Editor’s note: Are you a restaurant in the Vienna, Falls Church, Tysons, Merrifield and McLean areas that has a fundraiser? Email us at [email protected] and we will update the list.
Fundraisers are popping up to help employees at the many restaurants around the Tysons area that are struggling with safety concerns around the COVID-19 outbreak.
Some local restaurants have pivoted to take-out or delivery only options to stay open, while others have shuttered their doors temporarily — or sometimes permanently.
Tysons Reporter browsed GoFundMe to find fundraisers connected to local restaurants. Here’s what we found.
Thompson Italian (124 N. Washington Street), a restaurant in Falls Church, decided to close temporarily on March 16 due to the pandemic. Now, a Staff Relief Fund is looking to raise $50,000 for the staff, who have been laid off.
“We are seeking ways to support our staff who are now suddenly out of work,” according to the fundraiser. “100% of proceeds from this fund, and from current gift card sales, will go directly to our staff to help with necessities.”
The fundraiser notes that it is focusing on staffers who “are more vulnerable during this crisis” — it won’t go to the owners or to business-related costs — and “will use donations to meet critical necessities (e.g. food, medication, paper products, and toiletries).”
“[The owners’] decision to close last Sunday was an effort to protect staff and customers from COVID-19, realizing that the most impacted would be staff,” according to the fundraiser.
Stefanie Fornaris, the lead bartender at Great American Restaurants, started a GoFundMe three days ago for the laid-off bartenders who used to work at Patsy’s American — one of three eateries from GAR in Tysons.
“We never in a million years would have ever imagined a day when we would have to say that any of us were laid off in the industry that has proven time and again to be so reliable to us for so many years,” according to the GoFundMe.
Patsy’s (8051 Leesburg Pike) is currently open for curbside pick-up and delivery, according to its website.
Happy Friday. Here are the latest stories about the Tysons area that the Tysons Reporter team has been reading:
McLean Student Nabs State Pageant Title — “McKenzie Watt, the 9-year-old daughter of Philip and Andra Watt of McLean, has been awarded the title ‘Little Miss of Virginia’ 2019-20 and moves on to national competition.” [Inside Nova]
Religious Broadcaster Wants Tysons-Based Tegna — “Phoenix investment firm Najafi Cos. is teaming with a faith-based broadcaster in Texas in an effort to buy Tysons-based Tegna Inc.” [Washington Business Journal]
New Format for Vienna Candidates Debate — “The Vienna town government will record and repeatedly broadcast an audience-free Vienna Town Council candidate debate to be held April 2.” [Inside NoVa]
FCPS Prepping for Distance Learning — “If FCPS schools cannot reopen as scheduled on April 14, our plan is to begin distance learning either online, or by learning packets at that time. Over the next two weeks, we will begin distance learning training for teachers and give teachers the opportunity to plan and prepare for distance instruction and reconnect with their students. ” [FCPS]
COVID-19 Hurting Little City Restaurants — “The hospitality industry in Falls Church and beyond is being hit especially hard with the public ramping up its social distancing effort and authorities implementing new restrictions on restaurant and bar service in an effort the prevent the spread of COVID-19.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Tysons CEO Slams Social Distancing — “Michael Saylor, the CEO and founder of Tysons technology firm MicroStrategy Inc., called social distancing measures enacted to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus ‘soul stealing and debilitating’ and stated the company would not close any of its offices around the world unless legally required to do so.” — [Washington Business Journal]
McLean Group Helping At-Risk People — “Unlike most of her peers, senior Sophie Howery has been spending her time off to help fight the spread of the virus. To do this, Howery created the Fairfax County Community COVID Aid Project, hoping to help support those who may be at risk of contracting the coronavirus.” [The Highlander]
How Will COVID-19 Impact the Local Economy? — The Stephen S. Fuller Institute at George Mason University’s recent report says that “the Washington region’s economy will also contract in the last three quarters of 2020, primarily because of decreased consumer spending and lost productivity.” [Washingtonian]
More and more states are ordering eateries and entertainment venues to close or switch to delivery and take-out only to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
When the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to declare a local emergency earlier this morning, several supervisors mentioned how the county has limited authority to plan restrictions on eating establishments.
