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South Block logo (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

South Block may be on the verge of an East Coast expansion, but for its next location, the regional juice and smoothie bowl chain is sticking relatively close to home.

Announced in a Halloween Instagram post, South Block’s 16th shop is set to open in The Field at Commonwealth (14383 Newbrook Drive) in Chantilly this summer. Construction will begin within the next couple weeks, South Block founder and CEO Amir Mostafavi told FFXnow in an email.

The shop, which serves smoothies, açai bowls, juices and toasts, will be situated alongside a Peet’s Coffee, UPS Store and Chipotle.

“We love Fairfax County,” wrote Mostafavi, who grew up in McLean. Following a 2020 opening in the Town of Vienna, South Block opened its first Fairfax County location last March in McLean’s Chesterbrook Shopping Center (6246 Old Dominion Drive).

The company also plans to start construction on a location in Fairfax’s Fair City Mall (9650 Main Street) this summer and is negotiating a lease in Springfield, Mostafavi wrote.

“Our longer term plan is to start expanding into new markets outside of the DMV, but we feel there [are] still a ton of amazing communities in the DMV that we would love to be a part of,” he wrote.

Private equity firm Savory Fund acquired a stake in South Block in a deal announced at the end of January. That deal keeps Mostafavi as the company’s CEO.

The new partnership aims to bring South Block up to 50 East Coast locations. South Block’s first storefront opened in Clarendon in 2011, and the chain’s most recent location opened last July in Amazon’s HQ2.

“More important than scale, where we add dozens more units, we want to grow the business from within and make sure that we grow the base of our cult following and the locations we currently have,” Savory Fund Managing Partner and co-founder Andrew Smith told FFXnow’s sister site ARLnow.

Following the announcement, Mostafavi told ARLnow that the entire South Block team will stay intact.

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Compass Coffee will limit the travel aisle near Route 29 to one direction of traffic to accommodate its planned drive-thru cafe in West Falls Church (staff photo by Vernon Miles)

Compass Coffee is still weeks, if not months, away from opening its first Fairfax County cafe, but it’s already being warmly welcomed — at least by local planning commissioners.

After a public hearing on Wednesday (Feb. 7), the Fairfax County Planning Commission voted in support of the D.C.-based coffee company’s application to convert a vacated BB&T bank at 7393 Lee Highway (Route 29) in West Falls Church into its second drive-thru restaurant.

Before the unanimous vote, a couple of commissioners admitted that they’re inclined to view Compass Coffee favorably based on their experiences with its existing locations.

The Rosslyn shop is a regular morning stop for Franconia District Commissioner Dan Lagana, who joked that the business may “sort of have an unfair advantage.” After visiting on Tuesday (Feb. 6), Braddock District Commissioner Mary Cortina praised the Fairfax City location for its ambiance and the coupon for a free cup of coffee for first-time patrons.

“It’s a very nice, comfortable place, and people looked like they were settling in for the day,” she observed.

For its new location, Compass Coffee intends to repurpose the 2,552-square-foot bank building in the Shops at West Falls Church as a full-service cafe with two drive-thru aisles — one for in-person orders and one for online and mobile orders. One of the three existing aisles will be closed to traffic so baristas can bring items to vehicles in the online and mobile pick-up lane, according to a staff report.

The drive-thru lanes will accommodate a total of 14 stacked vehicles at a time, more than what’s currently possible on the site. To fit those vehicles on the 0.55-acre property, the coffee shop has proposed limiting the travel aisle closest to Route 29 to westbound traffic.

“The applicant has proposed to install landscape islands, bollards and signage to ensure eastbound travelers recognize this driveway is ‘do not enter’ for eastbound traffic,” county planner Curtis Rowlette told the commission.

The business has also committed to refreshing the trees and shrubs around the building with native, non-invasive plants after “site visits revealed that landscaping was either missing or in poor condition,” according to Rowlette.

