Tysons, VA

Foodies can once more celebrate the restaurant community in the greater Tysons area starting Monday (April 12).

From Monday through Sunday, April 18, about a dozen restaurants will be participating in the Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce Restaurant Week.

Eateries will offer fixed-price menus for lunch and dinner as well as a featured cocktail. All items will be available for dine-in or takeout.

This follows on the success of the chamber’s first restaurant week, which was held in October to support the local restaurant industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Foodies in Tysons may remember that some area restaurants also participated in the Metropolitan Washington Winter Restaurant Week earlier this year. That annual event is organized by Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington.

Some repeat participants include Seasons 52, Fogo de Chão, Urban Plates, La Sandia Mexican Kitchen & Bar and Flower Child. New additions include Cafe Nordstrom, Shotted Specialty Coffee, and Glory Days Grill.

Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Andrew Clark says this spring restaurant week is part of a constant effort to create a community within Tysons by connecting people to restaurants, businesses, and places.

“I love when people get to discover Tysons, and this is a reason to do it,” Clark said. “We’re giving people a reason to move, and from that, life happens.”

Describing himself as a creature of habit, the chairman says Restaurant Week encourages people an opportunity to take risks and try something new.

“With enough little things over the span of the year, instead of the exception, [going out] becomes part of their routine — and that’s enough for me,” he said. “That makes a difference in our community.”

With COVID-19 vaccines getting distributed and the state opening up, Clark says that “the needle is moving.”

“The numbers aren’t where they ought to be, but they’re moving in the right direction,” he said. “Restaurant Week is a catalyst. People that are on the fence — they want a nudge. It’s an awakening.”

After the first restaurant week, patronage was up 50 to 70%, he said. In round two, he is looking for another bump in engagement that results in a sustained increase in patronage.

“That’s how we know we succeeded,” he said.

Photo via La Sandia/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Early Voting Underway for Vienna Town Council Election — Vienna residents can cast an early ballot in the May 4 town council election at the Fairfax County Government Center. Voters who register by April 12 can also apply for a mail absentee ballot. In-person early voting ends at 5 p.m. on May 1, and mailed ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and arrive at the Fairfax County Office of Elections by noon on May 7. [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

Church Street Pizza No Longer on Church Street — Vienna’s New York-style pizza eatery has moved out of its longtime home at 113 Church Street NE and into a new space at 115 Maple Avenue W, which also houses a Potomac River Running store. Church Street Pizza is still offering contact-free takeout, curbside pickup, and delivery. [Lombardi’s Pizza]

Vienna and Falls Church to Compete in Fitness Challenge — Vienna, Falls Church, and Fairfax are squaring off in the first-ever Mayors’ Fitness Challenge, which will begin on April 3 and conclude on May 29 with a winning locality being dubbed the “Most Fit Community of 2021.” Community members can register for free at any time and will be tasked with tracking their physical activity each day. [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

Asphalt Work on Old Meadow Road Postponed Indefinitely — The left lane closure on Old Meadow Road approaching Route 123 in Tysons that had been scheduled to start at 9 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday) has now been “postponed until further notice.” The planned minor asphalt repair work stems from the ongoing realignment of Old Meadow Road with Capital One Tower Drive at Dolley Madison Boulevard. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Tysons Partnership Report Shows Milestones, Struggles — Released on March 31, the Tysons Partnership’s 2021 annual report highlights the economic challenges that Tysons has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in its hospitality, retail, and entertainment sectors. The past year has also seen a sharp drop in Metro ridership, while introducing new virtual and outdoor events, like drive-in movie screenings, and new businesses like the now-open Wegmans. [Sun Gazette]

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Patrons of Caboose Tavern will soon be able to grab a breakfast sandwich and morning coffee from the Town of Vienna brewpub (520 Mill St. NE).

Caboose Brewing Company announced yesterday (Thursday) that it will launch daily breakfast service at the tavern on Monday (March 8). Breakfast hours will go from 8-11 a.m. every day.

To celebrate the service change, Caboose Tavern will provide a free coffee or espresso beverage with any breakfast purchase on Monday through Wednesday.

The new menu offers breakfast staples, such as pancakes and artisan bagels, as well as fried chicken and smothered meat lovers’ biscuits, a build-your-own charcuterie and cheese board, and “breakfast on a stick,” a pork sausage fried in house-made pancake batter, corn dog-style.

There are also pastries that were designed to pair with Caboose Tavern’s new coffeehouse beverages, which are all hand-crafted, according to a press release.

The breakfast items will be available for dine-in service, takeout, or delivery.

Caboose Brewing owner Jennifer McLaughlin says the company decided to expand its breakfast and coffee service based on its success at Caboose Commons, the brewhouse it operates in the Mosaic District.

