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The Mosaic District will soon be a little emptier, with the impending closure of Wee Chic (2905 District Avenue, Suite 120) coming on the heels of the recent departure of Purée Artisan Juice Bar (Suite 140).

A chalkboard sign outside Wee Chic last Thursday (Sept. 16) indicated that the kids’ clothing boutique is currently having a “location closing” sale. Owner Bridget Quinn Strickline confirmed that Sunday (Sept. 26) will likely be the store’s last day.

Wee Chic launched its original store in Lutherville, Maryland, north of Baltimore in 2009 and expanded to Merrifield with its second location in the spring of 2019, just a month before its 10-year anniversary.

Stickline says she loved having the Mosaic store, which saw “very strong” business from young families with infants and toddlers, but it ultimately didn’t attract the balanced customer base needed to justify renewing the lease for the 1,800 square feet of space.

“We met wonderful customers that were terrific, and we had so much fun getting to know them and watching their little kids grow up over the few years we were there,” she said. “But we just didn’t develop those next two categories, which is the kid and the tween, and that’s essential to making our formula successful.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic “certainly wasn’t helpful,” it wasn’t a huge factor in the decision to leave the Mosaic District, Stickline says, expressing appreciation for the support that property owner Edens offered Wee Chic and other merchants over the past year of shutdowns and public health restrictions.

Mosaic customers can still order from Wee Chic by phone and online, two options added while the physical stores were closed in the spring of 2020. Stickline previously resisted the allure of e-commerce, preferring in-person interactions, but she says the online store “was a lifesaver” during the pandemic.

In addition, the 3,000 square-foot Lutherville location is not only still open, but remains so successful that Wee Chic recently launched a new, teen-focused brand called Girlhero in the same shopping center.

Stickline hasn’t ruled out a return to Northern Virginia for Wee Chic or Girlhero, which she says is “off to a great start.”

“We love the Northern Virginia market,” Stickline said. “I think it’s a matter of kind of figuring out where the right mix of clients are for us, where we get kind of all of the age groups represented really well and we can be a part of that community.”

Just down the street from Wee Chic, Purée Juice Bar has been shuttered. Signs posted to its windows encourage patrons to visit its other locations at The Boro and in D.C. and Bethesda, Maryland.

Purée Director of Marketing and E-commerce Jordan von Lange says the company closed its Mosaic District store on Aug. 31, citing a decline in foot traffic and the widespread hiring challenges that have stymied the country’s retail and service industries.

“Our lease was ending in October and we decided not to extend the lease due to a decrease in foot traffic in the Mosaic area and close up early because the staffing shortage,” van Lange said. “We also just opened up a new location close by inside the Whole Foods in The Boro at Tysons so wanted to pursue that opportunity instead.”

The women’s fashion store Francesca’s (Suite C10) also appears to be closed, as Yelp users have reported, but a customer service representative told Tysons Reporter by phone that the company has shut down several of its stores recently for remodeling.

An email to Francesca’s corporate office asking whether the Mosaic District closure is permanent did not get a response by press time. The clothing retailer’s Tysons Corner Center location remains open.

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(Updated at 8 p.m. on 9/15/2021) Mickey Mouse is packing up his bags and will soon say farewell to Tysons Corner Center.

The Disney store will close its doors by Sept. 22 after more than three decades at the mall, joining dozens of other brick-and-mortar locations across the country that the company is shuttering to focus more on online retail.

(Correction: This article originally said the Disney store opened at Tysons Corner Center in April 2012. That was the opening of the current remodeled store. The original, larger store had been around since the late 1980s.)

As recently as the end of August, the Tysons Corner store looked like it might be spared, but Disney’s shop locator was updated within the past week to indicate that the location will indeed close on or before Sept. 22, news further confirmed by signs set up at the store entrance.

A banner on Disney’s online store locator informing users that the Tysons Corner Center store will close (via Disney)

The store saw a steady stream of customers coming and going early yesterday afternoon (Tuesday). Banners advertised a 40% discount on all products, though an employee informed visitors that all sales are final, meaning there can be no refunds or returns.

Disney announced on March 23 that it will close at least 60 stores in North America this year, citing a pandemic-driven need to focus on ecommerce through its Shop Disney platform.

