Newsletter

Vienna’s hopes for a revitalized Cedar Park Shopping Center hit a bump last month with the departure of a key tenant.

El Sol Restaurante & Tequileria closed its doors in mid-January, confirmed a worker at El Sol’s original restaurant in D.C., which remains open.

Brother-and-sister owners Alfredo and Jessica Solis opened the Vienna El Sol in Suites C and D at 262 Cedar Lane in February 2020, when construction to renovate the center was still underway. A month later, COVID-19 would prompt restaurants across the state to temporarily shut down.

The economic challenges brought by the pandemic, including a nationwide shortage of staffing in the food service industry, ultimately proved untenable for El Sol.

“Like many restaurants in the past couple of years since the pandemic began, El Sol Vienna is a casualty of the circumstances created by these unprecedented times,” Alfredo Solis said. “We struggled with business and retaining employees and in the end, my sister and I felt it best to close those doors and focus more of our efforts towards supporting our other restaurants that weren’t hit as hard. We’re grateful to the Vienna community for all of their support.”

In addition to the D.C. El Sol, Alfredo and Jessica Solis continue to operate Mezcalero, which has locations in D.C. and Alexandria, and Anafre, which serves tacos, pizza, and sandwiches on 14th Street in D.C.

El Sol’s 3,800 square-foot space won’t be vacant for long. Posts in the Vienna VA Foodies Facebook group indicate that another Mexican restaurant called El Sabor Grill is moving in.

While the banner advertising the new venue, as seen in those posts, had been taken down when Tysons Reporter visited on Saturday (Jan. 28), a worker inside confirmed that the new restaurant will have a different management team and is not connected to El Sol.

El Sabor Grill will join the Japanese restaurant Sushi Koji, which opened at Cedar Park Shopping Center in late December. Openings for the chicken wing chain America’s Best Wings and Turkish restaurant Lezzet are also anticipated early this year.

The mall is also preparing to add Toby’s Homemade Ice Cream, an Arlington-based ice cream shop that will take over the space vacated in August by Crepes and Karak Cafe.

First Washington Realty, which owns Cedar Park Shopping Center, did not return an email requesting comment by publication time.

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Idylwood Shooting Was a Suicide — Fairfax County police confirmed community reports that they responded to a shooting in the 7600 block of Virginia Lane near the W&OD Trail over the weekend. A spokesperson told Tysons Reporter that an individual died by suicide in a backyard, explaining that the department generally doesn’t publicly report suicides. [FCPD]

Funding for New 911 Model Approved — A budget review approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday (Jan. 25) included Covid relief funds for 26 positions to support the first phase of a permanent program where police work with behavioral health specialists when responding to 911 calls. The county began piloting the co-responder model last year. [Jeff McKay]

“City View” Tysons Site Sold to Developer — An affiliate of D.C. developer Four Points LLC bought the former Association for Manufacturing Technology building site at 7901 Westpark Drive for about $10 million in late December. AMT was poised to build a 10-story office tower on the lot east of Tysons Galleria, but the site’s future under Four Points, which generally works on primarily residential mixed-use projects, is unclear. [Washington Business Journal]

McLean Gift Shop to CloseThe Artisans will close in February after 32 years of selling handmade clothing, home decor, and other items, starting in 1990 at Marketplace of McLean before moving to its current location in the Langley Shopping Center. The owners plan to retire and are selling everything for 20% off. [Patch]

County Retains AAA Bond Rating — “On Wednesday, Jan. 19, Fairfax County completed a successful bond sale, generating $300 million to fund various project areas, after once again affirming its AAA bond rating with all three major rating agencies.” [Fairfax County Government]

0 Comments

The end has arrived for J.R.’s Stockyards Inn, where Tysons’ penchant for steakhouses began more than four decades ago.

According to Fairfax County land records, J.R.’s Custom Catering sold the two-story restaurant-turned-banquet hall at 8130 Watson Street for $15.5 million on Dec. 28. The 1.18-acre property hit the market last March.

Buyer AM Tysons LLC is registered at the same address as the corporate headquarters of Macerich, the real estate firm that owns Tysons Corner Center.

The Washington Business Journal reported on Friday (Jan. 21) that Stockyards Inn closed earlier this year, and J.R.’s anticipates that the building will be torn down to make way for new development.

The county’s property record says the sale price “reflects anticipated redevelopment.”

