Tysons, VA

The annual Taste of Vienna has been canceled to curb the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

In past years, the festival has brought community members together to try bites of food from various local restaurants, chains and food trucks. The event helps raise money for the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department, which hosts the event.

Taste of Vienna announced the cancellation on Facebook on Monday (March 23).

“Our top priority is the safety of all of our participants and attendees, so based on the recommendations of health authorities, it is with a heavy heart that the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department has canceled the Taste of Vienna,” the Facebook post said.

Depending on how long the coronavirus pandemic lasts, the festival might get rescheduled to the fall, the Facebook post added.

Now, the Facebook page is showcasing every day different vendors who had signed up for the festival.

Photo via Taste of Vienna/Facebook

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Editor’s note: Are you a restaurant in the Vienna, Falls Church, Tysons, Merrifield and McLean areas that has a fundraiser? Email us at [email protected] and we will update the list.

Fundraisers are popping up to help employees at the many restaurants around the Tysons area that are struggling with safety concerns around the COVID-19 outbreak.

Some local restaurants have pivoted to take-out or delivery only options to stay open, while others have shuttered their doors temporarily — or sometimes permanently.

Tysons Reporter browsed GoFundMe to find fundraisers connected to local restaurants. Here’s what we found.

Thompson Italian (124 N. Washington Street), a restaurant in Falls Church, decided to close temporarily on March 16 due to the pandemic. Now, a Staff Relief Fund is looking to raise $50,000 for the staff, who have been laid off.

“We are seeking ways to support our staff who are now suddenly out of work,” according to the fundraiser. “100% of proceeds from this fund, and from current gift card sales, will go directly to our staff to help with necessities.”

The fundraiser notes that it is focusing on staffers who “are more vulnerable during this crisis” — it won’t go to the owners  or to business-related costs — and “will use donations to meet critical necessities (e.g. food, medication, paper products, and toiletries).”

A fundraiser for another Falls Church eatery — Clare and Don’s Beach Shack (130 N. Washington Street) — is looking to raise $30,000 to help the staff, who have been laid off.

“[The owners’] decision to close last Sunday was an effort to protect staff and customers from COVID-19, realizing that the most impacted would be staff,” according to the fundraiser.

Stefanie Fornaris, the lead bartender at Great American Restaurants, started a GoFundMe three days ago for the laid-off bartenders who used to work at Patsy’s American — one of three eateries from GAR in Tysons.

“We never in a million years would have ever imagined a day when we would have to say that any of us were laid off in the industry that has proven time and again to be so reliable to us for so many years,” according to the GoFundMe.

Patsy’s (8051 Leesburg Pike) is currently open for curbside pick-up and delivery, according to its website.

Nearby, The Palm (1750 Tysons Blvd) has a virtual tip jar set up for its employees. The restaurant, which is known for its caricatures of famous people covering its walls, is offering take-out.

Tysons Reporter previously reported on the owners of Bear Branch Tavern’s GoFundMe for its employees while the newly opened Vienna restaurant is temporarily closed.

First photo via Clare and Don’s Beach Shack/Facebook; second photo via GoFundMe

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A new group in Falls Church plans to deliver groceries and prescriptions to residents who are at a high-risk for the coronavirus.

Called the Falls Church Area COVID-19 Aid, the group officially kicks off today, according to a press release. At no charge, the group will shop for and deliver groceries and medications via a “no contact” procedure.

“For those who are elderly, or disabled, or particularly vulnerable, it is much harder to get through social isolation and can be life-threatening,” the press release said.

Two Falls Church residents — Mike Michener and Ally Bernstein — separately posted a similar idea on NextDoor and, after seeing each other’s posts, decided to team up, according to the press release.

Now, the group has about 40 volunteers ranging from teens to retirees, the press release said.

People interested in using the service can call (703) 982-0736 to reach Falls Church Area COVID-19 Aid. People interested in learning more can contact Tamar Abrams at (703) 855-4900 and [email protected]

Photo by leonie wise on Unsplash

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In response to the novel coronavirus, several local stores are offering special shopping hours for seniors and high-risk customers.

We’ve rounded up what we know so far about these hours, although some grocers have not defined the age minimum for being classified as a “senior.”

Here’s the latest update on specialized shopping hours for seniors and high-risk people:

  • Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market: First hour of shopping every day
  • Target: First hour of shopping on Wednesdays
  • Whole Foods: (Vienna, Idylwood Plaza and Tysons): people ages 60 and older can shop at 7 a.m. before the stores open at 8 a.m.
  • Safeway: 7-9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, per a store representative
  • Harris Teeter: 6-7 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays for people ages 60 and older
  • Giant: People age 60 and older or with compromised immune systems between 6-7 a.m.
  • Walgreens: Tuesdays from 8-9 a.m., also open to caregivers and immediate families
  • Trader Joe’s: Mondays from 9-10 a.m.
  • Walmart (1500 Cornerside Blvd in Tysons): will open at 6 a.m. for seniors on Tuesday, March 24
  • The Fresh Market: seniors and immuno-compromised people can shop 8-9 a.m. every day at all locations

Additionally, some stores are offering in-person and online express lanes for seniors:

“Harris Teeter will designate ExpressLane Online Shopping pick-up times from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for seniors only every Thursday until further notice and will waive the $4.95 fee & offer $5 delivery for seniors during these times,” according to the grocery store chain.

