Joon has expanded its offerings in Tysons with the addition of a bar and patio.

Named after a poetic Farsi term for “wine,” May Bar began serving customers inside the Persian restaurant at 8045 Leesburg Pike yesterday (Thursday). The launch was timed for late spring to coincide with the opening of an outdoor patio that will host DJs on Friday nights going forward, Joon co-owner Reza Farahani told FFXnow.

Farahani and owner and chef Chris Morgan designed Joon’s space to accommodate a bar and lounge that will showcase the restaurant’s drinks, while the main dining room focuses on the food menu cultivated by Morgan and fellow chef Najmieh Batmanglij.

“By setting this up as a separate brand, we can basically highlight the fact that people can come for happy hours, and it’s not a restaurant, per se,” Farahani said. “That section of the lounge, they can relax and enjoy a cocktail or some wine, and…after dinner, they can come and hang out and enjoy themselves.”

May Bar follows similar operating hours to Joon, opening from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Sunday. The restaurant and bar are both closed on Mondays.

Consisting of a 2,000-square-foot lounge with 80 chairs and the 1,500-square-foot patio, which can seat 44 people, the bar offers seasonal cocktails inspired by West Asian and Mediterranean flavors as well as beer and some non-alcoholic beverages, including tea and coffee. Joon will also expand its wine list with the bar, Farahani says.

Guided by beverage director Oluwapelumi Fagbenro, many of the cocktails available this spring take advantage of the availability of fresh fruit and produce purchased from Moon Valley Farm in Woodsboro, Maryland.

“For our Joon mint julep, which we will be launching with the bar, we will be using their organic mint and their organic strawberries to make that beverage, along with some of the other herbs that we’ll be incorporating into our other drinks,” Farahani said.

May Bar also serves food curated by Morgan, including chicken wings, falafel, fried calamari, lamb and pistachio meatballs, Lahma-Joon (a Turkish flatbread) and a Joon burger made out of kubideh-style ground beef.

The launch closes out what appears to be a successful first year of business for Joon, which took over the former Chef Geoff’s space in Fairfax Square on June 13, 2023.

Joon took the 23rd spot on Washingtonian’s 2024 list of the “100 Very Best Restaurants” in the D.C. area, making it the only ranked entry from Fairfax County. Batmanglij and Morgan also made the James Beard Awards’ semifinals earlier this year for its “Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic” category.

Being in Tysons has resulted in a “very cosmopolitan” and diverse customer base that includes both non-Iranians who may not be familiar with the full variety of the country’s cuisine and Iranians “excited about the fact that they have an upscale place that is more than just a kabob shop,” according to Farahani.

“We’re seeing a lot more regulars, people that are coming back more often,” he said. “Everything from lunch to dinner and happy hours, etcetera, we think we’ve been able to create a menu that is very appealing to a broad range of people with different tastes.”

Joon’s first year also saw the launch of The Kitchen Collective, a “virtual” food hall where customers can pick up online orders from eateries developed by Farahani, Morgan and other chefs that otherwise don’t have a physical presence in Northern Virginia.

Currently, the participants are Pizza Serata, the Lebanese kabab shop Yasmine and Franki’s, which bakes cookies and was named after Morgan’s daughter. The team hopes to add two more concepts — El Oso, which will serve Mexican street food, and San Tokki, whose name suggests a Japanese focus — after May Bar gets settled in, likely in the fall, according to Farahani.

Taking advantage of roughly 9,400 square feet of space, Joon, May Bar and The Kitchen Collective are intended to complement each other, creating a place where people in the Tysons area can “come and enjoy themselves throughout the day,” Farahani told FFXnow.

“Whether they want good food or a wide variety or beverages, we’re able to fill their needs,” he said.

Read more on FFXnow…

Apollo, a labrador mix up for adoption from Pet Connect Rescue (courtesy Woofie’s)

Owners of six Woofie’s franchises in Northern Virginia are hosting a “Paws in the Park” pet adoption event tomorrow (Saturday) at Wolf Trap National Park.

