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Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

Macarons, pretzels, rock climbing: latest additions to Rio

Le+Macaron+employee+Ally+Selby+takes+customer+orders+at+the+register+on+Feb.+3.+Le+Macaron+recently+opened+at+Rio+in+January%2C+offering+a+variety+of+sweet+pastries+and+drinks.+%5BRios%5D+got+a+great+atmosphere%2C+lots+of+people%2C+and+we+really+enjoy+the+community+that+we%E2%80%99re+in%2C+employee+Sebastian+Contreras+said.
Photo by Pragna Pothakamuri
Le Macaron employee Ally Selby takes customer orders at the register on Feb. 3. Le Macaron recently opened at Rio in January, offering a variety of sweet pastries and drinks. “[Rio’s] got a great atmosphere, lots of people, and we really enjoy the community that we’re in,” employee Sebastian Contreras said.

Within the local area, the Rio Washingtonian Center is a premier shopping and dining district for friends and families alike. With its surplus of entertainment, one can take a stroll along the lake, watch the latest film release at the theater and more. As the lakefront continues to grow, new stores and renovations have been added just in time for the start of a new year.

One of Rio’s most anticipated renovations was the addition of SportsRock Climbing Centers, a rock climbing gym located in the building that was previously occupied by Sport&Health. SportsRock has locations in Alexandria and Sterling and had its grand opening at Rio on Jan. 6. The gym facility has 60-foot rock walls— the highest you can find on the East coast. The gym offers different types of climbing classes for all ages and skill levels, as well as events and clinics.

SportsRock employee Kevin Johnson describes the uniqueness of the lakefront location. “Rio is an interesting location for a gym because, for most gyms, you have to search for them and go into warehouse districts to find them, which means you’re there specifically to rock climb. This is a really good location in terms of natural light; you get a beautiful view of the lake,” Johnson said.

Considering its accessible location, SportsRock can open new doors, especially for teenagers. The facility even offers an introduction to rock climbing class specifically for high-school-aged teens. “There’s an epidemic of loneliness and so forth. Actually, the teen kids, when climbing, seem to be remarkably well-adjusted because it’s not super competitive in terms of one student versus another. It’s always you versus the wall,” Johnson said.

Just a few treks away from SportsRock is a new location of the Auntie Anne’s pretzel chain. With the lack of Auntie Anne’s stores nearby, the Rio location can serve convenience for anyone craving a pretzel snack.

Despite opening just last summer, Auntie Anne’s has already been getting involved with the community. “We do school events and school fundraisers. Sometimes we cater for Quince Orchard High School, so we do things like that to get involved,” employee Sainab Jagne said.

Along with Auntie Anne’s, Rio was able to add the new Le Macaron pastry store to its sprawling list of eateries. It is the first location to open in Maryland, with over 75 branches throughout the United States. Le Macaron sells pastries such as macarons, gelatos and croissants in addition to sweet beverages.

Le Macaron employee Sebastian Contreras has a close relationship with the owners and states that the amount of time spent looking for the perfect location was significant. “We spent a lot of time looking for the right place and Rio just seemed like the best fit. It’s got a great atmosphere,” Contreras said.

The mellow vibes and ambiance in the store can provide a small break from Rio’s otherwise bustling environment. “I definitely think that the bright colors and the sweets give people an opportunity to just come in and sit, get something sweet, and just chill out for a bit,” Contreras said.

Whether it be food or leisure, Rio boasts an array of options for all to enjoy, particularly for youth in the community. More renovations are projected to open up later this year, including dim sum restaurant Han Spot, an IKEA pick-up point, and a dining pier on the lake for the Copper Canyon Grill and Restaurant.

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Pragna Pothakamuri, staff writer
Sophomore Pragna Pothakamuri is a staff writer in her first year on the Common Sense staff. In her free time, she enjoys writing, listening to music, and spending time with friends and family. You can reach out to her at [email protected].
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