Newsletter
Vienna Inn’s outdoor dining tent

The tents and patios for outdoor dining that have popped up in shopping center parking lots around Vienna could be here to stay.

The Town of Vienna is now considering whether to permanently adopt the more relaxed permitting process that enabled restaurants to set up outdoor dining spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under a zoning ordinance amendment proposed by town staff, restaurants would be able to obtain a permit for outdoor dining through an administrative review instead of the existing conditional use permit process, which involves a planning commission review, approval from the Board of Zoning Appeals, and a $1,500 fee.

The change will help restaurants not just by speeding up the process, but also by giving them the security to invest in more durable tents, seating, heaters, and other equipment, Vienna Business Association President Peggy James says.

“I think this will be key to business and restaurant survival,” James said, noting that while indoor dining has picked up recently, many people likely won’t feel comfortable eating inside in public for a long time.

The Vienna Town Council first approved the current emergency ordinance waiving certain regulations on outdoor commercial activities on June 1, 2020.

The ordinance has been extended several times since, but after Gov. Ralph Northam let Virginia’s state of emergency expire on June 30, the town won’t be able to keep the measure in place past its Dec. 30 end date.

Vienna has approved outdoor dining set-ups for 22 restaurants during the pandemic, according to town staff.

While the emergency ordinance included other activities, the proposed zoning ordinance amendment is specifically for outdoor dining. It will let restaurants serve diners at ground level outside their building with the following conditions:

1. Outdoor dining may only be allowed with issuance of a permit after plans showing proposed dining are submitted to the Zoning Administrator for review.

a. To-scale plans shall show location of any outdoor dining furniture or structures.
b. All permanent structures and permanent exterior modifications shall be subject to review by the Board of Architectural Review. Permanent changes may also be subject to Site Plan Control Provisions under Article 25.

2. Outdoor dining furniture and equipment cannot block pedestrian access or interfere with ADA accessible routes to and from buildings and public facilities.

3. Outdoor dining area must be clearly delineated by cordon, marking, or other means and must be protected from vehicular traffic to the extent possible.

4. Parking spaces located directly outside a restaurant may be used for outdoor dining with a temporary permit to be reviewed and issued annually by the Zoning Administrator. Such use of parking spaces are subject to the following conditions:

a. No more than 20% of the required off-street parking for a restaurant may be utilized for outdoor dining. Additional spaces may be allocated for restaurants located with buildings developed under Sections 18-87.4 and 18-87.5 after review by the Zoning Administrator.
b. Outdoor dining cannot be located in any designated fire lanes.
c. Only non-permanent structures, such as tents, are allowed to take up said parking spaces and parking spaces must be able to be easily converted back to be used for parking.
d. No ADA accessible parking spaces may be used for outdoor dining

The town council is scheduled to request a Nov. 15 public hearing on the proposed amendment when it meets tonight (Monday).

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Urban Plates has closed at Tysons Galleria (courtesy Urban Plates)

Urban Plates at Tysons Galleria is no more.

An anonymous tipster alerted Tysons Reporter to the healthy-eating restaurant’s closure yesterday (Tuesday), and a company spokesperson confirmed in an emailed statement that it is indeed permanent:

Urban Plates has made the very difficult decision to close our Tyson’s Galleria location so we may focus energy on growing and supporting our West Coast restaurants. We know this is sad news…for us, for our locals who dined with us, and of course our team members. We trust that our fans understand we would only choose to close a location if it was the right decision for the greater Urban Plates family long term. Decisions like these allow us to continue to make the quality, craveable, affordable food our guests count on us to deliver.

When asked by Tysons Reporter, the spokesperson added that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was a factor in Urban Plates’ decision to focus on its West Coast restaurants.

Primarily based in California, Urban Plates opened next to Saks Fifth Avenue at Tysons Galleria on July 16, 2018, making that its first East Coast franchise. Since then, the company added restaurants in Columbia and Bethesda, Maryland, both of which have now also been shuttered.

With a menu of sandwiches, soups, salads, and meat-based dishes, the restaurant emphasizes its use of healthy, sustainable ingredients, a reputation that made it the lunch of choice for three former presidents on Inauguration Day earlier this year.

Bigger changes are in store for Tysons Galleria, as work continues on a redevelopment of the mall’s former Macy’s space, which is being subdivided to accommodate a movie theater, a bowling alley, and other new retailers.

