Morning Notes

Lantana flowers by Spring Hill Road post office in McLean (photo by Joanne Liebig)

Construction Closes I-66 West Overnight — Starting last night (Wednesday), all lanes of I-66 West approaching I-495 in the Dunn Loring area will be closed from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. every night through Saturday (June 19). The closures are necessary for overhead bridge work on the interchange as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project. [VDOT]

Rally in Support of Public Schools Tonight — The Fairfax County Democratic Committee is organizing a rally in support of Fairfax County Public Schools ahead of the school board’s meeting at Luther Jackson Middle School. The school board has faced criticism from some for making political statements and closing schools last year due to COVID-19, including a recall campaign led by a parents’ group that identifies as bipartisan but has received substantial funding from Republican donors. [Fairfax Democrats/Twitter]

Rick Springfield Fans Once Shut Down Tysons Corner — “June 17 is the 40th anniversary of the day Rick Springfield shut down Tysons Corner. Larry Houck was there. ‘Talk about having a front-row seat,’ said Houck, who worked at the Variety Records in Tysons Corner Center, where Springfield was scheduled to meet fans.” [The Washington Post]

McLean Startup Raises $60 Million — The McLean-based kidney care startup Somatus Inc. has secured $60.12 million in new funding, bringing the company’s total funding to $165 million over its five years of existence. The funds come from an equity offering that had its first sale on June 1 and will be used to support the company’s continued expansion as it now serves more than 150,000 patients in the U.S. [Washington Business Journal]

Maryland Beltway Project in Jeopardy — The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Transportation Planning Board voted yesterday to remove Maryland’s Capital Beltway toll lanes plan from a list of long-term transportation projects, jeopardizing its ability to secure federally required environmental approval. The project will also replace and expand the American Legion Bridge and is considered a necessary supplement to Virginia’s 495 NEXT project in McLean. [The Washington Post]

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Blend 111 has evolved since it first arrived on Church Street in Vienna two years ago.

With the Latin fusion restaurant approaching its second anniversary on Saturday (May 8), owner Michael Biddick reflected on the work that went into establishing Blend 111 and refining its menu and style to make it what it is today.

A 20-year resident of Vienna, Biddick started the restaurant in 2019 after selling a successful cybersecurity company that he founded.

He had long been interested in wine but began to seriously learn about it while going through the Court of Masters Sommeliers training. Along the way, he also developed an interest in coffee.

“Through a lot of the traveling I did I had the opportunity to eat at a lot of different restaurants around the world,” Biddick said. “So, I thought it would be great to bring a different type of restaurant to Northern Virginia that focused a lot on international cuisine and [felt like] more of an urban and international city-like restaurant.”

Biddick is now the head sommelier at Blend 111 and a certified French Wine Scholar. He published the book “43 Wine Regions” in 2018 and has contributed to Somm Journal, Food and Travel, and Go World Travel magazines.

To commemorate its two-year anniversary, Biddick says the restaurant is bringing back a few of its more popular drinks, including a very popular spicy margarita, and Executive Chef Andrés-Julian Zuluaga will prepare some surprise dishes that will pop up on the menu come Saturday.

There will also be a special three-course all-day brunch menu for Mother’s Day on Sunday (May 9).

Blend 111 was built in an old furniture and card shop, right down the road from the Town of Vienna’s Town Hall. The name comes from their mission to seamlessly blend food, wine, and coffee from different Latin cultures, along with their address, 111 Church Street.

Although there is currently only one location, Biddick says they are actively looking for other locations to expand in the DMV area.

When designing Blend 111, Biddick made a conscious effort to buy as much local produce as possible and avoid the waste issues that typically plague restaurants.

“One of the things I wanted to do was to have a really minimal waste impact and as little environmental waste as possible,” Biddick said.

Blend 111 has developed relationships with local farms and now specifies what crops need to be grown for main courses, salads, and sides. In addition to supporting local providers, Biddick says cultivating these relationships helps the restaurant develop new flavors.

Blend 111 has a goal to produce only one bag of trash per day. Other leftover items are either recycled or composted through an organization called Compost Crew.

