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It’s that time of year again: the Pumpkin Spice Lattes have arrived at local Starbucks stores.

Local chain Compass beat the Seattle-based coffee giant to market this time, rolling out a fall menu featuring pumpkin- and maple-flavored pick-me-ups a few days ago. Dunkin and others started slinging the spice even earlier, part of a broader trend of fall flavors creeping into the summer season.

More from Axios:

Starbucks said it will release its Pumpkin Spice Latte and fall menu on Thursday, six days earlier than last year.

  • The announcement kicks off the annual debate over whether it’s too soon for fall flavors and if pumpkin fanfare has gone too far.
  • It also follows pumpkin spice’s Aug. 16 arrival at Dunkin’ and even earlier launches at Krispy Kreme, 7-Eleven and Bath & Body Works.

Between the lines: Nostalgia is one reason why the fall flavor keeps coming back earlier, Jason Fischer, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Johns Hopkins University, told Axios.

  • “It brings to mind those associated memories including those flavors and aromas of the pumpkin spice stuff,” said Fischer, a perception researcher who is also a pumpkin fan.
  • The summer heat is often the argument for why some say pumpkin pandemonium is too early but Fischer said it could be the opposite this year.
  • “Maybe the enduring heat is a thing that just makes us imagine and crave that cooler weather and then it calls to mind pumpkin spice even earlier,” Fischer said.

So what do you think: Have companies taken the pumpkin spice creep to far? Or do you like the fall vibes starting earlier, actually?

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Illegally parked cars along S. Barton Street and 9th Road S. (screenshot via Twitter/@ArlingtonAF)

Some neighbors and nearby businesses are fed up with drivers illegally parking near the Penrose Square Starbucks.

They say improperly parked cars are leading to traffic jams and a loss of business, while blocking a public space and causing safety hazards.

Recent posts on social media have highlighted traffic jams near the intersection of S. Barton Street and 9th Road S., along Columbia Pike. The posts show several parked cars with hazard lights on, partially blocking traffic on the pedestrian-oriented roadway that connects the Pike and a parking garage for the retail center.

It’s also happening near Penrose Square, a park that features outdoor seating and dining as well as a splash pad for children, as Twitter user @ArlingtonAF points out.

There are currently only a couple legal parking spots along S. Barton Street due to a number being replaced by a Capital Bikeshare docking station a few years back. But a public parking garage is just around the corner.

Cars running stop signs and pulling unsafe driving maneuvers are also common along that short stretch of road, according to the pseudonymous Twitter account.

Neighbor and president of the advocacy group Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County Chris Slatt agrees that this has become a problem at Penrose Square.

Slatt told ARLnow that illegally parked cars have become an “extremely common” thing ever since Starbucks opened at that location in 2015. Drivers who park illegally can restrict traffic flow, block pedestrian access, and get in the way of bike lanes.

“We didn’t see these issues much with the previous tenant,” he wrote in an email.

Starbucks’ next-door neighbor also some complaints. Zak Mancini, the owner of Mancini de Paris Salon, told ARLnow that he sometimes sees three or four cars lined up in the middle of the street with no one in them. All the drivers, he said, are in Starbucks, picking up orders.

Mancini said cars are sometimes blocked from turning onto S. Barton Street from the Pike by those illegally parked in the middle of the street. When that happens, the honking starts.

“It’s a big mess, especially on weekends,” he said. “[Customers] come to me pissed off, saying they are going to find a new salon because of the noise and honking.”

Columbia Pike and S. Barton Street (via Google Maps)

Mancini said he’s seen disputes nearly turn into fistfights and has had to call the police a few times. Slatt believes that the county needs to do something about this.

“Arlington should also strongly consider increasing the fine for illegal parking,” said Slatt, who also chairs the Arlington County Transportation Commission.

What also really concerns him is the persistent running of a stop sign and unsafe driving seen at the intersection of S. Barton Street and 9th Road S., particularly due to the proximity to a splash pad.

“This is dangerous, especially in large vehicles like pickup trucks and SUVs which tend to pitch struck pedestrians under the vehicle rather than onto the hood, which tends to happen with sedans,” Slatt said.

“This is especially egregious given the direct adjacency to a park filled with happy but unpredictable children,” he continued. “We desperately need Arlington County PD to prioritize enforcing laws that are supposed to prevent unsafe behavior like this.”

