Reduced Metro Service Continues — “Although the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA) said Wednesday it had improved service on a number of its Metrorail lines, customers should expect reduced service to continue at least until Nov. 30.” [Patch]
MCC Offers Vouchers for Feedback — The McLean Community Center has hired the consulting firm AMS Planning & Research to conduct a community survey regarding its future operations and programming. Five randomly chosen respondents will receive $60 vouchers that can be used for MCC-sponsored classes, camps, and other activities or an Alden Theatre performance. [MCC]
Zero Waste Store Now Open in Vienna — “Trace the Zero Waste Store opened on Sept. 23 at 140 Church Street NW. This is only one of two zero waste stores to open in Northern Virginia…Vienna’s new store seeks to be a one-stop location for essentials such as dry goods and personal care items to help reduce the amount of waste humans produce and its impact on the planet.” [Patch]
Leila Co-Owner Rules Local Nightlife and Lobbying Scenes — “Washington isn’t exactly known for its nightlife, but when the scene does hit, say, Page Six, Basnayake’s spots tend to be the backdrop. But get this — all while trying to build up the city as a Saturday-night playground for the young, trendy, and ready to party, Basnayake has also held down the most Washington job in Washington. He’s a lobbyist.” [Washingtonian]
Luther Jackson Teacher Engages Students with Escape Room — “The pair worked to craft the county school system’s first escape room, an academic puzzle for the school’s eighth graders to review material taught in seventh grade. Since the concept debuted earlier this month, it has some students so invested that they asked Hoffert if they can return after school to complete the maze.” [WTOP]
Tysons Corner Center is spicing its dining scene up with the opening of a new restaurant that promises aromatic cuisine and a nightclub-like atmosphere in the evenings.
Inspired by co-owner Bikram Keith’s experiences touring the world as a DJ for British R&B musician Jay Sean, Leila serves kebabs, naan, and other food from the Middle East, Persian Gulf, and northern India.
The menu was designed to evoke the cultures shaped by the Spice Routes that historically served as the backbone of trade between Europe, the Mediterranean, and Asia.
After opening just for family and friends the previous night, the 210-seat restaurant got a soft public launch last Thursday (Oct. 28), and the response so far has been “unbelievable,” according to co-owner Vinoda Basnayake.
“We are hoping to honor the traditional dishes of each culture represented, yet constantly challenge ourselves with how to be innovative and creative with our menu,” Basnayake said. “We want the people in Tysons to not feel like they have to trek into the city for a good meal and good atmosphere and we want to be a fun destination for Washingtonians who make the trip.”
A close friend of Keith, Basnayake is a principal of Versus Equity, a brand management company behind several D.C. bars, including the nightclub HEIST, Casta’s Rum Bar, and Morris American Bar, according to Northern Virginia Magazine.
Joined by Punjab Grill owner Karan Singh, who created the menu, the trio developed the concept for Leila in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic after noticing that Northern Virginia diners were staying closer to home instead of crossing the Potomac into D.C.
Basnayake says the goal is to celebrate the cuisine of the Spice Route, while also bringing the nightlife party atmosphere of Versus’ D.C. bars to the Tysons area, where Keith grew up.
To that end, Leila’s 5,000 square-foot dining room is complemented by an outdoor patio as well as a bar and cocktail lounge. DJs will also perform at the restaurant on Thursdays through Sundays until 2 a.m.
“I think the ambiance and vibe were really key in nailing what we wanted Leila to be. The lighting and music make you really feel transported from the mall,” Basnayake said, noting that Leila — whose name means “daughter of the night” in Arabic, Farsi, and Urdu — is the only place in the mall open that late.
While the restaurant initially encountered some of the same hiring challenges facing the entire food service industry, Basnayake says the owners are proud of the team they have assembled, including Punjab Grill chef Jassi Bindra and General Manager Hamid Khalili and Versus Beverage Director Hank Bowers.
Located in Suite 7943B near Panera Bread and Shilla Bakery, Leila is now open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, with weekday happy hours, Sunday brunch, and a late-night menu.
According to the mall, other recent arrivals at Tysons Corner Center include Bisnonna Bakeshop, luxury fashion store Aritzia, electric car company Lucid Motors, and the “Japanese-inspired” lifestyle retailer Miniso, which opened its doors in early October.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced local businesses to either shut down or add safety measures to stay open. For businesses that aren’t open yet, owners are facing new challenges to decide if or when to debut.
Tysons Reporter found out the new debut plans for three upcoming businesses, which were originally slated to open this spring.
The store was originally expecting to open sometime in May or June.
