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Top Stories on Tysons Reporter This Week

Have you been glued to news about the stock market, Kanye or the hurricane this week? If so you might have missed some of the local happenings in and around Tysons.

ICYMI, here are the five most-read articles on TysonsReporter.com since last weekend:

  1. Founder of Falls Church-Based Kiddar Capital Arrested on Securities Fraud Charges
  2. Virtual Reality Entertainment Center Coming to Tysons
  3. Poll: Should Fairfax County Government Offices Remain Open on Columbus Day?
  4. A Look Inside The Boro, the Massive New Development in Tysons
  5. Legal Insider: Thin Line Between Social Media and Employment
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One Year Left for Vienna’s Last Sports Card Shop

If you didn’t know it was there, it would be easy to miss A.J.’s Sports Stop. The tiny shop is a slightly removed from Maple Avenue, and overshadowed by the larger abandoned Marco Polo Restaurant next door.

But for any lover of sports cards or tabletop games, inside is a treasure trove — and one that could disappear within a year.

Rick Lucian, one of the owners, said that the store has been tucked away off Maple Avenue since 1980. Lucian joined the store ten years ago, having grown up with a love of sports cards.

The store is an assortment of odds and ends related to all sorts of sports or geeky memorabilia. There’s Warhammer figures on a front shelf and comics nearby, plus board games.

“Magic: The Gathering is the biggest item that we sell,” said Lucian. “Magic has grown a lot over the years.”

But the real focus of the store is trading sports cards, baseball in particular.

Lucian says the store makes a special effort to be friendly to new card collectors. To those who are just starting out, Lucian says to just pick your favorite team and start collecting, like grabbing a packet of Nationals cards.

The arrival of eBay and overproduction of sports cards has hurt the collecting industry since its heyday prior to the turn of the century. Lucian says the store has adapted to keep up with the times, but the plans for changes along Maple Avenue could mean the end of A.J.’s, at least in its current location.

Lucian said developers are working on a plan to redevelop the Marco Polo site, and it seems inevitable that their store will get caught up in that.

“Most likely we’ll only be here for another year,” said Lucian. “They’re looking to demolish and build something new here. So we’re looking around for a new storefront and we would like to stay in Vienna, but the rents are high.”

In the meantime, Lucian says the store will continue to be Vienna’s one-stop shop for cards and tabletop games.

In an era of constant electronic stimulus, Lucian said there’s still something special about a kid opening up a pack of baseball cards.

Photo (2) via Google Maps

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Carpet House Design Center Opening in Vienna

Carpet House Design Center, a interior decoration and design store based in Fredericksburg, is opening a location in Vienna (352 Maple Ave W).

According to general manager Bob Poole, the new location will have three distinct areas inside: one catering to builders, one that’s open to the public for retail sales, and a commercial area for architects and designers.

Poole said the store is anticipating opening by the end of the year or early in 2019.

The site formerly housed Kitchen and Bath Floors USA. The exterior of the building will remain intact, but Poole said the interior will be demolished and completely remodeled.

“We’ve got architects, engineers… the [demolition] is about to happen,” said Poole. “We just got occupancy permits. We’re waiting on the building permit right now.”

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Tysons Selected as Location for Google Product Demos

The tech retail store b8ta in Tysons Corner Center will be one of seven locations nationwide to exhibit a new suite of Google hardware products, including the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are new phones by Google unveiled on Oct. 9 at an event in New York. Also unveiled was the Pixel Stand, a wireless charger, the Pixel Slate, a high-end tablet device, and Home Hub, an assistant that tracks day to day information like calendar events and appointments.

B8ta stores allow visitors to test out the products in a space designed to feel like a home setting. The products will be coming to b8ta stores in Texas, California, New Jersey and Arizona, as originally reported by Digital Trends. The Tysons Corner Center location is the only spot in Virginia to let users test out the new hardware before it goes on sale.

The new hardware will be available starting next Thursday (Oct. 18). The b8ta store is on the second floor of Tysons Corner Center, near the Bloomingdales.

Photo via b8ta

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Nothing Bundt Cakes Coming to Vienna

Maple Avenue in Vienna may be home to a number of vacant storefronts, but some of those vacancies are in the process of being filled.

In addition to MoMo House (131-A Maple Avenue W.) and Shin Se Kai Ramen (234 Maple Avenue E.), another new eatery is on the way. Nothing Bundt Cakes, a national bakery chain, is coming to Vienna at 129 Maple Avenue W.

The bakery chain specializes in circular bundt cakes, offering ten flavors and forty unique designs, as well as merchandise like gifts and decor.

The interior of the location is currently undergoing renovations. The owners of the Vienna franchise were not available for comment, but a sign on the exterior of the store said Nothing Bundt Cakes will be opening this fall.

An employee at the nearby Dulles location said the Vienna store hopes to be open sometime early next year.

