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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.”