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It’s mid-December and the Holiday events season is in full swing around Tysons.

In Vienna, the Volunteer Fire Department will host its annual All You Can Eat Pancake Breakfast tomorrow, Saturday, at 400 Center St. S. From 8 a.m.-12 p.m., the department will be serving pancakes, sausage, bacon, juice, and coffee. At 9:30 a.m., Santa Claus will arrive to green children or adults at the breakfast, and is scheduled to stay until 11 a.m.

The Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office will be on hand to provide a free photo of your child and take a set of fingerprints using clean, inkless technology to help authorities in missing child situations.

Tours of the fire equipment at the station will be held at 9, 10, and 11 a.m.

But for the pancake averse, there’s plenty more to do across Tysons, including a live Christmas event featuring Chewie the camel.

Tonight (Dec. 14)

  • 70’s Disco & Funk Holiday Party (8 p.m.) — Jammin Java at 227 Maple Ave E. in Vienna is hosting a 70’s themed party with hits from James Brown, Donna Summer, the Jackson Five and more. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for dinner and drinks, with prizes awarded for best 70’s holiday-inspired outfit. The dance party starts at 8 p.m.
  • 80’s Christmas Party (8 p.m.-2 a.m.) — The Palladium’s weekly 80’s party turned holiday themed tonight at 1524 Spring Hill Road. Attendees must be 21 to enter, but tickets reserved in advance are cover-free.

Tomorrow (Dec. 15)

  • Holiday Jam at Records and Rarities (2-8 p.m.) — The record shop in the Tysons Corner Center mall is hosting a holiday themed party featuring a lineup of live DJs.
  • 2nd Annual Festivus Celebration (8 p.m.-2 a.m.) — The Tysons Biergarten at 8346 Leesburg Pike is throwing a Festivus celebration. The party includes a “re-gifting” table, where unwanted gifts can be dropped off and donated to charity.

Sunday (Dec. 16)

  • Live Nativity (8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) — The McLean Presbyterian Church at 1020 Balls Hill Road is hosting a live nativity scene featuring real animals, like Chewie the camel, that children can pet.
  • Orangetheory Fitness Tysons Grand Opening (9 a.m.-5 p.m.) — Tysons’ newest workout studio will host a grand opening celebration at its 1430 Spring Hill Road location. The event will include food, drinks, music, and a raffle.

Photo via Facebook

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It’s a new week with a new crop of job opportunities opening up in Tysons, with management positions available in everything from cybersecurity to opera.

The Taste of UrbanSpace food hall that opened last week in the Tysons Galleria is searching for an assistant food hall manager. According to the job posting:

We are looking for passionate and operations-savvy Assistant Manager to oversee A Taste of Urbanspace. You will be the [general manager’s] right hand, liaising with vendors and the rest of the in-house team to ensure a superior guest experience through smooth daily operation and quality facilities maintenance.

Applicants should have experience in food management, but most of the other requirements are along the lines of “a strong instinct for hospitality” and “a strong communicator and team player.”

For those looking for a different sort of management position, Capital One is looking for a manager in the Transformation and Optimization Team. This work would primarily involve handling security operations, engaging vendors, and working closely with the intelligence and security operations teams.

Applicants should have experience working in cybersecurity technology with either a bachelor’s degree or military experience and several years of experience in various IT or system analysis fields. An MBA or Master’s degree are preferred.

For those looking for a more artistic type of management, the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts is looking for an assistant director for artistic operations, particularly for opera and classical programming. The assistant director would help manage classical programming activities at the Filene Center as well as managing the opera operations, from auditions to managing artistic housing.

There’s several job openings related to animal care. PETCO in Vienna is looking for a dog trainer or dog trainer apprentice for those interested in enhancing communication and teamwork between dogs and their owners. An aquatics specialist is also needed to provide care and aquatic life education to prospective owners and to care for the animals.

