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Local restauranteurs launch fast-casual ‘fooderie’ in Fairfax City

Ever since he got into the restaurant business, Usman Saleem wanted to open a place in Fairfax City.

After mostly working in Tysons and D.C., the restauranteur finally achieved that dream earlier this year, when The Commons Fooderie officially opened at 3955 Chain Bridge Road, Suite 107, in Old Town Fairfax on Jan. 22.

Set to celebrate its opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. on Thursday (Feb. 22), the fast-casual restaurant and coffee bar brings Saleem back to his college days, which he spent studying just down the road at George Mason University.

“The area felt like home, and so, we wanted to bring our concept to the City of Fairfax because we felt like it was a venue that was kind of missing, a place where the community can meet, [with] good food at reasonable prices in a fast-casual format,” Saleem told FFXnow.

Natives of Springfield, Saleem and his wife and fellow restauranteur, Hanna, have spent more than a decade now serving up coffee and bistro-style food around the D.C. area, often in office buildings and cafeterias. Their established eateries include Bistro 1775 in Tysons and Carvings and Uptowner Cafe in D.C.

The Commons Fooderie represents a culmination of those ventures, combining their top-selling items into one menu. In addition to drinks provided by Grace Street Coffee, the restaurant offers omelets and other breakfast items, sandwiches, burgers, quesadillas, wraps, salads, rice bowls and more.

Saleem says the team is “extremely obsessed” with using fresh ingredients, including for the coffee, which is roasted within 24 hours whenever they order a batch.

“We don’t make anything in advance,” he said. “So, when you order your food, it’s made fresh to order, and I think that really resonates when people eat the food, because the response that we’ve gotten is, ‘Oh my god, the food tastes so fresh,’ and we’re like, that’s because it was literally made after you ordered it.”

During its first month of business, the restaurant has also gotten a positive community response for its “pretty and cozy” environment, according to Saleem.

Designed by Hanna Saleem, the approximately 3,000-square-foot space can accommodate 85 patrons at a time and features a variety of seating areas that Saleem hopes to complement with an outdoor patio in the spring. At that time, they might also consider introducing live music, something that patrons have suggested.

“We created a space not only for people in the community, but also for people who are working in the area and also the George Mason students who are studying in the area,” Usman Saleem said, noting that the restaurant does accept “Mason Money,” the university’s prepaid debit system for students.

The Commons Fooderie is currently open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., though the Saleems intend to extend the hours to midnight once they become more established in the community.

The concept appears to be successful enough so far that the couple is rebranding other locations, including cafes in the office buildings at 1750 and 1600 Tysons Blvd, as The Commons Fooderie. Another office-based location at 12011 Sunset Hills Road in Reston will also have that name when it opens.

Saleem says they hope to open the Reston restaurant “this month,” but the date remains to be decided. The menu will be slightly smaller than the one in Fairfax City due to a lack of fryers.

“That one serves more of the corporate environment,” Saleem said. “It’s right outside of Reston Town Center. So, there’s a lot of office buildings, a little less residential, so I think that’s different in that manner, where Fairfax City has a good mix of commercial, residential and students.”

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