At-Large Commissioner Phil Niedzielski-Eichner questioned whether the one-way drive aisle will affected parking. The change will require the replacement of 14 perpendicular parking spaces with four parallel ones, but the restaurant will have 27 spots overall, which Rowlette said meets the county’s standards.

Cortina said she doesn’t anticipate parking will be an issue, since the cafe will be in a strip shopping center that currently has 200 total spaces.

As of late December, Compass Coffee was targeting a spring opening for its West Falls Church shop, Vice President of Marketing Joel Shetterly told FFXnow. With the Board of Supervisors not scheduled to vote on the special exception amendment application until March 19, it’s unclear if that timeline will hold.

Still, Shetterly said at the planning commission hearing that the company is “very excited” to expand into Fairfax County.

“I just wanted to thank everyone for their hard work and all their help on our application over the last year, so we’ve learned a lot,” he told the commission and county staff. “We’re very excited about what lies ahead for us in Fairfax.”

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Kook Dogg is slated to open this April in Reston (courtesy Kook Dogg Cafe)

A new cafe is on its way to RTC West in Reston.

Kook Dogg Cafe, a new concept, will sell delicatessen sandwiches, toasted hot subs, salads and fresh pizzas, along with a selection of craft beers. It’s slated to take over space at 12100 Sunset Hills Road that was vacated last year by Little Beast Cafe and Bistro.

The incoming tenant was first reported by The Burn, which noted that a “coming soon” banner has been draped on the storefront.

The restaurant was established in 2021 by chef Paul Huckler, a Northern Virginia native, for the “sole purpose” of opening and operating a “neighborhood” specialty sandwich and pizza restaurant, according to company business materials.

After exploring restaurant sites, Kuchler settled on the Reston Town Center area for a flagship restaurant. 

The business has four partners: Kuchler and his wife Noel, along with Walter Hodges and his wife Karen.

We are currently renovating the space and plan to open in early April of 2024,” Hodges told FFXnow.

Hodges said the decision to sign a lease at RTC West was an easy one. 

The location has high visibility, easy access, free parking and pleasant surroundings.  The location is well sited to serve the Reston residential community as well as a thriving business community which we hope to feed regularly either through our catering business or for a relaxing after-work beer or cocktail,” he said.

Little Beast Cafe and Bistro and Red Velvet Cupcakery closed their RTC West locations at the end of 2023. They can still be found in D.C.’s Chevy Chase neighborhood at 5600 Connecticut Avenue NW.

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Construction is underway on another block of Halley Rise in Reston (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Panera Bread, a national bakery-cafe, is reportedly opening up a new location in Reston.

According to a report by The Burn, the restaurant has signed a lease for space in Halley Rise, the mixed-use development at the intersection of Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive near the Reston Town Center Metro station.

Panera Bread will take up a 3,500-square-foot corner spot near Wegmans, which opened last year at 11950 Hopper Street.

The company did not immediately return a comment request on when it plans to open up shop.

Panera Bread closed in Reston Town Center in 2019 at 1825 Discovery Street. At the time, the business announced it planned to reopen in Reston at a later point, but right now, its closest locations are in Herndon on Elden Street and at Worldgate Centre.

The cafe sells sandwiches, bakery items, pasta, soups, pizzas and other items.

Developed by Brookfield Properties, Halley Rise took over a 36-acre office park near the Metro station with plans for 3.5 million square feet of housing, retail, offices and open spaces. In addition to Wegman’s, completed elements include The Edmund apartments and an urban farm.

A pair of apartment towers called The Arbor at Halley Rise has been under construction since July 2022 and is expected to open in 2025. Panera will be on the ground floor of that complex, according to The Burn.

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This spring will bring a new coffee shop to West Falls Church — or so Compass Coffee hopes.

Construction is underway on the company’s second drive-thru cafe at 7393 Lee Highway. The shop will occupy a former BB&T bank building in the Shops at West Falls Church.