Meanwhile Dogtopia in Tysons is looking for a general manager, a front desk coordinator, sales manager and canine coach. Among the job benefits are that dogs are always allowed to come to work.

Other jobs around the area this week include:

  • Babysitter — A sitter is needed for morning work in Vienna from 6-9:15 a.m., Monday through Friday with every other Friday off. The job would include getting a 2 and 8 year old dressed and ready for school, making breakfast, cleaning dishes, light room cleaning and driving the children to school. The job would pay $15 per hour and starts in early January.
  • Pilates Coordinator — Equinox is looking for applicants to help manage pilates sessions at their studio in Tysons Corner. Applicants must be certified in Pilates training and have experience in customer service.
  • After School Chess Instructor — Chess Wizards in Vienna is looking for tutors to teach elementary school students the fundamentals of the game. The work is part time, paying $60-65 per hour with between 1-5 one-hour classes per week. Instructors will need experience in maintaining an organized and ordered classroom and an ability to make chess fun.
  • After School Minecraft Instructor — Fairfax Collegiate is offering courses teaching students basic engineering and programming, either through Lego robotics or Minecraft. Instructors in these classes should have at least one year of college experience, experience in the course material, and ideally experience in handling younger students. The job is part-time and pays $45-50 per hour.

Additionally, several of the Alarm.com jobs from last week remain open to applicants.

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Changes don’t happen quickly at Breakaway Fitness. The walls are all mustard-colored brick and there’s not a TV in sight.

Co-owner Christa Dalakis takes pride in the facility being an “old school” type of gym. But after 17 years of operating in Tysons, starting next year the gym will be going through some changes.

The big one is the gym will be nearly doubling in size, consolidating its operations currently spread out in two locations into one, expanding the facility at 1524 Spring Hill Rd onto a second floor. The gym will also start selling memberships for the first time.

“So right now, we just do appointments,” said Dalakis. “With new membership, you can come in on alternate days of training or just use membership without training.”

Formerly, clients who came in for training sessions could de facto come in on other days to work out, but with the new expansions Dalakis said she thought it was fair to start charging a membership for that.

Memberships are $50 per month for the rest of the year for those who purchase in January or $75 per month for those who purchase after January. Training sessions are priced separately, though Dalakis says the first session of training is free.

There’s no less than 16 gyms in the Tysons area, but Breakaway Fitness is a “mom and pop” type gym that bears little resemblance to the state-of-the-art workout centers or yoga studios across the area. It’s a distinction Dalakis wears proudly.

“We’re ‘Cheers’ without the beers,” said Dalakis. “You walk in and everybody knows your name. It’s a home feel.”

The block Breakaway Fitness inhabits is one of Tysons’ last refuges for independent businesses in an area increasingly overrun with upscale development and a flood of national chains. The new upstairs location is located next door to the 1st Stage Theater and over The Palladium, a nightclub that opened earlier this year.

“It’s a type of gym that doesn’t really exist anymore,” said Dalakis. “There’s not a lot of frill.”

The new upstairs will be an open turf area where people can run or lift weights. The downstairs will mostly be used for classical power lifting. The expansion will also add locker rooms for the gym. Dalakis says the old school atmosphere will remain the same, though.

“There’s no TV’s on our ellipticals,” Dalakis says. “You’re there to work out.”

The new joint location means that Dalakis can once again work alongside her husband, who had formerly been handling training at the other gym location a few blocks away.

“Now that in the same location, going to bring back even more of the family atmosphere,” said Dalakis. “It’s hard to explain what we bring to the table, but anyone feels comfortable when they step into our place of business.”

The new gym location and new membership requirements will start on Jan. 2. Dalakis says the gym will have a grand reopening celebration, but hasn’t selected a specific date yet.

Photo via Facebook

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(Updated at 11 a.m.) Enjoy the free street parking in Tysons while it lasts, because its days may be numbered.

At a Fairfax County Transportation Committee meeting on Tuesday, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) discussed plans to hire a professional parking consultant to explore parking management in Tysons and nearby Reston.

