Tysons, VA

In lieu of rolling down the window to put some cash in a firefighter’s boot, those looking to help out their local Vienna Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary can get dinner at Chipotle on Maple Avenue today..

A portion of the proceeds from orders placed at the Chipotle at 213 Maple Avenue E. in Vienna today (Tuesday) between 5-9 p.m. will go to the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department. If the event page is brought up on a smartphone or the cashier is told you’re there to support the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department, 33% of the proceeds will be donated to the organization.

For those reticent to buy from the restaurant in-person, orders placed on Chipotle.com or through the Chipotle app for pickup can use the promo code FV32C9F.

Another fundraiser-for-dinner option is the Chick-Fil-A, which is having a mobile order fundraiser where those ordering from the Vienna location can have a portion of their order go to Flint Hill Elementary School if they mention it in the order.

Photo via Vienna Volunteer Fire Department Auxillary/Facebook

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A representative from consulting firm Kimley-Horn presented the next steps to improve transportation through the Maple Avenue area to the Vienna Town Council for its consideration on Monday.

Following surveys of Vienna residents conducted by the town and Kimley-Horn, several portions of the Maple Avenue Multimodal Study were highlighted as top priorities and presented to the council. According to the town’s survey, residents identified eight items as top priorities.

Among those items are the redesign of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail crossings, integration of leading pedestrian intervals (LPI), filling vital sidewalk gaps and providing traffic impact analysis guidelines. A streetscape master plan and design, a long-range transportation master plan, parking and demand study, and the redesign of Church Street and Lawyers Road intersection rounded out the top concerns.

Jinks shared the priorities with the council while echoing the redesign of the W&OD Trail Crossing as one of the public works department staff’s top projects to “start to find funding and implement as soon as we can.”

While Kimley-Horn conducted independent engagement meetings with community members to address challenges or concerns, many of the top priorities were the same as reflected in the town’s survey.

Based on the meetings and a survey of the baseline condition of Maple Avenue, consultant David Samba from Kimley-Horn presented solutions to the council that could be implemented in the next five to 10 years. The projects presented would address some travel conditions or challenges – not just traffic with vehicles, but with biking, walking and transit experiences.

Kimley-Horn’s study looked at a single future development scenario including 13 mixed-use developments across the corridor that would add about 700 vehicle trips in the morning and 500 vehicle trips in the afternoon. According to Samba, analysis showed that even with the addition of the traffic, Maple Avenue would continue to function similar to how it does now.

“It gave us confidence that if we address today’s challenges, we’d be addressing tomorrow’s challenges at the same time,” Samba said.

The survey identified a number of challenges, but primarily established public concern that multiple means of travel in the area need to be addressed, not just the automobile experience.

Kimley-Horn presented 18 projects to the council with considerations for near-, mid- and long-term recommendations.

Short-term recommendations include the redesign of the intersection of Church Street and Mill Street, W&OD Trail Crossing redesign, implementing leading pedestrian intervals, and all way stops. They also include trail management or extension on Locust Street, redesign of the Pleasant Street and Courthouse Road intersection, roadway operation and safety improvement, filling sidewalk gaps and redesign of the Nutley Street and Courthouse Road intersection.

Mid-term recommendations include a local circulator, a bicycle network, Capital Bikeshare, curb reconstruction and bus stop enhancements on Maple Avenue.

The firm lists redesign of Branch Broad and Beulah Road intersection, raised medians and a Maple Avenue off-peak parking plan as long-term recommendations.

Of the 18 recommendations, Samba listed six as the top priorities:

  • The redesign of the intersection of Church Street and Mill Street
  • W&OD Trail Crossing Redesign
  • Leading pedestrian intervals
  • A local circulator
  • A bicycle network
  • Filling sidewalk gaps.

Following the presentations by Jinks and Samba, Council member Howard Springsteen expressed gratitude for the project documents, but also emphasized the effect the COVID-19 pandemic is having on traffic and commuting.

“I think your study is a very good reference document out there that we can look at,” Springsteen said of the Kimley-Horn report. “But I think right now, we’re just trying to keep our heads above water with the pandemic.”

Image via Town of Vienna 

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Despite anticipation of a steep drop off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Town of Vienna has managed higher revenue on its meals tax than expected.

The meals tax generated 80% revenue for the first month of the new fiscal year, July, compared to last year. During pre-pandemic months, the monthly average for meals tax was $250,000, while July’s revenue came in at $194,000.

While there have been concerns for lower meals tax through the upcoming colder months, the generated revenue has left the town “pleasantly surprised,” according to finance director Marion Serfass. In preparation for a steeper drop off, the town budgeted for 50% of the pre-pandemic revenue.

Since March, five restaurants in the town have either moved or closed, while only one has reopened.

A contributing factor for the steady meals tax has been the stable business for drive-thru and high-end restaurants. During the pandemic months, there has been “no noticeable” drop off for drive-thru restaurants compared to previous meals tax revenue. The assumption for the trend is that people feel safer utilizing drive-thru restaurants, according to Serfass.

