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Morning Notes

Metrorail Returns Normal Service After Train Derailed — “On Friday, October 15, normal service will resume on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines. Intermittent delays are possible as the investigation into Tuesday’s derailment continues.” [WMATA]

Vienna ExxonMobil Now Serves Up Indian Cuisine — “Raja and Bindu Puri opened Chit Chaat cafe inside the gas station at 200 Maple Avenue E a few months ago. The husband and wife do all the prep and cooking. Their children Neil, Maggie, and Nikki take on respective roles in operations, finance, and social media. Although it’s not the family’s first restaurant, it’s their first one surrounded by fuel pumps.” [DC Eater]

Sexual Assault Reported Near Bailey’s Crossroads — Fairfax County police are looking for two men who reportedly broke into a woman’s apartment in the 6000 block of Knollwood Drive around 5:10 a.m. yesterday morning (Thursday). The woman told police that she woke up to one of the men sexually assaulting her. He punched her, and they ran from the apartment. [WTOP]

Tysons Senior Living Development Lands Construction Financing — “Mather, an award-winning senior living provider, announces that it has secured $300 million in construction financing for The Mather, a luxury Life Plan Community being constructed in Tysons, Virginia, with the syndicated transaction led by The Huntington National Bank. Expected to open in 2024, The Mather is a $500 million development.” [The Mather]

I-66 Paving Work to Close Lanes and Ramps in Vienna — I-66 East will be reduced from four to three travel lanes throughout the day tomorrow (Oct. 16), with just a single lane open overnight today and tomorrow. The Nutley Street North and South ramps will also be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for paving work as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project. [VDOT]

Tysons Consultant Plans Major Spending — “Tysons-based consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton plans to step up its spending on acquisitions over the next few years, targeting companies…in areas such as healthcare technology and cybersecurity services, the Wall Street Journal reported. Booz Allen plans to spend about $4 billion between April 2022 and March 2025, largely on acquisitions, executives said last week at the company’s investor day.” [Fairfax County EDA]

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A satellite in orbit (via NASA/Unsplash)

A telecommunications company dedicated to filling gaps in NASA’s data-relaying satellite network will create dozens of new jobs in Fairfax County with newly announced plans to expand its headquarters in Tysons.

A subsidiary of the Australian aerospace and defense contractor Electro Optic Systems, SpaceLink currently employs 10 people in Virginia at the headquarters it established at 8260 Greensboro Drive in March. It also has offices in Silicon Valley, California.

With the expansion, the company will create 41 new jobs and gain more capacity to develop and deploy a satellite communications system intended to “provide secure and continuous communications between spacecraft on orbit and the ground,” according to a press release from Gov. Ralph Northam’s office.

Fairfax County’s proximity to D.C. and the region’s abundance of government agencies and contractors made it “a natural choice” for SpaceLink’s headquarters, CEO David Bettinger says.

“As an innovative space company, we also have the opportunity to draw from the rich pool of talented technology and business professionals who are drawn to the region for its opportunities and dynamic environment,” Bettinger said in a statement. “Northern Virginia is an important hub for the aerospace and defense industry, which makes it a great fit for SpaceLink’s corporate headquarters.”

According to Northam’s office, SpaceLink’s relay network will be developed in Fairfax County and is designed to fill in the gaps of the U.S. Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System.

Here are more reactions from the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, which collaborated with the Commonwealth to secure the project:

“We are proud to see SpaceLink growing here and we welcome the opportunity to work with the company further,” said Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. “Fairfax County and Northern Virginia have developed a robust aerospace and satellite cluster and SpaceLink is the perfect company to take advantage of our many assets in that industry sector and the workforce supporting it.”

“Fairfax County leads the Commonwealth in innovation and our businesses reflect that,” said Fairfax County BOS Chairman Jeffrey C. McKay. “The Board of Supervisors has invested significantly over the decades to build Fairfax County into a community that attracts great companies and a great workforce, and that work continues to pay off. We are looking forward to welcoming SpaceLink.”