Though Compass Coffee previously said it was “shooting for” a summer 2023 opening, Vice President of Marketing Joel Shetterly says the business is now “looking forward to being open in time for Spring/cherry blossom season.”

Roughly 2,400 square feet in size, per a site plan, the new location will be Compass Coffee’s first in Fairfax County, though it can be found in Fairfax City. The company currently has 16 shops, including one on Langston Blvd in Arlington that hosts its first drive-thru.

In addition to coffee, the cafes sell breakfast sandwiches and pastries.

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(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) A coffee shop inspired by Saudi Arabia’s cafe culture is now bringing that hip energy to both Tysons malls.

Shotted has gained a loyal following, especially within the D.C. area’s Muslim community, since opening a kiosk at Tysons Corner Center in 2020. Three years later, Shotted has expanded for the first time with a new branch in Tysons Galleria.

In its soft-opening phase since Nov. 16, the new shop can be found in the mall’s third-floor food hall, replacing Twelve Twenty Coffee. Seeking to rebuild after the departure of former operator Urbanspace, the hall is still home to Andy’s Pizza and Empanadas De Mendoza.

“We’re very happy to be here and happy to be part of this community,” Shotted founder and CEO Bandar Alhenaki said. “We want people to come in and enjoy their time shopping at the Galleria and also enjoy quality coffee and quality dessert with their family and friends.”

While it seems unusual for a business to open two locations within walking distance of each other, Shotted’s Tysons Galleria shop diverges in several ways from its predecessor.

To start with, it’s envisioned as more of a dine-in experience to take advantage of the food hall’s more extensive seating, while the heavily trafficked Tysons Corner Center location is designed for quick service, Alhenaki says.

The Galleria shop also opens earlier — at 7:30 a.m. instead of 10 a.m. — so it can serve morning commuters, including workers at nearby office buildings. Accordingly, it has an expanded menu with sandwiches, hot croissants and other breakfast food as well as additional desserts, such as date pudding and soft-serve ice cream.

“We’re excited to serve them…during their morning coffee and also be a business hub for them to bring in clients and take to meetings in the Galleria in this amazing space,” Alhenkai said.

Shotted currently closes at 10 p.m. at Tysons Galleria, but its goal is to eventually extend that to 11 p.m., which would be the same weekday closing time as the Tysons Corner Center location.

Rich Dinning, Tysons Galleria’s senior general manager, calls Shotted “a great addition” to the mall for “bringing a new warm community feel” as well as “a wide variety of premium drinks and desserts.”

“Our customers can enjoy their favorite cup of coffee with a friend or while they shop our iconic collection of tenants,” Dinning said in a statement.

The addition of a second location is just the start of Alhenaki’s plans to expand Shotted, first to other parts of the D.C. area, and then, nationwide. Though no specific sites have been identified yet, he says the business is “aiming for the Arlington area, D.C., and such.”

“We are working on that expansion strategy to make it happen in 2024,” he said.

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Qamaria Coffee launched a truck to serve the D.C. area in July (courtesy Qamaria Coffee Company)

An upcoming cafe is bringing coffee from its historical birthplace to the Town of Vienna.

Qamaria Coffee, a Michigan-based company, will open its first cafe on the East Coast next year at 124 Maple Avenue West in Vienna Shopping Center, filling a 1,900-square-foot space that has been vacant since Viva Sol Juice Company closed on Dec. 31, 2021.

Vienna isn’t short on cafes, welcoming Café de Vienna to Church Street just over a month ago, but Qamaria promises to stand out with its focus on coffee sourced exclusively from Yemen, which is believed to be where coffee beans were first brewed into a beverage.

“Historians trace the origin of coffee to this region, which gives it an incredibly rich history and unique flavor profile to these rare beans,” a Qamaria spokesperson told FFXnow. “The café will also be offering a warm and inviting gathering space to enjoy coffee and tea into the evening, prepared using the espresso extraction methods as well as traditional brewing methods that have been used for thousands of years.”