Participating Woofie’s include Reston/Herndon, Ashburn-Leesburg, McLean, Western Loudoun, South Riding-Aldie and Fairfax. Woofie’s mobile pet services include dog walking, grooming, nail trimming, Bed ‘n Biscuit pet stays, overnight and daytime pet sitting, and other personalized services for area pet owners.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, with a rain date of May 19 if necessary, at Wolf Trap Farm Park.

The Woofie’s businesses will have about 20 mobile spa vans on site, offering free nail trims and Wash ‘n Go baths for rescued dogs and pups up for adoption, and special event pricing for families who bring their own pets for grooming (as time permits/allows for all services). Parking is free.

Ridgeside K9, with professional dog training, and Keller Williams Realty are sponsoring the event.

A silent auction with gift baskets from sponsors and Woofie’s will be available for attendees to bid on with all proceeds going to the animal shelters.

Participating shelters include:

  • Pet Connect Rescue
  • Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter
  • Operation Paws for Homes
  • Friends of Homeless Animals, Aldie
  • Canine Companions for Independence
  • Safe Haven Puppy Rescue
  • A Forever Home Rescue Foundation
  • Humane Society of Fairfax County
  • Humane Society of Loudoun County
  • LOVEPAWS Rescue
  • Wolf Trap Animal Rescue Virginia

There will be multiple food trucks offering tasty bites, DJ William Linne spinning tunes, pet photography, and several other participating vendors who will provide baskets or other support for the animal communities, including:

  • LuvMyDog
  • Whiskers, Paws and Love Inc.
  • Philip Martin, author of “Tails from Tibet,” with leadership lessons for young lives, from pets
  • Disorderly Chic
  • Perfectly Pawsitive
  • The Farmer’s Dog
  • Pet Wants Chantilly
  • Perigee Tribal and Wildlife Arts

This article was written by FFXnow’s news partner InsideNoVa.com and republished with permission. Sign up for InsideNoVa.com’s free email subscription today.

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A Fairfax Connector bus to Tysons (staff photo by James Jarvis)

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) has the green light to apply for a federal grant to replace dozens of buses in its Fairfax Connector fleet.

However, none of the new buses will be all-electric, despite the county’s earlier pledges to electrify its fleet of vehicles.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved FCDOT’s request on May 7 to apply for $128.1 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to purchase a total of 72 buses, including 60 hybrid and 12 diesel models.

“I’m very pleased with where we’ve gone and hopefully, we can go to that next level and make them non-emitting,” Mount Vernon Supervisor Dan Storck said before the vote. “But I think, at this point in time, anything we can do with e-hybrid and hybrid is definitely on the right road.”

In February, DOT announced it planned to allocate $1.5 billion for Low or No Emission Grant and Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities programs “to support the transition of the nation’s transit fleet to the lowest polluting and most energy efficient transit vehicles.”

According to the Federal Transit Administration’s website, the Low-No Emission program offers funding to state and local governments for buying or leasing zero-emission and low-emission buses, along with the necessary facilities to support them.

Similarly, Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities helps localities fund new bus projects, including updates, replacements, and purchases of vehicles and related equipment. It also supports building or upgrading bus-related facilities to make them more environmentally friendly.

Aiming to reach carbon neutrality by 2040, Fairfax County introduced an operational energy strategy in 2021 whose goals included ceasing diesel bus purchases after fiscal year 2024, which ends on June 30, and fully transitioning all buses and fleet vehicles to electric or other non-carbon-emitting sources by 2035.

However, the county’s facilities still lack the infrastructure needed to maintain battery electric buses, holding up the transition.

“Funding, engineering design, and construction of infrastructure will be required to move beyond the zero emission pilot phases,” FCDOT spokesperson Freddy Serrano told FFXnow.

He said the county is choosing diesel buses because there are no available hybrid models to replace 12 30-foot buses that need to be retired. The remaining 60 buses will be 40 feet long.