The FCEDA worked with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to secure the project for Virginia and will support SpaceLink’s job creation through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP). State-funded VJIP provides consultative services and funding to companies creating new jobs in order to support employee recruitment and training activities. As a business incentive supporting economic development, VJIP reduces the human resource costs of new and expanding companies and demonstrates Virginia’s commitment to enhancing job opportunities for residents.

“SpaceLink’s expansion in Fairfax County will strengthen the Commonwealth’s position as a leader in the aerospace industry,” Gov. Northam said. “Small businesses are critical to fueling economic growth, and we are proud to support this Virginia-founded company as its innovations make a name for itself in space exploration and defense.”

Photo via NASA/Unsplash

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Morning Notes

Weekly Police Blotter Halted Over ICE Concerns — Fairfax County police no longer publish a weekly arrest blotter after officials decided that it violates the county’s Trust Policy barring employees from giving information to federal immigration authorities. Some fear this will reduce public transparency, though the department is looking at releasing the data without identifying details like alleged offenders’ names and last known addresses. [The Washington Post]

Tysons Tech Contractor Leaves for Ashburn — The eighth largest public company in the D.C. area, DXC Technology will move its corporate headquarters from the 1775 Tysons Blvd. space it has occupied since 2016 to the One Loudoun development in Ashburn. The move is expected to be complete in November and comes as part of the company’s plans to downsize with its workforce operating more remotely. [Washington Business Journal]

McLean Company Offers Stocks to Fund Indoor Ski Slope — Alpine-X, the McLean-based company behind Lorton’s planned indoor winter slope facility, has attracted 75 investors in the first week since it started selling stocks to the general public to help fund the project. Expected to open around early 2025, Fairfax Peak will include a luxury hotel, zip lines, a mountain coaster, restaurants, and other amenities. [Patch]

Fairfax County Launches New Mobile App — “New county iPhone and Android apps are now available for you to download and have county information even closer to your fingertips. This latest version of the county app includes push notifications that you can opt in to receive about topics such as tax and voting deadlines, key news headlines, [and] important updates on COVID-19 and other emerging issues.” [Fairfax County Government]

McLean Student Highlighted for Journalism Skills — Churchill Road Elementary School fourth-grader Ethan Zhang is one of 10 children from across the country that Time for Kids has chosen to be a “Kid Reporter” for the 2021-2022 school year. He stood out for his profile of Fairfax County Public Schools Director of Food and Nutrition Services Maria Perrone, a story that looked at the school system’s meal distributions during the COVID-19 pandemic. [Patch]

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Cha Tea House started from a place of familial love and a bit of naiveté.

Co-owners Sofhia and Usman Qamar and Suhail and Saba Kamran launched the family-run business with two food trucks and some outdoor seating behind Springfield Town Center on Oct. 17, 2020 out of a desire to recreate the relaxed, sociable atmosphere of the roadside eateries common in their native Pakistan.

However, none of the owners had any previous experience in the food industry, admits Sofhia Qamar, a high school teacher. Her partners in the venture are an accountant, a wedding decorator, and an entrepreneur.

As a result, the group had to learn to adapt quickly, a necessary skill for any small business owner even without the new anxieties introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The first weekend, we prepped enough for a thousand orders. We thought, okay, this will last us three days,” Sofhia said. “We ran out of food after two hours of being open on the first day, and it hasn’t stopped…The feedback that we’ve gotten has been absolutely amazing.”

Cha Tea House has proven so successful in its first year that the team is now preparing to open its first brick-and-mortar location at Tysons Corner Center, potentially as soon as the first week of November before the holiday season kicks into gear.

Located on the mall’s second floor between &Pizza and Cava Mezze Grill, the cafe will offer indoor and outdoor seating with a patio that will be outfitted with lights and heaters for when the weather gets colder.

While the menu will be mostly the same, with paratha rolls and other entrees, snacks, milkshakes, and mojitos in addition to the signature teas, the Tysons site will allow Cha Tea House to expand its offerings with more fresh pastries, desserts, and salads, Sofhia says.

The company also hopes to expand its customer base outside of the community of South Asians, many of them immigrants, that have coalesced around the cafe in Springfield.

“Part of our drive to open it was to be able to share that feeling of home with people who are expatriates, who are foreign and miss that from the country that they left behind,” Sofhia said. “But the other part was to share it with people who don’t know a lot about Pakistan, so we thought Tysons would be a great place for that, because it is still very diverse.”

