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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.

One of my favorite local restaurant groups was started in 2007 by Mark and Stephen Fedorchak, along with Brian Normile, in Arlington. They own Liberty Tavern, Lyon Hall, and Northside Social in Arlington.

They’ve also expanded to the city of Falls Church to include Liberty BBQ and the new Northside Social (affectionally referred to as NOSO).

The new NOSO is located on a side street in Falls Church with tons of outdoor seating and 2-levels of seating indoors. It’s great for a cup of coffee and pastry, or their full blown breakfast, lunch and dinner menu.

My favorites include the cookies, pop tars, egg sandwiches (salmon and egg!), quiches, grilled cheese (with bacon), charcuterie plates, brussels sprouts and French fries. The food is really, really good, and it helps the staff is friendly and eager to help. In addition, the owners are really nice guys that makes you want to support them.

The have special events like half price wine nights on Monday, date night on Sunday nights (salad & pizza for 2 & a bottle of wine for $45), brunch is every weekend 10 a.m.-3 p.m., but the second Sunday of every month is jazz brunch with live music singer Vanessa Ralls (11a.m.-1 p.m.). They often have dinner with a winemaker night (4 course meals with wine pairings), beer dinners and seasonal events.

I personally hope to see them continue growing both because their food is good, the atmosphere of their restaurants is fun and I love to see a good local business owner succeeding. Well done guys!

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This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By Kimberly H. Berry, Esq.

The Federal workforce is presently undergoing significant changes in size and scope.

In some instances, this has led to the Federal government providing incentives for Federal employees to retire early. Federal agencies that are undergoing substantial organizational changes such as reorganization, reduction in force, reshaping or downsizing can be given the option to offer federal employees voluntary early retirement based on the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA). OPM provides guidance on VERA here.

The purpose of VERA is to help agencies complete the necessary organizational change with minimal disruption to the workforce and make it possible for federal employees to receive an immediate annuity payment years before they would be eligible.

The voluntary early retirement provisions are the same under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).

Requirements for Early Retirement

In order to be eligible to retire under VERA, a federal employee must usually meet the following requirements:

  •  Meet the VERA minimum age and service requirements set by statutes in the U.S. Code for CSRS and FERS employees (i.e., the employee has completed at least 20 years of creditable service and is at least 50 years of age or has completed at least 25 years of creditable service regardless of age).
  • Have been continuously employed by the agency for at least 31 days before the date that the agency initially requested the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) approval of VERA.
  • Hold a position that is not a time-limited appointment.
  • Have not received a final removal decision based upon misconduct or unacceptable performance.
  • Hold a position covered by the agency’s VERA authority or program.
  • Retire under the VERA option during the agency’s VERA acceptance period.

It is very important for federal employees considering a VERA offer or whether one is available to seek the advice of an attorney regarding their retirement issues prior to initiating the VERA process.

Our law firm represents federal employees that are considering early retirement and in other federal retirement matters.

Conclusion

If you are in need of federal employee retirement law representation, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Luxury for Less: Feb. 13

Welcome to Luxury For Less, a weekly column highlighting the best deals in luxury real estate. Written by Brandy Schantz of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury For Less offers tips and tricks navigating the competitive real estate market and securing the home of your dreams. To learn more, visit ttrsir.com.

Vienna is a popular place to live in the D.C. Metro area.

People love the small-town charm, the proximity to Tysons Corner and the trails that wind through our enchanting town. When the weather is nice, we all meet outdoors to enjoy a run, take a leisurely stroll to the Whole Foods, or walk our dogs. It’s a pretty idyllic life in the D.C. Metro area and no one who lives here is surprised that we consistently top lists of best places to live in the U.S.

The only problem, this town is becoming more and more expensive. Real estate prices are quite diverse in Vienna. The town is divided into 4 quadrants with each quadrant selling homes at different prices. Currently, the hot market in Vienna seems to be in Southeast.

Southeast is very desirable for its proximity to Tysons, great schools and walkability to Westwood Country Club. Living on Mashie or Niblick Drive has suddenly become very elite, in part thanks to the very large, high-end homes recently built on those two streets. In addition to paying top dollar to get in to Southeast Vienna, the town taxes can break the budget.

Recent sales in southeast include a $1,030,000 condo on Glyndon and $2,350,000 detached home on Niblick. Top that off with an additional real estate tax for living in the Town of Vienna of 22.5 cents per $100 of the property’s assessed value. It’s steep to live in this neighborhood.

What if you want to live in Vienna without the extra taxes or the price tag over $2M? Just east of the town and mere steps from this hot neighborhood are many great homes that sell for less and lack the extra taxes. This neighborhood is just west of Old Courthouse Road and east of Electric Avenue.

