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Three local businesses win ‘shark-tank’ style competition for Tysons Corner Center spots

As the summer winds down, three new small, local brands will get to move into Tysons Corner Center rent-free, among other benefits.

The mall launched a DreamStart competition in May aimed at offering three local businesses — be that food vendor, maker, product, or just an idea — a shot at getting three months of free rent, promotional resources, visual merchandising, marketing support, and a grand opening event.

20 qualified applicants entered the competition. Nine were invited back, and the mall announced on Aug. 11 that it had selected three winners.

The first-place winner was Bisnonna Bakeshop, a traditional Italian bakery based in Annandale. The bakery’s website notes that it specializes in hand-rolled cannoli.

“Everything at Bisnonna Bakeshop is from-scratch and made-to-order, because everything we bake is made by hand, not machines,” the website says. “We do it just like our grandmas did: with our hands covered in flour and a rolling pin at our side, one batch at a time.”

According to a press release from Tysons Corner Center, Bisonna translates to great grandmother in Italian, and the name is an ode to the restaurant owners’ family matriarchs, who passed down recipes from generation to generation. The bakery will open in the former Gordon Biersch patio space.

“The bakeshop also takes inspiration with flavors that are connected with past travels and/or experiences,” the press release says. “For example, Bisnonna created a Dubrovnik cannoli inspired by their trip to Croatia, a Thai Coffee cannoli was inspired by their honeymoon to Thailand. Black Sesame was created after an ice cream flavor they enjoyed at SnoCream in Annandale. The bakeshop also has a zaatar biscotti in the works after travels to Palestine.”

The runner-ups were Garcon Melanine — a black-owned children’s fashion brand based near Quantico — and Popcorn Bag DC — a gourmet dessert bar with handmade, unique flavors of gourmet popcorn.

Established last November by Alicia Abbington, Garcon Melanine will be launching in the former Candy Heaven spot on the mall’s first floor near Wasabi Sushi.

According to Tysons Corner Center, Abbington’s fashion brand developed out of her frustrations with the limited clothing options she saw for boys like her son JJ.

“Every piece, every look is inspired by JJ’s cool, hip, and chill style at a reasonable price,” the press release says. “Alicia felt her collection fills the void that’s missing in boy’s sportswear fashion providing elevated options…She felt the only options for boy clothes always involved a fire truck and she was seeking more individuality and personality in boys’ fashion that didn’t break the bank.”

Garcon Melanine’s grand opening is scheduled for Aug. 28. Bisnonna Bakeshop and The Popcorn Bag DC are expected to open in early to mid-September.

Photo via Popcorn Bag DC/Instagram

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