PEI mussels, among other savory offerings.

Bistro 360’s chef, Travis Obertach, came to Arlington from North Carolina (which explains the shrimp and grits, we imagine). He says he enjoys the diversity of the clientele in Arlington and the challenge of keeping things seasonal and surprising. Surprising? How about a wonderfully complex fried green tomato with caraway tomato jam, goat cheese, and a morsel of house-cured pork belly?

Obertach also helps with the menu and operation at Hauptman’s other Arlington restaurant, the New Zealand-themed Cassatt’s Kiwi Café and Gallery. Cassatt’s is a casual dining bistro that opened in 2002 for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch in Lee Heights remains the home of the best flat white in Arlington.

In addition to preparing cuisines of the world for two restaurants, Obertach is overseeing the cooking for Hauptman’s newest venture, an events catering service called World’s Fare Catering. For information call 703-577-4124 or email [email protected].

As a convenient neighborhood market, Bistro 360 has some 200 wines, most of them imported, about two dozen cheeses and a refrigerator case that requires some asking for information, for example, do those sweet chili drops (plump berries, actually) go well with miso-glazed salmon?

In any case, it will be an adventure, just the way Art Hauptman intended.

Bistro 360 is located at 1800 Wilson Boulevard; call 703-522-3600 or use OpenTable to make a reservation. Cassatt’s Kiwi Café is at 4536 Lee Highway; call 703-527-3330.

The preceding was a business profile written by Buzz McClain and sponsored by Bistro 360.

by ARLnow.com — March 6, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

A restaurant that can only rarely be seen serving customers is again closed for reported maintenance issues.

Pio Pio, located at 3300 Wilson Blvd between Clarendon and Virginia Square, has been closed “for at least a week,” according to a tipster. That’s despite a “help wanted” sign in the window.

A sign reading “today afternoon closed for maintenance” is posted on the door, as it was this past December when we first reported that Pio Pio was closed for an issue with the roof. It’s unclear if Pio Pio reopened at any point between then and now.

Reached at the restaurant’s phone number, a man who did not give his name said “I don’t know” when asked when Pio Pio would be reopening. “Someone will call you back,” the man said before hanging up.

Tipsters who’ve contacted ARLnow.com have expressed fascination with the “mysterious” business which, like the former Sam’s Corner before it, does not seem to keep regular hours.

Said one tipster:

The Pio Pio restaurant at the corner or Wilson and Jackson has been closed for at least a week. Interestingly, there’s a “help wanted”
sign in the window of the shuttered restaurant. The place rarely has had any customers, and often has a Hummer parked outside. And then there’s that man in a crazy chicken costume who used to stand outside scaring passers-by. Strange…

From another tipster:

… have you guys ever done any investigation as to the real story at Pio Pio? It would be funny if it weren’t so mysterious. There’s literally no one ever in there. They are closed during peak hours including Saturday afternoon and evening. Has to be some story there but I have never seen it told.

by ARLnow.com — March 1, 2017 at 5:20 pm 0

Pete's New Haven Apizza in Clarendon

Pete’s New Haven Apizza is preparing to downsize its space in Clarendon, and Dunkin’ Donuts is considering filling it.

Multiple sources tell ARLnow.com that Dunkin’ reps have taken a close look at the space at the corner of Clarendon Blvd and N. Garfield Street. A leasing chart for the building, however, still lists the space as unfilled.

There are existing Dunkin’ Donuts locations in Ballston and Courthouse but not in Clarendon.

Permits have been issued to alter the existing Pete’s dining room and kitchen, reducing the overall size of the restaurant. Co-owner Joel Mehr says the pizzeria remain open during the process.

“We plan to stay open during construction,” he said. “We may have to close for a lunch here and there.”

by ARLnow.com — March 1, 2017 at 9:50 am 0

Train in Clarendon Metro station (Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin)

Sale of Reeves Farmhouse Moves Forward — From a press release following yesterday’s Arlington County Board meeting: “The Arlington County Manager today recommended that the County move forward with the sale of the historic Reeves farmhouse, and that the County not be a financial partner in the farmhouse’s restoration and reuse.” [Arlington County]

‘No Systemic Problem’ Led to High Water Bills — Arlington County says it has investigated resident complaints about unusually high water bills and found “no systemic problem.” Errors in billing or meter-reading were found in only five percent of complaints, the county said, adding that customer-side leaks and a hot and dry summer help to explain many of the remaining cases. [Arlington County]

Arlington Millennials Willing to Move — According to a new study, 77.5 percent of Millennials in Arlington say they would leave the region for the right job offer. That’s the highest response of any D.C. area jurisdiction surveyed. Millennials make up 35-40 percent of Arlington’s population, but real estate affordability remains a concern. Only 28 percent of Millennials in Arlington said they can afford to buy a home in the D.C. area. [Washington Business Journal]

Another Phone Scam Warning — Arlington residents are getting phone calls from scammers claiming to be Dominion Virginia Power technicians collecting unpaid electric bills. “In some cases, scammers have deliberately falsified the information transmitted to the victim’s Caller ID display to disguise their identity,” warns the Arlington County Police Department. [Arlington County]

