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When Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls opens in Shirlington later this month, one lucky customer will win a year’s worth of lobster rolls.

That is, if one assumes that the lobster roll craving hits no more than once a week.

The Annapolis-based restaurant chain is hosting a grand opening celebration on Thursday, August 18 at 11 a.m. at its newest location at 4017 Campbell Avenue in Shirlington. Those there will get a free cup of soup, side, or fountain soda with a purchase of a lobster roll.

But the real catch is that one person will win a weekly, free lobster roll for the next year. That’s an estimated value of $730, according to a press release.

(The steep price of lobster earlier this year has fallen considerably this summer, it should be noted.)

It was first announced that Mason’s was headed to the Village of Shirlington in late December 2021, moving into the 1,334-square-foot space that was formerly occupied by Nirvana Reflexology Spa. The initial aim was to open in the late summer or early fall, so it looks like a restaurant actually hit its initial projection.

This marks the fast-casual franchise’s third Virginia location — in addition to Reston and Virginia Beach — as Mason’s continues its expansion across the country.

The Shirlington location is owned by Taj and Faries McCree, “who both have strong ties to Boston, where lobster rolls are a classic cuisine” according to the press release. Taj is also a military veteran and spent two decades as a practicing attorney, per the release.

“Arlington is unique — it has a small town feel and patrons are loyal to local businesses,” wrote Taj. “We are excited to share Mason’s lobster rolls with the community, and we know lobster aficionados and novices in Arlington are going to love it.”

Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls is one of a number of new eateries coming to Shirlington in the coming months.

The two-level beer and coffee shop Astro Beer Hall is expected to open soon around the corner from Mason’s. Just across the street, the popular Great Falls-based Greek restaurant Our Mom Eugenia is aiming for a fall opening. Jeni’s Ice Cream is opening a location down the block, though it remains uncertain when scoops will start to be served there.

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Expect to be chowing on chalupas and sipping cervezas at Courthouse’s Taco Bell Cantina by the end of the year.

Construction on the newest Taco Bell Cantina location at 2039 Wilson Blvd is anticipated to start within 30 days, a company spokesperson told ARLnow, with the hope that it opens prior to the end of the year.

The spokesperson also confirmed to ARLnow that this would be a Cantina location, as opposed to a regular Taco Bell.

The main difference between the two is that the former sells alcohol, including beer, wine, sangria, and “Twisted Freezes.”

The placement of the fast food chain restaurant-bar combo seems intended to attract a late-night crowd, within stumbling distance of a number of local bars. And the Courthouse location will have a special feature that might help that late-night crowd get their Crunchwrap Supreme just a bit faster.

“This location will be similar to [other Taco Bell Cantinas] in offerings, but will also have a convenient walk-up window,” the company spokesperson wrote.

In May, the company applied for a building permit for work on the 2,166 square-foot first floor of 2039 Wilson Blvd. That work is set to include adding a new HVAC system plus new plumbing, electrical systems, furniture, and kitchen equipment. A new restroom will also be added.

The Cantina will have a 48-person dining room to go along with the walk-up window.

This will be the third regional location of Taco Bell’s popular spin-off. There are currently Cantinas in Old Town Alexandria and in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of D.C.

The space at 2039 Wilson Blvd was once home to the Peruvian restaurant, bar, and hookah lounge Guarapo Lounge. However, it closed nearly six years ago and the space has remained vacant ever since.

This will also be a return to the neighborhood for Taco Bell. A location of the fast food chain once stood on the hill between Rosslyn and Courthouse, near where the 7-Eleven and Ace Hardware are today.

But that Taco Bell closed more than a decade ago, along with the beloved bar Dr. Dremo’s, when buildings were demolished to make way for new development.

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(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) We now know which bank is coming to the former G.O.A.T. sports bar space in Clarendon.

TD Bank is moving across the street to the highly-visible space near the Metro station, the company has confirmed to ARLnow. We reported in January that a bank was under construction on the first floor of 3028 Wilson Blvd, but could not confirm which bank was opening in the space until now.

“TD Bank will close the 3101 Wilson Blvd. store on Oct. 27 and will open the new 3028 Wilson Blvd. store location on Oct. 28,” a TD Bank spokesperson tells ARLnow.

Customers were informed of the move in letters sent last week.

The new, 2,081 square foot branch “will feature an advice center format, which allows colleagues to have advice conversations with customers about their financial goals along with conducting routine banking activities and account openings,” the spokesperson said. It will also have “sit-stand workstations that enable our colleagues to adapt them based on the type of conversation we’re having with a customer or the amount of traffic we expect on a given day.”