Fairfax Connector operates more than 300 buses, carrying approximately 26,000 riders each day on 93 different routes — some of which will soon be changing.

The county is currently studying bus electrification with a pilot program that added eight battery-powered electric buses to the Connector fleet last fall. According to Serrano, the program will be critical in guiding future decisions about transitioning the entire bus fleet to zero emissions.

Currently, there is no set timeline for completing the pilot program, but FCDOT expects to publish the results of a Zero Emission Bus Study later this year.

“The schedule for transitioning to carbon free buses is dependent on several factors and will be updated continually as the technology advances,” Serrano said.

Fairfax County Public Schools rolled out 42 new electric school buses last month that were purchased using a federal funding allocated through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act.

The grantees will be announced later this summer or in the fall, per a county staff report. If approved, the county would be responsible for covering 20% for a local cash match requirement of up to $14.2 million.

Read more on FFXnow…

The country band Delta Spur performs on the Plaza at Tysons Corner Center for the mall’s 2023 summer concert series (courtesy Tysons Corner Center)

Fresh produce, good dogs and live music are coming to the Plaza at Tysons Corner Center this summer.

The mall has announced an extensive lineup of events for the next few months, highlighted by the introduction of the Giving Garden, a 500-square-foot urban farm that was installed on the Plaza Wednesday night (May 15).

Created in partnership with MicroHabitat, a Canada-based urban farming company, the garden will be active in May through October and support over 50 kinds of fruits, vegetables and herbs. Starting May 31, live harvests will be held at 2 p.m. every Friday with live music and tastings, a press release says.

The Giving Garden will get a grand opening celebration today (Friday) on the Plaza (1961 Chain Bridge Road) from 2-4 p.m. The event will include a tour, “garden-themed” refreshments, live music, and remarks by representatives from MicroHabitat, Fairfax County, mall owner Macerich and the nonprofits Hands on Harvests and Food for Others.

Food for Others, which assists residents in need throughout Northern Virginia, will receive three harvests a month delivered directly from the farm to its distribution center in Merrifield (2938 Prosperity Avenue). The farm will also give one harvest a month to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, whose participants will learn about sustainability and pick out crops to take home during regular guided harvests.

“This program will help Club kids learn more about nutrition and growing their own food while also helping the community learn more about our ‘ALL IN’ campaign,” Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington President and CEO Gabrielle Webster said, referring to the organization’s ongoing campaign to raise $7 million for future programs.

Outside of the urban farm, Tysons Corner Center is bringing back several activities that will be familiar from summers past, including free concerts, game nights and Paws on the Plaza.

Summer Concert Series: Double Features (June 1, June 15 and July 20)

There will be two live performance sets on each date, with the first band at 4-6:30 p.m. and the second from 7-9 p.m.

“The series will feature local bands such as Party Fowl, Cazhmiere, Billy Twilde, and more,” the press release says. “Come out and enjoy takeout and cocktails from our restaurants while jamming to your favorite groove!”

Paws on the Plaza (Saturday, June 8, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.)

The 3rd annual Paws on the Plaza will feature a dog park and splash pad, pet vendors, a dog food truck, a beer bar for humans, a free photo booth and caricatures, giveaways, and rescue groups with dogs available for adoption. New for this year is a “Confidence Course” run by trainers from event sponsor Becky’s Pet Care.

There will be live music from 4-6 p.m., and confirmed vendors include K9 Mastery, Woofbowl, Dogtopia and Pet Grand Hotel.

Game Night Thursdays (June 13-Aug. 22, 5-7 p.m.)

DC Fray will host a rotating series of games every Thursday on the Plaza, including cornhole tournaments, bingo and ping pong. There’s no cost to participate, and prizes will be awarded.

Wellness Sundays (May 19-Aug. 25)

Every Sunday, the Plaza will have complimentary fitness sessions led by instructors from Fabletics, Under Armour, Eat.Yoga.Drink. and The St. James. The full schedule can be found the mall’s website.

