Lane Closure on Maple Avenue Starts Today — “Starting [Monday], the right lane on the westbound side of Maple Avenue will be closed between Courthouse Road and Pleasant Street to enable work crews to construct right-of-way improvements. Lane closure will run from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Friday.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]
McLean Author Helps Afghan Refugee — “Since arriving at his sponsor Toby Harnden’s home in McLean, Rohullah Sadat has had a quality of living he could only dream about when he was trapped in Afghanistan as a regime was collapsing. But he is kept up at night knowing that even if his dreams come true here, some of them are left unfinished as long as his family remains in Afghanistan.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Metro to Slightly Trim Train Wait Times — “Starting Monday, weekday waits on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines will be reduced from a half-hour to 20 minutes, on average, matching the frequency of the Green and Yellow lines, Metro said. Trains on the Red line, Metro’s busiest, will continue to arrive about every 12 minutes.” [The Washington Post]
Tysons Corner Center Theft Leads to Arrest in Carjacking — Fairfax County police arrested three men at 5:55 p.m. on Feb. 8 after getting called about a man stealing property from a store in the mall. Officers determined the man’s car had been stolen during a carjacking in a nearby jurisdiction, and a stolen, loaded handgun was also found on one of the men. [FCPD]
Petersen Predicts Masks to Become Optional in Schools Soon — Gov. Glenn Youngkin will likely use an emergency clause to make a bill letting parents opt out of school mask requirements take effect on March 1, state Sen. Chap Petersen said at a town hall on Saturday (Feb. 12). FCPS announced last week that it will make masks optional when community COVID-19 transmission drops to “moderate” levels for seven consecutive days. [Patch]
For the rest of February, Vienna Inn customers can thank local first responders by adding a gift card to their next hot dog order.
The restaurant announced on Monday (Feb. 7) that it hopes to give away 62 gift cards worth $10 each to first responders as part of a month-long celebration of its 62-year anniversary.
Aside from the introduction of an outdoor tent in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Vienna Inn remains much the same as when it opened its doors at 120 Maple Avenue East in February 1960.
The establishment is known for its chili dogs, rustic sports-bar atmosphere, and “honor system” approach to payment, where patrons get their own drinks and tell cashiers what they ordered instead of getting a bill from a server.
“After spending the past 2 years operating and making it through a pandemic, we are looking forward to celebrating,” Vienna Inn owner Marty Volk said in a press release. “It’s great to see the families and teams back in again.”
In addition to the gift cards for first responders, the 62nd anniversary celebration will include meal deals with special gifts for children 12 and under, weekly social media contests, National Chili Day giveaways, and a food drive to support the nonprofit Food for Others, where all participants will be able to get $2 hot dogs.
Say goodbye to Wade Hampton Drive, because by July, the name will be a relic like Jefferson Davis Highway.
The Vienna Town Council voted unanimously after a public hearing last night (Monday) to rename the Maple Avenue side street Liberty Lane, removing the moniker of Confederate Lt. Gen. Wade Hampton III.
The council also decided to reimburse the residents living along the road for the issues the renaming will cause and set a date for when the changeover will be complete.
The consensus among the Wade Hampton residents who spoke at the public hearing was that while a name change would be disruptive, requiring them to file address changes with various governmental and business entities, they understood and supported the move.
“It was a wrong done many years ago, and the Town of Vienna has to take some blame for it, and it should be righted,” Wade Hampton resident Sharon Pott said of naming a street after Hampton.
Identifying herself as a resident of Wade Hampton for close to 42 years, Pott said she supports renaming the road but noted that “it’s going to require quite a lot of effort on everybody’s part.”
Several Wade Hampton residents advocated for changing the name to Roland Street, which would connect it to an existing road in the neighborhood, but others objected to that name as well.
DeArmond Carter, a member of the nonprofit Historic Vienna who initiated the push to rename Wade Hampton Drive, expressed opposition to the potential namesake of the road, J.B. Roland, saying he held racist views and sympathies to the Confederacy.
“Continuing Roland Street would be an insult to Vienna’s African American community,” she said, recommending that the road instead take her family’s name in recognition of their 160-year history in the community.
Other residents preferred Liberty Lane as the replacement, citing the Town of Vienna’s role in getting Virginia to ratify Liberty Amendments Month as an annual celebration.