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Morning Notes

Police Charge Local Imam for Reported Sexual Assault — “An imam at a Fairfax County mosque in Virginia has been charged with sexually assaulting a girl in 2015. Fairfax County police said Said Shirzadi, 36, the imam at the Mustafa Center, on Braddock Road in Annandale, was charged Tuesday with indecent liberties by a custodian.” [WTOP]

Meetings Scheduled on Fairfax Connector Service Changes — The Fairfax County Department of Transportation is seeking public input on a proposed plan for Fairfax Connector bus service in Tysons, Vienna, Chantilly, Centreville, and neighboring areas, such as McLean and West Falls Church. After a previous round of engagement, the county will share its preferred plan at virtual meetings on Sept. 30 and Oct. 7. [FCDOT]

Vienna Restaurant Wins 2021 RAMMY Award — “Clarity, a restaurant from Chef-owner Jon Krinn, won the Outstanding Covid-Safe Redesign (Indoors or Outdoors) RAMMY. The restaurant adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic by offering Krinn’s rotating menu in an outdoor kitchen and outdoor dining area in the parking lot.” [Patch]

Former McLean Home of Capitals Owner Up for Sale — “The exclusive McLean compound built by Monumental Sports and Entertainment CEO Ted Leonsis is ready to trade hands again. The 3.5-acre property, which includes a Georgian-style mansion, Olympic-length pool, tennis court, and a guest house that has hosted the likes of Beyonce and Jay-Z, as well as Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, is currently on the market for $14.7 million.” [Washington Business Journal]

Metro Is Considering More Fare Changes — “Metro’s board will discuss a variety of possible changes to the transit system’s fares during its meeting on Thursday, including ideas as simple as reducing bus fares to $1 and as dramatic as getting rid of peak-hour pricing. The menu of options is part of a larger conversation around increasing ridership and ensuring the system’s fare structure is equitable, especially as the system struggles to look beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.” [DCist]

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The Mo:Mo House storefront

After three years of business, Mo:Mo House has announced it will close on Saturday, August 28.

Located at 131-A Maple Avenue West, the family-run Nepalese restaurant opened in 2018 and is owned by Chef Shambhu Basnet and Shanta Basnet. Together, they created and shared dishes from their homeland, including the eponymous momo dumplings.

Tysons Reporter was unable to get in contact with Mo:Mo House before press time, but their Facebook post announcing the closure read:

With heavy hearts, we want to inform you that Mo:Mo House will permanently close its doors on 28 August, 2021.

We want to thank you, our amazing customers, for your unwavering support over the years, through thick and thin. We feel very fortunate for having known you, your family and friends. We’ve made many great friends, had a lot of fun times, and shared many life stories. We will always be grateful for having been a part of your lives.

Again, from the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU! Thank you for your support and patronage.

Please take care and stay safe!
— The Mo:Mo House Family

Mo:Mo House has become a beloved family-friendly restaurant in Vienna, which is apparent in the comments on its Facebook post.

One Vienna resident wrote, “Your restaurant is our number one family favorite and we will really miss you. Thanks so much for the beautiful memories you have offered to our family. Best wishes to your wonderful family.”

The restaurant was recognized for its customer service by the inaugural #ViennaUnited Virtual Business Awards that the Town of Vienna Economic Development Office organized last year to encourage residents to support local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mo:Mo House acknowledged the outpouring of goodwill that followed its closure announcement.

“Thank you, everyone!” the restaurant wrote on Facebook. “It has been so overwhelming to see all these comments and to think about all of the moments spent with you all. We’ve gotten to know each and every one of you so closely over these past few years. If nothing else, we are taking a lot of fun memories with us that will last a lifetime. Hope to stay in touch with you!”

Mo:Mo House is open for take-out from 4-8 p.m. until Aug. 28. Orders can be made by calling 571-459-2614.

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The McDonald’s at the Pan Am Shopping Center just outside of Vienna has closed.

Located at 3091 Nutley Street, the fast-food chain shared a standalone building in the shopping center with what used to be a Capital One Bank, though that space at 3095 Nutley has been vacated as well.

Neither McDonald’s nor Federal Realty, which owns the Pan Am Shopping Center, returned a request for comment on exactly when the location shuttered and what led to the closure.

Both 3091 and 3095 Nutley Street are now listed as available for leasing on Federal Realty’s webpage for the shopping center.

