Tysons Corner, VA

A party store just got bigger by the Greensboro Metro station in Tysons.

Party Mania at 8353 Leesburg Pike is undergoing an expansion to double the size of the store.

An employee said that the store has remained open — and will continue to — as the expansion takes place.

Signs on doors outside the store ask customers to “Pardon the mess during expansion” and also are advertising new associate positions that the store is hiring for.

In addition to the store’s growth, the employee said that customers will soon be able to buy more Halloween goodies, with costumes arriving soon.

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A Vienna native has opened a new hair studio in downtown Vienna.

Sundown and Rise Up filled the former space of the Maple Avenue Market, which closed in February after nearly 10 years in downtown Vienna.

David McCarthy, the owner and stylist, grew up in Vienna and went to George Mason University before pursuing hairstyling, according to his bio on the salon’s website.

Sundown and Rise Up offers haircuts, blow-drys, coloring, highlights and balayage services.

The website describes Sundown and Rise Up as “a truly unique, open, creative, art-centered workspace in the heart of Vienna.”

The salon’s hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Tuesdays, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Fridays and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays.

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Crescendo Studios, a new music studio in Merrifield, plans to host a grand opening this Saturday (Aug. 24).

Located in the former MHz Studio at 8101 Lee Hwy, the studio offers private lessons, a band for kids ages 7 and up and camps focused on songwriting, bands and sound engineering.

The celebration will include food trucks, a free yoga class from 11 a.m.-noon and performances by the Fuzion de Ritmos Dance Company and Take the Cake Music.

The grand opening will run from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

The education-oriented music studio is also looking to use a currently empty space adjacent to the studio’s existing location to offer an expanded music program.

Photo via Crescendo Studios/Facebook

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Hair salons keep popping up in the Town of Vienna.

Along Maple Avenue, there are around two dozen hair salons and various types of beauty parlors offering personal care services.

While nearby Falls Church and McLean also have a plethora of salons, the ones in Vienna are concentrated mainly along Maple Avenue, with many hair salons working in close proximity to their competitors.

Along Maple Avenue by Nutley Street SW, the Village Green Shopping Center at one point housed three hair studios — Village Green Hair SalonAvivo Salon and Day Spa and Dogan and John Hair Salon. (Avivo relocated to Tysons earlier this year.)

Tysons Reporter asked Lynne Coan, the town spokesperson, what might draw the appeal for owners to open up shop in this particular area.

“I did check with our planning department, and we really don’t have an explanation for why there are so many hair salons in Vienna,” Coan said. “There are no unique or ‘encouraging’ ordinances.”

Salon O Tony (130 W. Maple Avenue) has been open for 12 years because of its customer service and good reputation, Mustafa Demir, the shop’s spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter. When asked about competition among all the various hair salons, he said salon management doesn’t think it is an issue, but didn’t expand on why.

In 2019, at least three new salons and beauty relators arrived in the area — each one of them offering a variety of hair cuts and spa treatments.

Alya Salon and Spa  (139 Park Street) and Jolie Hair Studio (121 W. Maple Avenue) both opened in February.

Hair studio Sundown and Rise Up moved into the former space of Maple Avenue Market (128 E. Maple Avenue) this summer.

These openings come at a time when the Town of Vienna said that more businesses have opened than closed recently, despite vacancies and increasing rents around town.

“It seems that, for whatever reasons, each community has a proliferation of some kind of business, be it pizza shops or nail salons or hair salons,” Coan said. For the Town of Vienna, it appears to be hair salons.

Photo 3 via Facebook, photo 4 via Facebook, map via Google Maps

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Tysons-based Curbside Kitchen imagines a food truck-friendly world where companies can easily coordinate with food trucks to cater events or just switch up lunch-time options.

Amy Katz, the CEO of Curbside Kitchen, founded the company around 2017 after talking to her husband Brian about his struggles in real estate and difficulty coordinating food trucks for events.