The move across the street comes as the existing branch’s lease is expiring.

“We have an expiring lease at our 3101 Wilson Blvd store, which gave us an opportunity to move to a location that better suits our customers’ needs and enhance[s] their banking experience with us,” said the spokesperson.

Construction permits suggest that the bank will be located on the first floor. So far, there’s no word on what might eventually come to the second floor of the building. The G.O.A.T. and its predecessor, Hard Times Cafe, previously used both floors.

There’s also no word as what might replace the branch on the ground floor of the office building at 3101 Wilson Blvd.

Hat tip to Ken K.

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El Pollo Rico (file photo)

Tennis legend Serena Williams was apparently served up some Peruvian chicken at Virginia Square’s El Pollo Rico this past weekend.

An Instagram story posted on Williams’ account on Sunday (July 31) afternoon shows her inside of the local Peruvian chicken spot on N. Kenmore Street getting served up a heaping portion of chicken and rice.

The IG story was first spotted and tweeted by local restaurant and bar influencer Barred in DC.

Williams is in town to support her equally-famous sister Venus, who is playing in the Citi Open in D.C. tonight. Serena surprised onlookers yesterday when she showed up on the Rock Creek Park courts to practice with her sister.

It’s unclear what lead her to El Pollo Rico, though Barred in DC guesses that her husband Alexis Ohanian (co-founder of Reddit and a UVA alum) may have had something to do with it.

ARLnow reached out to the restaurant this morning, but the manager there said he was unaware of the sports great stopping by. ARLnow also emailed owner Victor Solano but has yet to hear back as of publication.

Serena did some sightseeing in the District over the weekend as well, posting videos of her scootering around while checking out the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial in the rain. It appears that McLean resident Mark Ein, who runs the Citi Open, was also with her.

ARLnow has reached out to Ein and his representatives to see if perhaps he’s the one who suggested the well-known local spot, but also has yet to hear back.

This isn’t El Pollo Rico’s first brush with fame. The late Anthony Bourdain featured the restaurant on his Travel Channel show “No Reservations” back in 2009.

This unassuming Peruvian chicken eatery is located on a side street off of Fairfax Drive and in the back of a low-slung building. It opened in 1988 and has continued to be a popular spot since.

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(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) After being shuttered for more than two years, Stray Cat Bar & Grill in Westover has finally reopened.

The neighborhood staple at 5866 Washington Blvd started serving again last week for the first time since shutting down on March 15, 2020. That was the day after Arlington County declared a local emergency as Covid started to spread locally.

The reopening after 28 months comes with a name tweak, some interior renovations, and an updated menu.

“We wanted to bring the Cat back awhile ago, but the restaurant industry was hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Austin Garcia, owner/operator of the restaurant, tells ARLnow. “So, when we did, we really wanted it to knock it out of the park.”

It seems like the right time to reopen as the community appears to be much more comfortable dining indoors, Garcia said.

The Stray Cat Cafe first opened in Westover in 2005 as a sibling restaurant of Lost Dog Cafe, which has Arlington locations on Columbia Pike and in Westover. While the menus of the two restaurants differ, both have the same mission of “helping homeless dogs and cats find forever homes.”

The restaurants support the locally-based non-profit Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation.

When Stray Cat heeded the county’s request to close down dining rooms in March 2020, Garcia said ownership never anticipated it would be more than two years before the restaurant reopened.

But a number of things didn’t work in their favor, including staffing shortages, not being well set up to do take-out and delivery, and the physical layout of the space.

“It’s a really narrow spot. Even when Virginia lifted some regulations to start to allow dine-in, bar seating still wasn’t allowed. Bar seating was, and still is, a big part of the Cat,” he says.

Ownership realized that to reopen, some renovations were in order. That meant knocking out the double-doored vestibule at the front of the restaurant to add more booths. Garcia says the construction has opened the space and has made it feel “much less crowded,” as well as providing space to eventually host live music

Ownership also made the decision to tweak the name and logo, switching from “The Stray Cat Cafe” to “Stray Cat Bar & Grill.”

This change is to better reflect the updated interior and menu, which will focus on “an elevated yet still casual dining experience” that will feature “gourmet comfort foods.” That includes quesadillas, nachos, salads, soups, and burgers.

