Tysons Corner, VA

Blend 111, a new restaurant and wine bar, will celebrate its grand opening on Thursday in Vienna.

Touting itself as “the region’s first biodynamic restaurant and wine bar,” Blend 111 will feature food and wine from Spain, France and Venezuela, according to a press release.

The locally-owned restaurant (111 Church Street NW, Suite 101) will offer a prix-fixe lunch and dinner options, cold-pressed juices and a “micro-cafe” with organic coffee, pour-over-brewed coffee and espresso-based drinks.

Head Chef Nicolas Terrassin is from Châtellerault, a small village in France, and has worked in restaurants in France, Québec and the D.C. area. Michael Biddick is the restaurant’s owner, sommelier and chief coffee roaster.

The dinner menu includes choices like sustainable scallops and chickpea salad, while the brunch menu offers Venezuelan scrambled eggs and oatmeal brulee.

“Everything from your morning coffee, post work out organic cold press juices, to weekend brunch, happy hour and late-night dining is available at Blend 111 — all offering unique experiences,” the press release said.

Photo via Blend 111/Facebook

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Sometimes you just need to get some work done outside of the office.

At Tysons Reporter, we’ve spent a lot of time on the road around the area. So if you need to stop in, grab some coffee, and get some work done somewhere in the Tysons area, here are some places we go:

Stomping Ground in Tysons

Stomping Ground in Tysons Galleria is the second location for the popular coffee-and-biscuits eatery in Alexandria. The location in the third-floor Taste of Urbanspace food hall brings the original location’s signature dishes to Tysons, but also expanded with a new evening menu and Southern cocktails — meaning you won’t have to leave to find a happy hour once work is over.

The coffee is top quality and, being at the Galleria, there is rarely a shortage of parking and seating space. The expansive interior of the food hall has ample tables and outlets. There are food options available around the food hall, though like much of the high-end retail at Tysons Galleria, they tend to be pricier than the average lunch. The music near Stomping Ground also tends to be louder than optimal for interviews or phone calls.

Star Nut Gourmet in McLean

Star Nut Gourmet is a café tucked away just off the main drag in McLean at 1445 Laughlin Ave. As a result, it’s very accessible to other locations around McLean and has more parking and interior space than some of the other nearby options, like the Starbucks.

There’s plenty of seating inside and the music is kept at a manageable volume. But the café is more designed with meetings and socializing in mind than work, so outlets can be scarce.

Caffe Amouri in Vienna

Caffe Amouri boasts quality coffee and atmosphere in equal measure. The coffee shop at 107 Church Street NE has other dining options but focuses almost exclusively on coffee. Inside, the walls are lined with classic rock albums and coffee accouterment. The space is small, but with adequate seating — except for that time Vienna had no Starbucks and the coffee shop was overwhelmed with under-caffeinated customers.

Caffe Amouri also positions itself as a community gathering place, with the front walls of the cafe plastered with flyers and advertisements for local classes and activities. The cafe itself also hosts classes for various coffee-related activities, like teaching the fundamentals of brewing.

There are only a handful of parking spots in a very small lot behind the building, so time visits carefully to avoid peak hours and be prepared to make a tight U-turn if the lot is full.

Rare Bird in Falls Church

Rare Bird at 230 W Broad Street specializes in coffee, but offers a well-rounded menu featuring a variety of teas and food. Space inside the cafe is limited, but if you can find seating, the mellow atmosphere caters to the mid-day laptop typist.

But parking for Rare Bird can be a nightmare, with restrictive parking in every block surrounding the building and confusing, and sometimes contradictory, signs directing visitors to phantom “public lots.”

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Vienna is no longer a Starbucks-less town.

The drive-thru Starbucks at 367 Maple Avenue E. opened around 7 p.m. on Friday (May 3), but officially opened for the full day on Saturday (May 4), an employee at the store said.

The two other Starbucks on Maple Avenue closed on last Sunday (April 28), leaving Vienna without a Starbucks for four days.

On weekdays and Saturdays, the store opens at 5 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m. On Sundays, the store closes at 8:30 p.m.

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The widely anticipated — and occasionally reviled — drive-thru Starbucks at 367 Maple Avenue E. is set to open tomorrow.

“The plan is to open tomorrow morning at 5 a.m.,” an employee at the store said, “but that depends on how much of the work gets done. It could be later in the day, but we’re definitely opening tomorrow.”

The employee said the staff at the Starbucks is eager to open.