They also are conscious about using organic wine and coffee, and they try to offset anything brought in from outside the D.C. area by investing in renewable energy sources.

“You never reach a finish line with sustainability,” Biddick said. “It’s just something you always have to continually work at and try to improve upon.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit 10 months after it opened, Blend 111 briefly shut down before working to adapt to the new environment.

Putting his information technology background to use, Biddick designed a platform to facilitate carryout and delivery services without having to go through a third party. This helped keep the existing core staff employed and engaged and opened the door for more people to come on board, even as many other restaurants were letting people go.

“I really looked at it as an investment opportunity,” Biddick said. “We found that we were able to make it through the last year, and then, I think once things started to reopen slowly, we then saw business come back significantly.”

Blend 111 brought on a new culinary team in May 2020 that consisted of a new executive chef, a sous chef, and a pastry chef. Biddick says the new team “was able to take the menu up several notches above what we had at opening.”

Blend 111 also benefitted from relaxed zoning rules that enabled the restaurant to convert its parking lot into an outdoor patio space.

“Dealing with a pandemic is really challenging,” Biddick said. “A lot of it comes down to…the individual circumstances that you’re in, but I just try to look at how you can make the best of it and I think we just leveraged everything we could to pull out of that period.”

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Caffe Amouri is holding an outdoor birthday party today with ice cream, e-bikes, books and, of course, coffee.

The coffee shop opened in the Town of Vienna 10 years ago.

“On the morning of July 14, 2010, I was standing inside an entirely new business… A coffeehouse opening in the midst of the worst economic downturn in a generation and within three blocks of two Starbucks,” a Facebook post said.

Owner Michael Amouri told Tysons Reporter that all of the proceeds from today’s event at 107 Church Street NE will go to Neighborhood Health, which provides primary care in Alexandria and Arlington and Fairfax counties.

Bards Alley is offering a pop-up bookstore, [email protected] has a “sustainable transportation” demo with e-bikes and Caffe Amouri is doing hand-pour demos and providing coffee samplings, Amouri said. Caffe Amouri is also serving affogato — espresso over Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

Photo via Caffe Amouri/Facebook

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The Town of Vienna celebrated its 100th birthday in 1990 with the ringing of bells and a giant birthday cake — and now its 130th birthday this year, residents are challenged to participate in a virtual race. 

Titled “Distance Matters,” the race is inviting all Vienna citizens to walk, run, bike or hike a 130K throughout the month of July. People who complete the 80.8 miles will receive a medal at the end of the month. 

People who are interested in participating will receive a log to track their miles over the course of the month. Miles can be achieved by running on a treadmill, cycling around the town or walking down the trail — participants’ choice. Whatever mode of exercise residents choose, the race is an easy way to maintain a feeling of community despite social distancing restrictions.  

The town was originally planning a large community event called “Bluez and Brewz” on Saturday, June 20, to commemorate Vienna’s 130th birthday. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the idea was changed to something that people could safely participate in — at a distance.

The celebration had included live blues bands, barbecue trucks and more, according to Natalie Duncan, the town’s teen center program coordinator. 

“Upon the realization that we had to cancel Bluez and Brewz, we came up with the idea for the 130K,” said Duncan.

The organizers noticed other jurisdictions holding virtual races and decided it would be a fun way to keep the community participating. “The month of July is Parks and Recreation Month… the 130K is a way of keeping residents engaged and involved.”

Local sports and bike merchants, as well as coffee shops, are promoting the event. While running and biking have always been a staple of Vienna with the Washington and Old Dominion Trail running through town, the pandemic has fueled resident interest in the outdoors, according to Duncan. 

“Now with the coronavirus, people are more open to using the trail and running around their neighborhoods,” she said.

In the past, Vienna has drawn major crowds for town events including birthday celebrations, Civil War reenactments and celebrating the new millenium, according to the Vienna Recreation Program Manager Amy-Jo Hendrix.

“Vienna is such a close-knit town,” said Hendrix. “Everyone comes together and enjoys whatever activities we have going. It’s a lot of fun to put these on and see the success that we have and how it brings all the neighbors together.”

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To celebrate its 60th birthday, the Vienna Inn plans to host a range of community events, a spokesperson said.

