Tysons, VA

Vienna pickleball players looking for facilities of their own in Fairfax County now have a new club and advocacy group.

Sally Unger, a new ambassador for pickleball in Fairfax County, wants to persuade county officials to further support pickleball players by providing more and better facilities. 

She has created the Vienna Pickleball Club, which boasts 92 members, and a pickleball advocacy group called the Fairfax County Advocates for Pickleball (FCAP). The Facebook group notes that the club was started in June. 

In Fairfax County, there are zero courts dedicated to pickleball, according to Unger. Instead, players have to adapt the game to tennis courts, which Unger said makes for an inauthentic game. For example, a pickleball net is shorter than a tennis net, and both games have different court lines. 

“It’s pretty frustrating,” said Unger. 

FCAP is fighting for a facility pickleball players can claim as their own. 

Unger’s three goals upon becoming an ambassador were to create a pickleball club, collect data about pickleball activity in the county and to understand how funding within the county works to ask for more support. She recently sent out a survey measuring trends and demographics within the pickleball community to bring to the county. 

While pushing for official pickleball facilities, FCAP is also looking for derelict tennis courts to save and remodel for pickleball play. They are already working with the Town of Vienna to consider resurfacing Vienna’s Glyndon Court into four pickleball courts. 

According to Unger, the public reception to the club and the advocacy has been “phenomenal.” One supporter of the group created a GoFundMe to raise money for nets, locks and other court essentials. In less than two weeks, the fundraiser exceeded its $1,600 goal. 

Unger also credits some of the sport’s popularity to the pandemic — since the game is played outside and players are relatively distant, it makes for a safe way to stay active.

“It’s a great way to meet people and build a sense of community,” said Unger. “When we’re restricted to our own yards and it’s the only outlet where I have social contact, it keeps me sane.” 

People with questions or who are interested in joining can email [email protected] or visit the Vienna Pickleball Club’s Facebook page. 

Photo by Frankie Lopez/Unsplash

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A group of eight kids came together this summer to spread love in the Vienna community via wooden signs with painted hearts. 

The group, which calls itself Rustic Love Vienna, created and sold the signs to benefit the Vienna VA Foodies Facebook group, which supports local restaurants, frontline workers and food-insecure families.

The idea came together after seeing Signs of Hope Delaware, a family business selling signs for profit after losing their jobs. Michelle Davila, the adult organizer of the group, decided to try and recreate the signature heart sign with wood in her own basement. She then involved her children, and Rustic Love Vienna took off.

“It’s just been really, really, really positive,” Davila told Tysons Reporter.

They wrapped up their orders on Friday, July 31, with a total of $6,220 raised, according to Davila. The children produced about 250 signs for the community, which can be spotted in yards when driving around Vienna. 

“Driving around town and seeing them, I don’t know where they all go,” said Davila. She said seeing the signs when out and about reinforces the experience’s positivity and productivity.

While Davila was the adult in the group, her son and two neighbors were the people running the project. Kids would rotate between sawing, drilling and painting to make the signs.

Not only did kids from the neighborhood join the group, but also kids whose parents heard about the initiative and had an interest in joining. A neighbor even provided wood leftover from a previous project, according to Davila. 

“It’s been super, super rewarding,” said Davila. “The amount of money we’ve raised for this group… has been a great thing for my kids to be able to experience.” 

Photo courtesy of Michelle Davila

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Chef Eugenia Hobson and her sons opened Our Mom Eugenia in Great Falls in 2016. Now, the restaurant’s Greek cuisine has arrived in Mosaic District.

Our Mom Eugenia opened Monday (Aug. 3) at 2985 District Ave, Suite 185 — the former spot for Little Dipper Hot Pot House.

Born and raised in Greece, Hobson has been a chef for the last 30 years, working at several local Greek restaurants — Mykonos Grill in Rockville, Athenian Plaka in Bethesda and Nostos in Tysons — before opening Our Mom Eugenia with her sons.

The menu on ChowNow for the Mosaic District location includes daily specials and the option to buy a meal for local healthcare providers and first responders ($12). “We will match every meal you buy and donate them to regional hospitals on a weekly basis,” the menu says.

Diners can choose from various spreads and appetizers including spanakopita, feta with olives, grilled octopus and keftedakia. The “Lamburger,” chicken wrap and an 80 oz. filet mignon with grilled shrimp and asparagus are a few of the entree options.

