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A new restaurant specializing in North Indian Mughlai cuisine has landed in Fair Lakes.

Aroma Restaurant Bar and Banquet, operated by husband and wife duo Daljeet and Jyoti Chhatwal, opened its doors at 12821 Fair Lakes Parkway last month on Fourth of July weekend, according to Daljeet.

The restaurant is still in its soft opening period, but the couple aims to celebrate Aroma’s grand opening in mid-September.

“Our menu is so complex, I wanted my staff, especially my kitchen staff, to be very comfortable before we do a grand opening,” Daljeet said.

The menu blends old and new with classic hits — like the butter chicken served since Aroma first opened in D.C. in 1994 — featured alongside recently launched fusion cuisine. Aroma now serves Indo-Chinese and Indo-Mexican dishes, like hakka noodles and seekh kebab taquitos.

Daljeet, a culinary school graduate, created the dishes himself in his mission to bring Indian spices into famous dishes from other cultures.

Seekh kebab taquitos offered at Aroma (staff photo by Vivian Hoang)

Daljeet has also introduced other unique delicacies, like shahi batair (quail), scallop balchao curry and coco mussel curry, that he says are well-loved in India but typically not served in the U.S.

To ensure those who don’t eat meat aren’t left out, Aroma has an expanding variety of vegetarian options. Soya chops — vegetarian lamb chop mimics that still retain their “meat texture” despite being made from soya beans — just made their debut, Jyoti says.

Designed as a space to be rented out for gatherings and parties, Aroma’s Fair Lakes restaurant features a banquet hall that seats 200 people and three private rooms, including a men’s cigar lounge for small, official meetings or karaoke. Up to 70 guests can use the back patio, where the couple says they have already hosted wedding ceremonies. There are also two bars with 12 different beers on tap.

The restaurant’s large banquet hall is what initially drew the pair to the Fair Lakes location, which previously housed a sports bar.

In addition to its original D.C. restaurant, Aroma had locations in Arlington and Lorton, but all three shuttered during the COVID-19 pandemic, Daljeet says.

The previous restaurants didn’t have dedicated square footage for private events, so the Chhalwats say having the Fair Lakes site as their first culinary endeavor post-Covid has been particularly exciting. Read More


Taco Bamba Taqueria’s latest location will welcome Fairfax residents through its doors this fall.

While there is no “firm date” for an opening just yet, Taco Bamba fans can expect the storefront at Fair Lakes Promenade (12239 Fair Lakes Promenade Drive) to open “before the end of the year,” award-winning chef and owner Victor Albisu told FFXnow in a statement.

With preparation for the new restaurant still in early stages, Taco Bamba has yet to release concrete details about the new location’s offerings, but Albisu says guests “can expect killer mezcal-based cocktails and a list of tacos that draws inspiration from the diverse surrounding community.”

Located next to Nothing Bundt Cakes, this Taco Bamba will be the seventh in the Fairfax County area and the second near Fairfax City, with another storefront located just five miles away in University Mall (10653 Braddock Road).

“We think there is an opportunity to bring our unique style of taqueria to this neighborhood, and we’re really excited about the space,” Albisu said.

Taco Bamba was initially launched in 2013 by Albisu and his parents as a reflection of Albisu’s “Cuban and Peruvian roots as well as his unique take on Mexican fare.”

Since then, Albisu has grown Taco Bamba into a wildly popular Mexican chain with 12 locations across the D.C. region and Tennessee. It plans to open five new storefronts by the end of 2023 and into 2024.

“Every new opening is exciting because we challenge ourselves to come up with unique food and cocktail menus,” Albisu wrote.

A residential development is proposed at 12701 Fair Lakes Circle instead of previously approved offices (via Fairfax County)

Offices may no longer accompany an existing 10-story office building at Fair Lakes Circle.

Developer Grubb Properties Inc. wants Fairfax County’s permission to build a 400-unit apartment building at 12701 Fair Lakes Circle, currently the site of an office building known as Argon Plaza. The proposal replaces plans calling for a second office building on the parking lot that date back to 2005, according to the Washington Business Journal.

A shared parking garage with 580 spaces is also planned. The site was previously approved for two new office buildings, each up to 10 stories in height.

If the change is approved, the developer plans to break ground in 2025 and complete the project in 2026.

“Office space in the post-pandemic time period has been severely challenged, and this approved but unbuilt square footage is likely to remain unbuilt for some time,” the application says. “By converting approved but unbuilt office square footage to residential, this application adds new market-affordable and workforce housing to Fairfax County’s housing inventory and helps address the region and the County’s challenging housing shortage.”

The application also argues that the development would support restaurants and retailers in the vicinity.

Although the development would be exempt from the county’s Affordable Dwelling Units program, at least 30 units will be designated as Workforce Dwelling Units for individuals and families within 60 to 80% of the area median income.

The application was recently flagged for some deficiencies and is in the early stages of the review process.

