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McAlister’s Deli, unnamed ‘national grocer’ coming to Old Keene Mill Shopping Center

Old Keene Mill Shopping Center is marshaling a new grocery store, multiple restaurants and other retailers to fill the void left behind by Whole Foods.

The space filled by the grocer until it opened a bigger store last October just down the road in Springfield Plaza is being subdivided into six different suites, and at least four of them have been leased, according to a site plan from property owner Federal Realty.

The confirmed newcomers will be McAlister’s Deli, Crimson Coward Chicken, Zips Dry Cleaner and European Wax Center, all opening in early 2025, a Federal Realty spokesperson says.

A chain started in 1989 by a dentist in Oxford, Mississippi, McAlister’s will open a 2,925-square-foot restaurant near the Rolling Road entrance to the West Springfield shopping center (8424 Old Keene Mill Road).

The deli serves sandwiches, salads, soups, giant spuds (i.e. baked potatoes) and a specialty sweet tea. Its 500-plus locations include ones at University Mall near Fairfax City, Worldgate Centre in Herndon and Mount Vernon Plaza in Hybla Valley.

McKaye Darling, owner of the upcoming Old Keene Mill franchise, says the company is “thrilled” to expand to West Springfield.

“Our location choice was strategic, factoring in demographics, foot traffic, and neighboring restaurants in order to elevate the West Springfield food scene,” Darling said. “Our goal is to deliver the same top-notch quality and service found across all of our locations while seamlessly integrating with the West Springfield community.”

For Crimson Coward, a growing Nashville-style hot chicken chain that started in Los Angeles, California, this will be its first location in Fairfax County. The business landed on the East Coast on Jan. 9, 2023 with an opening in Woodbridge, and Stafford and Maryland restaurants are also apparently in the works, per its website.

It will occupy 1,449 square feet in a row facing Rolling Road with European Wax Center, a national hair removal company that will open a 1,200-square-foot suite, and Zips Dry Cleaner, which will have 1,397 square feet.

The bulk of the former Whole Foods space will be turned into a new, 17,186-square-foot store for “a national grocer,” Federal Realty says, but that grocer’s identity remains a bit of a mystery.

The Washington Business Journal reported in March 2023 that Trader Joe’s had executed a lease for the space, which was previously about 24,000 square feet in size. A Trader Joe’s employee told FFXnow last July that the grocer will relocate from its current location in Springfield Plaza to Old Keene Mill Shopping Center in another “year or so.”

However, when asked if the “national grocer” is Trader Joe’s, the Federal Realty spokesperson said only that details will be shared when they’re available.

On the western end of the shopping center, a Japanese restaurant called Kanji Sushi has leased 4,843 square feet adjacent to Planet Fitness. The eatery is projected to open in mid to late 2024.

“We welcome these merchants to the Springfield community,” Federal Realty Senior Vice President of Asset Management Deirdre Johnson said in a statement. “These new, innovative dining and service providers further cement Old Keene Mill Shopping Center as a popular shopping and dining destination for the Springfield and greater Fairfax County community.”

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