The dhabas that inspired Cha Tea House are roadside restaurants or food stalls that sell tea and snacks to patrons who consume them while sitting outside. They tend to be modest in appearance, but Sofhia says they’re “the best places to get food.”

She describes their function as closer to that of a bar than the on-the-go mentality of an American coffee shop. With tea substituted for alcohol, particularly in Muslim-majority countries like Pakistan, patrons visit as much for the opportunity to socialize as the food and drink.

“In our culture, tea is basically the thing that you surround yourself with when you’re having social gatherings, so our tea houses are where everyone goes to connect and talk and hang out,” Sofhia explained to Tysons Reporter.

In that same spirit, Cha Tea House hosts performances by local musicians and other artists every Saturday night, a tradition that will carry over to the Tysons Corner Center location with an emphasis on young students, singers, poets, and writers.

Cha also strives to cultivate a feeling of community by donating a portion of its profits to select nonprofit organizations. The current beneficiary is the Karachi Down Syndrome Program, which provides support and resources to individuals with Down syndrome who live in the Pakistani city.

Sofhia, whose daughter has Down syndrome, says the program seemed appropriate for their mission and background, but Cha hopes to support more organizations as it expands.

“We’re looking forward to making partnerships at Tysons and being not just in the community, but being a member of that community,” she said.

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Morning Notes

Virginia Prepares to Vaccinate Kids Against COVID-19 — “Northam said during a news conference that the state Department of Health is working with local school divisions and superintendents to roll out the vaccines as soon as they are available and that administering shots in schools would be equitable and efficient. The Pfizer vaccine is expected to be approved for children ages 5-11 in late October or early November.” [Inside NoVA]

Fairfax County Schools Vandalized for TikTok Trend — Falls Church High School and Rocky Run Middle School in Chantilly are casualties of the social media site’s “devious licks” challenge, which involves students vandalizing school property, often bathrooms. A Fairfax County Public Schools spokesperson said discipline has been and will be taken in response to the damage. [WTOP]

County Fire and Rescue Recruits GMU to Save Honeybees — “Recently, a honeybee hive was discovered at #FCFRD USAR Training site. Instead of killing the bees, George Mason University was contacted to see if they knew of an option to facilitate a relocation. The Honeybee Initiative at GMU came out and relocated the hive! A future without bees would really sting! Great to BEE a part of a positive solution!” [FCFRD/Facebook]

Longtime Vienna Jewelry Store Celebrates Reopening — Achikian Goldsmiths, a jewelry store that has operated in the Town of Vienna since 1990, will hold a grand opening celebration to mark its relocation to 110 Pleasant Street NW. Starting at 5 p.m. today (Tuesday), the ceremony will include a ribbon-cutting by Mayor Linda Colbert and a “diamond giveaway,” according to signs on the storefront.

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Morning Notes

(Updated at 8:40 a.m.) Flood Watch in Effect — Fairfax County is under a Flood Watch into this afternoon, as “significant” rain is expected. Several roads have been closed due to flooding or downed trees, including Potomac River Road at Georgetown Pike, Lawyers Road at Hunter Mill, and Old Courthouse at Besley Road. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, FCPD]

Suspect in Tysons Sexual Assault Charged in New Incident — Fairfax County police have filed new sexual assault charges against a Woodbridge man who was arrested on Sept. 3 in connection with a sexual assault reported at a Tysons hotel in July. Reported on Aug. 26, the second incident involved the man allegedly assaulting a woman he’d arranged to meet at a hotel in the Seven Corners area. [Patch]

FCPS Shares SAT Results — The Class of 2021 performed above the national average on the SAT with just a 4.4% drop in participation, compared to a 31.4% global decline, despite the challenges of conducting standardized testing during the pandemic, Fairfax County Public Schools reported yesterday (Wednesday). Results from the College Board showed that Asian and white students recorded higher average scores than their Black and Hispanic counterparts. [WTOP]

Area Officials Consider Prioritizing Equity in Planning — The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments board will vote on Oct. 13 on a regional transportation and land use plan that would prioritize low-income residents and communities of color when allocating funds for affordable housing, transportation, and other projects. Planners say the move would help address disparities in health outcomes and access to transit and other services. [The Washington Post]

