Last Wednesday evening Dan Steadley rushed into a supermarket at Lee Highway and Spout Run in Arlington and asked the store manager for a check cashing application, a tone of urgency in his voice.

Steadley, who minutes before had driven to the Rosslyn Safeway to find a darkened store with whitewashed windows, had just discovered what hundreds of his Rosslyn neighbors knew about all week: the Lyon Village Giant.

"This is my first time here. I had to go to the Amoco station and ask directions," Steadley said.

Since Safeway closed the only grocery store in Rosslyn two weeks ago, business has been brisk at the Giants in Lyon Village and Virginia Square at 1015 N. Monroe St., say Giant officials.

And when business is brisk, so are the crowds.

Some have compared the recent weeknight Lyon Village Giant market scene to the panic shopping that usually grips area residents during a snowstorm, with a crowded parking lot and shoppers thronging the food aisles and swelling the checkout lines.

"We noticed it right away. People over there have nowhere else to shop," said Barry Scher, a spokesman for Giant Food Inc.

Scher said it was too early to say whether the crowds will continue to come to the Lyon Village store or be absorbed by other grocery stores in the area.

The Rosslyn Safeway will return in two years to its old location as part of a commercial high-rise development in the 1500 block of Wilson Boulevard.

Giant employes have also noticed the increase in work, especially on the weekends.

"This weekend we ran out of carts and baskets," said one cashier, who asked not to be identified. "Even if they open all the registers there are still lines -- some with 20 people," said the cashier.

Georgetown University graduate student Michael Wagner agreed. On a more subdued Sunday evening at Lyon Village, Wagner picked out a six-pack of beer for a party and recalled the store earlier in the week.

"I came last week at 6 p.m. The line was all the way back -- all the way to the express line. It was terrible. I just walked out. I went to People's and bought some spaghetti," Wagner said.

The departure of the Rosslyn Safeway, which leaves only one full-service grocery store in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, also adds to the problems of the elderly and residents without cars. A round-trip cab fare between Rosslyn and the Lyon Village Giant costs between $6 and $8, a fare that could prove a hardship for those on fixed incomes.

The Arlington Red Cross, however, may extend to the Wilson Boulevard and lower Rosslyn corridor its current shopping program that shuttles Arlingtonians over 60 years of age to local grocery stores. About 600 such residents throughout the county now take advantage of the transportation offered by the Red Cross, Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Jan Murray, director of community services for the Red Cross, stressed that the program is for the elderly and that shopping schedules will be tailored to times that the Red Cross volunteer drivers can accommodate.

"We're talking about people in financial need. If the need is demonstrated, we'll try to work them into what we've got or create a new route," Murray said. Those looking for information about the Red Cross transportation program can call 527-3010.

The strong-limbed who enjoyed the short jaunt to the Rosslyn Safeway may have to make adjustments, as Rosslynite Dana Meeker has.

"It's a lot less convenient. I used to walk to the Safeway. Now I have to wait until he gets home," said Meeker, nodding toward her husband, who drives the family car.