Dawn Eischen, a Virginia ABC spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter that plans are still on track to relocate the ABC store at 436 Maple Ave. E. to the Maple Avenue Shopping Center space this spring.
“We’re still moving forward with this relocation, but don’t have a firm date,” Eischen said earlier this week. “We’re still looking at the June time frame.”
Eischen previously told Tysons Reporter that the relocation to the spot with roughly 1,400 more square feet “will allow us to provide a wider selection of products, meet market demands and better serve our customers.”
The Palladium’s owners were planning to move their now-closed Arlington nightclub to the Tysons spot.
Currently, The Palladium is closed after the owners canceled the last few concerts in March.
The Salsa Room, which closed in Arlington in March, was supposed to open in its new 15,000-square-foot, two-level home (1524 Spring Hill Road) in late March. Grand opening events were set for the new Tysons nightclub from March 25-29.
Now, Victor Villarreal, one of the owners behind the nightclubs, said that he’s refunded all of the grand opening tickets and he isn’t sure when The Salsa Room will open in Tysons.
“We will open at some point,” he said.
Right now, Villarreal and his brother are working to come up with plans for opening that include different numbers of people allowed inside — 50, 100, 250 — along with other possible safety measures like masks, hand sanitizing stations and cashless payment options.
“I think we’re really considering looking at temperature thermometer you scan on the forehead,” he said. “Our whole plan is trying to keep our staff and our clients safe.”
When state restrictions get lifted, Villarreal said nightclubs will be one of the last businesses to open. “I don’t expect our business to be open until there’s a vaccine or no cases for a couple of weeks at least or a treatment,” he said.
Even if there’s only one COVID-19 case in Virginia, he expects “it’s going to take a long time for people to feel comfortable.”
“We’re the last thing that people are going to want to try to do,” he said, adding that the close contact typical of clubs is completely different from guidelines now for people to stay 6 feet apart.
As for staff, he said that they are waiting for the nightclub to open.
“We can’t pay afford to pay them right,” he said. “A lot applied for unemployment. I know some of them have gotten jobs doing other stuff.”
Villarreal said that he has been negotiating successfully with his landlord in Tysons and utility companies.
“We try to keep a positive attitude but we know nothing is guaranteed,” he said.
Originally slated to open this spring, The ShipGarten will now likely make its debut early summer, Matt Rofougaran, Tysons Biergarten’s CEO and managing partner, told Tysons Reporter.
The ShipGarten will consist of a number of themed 40-foot shipping containers, including:
- “The Biergarten” — German and Belgium beers and German food
- Roll Bär — Asian fusion cuisine and Japanese whiskey
- Chalkboard BBQ — a rotating menu of barbecue and international craft beer
- Tysons EuroBar — Mediterranean fare
The shipping containers will be outside, surrounded by a “quintessential biergarten area, family friendly kids area, a fenced in dog area, and entertainment venue,” according to The ShipGarten’s website.
Rofougaran said that patrons will be able to social distance — “Good thing about us is we will have a lot of space.”
He said staffing for The ShipGarten has not been impacted for the pandemic. “Staffing is going to be easy for me,” he said, noting that he’s been in the restaurant business since he was a teenager.
The only coronavirus-related obstacle Rofougaran said he’s noticed is the speed of the work — from architects to construction workers — on the new concept. “Everybody is working much slower,” he said.
The Palladium’s owners — two brothers named Victor and Franco Villarreal — recently announced that their salsa club in Arlington will soon close to relocate to the Tysons location.
The Salsa Room is set to close its 7,5000-square-foot space, one-level in Arlington to move to its new 15,000-square-foot, two-level home (1524 Spring Hill Road) in late March. Tickets are available for the grand opening in Tysons from March 25-29 and start at $20 per person for general admission.
Ahead of the change, Tysons Reporter talked to Victor Villarreal about why the club is moving to Tysons, what Palladium club-goers can expect and why he loves The Salsa Room.
Tysons Reporter: I just have to say I’ve been to The Salsa Room in Arlington, but I haven’t been to The Palladium in Tysons.
Victor Villarreal: The Tysons one, when we opened it up [in late 2018], we made it more of an event place than an actual club. It’s been more events from all over the world.
TR: What prompted the move?
VV: We’ve been in South Arlington since 1992. It’s a pretty old building. The buildings up and down Columbia Pike are starting to get torn down.
We know eventually that’s going to happen to us. It could be in the next year. It could the next two to three years at most. We didn’t want to wait and get caught up in trying to find something at the last moment.