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Revamped Griffith Park Playground Now Open

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Sept. 29 to celebrate the opening of the new Griffith Park playground in the Falls Church area.

The park was renovated in a project funded via park bonds. More from a Fairfax County press release:

Funded via voter-approved 2016 park bonds, the $80,000 project replaced outdated equipment with new play elements, interactive panels and swings for children ages 2 to 12. Safety surfacing and playground borders were also replaced and a new drainage system and fence installed. The project was part of a larger effort by the Park Authority to identify and replace playground equipment throughout Fairfax County that has exceeded its useful life.

Photos via Fairfax County/Flickr. Map via Google Maps.

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Former Isabella Eatery Likely to Remain Dining Location

Isabella Eatery was the crown jewel of Tysons Galleria, a sprawling food court that took up most of the building’s third floor. Then it was all gone.

Isabella Eatery debuted in December 2017, but was a ghost town by the end of August the next year. According to Washingtonian, Isabella Eatery faced declining sales that were only compounded by a sexual harassment lawsuit from Chloe Caras, former Director of Operations for Isabella Eatery, against owner Mike Isabella.

The lawsuit was settled in May, but the Isabella brand was irrevocably damaged.

Today, Isabella Eatery’s absence dominates the third floor of Tysons Galleria. While a number of restaurants and shops remain open on the mall’s third floor — including Cheesecake Factory, Maggiano’s and Wildfire — much of the space is empty and cordoned off.

The “food emporium” had eight distinct dining options, a cocktail bar, and a private dining space spread out over 41,000 square feet of Tysons Galleria.

A Tysons Galleria employee told Tysons Reporter that the mall is currently in negotiations with an as-yet unnamed tenant to fill at least part of the Isabella Eatery space. The employee said the new occupants are still looking at using the space as part of a dining facility.

There is no date set for the release of more information about the prospective tenant, we’re told.

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Mediterranean Restaurant Coming to Vienna

Zenola, a self-described “new Mediterranean concept restaurant in the heart of Vienna,” is hoping to open at some point this winter.

Located at 132 Branch Road SE near the Fresh Market, in the former Maplewood Grill space, Zenola will serve up Mediterranean cuisine along with beer, wine and cocktails, according to a liquor license application.

“With 25 years of dining experience, we’re bringing the warmth of the coast to our tables,” says the Zenola website, adding:

Our Founder and Executive Chef, Samer Zeitoun, was born on the shores of the Mediterranean. From childhood, olives and olive oil have been staples of his diet – his “comfort food.” He has spent a culinary career spanning more than 25 years in the pursuit and perfection of Mediterranean cuisine.

Interestingly, his last name literally translated means olive.

Photo (2) via Google Maps

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Most-Viewed Tysons Reporter Articles So Far

Since Tysons Reporter launched last week, more than 10,000 visitors have come to the site for local news about Tysons, McLean and Vienna.

Thank you for exceeding our readership expectations! To make sure you’re getting all of our local headlines, be sure to subscribe to our email newsletter.

In case you missed any of them, here are the top 10 most-read articles on the site over the past two weeks:

  1. A Look Inside The Boro, the Massive New Development in Tysons
  2. Arhontiko Taking Greek Food From Mediterranean to McLean
  3. Morning Notes – Sept. 25
  4. Competition and Challenges Ahead for Tysons
  5. Father and Son Opening Tex-Mex Restaurant in Tysons
  6. New Shoe Store Hits Tysons Corner Center With $5,000 Kicks
  7. MoMo House Nepalese Restaurant Coming to Vienna
  8. Virtual Reality Entertainment Center Coming to Tysons
  9. Controversial Development Returning to Vienna Town Council
  10. BREAKING: Man Killed in McLean Pedestrian Crash
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Now Open: Chiang Mai Thai Cookhouse in McLean

A new Thai restaurant recently opened in McLean.

Chiang Mai Thai Cookhouse is located at 6813 Elm Street, in the former Italian Deli space. It appears to have opened in August.

Offering Northern Thai cuisine and a frequently-changing menu, the restaurant is somewhat unique in its approach to dining in.

“We are open for lunch and dinner seven days a week,” Chiang Mai’s website says. “We accept walk-ins only; no reservations. We have a tiny dining room and can only seat groups of 4 or fewer.”

“Our dishes are served as family-style and will be sent to your table once they are made, in no particular order,” the website adds.

The listed business hours are 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-9:30 p.m. on weekdays, and noon-9:30 p.m. on weekends.

So far reviews have been good, with 4.5 stars on Yelp.

“This was some mighty fine tasting Thai food, I actually love that the [desire] of the Chiang Mai Thai Cookhouse is to avoid fusion or American Thai food… and stick to the authentic favors as close as possible,” said one review. “I ordered the Kaosoi, northern Thai sausage, papaya salad and Nam prik oong. Every dish is well prepared, well cooked and well served.”

Photos via Chiang Mai Thai Cookhouse

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