Residential uses are planned at the office site in Fair Lakes (via Fairfax County)

One of Fair Lakes’ first office buildings — Parkway Woods — could flip into a residential development.

TPC Hornbaker LC is seeking the county’s permission to redevelop the three-story office building and parking lot spread across nearly 4.4 acres into an apartment building.

The development application, which targets 12801 Fair Lakes Parkway, argues that higher office vacancies and lower office and retail demand justify the need for redevelopment.

The existing office building was first built in 1987 and is roughly 64,000 square feet in size.

“Many of Fair Lakes’ first generation office buildings, including Parkway Woods, must now compete with newer buildings in transit-served mixed-use submarkets in Northern Virginia which have a strong brand identity, modern infrastructure, floor plates, and amenities, and closer proximity to Metrorail,” the March 17 application says.

The plan lays out two options for redevelopment.

The first option would include two phases with two residential buildings totaling 317 units. The first phase would include a nine-story, 204-unit building, including 16 workforce dwelling units (WDU), and the second phase would include 113 units with nine WDUs across seven stories.

The proposed building heights are around 110 feet and 80 feet, respectively.

The second option stipulates a single 289-unit residential building with 23 WDUs. That building would be roughly 75 feet tall.

Both options will include a fitness center, meeting rooms, outdoor recreation areas and seating areas.

“The proposed residential development has been designed to be cohesive with adjacent parcels and does not increase the overall intensity of Fair Lakes as a whole,” the application says.

Approval of the project would require rezoning. The application is in the early stages of the county’s redevelopment process and has not yet been accepted for review.

The Fair Lakes Crumbl Cookies will open on Feb. 10 (courtesy Crumbl Cookies)

Crumbl Cookies officially lands in Fair Lakes Shopping Center on Friday (Feb. 10).

The cookie chain will open at 8 a.m. at 13075 Fair Lakes Shopping Centers. Store owners Natalie and Dovy Paukstys, and Maureen Wolthuis are behind the latest location in Fairfax County.

“As local business owners, we are looking forward to sharing delicious cookies with our neighbors,” the company wrote in a statement.

The store, which offers a weekly rotating menu of freshly baked cookies, will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 8-12 a.m. on Friday and Saturdays.

Only in-person purchases will be available for the first five business days after the grand opening. Curbside pickup, catering, delivery and nationwide shipping will be available beginning Wednesday, Feb. 15.

The cookie company stated in 2017 in Utah. Since then, it has expanded to more than 500 locations across the country. The business has been rapidly expanding in Fairfax County as well, with locations that recently opened in Reston, Leesburg, Falls Church and Chantilly.

The Fair Lakes Taco Bell is slated for redevelopment (via Google Maps)

The Taco Bell in the Fair Lakes area could be slated for demolition.

The owner of the restaurant at 12811 Federal Systems Park Drive is seeking Fairfax County’s permission to rebuild the restaurant and drive-thru with a larger and more modern facility, in line with the company’s efforts to modernize franchises across the country.

The application requests permission to add another drive-thru lane as part of the redevelopment effort.

“This redevelopment will bring a modern Taco Bell restaurant to the site, where the application will continue to serve its neighbors and the residents of Fair Lakes,” the Jan. 30 application says.

The building would stand in roughly the same orientation as the current restaurant, but with a slightly larger footprint of 2,710 square feet. Thirty-three parking spaces are also planned as part of the project.

Taco Bell’s modern branding includes gray scale fiber cement siding and metal panels with colored accents. The company also plans to scale back interior seating.

“Due to decreased customer usage of interior seating, the applicant only intends to include 52 interior seats for customers,” the application says.

The application is in the preliminary phases of the county’s planning and approvals process.

Taco Bell has another Fairfax location on Lee Jackson Memorial Highway.

Blue Iguana Restaurant and Bar in Fair Lakes (via Google Maps)

Fairfax County police are investigating a threat of violence against the Blue Iguana in Fair Lakes and a local drag performer partnered with the restaurant and bar.

The anonymous email sent Saturday morning (Dec. 10) said that “several bombs” had been placed inside the restaurant in the Shops at Fair Lakes (12727 Shoppes Lane) as well as the home of a drag queen who hosts a “Sassy Saturdays Drag Brunch” on the second Saturday of each month, starting Nov. 12.

The email, which got sent to FFXnow, also threatened to “shoot up any drag performers we see there.”

The Fairfax County Police Department confirmed that it was alerted to the threat and had officers on the scene that day.

“Officers searched the building and did not find anything suspicious. Officers remained in the area throughout the day,” the FCPD said. “Detectives are continuing to investigate the threat.”

The department said anyone with information about the incident can contact its detectives at 703-691-2131. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone (1-866-411-TIPS) and online.

“Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars. Please leave contact information if you wish for a detective to follow up with you,” the FCPD said.

