Tysons, VA

The Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant had once taken up a key corner spot in Tysons Corner Center, right across from the Barnes & Noble. But while other restaurants are reopening from pandemic closures, Gordon Biersch is gone for good.

The closure is a latest for the franchise, which had four other regional locations close earlier this year. While the Tysons location was reportedly “not on the chopping block” in March, according to eater, the following months put additional challenges on many restaurants.

With the Tysons location gone, the closest Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant is in Annapolis, Maryland.

The Tysons location still held a special place in the heart of some locals, though, which took home the Great American Beer Festival gold medal in 2018 for a Czech-style pilsner, DC Beer reported. The Tysons Corner Center location brewed beer on-site and offered tours in pre-pandemic times.

Photo via Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant

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A new cafe could be coming to a former drive-thru United Bank at 7787 Leesburg Pike.

Applicant Mohamed Rafaei is seeking a permit from the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Sept. 15, to convert the first floor of the building (built in 1980) into a restaurant.

“The proposed sit-down restaurant will replace the first-floor financial institution,” a report on the project noted. “The proposed hours of operation for the restaurant are 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., 7 days a week. Approximately 4 employees and a maximum of 72 patrons are proposed.”

The application noted that the second floor of the building is currently an office, which would continue to be in use after the restaurant change. Given that the site is zoned for office buildings and hotels, a special exception is required for a restaurant use, but a staff report said the restaurant could support the surrounding offices and is “in harmony” with the Comprehensive Plan.

There was once a local Tysons establishment called Mint at 8346 Leesburg Pike, next to the former Tysons Biergarten, but it’s unclear if the two are related.

Photo via Google Maps

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Like many independently-owned restaurants, the pandemic has taken a giant slice of revenue from local pizzerias. Owners in the Tysons area say “tremendous” community support is the key ingredient helping them survive.

Tysons Reporter talked to five owners to find out what it’s like running an independent pizzeria during the pandemic. All but one of the restaurants are currently open and taking orders.

Most of the owners noted they saw prices soar for popular pizza ingredients. “Cheese and pepperoni are through the roof,” Marty Volk, the owner of Church Street Pizzeria and Lombardi’s Pizza in Vienna, said. “The pricing almost doubled.”

Some pizzerias chose to raise their prices, while others didn’t. “If you don’t increase the price of your pizza with the cheese doubling, you’re just taking profit out of our pocket so you have to pass it on to the customer,” Volk said, adding that pizzas with cheese now cost an additional $0.75.

Here’s what the owners had to say about how they have adapted their operations to keep making the dough and why they are grateful for the local community. Read More

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Restaurants and businesses in the Town of Vienna can take advantage of outside spaces for the next seven months.

Last night, the Vienna Town Council voted to extend a temporary waiver on commercial activity outside in hopes of helping local businesses stay open during the coronavirus pandemic.

Businesses are utilizing parking lots and sidewalks in hopes of attracting more customers as they operate under state and local rules capacity restrictions and social distancing guidelines. As the pandemic continues, customers are gauging how safe they feel inside or outside — with some people opting to limit their time inside businesses.

“We have got to do this to keep our businesses going,” Councilmember Howard Springsteen said.

The Vienna Town Council first approved the emergency ordinance on June 1 and then readopted it on June 15. Before the town officials voted last night, the temporary waiver was set to last until Sept. 30.

Now, town businesses will have until March 31, 2021 to apply for and use temporary emergency outdoor commercial activity permits, which Town Manager Mercury Payton authorizes. Payton can also waive regulations for signage and conditional use permits for outdoor dining activities.

After Councilmember Nisha Patel pushed the town to consider a similar waiver for non-commercial zones, Colbert suggested calling for an emergency session on Friday for the Vienna Town Council to consider the proposal.

Patel said that she knows of private schools that would like to use outdoor space for teaching. “If you can get the kids out of the classroom and out into the open air, I think is safer in general,” Patel said.

Photo via Vienna Business Association/Facebook

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HAN Palace originally wanted to open its Tysons spot in April, but then the coronavirus pandemic hit Northern Virginia.

Now, the restaurant is looking to start serving its “traditional” Cantonese brunch and all-day dim sum in a few weeks. HAN Palace will have a bar, indoor dining and patio seating at the same building (7900 Westpark Drive) that houses Bourbon Coffee and Ahra Kitchen.

The restaurant recently shared on Facebook that it is aiming to open mid-September. Northern Virginia Magazine reported the opening date is Sept. 17.

Owner Chris Zhu, who also runs China Garden in Rockville, Md., told Tysons Reporter in March that the restaurant’s all-day dim sum will stand out because D.C. restaurants usually only offer dim sum for lunch.

Diners can get complimentary garage parking for two hours during the day or after 6 p.m. on weekdays and up to six hours on the weekends.