“Introducing breakfast and coffee at Tavern will transfer the same values and energy to our Vienna location,” McLaughlin said. “Opening up a space for people to gather with friends, hunker down to work, and start the day off right with a hearty breakfast and a cup of coffee felt like the logical step to take in our constant effort to enrich our community.”

Photo by Courtney Beazell

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Businesses in the Town of Vienna will now have more leniency for outdoor dining and other commercial activities until at least Sept. 1, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to constrain indoor activities.

The Vienna Town Council unanimously voted last night (Monday) to extend an emergency ordinance temporarily waiving zoning regulations on outdoor commercial operations that was scheduled to expire on Mar. 31.

This is the fourth time that the council has adopted the ordinance, which enables the town manager to grant temporary permits to businesses so they can operate outside without necessarily meeting all of the town’s usual requirements.

Vienna first adopted the measure for a 60-day period on June 1, 2020 in recognition that “COVID-19 constitutes a real and substantial threat to public health and safety,” as stated in the ordinance, which was extended on June 15 to Sept. 30, 2020 and again on Aug. 31 to Mar. 31, 2021.

With scientific evidence suggesting that the novel coronavirus spreads more easily in enclosed, indoor settings, many restaurants and retailers pivoted to offering outdoor activities last summer so they could keep operating under capacity limits imposed by state guidelines. While Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam loosened some restrictions starting this month, dining establishments are still limited to 10 indoor patrons, and capacity for all businesses is limited by the need for at least six feet of social distancing.

Under the emergency ordinance, Vienna is waiving requirements in the Town Code related to business activities that occur “outside of a wholly enclosed building, use of onsite sidewalks, and required parking areas for outdoor commercial activity.” Town Manager Mercury Payton

Town of Vienna Director of Planning and Zoning Cindy Petkac told the town council on Monday that the town has issued temporary permits to 32 businesses so far.

While the extension was approved quickly, Councilmember Chuck Anderson noted that, with the weather about to warm up and public health restrictions easing as COVID-19 cases decline, town officials should start considering what to do once more people start spending time outside of their homes.

“As more and more people get the vaccine and people start going out, the demand for those parking spaces, which has been pretty low, is going to increase,” Anderson said. “I don’t have any good ideas myself right now. It’s just something I thought we should keep on the radar screen over the next several months.”

Mayor Linda Colbert agreed that the town will need to prepare for potential conflicts between businesses that want to maintain outdoor operations and drivers looking for parking, which tends to be a challenge to find along Maple Avenue.

“We’d all be happy to have that problem, I think,” Colbert said. “We want those restaurants to just be booming, but I agree. We should be looking forward and thinking about that.”

Photo via Vienna Business Association/Facebook

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Ramen aficionados in the Town of Vienna can breathe a sigh of relief.

Despite rumors to the contrary, Shin Se Kai Ramen regional operations manager Kevin Choe tells Tysons Reporter that the restaurant has not permanently closed. Instead, the owners are planning to revamp the menu in the hopes of reopening this summer.

Located at 234 Maple Avenue E., Shin Se Kai made its debut in February 2019. It specializes in noodle soups with a traditional, chicken-based broth, but it also serves sushi, rice bowls, and a variety of small dishes, including a fusion taco and steamed buns.

Choe says Shin Se Kai was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced restaurants around the country to shut their doors last spring. The Vienna venue has remained closed, as the owners decided to focus their attention on other restaurants that they operate in the D.C. area.

Shin Se Kai is a separate brand from the team behind Sushi Jin Next Door, which has locations in Alexandria, Woodbridge, and Silver Spring, Md.

Still, Choe assures customers that the closure is temporary.

“We’re planning on reopening,” he said.

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Valentine’s Day will be the final day of business for The Greek Taverna (6828 Old Dominion Dr.) after almost 28 years in McLean.

The impending closure was first reported yesterday by McLean Patch.

Co-owner Christos Karamanos told Tysons Reporter that a variety of factors led him and his wife Popi to decide to close the restaurant that they started in 1994.

Christos says business slowed down significantly after the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, with public health concerns discouraging many people from going out.

Closure became inevitable when attempts to negotiate terms for rent forgiveness with their landlord reached an impasse, but the couple is also reaching an age where they felt ready to move on after running the restaurant for 27 years.

“Greece is beautiful and that’s where I want to go spend a lot of time,” Karamanos said.

Still, leaving behind the McLean community when The Greek Taverna closes its doors for the last time on Sunday will not be easy.

The Greek Taverna offers a menu of shish-kabobs, pastitsio, and other cuisine from the Karamanos couple’s native Greece. They came to the U.S. in the 1970s, and this was their second restaurant in Northern Virginia, according to Patch.