The meals tax revenue — a 3% tax on each meal sold — is used to pay back bonds issued for capital improvement projects.

Though the revenue has been higher than expected and the town is gradually recovering from the effects of the pandemic, there are still concerns about how local businesses may be affected by the pandemic if it stretches into next year.

In a discussion on Tuesday with Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert, and various business and economic leaders, Town Economic Development Manager Natalie Monkou cautioned that businesses might need to adjust to the ongoing health crisis.

“We’re anticipating the health crisis to continue into 2021 and we want to be able to help our business community pivot,” Monkou said.

File photo

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After years of delays, arguments and a little arson: Vienna Market at the former Marco Polo restaurant site (245 Maple Avenue) is coming back for review at tonight’s Vienna Board of Architectural Review (BAR) meeting.

The project is a mixed-use development planned to include 44 luxury condominium townhomes and 8,200 square feet of retail.

The designs for the project were approved last September, but Northfield Development and NV Homes are headed back to the BAR after a few errors in the design process came to light.

According to a memo from the Town of Vienna:

  • During the permitting phase of the project, several front façade configurations were shown reversed from the original approved elevation drawings. The facades were modified to match the interior floor plans. The floor plans shown in the original drawings would require stairwells on exterior walls;
  • The final site plan review process revealed an error in the 35′ height calculation on the rear of the parcel that required reducing the height of two additional town homes and removing the roof access structure on one townhome
  • An error in the original rendering showed the end elevations on Church Street in the incorrect lot order. The Church Street elevation schemes have been adjusted to match the front elevation scheme proposed.

Town Code states that any changes to the approved design, even fixing errors, has to be approved.

Rendering via Northfield Construction and Development

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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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As her friends were leaving home for college, Caroline Trotter was leaving her home in Vienna for the van life.

Caroline’s decision to live a van, touring the country instead of beginning her freshman year of college in a classroom during a pandemic was a “genius” move in hindsight, her father Paul Trotter said.

Instead of following tradition and moving into a cramped and static dorm room somewhere, Trotter opted for a mobile one — a white, 2016 Ram ProMaster. Caroline, 18, left just after Labor Day and has far made it as far as Colorado, posting photos along the way.

With the COVID-19 pandemic closing college campus and keeping students stuck in dorms, Caroline’s decision in January to opt out of the normal freshman experience and to drive around the U.S. in a van seems like a prophetic move. The James Madison High School graduate was always “a bit of a non-conformist” her father said, so when his daughter came to him with the idea, he wasn’t surprised.

“I think it looks genius now,” Paul said. “It takes it from kind of being a weird idea that she thought of to being a pretty smart decision, to be honest. Especially with a lot of her peers are either back at home or are stuck in their dorm rooms kind of isolated and locked down.”

But just because is living in a van, doesn’t mean Caroline won’t be in school. While her father Paul said her travels will be a learning experience for his daughter she will be taking online classes for at least a year before she decides to give up the van life.

Paul who considers himself “handy” had to consult YouTube videos on how to convert the used-van into a fully-livable mobile apartment, complete with a toilet, sink, stove, bed and shower. The van is partially powered by solar panels on the roof with an internal ceiling fan that helps keep the van cool inside.

“We wanted it to be something that she could live out of basically full-time,” Paul said.

While she has no set plans, her father said, she will follow the warm weather around the country as falls becomes into winter, but just like her peers in schools, she will still have to be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, Paul said.

And for those who question a father who let his daughter forgo the traditional college life in favor of the van life, Paul has an answer.

“No one ever goes to see their therapist in their 30s because their parents supported them too much,” he said.

Photo courtesy Paul Trotter

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Hawk & Griffin, a new British pub coming to Vienna will offer guests the chance to enjoy British culture.

Located at 405 W. Maple Ave, the restaurant and bar will offer a place for people to hang out with friends and family, according to co-owners Michael Burgess and Thomas Kyllo.

The space will feature amenities such as a stage for live music performances and viewing parties of sports like rugby and soccer, a regular dining area, a bar, an outdoor sitting area, an area for patrons to toss around some darts and two “snugs.”

Originally intended as a “proper” place for women to hang out in British history, Kyllo said that two snugs included in the space will be meant for small group gathering places where people can host book clubs, parties or even use as a space for musical jam sessions.

The exterior of the building itself is designed after the Edwardian Era, which ranged from 1900-1915, according to Kyllo.

Menu items will include traditional British fare, according to award-winning chief Burgess, who also owns Pure Pasty in Vienna.

Along with dinner and lunch, the pub will also offer brunch on weekends, the owners said.

The inspiration for the eatery came to the owners after they felt there was a gap in the market for a mid-range, mid-price place around town that emphasizes the comfort of its guests.

“We’ve got great restaurants in Vienna, there’s no shortage of that,” Burgess said, but added that there isn’t anywhere where people can feel like they’re walking into a small British village for a pint.

Tieing the eatery back to the community, the owners said they decided to name the pub after James Madison High School and Marshall High School, where Kyllo volunteers as a coach and whose mascots are the Warhawks and Griffen.

