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If there was a business that helped make the past year more bearable for you, whether it was a restaurant that became a takeout favorite or a yoga studio that kept you centered by pivoting to online classes, now is your chance to give them some recognition — at least if they’re located in the Town of Vienna.

May is Business Appreciation Month in Virginia, and the Town of Vienna Economic Development Office announced yesterday (Tuesday) that it will celebrate by reviving the #ViennaUnited campaign that it introduced last year to support local businesses during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every opportunity to support our business community in a unique and creative way is valuable,” Town of Vienna Economic Development Manager Natalie Monkou said. “Through this initiative, we are aiming not only to spotlight businesses in Vienna, but to also share their unique stories as they continue navigating the health crisis.”

The campaign focuses on two awards, one for businesses and one for employees.

For the #ViennaUnited Virtual Business Awards, residents, visitors, and businesses can nominate local businesses and their owners in three areas: Entrepreneur of the Year, Excellence in Customer Service, the Give Back Award, and Sustainability, a new category for this year.

Last year’s winners were Mo:Mo House for its customer service, Social Burger for the Give Back Award, and Sundown & Rise Up Salon for Entrepreneur of the Year.

Nominations for the Virtual Business Awards are due on May 24, and a new set of winners will be unveiled on May 28.

The town will also highlight employees and staff members of local businesses throughout May with the Vienna Changemaker Awards, which are intended to recognize workers who “have made exceptional contributions to their respective organizations.”

Businesses and community members can submit individuals for consideration until noon on May 24. Winners will be featured on the Town of Vienna’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts over the course of the month.

In addition to the awards, the economic development office is organizing some town-wide activities and encouraging businesses to offer in-store promotions and events.

A local business bingo is currently underway through May 24, with winners scheduled to be announced when ViVa Vienna returns during Memorial Day weekend.

Historic Vienna is also hosting a “Language of the Flowers” virtual tea ceremony at 3 p.m. on May 15.

Packages containing English tea bags, scones, homemade lemon curd, sandwiches, and other treats can be reserved for $40 through this Saturday (May 8). They must be picked up from the Freeman Store and Museum front porch between noon and 2 p.m. on May 15.

More information about Vienna’s Business Appreciation Month initiative can be found on the economic development department’s website.

Photo courtesy Adam Kincaid/Town of Vienna

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Fairfax County Creates Tool to Get Off Vaccine Waitlist — People who registered for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment through the Fairfax County Health Department but ended up getting doses from another provider can now go online to take themselves off the waitlist. The county says canceling unnecessary registrations will speed up the queue and provide a more accurate picture of who’s waiting for an appointment. [Fairfax County Health Department]

Tysons Tech Company to Go Public With Merger — “Tysons analytics firm Qomplx Inc. is gearing up to go public through a merger with a blank-check company tied to the CEO of mattress juggernaut Casper Sleep Inc. (NYSE: CSPR). The local company, which provides an artificial intelligence-enabled risk management platform, among other products, has agreed to combine with Tailwind Acquisition Corp. in a deal that values Qomplx at $1.4 billion at $10 per share, the companies said Monday…The deal is expected to close in mid-2021.” [Washington Business Journal]

Garden Club of Fairfax Schedules 2021 Home and Garden Tour — “After last year’s cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Garden Club of Fairfax will hold its 2021 Home and Garden Tour in McLean. The tour is planned between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 20. Due to the pandemic, the tour will emphasize outdoor gardens to allow for social distancing. Masks will be required, and interiors of homes will not be available due to COVID-19 restrictions.” [Patch]

McLean High School Wins Press Freedom Award — “Two Fairfax County public schools — Chantilly High School and McLean High School — are among 14 schools nationwide selected as recipients of the 2021 First Amendment Press Freedom Award. This is the seventh consecutive award for Chantilly High, and the fourth award for McLean High. The award recognizes private and public high schools that actively support, teach, and protect First Amendment rights and responsibilities of students and teachers, with an emphasis on student-run media where students make all final decisions of content.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

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The Town of Vienna recently lauded two police officers after they saved a man’s life by administering CPR when he stopped breathing.

According to the Vienna Police Department, MPO Kenny Smith and Officer Dale “Chip” McElhattan encountered a male driver who had been in a vehicle accident and were talking to him when he went into cardiac arrest, collapsing on the pavement and ceasing to breathe.

The department says in a news release that the officers “immediately jumped into action, rendering CPR and re-establishing a pulse and breathing.”

“Shortly after, the driver stopped breathing again,” the VPD said. “[The] officers worked tirelessly administering CPR until EMS arrived on the scene and took over the life-saving care.”

The driver was subsequently transported to a hospital in the area, where he was stabilized.

The Town of Vienna recognized the officers’ efforts on Feb. 17, when Vienna Police Chief Jim Morris and Town Manager Mercury Payton presented them with “life-saving” awards. Members of Vienna’s human resources department, police colleagues, friends, and family also attended the ceremony.

The police department says McElhattan and Smith have also been nominated for the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce Valor award, which “recognizes public safety employees’ actions beyond the call of duty.”