Most of the homes were built 10 years ago or more but have a lot of space and similar access to the trails, Tysons and the shops on Maple Avenue. In contrast to Southeast, the most expensive home sold in this neighborhood in the past six months was a detached home with over 7500 sq. ft. that sold for $1,695,000. Still too much? Most of the homes in this neighborhood sold for around $1M with many below that amount. Vienna addresses without the steep Vienna prices.

This week we have quite a few great homes featured and one just outside the town limits in Vienna to consider!

The properties listed are a small selection of properties available in the Tyson’s Corner area. For a full list of properties listed on MLS and private exclusives, please contact Brandy Schantz.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Val Sotillo, Northern Virginia-based Realtor and Falls Church resident. Please submit your questions to her via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: I’m looking to purchase a home that’s less than a 10 minute walk to a Metro Station. What are the options around Dunn Loring?

Answer: The Dunn Loring neighborhood is one of the fastest changing areas in Fairfax County in a few short years. It is now a vibrant and walkable community with many different housing options to offer just a few steps from the metro.

Here’s what I love about the location:

Easy Commute

The Dunn Loring/Merrifield Metro is located between Interstate 66 at Gallows Road and it services the Orange Line which gets you to D.C. in about 25 minutes.

There’s also easy access to the Capital Beltway, I-66 and Route 50, making it convenient for public transportation and driving. And let’s not forget about cyclists! The W&OD Trail is in your backyard and it goes all the way from Shirlington to Purceville. The W&OD Trail has a maze of paths for hiking, biking, running and walking.

Everything Is Just Steps Away

You can walk to almost everything. From Home Depot, to Harris Teeter (this one has a wine bar, cheers), to a doggie day care, spa services, to the Merrifield Garden Center. You can also take a bit longer of a walk to the Mosaic District but I’ll cover that neighborhood in a separate column.

Here are some of my favorite food spots: Blackfinn Ameripub (great trivia, many tv’s for watching sports and live music), District Taco and the newest Peruvian restaurant Inca Social.

They also have a small dog park.

Bonus: There is free retail parking.

Read More

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.

The best way I have found to find out about events and information around town is to follow local organizations and businesses on Facebook.

They’re constantly updating events, posting news and giving genuine value adding information. Last week the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department delivered pizza from Domino’s on the fire truck, as a promo and reminder to people to check their smoke detectors.

The only way I knew about this was from their Facebook page (and bonus, one of my former clients was the first pizza delivery on the truck because she saw that I shared the event).

Here’s a list of my favorite resources on Facebook:

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WWBG: Not Just a Bottle Shop

Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). This week’s Guide is written by Arash Tafakor of Dominion Wine and Beer.

Dominion Wine & Beer is thrilled to announce that our brand new wine & craft beer bar is OPEN! The new addition is located directly above our existing retail bottle shop in Falls Church. At Dominion, you can enjoy a great meal, pint of craft beer or glass of wine plus shop the areas best selection of beers and wines to take home.

We are now open full time with our hours listed below. Retail store hours have been extended to offer all of the great aspects of the business in unison.

Our craft beer and wine bar features 24 rotating craft beers on tap as well as 16 wines by the glass, alongside an extensive bottle list (wine list still in the works). Our current food menu features some great options including a delicious fried chicken sandwich, crispy Brussels sprouts, honey glazed and spiced Malibu carrots, charcuterie boards and much more!

Downstairs in the retail area, you’ll find 12 additional rotating draft lines with pours and crowlers available from all 36 taps.

Download the DigitalPour mobile app to view our entire draft list, prices and growler fill/growler availability in real time.

We can’t wait for you all to come out, see our new space, and experience the new Dominion Wine & Beer!

Retail and Wine Bar hours:

Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Kitchen opens at 11 a.m. daily.

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Luxury for Less: Feb. 6

Welcome to Luxury For Less, a weekly column highlighting the best deals in luxury real estate. Written by Brandy Schantz of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury For Less offers tips and tricks navigating the competitive real estate market and securing the home of your dreams. To learn more, visit ttrsir.com.

The big news last week was the Federal Reserve meeting. The Fed did not raise the benchmark federal funds rate and indicated that interest rates would remain steady.

The Fed had previously announced after the December meeting that interest rates would be raised twice in 2019. What does that mean for the mortgage markets? Mortgage interest rates are actually more related to the 10-year U.S.

Treasury note than to the federal funds rate so the overall health of the economy will be a better predictor where mortgage rates will go. Economists have predicted interest rates in the mortgage markets to be between 5-6% by the end of 2019. For now, we can expect mortgage rates to remain low.

