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Vienna Inn has been peddling its chili dogs to the town for 62 years now (courtesy Vienna Inn)

For the rest of February, Vienna Inn customers can thank local first responders by adding a gift card to their next hot dog order.

The restaurant announced on Monday (Feb. 7) that it hopes to give away 62 gift cards worth $10 each to first responders as part of a month-long celebration of its 62-year anniversary.

Aside from the introduction of an outdoor tent in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Vienna Inn remains much the same as when it opened its doors at 120 Maple Avenue East in February 1960.

The establishment is known for its chili dogs, rustic sports-bar atmosphere, and “honor system” approach to payment, where patrons get their own drinks and tell cashiers what they ordered instead of getting a bill from a server.

“After spending the past 2 years operating and making it through a pandemic, we are looking forward to celebrating,” Vienna Inn owner Marty Volk said in a press release. “It’s great to see the families and teams back in again.”

In addition to the gift cards for first responders, the 62nd anniversary celebration will include meal deals with special gifts for children 12 and under, weekly social media contests, National Chili Day giveaways, and a food drive to support the nonprofit Food for Others, where all participants will be able to get $2 hot dogs.

Additional information and updates on the festivities will be posted to the restaurant’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

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The end has arrived for J.R.’s Stockyards Inn, where Tysons’ penchant for steakhouses began more than four decades ago.

According to Fairfax County land records, J.R.’s Custom Catering sold the two-story restaurant-turned-banquet hall at 8130 Watson Street for $15.5 million on Dec. 28. The 1.18-acre property hit the market last March.

Buyer AM Tysons LLC is registered at the same address as the corporate headquarters of Macerich, the real estate firm that owns Tysons Corner Center.

The Washington Business Journal reported on Friday (Jan. 21) that Stockyards Inn closed earlier this year, and J.R.’s anticipates that the building will be torn down to make way for new development.

The county’s property record says the sale price “reflects anticipated redevelopment.”

A Macerich spokesperson told Tysons Reporter that they “are unable to comment” at this time, and efforts to contact J.R.’s Custom Catering were not returned by press time.

One of the area’s first restaurants outside of the mall, J.R.’s Stockyards Inn opened in 1978 as Tysons’ original steakhouse, according to its website, which says the venue became famous for its beef and hosted many political, sports, and entertainment figures over the years.

The restaurant closed in 2011, as the venue turned into a banquet hall for private events and catering operations.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning in October 2020 that would enable the property to be replaced with a 26-story mixed-use residential tower, but it’s unclear whether Macerich intends to revise that proposal at all.

The real estate company is currently seeking county approval for additional development at Tysons Corner Center, which is located just across the street from J.R.’s Stockyards Inn on the other side of International Drive.

J.R.’s Custom Catering also shut down its Pavilions at Turkey Run in July 2020, as the National Park Service plans to take the former Claude Moore Colonial Farm in a new, still-undetermined direction.

However, the catering business continues to operate out of its facility in Herndon and the Fairfax Hunt Club in Reston. Its recent events have included participating in a Taste of Virginia reception for Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s inauguration on Jan. 15.

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Morning Notes

FCPS Schedules Virtual Town Halls on Masks — Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand reaffirmed the system’s plans to continue requiring face masks in a message to the community on Friday (Jan. 21). FCPS will hold a virtual town hall on the subject in English at 7 p.m. today (Monday), followed by a Spanish town hall tomorrow. Both events will stream live on Facebook. [FCPS]

Abduction Reported in Merrifield — “2900 block of Caribbean Court, 1/18/22, 7:51 p.m. A man approached the victim, displayed a firearm, and demanded to be driven to a residence in D.C. After dropping the man off, the victim reported the incident to police. No injuries were reported.” [FCPD]

Route 7 Widening Still on Track — The $313.9 million project to widen seven miles of Route 7 between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive remains on schedule to finish in July 2024, despite supply and labor challenges. Light traffic in 2021 enabled the project team to extend lane closures, the Virginia Department of Transportation says. [Reston Now]

Wren Stands Out Among Tysons Dining Spots — The Washington Post’s food critic calls Tysons “one of the least interesting places to find yourself for a meal,” but Wren is an exception. The Japanese restaurant-bar, which opened in The Watermark Hotel in September, earns praise for its artfully crafted food and interest in providing a personal experience for both guests and staff. [The Washington Post]