Garcia says he heard from the community that many missed the Stray Cat’s burgers. So, they’ve decided to lean into that by “elevating that burger experience” along with giving the dishes “whimsical cat-themed names” like “Cat Scratch Fever” and “The Sphinx.” Also new at the restaurant are craft cocktails, something that Garcia says was missing in Westover.

What hasn’t changed at the Stray Cat, though, is the mission to help pets find homes.

Our dedication to the animal rescue is still our, our top priority and part of who we are in this small family,” Garcia says.

This past weekend was essentially a soft opening to work out any kinks. All went well, Garcia reports. For the moment, Stray Cat is only open for dinner except on Saturdays (when open all day) and is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The hope is to gradually extend hours.

After more than two years closed, Garcia says Stray Cat Bar & Grill is ready to serve the community.

“I’m ready to see us get busy again.”

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Welcome to the last weekend in July and a new round of open houses to explore.

There are currently 599 homes for sale in Arlington, according to Homesnap. Of those homes for sale, 342 are condos, 208 are detached homes and 49 are townhomes. The last 4 weeks saw 235 sales and 186 new listings.

Here’s a look at some of the open houses taking place in Arlington this weekend:

  • 1916 N. Underwood Street
    7 BR/6.5 BA Single-family home
    Noteworthy: Finished basement, carriage house garage, hardwood floors
    Listed: $2,299,900
    Open: Sunday, 1-3 p.m. (KW Metro Center)
  • 5130 38th Street N.
    4 BR/3 BA Single-family home
    Noteworthy: Back deck with stairs, gas fireplace, fenced backyard
    Listed: $1,525,000
    Open: Sunday, 1-3 p.m. (Kelly Basheer Garrett – TTR Sotheby’s International Realty)
  • 4916 17th Street N.
    3 BR/3 BA Single-family home
    Noteworthy: Expander upper level, gas fireplace, fenced backyard
    Listed: $1,200,000
    Open: Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. (Nancy Kane – Weichert Realtors)
  • 859 N. Kentucky Street
    4 BR/3 BA Single-family home
    Noteworthy: Remodeled, 2 wood burning fireplaces, patio
    Listed: $950,000
    Open: Sunday, 1-4 p.m. (Melissa Davis – RE/MAX West End)
  • 1109 N. Rochester Street
    3 BR/2.5 BA Single-family home
    Noteworthy: Brick patio, remodeled bathroom, carport
    Listed: $869,000
    Open: Sunday, 2-4 p.m. (David Lloyd – Weichert Realtors)
  • 3800 Langston Boulevard #306
    2 BR/2.5 BA Condo
    Noteworthy: Two levels, two balconies, floor-to-ceiling windows
    Listed: $750,000
    Open: Sunday, 1:30-3:30 p.m. (Kathleen Fong – KW Metro Center)

See all Arlington open house listings here.

Want your open house to appear here? You can now submit sponsored listings.

5130 38th Street N.

* Denotes sponsored listing

5130 38th Street N. image via Google Maps

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The young, mangy Fairlington fox that’s roaming around Fairlington and the efforts to trap it has become an object of fascination on local social networks.

The saga started over the past week or so when several community members started spotting a sickly, young fox wandering around streets and in between houses. Appearing on the verge of being hairless, it was clear that the fox had mange — a potentially fatal skin disease that causes loss of fur and is caused by microscope mites.

Beyond impacting foxes, mange is also dangerous to household pets and can cause severe itching in humans as well. The disease can potentially be resolved with medication, however.

Karen Dadey, Fairlington resident and a retired major in the U.S. Army, sprung into action. She contacted the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) and, then, proceeded to set up a trap herself in hopes of getting the fox to a wildlife rehabber as quickly as possible.

Dadey put a camera near the trap as well, baited it with a 7-Eleven cherry pie — at the advice of an expert, she said — and posted daily videos onto Nextdoor and the popular “Fairlington Appreciation Society” Facebook group in hopes of encouraging others to help.

Dadey admitted to ARLnow that this was her first time doing something of this nature, but felt like something needed to be done quickly.

“I’m just leaning in as a private citizen, trying to do the right thing for my neighborhood, to keep our pets safe and our wildlife safe,” she told ARLnow.

She ended up getting three other volunteers to help monitor the trap, replacing the bait and water bowl, and releasing any other animals that may have inadvertently wandered in. That included several squirrels and a neighborhood cat.