In the Tysons area, snow and cold days kept many people indoors so this is a great week to go out and find some great homes. Here are this week’s luxury for less homes:

The properties listed are a small selection of properties available in the Tyson’s Corner area. For a full list of properties listed on MLS and private exclusives, please contact Brandy Schantz.

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.

Valentine’s Day is coming up and it has me thinking about different kinds of date nights. Something out of the ordinary dinner and a movie option.

If you’re looking for some new ideas, why not consider some live music, comedy or trivia? Various venues in and around town have local artists, cover bands, DJs and more.

Pair that with some good food and/or drinks, and you’ve got yourself a nice night out. It helps if you follow these businesses on Facebook or sign up for their newsletters. Events like Jammin Java 80’s night in January sold out pretty quickly, so you don’t want to miss out!

Of course there are always more adventurous ideas like:

Have an idea to add or a business you’re working on? Drop a note in the comments to let people know about it!

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This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

We practice employment law. A new trend that the Federal Reserve and others have picked up on recently is the concept of “ghosting.” Ghosting occurs when a job applicant does not show up for their scheduled interview or where an employee does not show up for scheduled work and never returns.

What is Ghosting?

In areas which range from food services to banking, employers have indicated that a tighter job market and labor shortages have led to applicants deciding not to show up for scheduled interviews without notice or in accepting positions and then not showing up for their first day of work.

In other cases, ghosting has meant that an employee just decides to leave their employment without giving notice (or telling anyone) and just never shows up again. Other reasons for ghosting include the fact that because the employment rate is very low, it is easier than ever to find new employment. One report indicated that 20-50% of employers were facing ghosting in one form or another.

Why is Ghosting Bad for Employees and Applicants?

Ghosting is very bad for applicants and employees on a number of levels.

For starters, it isn’t a good long-term career strategy. If an employee doesn’t provide notice to an employer that they are leaving, supervisors may call the police for a wellness check, leading to a host of issues.

Additionally, by leaving in this manner, employees will most likely be deemed by the employer to have abandoned their employment and then classified as having been terminated. As a result, the employee that “ghosts” away from their employment will be left with a negative mark on their employment records, which they may have to disclose in future employment applications elsewhere and/or if they choose to ever seek a security clearance. This also applies to new employees that are hired but do not show up for their first day of work.

For applicants that don’t show up for interviews, doing so can hurt them in other ways. If a recruiter is involved, that recruiter could list the non-appearance in a shared database with other recruiters, essentially blacklisting the person.

With the digital future upon us, it is only a matter of time before such things also end up in background investigations or reports. The point is that “ghosting” is a recipe for hurting one’s own career.

It is important to take the time to give notice to an employer and make a phone call or at least send an email to an employer if an individual they plan to quit or cannot make a scheduled interview. Furthermore, if an applicant “ghosts” a scheduled interview with an employer, that individual’s name may get around to others in the same field, causing them to lose or not get an interview with other employers.

It may be easier to ignore interviews or leave for better employment, but it is far better to do so with professionalism. Ghosting is simply to big a risk for an employee or applicant to their long term career.

Conclusion

If you are in need of employment law advice or assistance, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Luxury for Less: Jan. 30

Welcome to Luxury For Less, a weekly column highlighting the best deals in luxury real estate. Written by Brandy Schantz of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury For Less offers tips and tricks navigating the competitive real estate market and securing the home of your dreams. To learn more, visit ttrsir.com.

As we approach February, we find ourselves with a similar problem from this time last year — there is very little inventory.

My office is buzzing with multiple offers and buyers trying to get homes before they even hit the market. While Fairfax County’s inventory is slightly up compared to this time last year, it’s still not enough to keep up with demand and the average list price has increased to $985,978 from $820,268 this time last year.

Fortunately, there are still great homes to be found and great neighborhoods to explore. One of the more popular neighborhoods in the Tysons area is the neighborhood around Westwood Country Club.

Westwood Country Club is located just a few minutes from Tysons Corner in the sought-after Town of Vienna. Homes in this neighborhood range from 1950s ramblers to the large, newly built custom homes that are becoming the norm in Vienna.

This neighborhood is one of the more popular because the W&OD trail is just minutes away, you can walk to the country club and Tysons is a short and easy commute. Many people enjoy walking to the mall from this area and anyone who has tried to drive down Maple Avenue at rush hour knows that being close to the Tysons Corner side of the road is a big plus.

You don’t have to have the big, new home budget to get into this great neighborhood. One recently reduced property in this neighborhood is move in ready and just $774,900. Check out 1007 NE Westbriar Drive Vienna (Reduced $25,000) and other great luxury properties for less:

The properties listed are a small selection of properties available in the Tyson’s Corner area. For a full list of properties listed on MLS and private exclusives, please contact Brandy Schantz.

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