A Macerich spokesperson told Tysons Reporter that they “are unable to comment” at this time, and efforts to contact J.R.’s Custom Catering were not returned by press time.

One of the area’s first restaurants outside of the mall, J.R.’s Stockyards Inn opened in 1978 as Tysons’ original steakhouse, according to its website, which says the venue became famous for its beef and hosted many political, sports, and entertainment figures over the years.

The restaurant closed in 2011, as the venue turned into a banquet hall for private events and catering operations.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning in October 2020 that would enable the property to be replaced with a 26-story mixed-use residential tower, but it’s unclear whether Macerich intends to revise that proposal at all.

The real estate company is currently seeking county approval for additional development at Tysons Corner Center, which is located just across the street from J.R.’s Stockyards Inn on the other side of International Drive.

J.R.’s Custom Catering also shut down its Pavilions at Turkey Run in July 2020, as the National Park Service plans to take the former Claude Moore Colonial Farm in a new, still-undetermined direction.

However, the catering business continues to operate out of its facility in Herndon and the Fairfax Hunt Club in Reston. Its recent events have included participating in a Taste of Virginia reception for Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s inauguration on Jan. 15.

0 Comments

Just off Broad Street in Falls Church, hordes of the verminous Skaven and humans of The Empire fight tooth and nail over a damned city.

On other nights, newcomers can be found learning Magic: The Gathering tricks from wizened masters. Since the 1980s, local adventurers have rallied to go on quests in Dungeons and Dragons and more obscure tabletop games.

After this weekend, the battles and revelry inside The Compleat Strategist (103 East Broad Street) will go silent for good, as the tabletop gaming store shuts down to make way for a Whole Foods-anchored mixed-use development.

The store is closing for good on Saturday (Jan. 23), with all goods now going for 80% off. Much of the inventory is already depleted, but there are still treasures buried among the codexes and outdated rulebooks for those who know what to look for.

The Compleat Strategist manager Adam Fukumitsu says the store has gotten many well wishes since the closure was announced late last month. A lot of patrons have asked how has business been, expecting the store must have been seeing difficulties, but Fukumitsu said that isn’t the case.

“Business has been rocking for two years,” Fukumitsu said. “It was a ghost town last March, but it started coming back by May.”

According to Fukumitsu, after a month or two of quarantine, tabletop gaming saw a surge as locals looked for new activities to keep them sane through lockdown. Board games saw a boost in popularity, and online gaming sites like Roll20 boosted the sale of physical books for players.

“On top of that, D&D came back like a rocket starting in 2015,” Fukumitsu said. “Now, everybody has a D&D group.”

The store opened as Strategy and Fantasy World in 1977 and was bought by the New York-based, family-owned The Compleat Strategist in the 1980s. Fukumitsu has worked at the store since 2013, becoming a manager in 2015.

He says the store being pushed out by redevelopment wasn’t exactly a surprise.

“It was a train we’ve seen coming for a decade now,” Fukumitsu said. “We first heard of it in 2011, but there’ve been weird delays over the years…In 2019 we heard it was going forward and there was a lot of weird push and pull.”

Fukumitsu said at one point the property was eyed for development by Todd Hitt before the real estate scion was arrested and found guilty of being involved in a real estate Ponzi scheme.

In addition to hosting the sale, The Compleat Strategist is commemorating its impending closure with tabletop battles. As more retail moves to digital storefronts, Fukumitsu says the sense of community that gamers can find at brick-and-mortar stores will be difficult to replace.

“The community has been figuring out where they go now,” Fukumitsu said.

Now, he says local gaming groups have plans to go around to peoples’ homes, and one player has talked about getting access to a company-owned warehouse to play.

“We’re getting hit at both ends by Amazon,” Fukumitsu joked. “They’re both eating our lunch in sales and now kicking us off the property…but less online is that play space. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.”

Marc Forbes started visiting the store as a gaming enthusiast before he became an employee in 2016.

“My entire social life was tied up in this place,” Forbes said. “We’re going to try to keep that going after it closes, but it’s going to be harder… I’m really going to miss this place.”

0 Comments

Viva Sol Juice Company is looking for a fresh start for the new year.

The Vienna-based, family-run café officially closed its space at 124 Maple Avenue West on New Year’s Eve, but the move is less of a demise than the first step in an evolution.

Owner Kelly Hartranft opened Viva Sol in August 2020 as a juice and smoothie bar, yet the menu items that ultimately took off were not the cold-pressed juices or fruit bowls. Instead, the company saw sales boom with the introduction of gluten-free doughnuts and empanadas.

