Tysons, VA

Finally, for the first time since March, McCabe’s Printing Group has seen a jump in sales.

The Merrifield based shop (8451 Hilltop Road), which typically specializes in promotional materials for schools and banquets, suffered a 50% drop in sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to operations manager Chris Ricci.

“Mid-March, everything dropped off the face of the earth in terms of work,” Ricci said. “It was kind of a shock, to say the least.”

But after forming a few new partnerships and changing tactics, Ricci said that the shop finally began to bounce back in August.

“I wanna say that businesses slowly and gradually reopening has definitely played a role in boosting morale,” he said, adding that the shop has seen a large increase for printed materials reminding people of safety procedures to prevent the spread of COVID, such as proper handwashing techniques and PSAs to wear a mask.

“We’ve been lucky,” Ricci said. “A lot of print shops had a lot of difficulties during this time, but the biggest goal is keeping at it.”

When the pandemic first hit, Ricci said that the shop received a federal PPP loan.

“That definitely helped us out, especially during the early months,” Ricci said. “We were one of the first ones to apply and get it.”

The shop is also awaiting a loan from Fairfax County, which Ricci is expecting to hit the accounts sometime next week.

Ricci said that he’s been with the company since he was a “wee little lad,” adding that he has family connections to the business.

For community members who want to keep supporting local and small businesses, Ricci said he wanted to remind people that there is a gap between the drive to support local shop owners in practice vs theory.

“The biggest disconnect that folks have is supporting local businesses but not supporting small business prices,” he said, adding that the printing industry has a very small sales margin to begin with.

Ricci encourages people to chat with the staff when visiting a small business, that way they can form a connection with other community members.

“There are not that many people at small businesses, so when you walk in, you could easily be chatting with the owner,” Ricci said.

Image courtesy McCabe’s Printing Group

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Monday Morning Notes

F.C. Council Vote on Whole Foods Project to Be Delayed — “The News-Press has learned at plans at present are to delay a vote by the Falls Church City Council at its business meeting this Monday on the proposed Broad at Washington mixed use development process because there is insufficient support on the Council at present to move it forward for evaluation by City boards and commissions.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Improper Disposal Of Smoking Materials Cause Merrifield Condo Fire –“Units arrived on the scene of a four-story, condominium building with fire showing from a third-floor deck.” [Twitter]

Computer Hackers Attack Fairfax County School System –“Hackers attacked the Fairfax County Public Schools computer system and placed ransomware on some of its systems, a school district spokesperson said Friday.” [Washington Post]

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Jennifer McLaughlin, owner of the Caboose Brewing Company, is just starting to catch her breath and take a look back at the last few months of the local brewery not only trying to survive, but do some good for their communities.

It has not been an easy road for Caboose, which operates Caboose Tavern in Vienna (520 Mill Street NE) and Caboose Commons in Merrifield (2918 Eskridge Road).

“It’s been quite a whirlwind,” McLaughlin said. “Back in March, when this all went down, we had to let go of a lot of people. They don’t have a ton of resources. It was awful. We were letting go of people we weren’t sure would be able to pay rent and buy food and all those things. We lined them up with resources as best we could but that wasn’t really enough.”

As the pandemic worsened, McLaughlin said they began to hear stories about how hard fresh food was for people to come by. It was difficult for people to get to grocery stores and many food banks carried only canned goods, but McLaughlin said it occurred to them that they could access fresh food supply chains through their own vendors.

“So we started a grassroots effort with local schools and a couple of churches,” McLaughlin said. “At one point, we were doing hundreds of grocery donations a week.”

McLaughlin said Caboose was delivering milk, proteins, and produce to families in need. At its peak, the program was delivering hundreds of grocery boxes. In total, McLaughlin said Caboose has put together and delivered 915 grocery boxes.

The grocery boxes were delivered by volunteers and Caboose received donations, though never enough to fully cover the cost of buying the groceries.

“The numbers are way less than they used to be, ” McLaughlin said. “We’re now down to 10 families, which is down from 40 last week.”

Caboose also donated a total of 869 meals to Inova Hospital.