The Arlington County Police Department confirmed to ARLnow that the section of S. Barton Street in question is indeed a public roadway and, therefore, enforcement is the responsibility of ACPD. Spokesperson Ashley Savage said that police patrol the area and ask the community to report any transportation safety issues.

“ACPD has previously conducted parking enforcement in the area and educated the businesses and patrons along S. Barton about the parking restrictions,” Savage wrote. “As time and resources permit, ACPD will continue to conduct random rotating enforcement and education in the area with the goal of compliance even when police are not present. Community members can report ongoing transportation safety concerns to police using our online form.”

ARLnow has reached out to Starbucks media relations staff for comment but has yet to hear back as of publication.

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There’s now a new spot to get a Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino in Ballston.

The new Starbucks at 4000 Wilson Blvd held its grand opening this morning (Monday). It’s located in the ground floor retail space of the View Apartments, in the former home of Lebanese Taverna’s quick-service concept LebTav, which closed earlier this year.

ARLnow first reported in late February that a Starbucks was set to move into that location.

Starbucks store No. 71315 has some indoor seating and an outdoor patio. Seating, in general, appears to be rather limited, however.

This morning, employees were outside the store shouting “happy opening day” and providing free samples to passers-by.

The new location gives the densest census tract in Virginia and the entire D.C. region its own adjacent Starbucks.

There are at least four other Starbucks stores within walking distance, however. Among them: next to the Virginia Square Metro station, at the bottom of the Marymount University building at the intersection of N. Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive, inside of the Westin Hotel on N. Glebe Road, and adjacent to the Ballston Metro station.

There are also several other non-Starbucks coffee options nearby, including Compass Coffee, Dunkin’, and Slipstream, which opened in March.

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It looks like a new Starbucks is coming to Ballston.

Construction was underway yesterday in the former LebTav space at 4000 Wilson Blvd, just a couple of weeks after the fast-casual restaurant shut down. Plans for the space, seen by ARLnow, bear the Seattle-based coffee chain’s logo and address, as well as the designation of Store No. 71315.

An inquiry to the Starbucks media relations office was not returned by publication time.

There are four existing, walkable Starbucks stores in the area, including next to the Virginia Square and Ballston Metro stations, and at the bottom of the Marymount University building and the Westin hotel in Ballston. But there exists a notable void between the two Metro-adjacent Starbucks stores, where the densest census tract in the D.C. area and all of Virginia is situated.

The apparent new Starbucks will sit within that tract, at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Quincy Street.

Other coffee competition nearby includes Compass Coffee and Dunkin’. A Philz Coffee in Ballston closed in December.

There’s no word as to when the new Starbucks might open. The location is not yet listed on the company’s website.

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Drivers have been blocking a new PBL in search of the perfect PSL.

Last November, as part of a 2022 Complete Streets project, Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services replaced two parking spots with a protected bike lane, or “PBL,” on the east side of Clarendon Blvd. It also added new free, 15-minute parking spots at N. Danville Street, to accommodate those who would have used the two former spots when picking up their coffee order from the nearby Starbucks.

“All those legally parked automobiles are actually protecting bikers who are using the bike lane to the right,” noted DES spokesman Peter Golkin.

But illegally parked vehicles caused a different problem. Flouting a no-parking sign, cars — and even a county pickup truck — parked where the spots used to be, partially or completely blocking the bike lane. Local cyclist Jeff Hopp said he saw cars blocking the bike lane “all day, every day,” to access the Starbucks location across the street from the Whole Foods.

“In the area near Starbucks, [the county] created a hazard to cyclists instead of a safe PBL,” he said. “The county removed two parking spaces in the area when creating the PBL but the design of the PBL at this spot allows for drivers to drive into and park in the PBL while they ‘run in’ to Starbucks to grab their drinks.”

Public feedback helped guide the designs, Golkin says, but in response to the reality on the ground, the county recently made it harder to park there.

“Extra bollards were added this month to make such an abuse less tempting and to encourage drivers to look for the free and pay spaces just a few feet down the road,” Golkin said.

Hopp, who had notified the county about the issue, says he appreciates the changes.

“I feel the county was responsive to a conversation about a solution and, in the end, I feel they made the right decision to install additional bollards around the edges,” he said. “With these additional bollards, vehicles will not have enough room to pull into the PBL in this area — unless drivers just mow them down, which I’ll bet has happened before.”