Read more on FFXnow…

Morning Notes

The splash pad at the Mosaic District in Merrifield has been turned on (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Congress Approves More National Airport Flights — “More long-haul flights are coming to Reagan National Airport. And people annoyed by helicopter noise will continue to have their voice heard. Those are two of the main local impacts from the FAA reauthorization bill just approved by Congress. The bill now awaits President Biden’s signature.” [ARLnow]

Lake Fairfax Skating Rink Now Open — “The new inline skate rink at Lake Fairfax Park is open for business! The Fairfax County Park Authority and Washington Capitals joined to commemorate the opening of the inline skate rink on Saturday, May 11 with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony and free hockey skills clinic.” [FCPA]

Herndon Adopts New Budget — “The Herndon Town Council has adopted a Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 Budget of $74,632,184, a 19.9 percent increase from the adopted FY 2024 Budget…While most property owners will receive higher tax bills in FY 2025 due to rising real estate values, the town’s real estate tax rate remains at $0.26 per $100 of assessed value.” [Town of Herndon]

Tysons Startup Highest Valued in N. Va. — “Somatus, established in 2016, leads as the highest-valued unicorn in Northern Virginia, according to CBInsights. A unicorn is a privately held startup company with a valuation of $1 billion or more…Currently Somatus is operating in 34 states, with more than 1,200 employees, and will care for more than 160,000 lives in 2024.” [Fairfax County Economic Development Authority]

Fairfax City Wins Fitness Challenge — “GO FAIRFAX!! We are thrilled to announce Fairfax City has officially won the Mayors’ Fitness Challenge this year! A huge thank you to everyone who participated, and to our fellow competitors, the Town of Vienna and the City of Falls Church!” [City of Fairfax/Facebook]

Oakton Mental Health Nonprofit Reports High Demand — “Oakton-based HopeLink saw record demand for its services in 2023, fielding more than 180,000 crisis calls, texts and chats from people facing life crises, according to nonprofit representatives. Officials with the behavioral health organization, which serves all of Northern Virginia, say they expect the increased demand to continue.” [Inside NoVA]

Local Nonprofits Get Boost From Grants — “Dozens of Northern Virginia nonprofits recently received grants from the equity-focused Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, and a good chunk of that funding will benefit low-income families around the Richmond Highway Corridor.” [On the MoVe]

It’s Friday — There is a 20% chance of showers starting after 2pm, with partly sunny skies and a high temperature near 75 degrees. At night, showers are more likely, mainly after 2am, with an 80% chance of precipitation. The temperature will drop to a low around 59. [NWS]

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Fairfax County’s annual Summer Entertainment Series will kick off on June 1 (via Fairfax County Park Authority/Twitter)

The Fairfax County Park Authority has composed a slate of summer shows, including Grammy honorees, drive-in movies and a range of dancers.

Nearly 200 live events will take place across more than a dozen locations between June 1 and Aug. 31.

Last year’s Summer Entertainment Series drew more than 37,000 people to 189 concerts across the county, according to FCPA Performing Arts Production Manager Sousan Frankeberger.

“They let music lift their spirits, raise their hopes, awaken their memories, forge friendship between cultures and kindle a sense of belonging,” Frankeberger said in a press release.

The full 2024 show schedule is available to download. The FCPA is also offering a “performance search” function, where users can filter by location, performance type and other factors.