While many applauded her efforts in the comments, some argued that “capturing a wild animal is a really bad idea, not to mention illegal.” They urged her to “leave this to the professionals.” Those exhortations have been met from strong pushback from supporters of the amateur effort to save the fox.

Dadey called those positing critical comments “bullies.”

Images of a young, mangy fox wandering around Fairlington (image via Facebook)

Both Dadey and her critics, however, seem to approve of what happened next. Within days, the professionals at AWLA got wind of what was happening and replaced Dadey’s trap with one of theirs.

Chief of Animal Control Jennifer Toussaint posted on the neighborhood Facebook group, providing background on fox behaviors and advising against handling, interacting, or feeding the animals. She also cautioned that helping a fox with mange can be very challenging.

“For the young fox in the photos we want to be up front and honest with the public. Finding rehabbers willing to take a yearling fox with mange is near impossible,” Toussaint wrote in the post. “This illness is highly transmissible to other animals they have in care and they most commonly recommend humane euthanasia.”

Dadey said that at least one of these issues has been resolved, having already arranged with the Nirvana Ridge Wildlife Refuge near Culpepper, Virginia to take the young fox and nurse it back to health.

In the days since, though, the fox still hasn’t been caught.

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When Diana Gamerman was little, she wanted to do exactly what her older sister did.

The Arlington resident has a studio in Alexandria called DianaArt, where she sells her work, but it’s on Nextdoor where she have been gaining a degree of local fame.

Gamerman has been painting professionally since she was 22 years old, she told ARLnow. While she owes her initial interest in art to her sister, the now 80-year-old has continued her passion, specializing in watercolor, oil painting and sculpture work. Her work has even been featured in the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.

“[I’ve] done it all,” Gamerman joyfully said.

Gamerman’s inspiration comes from everyday life experiences. What she chooses to paint is influenced by things she likes — if she sees a beautiful landscape, she’ll create art from it. She also takes her inspiration from Wayne Thiebaud, a California artist who specialized in landscapes and cars.

She said watercolor is more convenient to use but she opts for oil pastel when the weather is good — “don’t have to worry about things flying away.”

One painting, of her music teacher, took three years to complete, she said.

Gamerman posts to Nextdoor, the social media website for neighbors, photos of her paintings, which are most often pictures of homes in the neighborhood. From time to time, she posts sketches of people sitting at Compass Coffee or pictures of her sculptures.

The posts have become something of a fixture of the local social network.

One post she made on Nextdoor, of a home in her neighborhood, garnered hundreds of likes and dozens of comments on her talent. Her feed shows dozens of paintings of “what is happening” in her neighborhood, at a development project, at her studio, at a coffee shop.

In another painting, vivid yellows and oranges mesh together to show scenes of workers at a construction site and another with workers doing road work.

“I can show you what is happening in my neighborhood because I love [to] paint the work men because they wear such bright colors,” she wrote with the post.

She called Nextdoor a “wonderful” platform where she can share her work and people reach out to her to commission paintings. Her posts are a way to make extra money and enjoy her time — another hobby of sorts, in addition to playing the banjo and mandolin, she said.

The site is also a place to find a sense of community that transcends the local and national controversies that prompt less neighborly discussions.

“Everybody makes nice comments on Nextdoor,” Gamerman said.

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Taqueria el Poblano at Penrose Square (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

It appears there’s already a new tenant set to move into the Penrose Square space that Taqueria el Poblano will be vacating.

A digital brochure recently disseminated by the commercial real estate agency KLNB advertises Sabores, a South American restaurant, as a new edition to Penrose Square. This new eatery looks to be the one moving into the space that will be vacated by Taqueria el Poblano when it closes down its Columbia Pike location at the end of August.

The brochure features two illustrated maps that both show Sabores occupying the space at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Adams Street.

Map showing Sabores moving into Penrose Square (image via screenshot/KLNB)

Beyond that, not much else is known. ARLnow has reached out to both KLNB and BM Smith, which owns the space, for more information about when Sabores could open and who the new restaurant’s ownership might be.

A KLNB representative declined to provide further details and BM Smith has yet to respond to multiple inquiries.

A Google search for Sabores, which translates to “flavors” in English, did not turn up any additional information about the opening.

Taqueria el Poblano announced in March it was closing its Columbia Pike location. After agreeing to a couple of lease extensions, the Southern California-inspired Mexican restaurant is now expected to serve its last margarita at the end of August.