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Morning Notes

McLean House Fire Started by Candle — An unattended candle placed near combustibles started a fire in the living room of a single-family home in the 1500 block of Dominion Hill Court on Saturday (Jan. 8). No injuries were reported, but the fire displaced two residents and resulted in approximately $919,500 in damages. [FCFRD]

Former School Board Member Named to Key Education Position — Elizabeth Schultz, who represented Springfield District on the Fairfax County School Board from 2012 to 2019, has been appointed by incoming Gov. Glenn Youngkin to serve as Virginia’s assistant superintendent of public instruction. Schultz has opposed protections for transgender students and appeared on Fox News to decry teaching that acknowledges racism. [Virginia Mercury]

No Return of Metro Trains in Sight — “Metro riders can expect the current level of limited rail service to continue for three more months after the transit agency’s top official said Thursday that Metro wants to focus on finding the ‘root cause’ of a defect that has sidelined more than half its rail cars since mid-October.” [The Washington Post]

Tysons Startup Launches “Smart” Grocery Delivery Box — “HomeValet, a D.C. Metro area-based startup that has developed a temperature-controlled smart box for grocery deliveries, is now releasing its smart home product to the public and expanding its partnership with Walmart.” [TechCrunch]

FCPS Superintendent Lines Up New Job — Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand will serve as executive director of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, a nonprofit that provides support to and advocates for the state’s superintendents. Brabrand will leave FCPS on June 30 and assume his new position in July. [PR Newswire]

Relocated Jinya Ramen Bar to Open in March — “Local franchise owner Sam Shoja says the Mosaic District ramen shop outgrew its current space. The new corner location will allow for a large semi-enclosed outdoor patio with fire-top tables and an indoor Japanese whiskey lounge.” [Washingtonian]

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Morning Notes

Fairfax Connector Plans Regular Service — “In anticipation of more winter weather and snowy conditions overnight, Fairfax Connector will operate regular service on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. Fairfax Connector officials want to remind passengers to check their route-specific information before heading out because detours on individual routes will be in effect in anticipation of poor road conditions.” [FCDOT]

Metrobus to Follow Moderate Snow Plan Today — “In a moderate snow service plan, service on some routes is suspended and detours will be in effect on certain routes to avoid areas prone to hazardous conditions such as hilly terrain and narrow streets. Approximately 119 out of 183 routes will operate. Bus supervisors will assess roads overnight to ensure they are safe for bus operations.” [WMATA]

Tysons Mass Vaccine Site Closed — “The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is closing five of its Community Vaccination Centers (CVCs) on Friday, January 7, 2022, due to expected inclement weather with some areas of the state expected to see several inches of snow.” [VDH]

County Tweaks COVID-19 Protocols — “Due to the ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases in the Fairfax Health District, the Health Department will no longer provide individuals with clearance letters to return to work or school following COVID-19 infection or exposure. The agency will also stop providing written communications that exclude people from work or school due to illness or exposure.” [FCHD]

Tysons Area Ramen Offerings Highlighted — Northern Virginia Magazine recommends Jinya Ramen Bar, which has locations in the Mosaic District and Reston, and Hokkaido Ramen Santouka at The Boro for those craving a unique ramen bowl. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Get Advice from Tysons Business Leader — “Aspiring entrepreneurs can get start-up tips from Pallabi Saboo, CEO of Tysons-based Harmonia Holdings Group during the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority’s next Entrepreneurship 101 virtual workshop on Tuesday, January 11.” [FCEDA]

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Morning Notes

County Reduces COVID-19 Isolation Time — Following new CDC recommendations, the Fairfax County Health Department has cut the required isolation period for people infected with COVID-19 from 10 to five days, if the individual has no symptoms. People exposed to someone who tests positive no longer have to quarantine if they’re vaccinated. [FCHD]

Former FCPD Officer Convicted for Sexual Misconduct — “A former Fairfax County police officer has been convicted of sexual misconduct with a 16-year-old police cadet. John Grimes faced three charges of indecent liberties with a minor. He was found guilty of all counts on Monday.” [NBC4]

Vienna’s Tom Yum Thai Closes — “The restaurant informed customers in a Facebook post that it had closed on Sunday, Dec. 26. It had been open for seven years at 226 Maple Avenue W in Vienna. The management did not share a reason for the closure in the post.” [Patch]

County Waste Facilities to Change Hours — “The new year will usher in extended operating hours for residents to drop off their trash, recyclables, and various specialty wastes (e.g., used oil, old batteries, scrap metal) at the I-66 Transfer Station and the I-95 Landfill Complex. The new hours taking effect on January 1, 2022, are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Weekend hours, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., will remain unchanged at both facilities.” [DPWES]

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The Italian restaurant Assaggi Osteria & Pizzeria will close Christmas Day at McLean Square (via Google Maps)

Christmas will be a somber day for the owners and patrons of Assaggi Osteria & Pizzeria.