“The intent is to pilot parking management in these areas and expand to other areas as appropriate,” said Henri Stein McCartney, a transportation planner with FCDOT

McCartney said the goal of the study is to determine whether to implement on-street parking restrictions in Tysons and if so, what form those restrictions will take.

“The goal is timely turnover of spaces to encourage space availability,” said McCartney. “Numerous studies show motorists will circle [the] block searching for free on-street parking. [Parking restrictions] reduce number of cars searching for on-street parking. If paid for parking implemented, revenues could enforce parking rules.”

The study would also look at whether to implement paid parking or time restricted parking. Paid parking could take the form of a mobile kiosk or an app, like ParkMobile.

The second option would be time restricted parking, which could either be free or paid. However, McCartney said timed parking often requires more intensive enforcement efforts, with officers needed to monitor timed parking zones.

McCartney said FCDOT had not yet determined how much revenue paid parking could generate in Tysons.

FCDOT staff said the first area of study will be Tysons. Both the county’s comprehensive plan and urban design guidelines call for some form of “managed parking on future grid streets” in Tysons. FCDOT is apparently eyeing the new streets constructed at Boro development as some of the first “managed streets” in Tysons.

Implementation of paid parking in areas like the Reston Town Center has been controversial, to say the least.

McCartney said the study will have to also make sure the parking restrictions don’t push cars into the neighborhoods surrounding Tysons.

“This is inevitable, but it’s something we need to walk into very carefully,” said Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity. “Parking fees drive behavior. We have the real life example of Reston when they implemented those fees and all the angst it created… and loss of revenue.”

Herrity emphasized that any study of paid parking will have to involve close communication with the business community.

“The mistakes made in the past can be a helpful learning process,” said Supervisor Cathy Hudgins.

Hudgins said one of the biggest lessons from the Reston Town Center parking fiasco that should be applied to Tysons is specifying the goals of parking management, like whether the paid parking is a way of raising revenue or managing transportation.

Even before the recommendations come in, the committee seemed supportive of some form of paid or timed parking restrictions. From Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova:

“Tysons is an urban area that is being developed. It’s important that we manage the parking. In most urban areas that is done. The last thing you want to happen would be people to park on the streets all day long as employees and then customers and people doing business in Tysons don’t have a place to park for a relatively short period of time. It is a complicated issue and we’re doing the right thing starting with a consulting study.”

The study will be measuring on-street and off-street parking supply and demand and model future demand based on approved development plans. In the end, it will recommend appropriate strategies and an implementation plan.

FCDOT staff said an update on the study will be given between six to nine months later, but the recommendations won’t be available for at least another year.

The estimated cost of parking study is $100,000.

Image via Fairfax County Department of Transportation

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Fairfax County is currently mulling over changes to its sign ordinance that has schools, local realtors, and Tysons Corner Center concerned.

At a Planning Commission meeting last week, the commission deferred a decision on the new sign regulations until Jan. 16 to allow for more discussion on the impact of the ordinance.

Currently, county staff are reviewing changes to the zoning ordinance to make the language “content neutral.” The change is in response to the United States Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Reed vs. Town of Gilbert, which ruled that localities that define sign categories based on the message expressed, or content-based, is unconstitutional unless it furthers a compelling governmental interest.

Rather than allow free reign for Fairfax residents of businesses to erect signs regardless of content, a proposed amendment would tighten sign regulations across the board.

The proposed changes to the sign ordinance are wide-ranging but often minor corrections. One of the biggest changes is that one freestanding building identification sign is permitted for each detached building and such signs must be limited to identifying the name of the building or the individual enterprises located therein, the address, trademark or identifying symbol of the building occupant.

For instance, a real estate sign pointing to a nearby open house, but placed at the entrance to a subdivision, would be prohibited.

One of the proposed changes alters the definition of a sign from something “visible from the public right-of-way or adjoining property” to “visible from any street.” It’s a relatively small change, but any tampering with language in county ordinances could have a ripple effect. According to the staff documents, for instance, a representative of Tysons Corner Center expressed concerns about the impact of the change.