To solve the problem, she decided to create a technological platform that allows managers to schedule food truck arrivals for their business or building.

Katz described the company as “Uber for a food truck — with a ton of heart” and said that her company helps buildings maintain tenants by building a sense of community and diversity based on a shared love for food.

“Each truck has its own DNA,” Katz said.

When first starting out, the main obstacle was finding a way to coordinate with hundreds of food trucks with unreliable hours and various management types, she said.

“The biggest struggle is bringing the food truck owners up to the same standard,” Katz said, adding that there are many “unforeseen” circumstances around food trucks, including maintenance issues or poor weather.

But, despite the challenges, Katz is optimistic about the company’s growth. “I am so passionate about it that every day we learn something new,” she said.

Today, the company has around 300 food truck partners on call in three cities, but Katz said they plan to keep growing thanks to the Virginia Founders Fund from the Center for Innovative Technology, which recently granted Curbside Kitchen money to expand their venture.

Katz said she did not feel comfortable revealing the grant amount, but she did say that she plans to hire a few more employees and build an app.

The app will tell food truck patrons when their favorite trucks are nearby, allow trucks and managers to schedule gigs and remind trucks to show up at certain times. She said the app should be available for download within six months.

Though they are not the only company that works with food trucks, Katz said that Curbside Kitchen isn’t worried about competition.

“There isn’t really anybody out there with the technology and integration we have,” she said.

As Curbside Kitchen expands, they plan to keep their headquarters in Tysons — where the community is incredibly supportive of the food truck culture.

“I believe people have a close eye on what we are doing,” Katz said.

Photo courtesy Amy Katz

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The owner behind the Kiln & Co. custard-meets-pottery shops said being a mom-owned, local business has many perks.

Sarah Selvaraj told Tysons Reporter that she gets to spend time with her 9-year-old daughter, who helps paint the pottery and taste the custard.

“It’s definitely given me the freedom of having my daughter with me,” she said.

Selvaraj said Kiln started as a pottery spot that opened in 2013 in Vienna when her daughter was 3.

Three years later, Nielsen’s Frozen Custard closed nearby, leaving Selvaraj and her customers without a sweet treat after making pottery.

“A lot of our neighbors would do the pottery and then get the custard,” she said. So Selvaraj decided to start her own custard shop within the pottery location — and Kiln & Custard was born.

“It was to more to satisfy our needs because we had an addiction [to Nielsen’s] by then,” she said.

While some places serve custard in a soft-serve machine, she said Kiln uses an old-fashioned machine that makes the custard creamy. “We do over 12 flavors every day and they are all organic with no artificial colors,” she said.

Selvaraj then opened the Reston location (1631 N. Washington Plaza) in 2017, followed by the Falls Church spot (455 S. Maple Avenue) last year after the city approached Kiln. People can find custard and pottery at all three locations.

“They had a unique location they were trying to fill in,” she said, “The city had been extremely helpful… It just organically happened.”

The Vienna spot (138 Church Street NW), though, is the home-base. All of the custard gets made in the kitchen there and then delivered daily to the two smaller, satellite spots. The location also has a 3,000-square-foot party room, wheel room, kiln room and a back patio.

While Selvaraj doesn’t have plans to expand the store at the moment, she does have plans to expand the product. “We are stretched to the max with the three locations,” she said.

Selvaraj said she wants to offer a ceramic line by Christmas so that people looking for holiday gifts can purchase items from Kiln.

“We do get a lot of custom orders. We might have a small, curated selection that people can buy off the shelf,” she said.

Whether or not that ceramic continues after the holiday season will depend on customer demand, she said, adding that Kiln appeals to parents to kids.

“Some of the most loyal followers for the custard are seniors who come religiously on a daily basis,” she said. “Moms and kids — if they are coming to paint pottery, they end up getting custard regardless.”

Being a mom herself, Selvaraj understands the appeal of having a space where parents can hang out with their kids during the summer.