Desserts include baklava, loukoumades with honey, apple cake a la mode, Greek yogurt in a Martini glass with honey and walnuts and more. Family trays, a kids’ menu, beer, wine and a bottle of the house-made extra virgin olive oil are also on the menu.

The restaurant is open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Sundays and until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Diners can make reservations through OpenTable, where the restaurant has its safety precautions against COVID-19 listed.

Photo via Our Mom Eugenia/Facebook

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Tysons Corner Center is welcoming Doughnuttery to its mall this weekend.

Known for its mini doughnuts, the New York-based chain is opening its doors to the public on Saturday, Aug. 8, at 3 p.m. 

“We really like this mall. It’s convenient. It’s close by. It’s well-known. It’s a tourist attraction,” said Leyla Khater and Katherine Ronckovitz, the owners of the new Doughnuttery. “We knew we wanted to be here.”

Khater and Ronckivitz had been thinking of partnering to start a business for a long time when they found out Doughnuttery was franchising and decided that opening the Tysons location would be a good fit for their entrepreneurial spirit, according to Ronckivitz.

The store was initially supposed to open in March but was delayed due to the pandemic. They put opening procedures on hold when the shutdown began, but once the government began loosening restrictions, they were able to move forward again. 

For their grand opening this weekend, they will have social distancing markers on the floor and masks to hand out, in addition to wearing masks themselves, according to Khater. 

Doughnuttery was founded in 2012 in New York City. The store currently has three locations in New York and other locations across the country. They offer dozens of different doughnut flavors and several dipping sauces, according to Ronckivitz.

The owners are also excited to bring catering with custom glazes and patterns for any event to Virginia.

“We are two women entrepreneurs, and we didn’t give up despite the challenges we faced through COVID,” said Ronckivitz. “We have daughters and we want to be their example in showing them that we didn’t give up.”

Photo courtesy of Leyla Khater

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What started as a mom-led effort to help food-insecure families has grown into a large volunteer group giving groceries, kids’ clothing and more to roughly 150 people in the Vienna area each week.

Self-described bargain hunters Sharon McKew and Grace Westreich got to know each other through a yard sale site. They told Tysons Reporter via Facebook Messenger that they are leading the efforts behind the public Facebook group Community Cares Vienna.

“It started after schools shut down, and I found out many of the students I worked with would no longer receive the ‘blessings bags’ from the school,” McKew said. “It was just a way to continue to get them food.”

Westreich said the group “exploded overnight.” As of today (Wednesday), it has more than 300 members.

At first, the donations came from McKew’s wallet and former families from a daycare McKew ran. Then, Westreich started giving donations, and the two teamed up. Westreich now manages the money, orders, donation solicitations and delivery logistics, while McKew directs the volunteers and handles the food.

Over time, the group has turned into a space for people to share and solicit donations for items like bed rails, baby clothes, book bags, lined paper for students and more. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact vulnerable communities, it’s clear from the messages posted in the group that there’s an ongoing need for food and supplies.

A study earlier this year by Feeding America predicts that one in six adults — and one in four kids — could experience food insecurity this year. Jade Leedham with Second Story, a local nonprofit helping vulnerable kids and young, told Tysons Reporter in July that she’s seen a decrease in volunteers and corporate sponsors while the need for support continues.

Community Cares Vienna is working to keep residents and local businesses engaged. The group’s extensive reach is thanks to the “amazing volunteers,” McKew and Westreich said.

So far, volunteers’ efforts have included making masks for kids and adults, delivering disinfectants, buying school supplies and paying for art camps for homebound students, McKew said.

That’s not all. An anonymous donor donated their stimulus check. One mother-daughter duo dropped off boxes and bags filled with activities for kids. Several people organized neighborhood drives, while others consistently donate groceries. Girls Scouts and former daycare kids have prepared bags of food and teachers and staff from elementary schools are making deliveries.

The group also receives financial and marketing support from Lydia Russo, the local woman behind the Vienna VA Foodies Facebook group. People who want to get involved can email [email protected]

“Restaurants joined in, too,” Westreich said, highlighting local eateries that they made meals or donated:

“Sharon talks about kids waving from the window in excitement, the joy and sheer giddiness of knowing what the deliveries mean. Parents with tears of gratitude in their eyes,” Westreich said. “Sharon’s creed really has been, ‘No hungry bellies.'”

Photo by Maria Lin Kim/Unsplash

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McLean local Dr. John Kim dedicated his life to his work as an electrical engineer. Now, he hopes to connect aspiring engineers to the field through a newly published memoir.