“While consumer behavior has shifted toward online shopping, the global pandemic has changed what consumers expect from a retailer,” Stephanie Young, Disney’s president of consumer products, games, and publishing said in the press release. “…We now plan to create a more flexible, interconnected ecommerce experience that gives consumers easy access to unique, high-quality products across all our franchises.”

The media conglomerate said it will continue to maintain physical stores in its theme parks and inside other retailers, such Target, which plans to add more than 100 new Disney shops within its big-box stores by the end of the year.

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The McDonald’s at the Pan Am Shopping Center just outside of Vienna has closed.

Located at 3091 Nutley Street, the fast-food chain shared a standalone building in the shopping center with what used to be a Capital One Bank, though that space at 3095 Nutley has been vacated as well.

Neither McDonald’s nor Federal Realty, which owns the Pan Am Shopping Center, returned a request for comment on exactly when the location shuttered and what led to the closure.

Both 3091 and 3095 Nutley Street are now listed as available for leasing on Federal Realty’s webpage for the shopping center.

McDonald’s announced in July 2020 that it was permanently closing 200 stores, most of them in Walmarts. The move focused on “low-volume restaurants” and was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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LoKL Gourmet has been permanently closed for less than a month, but a new restaurant promising a similar Whole Foods-style market with a local focus is already preparing to fill the void that the McLean shop left behind.

Roots Provisions & Grocery will take over Suite E at 8100 Old Dominion Drive, according to the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority’s database. With an effective date of March 10, the restaurant’s application for a liquor license is currently pending.

Anne Alfano, the chef and business manager for Roots, says it will be an “elevated” fast-casual restaurant with an emphasis on healthy ingredients. Like Lokl Gourmet, its menu will consist of sandwiches, soups, salad and vegan bowls, and assorted breakfast options.

The venue will also contain a bar that serves beer, wine, and cocktails as well as a grocery section with everything from freshly farmed milk and eggs to pasta, charcuterie, and baked goods, such as cake pops and croissants.

“My goal is to take the former concept of Lokl Gourmet, but make it cleaner, make it healthier, and a little bit more pleasing to the eye,” Alfano told Tysons Reporter.

A notice on the LoKL Gourmet website indicates that the eatery struggled financially throughout 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but managed to persevere until the end of February, thanks to support from its landlord, vendors, and community.

“Our team of food enthusiasts hope to have an opportunity to serve you in the future,” the message to patrons says. “But for now, our restaurant and bar are now closed and we will not be reopening at this location for the foreseeable future.”

The LoKL Gourmet team encourages customers to continue supporting local businesses and locally-sourced foods and products, which were at the heart of the gourmet market’s appeal since it opened in 2015.

In addition to offering a similar menu, Roots will retain some of Lokl Gourmet’s employees and its goal of fostering a neighborhood-friendly environment. The new restaurant’s name reflects the owners’ close ties to McLean, according to Alfano.

“It’s owned by people who live in McLean…who grew up in McLean and live in McLean,” she said. “They’re trying to keep it in the neighborhood, trying to keep the neighborhood vibrant, trying to contribute and give back.”

While the permitting process makes it hard to pin down an exact date, the Roots team hopes to open in April, when the weather will be warmer and COVID-19 vaccinations are expected to accelerate both locally and nationally.

Alfano says they will comply with all health protocols, including mask requirements, and there will be robust curbside pick-up and delivery options, along with an outdoor patio with limited seating.

“We’re in the midst of a major vaccination campaign, and people are eager to go out into the warm weather,” Alfano said. “…I think it’s a great time to open a restaurant right now.”

Image via Google Maps

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The Safeway grocery store on Chain Bridge Road in McLean will soon be no more.

Tysons Reporter received several tips from readers about the impending closure after “going out of business” signs advertising sales popped up last week at the Safeway located at 1330 Chain Bridge Road.

A Safeway spokeswoman confirmed that the store is expected to close on April 30.

This is the only store that Safeway is closing in its mid-Atlantic division, which includes Virginia, D.C., Maryland, and Delaware, says Safeway Mid-Atlantic spokesperson Beth Goldberg.

“Closing a store is always a tough decision, but we sometimes have to make those decisions so we can invest appropriately in other areas of our business,” she said. “Like all retailers, we are constantly evaluating our store portfolio and look at every angle of the business. This includes our real estate.”

The parent company, Albertsons, will still have 111 Safeway stores in the D.C. area after this one closes, she said.

“We have no immediate plans to close any other locations,” she said.