Festivities began with a Kids’ Night on Monday (Feb. 3) at 120 E. Maple Ave, which featured a special menu, giveaways, activities, prizes and a photo booth, according to the event Facebook page.

There will be another Kids’ Night event on Monday (Feb. 10), the spokesperson said, adding the event will run from 5:30-7 p.m.

“A lot of our customers are like me and have been coming here since they were kids just like their parents,” Marty Volk, the owner of the Vienna Inn, said in a press release. “There are often three generations at a table on any given day.”

The spokesperson told Tysons Reporter that the location will add a few new menu items including barbecue ribs, healthy breakfast items, chicken sandwiches and breadsticks.

Every Tuesday, the location will host rib nights, where people can find deals on ribs and drinks.

Next Friday (Feb. 14), the eatery is hosting a Valentine’s Day party for families, according to a Facebook event. Perks include a gift for mothers, deals on wings after 5 p.m. and a treat for kids too.

The location also has “something big planned” for National Chili Day on Feb. 27, according to a press release, which added that the eatery usually serves more than 10,000 chili dogs a month.

Between first dates and bonding time with family members, the spokesperson said the community has strong ties to the eatery and owners will be hosting a Memorabilia Night, where people can bring in items of nostalgic value.

Though dates and more information hasn’t been released yet, the spokesperson said people can keep tabs on the Facebook page for dates.

Photo via the Vienna Inn/Facebook

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Tysons may not have the liveliest nightlife at the moment, but that could soon change as more late-night restaurants and places to hang out open. “Tysons After Dark” will highlight a different spot every week.

Rango’s Tex-Mex and Grill has party plans this weekend with its first anniversary on Saturday, followed by happy hour specials on Super Bowl Sunday.

The father and son-operated restaurant opened last year at 1934 Old Gallows Road to fill a taco and margarita void in Tysons, the owner told Tysons Reporter.

The restaurant serves up a variety of quesadillas, enchiladas, chimichangas and fajitas, along with margaritas, wine and daiquiris.

For Rango’s birthday celebration on Saturday (Feb. 1), diners can order 27 oz. margaritas for $12 and Mexican bottle beers — Corona, Negra Modelo, Modelo Especial and Pacifico — for $3. The restaurant will also have its regular happy hour specials from 3-7 p.m. at the bar.

For the Super Bowl on Sunday, the restaurant plans to offer several discounts during the game. For food, diners can get discounted chicken wings, BBQ ribs and carnitas. For drinks, the restaurant will have specials on its margaritas, sangria, mojitos, beers, wine and mixed drinks.

The restaurant is open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Saturday and until 10 p.m. on Sundays, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page. Happy hour is from 3-7 p.m. at the bar every day.

Photo via Rango’s Tex-Mex and Grill/Facebook

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As Tysons Reporter celebrates its first anniversary, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 most-read stories throughout the year.

From breaking news to announcements of upcoming developments, we’ve got it covered. Check it out.

10) Here’s What’s Opening With the Whole Foods in Tysons

Though Whole Foods at the Boro still isn’t open, shops and local businesses are gearing up to open their doors. Other eateries and businesses coming to the area include Flower Child, Ethan Allen, Fish Taco and Colour Bar Studio.

9) Chef Geoff’s Set to Close Tysons Restaurant in 12 Days

Chef Geoff’s closed their doors back in June after 10 years of business in the area.

8) Wawa Coming to Vienna

Wawa announced their upcoming presence in Vienna last year. Last week, Wawa unveiled that they are aiming to open April 2020, offering customers a fuel-free store.

7) Body Found Along Leesburg Pike in Tysons

Fairfax County police found a body near the Spring Hill Metro station back in May but noted there was no threat to the public.

6) Roads Closed in Tysons Area Following Major Flooding

In July, major flooding hit the Northern Virginia area, damaging local homes and several roads in the Tysons area.

5) Fairfax County Investigating American Disposal Services for Failed Trash Pick-Ups

American Disposal Services was under fire in May for failing to pick up trash, leading to an investigation by Fairfax County. The county later fined the collection company $2,500.