Tysons Media Company Has Suitors — “Tegna Inc. (NYSE: TGNA), the Tysons-based operator of dozens of U.S. television stations, said Tuesday it has recently received multiple acquisition proposals — a new round of overtures after offers last year were pulled as the Covid-19 pandemic was taking hold. According to reports, media mogul Byron Allen is teaming with alternative investment firm Ares Management Corp. (NYSE: ARES) on a bid, while private equity giant Apollo Global Management Inc. (NYSE: APO) and Standard General LP are joining on another.” [Washington Business Journal]

Regional Park Authority Founders Celebrated — The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority recently lauded the achievements of its founders, including conservationist Ira Gabrielson, who gave land to Fairfax County that became Oakton’s Gabrielson Gardens Park. Started 62 years ago, NOVA Parks has preserved more than 12,000 acres of land and oversees attractions like the Washington & Old Dominion Regional Trail. [Sun Gazette]

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The tattoo removal company Removery has acquired Vienna-based UnTattoo (courtesy UnTattooU)

A tattoo removal clinic in the Town of Vienna is ready for a fresh look.

UnTattooU announced this morning (Wednesday) that it has been acquired by fellow tattoo removal specialist Removery, an Austin-based company that formed in 2019 with the merger of four different tattoo removal businesses.

Located at 431 Maple Avenue West, UnTattooU opened in March 2014 as the first tattoo removal clinic in Northern Virginia to utilize PicoSure laser technology, which was fairly new to the industry at that time after getting federal approval in 2012.

The business offers free consultations and permanent makeup removal services in addition to tattoo removals.

“We are very excited for the opportunity that Removery provides for not only our team but also our clients,” UnTattooU owner Mark Chauteh said in a press release. “Joining the world leader in removal unlocks the vast network of locations and the combined knowledge and experience of the leading tattoo removal providers in the country to our clients. We are eager to take part in the continued growth and expansion of Removery and the tattoo removal industry.”

Chauteh will stay with Removery as its Vienna studio manager.

Removery announced the UnTattooU acquisition in conjunction with the opening of a new studio in Arlington and the acquisition of Pristine Laser Center in Orlando, Florida.

The company says it will rebrand the new sites over the next few weeks, and all locations will follow COVID-19 safety protocols.

“We are excited to continue our growth trajectory as we establish Removery throughout the U.S. and beyond,” Removery CEO Tom Weber said. “UnTattooU and Pristine Laser have built strong foundations in their regions–not only among people looking for fade and removal services but also top-notch tattoo artists. We appreciate the warm welcome we’ve received thus far, and look forward to a seamless transition as we bring the highest level of laser technology and global expertise to these new studios.”

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(Updated at 9:05 a.m. on 9/23/2021) Nicole Liberatore has come a long way from handing cannoli to customers in a parking lot.

Less than two years after they started selling traditional Italian baked goods out of their Annandale home, Liberatore and her husband Dominick have turned their Bisnonna Bakeshop into a brick-and-mortar store at Tysons Corner Center, which welcomed its new arrival on Saturday (Sept. 18) with much fanfare.

“This has definitely been a real Cinderella story for us,” Liberatore told Tysons Reporter while piping creamy ricotta cheese filling into tubes of fried pastry dough.

The fairy godmother came in the form of Tysons Corner Center’s first-ever DreamStart competition, a “Shark Tank”-style contest where entrepreneurs pitched a product, service, or business concept for the opportunity to get three months of free rent at the mall, among other prizes.

Tysons Corner Center launched the competition in May with the dual goal of supporting local businesses and attracting new tenants to fill its vacant spaces, including the corner spot across from Barnes & Noble that Bisnonna has taken over from the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant.

While the 53-year-old shopping center has been insulated from some of COVID-19’s effects, the past year has still required a whirlwind of adjustments, as the pandemic accelerated some trends, like the shift to online shopping, that were already challenging traditional retailers and the malls that relied on them.