“We don’t have as much authority as people think we do,” Vice-Chair Penny Gross said. “We’re also at the mercy of the governor.”
A few days ago, D.C.’s mayor imposed new restrictions on restaurants and bars, prohibiting table seating and allowing them to offer delivery or take-out options. The restrictions also force nightclubs, theaters and health clubs to close for at least two weeks.
Municipalities have limited authority to take action because Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, Arlington Magazine reported, adding that Gov. Ralph Northam could issue a statewide declaration similar to Maryland’s.
Northam said this morning that the state will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation to prevent gatherings of 10 or more people, but that he does not plan to place restrictions on restaurants, WHSV reported.
Northam is “asking them to abide by the ‘rule of 10’ and… encouraging them to focus on delivery and takeout options, instead of in-house dining,” according to WHSV.
Northam says he doesn't anticipate shutting restaurants down in the future, saying 45% of Virginians get meals from restaurants.
"I think we've got to be very careful, very prudent. We want to keep Virginia healthy. But we also know that they need to eat."
— Graham Moomaw (@gmoomaw) March 17, 2020
“At least 20 states have ordered that their restaurants and bars close to in-person diners amid the coronavirus pandemic,” The Hill reported earlier today.
The limited authority didn’t stop neighboring Arlington County to plead with restaurants and bars to “take responsible action and switch from dine-in service to only offering carryout and delivery.”
While the statement noted that Arlington County does not have the legal authority to force the changes, it said that COVID-19 cases could overwhelm Arlington if restaurants don’t limit community contact.
As of Monday, the Virginia Department of Health says there are 10 presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Fairfax County — a number that officials say is expected to grow.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Here are the latest stories about the Tysons area that the Tysons Reporter team has been reading:
New Grab-and-Go Food Sites for Students — “We are expanding the grab and go food distribution sites to a total of 29 locations. The food distribution is set up outside the schools. Breakfast will be served from 8-10:30 a.m. and lunch from 10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]
Cafe Closes in Tysons — “Cafe Deluxe restaurants in Tysons, Virginia, and Bethesda, Maryland, have closed, early victims of the COVID-19 outbreak. Both leases were set to expire in April, with no plans to renew.” [WTOP]
Coronavirus Prompts Metro to Shifts Hours — “Starting March 16, trains on all lines will operate every 12 minutes on weekdays. That’s comparable to train frequencies on Saturdays, which will stay at that frequency. Sunday schedules will also remain unchanged, with trains every 15 minutes.” [WAMU]
Falls Church Eateries Alter Service — “Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken and Taco Bamba, both in Pimmit Hills, and Liberty Barbecue in the City all announced Monday they will shift to delivery and takeout service only. Spacebar, Northside Social and Dominion Wine and Beer have gone takeout only and Starbucks, with three City locations, said Sunday it was instituting a to-go model for all of its stores nationwide.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Falls Church Shelter Shuts Down for Two Weeks — “The Falls Church Homeless Shelter announced its decision to close the hypothermia shelter on March 16 in response to the growing spread of the coronavirus.” [Falls Church News-Press]
It’s been almost five years, and Sweet Leaf in McLean is still working to resolve a zoning violation caused by too few parking spots.
“It’s been a long time, but we’ve been working through this process,” Sweet Leaf co-founder Andre Matini told the board today.
The restaurant has been operating in violation of the zoning code since late 2015, county staff said today.
Over the last few years, zoning changes have affected the cafe, which was originally slapped with zoning violations in 2015 following a complaint about a lack of parking.
One of the zoning violations is now “moot” after the Board of Supervisors adopted changes to the zoning ordinance in 2018, staff said.
When those changes were made, however, the cafe’s other zoning violation became more challenging to fix.
The cafe was incorrectly issued a non-residential use permit (non-RUP) for retail sales but not for food, staff said.
In order to qualify for the correct permit now, the cafe needs to have at least 14 parking spaces with an approved parking reduction — but it only has 12.
Getting the two extra spaces has been more challenging than expected, Matini said.
The county rejected a nearby church’s offer for diners to use its parking lot, Matini said. Now, another neighbor will let the cafe rent two spaces, he said, adding that county staff has been asking for more information.
If the parking reduction fails, then the cafe would need to decrease the square footage of the building.