McDonald’s announced in July 2020 that it was permanently closing 200 stores, most of them in Walmarts. The move focused on “low-volume restaurants” and was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Morning Notes

Falls Church City Requires Masks and Distancing — “Masks and social distancing are now required for all visitors and employees — regardless of vaccination status — in City of Falls Church facilities, including City Hall, the Community Center, and the Mary Riley Styles Public Library when it reopens. This safety precaution mirrors the rules in other Northern Virginia jurisdictions.” [City of Falls Church]

D.C. Restaurant Week Returns — The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington’s annual D.C. Restaurant Week kicked off yesterday (Monday) and will last through Sunday (Aug. 15), with many participants again offering to-go options. Tysons venues include Agora Tysons, The Capital Grille, La Sandia, and more. [Viva Tysons]

Vienna Outback Steakhouse Eyed for Another Drive-Thru Bank — “Chase Bank is seeking a conditional use permit for a bank with a drive-thru ATM at 315 Maple Avenue East. The existing one-story building at Maple Avenue East and Glyndon Street SE would be demolished and replaced with a new bank and drive-thru ATM. The project requires review from the town’s Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals.” [Patch]

Capital One Exec Appointed to Fairfax County EDA — Joe Vidulich, federal government relations director of Capital One, joined the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority Board yesterday (Monday) after the Board of Supervisors approved the addition. The Virginia General Assembly passed a law earlier this year allowing the board to expand from seven to nine seats. [Fairfax County]

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Morning Notes

Vienna Restaurant Requires Vaccinations to Eat Indoors — The Latin American restaurant Blend 111 announced on Friday (July 30) that, effective immediately, indoor dining will be limited to people who are fully vaccinated with unvaccinated people still free to eat outside. Patrons are asked to confirm their vaccination status when reserving an indoor table, but at some point, proof may be required. [Blend 111]

Police Arrest Spa Worker for Sexual Battery — “On July 29, 2021, officers with the Vienna Police Department executed a search warrant at the Green Spa located at 111 Church St. NW. Concurrent with the search warrant, officers arrested Hongsub Song, a/k/a ‘Greg’ for the sexual battery of a female client and for performing unlicensed massage. Mr. Song was held at the Fairfax County adult detention center without bond.” [Vienna Police]

Kennedy Daughter Wins Court Case over McLean Urn — “The daughter of Robert F. Kennedy has won a federal legal battle to claim a six-foot-high urn planter from the front yard of ‘Hickory Hill,’ the family’s former home in McLean, Va., after a judge ruled that an agreement made in 2010 by the estate’s new owner to relinquish it was binding, even though he made it under the mistaken belief that the urn was a family heirloom.” [The Washington Post]

Inova Proposes Adding Behavioral Health Capacity — “Inova Health System filed a letter of intent with the Commonwealth of Virginia last week to build 20 additional inpatient behavioral health beds at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital…If approved, the completed project will increase behavioral health capacity at IMVH to 50 beds, a 67 percent increase over the current capacity.” [Inside NoVA]

Vienna Firefighters Participate in Cancer Study — “Several VVFD firefighters, along with other volunteer firefighters from @ffxfirerescue, are taking part in the National Firefighter Cancer Cohort Study and had their first blood draw this morning…Our participation will play a small part to determine risk factors & develop cancer prevention & risk reduction strategies.” [Vienna Volunteer Fire Department/Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Plastic Bag Tax Public Hearing Scheduled — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors authorized a public hearing for 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 14 to gather community input on a proposed five-cent tax on disposable plastic bags. If the ordinance is approved, Fairfax County would be the second locality in Virginia to adopt a bag tax. [Fairfax County Government]

Tysons Partnership Funding Approved — The Board of Supervisors approved $250,000 in Economic Opportunity Reserve funds for the Tysons Partnership, which will use the money to support branding efforts, install a mural on the former Container Store property, and position itself for long-term financial health. The board nominated the organization for up to $1 million in EOR funds in December. [Sun Gazette]

McLean Area Is a Hotspot for Rich Politicians — Virginia’s gubernatorial candidates both call Fairfax County’s most affluent zip codes home, with Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe living in a $1.1 million McLean mansion and Republican Glenn Youngkin boasting a $1.7 million estate in Great Falls. More notably, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich says he moved to McLean because he and his wife saw “an alcoholic” sleeping on the ground in Old Town Alexandria. [The Washington Post]

Vienna Restaurants Up for RAMMYs — The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington tweaked its 2021 RAMMY awards to recognize how the industry adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. Finalists include Clarity (Outstanding Covid-Safe Redesign), Caboose Brewing Company (Prime Pandemic Patio Scene), and Taco Bamba (Standout Family Meal Packages To-Go). The latter two categories will be open for a public vote from Aug. 2 to Sept. 2. [Patch]

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The third Wednesday of July has arrived, and that means it is officially National Hot Dog Day.

