Arlington, VA

Dr. Pepper, a 22-year-old cat, is in need of a new home.

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington put out a call on social media on Wednesday in hopes of finding this very elderly, brown and black, domestic shorthaired kitty a welcoming place to nap and snack.

She was brought into the shelter about two weeks ago, Chelsea Jones of AWLA said, when her long-time caretaker had become too sick to care for her anymore.

Dr. Pepper was accompanied by a note that said she was the beloved companion of a cancer survivor, a Vietnam veteran, and her caretaker’s family for 22 years.

“We’re just all in tears over this cat and this poor family that, unfortunately, is having to be separated because of a really sad life situation,” says Jones. “We are flat determined to find this cat an amazing end-of-life home where she can be loved, pampered, and spoiled for however long she has left.”

Dr. Pepper is, admittingly, quite old. While it’s tough comparing animal ages to humans, it’s estimated that a 22-year-old cat is about the same age as a 104-year-old human.

However, Jones says she’s relatively healthy and only is in need of one pill a day for hyperthyroidism.

Her favorite things are napping, snacking, and getting attention.

“She is just so affectionate and so friendly… she wants to just have someone nearby,” says Jones. “To anyone who comes up to her kennel, she puts her paw up to the glass [like she’s] saying ‘hello’.”

While Dr. Pepper has her moments when she plays like a cat a quarter of her age, she mostly naps, asks for attention, and then goes back to laying down.

“She’s really an easy pet to own,” says Jones.

Since their social media call out about 24 hours ago, there’s been significant interest. Jones says Dr. Pepper has a number of appointments today to meet with prospective new caretakers, plus a foster family has already asked to care for her.

But there’s always room for more and there are plenty of other pets one can adopt at AWLA in case Dr. Pepper finds her forever home prior to your visit. Currently, the shelter remains by appointment only — to schedule an appointment on the League’s website, click the animal you’d like to visit and scroll down to schedule.

Arlington has recently seen a number of cute animal stories. Dr. Pepper’s situation is a sad one, but AWLA is hoping for a heartwarming last chapter to the elder feline’s life story.

It’s bittersweet,” says Jones. “But we’re going to make sure [she] has a happy ending.”

Update at 10:45 a.m. — Dr. Pepper has been adopted, according to AWLA.

Photo courtesy of Animal Welfare League of Arlington

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Enjoy the relative quiet outside while you can.

Two weeks ago, only about 13% of ARLnow poll respondents reported having seen a cicada so far this spring. That’s rapidly changing.

All around Arlington, locals are reporting cicada sightings. From Fairlington to Columbia Pike to Ballston to Westover to Lyon Village to the Rosslyn area, members of Brood X are emerging from their dirt homes of the past 17 years in rising numbers.

According to the Capital Weather Gang, the awakening is suddenly happening throughout the D.C. area. And there’s a lot more to come.

On Capital Weather Gang’s Twitter feed, we’ve received dozens of reports of the insects in Northern Virginia, Maryland and the District.

Monday morning brought a sudden increase in sightings after only isolated reports of early cicadas in the past one to two weeks. The emergence was somewhat unexpected given the lower-than-normal temperatures since Friday.

Despite the surge of reports, the insects haven’t crawled out of their holes everywhere, and a more massive swarm still awaits.

Below are some of the cicada sightings reported to ARLnow on social media.

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Framebridge in Clarendon is now open with the store also giving away free flowers for Mother’s Day.

The D.C.-based custom framing company, owned by Rosslyn-based Graham Holdings, opened its newest location at 2839 Clarendon Blvd on Thursday. The store is offering free flowers from local florist Holley Simmons, while supplies last, with any in-store purchase throughout the weekend.

In a statement to ARLnow, Framebridge CEO Susan Tynan said she always wanted to bring a store to Clarendon.

We’re so excited to finally have a store in Clarendon — we’ve actually had our eye on this center since we opened our first retail location on 14th Street in 2019. We took a tour then and have been waiting for the perfect spot to open ever since!

We have so many great customers in the Arlington area, and we hope to be introduced to many new customers who are visiting the great shops and restaurants nearby. This is a well-trafficked, central location and it’s an easy place for people to visit. We are thrilled to be part of this community we already love and can’t wait to see everything customers choose to Framebridge on Clarendon Boulevard!

Framebridge initially began as an e-commerce, online-only company, but started expanding to brick and mortar locations in 2019.

This is the company’s fifth physical location in the region and second in Virginia. It has also recently opened retail shops at Union Market in D.C. and in the Mosaic District. Non-D.C.-area locations include Brooklyn and Atlanta.