One of the new changes to the zoning ordinance altered how the number of parking spaces is determined. The building’s square footage — instead of the number of tables at the food establishment — is now used to calculate the parking requirement.
So far, Land Development Services thought the information submitted for the parking reduction request has been “insufficient,” according to the staff report.
Fairfax County Zoning Administrator Leslie Johnson urged that the board make a “short deferral” to push the appellant to get all of the required information to county staff, who said there hasn’t been any recent progress on the parking reduction application.
“We’re not 100% sure how we would resolve the issue if everything is denied by the zoning office,” Matini said. “Obviously, we don’t want to shut down after all of these years in operation.”
The zoning board, staff and Johnson said they want to avoid a situation where the cafe would be forced to close. Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust has also said that he wants the restaurant to stay open.
To give the cafe and the county staff more time to get all of the required materials for the parking reduction application, the Board of Zoning Appeals decided to defer the case to July 22.
“It sounds like people are working hard to resolve this, but they quite aren’t to the finish line yet,” Chairman John Ribble III said.
When people walk into Fava Pot in Falls Church, they’re greeted with the smell of freshly baked pita bread made in a traditional wooden, along with a dozen menu options for traditional Egyptian cuisine.
Dina Daniel, the restaurant’s owner, opened the Falls Church Fava Pot back in 2017 after owning an Arlington food truck and has been serving up a variety of fare since, including vegan and vegetarian options.
Daniel said her favorite item is the Táamya, which she considers to be the eatery’s specialty. She called it an “Egyptian falafel” — the tiny ball has a crunchy exterior with a soft, veggie-filled inside. Unlike other types of falafels, the snack is made with fava beans instead of chickpeas.
Other best-sellers include Baba Ganoush, a tangy dip that comes covered in pomegranate seeds, combination platters that include lamb, chicken and veal and a variety of bowls and snacks.
When people stop by the restaurant, Daniel said she wants people to feel at home — comfortable, welcome and well-fed with wholesome fare with fresh veggies and whole wheat grains.
Daniel said that she wants people to feel as if they’re “having a feast at grandma’s house,” when they eat at Fava Pot. She added that many of the meals made at the Falls Church location are unique to that specific location and take more than 12 hours to prepare.
Unlike Fava Pot’s food truck or new pop-up in Union Market, the Falls Church location offers guests sit down meals with the help of Stephen Samuels, the area manager, and Elmer Ramos, the head chef. Fava Pot is also planning on expanding to Rosslyn later this year.
“Our business isn’t only about the back area, it’s about how you interact with the customer,” she said while waving to a regular customer across the room.
When Daniel first opened the restaurant, she said she worried that people’s unfamiliarity with Egyptian food would scare away potential customers, so she spent time in Tysons handing out free samples for several weeks.
Since the restaurant is a “travel destination,” Daniel said she was concerned before the grand opening in 2017 that people might not want to make their way to Falls Church to eat at the restaurant. But she said that concern has turned out to be unfounded.
Several days ago, Voice of America Asia featured Fava Pot on its YouTube channel as part of its “Food Bites” mini-series.
“I believe America has misconceptions of Egyptians,” she told Tysons Reporter, noting that Egypt has a distinctive cultural identity from the rest of the Middle East.
The walls of the Falls Church location are covered with the stories of famous Egyptians, including athletes, academics and musicians. To give back to her home country, some of the money made from Fava Pot goes directly to benefit a group called Coptic Orphans, which assists underprovided kids in Egypt.
As for the location’s clientele, she said that about only 20% have Egyptian heritage, which gives her a chance to act as a cultural ambassador for the community.
Part of her breakfast customer base originally came from overflow from the adjacent pancake house, until people got over their hesitation about Egyptian breakfast and decided to give the cuisine a shot.
“After God’s grace, it is what made our business stay,” she said.
Keiko Charcoal Chicken is still closed as of this afternoon in the Town of Vienna.
The restaurant’s Facebook page said on Dec. 29 that the restaurant planned to be closed through Jan. 15 for the holidays. But as of today (Feb. 11), the restaurant still appeared closed.
Tysons Reporter found that the location’s doors were locked and lights were off.
The South American chicken chain opened at 235 Maple Ave E. last spring.