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The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra (FSO) is one of five arts organizations in Virginia to receive an ArtStar award from Dominion Energy this year.

The FSO announced on Jan. 27 that it had received a $10,000 grant from the utility company to support its “Link Up” music education program, which was developed by the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall as a curriculum for students in third through fifth grade.

Dominion Energy created the ArtStar awards to “celebrate the contributions of arts organizations through their collaboration with schools and communities across the Commonwealth of Virginia,” according to the company’s website.

The awards went to one nonprofit arts and education organization with an annual budget under $1 million in each of Virginia’s five regions, making FSO the winner for the Northern region. Recipients were selected based on the artistic merit, innovation, and community impact of the program they submitted.

The other 2021 winners were Arts for Learning in Norfolk, Art for the Journey in Richmond, Halestone Foundation in Lexington, and The Origin Project in Big Stone Gap.

“These organizations show ways the creative spirit continues to thrive, whether through outdoor, virtual or digital programming,” Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation President Hunter A. Applewhite said. “Virginia is very fortunate to have these talented organizations committed to serving their local communities and youth.”

Based out of the Merrifield area, the Fairfax Symphony (2667 Prosperity Ave.) says it is the largest symphonic performing arts organization in Northern Virginia. It serves more than 15,000 people every season through performances and educational programs.

This was the fourth year that FSO provided the Link Up program to local schools, but the 2020-2021 school year was the first time that the curriculum was made available for free and virtually, leading to a 1,000% increase in the number of teachers who registered for the program, according to the orchestra.

Developed more than 30 years ago by Carnegie Hall, Link Up pairs orchestras with local elementary schools so students can learn about music and how to play an instrument or sing, culminating in a performance alongside the professional orchestra. The 2020-2021 program was shared by more than 120 partner organizations in the U.S. and around the world.

With the theme of “The Orchestra Swings,” FSO’s program focused on the connection between classical and jazz music, and featured the work of musicians like Duke Ellington, Florence Price, George Gershwin, and Leonard Bernstein.

While the move was necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the FSO says shifting Link Up to a virtual format allowed it to expand the program’s reach not just within Fairfax County Public Schools, which has been a partner for over 40 years, but also to schools in other jurisdictions, including Loudoun and Prince William counties as well as the City of Alexandria.

More than 10,000 students in 60 schools from around the D.C. region are participating in FSO’s Link Up program this year. The orchestra places a particular emphasis on included Title I schools, where at least 40% of students come from low-income families.

The program will conclude in May with a pre-recorded concert that will be shared in virtual classrooms. Students will accompany the FSO by singing along and playing recorders.

FSO Executive Director Jonathan Kerr says the organization is “thrilled and honored” to be a Dominion ArtStar award recipient.

“Our commitment to our community is stronger than ever, only strengthened by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Kerr said. “By sharing our concerts and education programs virtually, we are filling a critical need for quality arts programs to entertain, educate, inspire, sustain, and unite the communities we serve.”

Photo courtesy Dominion Energy

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Tuesday Morning Notes

McLean Volunteer Fire Department and Inova Host Blood Drive — “Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis blood supplies within our community and the nation are challenged. Make your lifesaving appointment today!” [McLean VFD/Facebook]

Nonprofit BBB National Programs Opens New HQ in Tysons — “Located at 1676 International Drive, the  location will allow for an operations expansion and allow BBB National Programs to grow its portfolio of self-regulation and dispute resolution programs, according to an organization statement.” [Virginia Business Journal]

What’s Under Construction in Tysons? — “Though the coronavirus pandemic has impacted Tysons, where office jobs still outnumber residents three to one, construction crews are still breaking ground and ribbons are still being cut on new buildings.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Falls Church Resident Wins First Annual Library Service Award — “In a misty ceremony on Oct. 23, the first annual Chet De Long Award for Outstanding Service was presented to Eric Albrecht. Library patrons will recognize Albrecht as he has worked at the circulation desk for more than 16 years.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Photo via McLean VFD/Facebook

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Why More and More Families in Tysons are Calling High-Rises Home — “High-rise housing is often portrayed as places for the young and childless. Housing for transient young adults before they move out to the suburbs to start families. But Tysons shows that this stereotype leaves out a large number of families who live in high-rises.” [Greater Greater Washington]

No Car Decals in This Fall’s Tax Bills — “Falls Church Treasurer Jody Acosta reported to the F.C. City Council Tuesday that the personal property tax bills being issued this fall will not, as in the past, include decals to be placed on car windshields.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Creative Cauldron Director Wins Another Helen Hayes Award — “Matt Conner, the prolific composer, writer, director and performer for Falls Church’s own Creative Cauldron theater company won a highly prestigious D.C. Metro [region-wide] Helen Hayes Award for Best Director of a Musical for his work on the Cauldron’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” earlier this year.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Vienna Kids’ Friendship Bracelet Sales Feed Families In Need –“The sisters’ efforts making bracelets over the summer helps an initiative of restaurants feeding families during the pandemic.” [Patch]

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Two Tysons-area theaters are recent recipients of the 36th annual Helen Hayes Awards.