The upscale Italian restaurant will permanently close its doors that day after more than a decade at 6641 Old Dominion Drive in McLean, owners Kenneth and Madge Gazzola said on Monday (Dec. 13) in an email to supporters.

The establishment’s last day of operations will be Dec. 24.

According to Madge Gazzola, the decision to close comes after six months of failed negotiations for a lease extension with their landlord, McLean Square Associates President Georges Tawil.

She says the dealbreaker was Tawil’s insistence on a personal guarantee that they would pay the full lease, even if the business closes. Though Assaggi has grown its customer base over the past couple of years, it would’ve been a huge, risky investment, especially in the uncertain environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I understand it’s something that’s fairly common in real estate leases, commercial leases, but that is something we felt we could not do,” she said. “So, we could not come to an agreement, and we will leave the space instead, sadly.”

McLean Square Associates, which has clashed with tenants before, declined to comment when contacted by Tysons Reporter.

Assaggi arrived at the McLean Square Shopping Center in 2009.

The Gazzolas got involved in 2016 as one of three couples who invested in a renovation planned by the owner at the time. When the owner ran out of capital halfway through, the Gazzolas assumed ownership and completed the project.

Assaggi reopened after eight months of renovations in August 2017 with a more casual pizzeria added next to its fine dining-focused main room.

Specializing in fish and pasta dishes, Assaggi has made Northern Virginia Magazine’s annual list of the region’s 50 best restaurants three times since it reopened, including in 2021.

Gazzola says the team has looked at moving elsewhere in McLean, but they haven’t found an appropriate space and currently have no immediate plans for the future.

Her and her husband’s primary focus right now is finishing the restaurant’s last couple of weeks and supporting their staff. She particularly highlights chef Francesco Pescatore as someone worth watching, noting that he’s only 30 years old and “quite talented.”

“These last two years, we’ve been able to develop a very fine team, and we also have been a neighborhood restaurant that is warm and friendly and welcoming,” Madge Gazzola said. “So, it’s very hard to move on from that and not understand why we can’t come to a reasonable agreement on something that is positive, good for the neighborhood, good for the community.”

Photo via Google Maps

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Vienna restaurants that have set up outdoor dining spaces will be allowed to keep them for the next six months.

After formally extending an emergency ordinance to its last possible end date of Dec. 30, the Vienna Town Council unanimously approved an amendment to the town’s zoning ordinance on Monday (Dec. 6) that enables businesses with temporary outdoor dining permits to continue those operations until June 30, 2022.

Councilmembers said they will use the extra six months to develop rules for permanently easing regulations around outdoor dining that balance the interests of businesses with potential concerns from neighbors, particularly related to noise and parking.

“This is a temporary measure while COVID is still a reality to help these businesses and help the residents a little bit,” Councilmember Ed Somers said. “But we would charge ourselves and the staff to work on these complicated and important issues. We’re not going to wait until June to restart this conversation.”

Applicable to any business that has obtained a permit by Dec. 31, the measure adds some conditions to the outdoor dining activities that have been allowed on an expanded basis since June 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the revised ordinance, restaurants can continue to serve diners on an outdoor patio or in off-street parking spaces if they comply with the following rules:

  • Use no more than eight seats per parking space
  • For businesses with outdoor dining facilities within 60 feet of a residential property, limit occupancy to 9 a.m.-9 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m-9 p.m. on Sundays, and 9 am-9:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays

Those conditions are intended to address noise complaints raised at a public hearing on Nov. 15 by residents who live behind the Church Street restaurants Bazin’s and Blend 111.

Town staff initially presented a draft that applied the time limits to restaurants in 50 feet of a residential property line and allowed them to operate until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, but the council questioned whether that would be sufficient.

“I’m trying to give a little reprieve for the neighbors there,” Councilmember Nisha Patel said. “…Even after people vacate the patio, there is going to be wait staff out there. They’re going to have to clean up. They’re still going to be making noise. So, keeping it to 10 is really saying we’re going to let noise until 10:30.”

