Around Town

Here are FFXnow’s top 10 most-read stories of 2023

Northern Virginia Magazine’s ranking of 2491 as the region’s best restaurant was one of FFXnow’s top stories in 2023 (file photo)

The final weekend of 2023 is near, which means it’s time for FFXnow to wrap up our first full year of operations since launching in February 2022.

The past 12 months brought plenty of change to Fairfax County, from a pivotal election cycle that reshaped the local school board and General Assembly delegation to Lego Discovery Center’s anticipated arrival at Springfield Town Center. The future became a little clearer for areas like Reston, Annandale and the West Falls Church Transit Station Area, as plans for development solidified.

But in many ways, 2023 was also a year of returning stability following the official end of the COVID-19 pandemic’s “emergency” status. Fairfax City successfully revived its Chocolate Lovers Festival, and Fairfax County Public Schools fully restored snow days, though it remains to be seen if any will be needed.

Whether you followed for crime news or to keep up with local government happenings and new restaurant openings, we’re grateful to everyone who read FFXnow this year. As a reminder, tips, photos and feedback are always welcome at or through our anonymous tip form.

Without further ado, these were the top 10 most-read stories of 2023, in ascending order:

10. Dulles Airport could break ground on new concourse soon, MWAA chief says (Oct. 20 | 21,117 views)

Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority President and CEO Jack Potter stated that a new concourse for United Airlines, the largest carrier at Dulles International Airport, could start construction as soon as November. While it’s unclear if that goal was met, the $580 million project is just the start of plans to improve the airport’s capacity and “customer experience.”

9. Trader Joe’s confirms plan to relocate down the road in Springfield (July 17 | 21,262 views)

Springfield’s grocers are swapping places: Trader Joe’s Springfield Plaza store will move down the street to Old Keene Mill Shopping Center, where it’ll take the place of a Whole Foods Market that opened in a bigger space at Springfield Plaza on. Oct. 4. A Trader Joe’s employee said the relocation isn’t expected for another “year or so,” so FFXnow will keep an eye on that in 2024.

8. Fairfax City’s first-ever for-sale affordable housing units open to residents (Aug. 29 | 22,941 views)

Residents began moving into the Sutton Heights townhouses at 3500 Pickett Road this summer. Featuring five for-sale affordable dwelling units (ADUs), the 50-unit project from developer EYA was the first one approved under the ADU program that the city established in 2020.

7. Reston pub voted as D.C. area’s best place to drink in WTOP poll (Aug. 24 | 23,718 views)

Stories about polls and rankings that highlighted local establishments were consistently well-read this year, especially if they involved food. In this case, a reader poll conducted by the radio station WTOP singled out Makers Union at Reston Town Center as the D.C. area’s best restaurant to get a drink and the second-best brunch spot.

6. Pizza restaurant Mellow Mushroom withers away in Herndon (May 3 | 29,573 views)

Among the departures from the culinary scene this year was Herndon’s Mellow Mushroom, which served handcrafted pizzas and wings at 1030 Elden Street for nearly a decade. The chain didn’t comment on the closure except to encourage customers to “keep on shroomin'” at other locations, such as one in Chantilly.

5. Merrifield area restaurant tops Northern Virginia Magazine list of region’s best (Oct. 30 | 33,389 views)

In more upbeat restaurant news, Merrifield’s 2941 was no. 1 on Northern Virginia Magazine’s list of the region’s 50 best restaurants. The top 10 also included Nostos in Tysons (No. 6), L’Auberge Chez François in Great Falls (No. 8), Trummer’s in Clifton (No. 9) and Trio Grill in Merrifield (No. 10).

4. Former American Idol winner to headline Herndon Festival (May 26 | 39,280 views)

Rock/pop singer David Cook, winner of the singing competition show’s seventh season, was the big headliner of what will apparently be the last-ever Herndon Festival. The Town of Herndon’s annual summer celebration made a return on June 1-4 after two off years due to the pandemic and a scaled-down carnival in 2022.

3. Tysons auto dealerships to close permanently, maybe setting stage for redevelopment (July 19 | 41,075 views)

Three auto dealerships along Leesburg Pike — Priority Nissan and Mazda and Sheehy Infiniti of Tysons — all closed up shop this summer, suggesting change may be coming to an area already planned for mixed-use development. While no new plans for those sites came forward, progress was made this year on other projects near the Spring Hill Metro station, including Tysons’ first-ever all-affordable residential building.

2. NEW: Herndon Festival permanently canceled after 43 years (Dec. 11 | 48,318 views)

Just after the Herndon Festival returned to form, Herndon leaders unexpectedly announced that they’re pulling the plug on the town’s signature event, citing “increased logistical challenges, security and accessibility concerns, and [a] lack of volunteers.” Started in 1981, the 43-year-old festival drew hundreds of people to downtown Herndon for carnival rides, music, food and other summer fun.

1. BREAKING: Rep. Gerry Connolly’s staff members assaulted in Fairfax City (May 15 | 75,087 views)

A senior aide and an intern on her first day of work were assaulted by a man wielding a baseball bat at Rep. Gerry Connolly’s district office in Fairfax City around 10:49 a.m. Identified as 49-year old Fairfax resident Xuan-Kha Tran Pham, the man is facing an aggravated malicious wounding charge and reportedly has a history of struggling with his mental health.