The store is opening in the newly-renamed The Crossing Clarendon, a stretch of interconnected stores, restaurants, offices and residential space formerly known as Market Common Clarendon. The Crossing has had several notable comings and goings in recent months.

Boston-based Tatte Bakery and Cafe is set to open in July in the former spot of Baja Fresh. Connecticut-based pizza chain Colony Grill also opened in October and has already garnered a good deal of love.

Framebridge is in the former Lou Lou Boutiques location, after that store shuttered this past summer.

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Arlington County police frequently escort VIPs like the president and visiting heads of state as they travel to and through Arlington.

On Thursday morning, ACPD conducted a different sort of escort along a local highway. Rather than driving in limos, these VIPs waddled along the pavement.

The waterfowl family — they turned out to be geese and not ducks — ended up making it safely off the busy highway thanks to the assist from a quick-thinking and animal-loving detective.

“At approximately 10 a.m., a detective traveling on EB I-66 prior to Spout Run Parkway came upon a family of geese walking in the lane of travel,” recounted Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “He activated his emergency lights and helped escort them down the ramp, where they exited the roadway.”

No word on where the family of two adults and five little ones ended up.

Photos courtesy ACPD

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Arlington’s own Pupatella was recently named one of the best pizzas places in Virginia by Food & Wine Magazine.

“The only thing more authentically Neapolitan than the pillow-like pizzas practically flying from the oven at Pupatella in Arlington is [owner] Enzo Algarme himself,” reads part of the story’s blurb.

Reached by phone while visiting their parents in Naples, Italy, owners Enzo Algarme and Anastasiya Laufenberg tell ARLnow that they are “incredibly grateful” and “honored” for the distinction. In fact, they were not aware of the story until ARLnow reached out.

The married couple opened their first restaurant in 2010 on Wilson Blvd in the Bluemont neighborhood — from which they nearly moved last year — after getting their start selling pizza from a food cart.

Since, they’ve opened four more locations including another in Arlington along S. Walter Reed Drive, one in Reston, one in D.C., and their most recent in Richmond.

Expansion is continuing, the owners confirm, with additional locations in the Mosaic District and Springfield planned for the coming months.

Laufenberg says they owe their popularity and the ability to grow, even after a rough pandemic year, to their customers. While it was a challenge those first months, says Laufenberg, they’ve been able to gain nearly all of their business back recently and have rehired staff they had to let go.

“We’ve had a lot of support from the neighborhood,” says Laufenberg. “Our customers didn’t forget about us and have left huge tips for our staff.”

They’ve also recovered by focusing on delivery and take-out, but additionally realizing the need to shift to more outdoor seating.

“One of the biggest ways the pandemic changed us…is our commitment to building out nice, large patios,” says Laufenberg. “People are still scared to eat inside, so having big outdoor patios is a way to help with that.”

Both the locations on Wilson Blvd and S. Walter Reed Drive now have expansive outdoor seating.

Last year, 90% of Pupatella’s sales were from delivery and take-out, she says, but now that ratio is closer to 50/50 with more folks dining outside.

Of course, Pupatella’s popularity is overwhelming due to the quality of its pizza, which has earned it numerous other awards and honors over the years.

“Every region, city in Italy has their own pizza, but everyone knows that Neapolitan pizza is the original,” says Laufenberg about their style of pizza. And that has a lot to do with the wood-fired oven used to them.

All of the ovens used at Pupatella restaurants are certified by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association, meaning they adhere to two-century-old Neapolitan techniques.

The oven bricks are even built using volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius, which last erupted in 1944.

The ash provides the bricks the ability to retain heat very well, explains Laufenberg, which allows the oven to heat up fast and cook the pizza very quickly.

“There’s still ash left… we don’t know when it’s going to run out,” says Laufenberg.

Back in 2010 when they first contemplated opening their own business, Laufenberg admits she and Algarme were scared. Building a Neapolitan pizza business is expensive and very labor intensive, after all.

Even training staff to use the ovens is difficult and requires a steep learning curve — hence, why a number of employees have been with them since nearly the beginning. But more than a decade later, even with a pandemic, it is paying off.

“You always wonder ‘is it worth it to go the extra mile? Will people know the difference?” she rhetorically asks. “Well, that extra work is worth it and people have noticed.”

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The Williamsburg Shopping Center is looking for a new bank to take up tenancy where United Bank once had a branch.

Leasing agent Nora Eways said the bank location at 6500 Williamsburg Blvd shuttered on Jan. 15 but did not give a reason for the closure. The shopping center’s owner is hoping to find another bank to fill the space, perhaps in part due to the large metal bank vault that appears in interior photos.