Photo courtesy Chris Zhu

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As restaurants look to serve diners indoors safely during the pandemic, Silver Diner has started using a new system to keep the interiors of its restaurants sanitized.

The regional chain says that it is the first U.S. restaurant to install an air purification system that uses three technologies — ultraviolet light, bipolar ionization technology and HEPA filtration, according to a press release.

The systems were installed at all of Silver Diner’s locations by last Wednesday (Aug. 12), according to co-founder and head chef Ype Von Hengst.

“I think that in this world you’ve got to adapt and change to fit what’s needed,” Hengst said. “It’s our responsibility as restaurateurs to create a new norm.”

Already, Hengst said that both the Reston and Tysons locations have seen a substantial jump in customers who feel safe about eating inside.

Silver Diner spent roughly $500,000 on the system for the restaurants, according to Hengst, who added that the cost was worth it to protect staff and customers. The air purification system was designed by Veteran LED, a veteran-owned lighting and energy management firm.

The technology has been used before in hospitals, schools and medical care facilities but never a restaurant, according to a press release.

Depending on size, each location has a large air purifier filer that covers roughly 1,000 cubic feet of air and then smaller purifiers that support roughly 250 feet of additional cubic footage, according to Hengst.

“Germicidal UV-C lights installed throughout the HVAC system work to disinfect air and surfaces inside the system. Heavy-duty handheld UV-C light sterilizers are being used on high touch areas as part of the closing duties of the staff,” the press release said. “At night, when the restaurant is closed, the interior is bathed in germicidal UV-C light to help kill pathogens in the air and sterilize surfaces.”

Hengst said that the UV-C ceiling fixture runs for one hour each night. The restaurant claims that the system gets rid of 99.9% of the encountered pathogens.

While UV-C lights have been used as a disinfectant for decades and researchers found it can deactivate coronaviruses, the dosage, time duration and distance from the source can all impact how effective the lights are, Discover Magazine reported.

It’s unclear how effective UV treatment is against COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Environmental Protection Agency cannot confirm whether it may be effective.

Additionally, Silver Diner locations are going to continue using personal protective equipment, printing menus on anti-microbial paper, requiring temperature checks, social distancing and following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Hengst.

Before the pandemic hit the NoVA area, Hengst said that he was beginning to notice a roughly 10% profit increase at both the Reston and Tysons locations, which he attributed to population growth in the areas.

Since Silver Diner installed the new technology last week, Hengst said that more and more people are requesting to sit inside, though it is too early to see if sales are increasing again.

In the months to come, Hengst said he hopes more restaurants can use the technology to “help open up the world again.”

Photos courtesy Silver Diner

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LB Food market and Wooden Bakery in Vienna kicked off a fundraising effort to help support relief efforts in Beirut after a massive explosion.

Lebanon was already struggling with hyperinflation and economic turmoil before the explosion killed more than 170 people and injured thousands in the country’s capital city last Tuesday.

Rami El-Hasrouni, the owner of Wooden Bakery, told Tysons Reporter that he helped start the GoFundMe to raise $10,000 for two organizations helping people in Beirut: the Lebanese Red Cross and Beit El Baraka. So far, the fundraiser has received $170.

“Everybody is asking, ‘How can we help?'” El-Hasrouni said.

The market, which now sells Mediterranean food in the former spot of Bey Lounge, and the Lebanese bakery are both operated by D.C.-based Woodfire Brands.

In addition to the fundraiser, the bakery and market are looking for clothing and medical supply donations and will donate 30% of the pita bread and pita chips sales through next week.

Our Lady of Lebanon Church in D.C. is filling up cargo containers with clothes, food and medical supplies to send to Lebanon, El-Hasrouni said, adding that clothes, bandages and medicine are especially needed. El-Hasrouni said that if people bring donations to the bakery, he will make sure they get the items to the church.

Several Lebanese restaurants in the Tysons area, including Lebanese Taverna and Zenola, are raising money to help Beirut.

“Restaurants are barely breaking even but we’re trying to do something,” El-Hasrouni said. “It’s amazing how people are coming together.”

Photo via LB Food Market/Facebook

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Local restaurants want diners to donate to the relief efforts helping the thousands of people suffering from the aftermath of a deadly explosion in Beirut.

The massive explosion in Lebanon’s capital last Tuesday (Aug. 4) killed approximately 150 people and left thousands injured and homeless.

Mediterranean restaurant Zenola took to Facebook on Wednesday to ask diners to donate to the Lebanese Red Cross and Impact Lebanon. “The city and its people are near and dear to our hearts,” the Facebook post said. “We’re heartbroken over the loss of life and the destruction of vital infrastructure. The road ahead to recovery and rebuilding will be a long one.”