We decided a couple of years ago to start looking for a spot. We came across Iris Lounge and we decided it was a great spot. We saw a lot of potential in Tysons Corner that can be a great hope for this type of venue.
Our location in Arlington, again, it’s an old building. There’s a lot of investment that needs to be done to upgrade it and keep it modern and it’s really hard for us to invest any money knowing we may only be there a couple more years. This move was planned a long time ago.
TR: How long ago?
VV: About two-and-a-half years. It took us about a year-and-a-half to build and we’ve been open a year in Tysons.
A lot of the events we did in Tysons weren’t catered to the salsa events we do at The Salsa Room. It’s been more concerts from Mongolia, Thailand, Madagascar — all of these different countries that affect a sense of a diverse community.
We didn’t want to compete against ourselves because this was a short-term gap until we move.
TR: And you’ve personally been in this area awhile?
VV: We grew up in the McLean and Burke areas.
TR: How do you think this move will affect the nightlife scene in Tysons?
VV: I remember in the early 2000s, there wasn’t too much to do, but [eCitie] was insanely successful. And they had a 10-year run. You couldn’t even get in on most nights.
I think Tysons, maybe five years ago or so, there was not much. There were good restaurants, but I don’t know that there’s a good nightlife scene here.
There have a couple of spots that have opened recently. It’s just the growth of Tysons and how much development there is going to be. I’m sure businesses that are getting priced out in developments closer to D.C. may find some opportunities in Tysons.
When we’ve done events in the last year, we got support. People came from Maryland. [The Tysons club] is more central to a lot of places. We’re extremely excited about being here and helping to grow a night scene.
TR: How do you think your clientele will be different or similar to Arlington?
VV: We’re definitely going to lose some clients because it’s a different area, but I do believe there are some pretty loyal clients who will still come to us.[Tysons] is a new pool of clients. We feel pretty confident that we’ll have the support of the community.
TR: Will The Salsa Room entirely take over The Palladium or just a part of it?
VV: It will take over the whole thing. It’s going to be completely The Salsa Room.
All the employees are coming from [Arlington] — the DJs, the instructors. Because it’s so much larger, it’s going to let us bring things that we were not able to do in Arlington. We’ll be able to get bigger acts. We have a stage.
TR: Do you have a favorite aspect of The Salsa Room?
VV: The history. Some of the best salsa artists in the world have played there, like Marc Anthony. He’s a super megastar. He performed there three different times when he was starting his career. There are so many stories. That’s really helped us develop a loyal client base.
People will come from all over the world. They will take a picture and tag us [on social media]. We’ve had paintings of people like Marc Anthony with original signatures. People tag us and those are awesome.
We have YouTube videos that have millions of hits that were filmed there and so [The Salsa Room] is really well known in the salsa community.
We definitely didn’t want to close it down. We need to continue that.
The interview has been lightly condensed and edited for clarity.
Photo (1) via Facebook; images (2-4) via Google Maps
After more than 20 years in Arlington, a popular Latin nightclub and bar plans to bring the beat to Tysons.
The Salsa Room recently announced that the Arlington location (2619 Columbia Pike) is set to close in early March ahead of its grand opening in Tysons later that month.
“Brothers Franco and Victor, [the] owners of The Palladium and The Salsa Room, have decided to move the iconic Arlington Salsa Room to the current Palladium location in Tysons,” according to The Palladium.
Starting today (Friday), tickets are available for the grand opening in Tysons from March 25-29. Tickets for each night cost between $20 per person for general admission and $495 for six VIP attendees.
Until the grand opening, people can expect The Palladium to stay open with its usual events.
Meanwhile, the Arlington location plans to host closing parties between March 4-7.
“After 20+ years in Arlington, and countless, amazing memories, TSR would like to thank all of the artist, dancers, instructors, Djs and you for supporting us,” the Facebook post said.
Photos 1 and 2 via Facebook; image (3) via Google Maps
Updated 1/20 — Corrects the hours for Caboose Brewing’s locations in Vienna and Merrifield.
With the shake-up of breweries and nightlife in Tysons, people are seeking new places to go for a beer with friends or colleagues.
Though Tysons Biergarten closed in November, there are several upcoming spots that opened in the last few weeks or are preparing to open. Tysons Reporter compiled a list of local breweries and bars around the area that people can check out if they want to grab some beer.
Whole Foods recently became the epicenter of The Boro with its High Point pub. Open from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m., seven days a week, the location caters to lunchtime and happy hour crowds.
The pub offers a full range of drinks, including cocktails, wines and also more than 16 local brews from around Virginia.