“Our customers and friends, we’re going to miss them terribly,” Karamanos said. “I wish that things were different. We met a lot of good customers here and a lot of good friends too.”

Photo via Google Maps

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When Valentine’s Day arrives this Sunday, it will also usher in the Town of Vienna’s first-ever restaurant week.

Coming on the heels of the annual Metropolitan Washington Winter Restaurant Week, the inaugural Vienna VA Restaurant Week will be smaller in scale than that regional initiative, with 10 restaurants and eateries offering special Restaurant Week deals from Feb. 14-21.

While only a handful of venues are officially participating, the Town of Vienna will use the campaign to boost all of its restaurants and generally encourage the community to support local businesses, especially small, independent establishments.

“We know that throughout the winter months, it’s extremely difficult for restaurants,” Vienna Economic Development Manager Natalie Monkou said. “…It just seemed like a good fit to utilize Valentine’s Day as the kick-off, which is a love holiday, and to remind people that love their town and love their business community to support them.”

Here are the businesses that are participating in the Vienna VA Restaurant Week:

Details on what each restaurant or eatery is offering can be found through the official Vienna VA Restaurant Week website, which also highlights other food and beverage venues in town and encourages patrons to share their meals on social media with the hashtag #loveviennava.

Restaurant Week is the Town of Vienna’s latest effort to support local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to backing the Caboose Brewing Company’s Bundle Up campaign, the town organized a “Shop and Stroll” series in the fall to draw visitors to local shopping centers, and the Vienna Business Association put together a holiday guide in December for businesses to share their promotions.

Monkou says businesses in the Town of Vienna also collectively received at least $2.7 million in COVID-19 relief funds through Fairfax County’s RISE grant program, which ultimately issued $52.6 million to more than 4,800 businesses and nonprofits in the county.

While Vienna is putting a spotlight on the food service industry with Restaurant Week, the economic development office will follow this initiative with a broader marketing campaign about supporting local businesses that includes other sectors, from retail to dry cleaners and nail salons, according to Monkou.

“Small businesses, they’re truly vital to your local economy, and they bring a lot of vibrancy to your neighborhood and your community,” Monkou said. “I can’t imagine the Town of Vienna without them, especially our independent, local retailers.”

Image via Explore Vienna VA/Twitter

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Thursday Morning Notes

Ribbon Cutting Held for New Scotts Run Trail — “Fairfax County leaders on Feb. 4 cut the ribbon for the new Scotts Run Trail, which with serpentine curves connects the Pimmit Hills neighborhood with the McLean Metro station on the eastern edge of Tysons.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

Sunrise of McLean Residents Get COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic — Residents and employees of the assisted living community Sunrise of McLean “received their first doses at a clinic hosted by CVS on Jan. 28. Sunrise Senior Living is working to schedule a clinic for second doses within the next few weeks in coordination with CVS Health.” [Patch]

Vienna Inn Prepares 61st Anniversary Celebrations — “To mark the 61st anniversary, Vienna Inn is hoping to achieve a new goal with a 1960 meal challenge. The restaurant hopes to provide 1960 meals for front-line workers and first responders by the end of February.” [Patch]

School Board Criticized for Delaying Decision on New School Holidays — “Religious leaders in Northern Virginia are criticizing the Fairfax County Public School board after some members signaled they won’t back a task force’s recommendation to add…four additional days off to observe Jewish holidays Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Hindu festival Diwali and the Muslim celebration Eid al-Fitr.” [The Washington Post]

Fairfax County Seeks Community Input on Affordable Housing — A public comment period has opened on the one-year and five-year plans that guide Fairfax County’s housing and community development goals and how it spends the roughly $8.5 million in federal funds it receives annually to address community housing and human services needs. [Fairfax County Government]

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A number of restaurants and shops in the Tysons area are offering specials this weekend leading up to Valentine’s Day on Sunday.

From sweet treats to savory meals, here are some options for celebrating the holiday:

  • Andy’s Pizza in Tysons Galleria has a Valentine’s Day Love Package from Friday through Sunday. The package includes a choice of any signature pizzas that are also offered by the slice, a bottle of wine and a tiramisu for dessert. The wine options are a sparkling brut, merlot or sauvignon blanc. The package is $38. Andy’s Pizza is also offering an anti-Valentine’s Day package for $38 that includes a choice of any signature pizza, an order of Old Bay fries, and a four-pack of Radeberger tall boy pilsners.
  • Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar at Tysons Corner is offering a variety of specials to mark the holiday. From Friday through Monday, a Valentine’s Day three-course prime surf and turf menu is available for $225. Starting at $60 per guest, a three-course family menu is also available for curbside pickup or delivery and will feature individual entrees paired with family-style salad, sides, and desserts.
  • Wildfire McLean in Tysons Galleria will offer its dinner menu all day for dine-in, carryout, and delivery. A Valentine’s menu for two will be available for dine-in and carryout from Friday through Sunday. With a price tag of $120, plus tax, per couple, the Valentine’s menu will include shrimp cocktail, Wildfire chopped salad, and a selection of main courses, sides, and desserts.
  • Founding Farmers in Tysons and Reston is offering a Valentine’s Day and Weekend at Home package, along with a variety of Valentine’s Day specials that can be picked up Saturday or Sunday. Valentine’s Day orders must be placed by 11 a.m. Friday (Feb. 12). Options include a heat-and-eat dinner for two, Valentine’s bottled cocktails, heat-and-eat breakfast, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and more.
  • Urban Plates at Tysons Galleria is offering a Valentine’s Day at-home, three-course dinner for two for $49. The dinner includes a choice of two starters, two entrées with grilled artisan bread, and two desserts. The holiday menu is available for takeout only from Friday through Sunday but must be preordered by Thursday (Feb. 11).
  • In addition to its regular menu, Vienna’s Blend 111 will have a special “Día de San Valentín” menu for indoor and outdoor dining on Friday and Saturday. Sunday dining will be limited to the special menu, with a limited number of reservations available. A special carryout menu for Sunday can be preordered until 5 p.m. on Thursday or the restaurant sells out. Pick-up for carryout dinners will be from 5-8 p.m. on Sunday.
  • If you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, Lolli & Pops in the Tysons Corner Center is offering a variety of Valentine’s Day gift boxes featuring various candies and chocolate confections.
  • Cocoa Vienna has a variety of Valentine’s Day gift boxes, chocolate confections and personalized gift baskets available.

Additional ideas for chocolate fans can be found through Visit Fairfax’s “Chocolate Safari” campaign, which lets restaurants from around the county advertise their chocolate-based menu items.

“All of our communities are made better by the hard work and passion that drives local small businesses,” Visit Fairfax President and CEO Barry Biggar said. “The people behind these businesses…continually work to bring joy and happiness to our lives day after day, even through a worldwide pandemic. If there’s ever a time to share the love back with them, Valentine’s Day is an exceptional reason to start!”

Photo courtesy Andy’s Pizza

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The ShipGarten, a long-anticipated food and drink experience in shipping containers from the team behind Tysons Biergarten, is slated to open in “early spring.”

“As many can tell, the tent’s been put up, the shipping containers are being built as we speak, and everything is pretty much moving forward rapidly,” former Tysons Biergarten CEO and managing partner Matt Rofougaran said.

ShipGarten plans to be a pop-up for three years at the Scotts Run development in Tysons. It will be six times larger than Tysons Biergarten space, which closed in November 2019.

The pop-up will feature four specially-designed shipping containers where food and drinks will be prepared, along with three year-round tents where guests will sit at tables.

Originally, the new bar was slated to open in the spring of 2020, but it was pushed to the third quarter of 2020 due to the pandemic. Rofougaran also attributed the delays to the long processes involved in trying to do something this new.

“Our contractor has never cut up shipping containers before and converted them into bars,” Rofougaran said. “Fairfax County has never seen anything like this.”

Finding the right tent took a while too, and ultimately, they had to be ordered from Germany.

“Overall, everything about it is different than your normal restaurant-bar,” Rofougaran said.

The experience completely diverged from the process for Hops N Shine in Alexandria, which took six months from getting permits to opening, he said.

At ShipGarten, customers can choose from four mini-restaurants that will each operate in a shipping container: Salamati (which Rofougaran describes as “Persian-style Chipotle”), Tysons Biergarten (German fare like the old establishment served), Rollbär (Asian fusion) and Chalkboard (barbecue).

Customers will order from kiosks outside the containers and pick up their food from one of a half-dozen windows that are being cut into the containers. They will be able to sit at tables, spaced 10 feet apart, under the tent or in the field.

During non-COVID-19 times, Roufgaran says customers would be able to sit at the bar section of the shipping container.

“This will be the safest place for you to do social distancing because of how much land we have,” Rofougaran said. “We’re providing very good social distancing.”

For now, people can try offerings from Salamati and Rollbär at Hops N Shine. Kitchen staff will be preparing the Persian food for a pop-up on Feb. 10 from 6 to 9 p.m., and Asian fusion food will be served from noon to 4 p.m. on Feb. 13.

“The pop-ups are the best,” Rofougaran said. “We get people from Tysons showing up to these all the time.”

Images via ShipGarten/Instagram

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