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Micro-roast coffee shop brewing in ‘historic’ Vienna office formerly filled by bank

A proposed sign for Frame Coffee Roasters at 302 Maple Avenue West in Vienna (via Best Sign USA/Town of Vienna)

A new micro-roast coffee shop hopes to beautify an aging office building in the Town of Vienna.

Frame Coffee Roasters recently got the Vienna Board of Architectural Review’s approval to add signage above its future entrance at 302 Maple Avenue West. It will fill a ground-floor space vacated a couple of years ago by Burke & Herbert Bank, which relocated.

The shop will serve cold sandwiches, pastries and madeleines to go with the coffee, which will be made from beans roasted by owner Johnny Lee.

“I want to make this space as a gallery or some kind of art museum,” Lee told FFXnow, explaining the intent behind the shop’s name. “As the customer comes in, they should feel a very cozy and comfortable area and with some big frames for some beautiful art posters, and also good smells from the coffee and some good food with the coffee.”

This will be Lee’s first business, but he has experience as a barista and learned how to roast coffee beans in his native South Korea.

When he first saw Maple Avenue, he was struck by the abundance of restaurants, delis and other “beautiful shops.” The street’s role as a connector for commuters going to and from D.C. added to its appeal.

“I thought it was the best place for grabbing a coffee in the morning,” Lee said.

After recently obtaining a final needed building permit, Lee anticipates that construction will take about two months, putting Frame Coffee on track for an April opening.

At the Jan. 19 meeting, BAR members lauded the proposal as an aesthetic improvement over the previous tenant, particularly since it’ll remove a navy blue awning that wraps around the front of the building.

“I think this is a good design for this particular building,” BAR Chair Roy Baldwin said. “I like the idea that the awning is removed. This building is verging on historic, because it’s been around for a long time.”

The two-story office building was constructed in 1962, according to Fairfax County land records. Current owner Vienna Property Management LLC acquired the property for $2.4 million on Feb. 1, 2016.

Though it’s not an official historic site, one board member called 302 Maple Avenue a rare example of a “true modern building” in Vienna. Baldwin said the awning had “never looked really right,” commending Frame Coffee for a plan that “respects the building.”

The proposed sign will consist of illuminated channel letters that appear black during the day and white at night, per the BAR staff report.

“I think the signs that change from night to day or day to night are actually pretty elegant,” board member Paul Layer said, adding that the coloring “definitely goes well” with the building’s beige facade.

A representative for Frame Coffee Roasters confirmed the business will repaint and do any necessary repairs on the area that will be newly exposed once the awning is removed.

While Vienna residents often lament the town’s abundance of banks, this is the second former bank set to be converted into an eatery. The BAR approved plans to turn the vacant SunTrust Bank at 501 Maple Avenue West into a Yellow Diner last summer.