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The Perch is set to open a new mini golf course and food trucks at Capital One Center (courtesy goranfoto/Capital One Center)

Jamaican cuisine, street tacos, and a tiki bar are coming to Capital One Center — alongside a mini golf course set to open next week.

The three food trucks that got airlifted to The Perch skypark in November will be occupied by Grandpa Hank’s Jamaican Kitchen, Los Dos Carlos Street Tacos, and Rhum Roost, Capital One Center revealed today (Friday).

The eateries are each housed in different 1950s-era vehicles, per the news release:

Grandpa Hank’s Jamaican Kitchen offers soulful Jamaican cuisine from a vintage British double decker bus, while Los Dos Carlos serves upscale street tacos from a sleek converted Greyhound bus. Rhum Roost, Northern Virginia’s only tiki bar, is colorful and spirited, offering an upscale menu that invites guests to indulge in an inventive cocktail or frozen drink, all being served through the window of a wrapped boxman bus.

The announcement comes ahead of this weekend’s Perchfest celebration, billed as a music festival that will also serve as a preview of the food trucks and the 18-hole Perch Putt mini golf course.

Tickets for Perchfest are free but limited in availability. The festivities will take place from noon to 11 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday) and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday (May 22).

Perch Putt will officially open to all next Thursday (May 26).

“We’re over the moon to bring the Perch Putt experience to Tysons East,” Perch Putt Manager Chris Deatherage said in a statement. “Perch Putt is the perfect addition to The Perch’s existing entertainment options because it provides a fun & lighthearted environment for families, friends or colleagues to connect and spend time together. We hope that we can be your go-to spot to make new and exciting memories.”

The mini golf and food truck complex constitutes the second phase of The Perch, which opened in August with Starr Hill Biergarten, lawn games, an amphitheater, and a dog park.

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Morning Notes

Jean R. Packard Center at Occoquan Regional Park in Lorton (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

FCPS Condemns Recent Mass Shootings — “Fairfax County Public Schools remains steadfast in our commitment to speak up and speak out against such acts of hatred and domestic terrorism. This past weekend, the Buffalo, New York, and Laguna Woods, California communities experienced unthinkable acts of violence. We grieve with the families who lost loved ones and are suffering.” [FCPS]

Metro Veers Into Another Safety Issue — “Metrorail repeatedly powered the electric third rail while workers were still on the roadway in recent weeks, bypassing safety procedures and putting people at risk of injury and death, according to a new report issued by the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission.” [DCist]

County Bus Workers Win Statewide Competition — “Fairfax Connector Operators and Maintenance Professionals excelled at the Virginia State Bus Roadeo last month…The Fairfax Connector/ Transdev Maintenance Team placed first in the maintenance team category and will represent the Commonwealth of Virginia in the International Bus Roadeo next year.” [Fairfax Connector]

Local Vietnamese Community Recognized — A Virginia Historical Marker recognizing the significance of Vietnamese immigrants in Northern Virginia will be dedicated at Eden Center in Falls Church on next Tuesday (May 24). The community was nominated by Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School students last year as part of a statewide Asian American and Pacific Islander History Month contest. [City of Falls Church]

Descano Left Out of Virginia Violent Crime Task Force — “Commonwealth’s attorneys Buta Biberaj, of Loudoun County; Amy Ashworth, of Prince William County; and Steve Descano, of Fairfax County, told WTOP they were unaware a task force was being assembled until Youngkin’s news release Monday. All three prosecutors are progressive Democrats.” [WTOP]

Food Trucks Pop Up at Courthouse — “NEW! Starting TOMORROW, 5/18 food trucks will be visiting the Courthouse Grounds THIS week, from 11:30am-2:30pm to offer lunch options.” [Fairfax County Circuit Court/Twitter]

Lake Anne Parking Lot to Close Next Week — “The Lake Anne Park parking lot will be closed off next week due to required warranty work, starting on May 23 through the 25th (weather dependent). A contractor will be seal coating and restriping the entire lot. Any vehicles left overnight will be towed.” [Reston Association/Twitter]

