The culinary scene at Cedar Park Shopping Center is about to heat up, with three new restaurants planning to open this winter, even after one tenant recently bowed out of the Vienna strip mall.
Crepes & Karak Cafe (280 Cedar Lane SE) shuttered on Aug. 30 after more than four years at the shopping center. A sign posted to the door indicates that the eatery will be moving to a new location but does not mention where that might be.
“We want to make sure that we have enough kitchen space to provide our services,” the sign says. “Thank you for your support and understanding.”
Crepes & Karak did not return requests for comment by publication time.
When Cedar Park celebrated the completion of an extensive renovation in November, Crepes & Karak owner Ashraf Hamid told Tysons Reporter that he hoped the shopping center’s new look would attract more customers and foot traffic after his business saw a 60% drop in sales following its two-week shutdown for the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
Meanwhile, Cedar Park’s revitalization could soon kick into a near gear, as property owner First Washington Realty has leased more than 6,000 square feet of space combined to a trio of restaurants.
Sushi Koji (262H Cedar Lane) has been a decade in the making for husband-and-wife owners Hyung Joon Lee and Grace Park.
Though he’s Korean, Lee has spent years training and working as a chef at Japanese restaurants in the D.C. area, including Sushi Taro in D.C., where he learned from owner-chef Nobu Yamazaki. He has also won National Sushi Society competitions and other awards in both the U.S. and Japan, according to Park.
However, this is the couple’s first attempt at starting their own restaurant.
“Hyung Joon has always wanted to make good quality food and is excited that he is able to do so by opening his own restaurant,” Park told Tysons Reporter. “He will constantly develop and change the menu using fresh ingredients for every season.”
In addition to sushi, the menu’s primary focus will be on ramen, which will feature fresh noodles made from scratch. Dishes will use shio koji, the fermented seasoning that gives the restaurant its name.
Park, who is decorating and working with professional designers to set up the restaurant, says they started looking for possible locations in August. The Town of Vienna stood out for its budding foodie culture, but actually landing the vacant, 1,500 square-foot site in Cedar Park took some luck.
“It actually is kind of competitive,” Park said of finding retail space in the town. “We were surprised we were able to open the restaurant in Vienna, so we’re very excited about that.”
America’s Best Wings
Cedar Park will also soon be home to Fairfax County’s first America’s Best Wings, though the national chicken wing chain has more than a dozen locations in Maryland as well as sites in Woodbridge and Manassas.
The Vienna location (262E Cedar Lane) will be the 11th that Tysons resident Mohammed Karim has opened since he started franchising with America’s Best Wings in 2012. He also owns the Woodbridge restaurant, one in Richmond, six of the Maryland franchises, and two in D.C.
“I’ve been in Tysons Corner for about 10 years, and I always thought maybe I should have a store in this area, and here we are now,” Karim said. “I am really excited.”
Karim says his franchises use only fresh wings, not frozen ones. The chicken is also halal, and the wings are tossed with homemade butter and seasonings.
The permitting process has been a challenge, slowed down in part by the pandemic, but Karim hopes to open the new restaurant within the next four months. A permit for renovations to the 1,900 square-foot space was issued on Oct. 6.
“We just finished architecture,” Karim said. “We have our interior designer working on it. It will be a very modern, high-end restaurant. People will just love it, not only the food, the environment, the restaurant.”
Occupying a 3,310 square-foot venue in between Sushi Koji and America’s Best Wings will be Lezzet (262G Cedar Lane), an expansion of a family-owned Turkish restaurant in Centreville.
Deriving its name from the Turkish word for “delicious,” the restaurant serves flatbread, seafood, lunch wraps, grilled meat, salad, and various spreads, mezze appetizers, and side dishes. The menu is designed to accommodate all kinds of dietary restrictions, offering a variety of vegan and vegetarian options, Lezzet says.
Lezzet’s applications for liquor licenses have been pending with the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority since Sept. 3, and Fairfax County processed a request for an interior alteration permit on Sept. 27.
While operating the existing restaurant during the pandemic has been challenging, the owners are aiming for late 2021 or early 2022 to open the Vienna location.
“COVID-19 took an toll on all small businesses,” Lezzet said by email. “It has been quite the journey to open our second location. However, efforts are still being made to have an successful date of arrival.”
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