“Every day between 9-10 a.m., crew members will maintain an additional line outside the front door for our senior customers,” according to Trader Joe’s website. “This will ensure that those customers in need will have an expedited entrance to the store to help make their experience a more positive one.”

Ashley Hopko and Catherine Douglas Moran contributed reporting

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Fairfax County Public Schools has changed the time for its grab and go meal sites at 34 school locations.

Starting Tuesday, March 24, FCPS will have the meals available from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The altered times will not affect the breakfast and lunch availability, according to FCPS.

Families can also find breakfast and lunch at 10 pop-up locations around the county and bus stop locations in several school neighborhoods. The complete list is available online, along with an online map created by the county to find food distribution sites.

Curbside pickup is available at Westgate Elementary in Falls Church and Oak View Elementary in Fairfax from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Meals are free for kids and $2 for adults. Families must bring their kids when requesting meals.

Photo via FCPS

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Fairfax County Public Schools is expanding the number of grab-and-go sites and adding several pop-up options throughout the county.

Students can pick up breakfast from 8-10:30 a.m. and lunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at one of the 39 sites in the county. The service is intended for students under the age of 18 who rely on free and reduced-price school meals. Adults can also purchase meals for $2.

On Wednesday (March 18), the county announced that its food truck will travel to nine pop-up sites in the county. The truck is expected to swing by South Lakes High School between 11-11:30 a.m.

Beginning today (Thursday), school buses will also deliver meals along some bus routes by stopping at designated intersections. The schedule is available online.

Local grab-and-go sites are below:

The complete list is available online. An online map created by the county also allows users to search for food distribution sites in the area.

Photo via FCPS

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(Updated 4:30 p.m.) Fans of fresh produce can find many farmers markets around Tysons with spring almost officially here.

Several markets recently announced opening dates for the spring season.

Though some markets are seeded in tradition, with founding dates over 30 years ago, there are several new options for shoppers that only popped up in the last year or so.

Tysons Reporter rounded up places — including a few year-round markets — where shoppers can score fresh food and locally-sourced items.

The Falls Church Farmers Market at the City Hall parking lot (300 Park Ave) is open year-round and offers shoppers choices from more than 50 vendors, according to the City of Falls Church’s website.

From April through December, the market is open from 8 a.m. until noon. From January through March, the market is open from 9 a.m. until noon.

The Vienna Farmers Market exclusively offers locally-sourced items, according to its website.

“The Vienna Farmers Market is a Certified Farmers Market, meaning that our farmers can provide proof of local produce and take pride in that they have produced the products available for sale,” according to the website.

The seasonal market will operate from May through the end of October for the 2020 season, the website said, adding that hours of operation will be 8 a.m. until noon each Saturday at the Vienna Community Center (120 Cherry Street SE).

NOVA Central Farm Market is part of a larger network of year-round markets around the area including ones in Bethesda and Westfield.

The closest location is open on Sundays from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. April through December and 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. January through March at Marshall High School (7731 Leesburg Pike) in Falls Church.

FARMFRESH Mosaic began last year and is located in the Mosaic District (2910 District Ave) on Sundays. It is open year-round but hours of operation vary depending on the season.

On Sundays, the market is open from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. from April through December and from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. January through March.

The Tysons Farmers Market will take place seasonally beginning June 2 at The Plaza in front of Tysons Corner Center on Sundays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m, its website said. Programming at the market will also be family-friendly, according to the page.

This year, the McLean Farmers Market will be open from May 8 through Nov. 13 in Lewinsville Park (1659 Chainbridge Road). Every Friday, vendors will offer an array of locally grown vegetables, fruits, meats, freshly baked bread and other local products from 8 a.m. until noon, according to Fairfax County.

This specific market became a tradition in the area after its founding in 1980, according to the website, which added that many vendors have been setting up shop each season for over 30 years.

Photo via McLean Farmers Market/Facebook

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Three Vienna residents, who want to put the town on the map for foodies, decided to create Vienna VA Foodies on social media, which have since attracted the attention of thousands of people.

Founders Lydia Russo, Christopher Drinkuth and Katherine Drinkuth first came up with the idea to create a Facebook group to bring together food lovers while chatting at the annual Taste of Vienna event last year, Russo told Tysons Reporter.