“It’s going to bring more convenience to Vienna,” the employee said. “We’re really excited to open, especially for the patio.”

Locals seemed keenly interested in the opening as well, with one local stopping her car in the middle of Maple Avenue to ask when the Starbucks would be open and find out where the nearest open one is (8381 Leesburg Pike in Tysons).

The two other Starbucks on Maple Avenue closed on Sunday, leaving the town without a Starbucks for four days. The original plan was to open today (Thursday).

At nearby Caffe Amouri (107 Church St NE), staff said the closures have led to a noticeable surge in customers looking for another coffee outlet.

One cashier at the overcrowded coffee shop looked at the line trailing out of the door. “I kind of can’t wait for [Starbucks] to open again,” the employee said.

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(Updated 10:50 a.m.) The Starbucks in the Capital One building (1600 Capital One Drive) is now officially open.

According to an employee at the Starbucks, the location has been open for a little less than a month.

The news will likely come as little surprise to employees at Capital One, who seem to be frequenting the establishment so much that many of the baristas are on a first name basis with the customers.

For those who don’t work at Capital One, that there’s another Starbucks open in the area may come as a bit of a surprise — there was no fanfare around the opening and the storefront is hard to see from the McLean Metro station, given the construction of the forthcoming Wegmans building.

There are now ten Starbucks in the Tysons area, including two in Tysons Corner Center mall. The Capital One Starbucks is the second in Tysons East; the other is inside the Safeway at 7401 Colshire Drive.

The City Works Eatery and Pour House along Capital One Drive next to the Starbucks are still currently under construction.

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One week after Republik Coffee (7915 Jones Branch Drive) was scheduled for eviction, the local coffee shop is still serving coffee.

A manager at the location confirmed that the location plans to remain open but could add no details about how the coffee bar evaded the eviction.

Owner Talha Sarac had previously told Tysons Reporter that the eviction notice was part of a misunderstanding with Kettler, which owns the Highgate at the Mile building, and that he would meet with Kettler representatives to sort things out.

Kettler declined to comment, but whatever Sarac and Kettler discussed, it was enough to keep the location open for the time being.

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A Vienna staple since July 2010, Caffe Amouri is more than just a local coffee house.

Their mission is built around community, which is easily seen by their participation in school “Walking Wednesdays” where they provide coffee for parents, Vienna Idol and about 20 or so other charities or fundraisers. They encourage sustainability; they encourage customers to reuse coffee sleeves and only take straws when necessary.

They recently expanded the space located on Church Street to allow for more seating, large tables for collaboration, a roasting sample area and some outdoor seating. They have WiFi, although they turn it off on the weekends to encourage people to actually engage with each other (oh, the horror!). They also have open mic nights, Penny University (free classes & talks) and other events (check the online calendar).

Now to get to the good stuff: the coffee and the food.

My husband loves the white mocha and the iced coffee, I’m a traditional Cappuccino girl, and my kids love their hot chocolate. But their menu is so big they have a binder of coffee options and tea, along with some specials (honey cinnamon latte!) that make for nice out of the ordinary drinks. They have local treats at the register like granola, gluten free sweets, cookies and nuts. There’s also a sandwich menu (breakfast and lunch).

Other things you might not know: there’s a strong inventory of table games to borrow in the back. There’s parking in front, on the street and in the back; there’s a rear entrance. If you park there while they’re roasting, you’ll often see things floating around the air from the roasting.

My favorite thing is the trivia. Every day at the register there’s a new question posted. If you get it right, they take 10 cents off your drink.

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The Tysons branch of Republik Coffee, which opened last June near Tysons Galleria, could face eviction within the week.

The coffee bar occupies a high visibility corner of Highgate at the Mile (7915 Jones Branch Drive), the first in a series of new mixed-use developments planned for the area.

Owner Talha Sarac said the eviction notice is part of a misunderstanding with Kettler, which owns Highgate at the Mile. Sarac said he met with Kettler representatives last week to discuss issues related to the building’s rent and believed everything had been settled.

Steven Tracy, property manager for Highgate, said he could not comment on an ongoing issue and the Kettler management office could not be reached for comment.

Sarac said he expected the issue to be cleared up imminently, but the eviction notice from the county sheriff’s office said the property must be vacated by Feb. 27.

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In the middle of an interview with Tysons Reporter, a woman walks up to Stomping Ground owner Nicole Jones and introduces herself as “Steve’s mom.”