“We want everything down to the name to reflect the community we are in,” Kyllo said.

The anticipated opening date for the pub is March 1, 2021, according to Kyllo, who said that the COVID-19 pandemic threw a curveball into their plans.

“Early next year hopefully we’ll have a better path out of this and people will be used to going back into restaurants and indoors,” said Kyllo.

Images courtesy Hawk & Griffin Pub

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Jennifer McLaughlin, owner of the Caboose Brewing Company, is just starting to catch her breath and take a look back at the last few months of the local brewery not only trying to survive, but do some good for their communities.

It has not been an easy road for Caboose, which operates Caboose Tavern in Vienna (520 Mill Street NE) and Caboose Commons in Merrifield (2918 Eskridge Road).

“It’s been quite a whirlwind,” McLaughlin said. “Back in March, when this all went down, we had to let go of a lot of people. They don’t have a ton of resources. It was awful. We were letting go of people we weren’t sure would be able to pay rent and buy food and all those things. We lined them up with resources as best we could but that wasn’t really enough.”

As the pandemic worsened, McLaughlin said they began to hear stories about how hard fresh food was for people to come by. It was difficult for people to get to grocery stores and many food banks carried only canned goods, but McLaughlin said it occurred to them that they could access fresh food supply chains through their own vendors.

“So we started a grassroots effort with local schools and a couple of churches,” McLaughlin said. “At one point, we were doing hundreds of grocery donations a week.”

McLaughlin said Caboose was delivering milk, proteins, and produce to families in need. At its peak, the program was delivering hundreds of grocery boxes. In total, McLaughlin said Caboose has put together and delivered 915 grocery boxes.

The grocery boxes were delivered by volunteers and Caboose received donations, though never enough to fully cover the cost of buying the groceries.

“The numbers are way less than they used to be, ” McLaughlin said. “We’re now down to 10 families, which is down from 40 last week.”

Caboose also donated a total of 869 meals to Inova Hospital.

Caboose Tavern in Vienna was closed for a while when the pandemic started. Caboose Commons at the Mosaic district never closed, but it was also not very active during the worst of it. McLaughlin said the space gave management a chance to take a step back and assess the restaurant’s values and priorities.

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Vienna local Sydney Lehrman quit her job a week before the coronavirus pandemic shut things down, and then couldn’t find work. So with free time on her hands, she turned to one of her favorite pastimes — cooking. 

When Lehrman decided to compile the recipes she’d made over the course of the pandemic into a basic Google document, she hadn’t anticipated the overwhelming, positive community feedback she received. The collection of recipes turned into a 49-page document, the Quarantine Cookbook, with recipes for dishes such as jambalaya, salted caramel pretzel snickerdoodles and sausage tortellini soup. 

“I love the desserts because I have such a sweet tooth,” said Lehrman. 

Back in March, Lehrman was quarantining with her boyfriend’s family in Maine and was unable to find a new job because of the coronavirus. Lehrman and the family turned to cooking many nights, so she decided to commemorate their favorite recipes. 

“I put all of them together in a way that I could keep them and remember, and have something positive to look back on,” said Lehrman.

 In the middle of August, Lehrman posted in the Vienna VA Foodies Facebook group asking if anyone was interested in a copy of the cookbook, and if so, she would direct message it to them. After receiving more than 200 messages of interest, she shared the link to the cookbook to the entire Facebook group. 

 “I still got a ton of messages from people thanking me,” said Lehrman. “I’m really happy that other people like it. Life is too short not to enjoy good food.”

Lehrman is contemplating publishing a recipe book in the future as a gift. In the meantime, readers can view the Quarantine Cookbook via the public Google document.

Photo by Sydney Lehrman

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Prompted by the pandemic, a Tysons based company is stepping up to fill orders for personal protective equipment in the D.C. area.

Personal Protective Equipment USA offers a variety of products including face shields, sneeze guards, custom masks and gloves, the website said.

So far, notable local customers include Vienna Va Foodies, Inca Social and The Town of Vienna, according to owner Ramiro Parada.

“Vienna Foodies have already ordered close to 1000 masks from us to raise funds for first responders and underprivileged families,” Parada said. “It’s been a great hit.”

Though the fundraiser is now closed, according to the Vienna Va Foodies Facebook page, the group was selling red, baby blue and black masks for $10 each.

Unlike similar products, the masks by Personal Protective Equipment USA include “Nano Silver Antimicrobial Technology” which Parada said is supposed to be more comfortable and breathable.

Along with Vienna based groups, over 700 orders have been placed with businesses in the D.C. area so far.

“Orders keep pouring in,” he said.

In the near future, Parada said the company will be doing its own fundraiser to collect toys for kids at the Children’s Hospital in Fairfax. After his own son was previously diagnosed with stage four cancer at age three, Parada decided to help other kids fighting for their lives.

Anyone who is interested in placing an order can visit the shop’s website.

Photo via Personal Protective Equipment USA/ Facebook

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