“Being Lebanese-American, most of us in the [D.C. area], we felt like we had to do something,” Noha Zeitoun, who is one of the restaurant’s owners, told Tysons Reporter. “Being so far away, one of the easiest things we can do is fundraise for the organizations doing the work on the ground.”

The restaurant, which opened last September in Vienna, is donating the proceeds from two menu items — a cocktail and comfort dish — through this Wednesday (Aug. 12) to the two organizations, Zeitoun said. “The Lebanese Red Cross is incredibly well respected and well regarded with giving money directly to the people,” Zeitoun said. “Impact Lebanon — they are known for highly vetting the organizations they give money to.”

The cocktail is called “Toot Toot to Beirut” — a play on words of a song by the Lebanese artist Marcel Khalife — and is made from blackberry juice and gin. The comfort dish “Ablama” is baby zucchini stuffed with beef, pine nuts and onions with tomato and truffle béchamel sauce. The dish comes with rice and vermicelli.

“We grew up eating it at home and in Lebanon,” Zeitoun said about Ablama. “It’s a warm dish that brings you fuzzies.”

Zenola joined D.C.-area restaurants taking part in a fundraising effort called Beitna, which means “our house” in Arabic and was started by Chef Roro Asmar and Chef Marcelle Afram of Compass Rose and Maydan, Zeitoun said. Additionally, the restaurant is encouraging diners this month to make donations when they get their checks.

Zeitoun said that Zenola has raised about $300 since last Wednesday and hopes to double the amount by next Wednesday (Aug. 19).

“There are some really, really hard videos to watch, given everything worldwide with the pandemic,” Zeitoun said about the explosion, noting a recent map shows what the impact would have looked like in the D.C. area. “It’s another extra thing making 2020 just a little bit more unbearable.”

“It will take a lot of time, but Beirut has recovered through a lot of things, and the people are very resilient,” Zeitoun said, noting that the country is facing hyperinflation and economic turmoil.

Because of inflation, Zeitoun said that every dollar counts: “USD goes a really long way right now.”

Other restaurants in the Tysons area are also looking to support Beirut.

Phoenicia Resto and Lounge in the Dunn Loring area took to Facebook to share relief efforts people can donate to.

“[No] words can heal the wounded or bring back the souls killed by this horrific tragedy… Beirut always in our heart,” the restaurant posted.

Lebanese Taverna, a regional chain that was started in Arlington and has a location in Tysons Galleria, started a GoFundMe for the Lebanese Red Cross. The fundraiser netted more than $62,000 in five days — surpassing the initial goal of $50,000.

“We are now shifting any additional donations to Jose Andres’ organization, World Central Kitchen as our brother, Dany Abi-Najm is traveling to Lebanon with #CHEFSFORBEIRUT,” the restaurant posted on Facebook yesterday. “Any further money collected will go directly to assist their efforts on the front line as they help to feed the more than 300,000 people displayed.”

Additionally, the restaurant’s website says that a portion of the proceeds from the Hommos sold through the end of the month will benefit World Central Kitchen, which is giving prepared meals to seniors, first responders and people in need in Beirut.

Photo via Zenola/Facebook

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The Metropolitan Washington Summer Restaurant Week returns next week, and more than a dozen restaurants in the Tysons area are participating in the event.

The event lets people buy lunch, brunch and dinner from restaurants at fixed prices. Some of the restaurants will cocktails or wine pairings for dine-in customers and special discounts.

New this year, Summer Restaurant Week is offering family-style to-go dinners (RW To Go) for either $35 per person or $55 per person.

Here are the local participating restaurants and what they are offering:

Tysons

Vienna

Falls Church and Merrifield:

McLean

Summer Restaurant Week will run from Aug. 17-30.

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Hot N Juicy Crawfish can stay in the Falls Church spot it’s called home for the last five years.

The dispute erupted when the landlord, FMR Development LLC, claimed that the restaurant (116 W. Broad Street) did not pay its rent for April within a required timeframe.

The landlord returned the restaurant’s checks in April and May, claiming that the restaurant was in violation of its lease, according to correspondence between the attorneys for the landlord and restaurant. In June, the landlord filed an eviction lawsuit, claiming the restaurant owed roughly $24,000 in rent and late fees for April and May.

Hot N Juicy’s attorneys told Washington City Paper, which first reported the eviction threat, that earlier in the pandemic, the landlord tried to force the restaurant to sign a lease amendment that would make it easier to remove the restaurant out. The newspaper also reported that the co-owner said he asked his landlord for a rent abatement or deferment in March.

Jeffrey Romanick, the landlord’s attorney, and Scott Rome, one of the restaurant’s attorneys, told Tysons Reporter this week that they reached an agreement out of court that allows the restaurant to stay in the space.

Photo via Hot and Juicy Crawfish Falls Church/Facebook 

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