Blue Iguana and the company that organized the brunch didn’t return requests for comment by press time.

While no violence occurred in this instance, drag performers and the LGBTQ community have been subjected to a surge in threats, harassment and hate crimes both locally and nationally over the past year.

GLAAD identified 124 incidents in 2022 of protests and threats specifically directed at drag events, a trend that the advocacy group links to a rise in anti-LGBTQ legislation and rhetoric from right-wing politicians, pundits and social media.

Released on Nov. 22, the report didn’t include the Nov. 19 shooting at Club Q in Colorado, since police hadn’t officially declared a motive at that point. The gunman was charged with hate crimes last week for shooting 22 people, killing five of them, during a drag queen’s birthday celebration.

In Fairfax County, police have recorded an escalation of anti-LGBTQ bias incidents and crimes in recent years, with cases jumping from seven in 2017 and five in 2018 to the double digits every year since 2019:

  • 2019 — 10
  • 2020 — 10
  • 2021 — 11
  • 2022 — 14

The department says the threat against Blue Iguana would be classified as a bias crime, which is defined as an unlawful action against a person or property due to their race, religion, ethnic or national origin, disability or sexual orientation.

Earlier this year, a Starbucks in Clifton was vandalized twice and had its Pride flag stolen, and Fairfax County Public Schools had to shut down an Instagram account that targeted LGBTQ students.

Though not a criminal incident, the McLean Community Center drew criticism last year for supporting a “Drag Queen Storytime” event at Dolley Madison Library in June 2021. Opponents equated the event — where drag queens read picture books to kids — to porn or “adult entertainment.”

Drawing on familiar homophobic stereotypes and obscuring drag’s history as a form of personal expression, arguments that drag is inherently sexual and dangerous to kids have taken hold among protestors — including in the threat against Blue Iguana, which accuses the targets of “grooming our children” — and legislators looking to ban minors from events.

Photo via Google Maps

The company has filed plans with the county for a new 42-seat restaurant (Photo via handout/Fairfax County Government).

County planners need more time to work through an application for a new Popeyes in Fair Lakes Shopping Center (13060 Fair Lakes Shopping Center).

At a meeting on Oct. 19, the Fairfax County Planning Commission voted unanimously to defer a decision on the application to Nov. 16.

Popeyes is seeking the county’s permission to build a 2,265-square-foot restaurant to the shopping center in space that was previously home to United Bank.

The motion was made with little to no discussion.

At-large member Timothy Sergeant said the decision would “allow more time for the applicant to improve their application.”

Since a fire broke out in the single-story bank in 2018, the site has remained undeveloped with pavement and some trees. The company plans to install a one-lane drive-thru at the 42-seat restaurant.

The Japanese store opens today in Fair Lakes Shopping Center (via Uniqlo)

UNIQLO opened its first location in an open-air mall at Fair Lakes Shopping Center today (Friday).

The Japanese brand will open a 9,000-square-foot store at 13041 Fair Lakes Shopping Center. The company has other locations at Tysons Corner Center, Union Station in D.C., and Pike & Rose in Bethesda, Maryland.

“Fair Lakes is a great location to help extend this mission to new customers, while building on the success we’ve seen in the region, with three other existing stores in the D.C. metro area,” said Nakasuji Masahiko, Uniqlo’s North American marketing director.

Masahiko said the Fair Lakes location offers conveniences similar to Uniqlo’s original location in Japan, where it was built as a roadside store.

“Fair Lakes Center offers a similar convenience, as well as a real sense of community where people can live, work, and gather,” Masahiko said. “As our first store opening following the pandemic, we’re proud to be bringing people back together again at a location that resonates so well with the brand.”

The Fair Lakes location is the company’s 44th store. In celebration of its grand opening, the store will offer special offers and giveaways through Sept. 29.

The opening of Amazon Fresh in Fairfax (photo by David Taube)

(Updated at 3:25 p.m.) Another Amazon Fresh is coming soon to Fairfax County, according to a report.

The Washington Business Journal reports that Inc. is seeking subcontractors to renovate space within the shopping center.

Not much has been publicly disclosed about the project. WBJ discovered a permit under the name L.F. Jennings for 12993 Fair Lakes Shopping Center, a code used by the company for Amazon Fresh stores.

Work on the project won’t be underway until the second quarter of next year, according to the general contractor’s website.

It’s unclear if and how Amazon Fresh will consolidate nearby spaces for a larger store that is more in-line with its other locations. Next door, the former World Market Saks off 5th location reopened as a Spirit Halloween. (h/t to Rocket for the correction)

Fairfax County has other Amazon Fresh stores in Franconia and Lorton. Another location is underway in Baileys Crossroads.

Amazon Fresh is a grocery service and store that allows shoppers to buy items without having to individually scan items. Customers simply scan an app or credit card when the enter and exist the store.

Amazon also has a Whole Foods Market in the works at Springfield Plaza.


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