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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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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