“The numbers were in front of me to pivot towards focusing on doughnuts and empanadas, rather than the whole café concept,” Hartranft told Tysons Reporter.

As part of the pivot, Viva Sol is relocating to a commercial manufacturing kitchen in Chantilly that will exclusively make doughnuts and empanadas, primarily for online ordering and delivery.

Hartranft says the business will continue to participate in local farmers’ markets, and in-person pick-ups may be possible, depending on the space’s layout.

Expected to launch in February, the new kitchen will initially focus on delivering within the D.C. area before expanding to customers outside of the region next year. A website overhaul that reflects the rebranding and new e-commerce approach is also in the works.

In addition to adapting to her company’s strengths, Hartranft closed the Vienna juice bar to minimize her staff’s interactions with customers, as COVID-19 cases continue to soar throughout the community.

Like other retail and service businesses, Viva Sol has experienced its share of hiring challenges, but it has a core staff that will remain intact with the move to Chantilly.

“I wanted to figure out a way to protect my family, protect my staff with minimal interaction,” she said. “I’m sure you know all these restaurants are very understaffed, people are getting sick, and so, it just kind of made sense for me.”

Even so, the decision to leave Vienna was a tough one for Hartranft, whose family has lived in the town since the early 1980s. She encourages supporters to follow Viva Sol’s Facebook and Instagram pages for updates, including news about the new location and reconfigured name.

“We’re really sad to be moving, but the restaurant/café model for us wasn’t working,” Hartranft said. “My numbers were really, really showing how much we grew overnight…I mean, it took off with certain items, and so, I’m just reading my numbers and leading my team to the next phase.”

0 Comments

A decade-long fixture of Route 123 is shuttering.

Bed Bath & Beyond confirmed its Tysons store is slated to close permanently at the end of February. A store employee told Tysons Reporter that its lease will end at that time.

Closing sales for the home improvement store began last Thursday (Dec. 30), a manager said. Bed Bath & Beyond didn’t respond to messages seeking additional comment about the closing and how it will affect the workers there.

Bed Bath & Beyond arrived at 2051 Chain Bridge Road in February 2011 as a relocation of a smaller store on Leesburg Pike. At 55,695 square feet in size, the Tysons store was one of the company’s largest U.S. locations when it opened, according to a Washington Business Journal report from that time.

The property is owned by Benderson Development, a Florida-based real estate company that acquired it in 2015 for $29 million. It didn’t immediately respond to messages asking about plans for the site.

The Bed Bath & Beyond news comes as Tysons shoppers brace for the loss of another longtime retail anchor in the form of Tysons Corner Center’s L.L. Bean store, which will close on Jan. 17. The mall also saw its Disney store shutter in September.

0 Comments
The L.L. Bean store at Tysons Corner Center (via Google Maps)

L.L. Bean is closing the Tysons Corner Center store that heralded its national expansion next month.

The anchor store at the Tysons mall will close Jan. 17, company officials tell Tysons Reporter.

“This decision was not an easy one, and though we worked with the landlord to explore many options, we were unable to reach favorable terms in a way that would allow us to best serve our customers moving forward,” company spokesperson Amanda Hannah said in a statement.

When the location opened in 2000, it marked the first major expansion outside of Maine, where founder Leon Leonwood Bean started the company, The Baltimore Sun noted at the time.

According to the newspaper, the region’s large fan base of the flannel and outdoor brand was a driving force behind the decision to open a two-story, 76,000 square-foot store in what was then known as Tysons Corner.

Hannah stated that the company looked for other space in the mall but couldn’t reach a solution. She wrote the company is actively looking for a new location in the area.

L.L. Bean notified staff in the summer, offering severance and other opportunities within the company.

Hannah wrote that the company “could not reach an agreement with the landlord that met our desired store format and needs.”

A representative for the mall said there’s no information to share on who might be going into the space.