The 196 planned outdoor concerts and movies are grouped into various series spread across 17 locations around the county, with each spanning several weeks of the summer:

  • Braddock Nights: Fridays, 7:30 p.m., at Royal Lake Park (5344 Gainsborough Drive) and Lake Accotink Park (7500 Accotink Park Road), with children’s events on Saturdays, 10 a.m., at Wakefield Park (8100 Braddock Road)
  • Franconia Nights: Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m., at Leonadus K. Plenty Amphitheater (6601 Telegraph Road)
  • Hunter Mill Melodies: Thursdays, 7:30 p.m., at Frying Pan Farm Park Kidwell Farm (2709 West Ox Road), with children’s events on Wednesdays, 10 a.m., at the Frying Pan Farm Park Visitor Center (2739 West Ox Road)
  • Mount Vernon Nights: Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30 p.m., primarily at Grist Mill Park (4710 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway) and Workhouse Arts Center (9518 Workhouse Way), respectively
  • Providence Presents: Thursdays, 7:30 p.m., at Nottoway Park (9537 Courthouse Road) and Saturdays, 6 p.m., in the Mosaic District (2985 District Avenue)
  • Springfield Nights: Wednesdays, 7 p.m., at Burke Lake Park (7315 Ox Road), with children’s events on Saturdays, 10 a.m., at Burke Lake Park Amphitheater (7315 Ox Road).
  • Spotlight by Starlight: Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, 8:30 p.m., at Mason District Park Amphitheater (6621 Columbia Pike) and Saturdays, 7:30 p.m., at Ossian Hall Park (7900 Heritage Drive). Children’s events will be on Saturdays, 10 a.m., at the Mason District Park Amphitheater.
  • Music at Arrowbrook Centre Park (2351 Field Point Road): Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.
  • Evenings on the Ellipse: Thursdays, 5:30 p.m., at the Fairfax County Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway)
  • Starlight Cinema Drive-in Movies: Saturdays at the Sully Historic Site (3650 Historic Sully Way), with gates opening at 6 p.m., a pre-show for kids at 7 p.m., and movies at dark

Finally, the Arts in the Parks children’s entertainment series will be spread across six locations, with dates on Saturday mornings, Saturday evenings and Wednesday mornings.

The season kicks off with a Mount Vernon Night on Saturday, June 1. The U.S. Navy Band Cruisers will play from their repertoire, which includes original songs, jazz, classic rock and pop.

The series concludes with a concert from Minnesota-based pop/rock band Cloud Cult at Arrowbrook Centre Park in Herndon on Saturday, Aug. 31.

If a show is at risk of getting rained out, those planning to attend can call 703-324-7469 an hour before the scheduled start time.

Photo via Fairfax County Park Authority/Twitter

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The Fairfax County School Board holds a public hearing on the Fiscal Year 2025 budget (via FCPS/Youtube)

With just days to go before Fairfax County Public Schools finalizes its fiscal year 2025 budget, teachers voiced frustration this week with the news that school employees will get lower-than-expected pay raises.

As it stands, the Fairfax County School Board is on track to adopt a revised budget that includes a 3% pay increase for all school employees, down from the initially proposed 6%, starting July 1.

However, school staff, parents and education advocates argue the increase isn’t enough to keep teachers — especially those in special education and Title I or understaffed schools — from leaving for other districts or quitting the profession altogether.

“The staffing shortages are going to be felt differently across different positions,” Emily VanDerhoff, a first grade teacher at Hunt Valley Elementary School, said during the school board’s public hearing on Tuesday (May 14). “I would like to suggest taking into consideration the conditions most hard hit by shortages for stronger increases to help with recruitment and retention.”

According to publicly available data, FCPS boasts approximately 25,000 full-time staff, including about 12,675 teachers. Currently, the division anticipates needing to fill nearly 600 vacancies, mostly for teaching positions, for the coming 2024-2025 school year.

Fairfax County isn’t alone, as school divisions across the D.C. area have grappled with a high number of staff vacancies for several years. The Washington Post previously reported that FCPS lost 726 teachers during the 2022-2023 school year and 896 in 2021-2022.

While pay raises have historically served as a tool for FCPS to enhance staff retention and recruitment, many school employees remain unimpressed by the division’s efforts.

At the public hearing, VanDerhoff noted that a 3% raise might “seem fair on the surface,” but she argued it actually benefits those with higher salaries, widening the income gap among teachers.

Instead, VanDerhoff said the school board should consider allocating more to the lowest paid employees to “provide a more equitable distribution” of the $165 million in additional funding from the county.