With the unanimously approved motion, the town council agreed that residents living on that road should be reimbursed $500 for the inconvenience, and that the changeover should go into effect on July 4.
“I didn’t want to go too cheap and I didn’t want to make it look like we were paying the residents off to make the change,” Councilmember Chuck Anderson said when some council members questioned the amount of the reimbursement. “I wanted to have a number that would start a conversation. It’s going to take time to find out what needs to be done to make the transition of changing the name.”
City staff will work with residents over the next four months to help them with the change.
Photo via Google Maps
Deadline to Update Metro Fare Card Looms — “Starting March 1, fare cards issued before 2012 will not function throughout the transit system because Metro upgraded fare gates at most stations that don’t sync with older cards. The transit agency for nearly a year has tried to notify owners of the older cards, but few have switched as ridership hovers at historically low levels.” [The Washington Post]
Tysons Corner Center Celebrates Lunar New Year — The mall partnered with the Asian American Chamber of Commerce to host a Lunar New Year celebration on Saturday (Feb. 5). Traditional musical and dance performances by local groups ushered in the year of the tiger, which began on Feb. 1. [WDVM]
Stolen Vehicle Found in McLean — A 19-year-old Maryland resident was arrested for grand larceny on Jan. 28 after a Fairfax County police officer stopped his 2021 Toyota Corolla on the George Washington Parkway at I-495 around 2:03 p.m. The vehicle had been reported stolen from a nearby jurisdiction. [FCPD]
Fairfax County Introduces Hope Cards — “Fairfax County has joined more than five dozen jurisdictions in Virginia in offering the Hope Card program — a way to enforce a civil protective order and a handy resource for victims of family abuse. A Hope Card is an easy to read and carry laminated, wallet-sized card that contains all the essential information of an existing, permanent civil protection order.” [Fairfax County Government]
Vienna Opens Registration for Spring Classes — “Spring Class registration begins Monday for Town residents and Feb. 14 for people who live outside the Vienna town limits. Check out the Vienna Parks and Recreation program guide now.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]
The family behind YamaChen’s Sushi House would’ve preferred to open their new Vienna location sooner, but thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, later will have to do.
As noted by Patch in December, the Japanese restaurant is moving into 320 Maple Avenue West, taking over a 1,500 square-foot space at Vienna Plaza Shopping Center previously filled by Jersey Mike’s Subs.
YamaChen owner Si Chen told Tysons Reporter last week that they were supposed to open in December, but construction has taken longer than anticipated, as the pandemic continues to disrupt global supply chains.
“The pandemic has definitely slowed down the process a lot,” she said, adding that she hopes to open around the end of February.
Primarily based in Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads, YamaChen began in 2003 as a “hole in the wall” with just four tables but is now looking to expand nationwide, its website says.
“It’s a very pretty, little town,” Chen said when asked about the team’s interest in Vienna.
YamaChen will join the town’s growing array of options for Japanese cuisine, including Sushi Yoshi on Church Street, Sweet Ginger in Danor Plaza, and Sushi Yama, which is located in the adjacent shopping center. The most recent addition, Sushi Koji, opened at Cedar Park Shopping Center in December.
Chen says her family’s restaurants are distinguished by the special sushi recipes they use, developed by chef Andy Chen.
YamaChen emphasizes freshness with its seafood providers and a welcoming atmosphere for diners, according to its website. The chain also makes its own sauces in house.
The Town of Vienna is laying some ground rules for residents eager to get busy with their birds and bees.
Other proposed new uses range from community gardens and shared kitchens to electric vehicle chargers and independent living facilities, according to a draft that the Vienna Town Council will discuss in a conference session tonight (Wednesday).
Many of these activities can already be found in Vienna, but explicitly putting them in the zoning code will enable the town to impose regulations, including on where they can be located.
“New uses were based mostly on market demand and uses that are not currently clearly stated in our code and require standards, such as keeping of chickens, honey bees and domestic animals,” Michael D’Orazio, the town’s acting planning and zoning director, and acting deputy director Kelly O’Brien said by email.
Working with consultant ZoneCo, which was hired to assist with the Code Create Vienna project in the summer of 2020, town staff also looked at nearby jurisdictions to see what new uses should be added.
Public hearings on the revised zoning code are expected to start this fall, but town staff say they have been discussing a proposed update to the timeline with the town council.
