Tysons, VA

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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Monday Morning Notes

Routine Maintenance Closes Parts of Clemyjontri Park — “While some sections are closed, others will remain open and the work will rotate throughout the playground from Sat., Nov. 21 through approximately Fri., Dec. 4, 2020.” [Fairfax County Park Authority/Twitter]

Tysons Sheraton Liquidation Sale Shows Impact of Pandemic — “[Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association Eric] Terry estimated 20 Virginia hotels closed on a temporary basis during the pandemic, and although most have since reopened, the outlook is bleak. More hotels may follow the Sheraton’s path.” [DCist]

Social Distancing Santa Offers Sense of Normalcy — “The Wells were among a stready stream of families entering Santa’s Headquarters at Tysons Corner Center Friday night with a reservation in hand for their annual picture with Santa Claus.” [ABC7-WJLA]

Pandemic Pushes Key Retailers out of Founders Row Project — “Business casualties from the coronavirus pandemic hit home for the City of Falls Church, with major retailers in hybrid theater-restaurant Studio Movie Grill and City Works restaurant both backing out of their commitment to the Founders Row Development due to financial troubles.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed another Tysons area restaurant.

Da Domenico has been permanently closed since Oct. 10 after operating at 1992 Chain Bridge Road for 39 years, owner Sayed Hussain confirmed to Tysons Reporter today.

Patch first reported the closure this morning after noticing a statement on the Italian restaurant’s website explaining that it has been unable to remain open “given the pandemic and its implications.”

Hussain says the property owner chose not to renew Da Domenico’s lease, which was coming to an end, and it was “tough” to stay in business with the challenges imposed by COVID-19, which has required restaurants to adopt a range of safety measures and restrict the number of customers they serve to enforce social distancing protocols.

Before it closed, Da Domencio had limited its operating hours to 5-9:30 p.m., though the website states that it had hoped to reopen for lunch soon.

Ongoing construction on Chain Bridge Road also contributed to the difficult decision to close, according to Hussain.

“There’s a lot of history attached to this restaurant,” Hussain said, noting that Da Domenico had garnered many loyal customers, including politicians and celebrities, during the nearly four decades it was in business.

Hussain says Da Domencio could reopen if he finds a new location, but for now, patrons can find the same Italian cuisine at its sister restaurant, Zeffirelli, in the Town of Herndon.

Zeffirelli, which Hussain also owns, has not encountered the same issues as Da Domencio and remains open, albeit with shortened, dinner-only hours.

Loyal Da Domenico patrons who visit Zeffirelli can get wine or a dessert on the house if they tell their server that they’re coming from the Tysons restaurant, Hussain says.

Photo via Google Maps

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The Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant had once taken up a key corner spot in Tysons Corner Center, right across from the Barnes & Noble. But while other restaurants are reopening from pandemic closures, Gordon Biersch is gone for good.

The closure is a latest for the franchise, which had four other regional locations close earlier this year. While the Tysons location was reportedly “not on the chopping block” in March, according to eater, the following months put additional challenges on many restaurants.

With the Tysons location gone, the closest Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant is in Annapolis, Maryland.

The Tysons location still held a special place in the heart of some locals, though, which took home the Great American Beer Festival gold medal in 2018 for a Czech-style pilsner, DC Beer reported. The Tysons Corner Center location brewed beer on-site and offered tours in pre-pandemic times.

Photo via Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant

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Bruster’s Real Ice Cream near the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station plans to close permanently tomorrow (Friday).

Renita Shelton, the eatery’s manager, posted the announcement earlier today on the Facebook page for the location (2672D Avenir Place).

Bruster’s is known for its variety of cold treats including ice cream, shakes, floats, sodas and cakes.

Shelton called the upcoming closure a “bittersweet moment,” sharing that “the decision to close the shop at this given point in time was necessary for your safety as well as ours.”

Shelton thanked customers who “traveled far and wide” to come to the shop and other D.C. area locations for the ice cream chain.

Tysons Reporter reached out to the store earlier today and will update this story if more information becomes available.

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Bye, bye Bloomin’ Onion. The Outback Steakhouse in the Town of Vienna plans to close in early August.

Elizabeth Watts, the spokesperson for the restaurant chain, told Tysons Reporter that the Vienna location’s last day of business will be Sunday, Aug. 9.

“Our lease is expiring next month, so we will be closing this location,” Watts said, adding that a new Outback Steakhouse plans to open in Gainesville this fall. The chain currently has nearby locations in Herndon and Arlington.

“Employees will have the opportunity to transfer to a nearby location,” Watts said. “Those who do not transfer will receive severance.”

The restaurant has been in business for 25 years at 315 Maple Avenue E. and has 46 employers, according to Outback Steakhouse’s website.

It is unclear what will happen to the spot once the restaurant leaves. Eric Collich with First Washington Realty, which leases the space at the shopping center where the restaurant is located, declined to comment.

“I am not at liberty to discuss current tenants or future plans but at FWR we are dedicated to cultivating exceptional shopping experiences in communities where we own property such as Vienna,” Collich wrote in an email.

People who want to order from the restaurant before it closes can get curbside take-out, delivery or dine at the restaurant, which has limited capacity and hours, according to its website.

The website lists the restaurant’s hours as 4-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. on Sundays.

Photo via Outback Steakhouse/Facebook

Hat tip to Vienna VA Foodies Facebook Group

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Jewelry store Alex and Ani seems to have left the Mosaic District.

The Merrifield location has an empty storefront and has been removed from the company’s website in addition to the Mosaic District’s directory

No social media posts have been made regarding the closure, and attempts to reach the company have been unsuccessful. However, their Facebook page indicates that their location is permanently closed. 

Meanwhile, the Alex and Ani location in Tysons Corner Center is still listed on the company’s website and mall’s directory. While both sites say the store is “closed,” a mall employee said that the store is open.

Photo courtesy Patrick Raffaele

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A shop selling hand-made chocolates has closed in the Mosaic District.

After eight years in the shopping center, Artisan Confections closed the store due to “economic fallout from COVID-19,” owner Jason Andelman posted on Facebook on Friday, July 17.

“We had a good run — but in this uncertain retail environment, staying operational there was not financially feasible,” Andelman wrote. “It was a bittersweet (pun intended) departure, but we are grateful to be able to carry on in Arlington as we have since 2006.”

Now, Artisan Confections is offering in-store pick-up from the Arlington location on certain days, along with online shopping, according to its website.

“The Arlington location will continue to operate under a limited schedule for the rest of the summer,” Andelman wrote. “We will still be shipping chocolates throughout the continental U.S. (we use thermal packaging and ice packs to deal with the heat) via our website.”

The Mosaic District has seen a number of changes recently. BGR Burger Grilled Right, Cheesetique and GreatGatherings all shuttered their locations there recently. Meanwhile, Madison Reed opened its new store and color bar in the shopping center.

Photo via Artisan Confections/Facebook

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Vienna Officials OK New Police Equipment — “The Council agreed to ‘ride’ a Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services contract with Kustom Signal Inc. to obtain new in-car radar units for all 11 of the Vienna Police Department’s patrol vehicles and 10 ProLaser handheld LIDAR units. The contract’s cost is not to exceed $51,202.” [Inside NoVa]

Supercuts Closed in Falls Church — “According to a notice on the door from Woodmont Properties, the landlord has taken possession of the space and changed the locks.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Local Paper Condemns Falls Church Institutions — A commentary from the Falls Church News-Press calls for the city to get rid of the “Hangman’s Tree” plague and either reimagine or eliminate the annual Civil War Day tradition. [Falls Church News-Press]

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