Photo via Google Maps

0 Comments

Morning Notes

County Reduces COVID-19 Isolation Time — Following new CDC recommendations, the Fairfax County Health Department has cut the required isolation period for people infected with COVID-19 from 10 to five days, if the individual has no symptoms. People exposed to someone who tests positive no longer have to quarantine if they’re vaccinated. [FCHD]

Former FCPD Officer Convicted for Sexual Misconduct — “A former Fairfax County police officer has been convicted of sexual misconduct with a 16-year-old police cadet. John Grimes faced three charges of indecent liberties with a minor. He was found guilty of all counts on Monday.” [NBC4]

Vienna’s Tom Yum Thai Closes — “The restaurant informed customers in a Facebook post that it had closed on Sunday, Dec. 26. It had been open for seven years at 226 Maple Avenue W in Vienna. The management did not share a reason for the closure in the post.” [Patch]

County Waste Facilities to Change Hours — “The new year will usher in extended operating hours for residents to drop off their trash, recyclables, and various specialty wastes (e.g., used oil, old batteries, scrap metal) at the I-66 Transfer Station and the I-95 Landfill Complex. The new hours taking effect on January 1, 2022, are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Weekend hours, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., will remain unchanged at both facilities.” [DPWES]

0 Comments
Falls Church Distillers’ storefront with outdoor seating (via Google Maps)

(Updated Dec. 29) A local distillery that started in Falls Church plans to move to a new location next year.

Falls Church Distillers closed Christmas Eve (Friday) and shared photos of its transition, taking apart the restaurant-bar, as it prepares to move to a shared space at the Manassas-based Tucked Away Brewing Co.

“We leave Falls Church having realized so many personal, business and community memorable achievements that our time here will always be remembered with a personal deep well of fondness,” the company said in a message also posted on its website.

Michael Paluzzi, who started the family-owned and family-operated business, said in an email today (Wednesday) that they’ll always remember the music they had there, creating hand sanitizer with their operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the fellowship with so many guests.

As part of the transition, Falls Church Distillers shipped a large U.S. flag that it displayed outdoors to the widow of a friend who previously placed it there. He was an active duty lieutenant colonel in the Air Force at the time, Paluzzi noted.

The distillery broke ground at its location at 442 S. Washington St. over five years ago, eventually making a range of whisky, brandy, rum, vodka and gin.

Despite the transition, customers can still get the company’s spirits at restaurants in the D.C. region as well as liquor stores.

The business expects to open at its new location this spring.

Photo via Google Maps

0 Comments
The Italian restaurant Assaggi Osteria & Pizzeria will close Christmas Day at McLean Square (via Google Maps)

Christmas will be a somber day for the owners and patrons of Assaggi Osteria & Pizzeria.

The upscale Italian restaurant will permanently close its doors that day after more than a decade at 6641 Old Dominion Drive in McLean, owners Kenneth and Madge Gazzola said on Monday (Dec. 13) in an email to supporters.

The establishment’s last day of operations will be Dec. 24.

According to Madge Gazzola, the decision to close comes after six months of failed negotiations for a lease extension with their landlord, McLean Square Associates President Georges Tawil.

She says the dealbreaker was Tawil’s insistence on a personal guarantee that they would pay the full lease, even if the business closes. Though Assaggi has grown its customer base over the past couple of years, it would’ve been a huge, risky investment, especially in the uncertain environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I understand it’s something that’s fairly common in real estate leases, commercial leases, but that is something we felt we could not do,” she said. “So, we could not come to an agreement, and we will leave the space instead, sadly.”

McLean Square Associates, which has clashed with tenants before, declined to comment when contacted by Tysons Reporter.

Assaggi arrived at the McLean Square Shopping Center in 2009.

The Gazzolas got involved in 2016 as one of three couples who invested in a renovation planned by the owner at the time. When the owner ran out of capital halfway through, the Gazzolas assumed ownership and completed the project.

Assaggi reopened after eight months of renovations in August 2017 with a more casual pizzeria added next to its fine dining-focused main room.

Specializing in fish and pasta dishes, Assaggi has made Northern Virginia Magazine’s annual list of the region’s 50 best restaurants three times since it reopened, including in 2021.

Gazzola says the team has looked at moving elsewhere in McLean, but they haven’t found an appropriate space and currently have no immediate plans for the future.

Her and her husband’s primary focus right now is finishing the restaurant’s last couple of weeks and supporting their staff. She particularly highlights chef Francesco Pescatore as someone worth watching, noting that he’s only 30 years old and “quite talented.”

“These last two years, we’ve been able to develop a very fine team, and we also have been a neighborhood restaurant that is warm and friendly and welcoming,” Madge Gazzola said. “So, it’s very hard to move on from that and not understand why we can’t come to a reasonable agreement on something that is positive, good for the neighborhood, good for the community.”

Photo via Google Maps

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list