Co-owner Thomas Stevens told ARLnow at the time the reason ownership was closing the Pike location was because of decreasing revenue and increasing rent. When the restaurant opened a decade ago, it was one of the first tenants at the then-newly-revitalized Penrose Square.

The other two Taqueria el Poblano locations, at Lee-Harrison Shopping Center and the original in Del Ray, are both remaining open.

Currently, Penrose Square has eleven businesses. The last change at the development was earlier this year when Takohachi Japanese Restaurant moved into a space which was formerly occupied by Josephine’s Italian Kitchen.

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Arlington’s summer days have always consisted of a sweltering combination of high humidity and temperatures. This month has been no exception.

Yet summer is also the season to venture out, try new things, and explore new places.

In the interest of remaining active while cooling down, here are eight tasty, cold goodies in Arlington you can try before summer ends.

1. Nutella ice cream from Nicecream

Nicecream in Clarendon (2831 Clarendon Blvd) uses the process of freezing ice cream with liquid nitrogen. Its selection of ice cream flavors rotates weekly and has flavors spanning from white chocolate peanut butter to grapefruit creamsicle. However, Nutella is a must-try.

2. Nutella açaí bowl from South Block

Similarly, did you know you can get some of that addictive chocolate hazelnut spread in your South Block açaí bowl? We did, so we figured you would want to try that to cool off. Topping off South Block’s Nutella açaí bowl are mixed granola, banana, strawberry, coconut and Nutella.

3. Peanut butter icebox pie from Bakeshop

Bakeshop in Clarendon (1025 N. Fillmore Street) is no ordinary bakery. Offering a slew of flavors of cupcakes, bread, cakes, cookies, pies and macarons, Bakeshop also offers vegan and gluten-free options. Its Peanut Butter Icebox Pie is the perfect pick-me-up for peanut butter lovers.

4. Ice cream cookiewich from Bakeshop

One of the most popular summer treats at Bakeshop that is a must-try is its ice cream Cookiewich. This Cookiewich consists of two mouth-watering chocolate chunk cookies enveloping vanilla ice cream. Bakeshop’s Cookiewich is, in the opinion of this reviewer, beyond any ice cream sandwich you have ever tried.

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Buffalo Wild Wings in Ballston (file photo)

It appears that the Buffalo Wild Wings in Ballston will close next month.

Earlier this month, a request was submitted to the county on behalf of the building owner JBG Smith to amend the site plan for the office building at 950 N. Glebe Road. In that request, it’s noted that the 7,318 square foot space on the ground floor of the building that currently is home to Buffalo Wild Wings is set to be vacated when the lease is up at the end of August.

“The [building] has never enjoyed strong street frontage for retail or restaurants, which led to lower sales for the existing tenant and contributed to their decision to vacate at the end of the lease in August 2022,” the statement of justification letter reads.

Upon learning of the restaurant’s intent to close, JBG Smith attempted to find a replacement tenant but was “unsuccessful.” In response, the developer is moving on and asking the county to add “retail equivalent uses” as a permitted use.

The hope is to turn the large space once home to the beer, wings and sports chain into an assortment of “lounges, conference rooms, co-working spaces, and a fitness center” as a way to “substantially upgrade the ground floor experience” for office tenants at 950 N. Glebe Road.

ARLnow has reached out to both Buffalo Wild Wings and JBG Smith to confirm the chain’s departure from Ballston. We’ve not heard back from either as of publication.

Ballston’s Buffalo Wild Wings opened a decade ago based in part on the success of the Crystal City location. It was expected to be one of the company’s top-performing restaurants in the country, per the regional manager at the time.

That does not seem to be the case, at least today. Recent reviews of the restaurant on both Google and Yelp say that it is often devoid of customers, that food items are frequently out of stock, and that the establishment is understaffed. A lack of customers has plagued many — though not necessarily all — restaurants on the western side of Glebe Road, as the Metro station entrance, plus most of Ballton’s businesses and foot traffic, are on the eastern side of the busy artery.

Overall, JBG Smith seems to be looking to spruce up 950 N. Glebe Road. The proposed updates include a 410-square-foot bump out for a fitness center, landscape changes, and an “indoor/outdoor tenant café-style area with operable windows,” along with more conference rooms and co-working spaces.

“These proposed amendments to Site Plan #331 will allow the [building] to compete in a struggling office and retail market,” the request says. “Securing new retail and office tenants during the uncertain economic environment of the last two years has proven difficult for the Applicant, especially given that it lacks tenant amenities (which are now proposed).”

Hat tip to Chris Slatt

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