“The landlord’s main preference is for another bank,” Eways said.

While the search continues for another bank, she said other potential tenants, including medical groups, have expressed interest in the spot.

“This space is in a very affluent area in Arlington,” she said, of the shopping center’s proximity to North Arlington neighborhoods like Williamsburg and East Falls Church. “It’s a great neighborhood center where we’ve had very few vacancies in general.”

Eways said pre-pandemic, the shopping center was fully leased “for a while.” United Bank’s departure was one of two COVID-19-era vacancies, she said, referencing the closure of the Zinga! frozen yogurt spot in October.

“Banks and frozen yogurt shops are two businesses that are decreasing in size throughout the nation,” she said, adding that mobile banking has led some banks to consolidate their physical locations.

Photo (1) via Google Maps, (2-3) via Renaud Consulting

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Lorton-based and women-owned Rāko Coffee is opening in the Courthouse area later this spring or summer.

This is the coffee roaster’s first official bricks-and-mortar location, according to the Washington Business Journal, after focusing on wholesale roasting operations since opening in Lorton in 2019.

The plan, initially, was to open a retail location in 2020, but that was delayed to the pandemic and they shifted their business online.

The coffee roaster currently operates a pop-up during the day at plant-centric restaurant Oyster Oyster near the Mount Vernon neighborhood in D.C.

The new cafe is set to be located in the Courthouse neighborhood at 2016 Wilson Blvd, the former location of The Olive Oil Boom, according to a recently filed permit application. The shop is also looking to serve beer and wine as well, the application suggests.

Rāko’s Instagram account also recently touted an opening “in less than a couple of months” as well as recently becoming a member of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce. ARLnow was unable to reach the owners via phone or email for additional information.

Rāko is owned by sisters Lisa and Melissa Gerben and specializes in sustainability sourced single origin coffee.

The name comes from a trip to Ethiopia to source coffee, when the sisters took notice of a mountain called “Rāko.” This translates in English to “challenge.”

Their Arlington cafe will be 1,360 square feet and feature “high-quality, unique coffee beverages” like baklava latte and lion’s mane mushroom chai iced tea, the Business Journal reported.

It will also have locally-sourced food and will serve wine, cocktails, and beer in the evening.

Rāko is reportedly looking to open other locations in the area in the coming year as well, potentially including a shop in Logan Circle in D.C. The company is also “actively looking” for space in Georgetown, Dupont Circle, Alexandria and Bethesda for more outposts, notes the Washington Business Journal.

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Ballston Quarter’s Zofia’s Kitchen (4238 Wilson Blvd) is cooking up a limited edition batch of Star Wars-themed snacks, and missing out would be a Wookie mistake.

The restaurant is operating with limited staff but said in a press release that they decided to go all in on “May the Fourth” — a sort of quasi-holiday for Star Wars fans on May 4 rooted in a “May the Force be with you” pun.

“Zofia’s has decided to embrace its inner culinary nerd by going all-out for the International Geek Holiday that is May the Fourth by offering limited edition pierogi made a long time ago in a galaxy far far away,” the restaurant said. “Available 8 to an order, Steamed, sauteed, fried or frozen in carbonite by request.”

A half dozen special menu items are listed for the week.

  •  The Obi-Won Pierogi: Tatooine Tagine. Braised Chicken, Raisin, Almond, Tunisian Harissa and Couscous — $11.99
  • The Baby Yoda Pierogi: Peas, Mint, Midichlorians, Lemon and Ricotta — $11.99
  • The Vader Pierogi: Chorizo and Provolone. Note that the white cheese inside represents the good that must be in him still! The Vader pierogi comes with a mandatory force choking hazard warning of course.(please take your time groaning at this joke) — $12.99
  • The C-Threepierogi: Blanched multicolor vegetable pasta / standard Android wiring — $11.99
  • The Tauntaun Wonton: And you thought they smelled bad on the outside! Red-wine pear and stinky Gorgonzola — $12.99
  • Blue Milk Cocktail: In a pouch for Jedi on-the-go! — Price TBD

“This deal is available for a limited time,” the restaurant said. “We’ve altered the deal by offering it May 3-7. Pray that we don’t alter it further.”

The restaurant is open for dine-in, pick-up or delivery from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. If you’re trying to find it in Ballston Quarter: this is the way.

Photo via Zofia’s Kitchen/Facebook

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Many Arlington residents seem to be in the market for new furniture, according to Google Trends.

Perhaps after more than a year of sitting at home during the pandemic, your chairs are getting squeaky or your table is getting scratched. Whatever the reason, ARLnow averaged online rankings of every furniture store in Arlington and within two miles of the county on this side of the Potomac.