Tysons Corner Center currently has sign exemptions, allowing exceptions to current county rules, but these exemptions are based on the existing definitions of visibility from the public right-of-way or adjoining properties. As a result of these concerns, staff said new language was written into the proposed ordinance to allow greater flexibility.

According to county staff, minor signs — formerly referred to as temporary signs — were the largest challenge in the zoning ordinance rewrite.

“While staff acknowledges that the proposed language could negatively affect some developments that are currently exempt from regulation, we continue to recommend the language found in the draft text as it provides the closest level of regulation as the current provision.”

A representative from real estate investment company Macerich, which owns Tysons Corner Center, said at the meeting that the company had a laundry list of concerns but has been working with county staff to whittle those issues down. Another local realtor at the meeting said the new ordinance could push open house signs and corner signs off of local lawns and into already-crowded street medians.

The sign ordinance changes also sparked concern with the inclusion of language that would remove government exemptions from sign ordinances.

“Staff has received comments from both Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) and the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA), neither of which is in favor of eliminating the current exemption status. Of particular concern to the Park Authority is the limitation on the size, number and location of minor signs permitted for non-residential uses in a residential district. These signs are used to announce summer concert series, camps and other activities at the parks. The schools have raised concerns with the proposed height of permitted freestanding signs for non-residential uses in residential districts which is proposed to be limited to 8 feet in height.”

As a result, staff said at the Planning Commission meeting that there would be modifications to the ordinance allowing some exceptions for schools and parks.

Planning Commissioner Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner said at the meeting he was generally in favor of holding Fairfax County government to many of the same sign regulations as the public.

“There’s something to be said with us being able to model our behavior consistent with what we expect from the private sector,” said Niedzielski-Eichner. “There is a different benefit to be realized to the public with the park authority and public school [having] latitude with signs, but frankly I’m comfortable with them doing it within a regulatory context… not unfettered.”

Photo via Flickr/Alan Levine

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Tysons Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in the Tysons area.

We’ve scoured the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield and McLean. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Tuesday, Dec. 11

Best Trails for Winter Hikes
REI (8209 Watson Street)
Time: 7-8 p.m.

Winter doesn’t have to mean the end of your outdoor activities. This free discussion tomorrow will look at what trails and scenic tours are still available during the winter. The session is free, but advanced registration is required.

Kirby Road Sidewalk Community Meeting
Chesterbrook Elementary School Cafeteria
Time: 7 p.m.

This meeting will discuss the sidewalk extension project planned for Kirby Road near Chesterbrook, connecting the neighborhoods to the eastern side of the road to the shared use trail on the west side.

Wednesday, Dec. 12

A Conversation with Dr. Jerry Gordon
FCEDA Headquarters (8300 Boone Blvd)
Time: 2-5 p.m.

Dr. Jerry Gordon, President of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, will discuss development and question and answer session before a holiday reception at 3:30 p.m.

Lox and Legislators
Temple Rodef Shalom (2100 Westmoreland St)
Time: 7:30-9:30 a.m.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington is hosting a breakfast with elected officials and presenting its 2019 legislative agenda. Prices for an individual “mensch” ticket is $36.

Ha Ha Hannukah, A Jew-Ish Comedy Show
Tysons Biergarten (8346 Leesburg Pike)
Time: 8-9:30 p.m.

The Biergarten often has comedy shows, but this week’s special show will feature Jewish stand-up comedians. Doors open at 7 p.m. Entry to the show is free.

Thursday, Dec. 13

Annual Champagne Gala
McLean Wine Outlet (6727 Curran St)
Time: 5-8 p.m.

Champagnes and sparkling wines from around the world will be available for sampling at the annual Champagne Fest. Food and cheese spreads that pair with the champagnes will also be served. Tasting is $30 per person.