Though this will be the company’s first brick-and-mortar location, it’s no stranger to the D.C. area: Qamaria launched a coffee truck in July that’s primarily based in Bailey’s Crossroads at 3400 Payne Street but gets booked for events throughout the region.

The spokesperson says the new Vienna cafe isn’t intended to replace the truck, which was seen as “an opportunity to begin serving our fans a limited menu.” The mobile operation will continue into “the foreseeable future.”

“The brand has gained incredible traction over the last several years, and this was a meaningful way to introduce this unique experience to the DMV market as we launch our first brick-and-mortar operation,” the spokesperson said.

Founded by entrepreneurs Munif Maweri and Hatem Al-Eidaroos, Qamaria began as a supplier dedicated to “building a supply chain to source Yemeni coffee beans,” according to its website. It opened its first cafe in early 2021 in Dearborn, Michigan, just outside Detroit out of a desire to bring coffee directly to customers.

The company now has 12 franchises across Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Texas and California. It also runs a roastery in Dearborn and continues to sell coffee online and wholesale, claiming to having the largest inventory of Yemeni coffee beans in the U.S.

In addition to coffee, the Vienna cafe will serve pastries and sweets.

“Given where we are in the process, we can say that we expect to launch in the first half of 2024,” Qamaria said. “We are thrilled to be situated in the heart of Vienna, a town with a diverse population and accessibility to Fairfax County at large.”

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Cafe de Vienna is now open at 131 Church Street NW in Vienna (photo by Amy Woolsey)

It was love at first sight for Afsaneh and the 123-year-old building at 131 Church Street NW where she recently launched Café de Vienna.

Constructed in 1900, per Fairfax County property records, the quaint, two-story house atop a hill on Vienna’s historic Church Street was converted at some point into a commercial space. It was home to Money & King Funeral Home — the town’s oldest still-operating business — until the now-closed Guarantee Shoe Repair took over in 1990, according to The Connection.

Though she initially considered a property in Great Falls, Afsaneh knew as soon as she saw the building that it was the right setting to fulfill her dream of opening a cozy, small-town cafe, an alternative to the “industrial” ambiance found in chains like Starbucks.

“I want to have that warm feeling, but that starts from a building. The building has to have character or that old-fashioned look,” she said. “…Right away, I said this is it. I was envisioning to have a coffee shop in an old building, and that’s how it started. The building did it. It was the building’s fault!”

A 27-year resident of Reston, Afsaneh says she always wanted to start her own business, but knowing how risky that can be, it took years of working in the retail and food service industries before she decided she’d gained enough experience to make that leap.

After submitting paperwork for various permits from the county and town in April, Afsaneh and her business partner Reza Sadeghi gave Café de Vienna a soft opening on Sept. 21.

In addition to Nespresso coffee, the shop serves tea, bread and pastries baked daily, gourmet fruit pops, raw honey and 16 flavors of handmade ice cream, which comes from “a little company in Maryland” that doesn’t use any preservatives or additives, Afsaneh told FFXnow.

She says the customer experience and the quality of its food and drinks are the cafe’s top priorities, which to her, means supporting local businesses and providing freshly made, preservative-free products.

“I know it might be a little costlier, but it’s worth it. So, quality is important for the products I’m bringing,” Afsaneh said.

In the future, Café de Vienna plans to introduce paninis and other dishes for a “small” breakfast and lunch menu.

Though the space is relatively small, it can fit 16 indoor seats that are supplemented by a 12-seat outdoor patio and a gazebo with picnic tables at the rear of the building. Afsaneh says she also intends to add some benches inside.

The cafe currently opens from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Tuesday through Thursday, until 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and until 5 p.m. on Sunday. Those hours and the day off on Mondays could change during the warmer spring and summer months, according to Afsaneh.

