Tysons, VA

(Updated at 12:05 on 10/30/2020) Town of Vienna residents and visitors are invited to enjoy the crisp fall weather and live entertainment while supporting local retail during the town’s first-ever Vienna Shop & Stroll.

It is the biggest and longest initiative organized by the Town of Vienna Economic Development Office, which will soon celebrate its one-year anniversary after being formed in November 2019. The town’s business liaison committee and the Vienna Business Association are partners on the event series.

Each Saturday through Dec. 12, designated shopping centers will host safe and socially distant seasonal activities and in-store promotions. Locals and visitors are encouraged to meet business owners and learn more about the history of the shopping centers.

“It grew out of the fact that we need to come up with creative ideas throughout this time,” said Natalie Monkou, the economic development manager for the Town of Vienna. “The more creativity, the better.”

The Vienna Shop & Stroll kicked off last Saturday (Oct. 24) at the Vienna Shopping Center (180 Maple Avenue), where seven businesses participated. It featured two pop-up opera concerts by emerging artists at the Kennedy Center’s Washington National Opera. The singers performed two micro-concerts from the Concert Truck, a Maryland-based pop-up truck that aims to make classical music more accessible.

“I’m actually pretty pleased with what happened on Saturday,” Monkou said. “It was set at one of the busiest shopping centers in town, so it was a great place to kick off what we could do for other locations.”

The pop-up concert truck was “a great way to remind people that Vienna is accessible to all,” Monkou said.

Future special programming will remain in the realm of music and art to avoid direct competition with the shopping centers. Concerts are also family-friendly and a great way to manage social-distancing guidelines, Monkou says.

“If we are going to provide something, we want it to be something that we can count on families to enjoy with little ones,” she said.

Because the Economic Development Department is so new, “everything we’re doing is a pilot,” Monkou said. “Depending on the participation from tenants and property managers, we’ll see if the [Shop & Stroll] is an annual thing.”

She emphasized engaging property owners because they have a role to play in the success of the town.

“When their businesses don’t do well, we all suffer,” she said. “We all benefit when we come together to do something that’s off the beaten path.”

Here are the dates and locations for upcoming Shop & Stroll Saturdays:

Correction: This article previously described the Vienna Business Association as the organizer of Shop & Stroll. The VBA is a partner with Vienna’s economic development office as the main organizer.

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Businesses and local governments alike are sorting out how best to continue local restaurant and retail operations as winter starts to make outdoor options less viable.

The Board of Supervisors announced plans yesterday to start loosening restrictions on outdoor tents, and the Town of Vienna is planning a virtual talk early next month to discuss winterization options and plans for local restaurants and entertainment businesses.

“Join the Town of Vienna Economic Development Department for our kickoff event on a two-part series on business winterization during COVID-19,” Vienna’s Economic Development Office said in an event listing. “We will address the ‘new normal’ for restaurant and entertainment businesses brought about by economic and social changes of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The first discussion, planned for Thursday, Oct. 8, will focus on stimulating and sustaining dining and entertainment as the temperature drops. According to the event page:

We will examine:

  • If outdoor dining and entertainment can help increase restaurant and retail sales throughout the health crisis
  • How restaurants can stimulate and sustain dining and entertainment as we move into colder weather
  • Locating funding and technical assistance to help with the expansion of outdoor and entertainment areas
  • Mastering and streamlining takeout and delivery procedures

The round table discussion is scheduled to include several local business owners and regional restauranteurs. The event is scheduled to run from 10-11:30 a.m. and accessible via Zoom link provided after registering.

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In a discussion last night (Tuesday) with Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert, several business and economic leaders talked about how locals could show support for their businesses, and how some businesses could do a better job of bringing in customers.

The simplest, and most obvious answer, was for locals to shop local when they can rather than buying through a company like Amazon. Jim Brooke, Town Business Liaison Committee chair, said people should also be more conscious now of taking the time to leave positive reviews online.

“Talk about local businesses on social media, leave positive Yelp reviews for local businesses,” Brooke said. “It’s easy to shop online, but if you want to have brick and mortar businesses in your community, you have to shop at them sometimes.”