A Lidl will be taking its place.

DMV-area retail-only real estate brokerage firm H&R Retail, which owns the Safeway property on Chain Bridge Road, now lists the German supermarket chain as a tenant. The chain, which is expanding its footprint in Northern Virginia, is known for its low prices.

Lidl spokesperson Chandler Ebeier confirmed to Tysons Reporter that the grocery retailer “will be opening a store in this location in the future, but it is too early to offer specifics at this time.”

“We look forward to serving the community in the future,” he said.

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Valentine’s Day will be the final day of business for The Greek Taverna (6828 Old Dominion Dr.) after almost 28 years in McLean.

The impending closure was first reported yesterday by McLean Patch.

Co-owner Christos Karamanos told Tysons Reporter that a variety of factors led him and his wife Popi to decide to close the restaurant that they started in 1994.

Christos says business slowed down significantly after the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, with public health concerns discouraging many people from going out.

Closure became inevitable when attempts to negotiate terms for rent forgiveness with their landlord reached an impasse, but the couple is also reaching an age where they felt ready to move on after running the restaurant for 27 years.

“Greece is beautiful and that’s where I want to go spend a lot of time,” Karamanos said.

Still, leaving behind the McLean community when The Greek Taverna closes its doors for the last time on Sunday will not be easy.

The Greek Taverna offers a menu of shish-kabobs, pastitsio, and other cuisine from the Karamanos couple’s native Greece. They came to the U.S. in the 1970s, and this was their second restaurant in Northern Virginia, according to Patch.

“Our customers and friends, we’re going to miss them terribly,” Karamanos said. “I wish that things were different. We met a lot of good customers here and a lot of good friends too.”

Photo via Google Maps

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Friday Morning Notes

Fairfax County Public Schools Teacher Arrested for Sexual Assaults — A teacher who has worked for FCPS for 29 years was arrested on Wednesday (Jan. 20) for allegedly sexually assaulting a student in 1994 and 1995. He taught at Barden Elementary School in Fort Belvoir at the time of the assaults. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Vienna Firefighters Assist with Inauguration Emergency Response — “Yesterday, our volunteers were honored to help DC Fire and EMS support the Presidential Inauguration. 9 other volunteer ambulances from Fairfax County also provided assistance.” [Vienna Volunteer Fire Department/Twitter]

Dranesville Elementary Student Raises Money to Feed National Guard — Third-grader Mache raised $1,700 to help chef Spike Mendelsohn’s restaurant We, the Pizza feed National Guard troops who provided security in D.C. on Inauguration Day. The restaurant matched Mache’s donation and invited her to help distribute the pizzas. [FCPS]

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Says More COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Needed — In a letter to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Jeff McKay said that the state would need to increase the number of vaccine doses provided to Fairfax County if it plans to expand eligibility requirements again. The county has been averaging 10,000 doses a week, but the waitlist for appointments has grown to 115,000 people. [@JeffreyCMcKay/Twitter]

Deadline for Fairfax County Police Chief Survey Extended — A community survey seeking public input on the search for Fairfax County’s next police chief will now be open through Saturday, Jan. 30. [Fairfax County Government]

Falls Church Petco to Close — “The Petco located at 7395 Lee Highway in Falls Church is closing Saturday, Jan. 23, after almost 10 years at that location. Pet food, toys, and supplies in the store are available at up to 70 percent off retail prices.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Photo via Vienna Volunteer Fire Department/Twitter

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Choolaah has left the Mosaic District in Merrifield.

The fast-casual Indian restaurant shut its doors on Mar. 19 for what was expected to be a temporary hiatus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the chain announced in a Facebook post on Jan. 5 that the closure is now permanent “despite our efforts to find a viable pathway for reopening.”

“This has been a challenging time for our friends, families, community and country,” Choolaah said. “That being said, we are heartened by the amazing support and kindness shown throughout this difficult period. We thank you for the warmth, joy and delight you have brought us over the years and hope to be back in the future.”

The announcement drew an outpouring of emotions from commenters, with multiple people calling the restaurant their favorite place in the Mosaic District.

Wholesome International, the company that owns Choolaah, and EDENS, the Mosaic District property owner, did not return requests for further comment from Tysons Reporter by publication time.

However, a Mosaic District employee told Tysons Reporter that the closure possibly stemmed from the owners being unable to afford rent payments for the space.