“It definitely helps being mom-owned,” she said.

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A used bookstore in the City of Falls Church plans to close at the end of the month, but comic book fans should plan on visiting the store before Monday.

“It’s a retirement closing” and “Thank you Falls Church for 40 years” signs currently hang on the store’s door.

After 40 years, Hole in the Wall Books plans to sell its comic books in a few days — less than two weeks before the store is packed up for good.

Owner Edie Nally told Tysons Reporter that her husband Michael ran the store for the first 20 years and she’s been in charge for the last 20 years.

After commuting a little more than 100 miles per day and getting stuck in I-66 traffic, Nally said she’s going to be “so glad to be out of that.”

But while Nally said that she feels “wonderful” about her upcoming retirement, several patrons who stopped by the store Thursday told Tysons Reporter that the closure will impact the Falls Church community.

Chris Messick said that the multi-generational store is part of the “citadel for nerd culture.”

“It’s a sanctuary for people to look for really cool, old books. They are not coming here just for a bargain,” Messick said.

Taylor Holland, a 48-year-old Arlingtonian who said he’s been coming to the store since he was 8, said that the closure is “costing Falls Church a piece of its soul.”

“Every community needs to have a place like this. It’s a repository of ideas,” Holland said. “It’s a forum where ideas can be exchanged. It’s the closest thing we have to a Roman forum or French salon circa the days of Versaille.”

Holland, who was unable to find a copy of “The Great Gatsby,” had a stack of at least two dozen paperbacks and comic books he had picked out for himself and his family.

“I buy a whole variety of things,” he said. “I have two kids ages 11 and 13.”

Shoppers can find a wide selection of books from mysteries to horror, from graphic novels to literature.

As for Nally’s favorite reads? “The very best books ever are Shakespeare and the Russians — Dostoevsky, Tolstoy,” Nally said. “What’s better than that?”

Signs outside the store say, “50% off. Going out of business sale discounts.” Nally said the half-off discount applies to “pretty much everything.”

Come Monday (Aug. 19), Nally said that a man will buy and haul away 191 long boxes containing “thousands and thousands of comics.” People looking for comic books should stop by the store this weekend, Nally suggested.

Hole in the Wall Books is open from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on the weekends. The store plans to close for good on Saturday, Aug. 31.

Whatever doesn’t get sold by the closing date, Nally said will end up on the Advanced Book Exchange, a Canadian e-commerce site better known as AbeBooks.com.

Nally said that people should come to store before it closes “because we’re giving a great deal.”

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Mosaic District-based Custom Ink is now linked to a Beyonce-backed company.

The custom apparel company recently acquired Sidestep, a concert merchandise app, the Washington Business Journal reported.

“Sidestep’s services have been made available at concerts in North America, Europe and Australia. Some of its notable users include Beyonce, Guns N’ Roses, Panic! At the Disco, Fall Out Boy and Adele,” the article said.

Beyonce doesn’t just use the app — she invested $150,000 in Sidestep in 2016, Newsweek reported.

This isn’t the first acquisition for Custom Ink. In 2016, the company procured Represent, a Los Angeles-based social commerce startup.

“[Sidestep’s] service will be paired with Represent’s digital marketing platform to allow artists and entertainers to design, market, print and distribute custom merchandise to fans while streamlining the sales process,” the Washington Business Journal reported.

Based out of its Mosaic District office at 2910 District Avenue, Custom Ink also opened two new stores — one in Bethesda, Md. and another in Charlotte, N.C. — this summer.

Photo via Custom Ink/Facebook

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Distilleries across the county are fighting a looming tax raise they say threatens their existence — and one Falls Church distillery is joining the fray.

Michael Paluzzi owns Falls Church Distilleries and is currently petitioning Congressmembers to pass a bill that would freeze current tax rates in place before they expire at the end of the year.