Here are some of the major changes proposed in the latest draft, which was released in November:
Vienna’s zoning ordinance currently doesn’t address outdoor lighting in residential neighborhoods and has few rules for lighting in commercial areas, according to town staff.
Newly proposed residential standards require controlled beams for exterior lights used to illuminate signs, flags, statues, and other objects as well as architecture or landscaping, so drivers and pedestrians are shielded from the glare.
Outdoor search lights, lasers, and strobe lights will be prohibited.
“The residential standards are in response to concerns from some residents about a lack of lighting standards as well as to addresses potential safety issues such as preventing glare for pedestrians and motorists,” staff said. Read More
ACLU of Virginia Sues Over Optional Mask Order — The civil rights organization filed a lawsuit against Gov. Glenn Youngkin yesterday (Tuesday), saying that his executive order making face masks optional in schools “shows a reckless disregard for students with disabilities.” The move comes as Fairfax County Public Schools prepares for a hearing in its joint lawsuit in Arlington County Circuit Court at 1 p.m. today (Wednesday). [WUSA9]
County Launches Black History Project — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and public school system are collaborating on a Black/African American Experience Project to capture, share, and preserve those aspects of the county’s history. The effort includes collecting oral histories, supporting student activities and research, and identifying options for new historical markers. [Fairfax County Government]
Tysons Software Company Expands — “Tysons’ Appian Corp. has been on a fierce hiring spree, and now it’s adding more space to accommodate those new employees. The low-code software company, which has seen demand for its products grow during the pandemic, is taking on two additional floors at its headquarters in the former Gannett building at 7950 Jones Branch Drive.” [Washington Business Journal]
Funding Approved for Vienna Stream Restoration — “The second phase of the Bear Branch stream-restoration project in Vienna will move forward, following unanimous approval Jan. 25 by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. The project…is designed to reduce nutrients and bolster water quality in the Accotink Creek watershed.” [Sun Gazette]
Metro Offers Hiring Bonus to Bus Drivers — “Metro is offering up to a $2,500 pay incentive as part of a new campaign to hire more bus drivers. Metro, like transit agencies and other industries nationwide, is facing a staffing shortage due to the pandemic and is looking to hire nearly 70 bus drivers needed to meet the current bus service schedule.” [WMATA]
Vienna’s hopes for a revitalized Cedar Park Shopping Center hit a bump last month with the departure of a key tenant.
El Sol Restaurante & Tequileria closed its doors in mid-January, confirmed a worker at El Sol’s original restaurant in D.C., which remains open.
Brother-and-sister owners Alfredo and Jessica Solis opened the Vienna El Sol in Suites C and D at 262 Cedar Lane in February 2020, when construction to renovate the center was still underway. A month later, COVID-19 would prompt restaurants across the state to temporarily shut down.
The economic challenges brought by the pandemic, including a nationwide shortage of staffing in the food service industry, ultimately proved untenable for El Sol.
“Like many restaurants in the past couple of years since the pandemic began, El Sol Vienna is a casualty of the circumstances created by these unprecedented times,” Alfredo Solis said. “We struggled with business and retaining employees and in the end, my sister and I felt it best to close those doors and focus more of our efforts towards supporting our other restaurants that weren’t hit as hard. We’re grateful to the Vienna community for all of their support.”
In addition to the D.C. El Sol, Alfredo and Jessica Solis continue to operate Mezcalero, which has locations in D.C. and Alexandria, and Anafre, which serves tacos, pizza, and sandwiches on 14th Street in D.C.
While the banner advertising the new venue, as seen in those posts, had been taken down when Tysons Reporter visited on Saturday (Jan. 28), a worker inside confirmed that the new restaurant will have a different management team and is not connected to El Sol.
El Sabor Grill will join the Japanese restaurant Sushi Koji, which opened at Cedar Park Shopping Center in late December. Openings for the chicken wing chain America’s Best Wings and Turkish restaurant Lezzet are also anticipated early this year.
The mall is also preparing to add Toby’s Homemade Ice Cream, an Arlington-based ice cream shop that will take over the space vacated in August by Crepes and Karak Cafe.
First Washington Realty, which owns Cedar Park Shopping Center, did not return an email requesting comment by publication time.