Jones immediately recognizes Steve by name and “Steve’s mom” said she was just running errands in nearby McLean and wanted to stop by and say hello. It’s a small moment that’s a testament to the kind of community building that the new Stomping Ground in Tysons Galleria will live or die by.

Stomping Ground isn’t just one of the restaurants in the new Taste of Urbanspace that opened in December as part of a quick turnaround to replace Isabella Eatery — as the shop closest to the entrance, it serves as a gateway into the new dining hall.

Stomping Ground is perhaps best known for their buttermilk biscuits and fried chicken, both of which are available at the Tysons Galleria location. The eatery’s wide variety of hot and iced coffees, averaging around $3 per cup, seems like their most popular item on the Tysons Galleria third floor.

Jones knows coffee. On sight, she can tell what type of milk was used in a beverage based on the consistency of the separation. For her, coffee is more than a beverage.

“Coffee culture is a comfort place,” said Jones. “We take that old school southern hospitality and bring it to the mall. We’re genuinely interested in your name, your dietary restrictions and where you work. We want regulars. We want to be the ‘Cheers‘ of breakfast.”

It’s been four years since Jones opened the first Stomping Ground in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood. The destination proved so popular it was name-dropped in a Wall Street Journal article explaining why Amazon came to Northern Virginia.

“In Tysons, there is less of a town square, but we’re learning that [Taste of Urbanspace] can serve as that,” said Jones. “People can come and hang out.”

That’s certainly the case among the restaurant owners on the mall’s third floor. In their downtime, managers from Stomping Ground, Andy’s Pizza and others regularly converse and hang out in the lavish seating area. Jones said all of the restaurant staffers had to work together through a hectic, quick turnaround during the holiday season and emerged as friends.

While several of the customers around Taste of Urbanspace are familiar faces day after day, much of the expansive food hall remains underpopulated.

It’s too early to say if the “town square” idea will catch on. Beyond just owner Mike Isabella’s public fall from grace, the Isabella Eatery (whose shell Taste of Urbanspace inhabits) collapsed in part due to low sales.

Jones and other restaurant owners expressed hopes that expanding the dining hall’s nightlife options will help draw in the after-work crowd, which currently has few options outside of the Tysons Biergarten.

Like their neighboring Andy’s Pizza, Donburi and Sen Khao, Stomping Ground is currently working through the Virginia ABC permit process. While Andy’s Pizza and Donburi plan on bringing in new beer options to the Galleria, Jones said her focus is going to be on wine and a variety of custom cocktails.

The cocktails, currently not available in Del Ray, are one example Jones points to of how the new location allows Stomping Ground to try new things that, if they work, might make their way back into the Alexandria location. Jones said she is also currently working on the restaurant’s new proper dinner menu, saying it will have Stomping Ground’s signature fried chicken with a mix of vegetables in keeping with southern tradition.

“The nighttime is where we will grow and spread our wings,” said Jones.

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Morning Notes

Friday Night Fire in Merrifield — “On Friday, November 30 at approximately 11:59 p.m., units from Fairfax County Fire and Rescue and the City of Fairfax Fire Department were dispatched for a reported kitchen fire in the 9400 block of Lee Highway in the Merrifield section of Fairfax County.” [FCFR]

More on Bluestone Lane Coffee Shop — “Bluestone Lane plans to break into the Northern Virginia market next year at the Boro development in Tysons Corner in mid-to-late 2019… The global brand from Australia is known for its ‘avocado smash’ toast, cold-pressed juices, custom teas, and other healthy fare.” [Eater]

PSA: Don’t Illegally Park in Accessible Parking Spaces — “With the holiday shopping season underway, finding parking at shopping centers can be harder than tracking down the hottest toy of the year. As a result, shoppers sometimes illegally park in accessible spaces reserved for people with disabilities. Approximately 75,000 county residents have a disability, so it is critical that these parking spaces remain available to them.” [Fairfax County]

Winchester Woman Arrested for Vienna Assault — “Vienna police officers went to Park Terrace Court, S.E., on Nov. 5 at 1:42 a.m. after authorities received a 911 hang-up call. Police located a resident who advised she had been assaulted by her girlfriend.” [InsideNova]

Fairfax Tax Deadline Extended — “Fairfax County Government Offices will be open Wednesday, December 5. However, because Wednesday has been proclaimed as a national day of mourning to honor the passing of former President George H.W. Bush, the due date for 2018 second installment Real Estate tax payments has been extended until December 6.” [Fairfax County]

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