Talk By Black Man Who Befriends KKK Members — Daryl Davis, a musician who befriends KKK members and convinces them to leave the organization, gave a talk in Arlington earlier this week. Of our current political climate, he said: “This is the best thing that has happened to this country because we have been so much in denial of racism in this country, xenophobia and all these kinds of things… Now we can no longer turn a blind eye to it.” [Fox 5]

Arlington’s ‘Cafe Urbanism’ — A new article in a publication written for state and local government officials asks poses the question: “Hip restaurants have helped revive cities. But is the boom fizzling out?” As a prime example, the article cites recent restaurant closures in Clarendon. [Governing]

Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin

by ARLnow.com — February 22, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

The second season of the Real Housewives of Potomac is promising all sorts of drama, including a storyline about Oz restaurant in Clarendon.

The restaurant, which opened in 2015, is apparently not living up to the expectations of co-owner Michael Darby, according to a teaser video released by Bravo.

“The restaurant, it’s not doing well as I’ve hoped,” Darby says to his wife and fellow co-owner, Ashley Darby. “We need to sort it out.”

Reality show filming at Oz restaurant in Clarendon 6/22/16“Shut down your restaurant and this marriage will be over, I am telling you that right now,” Ashley Darby says in a later clip, shot outside the restaurant along N. Garfield Street.

(ARLnow.com happened upon the filming of the scene, which took place on June 22, 2016.)

Despite moderately positive reviews, Oz — which serves Australian cuisine — has appeared to struggle to fill its large dining area most days of the week.

The second season of “RHOP” premieres April 2.

by ARLnow.com — February 17, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

A bike tire is all that remains of a bike parked in Shirlington (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

Albino Squirrel Sighting — There has been another sighting of an albino squirrel in Arlington. Video of the snow white squirrel was posted to Arlington County’s social media accounts. [Facebook]

‘Day Without Immigrants’ Hits DoD Food Court — Yesterday’s “Day Without Immigrants” strike resulted in multiple restaurants being closed in the Pentagon food court and long lines at the restaurants that remained open. [Fox News]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by ARLnow.com — February 16, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Rosslyn skyline and birds (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Restaurants Closed for ‘Day Without Immigrants’ — A number of restaurants in Arlington will be closed for the pro-immigration “Day Without Immigrants” strike. Among the expected closures: Jaleo, Busboys and Poets, Pupatella, Capitol City Brewing, Circa and Sweetgreen. [Washingtonian, Twitter, Facebook]

New Photos of Bank Robbery Suspect — The Arlington County Police Department has released additional photos of the suspect in last Friday’s Navy Federal Credit Union bank robbery in Ballston. [Twitter]

Arlington Rapist Charged in D.C. Case — Ronald Berton, who was convicted of raping a woman in Lyon Village in 2010, “has been charged with kidnapping and raping a woman in Northwest Washington in 2007, according to police and court documents.” Berton is only serving 10 years in prison for his Arlington rape conviction, after the initial conviction was overturned and he was retried for the crime. [Washington Post]

Resolution Commending Wardian — A joint resolution in the Virginia General Assembly commends superhuman Arlington marathoner Michael Wardian for his World Marathon Challenge record, which he set last month. [Virginia Legislative Information System]

Facilities Committee Goes on a Ride — Last Saturday morning, Arlington officials and the county’s Joint Facilities Advisory Committee boarded an ART bus and went on a tour of sites that “could help the County Government and Arlington Public Schools resolve pressing capital facilities needs.” [Arlington County]

Nearby: More Potomac Paddling — “The National Park Service said it plans to expand public access for kayaking and rowing on the Potomac River in the District of Columbia’s Georgetown neighborhood,” according to the Associated Press. “The agency said in a statement this week it has approved a plan for the phased development of 42,000 square feet of facilities near the confluence of Rock Creek, the Potomac River and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park.” [WTOP]

Flickr pool photo by Jeff Sonderman

by ARLnow.com — February 15, 2017 at 2:35 pm 0

Virginia Square restaurant Water & Wall (3811 Fairfax Drive) has closed its doors for good.

The restaurant, which opened in November 2013 and served “creative American cuisine,” announced the closing on Facebook today.

“After 3 1/2 years, we have decided to close Water & Wall,” said the Facebook post. “We hope you’ll visit us at Kyirisan and Chase the Submarine. We have loved being a part of your lives.”

Water & Wall served its last dinner customers last night, the Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema said on his “Ask Tom” chat today.

A year ago, during an ARLnow.com-organized panel discussion on the local restaurant industry, Water & Wall owner and acclaimed chef Tim Ma was asked about keeping customers coming back after the initial excitement of a restaurant’s opening.

“Everybody was coming through the door on day one, two years later, it’s all about retention,” Ma said. “Staying relevant is probably the hardest thing. There are so many new restaurants opening, so many different areas coming back to life, staying relevant is hard.”

The restaurant has previously launched limited-time, “pop-up” menus, offering new dishes for diners to try. It brought on a new chef in June.

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