Caboose Tavern in Vienna was closed for a while when the pandemic started. Caboose Commons at the Mosaic district never closed, but it was also not very active during the worst of it. McLaughlin said the space gave management a chance to take a step back and assess the restaurant’s values and priorities.

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Phoenix-based Eduvision, Inc. is looking to expand the Arizona College of Nursing into Virginia with a location in the Fairview Park development.

Eduvision wants to turn the eighth floor of the office building at 3130 Fairview Park Drive into seven classrooms, according to plans submitted to Fairfax County. The office is a part of the Fairview Park development, which is located at the southeastern intersection of Arlington Blvd (Route 50) and I-495.

Eduvision owns and operates the Arizona College of Nursing, which has locations in Arizona, Nevada, Texas and Florida, according to Walsh Colucci. This would be the nursing school’s first Virginia location.

Lynne Strobel with Walsh Colucci highlighted in a letter to county planners that the nursing school would be very close to both Inova Fairfax Hospital, which is on the other side of I-495, and the Dunn Loring Metro station.

“[Inova Fairfax] Hospital offers a number of training opportunities and is a potential employer of the applicant’s graduates,” Strobel wrote. In September 2019, the county approved the hospital’s land-use plan as Inova looks to expand and provide more research and academic space at its Merrifield campus.

The Arizona College of Nursing at Fairview Park would have roughly 200 students on-site at any one time and 10 full-time faculty members at full enrollment. Once open, the school would offer classes year-round without summer breaks, according to the plans.

Eduvision is seeking approval from Fairfax County for a “college/university” use at the office building. Fairfax County’s website does not list public hearing dates for the proposal.

Strobel urged county planners to consider the application, saying that the proposed nursing school would fit in with the office building and the Fairview Park development.

“A diversification of the uses at Fairview Park will add to its vibrancy… The pond, open space, and trials in the office park are conducive to an educational setting,” Strobel wrote.

Image via Google Maps

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Lidl’s recently announced expansion along the East Coast includes a new store in Merrifield Plaza.

Lidl announced yesterday that it plans to open 50 stores stretching from Delaware to South Carolina by the end of 2021 and close two stores in North Carolina. The Merrifield Plaza location, which Rosenthal Properties announced in June, is among the seven new stores coming to Virginia.

Lidl will take over the 30,000 square-foot space (2901 Gallows Road) currently occupied by Office Depot when the office supply retailer’s lease ends on Dec. 31, Billy Orlove, Rosenthal’s leasing director, told Tysons Reporter.

In addition to the upcoming exit from Merrifield, Office Depot is shuttering dozens of locations through the end of 2021. Lidl will join Korean-American supermarket chain H Mart at the shopping center at the intersection of Gallows Road and Lee Hwy.

“Lidl will bring additional fresh choices, convenient shopping and great savings to the community,” Jane Le, one of the leasing associates who represented Rosenthal in bringing Lidl to Merrifield Plaza, said.

Originally established in Germany, Lidl has grown its international footprint since the 1970s and now has more than 11,000 stores in 32 countries. In 2015, the discount grocery chain opened its U.S. headquarters in Arlington.

With the expansion, Lidl said in the announcement that it plans to invest more than $500 million in the new stores and create 2,000 new jobs.

Currently, Lidl’s closest stores to the Tysons area include ones in Fairfax and Springfield.

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge/Unsplash

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An upcoming protest in Merrifield is part of nationwide mobilization at post offices across the U.S.

From Alaska to Florida, 602 volunteer-led protests are set to take place at 11 a.m. local time tomorrow (Saturday) to demand Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s resignation and “save the post office from Donald Trump.”

The protests are in response to DeJoy’s cost-cutting measures for the financially-rocky United States Postal Service, which critiques said could delay the expected surge of mail ballots for the November election.

After facing a backlash, DeJoy said he will pause the changes until after the election. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly slammed mail-in ballots, said he opposes more funding for the USPS because of mail-in voting.

The protest at the Merrifield post office (8409 Lee Hwy) will be wheelchair accessible, according to the event description. Protests will also take place in Reston and Arlington.

The nationwide mobilization is backed by several unions and organizations, including MoveOn, Service Employees International Union, the NAACP, the Working Families Party, The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, American Federation of Teachers, Indivisible and Vets for the People.