Located in Tysons Corner Center, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant (7861 Tysons Corner Center) brews its beers on-site and even offers a view of its brewing facilities and brewery tours. It is open daily from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m.
Watering hole Tysons Social in the DoubleTree Tysons (1960 Chain Bridge Road) offers local craft brews. The tavern is open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily.
Xtreme Wings and Bar (8119 Watson Street) has specials and events for people looking for something to do while they enjoy a beer. It offers karaoke on Tuesday and Saturday nights, according to the website, which added the location is open from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m. seven days a week.
A self-proclaimed pour house, City Works (1640 N. Capital One Drive) has around 90 locally crafted beers on tap. A full list can be found on the bar’s website but there are brews likely to appease even the pickiest beer snob. City Works is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m.
The Casual Pint in Falls Church (6410 Arlington Blvd) opened earlier this week and offers dozens of various Virginia based brews. Locally owned and operated by Darren McClure, guests can enjoy the low-key atmosphere, which includes wooden tables and a colorful draft list. Hours of operation are 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Sunday-Thursday and from 11 a.m. until 12 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Settle Down Easy Brewing Co. (2822 Fallfax Drive) is a Nano brewery, which brews beers from IPAs to kolschs. People can find a taco stand inside along with indoor and outdoor seating. Hours vary each day of the week but can be found on the location’s website.
Audacious Aleworks Brewery and Taproom (110 E. Fairfax Street) specializes in small-batch ales. The taproom in downtown Falls Church has up to 20 beers on tap at any given time along with free popcorn and board games.
It is open Monday through Thursday 4 until 9 p.m., Fridays from 4 p.m. until 12 a.m., Saturday from 12 p.m. until 12 a.m. and Sunday from 12 to 8 p.m.
Merrifield and Vienna
Sweetwater Tavern (3066 Gate House Plaza) has a microbrewery is located in Merrifield where visitors can find hand-crafted brews and lunch and dinner menus. Hours of operation are different each day of the week and can be found online.
Caboose Common (520 NE Mill Street) in Merrifield has tons of open seating for people to enjoy drafts brewed on-site. The industrial-style setting is multi-functional and allows people to use the location as a co-working space during the day and as an after-work hangout spot.
The location is open Sunday through Thursday from 7 a.m. until 9:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays until midnight.
Caboose also has a brewpub called Caboose Tavern in Vienna (520 Mill Street NE) off of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. Caboose Tavern is open from 4-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, from noon to 10:30 p.m. on Fridays, from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Sundays.
Solace Outpost is looking to start brewing its own beer in the former space of Mad Fox in Falls Church in May.
Catherine Douglas Moran contributed reporting
Tysons may not have the liveliest nightlife at the moment, but that could soon change as more late-night restaurants and places to hang out open. “Tysons After Dark” will highlight a different spot every week.
The new Whole Foods in The Boro has caught the attention of people looking for happy hour deals after work with its brand new bar High Point.
Located on the top floor inside Whole Foods, the bar offers guests 16 regional beers and ciders along with a variety of cocktails and wine. People can enjoy their drinks at the bar, anywhere throughout the store while they shop or while they play shuffleboard and various arcade games like pinball.
High Point also offers happy hour deals Monday through Thursday, including $1 off ceratin pours. For those who don’t want to commit to a full drink, the bar also offers sample size tasters for $3 — all day, every day.
Last Friday night, Tysons Reporter decided to enjoy a 16-ounce pumpkin favored Wild Hare Hard Cider from Leesburg, which cost $7, while people-watching.
By 5 p.m. the bar was getting busy and seats were scarce. Young professionals in their mid-20s’ to early-40s’ enjoyed the hangout spot.
Tysons residents Tim McCall and Miguel Barrios told Tysons Reporter that the new Whole Foods is two blocks from their apartment, so they decided to try it out as a pregame spot before they went for a night out in D.C.
“This is going to make us sound old, but it seems like a quiet place for a drink,” McCall said.
Around five different bartenders assisted customers throughout the evening, each staying busy and serving customers in rapid succession. For those who don’t want to wait for a drink at the bar, the self-serve wine and beer stations were a popular option, even though they had a narrower selection.
ESPN was playing on the flat-screen TVs scattered throughout the area for all of the sports fans.
By 5:30 p.m. there was only standing-room at the bar, and different groups were sharing nearby tables. Things began to get rowdy as people raised their voices to compete with the conversations going on around them. Laughter echoed around the room and people seemed eager to kick off their weekend.
A bartender told Tysons Reporter that business has been extremely steady all week and the spot is pretty popular, especially around lunchtime.