“The staffing shortages are going to be felt differently across different positions I would like to suggest taking into consideration the conditions most hard hit by shortages for stronger increases to help with recruitment and retention,” she said.

Local school and county officials have attributed underwhelming teacher salaries to the state, repeatedly referencing a recent study by the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission of Virginia (JLARC) that found that the state underfunds FCPS by about $568.6 million annually.

Earlier this week, the state approved a biennial budget that includes funding for 3% teacher pay raises. It remains unclear whether Fairfax County will receive enough money to increase its pay raises beyond 3%.

Although Superintendent Michelle Reid’s amended budget halves teacher pay raises, she indicated at a school board meeting last week that she would aim for as close to 6% as possible if the new state budget provides more funding than anticipated.

While teachers and parents at the public hearing acknowledged the state’s role in underfunding the school system, one teacher criticized the county for prioritizing higher wages for other county employees, such as police, because they were “first to the bargaining table.”

“If this is the mindset of those who hold the purse strings, then we FCPS employees, the school board and the community need to work together to move the minds of the Board of Supervisors and the state,” Woodley Hills Elementary School teacher Durann Thompson said. “Schools in Virginia had been underfunded for far too long, and the impact is teacher dissatisfaction, which has led to the teacher shortage we are currently experiencing.”

Unions representing employees in the county’s police and fire departments secured collective bargaining agreements in December that guaranteed pay raises and other benefits. FCPS workers won the right to bargain last year, but haven’t yet elected a representative for future contract negotiations.

The Fairfax County Federation of Teachers and Fairfax Education Association, which banded together to form the Fairfax Education Unions, announced on May 8 that they have filed for union elections.

A second public hearing on the budget that would’ve been held last night (Wednesday), if needed, has been canceled. The school board plans to adopt its final budget on Thursday, May 23.

Read more on FFXnow…

The side of a Fairfax Connector bus (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax Connector is gathering public input on a plan to adjust bus service while increasing fares by 12.5%.

If approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, the fare changes will take effect on July 1. The Connector’s policy is to match Metrobus fares, which will increase in an effort by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to address a budget shortfall.

Riders on one express route, however, will get some relief. The fare for Route 599, which provides rush-hour service between the Reston North Park and Ride and the Pentagon Metro station, will decrease from $7.50 to $4.80 to match the Connector’s other express bus rates.

At a virtual public meeting on Tuesday (May 14), Fairfax County Department of Transportation staff also outlined proposed service changes that are slated to take effect in December, including the addition of two routes.

The service adjustments follow a first phase of changes in the Centreville, Chantilly, Vienna and Tysons (CCVT) areas that will take effect on June 22. The changes are intended to provide access to the new Springfield and Monument Drive commuter parking garages, which are supposed to open this summer.

Some riders who attended Tuesday’s meeting expressed exasperation with Fairfax Connector’s current routes, saying it can take two hours to reach places that are only 15 minutes away by car.

A Reston resident said her son takes three buses to reach Northern Virginia Community College’s (NOVA) Sterling campus.

“Is there any way to make it easier for the students? He’s been struggling this year. The class starts at 9:30 a.m., and he has to leave home at 6:45 a.m. to get there on time,” she said. “It’s three buses for a short distance. That’s ridiculous. I’m trying to motivate him to go, but I’m afraid that one day he’s going to give up.”

Rayana Nabih said he just completed his first year at NOVA and relies on Fairfax Connector.

“I can’t [take] two hours to get to a morning class that starts at 8 a.m.,” Nabih said. “I’ve had to take Uber with the money I’m trying to save to go to Mason, and relying on Fairfax Connector has caused me a lot of issues…It’s exhausting, it’s hard for me. I feel like there isn’t any convenient transportation for low-income families.”

FCDOT planners said they can examine ridership patterns to see what options could make it easier to reach NOVA’s campus in Loudoun County. The Connector began serving the campus more than a year ago; before that, there was no way to get there from Fairfax County by bus. Ridership isn’t large, but it’s growing, staff said.

