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Vienna’s Blend 111 is closing, to be replaced by a French bistro

The restaurant Blend 111 in Vienna will close for good on Saturday, Aug. 12 (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Tomorrow will be the chance to taste Blend 111’s tapas and cocktails.

The European and Latin American fusion restaurant will serve diners one final time on Saturday (Aug. 12) after more than four years at 111 Church Street in Vienna, an employee confirmed.

In its place, restauranteur Nancy Sabbagh and chef Roberto Donna, her husband, are preparing to open Le Bistro, a pop-up French bistro that will serve traditional dishes like snails with garlic and parsley and pâté.

The couple are behind Roberto’s Ristorante Italiano, which opened on Feb. 8, 2022 at 144 Church Street NW — less than a block down the street from where Le Bistro will set up shop. Their plans were first shared publicly by Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema.

“No chemicals, no magic, no special prix cuisine, just great French, authentic style,” Donna said when asked about the menu.

Opened in August 2019 by longtime Vienna resident Michael Biddick, Blend 111 brought a mix of food and wine from Spain, France and Venezuela. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it closed temporarily and reinvented itself with a new culinary team and a popular outdoor patio shared with next-door neighbor, Bazin’s on Church.

The restaurant later introduced a seafood tapas pop-up, and its brunch was named a finalist in the 2022 RAMMY Awards, though a public vote gave the win to A&J Restaurant in Annandale.

However, Biddick clashed with town leaders and some residents living near Church Street who took issue with the noise levels from the patio. He said he was “deeply saddened and shocked” when the Vienna Town Council adopted outdoor dining rules in May 2022 that prohibited the patio, which has since turned back into parking spaces.

It’s unclear whether the loss of outdoor dining played a role in Blend 111’s demise, but Donna told Washingtonian yesterday that Biddick opted to return to his day job in the information technology world. He and Sabbagh decided to buy the space once it hit the market on Aug. 1.

The couple told FFXnow that they were contemplating an expansion based on the town’s embrace of Roberto’s, which is run by Sabbagh and serves both regular and seasonal menus designed by Donna.

“We’re so happy by the warmth and the love the community has shown us,” Sabbagh said. “We love Vienna and our surrounding areas. The neighbors have been incredible to us, which is obviously why we wanted to expand our business to another restaurant here.”

They were initially exploring the possibility of a pizzeria, but given how it was built out for Blend 111, they decided it would better suited for a more upscale concept.

With no construction planned beyond some interior design changes, Le Bistro will open in “about a month, give or take,” Sabbagh says. Though it’s conceived as a pop-up, the couple hasn’t ruled out the potential of a more permanent establishment.

“We’re going to see how the market is and how the community receives it,” Sabbagh said. “There’s a need for a French bistro, and we want to see what our community really is asking for and wants, so it’s a fun concept for us to try. We don’t have any real limits on ourselves. If…it’s not the right niche, then possibly we’ll visit the pizzeria concept again.”

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