Virginia Declares State of Emergency Ahead of Possible Snow — “The National Weather Service is calling for 2 to 3 inches of snow in the District of Columbia and the immediate suburbs in Northern Virginia, along with Fredericksburg. Western Fairfax and Prince William counties, along with Loudoun County, are in the zone where only 1 to 2 inches of snow is expected.” [Patch]
Regular Metrobus Service to Return — Metro will restore regular weekday bus service on Feb. 7, as COVID-19 case rates among employees start to decline. The transit system has been operating at only about 75% of its usual service since Jan. 10 due to a shortage of drivers, leading to reports of buses not showing up and students being stranded. [DCist]
Four Displaced by VITA Tysons Fire — An unattended candle started an apartment fire in the 7900 block of Tysons One Place at 4:02 p.m. on Wednesday (Jan. 26). The fire was extinguished by a sprinkler, but four residents were displaced, and there was $3,000 in property damages, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department says. [FCFRD/Twitter]
Vienna Seeks New Planning Director — “Vienna Planning and Zoning Director Cindy Petkac has stepped down, town officials said at the Vienna Town Council’s Jan. 24 meeting. Petkac departed in December last year because she ‘wanted to pursue other professional opportunities,’ said Town Manager Mercury Payton.” [Sun Gazette]
Founders Row Restaurants Confirmed — The new casual, American concept Ellie Bird will be joined at the upcoming Falls Church development by Arlington-based seafood restaurant Chasin’ Tails, the fast-casual Roll Play Vietnamese Grill, and Vietnamese restaurant-bar Nue. Founders Row is under construction now but reportedly nearing completion. [Falls Church News-Press]
McLean Central Park Meeting Postponed — “The virtual public meeting originally scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022 to present the revised McLean Central Park Development Concept Plan has been rescheduled. A new meeting date is now confirmed for Wednesday, March 2, 2022 at 7 p.m.” [FCPA]
The face behind Vienna’s newest Italian restaurant is a familiar one for D.C.-area foodies.
Currently taking shape at 144 Church Street NW, Roberto’s Italiano Ristorante comes from Nancy Sabbagh and her husband, chef Roberto Donna, who has earned both renown and infamy over his decades-long culinary career.
Sabbagh, who owns the restaurant and will run its business operations, says the concept for Roberto’s is something that she and her husband have been contemplating for a while based on their past travels in Italy.
“We knew we wanted to work together where I would be the front of the house and Roberto the creative culinary vision,” she said by email. “We both love the Italian hospitality and truly wanted to create a small place where our guests felt the love both in their service and food.”
Sabbagh told Tysons Reporter that all permits have been approved, and she tentatively hopes to be able to open in early February.
Fairfax County records show that a final occupancy permit for Roberto’s was processed and pre-issued on Jan. 20. Applications for alcohol licenses are pending, as of Dec. 13, according to the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority.
Drawn to Vienna for “the charm and feeling of community it exudes,” Sabbagh says she and Donna considered taking the space at 144 Church Street prior to the pandemic, but Covid’s arrival led them to pivot instead to providing weekly family meals and hosting virtual wine dinners.
Roberto’s took on new life late last year, when the Asian restaurant Red Galanga closed on Dec. 1 after five years at 144 Church Street, citing staffing shortages.
While Covid has presented obstacles to opening a new restaurant, Sabbagh says the Town of Vienna has been “so helpful” in providing assistance during the permitting process.
Though she didn’t provide details about specific dishes, she says Roberto’s will offer an aperitivo hour, tastings, wine dinners, private events, and catering as well as a la carte and to-go menus. Donna will also provide some tableside service.
“Roberto’s will provide diners with truly authentic Italian cuisine and a menu that will reflect the season and highlight local and truly excellent vendors,” Sabbagh said. “We are honored to be neighbors with such good restaurants like Bazin’s, Blend , Clarity, Bonaroti and Pazzo Pomodoro.”
A native of Italy’s Piedmont region, Donna launched his career in the U.S. with the popular Galileo, which opened in D.C. in 1984. He won a James Beard Award in 1996 and mentored many chefs who went on to open their own restaurants.
However, legal troubles started to overshadow his food in the late 2000s. He faced a slew of lawsuits over unpaid rent and wages and pled guilty to felony embezzlement in 2010 for pocketing meals taxes from the shuttered Bebo Trattoria in Crystal City.
According to Sabbagh, the restaurant’s art and decor will pay tribute to her and her husband’s experiences in Italy over their 20 years of marriage.
“We look forward to truly having fun working together,” she wrote. “That is what life is all about and providing our guests with great food, service, wine and hospitality!”