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If you need to get some Christmas shopping done, the Holiday Market will be open today and Saturday at the Tysons Biergarten (8346 Leesburg Pike).

Hot mulled wine and seasonal cocktails will also be served. Heaters will be located around the outdoor patio. The market will feature items from vendors like

But if you’re set on gifts, there’s still plenty to do around the Tysons area this weekend.

Today (Dec. 7)

Champagne Extravaganza (5-8 p.m.) — The Vienna Wine Outlet (114 Church St) is hosting a champagne extravaganza, offering a variety of wines and a sampling of cheeses to accompany them. The event is $30 per person and guests are asked to RSVP by phone at 703-639-0155.

Tomorrow (Dec. 8)

Pajama Party – The Polar Express (10-11:45 a.m.) — The Angelika Film Center (2911 District Ave) in the Mosaic District will host a hyper-casual screening of the Robert Zemeckis animated film The Polar Express. Tickets are $12.50. Hot chocolate and warm cookies will be available at the cafe for purchase.

Holiday Market Pop Up (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) — The jewelry and accessories store at 2905 District Ave is hosting a pop-up market with a hot chocolate bar, giveaways, and more. The first 25 people in line will receive a free gift.

Brunch with Santa (11 a.m.-2 p.m.) — An extensive brunch with a chance to take photos with Santa will be hosted at Tysons’ Ritz-Carlton hotel. Tickets are $64 for adults and $32 for children ages 2-10. There is no charge for children under 2 years old.

Cookies and Cocoa with Santa (1-3 p.m.) — Vienna Pediatric Dentistry (301 Maple Ave W) will host a cookies and cocoa event tomorrow. Santa is also scheduled to make an appearance. The event is free and open to the public, though small, unwrapped gifts to donate to Toys for Tots are encouraged.

Sunday (Dec. 9)

Ice Cream Jubilee Tysons Grand Opening (12-4 p.m.) — The ice cream store that recently opened as part of the Taste of UrbanSpace in Tysons Galleria is hosting a grand opening celebration and giveaway. Tickets for a free scoop of ice cream are already sold out, but RSVP to get on the waitlist.

Doe Paoro: Soft Power Tour (8 p.m.) — The singer-songwriter will be performing at Jammin’ Java in Vienna (227 Maple Ave E) on Sunday. The musical style is mostly pop, but includes influences of everything from soul to ancient Tibetan folk opera.

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One of Tysons’ oldest remaining restaurants could be demolished to make way for a new residential development.

An application submitted to the Fairfax County Department of Planning and zoning this summer proposes replacing J.R.’s Stockyards Inn, a two-story restaurant that’s occupied 8130 Watson Street for the last 40 years, with a new large-scale residential development. According to the application:

“After many years of successful community restaurant services, it is time to advance the transformation of this part of Tysons by pursuing a new vision for the Subject Property for future generations.”

The residential mixed-use building proposed for the site, designed by KGD Architecture, would consist of adjoining 11-story and 23-story towers. According to the application, the new building would be part of an ongoing effort to revitalize the older retail-commercial area near the Tysons Corner Center mall and set a precedent for future redevelopment in the area.

According to the architect’s website, the project would include 291 luxury apartments, 5,300 square feet of ground floor non-residential uses, and a 200-seat children’s theater. The proposal says the new building will also have three levels of below-grade parking and one level of podium parking.

J.R.’s Stockyards Inn, one of the first restaurants in Tysons to open outside of Tysons Corner Center mall, closed its daily restaurant operations in 2011 to focus on banquet and catering operations.

The proposal is currently under review by Fairfax County government staff and no hearing for the project has been scheduled so far.

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If you didn’t know it was there, it would be easy to miss the 1st Stage Theater.

The entrance is at the end of a long walkway over a garage and a new salsa/bachatta nightclub at 1524 Spring Hill Rd. But despite the humble appearance, for the last ten years has held the distinction of being Tysons’ only professional theater and one of the few arts venues in an area that can sometimes seem like a cultural vacuum.