“The planning team has done a really great job of trying to add access to as many schools [as we can] as quickly as we can, given the budget that’s available,” Kala Quintana, Fairfax Connector’s head of marketing, said.

The proposed route changes in phase two of the CCVT plan include:

Route 610

The new route will link George Mason University, Fairfax County Government Center, Route 29 and Centreville. It also provides a link to the new Monument Drive Park & Ride, which will have 820 free parking spaces and enable riders to transfer to 15 other Connector routes, the Fairfax CUE bus and Metrobus.

It will operate weekdays from 5:30 a.m. to 10:21 p.m. every 30 minutes at peak times and hourly at off-peak times. Buses will run hourly on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 7:51 p.m. but will not operate on Sundays.

Route 670

The second proposed new route links Chantilly with the Franconia Metro station, via Route 50, the Monument Drive garage, Vienna Metro station and I-495. Transfers to 11 other Connector routes are available, as well as the Fairfax CUE, Metrobus and the Virginia Railway Express (VRE).

It will operate only on weekdays at peak times: 5-9:52 a.m. and 3:20-7:57 p.m.

Route 921 (Herndon Circulator): Buses will run every 30 minutes at off-peak hours, and services will end at 7:45 p.m. instead of 7:48 p.m. Planners say the changes will improve reliability.

Route 335 (Fort Belvoir): Buses are being detoured because the John Kingman gate at Fort Belvoir is frequently closed. Fairfax Connector plans to make this route change permanent.

Detours could also become permanent for Route 351 and Route 352, which both connect the Transportation Security Administration’s Springfield headquarters and the Franconia Metro station. Gate closures implemented by the TSA forced the buses to change routes.

A second virtual public hearing on the proposed changes will be held at 7 p.m. today (Thursday), and a survey will be available online until May 28.

After gathering public input this spring, Fairfax Connector will continue refining CCVT Phase 2 and present it to the Board of Supervisors for approval in the fall.

Read more on FFXnow…

Peter Chang opened at 6715 Lowell Avenue in McLean on Oct. 12, 2023 (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Two relative newcomers to Fairfax County’s dining scene have found favor with the Washington Post’s food critic.

Tom Sietsema, a critic for the newspaper since 2000, included The Maple Room in Vienna and Peter Chang in McLean on his round-up of the 26 best new restaurants in the D.C. area. The list was published yesterday (Wednesday) as part of a spring 2024 dining guide to celebrate “what’s new, but also what’s worth your time and money,” Sietsema wrote.

The Maple Room opened at 377 Maple Avenue West last November, replacing Vienna’s long-standing Amphora diner. The higher-end restaurant was developed by Mac St. Hospitality Group, which also runs SouvlakiBar in Oakton, and serves a variety of American dishes, including steak, salmon and lobster rolls.

In his spring dining guide, Sietsema praises the restaurant for “smart service” and decor described as “handsome” and “inviting,” as well as the cooking by chef Cameron Cousin, whose past work includes the Fog Point oyster bar in Arlington’s recently replaced Assembly food hall.

“Cousin taps into a lot of diners’ wish lists with his winning roundup of oysters Rockefeller, French onion soup, ricotta scattered with mushrooms, and a strapping pork chop that’s pure comfort (and sweetly served with apple sauce inside hollowed crab apples),” Sietsema wrote. “The cocktails are Big City good, and dessert includes strawberries and whipped cream in puff pastry with strawberry-pink gelato.”

Sietsema notes that the atmosphere at The Maple Room can “seem chummy,” since many of the clientele are acquaintances of owners Christos and Effie Sarantis, who have lived in the area for 45 years.

Prolific chef Peter Chang opened the 11th location of his eponymous restaurant at 6715 Lowell Avenue in October. The McLean site was his first in Fairfax County, though his family has two other concepts — Mama Chang and Lu Wei by Peter Zhang — in Fairfax City.