If the tax rates expire, distilleries across the nation could see a spike in liquor production costs, possibly causing some local distilleries to nix plans for expansion or even close.

In an attempt to prevent that, Paluzzi gathered with more than 160 other distillery owners for a conference in D.C. last month to discuss dilemmas in the industry, set up congressional visits with senators and find a way to stop the federal tax increase.

Legislation and Numbers

The conference was held in conjunction with the American Craft Distillers Association (ACDA), a non-profit organization consisting of distillery owners and stakeholders, along with the Distilled Spirits Council.

The ACDA is one of the interest groups spearheading legislation to keep the current Federal Excise Tax.

Currently, the Federal Excise Tax rate for liquor is $2.70 per gallon. But, it will rise to $13.50 on Dec. 31 if no one acts.

It may be too late to get the law passed as an individual piece of legislation before the deadline, ACDA’s CEO Margie Lehrman told Tysons Reporter.

To work around this problem, the group hopes to instead piggy-back it onto other legislation set to be voted on, as a rider bill. She said because of support from over 272 cosponsors, the group is fairly confident this idea will work.

Impact on Local Business

“It is not a Republican bill. It’s not a Democrat bill. The entire alcohol industry is united,” Lehrman said.

Lehrman said she is fairly optimistic about the legislation passing as a “tax vehicle,” since the legislation has traction from over 70 senators around the country. However, Paluzzi worries that legislators will misunderstand the impact of the taxes on small companies.

Paluzzi said that legislators don’t want to be seen giving tax breaks to large distillery companies like Jack Daniels. “This [tax break] means nothing to them and everything to us,” Paluzzi said.

With the tax breaks from the federal government, Paluzzi was able to reinvest in his own business by hiring two new team members. “Any tax relief I was given was more than made up for in the local economy.”

As of 2010, there were fewer than 50 craft spirit producers in the U.S., Lehrman said. Now in 2019, there are over 2,000 — many of them still young companies.

Paluzzi said that it takes three to five years for distilleries to start making even a small profit because of high startup costs.

“This tax relief, for many, was a type of lifeline,”  Lehrman said.

Cultural Importance 

Both Lehrman and Paluzzi spoke to the cultural and historical value of distilleries.

Since the founding of Falls Church Distilleries (442 S. Washington Street) in 2017, Paluzzi and his son, Lorenzo, make various types of craft vodka, whiskey, gin, rum and brandy.

Rooted in their love for liquor, they are also proud of the history behind the distillery. Not only is it the only privately owned distillery in Fairfax County, but it was also the first to open in the area since prohibition ended in 1933.

Lehrman told Tysons Reporter that craft distilleries are becoming increasingly popular among millennials.

“If we wanna think about a product that’s made in America, there is nothing more demonstrative of innovation,” Lehrman said.

Next Steps

Currently, the bill is in the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Though no-one can say for certainty what the outcome will be, Paluzzi said he and other distillers will continue to network with other distillers and politicians while spreading awareness for this issue.

Paluzzi said that liquor has a “historical disadvantage” when it comes to the federal tax rate, and he wants to see “permanence and parity” with that of wine and beer.

“Virginia is the birthplace of distilleries,” Paluzzi said.

Image courtesy Michael E. Paluzzi

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Tysons-based Gannett is merging with fellow newspaper chain GateHouse to form what is by far the largest newspaper publisher in the country.

The merger was announced Monday and will result in a behemoth that owns 1 in every 6 newspapers in the U.S., including hundreds of local daily and weekly papers and the flagship USA Today national paper. The debt-financed, cash-and-stock deal was valued at nearly $1.4 billion.

The combined company will be called Gannett and will continue to be based in Tysons, at the Valo Park office complex, at 7950 Jones Branch Drive. Gannett signed a 12-year lease on the space in 2015.

Valo Park was sold by TV station owner TEGNA, which was split from Gannett and is now based at The Boro in Tysons.

Photo via Valo Park

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