The energy in the room stayed pretty consistent until 8 p.m. Then things began to slow down, and people went about their evening.
High Point is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.
Last August, the future looked uncertain for popular local nightspot Tysons Biergarten (8346 Leesburg Pike). But just a few months later, Biergarten isn’t just staying in place: it’s growing.
The Biergarten had been in-place on a month-to-month basis — a placeholder until the construction nearby extended into the lot. Owner Matt Rofougaran said the Biergarten will remain in place through the end of the year, if not longer.
But the extension doesn’t mean the Biergarten will remain stagnant. This past weekend, the Biergarten opened a new speakeasy-by-day and nightclub-by-night in the basement.
Where there were once German style long tables in the basement, fitting the German beerhall theme of the rest of the establishment, the room has been turned into a club called Room 7.
There are 50 beers available downstairs, both in bottles and cans, with a special table service being offered. The club is over-21 only and has a strict dress code.
During the speakeasy hours, the location is planned to offer “prohibition-type cocktails,” mainly custom house mixes with higher-end whiskey in a more relaxed atmosphere.
“I like the speakeasy trend,” Rofougaran said. “This is a good first-date spot. A lot of places you go are too loud and obnoxious.”
After a pause, Rofougaran added, “But then in the evenings, it’s going to get loud and obnoxious.”
Rofougaran said he’s also looking to get some of the big DJs from D.C. to make the trip across the Potomac to perform at the club. The club is also planned to host a variety of themed nights, like “Persian Night” on Thursdays or “Old School Hip Hop” on Fridays.
“It was time for a renovation,” Rofougaran said.
Rofougaran was frank that he hoped the change would generate sales, but also added that the higher end speakeasy and nightclub vibes were something he felt the Tysons area was lacking.
A grand opening celebration for Room 7 is planned for April 11.
Early plans indicated that the new location near the McLean Metro station would replace the existing Biergarten, but according to Rofougaran, current plans have The Shipyard and Tysons Biergarten operating concurrently.
The Shipyard is planned to have four shipping containers modified into their own types of mini-restaurant or bar. One will be a branch of the Biergarten. Another will be an egg roll spot called Roll Bär. The other two have not been announced yet.
Stomping Ground, the go-to coffee and southern-style biscuits eatery in the Tysons Galleria, opened today (Tuesday) with a new mix of cocktails and more to come.
Becca Leisch, general manager for the Tysons location of Stomping Ground, said the eatery currently has both Bloody Marys and Mimosas — in keeping with the brunch vibe — as well as classics like Dark ‘n’ Stormys and a collection of sipping bourbons.
For Leisch, the pride and joy of the new menu is Oban Scotch, a fine single-malt whiskey from a Scottish distillery that dates back to the late 18th century.
Other offerings include a white cranberry hibiscus cocktail with a live flower in the drink and an Earl Grey-egg white cocktail. The bourbons and cocktails average around $10 each.
In addition to the whiskeys and cocktails, Leisch said the location will have a small selection of beer and wine. For Stomping Ground, the focus is going to be on going as weird as possible, with gluten-free options and a collection of pineapple or blood orange ciders, she said.
“Andy’s Pizza has the lock on the craft beer scene,” said Leisch. “We’re going strange.”
Stomping Ground oversees a large seating and sofa section of the Taste of Urbanspace Food Hall, and Leisch said the restaurant is embracing that to cater the menu towards a lounge atmosphere.
“Come sip some bourbon and catch up with friends,” said Leisch. “It’s a reclined atmosphere here, good for dates.”
The restaurant is currently open until 7 p.m. on most nights, or around 8 p.m. on Fridays or Saturdays. Leisch said those hours might creep slightly later, but that the general target for the evening menu is local workers who aren’t quite ready to go home yet or want to avoid rush hour traffic.
The bar side of Andy’s Pizza, a by-the-slice eatery on the Tysons Galleria’s third floor, is now open as a bar.
In a space next to the window where Andy Brown sells fresh pizza, his cousin, Emily Brown, is leading the bar.
For Emily, beer is a passion, and for every patron that visited the bar in its opening couple days, Emily helped walked them through the selection to see what beer was best for their palette.
While there is National Bohemian in stock, a regional go-to drink, Emily says the focus of the bar is on its variety of specialty beers. The bar is planned to have a seasonally rotating menu, with new inventory being brought in as they are announced.
So far, Emily said the most popular drink so far has been “old fashioneds,” a whiskey cocktail with a twist of citrus rind.
Andy’s Pizza is one of the new restaurants that’s transformed the upper floor of the Tysons Galleria and it isn’t the only one getting a new alcohol selection.