Organizers are asking participants to wear face coverings, remain 6 feet apart from each other, bring hand sanitizer and keep the protests peaceful and nonviolent.

“Individual hosts are responsible for compliance with their own local laws and event requirements (including orders limiting the sizes of events),” the event description said.

Image via Google Maps

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Bruster’s Real Ice Cream near the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station plans to close permanently tomorrow (Friday).

Renita Shelton, the eatery’s manager, posted the announcement earlier today on the Facebook page for the location (2672D Avenir Place).

Bruster’s is known for its variety of cold treats including ice cream, shakes, floats, sodas and cakes.

Shelton called the upcoming closure a “bittersweet moment,” sharing that “the decision to close the shop at this given point in time was necessary for your safety as well as ours.”

Shelton thanked customers who “traveled far and wide” to come to the shop and other D.C. area locations for the ice cream chain.

Tysons Reporter reached out to the store earlier today and will update this story if more information becomes available.

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“Relay,” a new autonomous electric shuttle, made its first test run throughout Merrifield’s Mosaic District yesterday. 

Relay is a free, driverless transportation option that will take people from the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro Station to the Mosaic District. 

Yesterday’s testing was the beginning of a mapping process to teach the vehicle its route. In the learning process, the shuttle needs to stay on its route down to the millimeter, according to Dominion Energy’s Innovation Strategist Julie Manzari.

Testing and mapping usually take a few weeks or more with autonomous shuttles depending on the complicated nature of the route, according to Manzari. The route Relay will be taking is especially interesting due to busy roads. 

The project was launched by Fairfax County and Dominion Energy in partnership with EDENS, Virginia’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation and Department of Transportation, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and George Mason University.

Transdev will be in charge of the management and maintenance of the vehicle, which was made by EasyMile, according to the county’s website

In a YouTube video, EasyMile engineer Nathan Ramsey said that the shuttle has several different braking systems, uses GPS and has a LiDAR system, which observes the environment with infrared lasers.

“Using LiDAR, the vehicle can’t miss objects. It will see everything around it, and it will respond accordingly,” Ramsey said. “So if it needs to slow down or stop because somebody runs out in front of it — even if they dart out in front of it just a couple, mere feet — the vehicle will have no trouble stopping or slowing.”

Ramsey said that he believes the shuttle is safer than human drivers, noting that the technology can respond safely to human error.

The shuttle will be enforcing mask requirements and separation as much as possible to ensure COVID-19 safety. They plan on keeping a seat between each passenger and requiring passengers to wear their seatbelts, according to Manzari. 

“We have a lot of enthusiasm around the project,” said Manzari. “People are very curious about autonomous vehicles.”

Photo courtesy Peggy Fox/Dominion Energy

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Dominion Energy plans to roll out an autonomous, electric shuttle named “Relay” for testing in Merrifield as early as next week.

The self-driving shuttle will make a loop between the Mosaic District to the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station. Fairfax County and Dominion Energy teamed up last year to start the pilot program to improve connectivity between the station and the shopping center, which are just under one mile apart according to Google Maps.

Peggy Fox, Dominion Energy’s spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter that testing is expected to start soon on the pre-mapped route. “It will be several weeks before we’re able to accept passengers,” Fox said.

Currently, the autonomous shuttle, which was made by the French company EasyMile, is in Alexandria awaiting its move to Merrifield next week, Fox said.

According to Dominion Energy, Relay is the first test of autonomous public transportation in Northern Virginia.

Photos courtesy Dominion Energy

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A new Indian restaurant is now open in the Tysons area.

Bansari Indian Cuisine held its grand opening on Sunday, July 19, at 2750 Gallows Road in Merrifield, according to a Facebook post from the restaurant. Diners can find it near Lost Dog Cafe — between the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station and the Mosaic District.

The restaurant posted that it offers patio dining, take-out and delivery. People can order from the restaurant on Uber Eats, DoorDash, Grubhub and Seamless.

The menu includes a variety of dishes, including butter chicken, tandoori chicken, hakka noodles, egg curry, lamb curry and biryani.

The restaurant is open from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and until 11 p.m. Friday-Sunday, according to the restaurant’s website.

Image via Google Maps

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