Choolaah opened its first and only Fairfax County location at the Mosaic District in December 2016. The chain started in 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio, and now has five venues.

Choolaah has a location in Sterling that remains open. That restaurant also closed last spring due to the pandemic, but it reopened for delivery, takeout, and curbside pickup service in July. The company says on Facebook it is looking at “new opportunities in the area.”

The Mosaic District has lost several tenants in the past year. Other departures include the restaurants Brine, Cheesetique, and BGR Burger Grilled Right, the furniture retailer Great Gatherings, the chocolate shop Artisan Confections, and the jewelry store Alex and Ani.

Photo via Google Maps

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The Town of Vienna is about to lose an icon.

Amphora Restaurant will permanently close its doors on Jan. 12 after occupying 377 Maple Ave. for 44 years. Word of the impending closure started circulating on social media yesterday.

“It’s impossible to put into words what this place has meant to so many,” Amphora’s owners said in their announcement on Facebook. “With all of the support you’ve shown us over the years, we are beyond humbled to have contributed to our local restaurant and neighborhood community.”

Co-owner Maria Bilidas attributes the decision to close to the challenges of operating a restaurant under the limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amphora Group will instead consolidate its operations and staff at the newer Amphora Diner Deluxe that it runs in Herndon, where it also has a bakery and catering business.

“We have our bakery up in Herndon. Our corporate offices are in Herndon,” Bilidas said. “Given the current situation and the fact that we don’t see things changing in 2021 any time soon, we felt it was the prudent business decision to consolidate all our operations at this point to our restaurant up in Herndon.”

Founded in 1977 by the Cholakis and Bilidas families, Amphora offers an eclectic, comfort food-oriented menu with more than 350 items, ranging from burgers and grilled cheese to Greek, Italian, and Mexican cuisine. The Vienna restaurant is also complemented by a bakery with cakes, pies, and other desserts.

With its 24/7 operating hours, including all-day breakfast, and congenial atmosphere, the seemingly permanent Maple Avenue fixture built up a reliable local customer base, becoming a go-to venue for families, couples on date nights, and students looking to hang out late into the night.

“We love Vienna,” Bilidas said. “We all grew up in Vienna, we went to high school in Vienna, we have a very strong symbolic relationship with the Town of Vienna.”

Bilidas says the owners all labored “for days and days” over whether to close Amphora Restaurant, but when they got an offer from someone looking to purchase the property, they determined that shutting down would be the best decision for the business and their employees.

Many of the workers at Amphora’s Vienna restaurant will move to the Herndon location, and the owners are encouraging patrons to visit the diner, which has essentially the same menu.

“It’s been a long run, and we’ve made so many connections and so many friends,” Bilidas said. “Some people have moved out to our other location out west as people have moved, and they’re now regulars at our restaurant up in Herndon…We really hope [our customers] come and visit us there.”

Photo via Google Maps

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Republik Coffee Bar (7915 Jones Branch Dr.) permanently closed earlier this week, Tysons Reporter has confirmed.

An employee at Republik Coffee’s Ballston shop told Tysons Reporter today (Friday) that the Tysons venue permanently shut its doors three or four days ago, but the worker was not privy to any behind-the-scenes information about what went into that decision.

A representative of Highgate at the Mile, the mixed-use building that houses Republik Coffee in Tysons, also stated that the shop just closed, but she didn’t know why. Tysons Reporter also reached out to Kettler, which owns Highgate, for comment but has not heard back yet.

Originally based in Arlington, Republik Coffee came to Tysons in June 2018 with the goal of providing premium coffee and serving as a key tenant of the fledgling Highgate development. It had been envisioned as the start of a larger expansion that would have included another Fairfax County location and two venues in Washington, D.C.

However, signs of trouble emerged only nine months later when Republik Coffee received an eviction notice in February 2019. Owner Talha Sarac told Tysons Reporter at the time that the situation was a misunderstanding, and the location stayed open past the Feb. 27, 2019 date when the space was supposed to be vacated.

Highgate resident Ryan Martinez informed Tysons Reporter yesterday (Thursday) that the furniture in Republik Coffee had been packed up, and equipment appeared to be in the process of being removed. He noted that the shop had always been a little erratic, opening its doors on some days and closing on others.

“I’m sure the pandemic really drove down business,” Martinez said. “Too bad, hope they or another coffee shop can turn things around.”

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