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Employees at the Courthouse Starbucks went on strike in November (staff photo)

(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) A major rally is being planned for later this week in front of the county government headquarters, in a show of solidarity with recently-unionized Starbucks employees.

The president of the AFL-CIO and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) are both expected to attend, among others.

The rally is one of ten across the county, organized as part of a National Day of Action by Starbucks Workers United. It’s set for this Friday, Dec. 9, at 5 p.m. outside of the Bozman Government Center at 2100 Clarendon Blvd.

Workers at the nearby Courthouse Starbucks who voted to unionize last month and went on strike a week later.

Organizers say Liz Shuler the president of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the country, will be there and speaking. Plus, a number of state and local elected officials are planning to attend, including Beyer, State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30), and Del. Alfonso Lopez (D- 49).

Several County Board members are also expected to attend, including Christian Dorsey, Matt de Ferranti, and Takis Karantonis.

Speeches are planned from Shuler, Beyer, and several regional union leaders — including Arlington and Fairfax County teachers union presidents, who will say they will be rejecting Starbucks gift cards as holiday presents for this year in protest.

This “Day of Action” is also meant to ask Starbucks to stop “bullying” unionized employees and to highlight its workers’ right to organize.

“The purpose of the Day of Action is for the entire community to tell Starbucks to stop its union-busting and respect its workers’ right to organize,” says a press release.

Dec. 9 marks the one-year anniversary of the first Starbucks union election victory in Buffalo, New York. Since then more than 260 stores have voted to unionize, involving more than 7,000 workers.

Over the last year, the coffee behemoth has been hit with hundreds of unfair labor practice charges, including retaliatory firings, closing union stores, and withholding benefits from employees. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is investigating more than 300 of these accusations.

On Nov. 9, Starbucks employees at the Courthouse Plaza location voted to unionize and join Starbucks Workers United. It was the second D.C.-area Starbucks to do so. Union members told ARLnow at the time they were seeking better pay, more consistent hours, and uniformly enforced rules and regulations.

Employees went on strike shortly thereafter.

“Starbucks has been dragging its feet coming to the negotiation table,” employee and union member Sam Dukore said at the time. “And even when they do, their lawyers stand up after like a minute and a half or so and just leave. And that is not negotiating in good faith.”

Since the strike several weeks ago, “the company is still not coming to the bargaining table” a union spokesperson told ARLnow.

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(Updated at 10:25 a.m.) The employees at the Courthouse Starbucks have gone on strike, days after unionizing.

The reason for the strike, per Starbucks employee and union member Samuel Dukore, is that the company is not negotiating “in good faith” when it comes to a contract.

“Starbucks has been dragging its feet coming to the negotiation table,” Dukore told ARLnow, outside of the Starbucks at Courthouse Plaza, near county government headquarters. “And even when they do, their lawyers stand up after like a minute and a half or so and just leave. And that is not negotiating in good faith.”

Unionized employees are asking for better pay, more staffing, and more concern over the health and safety of workers.

It appears that the employees are among the more than 1,000 Starbucks employees that have reportedly gone on strike today, on one of the company’s busiest days.

Earlier this month, on Election Day, Courthouse employees voted to become the third D.C.-area Starbucks to unionize (behind one in D.C. and in Merrifield) and the first in Arlington. The employees have joined Starbucks Workers United.

The Starbucks in Courthouse Plaza remains open. It currently appeared well-staffed with un-unionized employees and managers, and a greeter at the door welcoming customers.

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(Updated, 5:30 p.m.) Yesterday was an election day as well for employees at the Starbucks in Courthouse Plaza, who voted to become the second D.C.-area location of the coffee giant to unionize.

Workers at a local Starbucks won their election to form a union, as first reported by Washington Post reporter Lauren Kaori Gurley. The employees are organizing with and joining Starbucks Workers United.

Arlington Democrats congratulated employees at the Starbucks in Courthouse at 2200 Clarendon Blvd for winning their union election.

Samuel Dukore, a member of the union and a shift supervisor at the Courthouse Starbucks, told ARLnow that he and his colleagues unionized for better pay, more consistent hours, and uniformly enforced rules and regulations.

This marks the 260th Starbucks nationwide to unionize but only the second one in the D.C. area. The other unionized Starbucks is on P Street in the District, which just voted to form its union last month.