Councilmember Steve Potter pushed for a provision requiring restaurants by residential properties to submit a noise abatement plan as part of the permitting process, but others said it would be too complicated to decide how to identify and enforce noise violations with a measure that will only last six months.

“The six months was to look at, ‘Do these two things help?'” Mayor Linda Colbert said. “I think a noise mitigation plan would be very good, but I don’t know how that would be judged, and I don’t think we have those answers tonight.”

The council ultimately settled for a clause requiring acknowledgment of Vienna’s existing noise ordinance, including a prohibition on live entertainment without a conditional use permit.

Town staff proposed an ordinance in October that would permanently allow outdoor dining with administrative approval, streamlining a permitting process that typically requires public hearings and a $1,500 fee.

The draft gained the support of Vienna’s Planning Commission, but at last month’s public hearing, the town council decided it needed to take more time to work out details, such as criteria for when a permit should be approved and an appeals process.

Vienna has issued 22 temporary outdoor commercial activity permits while its emergency ordinance has been in effect, according to town staff.

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Morning Notes

Venus spotted behind clouds over The Boro (photo by ERTRIPP9/Twitter)

County Board to Vote on New Electoral District Map — “The Board of Supervisors’ last full meeting of 2021 will include an agenda of district-specific and countywide proposals. The major items up for consideration are redistricting of the Board of Supervisors and School Board districts as well as expansion of tax relief for seniors and people with disabilities.” [Patch]

Wet Snow Possible Tomorrow — A cold front headed for the D.C. region could bring the first measurable snowfall of the season. Forecasts suggest up to an inch of accumulation is likely, with a ceiling of 3 inches, and the precipitation isn’t expected to stick around long, though the timing could cause some trouble in coinciding with the morning commute. [Capital Weather Gang]

Falls Church Shuts Down New Taco Restaurant — The popular Arlington-based food truck La Tingeria has occupied its new brick-and-mortar site at 626 S. Washington Street in Falls Church for less than a month, but the city plans to revoke its certificate of occupancy, citing complaints about customers parking in nearby residential neighborhoods. [ARLnow]

Santa Hitches Ride in Mosaic District Autonomous Shuttle — “Santa Claus gave Rudolph and the other reindeer a night off as he rode to his Target appearance in the latest driverless technology, RELAY. Santa waved happily to the crowds in Mosaic as his sleigh, aka the autonomous shuttle,  wound its way down District Avenue.” [Department of Economic Initiatives]

Kansas Gives Preview of Capital One Hall Show — “Carry on all you wayward classic rock listeners! Kansas is ready to rock the brand new Capital One Hall in Tysons, Virginia, on Dec. 19…The band will perform the full “Point of Know Return” album, as well as other huge hits.” [WTOP]

Photo by ERTRIPP9/Twitter

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Morning Notes

Real Estate Taxes Due Today — Fairfax County property owners must pay the second installment of their real estate taxes by the end of today (Monday). Taxes can be paid through the Department of Tax Administration’s online portal. [Fairfax County Government/Twitter]

Vienna Man Arrested in Fatal Hit and Run — Carlos Alexander Torres Jr., 24, of Vienna was arrested in Montgomery County on Friday (Dec. 3) after police detectives determined that he was allegedly the driver in a Sept. 1 hit-and-run crash in Reston that killed the other driver. Police believe alcohol may have been a factor in the crash. [FCPD]

Asian Restaurant in Vienna ClosesRed Galanga at 144 Church Street NW closed its doors for the last time on Dec. 1, citing challenges with filling positions during the pandemic. Sister restaurant Sweet Ginger (120 Branch Road SE) will honor outstanding gift certificates from Red Galanga, which says an Italian restaurant will take its place on Church Street. [Patch]

Former WFT Quarterback Sells McLean House — “Alex Smith, quarterback for the Washington Football Team until earlier this year, has sold his 6,300-square-foot mansion in McLean for $5,800,000. He first listed the property for $6,750,000 in June, a few months after he was released from the team.” [Washingtonian]

Leaf Vacuum Careens into Vienna Garage — “Town of Vienna employees were working in the 400 block of Center Street, N., on Nov. 30 at 2:59 p.m. and had parked a leaf-vacuum trailer on the roadway with a wheel stop in place to secure it. Due to the steep incline, the trailer went over the wheel stop, proceeded down a hill and struck the garage of a residence, Vienna police said.” [Sun Gazette]

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