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Brunch-focused cafe First Watch opening in Franconia with free coffee

A daytime-only cafe in Franconia will get next week off to an energetic start, offering free coffee to diners as part of its grand opening on Monday (March 18).

First Watch, a fast-casual restaurant chain based in Florida, will open its latest Fairfax County location in the Festival at Manchester Lakes shopping center (7027C Manchester Blvd) at 7 a.m. Free cups of coffee from Project Sunrise will come with every meal through Friday, March 22.

The 4,500-square-foot cafe will seat more than 170 people and features a covered outdoor dining patio, along with a bar that serves signature juices, cocktails and coffee.

“Our Franconia restaurant is the perfect location to kick off an exciting expansion that’s been years in the making, with a fresh take on brunch our customers know and love,” First Watch Vice President of Operations Rob Botelho said. “As First Watch approaches two decades in the area, we’re thrilled to share our aspirations to inspire even more good mornings with each of our new openings.”

Originally started in Pacific Grove, California, in 1983, First Watch now has more than 520 restaurants in 29 states, including locations at Fair City Mall in Fairfax, Crossroads Center shopping center in Bailey’s Crossroads and Greenbriar Town Center in Chantilly.

The Franconia restaurant is the company’s first expansion in Fairfax County since the Bailey’s Crossroads site opened in 2021, but two additional locations are already on their way.

The chain will replace a TGI Fridays in Fair Lakes that closed in late 2023, and it officially announced in January that it has leased a 4,000-square-foot space in Idylwood Plaza (7501 Leesburg Pike). Both cafes are expected to open by this fall.

Open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., First Watch serves breakfast, brunch and lunch dishes. Fan favorites include avocado toast, lemon ricotta pancakes and million dollar bacon — hardwood-smoked bacon baked with brown sugar, black pepper, cayenne and a maple syrup drizzle, per a press release.

The cafe also has a seasonal menu that changes five times a year based on “the position of the sun to source quality ingredients” for dishes like barbacoa quesadilla benedict and watermelon wake-up fresh juice. A seasonal menu will roll out in Franconia for the first time this summer.

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