While noting that she still has “a tough road ahead,” she’s encouraged by the community’s response to Café de Vienna during its first month of operations.

“It’s been going great because of the people in Vienna,” Afsaneh said. “They were so supportive in the past one month, so [I’m] very grateful for that. So far, so good, and I hope it’s going to continue.”

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Coffee may soon become a staple of grocery shoppers at The Spectrum at Reston Town Center.

Starbucks is slated to open soon inside Harris Teeter (11806 Spectrum Center), a company representative told FFXnow.

It marks a return for the coffee chain, which previously had a location in the shopping center at 1857 Fountain Drive that closed its doors in February 2021.

The floral department will be relocated as a result, according to Fairfax County permits.

“Starbucks is always looking for great locations to better meet the needs of our customers,” the spokesperson wrote in a statement.

It’s unclear exactly when the new Starbucks will open. The county’s permit database shows that an application seeking approval for alterations was accepted.

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Sunrise Senior Living’s massive new community in the Town of Vienna is officially open.

After holding a small ribbon-cutting with town officials late last month, the senior living provider announced today (Thursday) that its 81,755-square-foot, four-story building at 374 Maple Avenue West is now ready for residents to start moving in.

The facility can accommodate over 100 residents with 50 assisted living units and 35 memory care units.

“We are excited to unveil Sunrise of Vienna, a community that goes beyond traditional senior living by blending artistry, culture and exceptional experiences to create the preferred lifestyle for residents to enjoy longer, healthier, happier lives,” Sunrise of Vienna Executive Director Adriane Oliver said.

Replacing a three-story office building that dated back to the 1970s, the new Sunrise includes about 950 square feet of retail space that has been leased to Tango Pastry, a café open to residents, their families and the general public.

This is Tango Pastry’s second location after its flagship bakery opened at 6100 Richmond Highway in Huntington more than a decade ago. Developed by Argentine chef Katriel Menendez, the business serves lunch and dinner options, including its specialty empanadas, along with baked pastries and drinks.

After a grand opening on July 31, the Vienna café is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays through Sundays, according to Tango Pastry’s website.

As part of the project, Sunrise also enlisted artist Chad Bradley to paint a mural and two benches with “scenes inspired by outdoor living, local birds, and native trees,” the company said in a press release that highlighted its “commitment to embracing the creative spirit of the Town of Vienna and fostering a sense of belonging within the neighborhood.”

“With the addition of the custom painted mural by Chad Bradley and the inviting Tango Pastry café, Sunrise of Vienna aims to create an inclusive and vibrant environment where residents and the local community can come together, celebrate life, and forge lasting connections,” Oliver said.

Construction on Sunrise of Vienna began in June 2021 following a fraught planning process that included a lawsuit and relocation after the Vienna Town Council rejected an initial proposal to build the facility at the corner of Maple Avenue and Center Street.

The site that Sunrise ultimately chose was previously under consideration for a mixed-use development that would’ve included condominiums and retail.

Sunrise of Vienna was designed by an in-house team in collaboration with the Alexandria-based firm Rust Orling Architecture to “create an environment that prioritizes both comfort and safety,” including “an advanced emergency response system,” the company said.

Constructed in collaboration with Forrester Construction, Sunrise of Vienna showcases design elements that honor the American Colonial style, seamlessly blending into the surrounding community. The community offers an array of inviting amenities, ensuring residents’ comfort and enjoyment. Residents can gather in the multi-functional bistro area for socializing, relax in the welcoming lounge, or indulge in the entertainment room equipped with theater accommodations. An activity room provides space for engaging pursuits, while common and private dining rooms offer delightful settings for shared meals. In addition, residents can savor the tranquility of the secure rooftop garden or visit the onsite beauty salon for pampering.

Sunrise opened its first community in Oakton in 1981 and has since expanded to more than 270 locations in the U.S. and Canada, including a second McLean facility that started welcoming residents in May.

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