After a series of vandalisms and an assault, the owner of Skorpio’s Maggio’s Greek Family Restaurant is unsure why she has been the target.
The restaurant was vandalized about half of a dozen times this winter, and owner Sherry Maggio was the victim of an assault in January by a man who spat at her and threw hot coffee on her, according to Vienna police reports.
Though a 34-year-old man was arrested and charged with simple assault and battery, Vienna police are still investigating the vandalism incidents, according to the police department.
In one incident, ketchup was smeared on the windows of the restaurant and the restaurant’s van, while in another incident, “tire slime” was put on the sidewalk, furniture and statue in front of the restaurant, according to Vienna police reports.
A police spokesperson said the department doesn’t understand the motive behind the vandalism.
“It’s kind of strange,” the spokesperson said. “The owners are really nice… I can’t imagine why someone would do that.”
After the assault, the man charged with the crime posted inflammatory comments about Maggio on his Instagram accounts, calling her names, accusing her of lying to the police and claiming he can get away with anything because he has connections within the court system.
A police spokesperson declined to say whether or they have a suspect for the vandalism cases, saying that the incidents are currently under investigation.
The police department is trying to review video footage, the spokesperson said.
Though the vandalism incidents haven’t caused monetary damages, clean-up has taken significant time and labor, Maggio said, adding that she is worried about similar incidents happening in the future.
“It took my guys almost an hour to scrub everything off the sidewalk,” she said about the incident involving the tire slime.
Maggio said she is keeping track of details and evidence with the incidents, so she’ll have a paper trail.
Photo via Google Maps
Valentine’s Day is coming up on Friday (Feb. 14). To celebrate, several restaurants, stores and places in the Tysons area are offering themed events this week.
Here’s where to find restaurant deals, parties and even a Valentine’s Day Zumba class.
Several restaurants in Tysons are offering Valentine’s Day meals and specials.
From 5-10 p.m. on Friday, La Sandia (7852 Tysons Corner Center) will have a three-course menu for two ($35) with dishes like chunky tuna guacamole, carne tampiquena and espresso tres leches.
Turkish Coffee Lady Café, a woman-owned small business in Tysons Corner Center, will have “coffee readings” on Friday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
“The promotion is inspired by the Turkish tradition of reading your fortune in the coffee grounds found at the bottom of the cup after enjoying a delicious brew: Turkish coffee dregs known as ‘telve’ allows fortune readers to see your future in the most scrumptious way,” according to a Facebook post.
Looking for a unique dining experience? Greenhouse Bistro (2070 Chainbridge Road) will have “Dining in the Dark” from 7:30-9:30 p.m. on Friday, where diners eat a four course prix-fixe meal while blindfolded.
Looking to break a sweat instead? Sport & Health McLean (1800 Old Meadow Road) will have a Valentine’s Day Zumba Party from 6-7:30 p.m. on Friday.
Merrifield and Vienna
The “All You Need is Love” party for people ages 55+ at the Vienna Community Center (120 Cherry Street SE) will provide attendees with a meal from The Davis Center.
The party, which is being hosted in partnership with the Shepherd’s Center of Oakton-Vienna, is set to run from noon-2 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 11. Tickets are $18 per person.
True Food Kitchen (2910 District Avenue) is offering a pre-fixe menu on Valentine’s Day weekend from Feb. 14-16.
On Saturday (Feb. 15), Undeniable Boutique will have “Certified Lipsologist” Ariana Lightningstorm give a palm reading for people’s lips.
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash
Vienna police arrested a 28-year-old man who allegedly was drunk and harassing a customer at Zenola.
The incident happened shortly after 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 5.
Police said that an employee at the Mediterranean restaurant asked the man to leave the premises when he started harassing a customer.
“The man was later found lying in the alley behind the business,” police said. “Officers responded with rescue personnel and determined the man was intoxicated.”
The man, who is from Magarity Road in Falls Church, “became disorderly with the rescue personnel while they were assessing him and treating a minor injury,” police said.
He was arrested for being drunk in public and was transported to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.
In a separate incident, Vienna police said a Jammin Java employee reported that someone vandalized the front patio area with paint. The incident happened between 6:30-8:38 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1.
Photo via Zenola/Facebook