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Dining at Pan Am Shopping Center - Lee Highway and Nutley Street off I-66 in Fairfax

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Pan Am Shopping Center is run by Federal Realty Investment Trust (I guess making it part of a "REIT"), and its main hub, Micro Center, has been a magnet for computer users all over the region for many, many years - I don't remember it ever not being there, although it can't be *that* old: There are currently 25 locations nationwide, and I suspect that the company must be trying to shift over to online purchasing - I wouldn't be betting the farm on walk-in computer retailers right now. Regardless, they've served a very valuable purpose for a long time, and should be remembered, regardless of what the future holds.

There's also a Safeway tucked into the northeast corner of the shopping center, functioning as a secondary hub (the Safeway may actually be larger and busier, but the Micro Center is (or was) of more importance). Michael's is the other large retailer here, unless you want to include CVS.

In terms of the Culinary Arts (now *there's* a term that has never been written in the same sentence as "Pan Am Shopping Center"), people have a surprising number of options, most of which are quick eats for shoppers on the go.

For me, the most interesting thing about Pan Am Shopping Center is that it houses a Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese restaurant that are probably closer in proximity to each other than any other such triad in the Washington, DC area: Phở Thăng Long, Bangkok St., and Lo'sVietThaiChin.JPG "Thăng Long" ("Soaring Dragon") was the capital of Đại Việt (during the first of its two periods) from 1010-1397, and has a long, complex, fascinating history that's worth reading about - you can literally get a PhD by studying this one sentence, if you take it far enough (well, why not?) VietThaiChin2.JPG Lo's.JPG BangkokSt.JPG

Of particular, but fleeting, interest, seeing that there has been virtually no publicity about it, is California Shabu-Shabu, the third location of a California-based franchise (I assume it's a franchise), which just opened this past Monday: CAShabuShabu1.JPG CAShabuShabu2.JPG To the best of my knowledge, this is the only pure shabu-shabu restaurant in the area, although you can find shabu-shabu at other restaurants such as Tachibana. There are entire businesses whose models rely on breaking news such as this, with big, splashy, pictures and headlines; I just can't muster up the excitement.

The stalwart, Greek-owned, family-centric Pan Am Restaurant has been in business for 25 years, and is typical of what you see in numerous strip malls across the Virginia suburbs (think: McLean Family Restaurant, La Casa, etc.): PanAmRestaurant.JPG PanAmRestaurant2.JPG

The sports bar and downscale restaurant franchise, Glory Days Grill, which surprisingly has a couple dozen locations nationwide (concentrated in Virginia and Maryland), unsurprisingly has one of them here: GloryDays1.JPG 

Not worthy of being photographed, but available in this shopping center, are a McDonald's right out by the entrance, and then tucked away in the relatively desolate Lee Highway side of Safeway: Baja Fresh, Starbucks, Domino's, and Subway.

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