Our rankings are below.

1..Casa Furniture (5013 Columbia Pike) — 4.9 out of 5 stars

2. Gala Futons and Furniture (2622 N. Pershing Drive) — 4.65 out of 5 stars

3. Oriental Rosewood Imports Furniture (4050 Lee Highway) — 4.5 out of 5 stars

4. Hardwood Artisans (2800 S. Randolph Street) — 4.45 out of 5 stars

5. Lovesac (1100 S. Hayes Street) — 4.4 out of 5 stars

T-6. Furniture Max (6250 Seven Corners Center) – 4.05 out of 5 stars

T-6. Ethan Allen (2900 Wilson Blvd, Suite 102) – 4.05 out of 5 stars

8. Crate & Barrel Outlet (1700 Prince Way) — 3.8 out of 5 stars

9. Sweet Home Furniture (3501 S. Jefferson Street) — 3.6 out of 5 stars

10. Crate & Barrel (2800 Clarendon Blvd) — 3.5 out of 5 stars

11. Macy’s (1000 S. Hayes Street) — 3.4 out of 5 stars

12. Bob’s Discount Furniture (5845 Leesburg Pike) — 3.3 out of 5 stars

13. Value City Furniture (5516 Leesburg Pike) — 3.2 out of 5 stars

14. Pottery Barn (2700 Clarendon Blvd) — 3.15 out of 5 stars

T-15. Macy’s (685 N. Glebe Road) — 3 out of 5 stars

T-15. West Elm (925 N. Saint Asaph Street) — 3 out of 5 stars

17. Ashley HomeStore (5871 Crossroads Way) — 2.95 out of 5 stars

Photo via Furniture Max/Facebook

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A group of Arlingtonians has worked nights and weekends to sign up nearly 2,000 members of local immigrant communities for the COVID-19 vaccine.

And the team, called the Arlington Schools Hispanic Parents Association, only advertised its services twice: once in March, when the group decided to get involved, and once when eligibility expanded to all Virginians 16 and older.

Word spread by mouth, text and through small social networks among mostly Spanish-speaking communities in Arlington.

“For the first couple of weeks, we were overwhelmed,” said ASHPA member (and former Arlington School Board member) Tannia Talento. “In the last two weeks, it has settled down. But now that it’s open to the public, we expect a second rush.”

Talento and Janeth Valenzuela started ASHPA in 2016 with two other women to address the communication gap among the county, the school system, and Spanish-speaking and other immigrant households. During the pandemic, the group pivoted to focusing on weekly food distributions, rent support, mental health education and now, registering people for vaccine appointments through the community health center, Neighborhood Health.  

“I’m very proud of my team,” Valenzuela said. “We want to help our community get vaccinated.”

It has been almost two weeks since anyone 16 and older officially became eligible to get a shot and the number of vaccinated people continues to rise in Arlington County —  more than 68,000 people in Arlington are fully vaccinated as of today, according to the Virginia Dept. of Health.

Now that the vaccine is widely available, focus has shifted to getting those hesitant to get the vaccine — or unable to get it for other reasons — into vaccination clinics.

Talento and Valenzuela said they did encounter vaccine hesitancy in February and March but the bigger hurdles they face involve access. They worry that hesitancy is used to gloss over these other, surmountable barriers. 

“In the beginning, it was difficult. Most of the population did not want the vaccine,” Valenzuela said. “It’s part of the culture in third-world countries to talk bad about vaccines. We had to work with that and let them know the vaccine is something to open the economy in this country and get back the life they had.”

But when hesitant folks saw their community leaders get vaccinated, they changed their minds, she said. A few skeptical community members do remain, however, she noted.  

Talento said she spends more time helping people access the vaccine than convincing them it is safe to take. Some did not think they were eligible back in February, even though they were.

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In 2016, Arlington was ranked the third “Healthiest City in America.” In 2021, a tobacco and vape shop is replacing a yoga studio in Virginia Square.

Los Angeles-based YogaWorks closed its location at 3528 Wilson Blvd late last year after declaring bankruptcy during the pandemic. The one-story building next to the Arlington Arts Center was listed for lease and, recently, a sign went up advertising that a store called “Tobacco Hut” is coming soon.

The sign says the store will offer CBD, kratom, and vape products, as well as cigars. Photos of a store in McLean with a similar sign show and array of glass smoking pipes and other marijuana accessories.

No other information about the store, including its opening date, was immediately available.

Other businesses on the block, two blocks from the Virginia Square Metro station, include a 7-Eleven, a dry cleaner, and an HVAC supply wholesaler.

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