Some industries have fared better than others in the pandemic, and Brooke said it’s particularly important to show support for the hardest hit, personal service businesses.

“Construction businesses and real estate have been doing pretty well, but businesses that are more intimate like hair stylists, anything that involves close interaction with people, aren’t doing very well,” Brooke said. “For my business and the people I work with, hospitality industry is really in trouble. Especially caterers, party planners, or party venues.” Read More

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Despite canceling in-person shows, Wolf Trap found a way to put their costume-making skills to work this summer by making and donating masks to the Vienna community. 

When Gov. Ralph Northam announced the stay-at-home order through June 10, Wolf Trap’s Opera Costume Department realized shows wouldn’t be happening and decided to find another way to employ some of their artisans. 

Initially, Wolf Trap just planned to make masks for its foundation board and staff, as well as artists from its opera residency. But they also knew they wanted to help the community, so they worked with the Vienna Business Association to provide masks to restaurants, according to Lee Anne Myslewski, the vice president for Opera and Classical Programming at Wolf Trap. 

“We determined that partnering with the VBA would get them to organizations and individuals that needed them,” said Myslewski. 

Of the 1,000 masks made by the company, 130 went to the VBA, according to Peggy James, the VBA’s executive director.

The masks are made from three-ply pre-shrunk cotton, and some mask material comes from unused off-cuts from previous shows, according to a newsletter from the VBA. They have large and medium masks to give out to Vienna businesses. 

“I really appreciate that they are big supporters of the Vienna community,” said James. “We are very appreciative of their membership and their generosity.” 

In addition to restaurants, masks were also given to nonprofits, teachers and other businesses around Vienna, according to James. 

While the mask donation was a hit, Wolf Trap says that it was just a one-time thing, and hopefully, they can resume performances soon. “We hope to be able to make opera sets and costumes again next summer,” said Myslewski.

Wolf Trap is still offering virtual concerts for both adults and children on their website.

Photos courtesy of Peggy James

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Mexican restaurant El Sol is currently under construction after recently opening in Vienna. 

El Sol has two locations, one in D.C. and one in Vienna’s Cedar Park Shopping Center. The restaurant is working on renovations and — as of a few months ago — was aiming to finish construction by the end of the summer or early fall of this year, according to Natalie Monkou, Vienna’s economic development director.

The parking lot construction and construction on the Cedar Lane Bridge, a central line to the shopping center, is making business tricky for businesses in the shopping center and other nearby businesses, according to Peggy James, the executive director of the Vienna Business Association

“I have been in three locally-owned restaurants over there, and it is really bad for all,” said James, emphasizing the importance of supporting El Sol during the construction.  

The Cedar Lane Bridge construction is scheduled to last from May through November, according to James. 

El Sol has been serving Mexican cuisine since 2014. Chef Alfredo Solis and his sister Jessica opened up the restaurant together and serve Mexico City staples such as huaraches, tortas, and tacos, according to the restaurant’s website. 

Another restaurant in the shopping center that is experiencing business trouble due to the construction is Crepes & Karak Cafe. The restaurant sells crepes, salads, coffee, smoothies and more.

“They have a nice social distance going on between their tables,” said James on the Vienna VA Business News Facebook group. 

James encouraged Vienna residents to continue to support these businesses during the pandemic and the construction. 

Photo via Lydia Russo on Vienna VA Foodies/Facebook

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A 5K in the Town of Vienna has raised $6,000 so far to benefit people facing food insecurity.

Caffe Amouri and the Vienna Business Association (VBA) are hosting the Feeding Families 5K, which started on Friday, May 15. The VBA announced the latest donation amount in an email today (Tuesday).

The route winds from Caffe Amouri to Auto Body of Vienna, then to Plaka Grill over to Waters Field and then up to Skorpio’s Maggio’s Greek Family Restaurant before heading back to Caffe Amouri.

Participants who sign up will have until May 31 to run the route and turn in their results via email. Prize categories include “best time running” and “best time walking.”

All donations — including the registration fee — will buy food for families in need, according to the VBA.