Tysons-based 1st Stage Theatre and Falls Church-based Creative Cauldron were both nominated in several categories earlier this year. In total, 1st Stage Theatre has 18 nominations, while Creative Cauldron has nine this year.

While the awards show is slated for later this month, recent announcements revealed that the theaters have won some awards.

Award announcements began Aug. 31 and will continue until Sept. 11. So far, 1st Stage has won “Outstanding Lighting Design (Hayes)” for “The Brothers Size” and Creative Cauldron has nabbed the “Outstanding Lead Performers in a Musical (Helen)” award for Nora Palka in “On Air.”

Each year, Theatre Washington presents awards to over 90 theatres and artists around the D.C. area in honor of Helen Hayes, who is known as the “First Lady of American Theatre,” according to Theatre Washington. The year-long nomination process for the Helen Hayes Awards includes 40 judges attending around 200 productions.

An in-person Helen Hayes Awards Ceremony was supposed to be May 18th, but due to COVID-19, it was moved to a virtual ceremony. This year’s virtual ceremony will be held on Friday (Sept. 25).

People will have to wait to see if the two local theaters have more of their nominations turned into awards.

Photo via Rob Laughter/Unsplash

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Several Tysons-area eateries are among the nominees for this year’s Rammy’s from the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.

Announced yesterday (Monday), the nominees for several categories include restaurants in Tysons, Vienna, the Mosaic District and Falls Church.

Here are the nominations for local restaurants:

  • Manager of the Year: Bethany Wagener of Alta Strada in the Mosaic District and Rizza Leguro of Founding Farmers Tysons
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Katherine Thompson of Thompson Italian
  • Wine Program of the Year: Vienna’s Clarity
  • Beer Program of the Year: B Side in the Mosaic District and Caboose Brewing Company in Vienna
  • Restaurateur of the Year: Mark Fedorchak, Stephen Fedorchak and Brian Normile of The Liberty Tavern Group, which manages Northside Social in Falls Church, and Victor Albisu and Poca Madre of Taco Bamba Taqueria — a local chain with locations in Falls Church and Vienna

So far, the winners are expected to be announced at the awards gala in D.C. on July 26, but coronavirus-prompted closures and restrictions could alter the date.

“RAMW is considering an unspecified date later in the year with its partners at Events DC,” according to the announcement.

Congrats to the local nominees!

Photo via Thompson Italian/Facebook

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Vienna officials want residents to nominate volunteers for upcoming awards.

Nominations for individuals are due March 30, while nominations for the 2020 Carole Wolfand Award, which celebrates a local business, are due March 9.

The Town Business Liaison Committee will select the finalist for the 2020 Carole Wolfand Award, according to the nomination form.

“Show your appreciation for the Town of Vienna’s hometown heroes by nominating one or more individuals or groups to be recognized,” the town said in a press release.

The awardees will be recognized at the annual Mayor’s Volunteer Reception at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14, at the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department, according to the press release.

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Local Vienna eatery Pure Pasty Co. won several international awards this past weekend for its food.

The 2020 World Pasty Championships took place in Cornwall, England, which is home of the traditional meat pocket. Pasties are a traditional English specialty and can come in a variety of flavors but are typically a savory snack filled with a variety of ingredients and encased with a flaky crust.

At a biodome venue called the Eden Project, the competition brought together chefs from Argentina, Canada, the U.S. and the United Kingdom, according to Michael Burgess, the Vienna eatery’s owner.

Burgess beat most of the other roughly 180 entries and took home a silver medal for his lamb jalfrezi pasty and a bronze medal for the cheese and onion flavor pasty, which were both in the savory category.

The lamb jalfrezi, which embodies a flare of Indian cuisine, is one of his favorite recipes since it has a good “flavor profile and heat,” Burgess told Tysons Reporter, adding that he credits one of his friends and customers for giving him the original recipe, which he tweaked.

In past years, the eatery at 128 Church Street NW has won other awards at the competition as well, and Burgess said attending the competition became a “pilgrimage” and “tradition.”

Many community members congratulated the eatery online after a shoutout on the Town of Vienna’s social media accounts.

“Wonderful! I’ve had the cheese onion one and it is scrumptious!,” wrote one Facebook user.

Originally living in the United Kingdom, Burgess worked in a banking firm and used to visit the U.S. with friends on snowboarding trips, he said. He and his friends used to talk about the lack of pasty options, and after Burgess said he saved up some money, he decided to open his own business.

“We have spent years honing our craft, and these results show that we are getting it right,” a press release said. “We do our best to give all the ex-pats in the D.C. area a real taste of home.”

The group plans to return to Vienna shortly, he said, adding that “we have a lovely certificate to hang on the wall when we get back.”

For anyone wishing to try one of the award-winning pasties, the restaurant is open on Sunday-Monday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., Tuesday-Friday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Besides pasties, the eatery also offers pies and sausage rolls, desserts, soups and salads according to its online menu. Prices for individual dishes are about $8.

Though the store doesn’t deliver small orders for individual meals, it does catering for events and the British Embassy in D.C. is a regular client, Burgess said.

Photos courtesy Pure Pasty Co. 

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