In Pursuit of Science and Technology” explores topics ranging from Kim’s work in physics and engineering to his journey of faith and illness to his life traveling through four different global capitals — Tokyo, Pyongyang, Seoul and D.C.

Kim said there were two main inspirations behind the book — the first being his six grandchildren. He wanted them to tangibly have his stories and studies. The other was sharing his studies.

“I want to leave something behind me of all the things that I have done in science and technology,” said Kim. 

He noted his target audience is young people going into the science and technology field, saying his message is to show them what it’s like to pursue this field. He elaborated on the differences between education and real-world experience and how important it is for young people to get both.

“If you go to engineering school today… that’s something where they teach you how to do it. But that’s not everything in a private corporation,” Kim said. 

Kim focuses much of the memoir on his work as an electrical engineer towards furthering science and technology while discussing different topics as well. For example, he shares the time he spent working on military advancement and how he advised people to cultivate business opportunities on the engineer career ladder, according to his synopsis. 

He also includes stories about the time he spent working with Howard Aiken, the “father of the digital electromagnetic computer,” according to his synopsis. 

Kim also addresses personal adversity. He lived in Tokyo during World War II, Pyongyang while trapped by the Iron Curtain and South Korea during the Korean War. Additionally, he surmounted a battle with cancer about 15 years ago. 

The process of creating his memoir was long. He didn’t plan it, but after he made the decision after he retired in 2013, he collected letters, reports, technical and scientific writings from journals and 144 pictures of his family and colleagues. The editing process took four years, said Kim.

This book is available for purchase online and in-stores.

Photo courtesy John Kim

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(Updated 3:10 p.m.) Island Fin Poké plans to bring Hawaiian-style poke bowls to Falls Church and Vienna.

The eatery is set to open in the fall at 7501 Leesburg Pike, Suite 129 in Idylwood Plaza. That location will be the first one in Virginia for the Florida-based fast-casual chain, according to a press release.

“We are excited to expand to Falls Church because of the amazing food scene,” Co-founder Mark Setterington said in a press release. “We believe that the local residents will appreciate our family-oriented culture and personal attention given to every guest.”

Sarah Richter, a spokesperson for Island Fin Poké, told Tysons Reporter that the owner of the Falls Church location has signed a deal to also open the Vienna location.

“Plans won’t be made for Vienna until the Falls Church unit is up and running, so Vienna will be much later down the line, maybe in a year or so,” Richter said.

When the Virginia locations open, diners can expect build-your-own bowls that can be customized with eight proteins, sauces and more than a dozen toppings.

The Idylwood Plaza location will be open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. every day, according to the chain’s website.

Founded in 2017, Island Fin Poké currently has eight locations across the U.S., from Nevada to Massachusetts. The chain opened an eatery in Bowie, Md. in January and is looking to grow in the D.C. area, the press release noted.

“Our Bowie location has been very successful and our expansion to Falls Church is just the beginning for the D.C. metro area,” Setterington said.

Island Fin Poké has 26 locations “in various stages of development across the country,” the press release says, noting that the chain is looking to rapidly expand by seeking franchisees.

Photo courtesy Island Fin Poké 

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What factors should businesses consider when making decisions on remote and in-person work during the pandemic? Do employers feel like they will be safe in the office or using public transit?

Tysons Partnership aimed to provide insight into those very questions with a recent survey.

A message from Tysons Partnership President Sol Glasner accompanying the newly released survey results notes that they are meant to “set a baseline of understanding” that the organization plans to track with another survey in roughly six months.

Roughly half of the more than 700 people who responded to the survey live or work in the Tysons area, according to the results.

Drew Sunderland, Tysons Partnership’s marketing director, told Tysons Reporter that the survey indicates a shift from people relying on government and health officials giving guidance on public health precautions to following their own ideas about what’s safe as the pandemic continues.

The survey covered a variety of factors, from working at home to mask mandates to childcare concerns. Here’s an overview of the results.

Transit Concerns

Roughly 23% of the respondents said they rely on public transit to return to in-person work and less than 10% said they feel comfortable riding public transit right now. Overall, half of the respondents said they plan to wait until there’s a vaccine before returning to public transit.

Whether people want their commutes back is a different question. Analysis in the survey notes that many commenters are hopeful for long-term change that reduces or eliminates commuting.

Tysons Partnership says in the survey that WMATA and other public transit agencies should visibly enforce safety measures and test new initiatives like special fare zones to encourage riders back.