Image via Caffe Amouri/Facebook

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To support other businesses around Vienna, locally-owned French Press Printing created a fundraiser that has collected more than $7,000 so far.

By selling specially designed t-shirts, owner Sarah Bohn said that she not only managed to raise funds for her neighboring buisnesses challenged by COVID-19, but also drawn attention to the compassion shared by Vienna residents.

Part of the reason the fundraiser has been so successful is that “people want to be involved in their community,” she said. “People didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to participate.”

For $20 people can purchase a dark blue t-shirt, which comes in two styles and has white lettering listing the 35 participating buisnesses on the back and the word “community” on the front.

Though all of the local buisnesses featured benefit from the extra advertising, some of them chose to forgo the money and either request it be given to other local buisnesses who need it more or take it to donate to a charity of their choice, Bohn said.

Frame Factory, for example, took its share and purchased fresh groceries from Caboose Tavern to share with locals facing food insecurity, according to Bohn.

Originally, Bohn ran a trial fundraiser in April and brought back a second edition out of popular demand. New orders will be accepted through June 5, according to the website.

More than 100 shirts have been ordered so far in the second fundraising round, Bohn said.

Currently, Bohn said she is in the process of sending out the original orders, adding that people who ordered recently will receive their shirts after the June 5 order deadline. 

Despite the hardship many buisnesses are facing, Bohn commented on the “wonderful energy” around town. She said she noticed that more and more buisnesses are reaching out to one another and forming partnerships, finding ways they can coordinate packages and deals for customers. 

Around town, Bohn said she looks forward to watching people walk down the streets in their #supportingvienna shirts as a reminder of the small-town feel that Vienna shares with residents.

Besides just t-shirts, French Press Printing also sells pillows, custom made fabric items, glassware, bags and jewelry, according to its website.

Photo via French Press Printing/Facebook

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There is a new job opening for an economic development manager in the Town of Vienna.

This opening is part of a larger plan to revitalize local businesses. Responsibilities of the manager will include supporting unique and independent businesses, along with working under the town council to execute a new economic strategy.

Vienna Town Council members began discussing the implementation of the new position two years ago, in order to expand economic development and diversity business, Public Information Officer Lynne Coan told Tysons Reporter. She hopes that the new position will expand the opportunity for growth and bring in residents from neighboring communities to shop and dine.

The Town Business Liaison Committee and Vienna Business Association also support the implementation of this position, she said. Coan said the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors takes the two groups’ opinions on such matters into consideration, especially the Vienna Business Association, which is run by a private group.

Though specific tasks will be required of the new manager under the economic development plan, the manager will have room to “build on their strengths,” Coan said.

According to the job listing:

Bachelor’s degree, with major work in economics, business administration, marketing or closely related field; five years’ experience in corporate or municipal administration, economic development or marketing; some experience in commercial real estate, site selection process; substantial experience in interacting with and marketing to senior-level executives.

The pay ranges from $79,475-$127,956, per year, depending on experience. Funding for the new position will come from the general town budget.

https://twitter.com/chrisbruno84/status/1148600133833166855

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At an upcoming event, a local business owner is planning to talk about growing up with one of America’s most notorious white supremacists.

On Friday (April 12), the Vienna Business Association (VBA) is planning to host a lunch and discussion with Kelvin Pierce, a local business owner and son of a prominent racist and antisemitic author.

Today, Kelvin Pierce is the co-owner of Commonwealth Home Design, Inc., a Vienna-based residential design and remodeling firm operating since 1986.

Pierce’s father was William Luther Pierce, a neo-Nazi and author of the novels Hunter and The Turner Diaries, which inspired the Oklahoma City bombing.

A description for the event says it will be an uplifting discussion of hardship and recovery.

“Kelvin was profoundly influenced by his father while growing up and tells his story of rampant abuse, mental illness and eventual recovery,” the VBA website said.

The event is scheduled to be held in the Vienna Moose Lodge (9616 Courthouse Road) from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Advance RSVPs are due by 4 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday). Tickets for VBA members are $15 or $20 for non-members. Late registrations and walk-ins are $25.

Photo via Commonwealth Home Design

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