As for what’s next, Dukore he would like to see Starbucks come to the bargaining table to “negotiate in good faith” with the union for a contract.

Over the summer, employees at Union Kitchen in Ballston also voted to form a union joining others at Union Kitchen locations across the region. The National Labor Board determined that Union Kitchen management violated a number of labor laws and engaged in illegal union-busting tactics while workers sought to unionize, as DCist first reported earlier today.

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Tis the season for peppermint mochas and Santa photos.

Starbucks, famous for its ubiquity in Arlington, is bringing back its festive cups and holiday season beverages tomorrow (Thursday, Nov. 3), the company announced today.

The 2022 Starbucks offerings include Peppermint Mocha, Caramel Brulée Latte, Chestnut Praline Latte, Toasted White Chocolate Mocha, Irish Cream Cold Brew and Iced Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte, in addition to bakery items like Reindeer Cake Pop, Sugar Plum Cheese Danish, Cranberry Bliss Bar and Snowman Cookie.

Meanwhile, Santa Claus is coming to town — sooner than you might expect.

Santa is set to start snapping photos with children at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City on Friday, Nov. 18, according to the mall’s website. Santa will be stationed on the first level of the mall near Nordstrom.

In addition to the daily photo ops, a special “Caring Santa” session for children with special needs is scheduled for Dec. 4 and pet photos with Santa is set for Dec. 11. Santa will also be hosting two breakfasts with kids at the adjacent Ritz-Carlton hotel on Dec. 3 and 17.

Reservations for the Pentagon City mall photo sessions can be made online.

Jolly Ol’ St. Nick will be arriving at the Ballston Quarter mall a bit later than his Pentagon City counterpart. Ballston’s Santa is set to start taking photos with kids on Dec. 3 and reservations can also be made online.

If you’re really jonesing for Father Christmas, there’s an even earlier option than the two in Arlington. Tysons Corner Center mall announced yesterday that Santa will be returning there next week, on Friday, Nov. 11.

Once you pick up your seasonal Starbucks tomorrow, to get in the holiday spirit — despite this week’s relatively warm weather — you might head over to the Westpost (formerly Pentagon Row) ice skating rink. The rink officially opened to the public yesterday. As of early this afternoon, no skaters could be seen on the ice.

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Starbucks store at 5515 Lee Highway, prior to opening (staff photo)

Good news for coffee lovers who enjoy not taking extra steps to get their caffeine fix: Arlington’s lone drive-thru Starbucks is only closed temporarily.

The cafe at 5515 Langston Blvd, which opened less than three years ago in a former bank, recently closed and was removed from the Starbucks website and app. But the closure is for renovations, the company tells us.

“As a standard course of business, we continually evaluate our store portfolio, using various criteria to ensure we are meeting the needs of our customers,” a Starbucks spokesperson wrote in response to an inquiry from ARLnow. “We are happy to confirm that our store at 5515 Langston Blvd. in Arlington, VA is undergoing a standard renovation, and will reopen on October 10.”

Oct. 10 is next Monday.

“The store will reopen with an updated drive-thru to improve customer experience at the store,” the spokesperson added.

Those reading the tea leaves (or coffee beans) may take that to mean that Starbucks is addressing some of the long drive-thru lines that snake around the stand-alone store’s parking lot and sometimes extend out onto the street.

Starbucks will soon no longer have the vehicularly-accessible coffee market cornered in North Arlington, however. Compass Coffee is planning to open a drive-thru location, also in a former bank building and also along Langston Blvd.

Compass originally hoped to open its 4710 Langston Blvd location this summer but work is still ongoing and an opening date has not been announced.

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You’ll have to walk an extra block to get your pumpkin spice fix in Rosslyn this afternoon.

The standalone Starbucks store on N. Oak Street has been evacuated after reports of elevated carbon monoxide levels in the building. Firefighters are working to determine the source of the apparent leak and Washington Gas crews are on the way to the scene.

So far there have no reports of significant illness as a result of the CO leak.

Drivers should expect some slowdowns in the area due to fire department activity, though that should start thinning out soon. Police blocked a portion of N. Oak Street during the investigation.

For those on the hunt for pumpkin-flavored coffee and baked goods on this first day of September, there’s good news: another Starbucks is located across the street in the Safeway grocery store.

Firefighters are currently working to ventilate the building, which is technically located at 1501 17th Street N.

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