Like the rest of Tysons, 1st Stage Theater has been finding an identity and working through growing pains.

The theater’s director, Alex Levy, took over the company four years ago. From the moment he walked in, Levy said he was in love with the location. Levy said the black box theater offers a large enough stage to produce shows of a grand scale, but is also close enough to its audience for a level of intimacy. But for the region, Tysons is still the frontier when it comes to arts and culture.

“It’s great being part of the [Washington D.C.] theater community, but it’s a challenge being at the edge of that,” said Levy.

Levy, who had previously worked in theater in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, said that before he moved here, there were people who tried to warn him away.

“People tried to warn me that it was a suburban community,” said Levy. “There’s this idea that art can only exist in the urban centers. But I think this shows that that’s not the case. I don’t think there’s anything we can’t do here.”

According to Levy, the theater has been growing in attendance by 15 percent year after year, but that’s starting to have its own challenges as well.

“We’re in a position where we’re starting to feel the limitations of our capacity here,” said Levy. “We have conversations all the time about what the next home might look like. We’re not leaving Tysons, and while we want to expand, we want to maintain that intimacy. But here, there’s a lot of things behind the stage we need to expand. “

Some of those constraints have become most palpable with the theater’s most recent production. Last week, “A Civil War Christmas”, directed by Deidra LaWan Starnes, opened at the theater. With a cast of 12 actors playing 48 characters, the play is ambitious for a black-box theater without any wings and a dining-room sized green room.

“We need better rehearsal rooms, we need more bathrooms, and we would love to be in a more high visibility area,” said Levy.

The theater has made some expansions, like a new rehearsal space they moved into next door to the black-box theater that allows the company to rehearse the next play while one is still being performed. There’s also costuming and storage space, but these are short term fixes for what Levy recognizes is a longer term challenge of the theater’s location.

But Levy said the script, written by Pulitzer Prize winner Paula Vogel, about disparate people coming together in a time of strife, was a message he thought was very relevant. Despite the challenges the scope of the play presented, Levy said he felt it was important for the theater to attempt.

“One thing that we always ask is ‘What does it mean to do this show at this time and this place?'” said Levy.

Next year, the 1st Stage Theater’s season is scheduled to continue in the spring with “The Brothers Size,” a play by life on the bayou by Tarell Alvin McCraney, the writer of “Moonlight.” Later that year, the company is scheduled to perform “columbinus,” a play about the Columbine High School shooting.

A “Civil War Christmas” also faced another challenge the week before its opening. Markus Williams, the musical director for production, died on Monday the week before opening night. The cause of his death is still being determined.

“Markus came to the theater as a musician,” said Levy. “This was his second time directing music for a play. He was always excited, and since it was all new there were no rules for him. He would play around with choral parts and he has a very staid personality that allowed for some exciting improvisation.”

There’s a photograph of Williams with a plaque honoring him in the lobby.

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Yombu, a startup at MakeOffices in Tysons that specializes in fingertip authentication, recently expanded its reach into New York City, California and Colorado.

Originally reported by DC Inno, fitness centers in Manhattan and other locations have started using Yombu to authenticate gym entrance and training sessions. Joe Falit, CEO of Yombu, told Tysons Reporter the push into New York came as part of Yombu’s partnership with Motionsoft, a management and software company that operates in fitness and entertainment centers across the country.

Falit said the gyms use the fingerprint software to authenticate people coming in and out of the facilities, as well as using it to sign for training sessions to avoid fraud.

Yombu is expanding into 35-40 new locations, of which 25 are in Manhattan. Falit said Yombu may expand into as many as new 60 locations in the near future.

In 2019, Falit said his aims are to add new distribution channels for the technology and continue making technical improvements.

“We still do payments, but overall we’re becoming [more of an] authentication company,” said Falit.

For now, though, Falit says he plans on doing more work from home as he helps raise his daughter, who was born last week.

Photo courtesy Yombu

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