“Chris, Katherine and I would join together and give our reviews on who was our favorite vendor, which item we enjoyed the most, and thus, we were inspired to create Vienna VA Foodies as a project to work on in our free time,” Russo said.

Vienna VA Foodies, which has more than 2,000 followers on Facebook and an active commenter base, began roughly six months ago. The Instagram account, which has roughly 340 followers, only began in January after the trio decided to expand their outreach efforts.

“The members — consisting of Vienna citizens and neighbors — are frequently posting local happenings, their personal restaurant reviews and even crowdsourcing answers to questions about restaurants that cater to their diet needs,” Russo said, adding that the three founders usually just act as moderators.

As a Taste of Vienna volunteer and local real estate agent, Russo said she wanted to help her community celebrate the “vibrant food scene.”

Currently, the group doesn’t plan to monetize the Facebook or Instagram pages for their personal gain, according to Russo, who said the group often relies on donations and giveaways from restaurants or bars who want to promote themselves in the group.

Just last week, the Chick-Fil-A in Vienna partnered with the group to give away eight prizes to people who commented on a post within the Vienna VA Foodies Facebook group after doing other giveaways throughout town the same day.

As a realtor, Russo said she often uses the food scene in Vienna to convince people to buy real estate in the area and thinks the social media accounts will help the town thrive economically.

As the accounts continue to grow, the group wants to encourage chatter within the channels.

“There is now a forum that allows for there to be easy communication between the business owners, chefs and local community,” Russo said.

Image via Vienna VA Foodies/Facebook

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A new restaurant plans to start serving up a “traditional” Cantonese brunch this spring in Tysons.

The upcoming HAN Palace (7900 Westpark Drive) will feature an all-day dim sum menu and will be the first restaurant in the D.C., Maryland or Virginia area to do so, according to the location’s owner Chris Zhu, who added that most restaurants only offer dim sum for lunch.

The eatery plans to open in April, according to Zhu. She plans to host a soft opening with VIP promotions before the grand opening later next month once supplies from China arrive, she said.

Dim sum is a form of Chinese small-plate dining that traditionally allows families and groups to gather for a communal meal. Items usually include various types of dumplings and sweets served in a steamer basket.

People familiar with China Garden (11333 Woodglen Drive), which recently relocated to Rockville, Md., may recognize the style of cooking since the restaurants are both owned by Zhu.

HAN Palance will be open from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day and feature happy hour specials on drinks from 4 to 7 p.m., Zhu said.

Two hours of free garage parking will be offered on weekdays, and free validation will be offered after 6 p.m. on weekdays and for six hours on the weekends, according to the restaurant’s Facebook post.

Photo courtesy Chris Zhu

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Local Vienna eatery Pure Pasty Co. won several international awards this past weekend for its food.

The 2020 World Pasty Championships took place in Cornwall, England, which is home of the traditional meat pocket. Pasties are a traditional English specialty and can come in a variety of flavors but are typically a savory snack filled with a variety of ingredients and encased with a flaky crust.

At a biodome venue called the Eden Project, the competition brought together chefs from Argentina, Canada, the U.S. and the United Kingdom, according to Michael Burgess, the Vienna eatery’s owner.

Burgess beat most of the other roughly 180 entries and took home a silver medal for his lamb jalfrezi pasty and a bronze medal for the cheese and onion flavor pasty, which were both in the savory category.

The lamb jalfrezi, which embodies a flare of Indian cuisine, is one of his favorite recipes since it has a good “flavor profile and heat,” Burgess told Tysons Reporter, adding that he credits one of his friends and customers for giving him the original recipe, which he tweaked.

In past years, the eatery at 128 Church Street NW has won other awards at the competition as well, and Burgess said attending the competition became a “pilgrimage” and “tradition.”

Many community members congratulated the eatery online after a shoutout on the Town of Vienna’s social media accounts.

“Wonderful! I’ve had the cheese onion one and it is scrumptious!,” wrote one Facebook user.

Originally living in the United Kingdom, Burgess worked in a banking firm and used to visit the U.S. with friends on snowboarding trips, he said. He and his friends used to talk about the lack of pasty options, and after Burgess said he saved up some money, he decided to open his own business.

“We have spent years honing our craft, and these results show that we are getting it right,” a press release said. “We do our best to give all the ex-pats in the D.C. area a real taste of home.”

The group plans to return to Vienna shortly, he said, adding that “we have a lovely certificate to hang on the wall when we get back.”

For anyone wishing to try one of the award-winning pasties, the restaurant is open on Sunday-Monday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., Tuesday-Friday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Besides pasties, the eatery also offers pies and sausage rolls, desserts, soups and salads according to its online menu. Prices for individual dishes are about $8.

Though the store doesn’t deliver small orders for individual meals, it does catering for events and the British Embassy in D.C. is a regular client, Burgess said.

Photos courtesy Pure Pasty Co. 

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