“Everybody’s been affected in different ways, so it’s all about being nimble and making sure we’re able to adapt not just to the pandemic, but all the things that change in the retail industry,” Tysons Corner Center Senior Manager of Business Development Services Becca Willcox said.

After the competition’s 21 applicants were whittled down to nine finalists, Bisnonna was named the grand prize winner on Aug. 11. The runners-up were fashion boutique Garçon Melanie, which opened on Aug. 28, and The Popcorn Bag DC, which is still in the works.

Willcox says the winners stood out as much for the narratives that their owners told as the products they sell. The property team from Macerich, which owns Tysons Corner Center, was especially drawn to Liberatore’s story of starting Bisnonna with recipes passed down from her and her husband’s grandparents.

“The family roots that they have…the way they take a traditional Italian pastry and infuse the cultures that are prominent here in the Northern Virginia area really stood out to us,” Willcox said. “It made us see that there was a big hole in what we offered here in Tysons and an opportunity to be able to really connect with the community through delicious food and product.” Read More

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Morning Notes

County Appoints New Parks Director — “The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors affirmed the selection of Jai Cole as Executive Director of the Park Authority [Tuesday]…Cole, a park professional with more than two decades of leadership experience with award-winning recreation and park agencies will begin immediately, filling the vacancy created by the retirement of…Kirk Kincannon earlier this year.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]

Deadline for COVID-19 Relief Grants Extended — Fairfax County has extended the application deadline for its Active and Thriving Community Grants Program to 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 21. Previously set to close yesterday (Tuesday), the program is intended to help child care providers, community programs, and other small businesses and nonprofits negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. [Fairfax County Government]

Tysons Adapts to Decline in Commuting — With the pandemic keeping many workers at home, local business leaders say a growing emphasis on mixed-use developments like The Boro and Capital One Center will help office-centric Tysons adapt to a world of remote work. Proximity to transit and retail amenities will be key to attracting young employees, ID.me Chief Marketing Officer Jean Rosauer said at last week’s Future of Tysons event. [Bisnow]

Some Teachers Skeptical of Live-Streaming Proposal — “After Fairfax County Public Schools added classroom streaming for students forced to stay home because of COVID-19, some teachers are pushing back…David Walrod, a teacher at FCPS, who also serves as the first Vice President of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, worries that the live streaming will evolve into concurrent learning — which even the superintendent said wasn’t ideal for students.” [WUSA9]

Tysons Security Company Evacuated Clients from Afghanistan — “As U.S. troops began to withdraw from Afghanistan, Tysons-based Global Guardian reached out to its clients there to offer evacuation assistance. On August 5, 10 days before the Afghan government collapsed, the company began evacuating its clients from Kabul and two other cities. By August 18, Global Guardian had successfully evacuated all but one individual, whom it later got out of the country.” [Fairfax County EDA]

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Morning Notes

Cause of Death Confirmed in Bailey’s Crossroads Murder — “A 19-year-old man stabbed his father several times in the upper body and then burned his father’s body before burying him in the family’s backyard in the Bailey’s Crossroads area of Fairfax County, the county police department said Monday. Philip Nguyen was arrested and charged with second-degree murder last Wednesday in his father’s killing.” [Patch]

Area Residents Can Get Abortion Medication By Mail — Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, which serves the D.C. area, has been offering abortion medications by mail to patients in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia since Aug. 12. The new service was officially announced on Friday (Sept. 10) shortly after the Supreme Court allowed a prohibition on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy to take effect in Texas. [The Washington Post]

Deadline to Apply for Amazon REACH Funds Extended — The deadline to submit affordable housing proposals to Fairfax County for up to $5 million each in Amazon REACH funds has been pushed to 4 p.m. Friday (Sept. 17). The state has committed $15 million annually to support affordable housing in Northern Virginia as part of the deal that brought Amazon’s second headquarters to Arlington County. [Fairfax County Housing and Community Development]

Tysons Consultant Buys Maryland Cybersecurity Company — “Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. (NYSE: BAH) again tapped the mergers and acquisitions market, it announced Monday, purchasing cybersecurity company Tracepoint. Terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed, but the move follows a strategic investment the McLean management and IT consulting firm made in the Fredericksburg company back in January.” [Washington Business Journal]

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