Kids and Work

Of the respondents, 30% were parents with kids under the age of 18.

The survey found that those parents are 16% more likely to have issues focusing on work, and the 10% of parents who don’t have any childcare support are twice as likely to want to send their kids back to school.

Several anonymous comments linked the ability to return to in-person work with classroom learning. Currently, Virginia is in Phase Three, which means teleworking is strongly encouraged.

For the respondents working full-time (491), a majority said they are working from home. Roughly 49% said they are happy with remote work, while 33% expressed loneliness. When asked why they would want to return to in-person work, respondents said they miss a variety of social interactions.

Safe at Work?

While 70% of the workers who responded said they trust their employer to provide a safe work environment during the pandemic, the employers had a different response with 25% saying they think they have the resources to make that happen.

In total, 32 businesses responded to the survey — 18 of which are in the Tysons area. They flagged the availability of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies along with access to information about how to create a safe work environment as top concerns.

Roughly 58% of the respondents said they don’t want to return to in-person work unless there is a vaccine or treatment for the virus.

Masks and Preventive Measures 

The analysis for the survey notes that masks were the “hottest” topic in the open-ended comments section.

Several comments included in the report addressed concerns around masks, like one person writing that they did not appreciate face coverings as optional in the workplace and others saying that businesses should require and enforce masks wearing.

“Right now, masks should be MANDATORY for every business worker and every single customer, inside or outside,” one person wrote.

Live, Work, Play

The final section of the survey results touched on respondents’ attitudes, comfort and ideas about a variety of activities. Overall, they were twice as likely to say they would shop at an outdoor rather than an indoor one or take part in “economic activities” that are outside.

Under Phase Three, non-essential retail, parks, restaurants and places of worship are now able to fully open. Some places, like fitness centers and entertainment venues, have capacity restrictions.

Roughly 23% of the respondents identified themselves as essential workers. “Essential workers are twice as comfortable engaging in non-work social and economic activities outside the home,” the analysis noted.

Respondents noted that protective measures drive their interest in participating in activities more than rollbacks of government restrictions.

A full summary of the results can be found online.

Photo by Michelle Goldchain

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Fairfax County has one of the highest response rates to the U.S. Census in Virginia.

As of today (Aug. 3), the national response rate is 62.8%, while Virginia is 67.5%, according to the U.S. Census.

Fairfax County currently has a 76.6% response rate, surpassing its 2010 response rate of 75.3%. By the time the count ends this year, the county might jump above its 80% total in 2000.

At the end of March, Virginia’s response rate was 37% response rate.

While the pandemic at first extended the submission deadline, the Census Bureau plans to cut short its door-knocking efforts, moving the deadline from Halloween until Sept. 30, The Hill reported last week.

Last week, the City of Falls Church took to Twitter to encourage residents to fill out the census, saying that one in four people haven’t been counted yet. As of today, the Little City’s response rate is 79.6%.

Falls Church said that Census workers have been going door to door in the city since July 23 and might stay until the fall.

It’s unclear yet how much the door knocking will boost the response rate. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that four-in-ten residents who have not yet responded do not want to answer their door.

People who haven’t responded to the Census can complete it by filling it out online, returning the form mailed in March or calling 844-330-2020.

Map via U.S. Census

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Wildfire in Tysons recently joined the growing list of local restaurants offering to-go cocktails.

The restaurant (2001 International Drive) debuted several cocktails that diners can now order for pick-up.

The Skinny Pineapple Coconut, made from Bacardi Coconut Rum, lemon juice, pineapple juice and Monin Sugar Free Syrup, is one of the options on the menu. A serving for one person costs $11 and $30 for three.

Another cocktail is Stormy Night — a concoction of Effen Black Cherry Vodka, DeKuyper Watermelon Pucker and DeKuyper Island Blue Punch Pucker ($13.75 for one serving, $37.25 for three).

The rest of the available cocktails are:

  • red sangria ($10.50 for one serving, $28.50 for three)
  • margarita ($13, $35)
  • Old Fashioned ($15, $40.50)
  • Moscow Mule ($35 for three servings)

People can get them by calling 703-442-9110 or ordering online. Wildfire also sells red, white and sparkling wines; beer bottles and cans; and non-alcoholic drinks including coffee and Coca-Cola.

In May, Tysons Reporter rounded up more than a dozen restaurants, including Founding Farmers and Bear Branch Tavern, that offer boozy, to-go drinks.

Photo via Wildfire Tysons/Facebook

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