Late last month, Mama Chang got lauded by the New York Times, which listed it as one of the 25 best restaurants in the D.C. area right now.

Sietsema says Peter Chang’s menu in McLean is “a challenge to conquer” because of its length, but some dishes may be familiar to the chef’s fans, including the dumplings and a tongue-numbing, dry-fried chicken.

“I’m having a blast trying to make my way through the possibilities, which recently included fried squid and peanuts, a dish whose chile heat I could smell before it detonated on my tongue, and whole, wok-seared branzino sauced with dried chiles and bean paste and finished with a fistful of cilantro, a spectacle the chef calls his favorite,” Sietsema wrote.

He also gives kudos to the restaurant for its “friendly and efficient staff.”

The Chang family’s expansion of its restaurant empire didn’t stop in McLean. They reached 17 locations with NiHao’s May 9 launch in Arlington, and another Peter Chang is in the works in Herndon.

Fairfax County restaurants were also well-represented in the Post’s 2023 spring dining guide, which recognized Kirby Club in Merrifield, Ingle Korean Steakhouse and the now-shuttered Jiwa Singapura in Tysons, and Annandale’s Sari Filipino Kusina as some of the region’s top newcomers.

Read more on FFXnow…

Morning Notes

Cornerside Blvd streetscape in Tysons West (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Northern Lights Seen Over National Mall — “Rare, possibly one-of-a-kind video has emerged of the northern lights dancing over the National Mall and Washington Monument. Even though clouds in the D.C. area mostly obscured the epic display of auroras…a short window opened up just before dawn Saturday when the clouds parted. [Washington Post]

Tysons Auto Dealerships Up for Sale — The Koons dealership site at 2000 and 2050 Chain Bridge Road, which was considered for redevelopment by Comstock, “is now being marketed for sale as a Home Depot-anchored mixed-use district.” Marketing materials say the property is available “for three different opportunities: a ground lease, a sale and a joint venture.” [Bisnow]

Fairfax Man Pleads Guilty to Fraud — “A 31-year-old Fairfax man pleaded guilty in federal court on Wednesday for two scams that defrauded victims and retailers of approximately $1.25 million.” The U.S. Attorney’s Office says the man conned people into buying gift cards that he and his collaborators used to purchase electronics. Another scheme involved using “fake price tags to buy large containers of baby formula.” [Patch]

Tysons Corner Center Plants Urban Farm — “Our urban farm, ‘The Giving Garden,’ is officially installed! 🌱🌻 Join us for the Grand Opening on Friday, May 17, from 2 to 4PM. Enjoy live music, light bites, and drinks, and learn about the garden, non-profit partners, and sustainability initiatives.” [Tysons Corner Center/Instagram]

Dulles Toll Road Revenue Dips — “Revenue collected from drivers using the Dulles Toll Road during the first four months of the year is down from the same period in 2023, new data show. Revenue for the January-through-April period stands at $65.8 million, according to figures reported by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates the toll road.” [Gazette Leader]

World Travel Revival at Dulles Airport — “Excepting Asia, Washington Dulles International Airport is seeing international-service passenger counts in excess…of pre-pandemic times. According to figures provided in advance of the May 15 Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s board meeting, Dulles’s post-COVID growth was outperforming the average of U.S. international gateways, as well.” [Gazette Leader]

Special Education Teacher Job Fair Coming Up — “A virtual hiring event will be held for those interested in becoming special education teachers on Wednesday, May 22, 6-8 p.m. Attendees will have an opportunity to network and interview with representatives from various Fairfax County public schools. Employment offers may be extended during the fair!” [FCPS]

It’s Thursday — Expect isolated showers after 2pm, with mostly cloudy skies, a high around 76 and a 20% chance of precipitation. The north wind will blow at 10-14 mph with gusts up to 21 mph. Night will stay cloudy and cool down to around 58, with a gentle northeast breeze at 6-8 mph. [NWS]

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