Once again, Vienna Inn will celebrate the occasion by offering a slight discount on its signature hot dogs. Starting at 10 a.m. today, customers can buy a hot dog for $2, and chili dogs are also available at an additional cost.

The typical price of a hot dog from the longstanding Vienna restaurant ranges from $2.45 to $2.75, depending on whether it’s served with cheese, chili, onions, and other toppings.

“We have customers stop in from all over the country to try one of our dogs,” Vienna Inn owner Marty Volk said in a press release that says the restaurant still serves more than 10,000 hot dogs a month even with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

National Hot Dog Day is an annual event cooked up by the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, a trade organization established by the American Meat Institute, but the promotion carries a bit more weight this year for small businesses like Vienna Inn that could use the boost after over a year of navigating the pandemic.

At this time last year, Vienna Inn was only able to provide a limited amount of indoor seating, relying instead on contact-free curbside pickups and outdoor dining under a newly installed tent in its parking lot at 120 Maple Avenue E.

Dubbed the Outside Inn, the tent accommodates over 60 diners and has been outfitted with large-screen televisions to replicate the sports bar experience that’s as much a part of the establishment’s appeal as its chili dogs and wood-paneled furnishings.

Volk says the addition of the outdoor tent has been critical for getting Vienna Inn through the past year.

The tent was made possible by an emergency ordinance that the Town of Vienna has had in place since June 2020, allowing commercial activities on sidewalks and in parking lots due to COVID-19 health concerns. The ordinance has been extended five times, most recently on June 7, and is now scheduled to expire on Dec. 7.

“The last year was a challenge,” Volk said by email. “Without the addition of the Outside Inn (our tent which allowed for outdoor dining) and the loyalty of our customers who raised money to buy meals for first responders and hospital workers and found any excuse to order take-out, we may not be here today.”

Earlier this year, Vienna Inn commemorated its 61st anniversary with celebrity guest hot dog tenders and a challenge to customers to purchase 1,960 meals for first responders and other front-line workers by the end of February. The restaurant exceeded its goal by selling 2,176 meals that month, according to its website.

Vienna Inn says it has seen “a large increase” in dine-in customers since Virginia lifted all capacity and social distancing restrictions on May 28.

The restaurant is now preparing for an influx of new faces with the Virginia State Little League Majors Little League Tournament rolling into town tomorrow (Thursday).

“It’s been nice getting back to somewhat normal,” Volk said. “Seeing familiar faces, sports teams and families back in the restaurant has been a great feeling.”

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After years of working as a chef in restaurants throughout the region, Thomas Harvey will launch his own restaurant in downtown Falls Church later this year.

The eponymous Harvey’s is slated to open in early September at 513 W Broad Street. Harvey is an Alexandrian, but he says in a press release that Falls Church was the ideal spot for his latest venture.

Harvey was most recently executive chef of Tuskie’s Restaurant Group of Virginia and oversaw operations at local restaurants like Fireworks American Pizzeria and Bar in Arlington.

“Chef Harvey’s goal for his new 2,600-square-foot counter service restaurant is that it will become the neighborhood’s local spot,” the press release said. “…Harvey’s will serve true American cuisine in the sense that it will encompass multiple different cultural dishes, from sandwiches to house-made pasta dishes, and banana splits to Russian pastries. Locally sourced seasonal ingredients will drive the menu.”

The restaurant will serve daily breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch in a 48-seat main dining room, a 12-seat beer and wine bar, and an outdoor patio with 70 seats, according to the announcement.

Breakfasts, like croissants, buscuits, or scrambled eggs and sausage are expected to be between $7 to $12. Sandwiches at $12 to $18, entrees at $13 to $28 and desserts from $8 to $12. Among the deserts spotlit in the press release are Russian Honey Cake, along with the classic eclairs and tiramisu.

The restaurant will also have vegetarian options, like the Beyond Burger substitute.

The press release noted that Harvey’s will have beer and wine options as well, with beer selected primarily from local breweries.

According to the press release, the restaurant will also be supplemented by a retail market showcasing signature items from its pantry, along with prepared foods packaged for grab-and-go customers. The market will be open seven days a week with the same hours as the restaurant.

Courtesy Heather Freeman PR

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