4) A Look at Scotts Run, the Tysons Development That Apple Has Its Eye On

In November 2018, Apple considered putting a new office in Tysons near Scotts Run.

3) Nothing Found After Police Respond to Reports of Man With Weapon at Gannett HQ

After a scare in early August, police determined that there was no threat to the Gannett HQ building in Tysons.

2) Apple Eyes Fairfax County As Arlington Lands Amazon

Apple reportedly considered bringing a campus to Tysons around the time tech-hub Amazon was eyeing Arlington. While Amazon decided to come to Arlington, Apple’s expansion plans don’t seem to include Fairfax County.

1) Macy’s in Tysons Galleria Closing With Big Clearance Sale

Macy’s offered customers discounts of 20-40% after announcing their closure in January at Tysons Galleria.

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Tysons Reporter will soon have a sister site in Alexandria.

In case you were wondering why former editor Vernon Miles has had fewer and fewer bylines on Tysons Reporter, he is now heading up the team behind ALXnow.

As Washingtonian reported, ALXnow — feel free to call it “Alexandria Now” — will offer “high-tempo online coverage” of “a mix of news about local government, transportation, restaurant openings, and the culture of the neighborhoods it serves.”

Our team is looking forward to providing a fresh look at Alexandria, with more immediate, online-only coverage that is intended for all who live, work or follow happenings in the city. Whether you rent an apartment in Old Town, own a house in the West End, work along Eisenhower Avenue or frequently visit Del Ray, we will be providing coverage that’s relevant and interesting to you.

Make sure to check out the new site when it launches Oct. 1 — the same week as Tysons Reporter’s one-year birthday — for Miles’ witty headlines and detailed civic coverage.

Follow ALXnow.com on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and sign up for its daily email newsletter here or below.

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What started as a Jewish bagel market in Tysons now serves up bagels and breakfast with a Korean twist.

The family-owned Tysons Bagel Market (8137 Leesburg Pike) began serving customers in 1994. Though ownership switched hands throughout the years, it is currently run by couple Nari Ha and Sang Sun Han, along with their daughter Jisoo.

The family acquired the business back in 2001 after the then-owner decided to sell the market and move onto another venture, according to Jisoo, who took on the role of company spokesperson.

Since then, they’ve incorporated their Korean heritage into their recipes, Jisoo said, adding that they are always trying out new things and making cultural changes to the menu, like their omelets.

Prior to the family’s acquisition of Tysons Bagel Market, her father always wanted to run a business, Jisoo said, but wasn’t sure how.

When they acquired the bagel market, the family “went in without knowing anything about bagels” — they were not even sure how to make a bagel or run a bakery, she said, adding that the previous owner gave them tips and tricks on how to be successful.

Today, Tysons Bagel Market operates seven days a week from 5 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekends. Jisoo said they bake thousands of bagels every week in a variety of flavors — her favorites are the blueberry and jalapeno ones.

The business continues to grow as they now offer wholesale production and see people from “different regions” frequenting their restaurant.

Jisoo said her family wants to continue serving the community with their fresh bagels made with wholesome ingredients.

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There’s a birthday party in the works for Tysons’ biggest nightlife spot, and you’re invited.

Tysons Biergarten is celebrating its third birthday and a year that has marked a number of changes for the bar with more on the way. Registration is available online.

The celebration is set for Saturday, July 20, from noon to 1:58 a.m. at the Biergarten (8346 Leesburg Pike).

According to the Facebook post:

We will be looking back on all the good times that wouldn’t be possible without you! We will have vendors, food, live music, games, and of course beer! Not to mention we will also be doing a free festival to help celebrate our birthday! Our third anniversary only happens once in our lifetime so make sure you don’t miss it!

Events at the party include a stein-hoisting contest and free giveaways.

While the upstairs is still the German beer-hall scene the brand was built on, the Biergarten recently converted the long tables downstairs into the Room 7 speakeasy — featuring a dress code and rotating music selection with a particular focus on international themes.

Tysons Biergarten had originally been planned to fill the space until nearby developments came online. But while The Boro is close to opening, Biergarten owner Matt Rofougaran said his restaurant is slated to stay in their location at least through the end of the year.

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