Sale of Tysons Broadcasting Company Approved — Tegna stockholders voted yesterday to approve a sale of the Tysons-headquartered company to investment firm Standard General. Expected to close in the second half of this year, the $5.4 billion deal will turn the broadcaster, which owns 64 TV stations in 51 markets across the country, into a private company. [Deadline]

“Wheel of Fortune” Coming to Tysons — “‘Wheel of Fortune Live!,’ a new live stage show, is kicking off a tour in September that includes a stop at Capital One Hall…Guests can audition to go on stage and will have the chance to spin a replica of the iconic wheel and solve puzzles to win prizes, including $10,000 and trips to Paris and Hawaii. Audience members will also have the chance to be randomly selected to win cash and prizes.” [Inside NoVA]

It’s Wednesday — Rain overnight. High of 72 and low of 52. Sunrise at 5:55 am and sunset at 8:19 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Work continues on the Perch Putt mini golf course and food trucks (courtesy Capital One Center)

Perch Putt is on its way.

The public will get its first look at the 18-hole mini golf course and food trucks being set up at Capital One Center’s The Perch skypark (1805 Capital One Drive) in Tysons on May 21 and 22 as part of a weekend-long “Perchfest Spring Edition” celebration.

“Capital One Center is delighted to celebrate the next phase of The Perch, which has become an unparalleled rooftop experience and dynamic gathering place for our community and Capital One associates,” Capital One Center Marketing and Community Affairs Manager Meghan Trossen said in a statement.

Similar to last fall’s grand opening party for The Perch, this iteration of Perchfest will feature live music, lawn games, community vendors, and a new “Perchfest Session IPA” from Starr Hill Biergarten, according to a media release.

The festival will also once again benefit the nonprofit Best Buddies of Northern Virginia and D.C. Community members are encouraged to donate to the organization, which provides support services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Perchfest will take place from noon to 11 p.m. on May 21 and noon to 5 p.m. on May 22. It will include a “Kids Party” from noon to 3 p.m. on May 21 that will have face painting and a “puppy party” hosted by the Merrifield-based nonprofit Wolf Trap Animal Rescue.

The music lineup features six artists:

Saturday, May 21st

  • Noon — Pebble to Pearl
  • 2:30 p.m. — Nowhere Men
  • 5 p.m. — Bobby Ryan Band
  • 8 p.m. — KleptoRadio

Sunday, May 22

  • Noon — Run for Cover
  • 3 p.m. — Starting Early

Admission to all events will be free, but advance registration is required, due to limited space in the 2.5-acre park.

In addition, The Watermark Hotel, which opened adjacent to The Perch in September, is offering VIP packages for its guests that include a suite overlooking the park, welcome amenities from Starr Hill Biergarten and the restaurant Wren, and a future gift card for the food trucks.

Capital One Center hopes to make Perchfest a regular occurrence, stating that 10,000 people attended the inaugural edition in September 2021.

“Our intention with Perchfest is to create a signature spring and fall event our guests look forward to every year,” Trossen said. “We will build upon the success of our fall opening with a springtime festival full of surprises and unique experiences — and we are so proud to team up with Best Buddies and elevate their mission to support inclusive hiring and job training for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

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The PARC at Tysons will host an ice cream giveaway this week (via Courtney Cook/Unsplash)

(Updated at 9:20 a.m. on 4/7/2022) Break out the spoons and waffle cones, Tysons.

An ice cream truck is pulling into the PARC at Tysons and doling out free scoops tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday (April 8).

The local caterer Tyson’s Creamery will be parked at 8508 Leesburg Pike from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on both days as part of The PARC’s “Spring Is Blossoming” celebration, which kicked off with some spring break pop-up activities on Monday (April 4).

The free ice cream will be available, rain or shine, as long as supplies last, according to Celebrate Fairfax, which operates the PARC. Tyson’s Creamery will also have a stall at the weekly Shop Local Saturday Market on April 9.

Celebrate Fairfax Inc., the nonprofit best known for organizing the annual Celebrate Fairfax! Festival, launched the PARC as a community hub and event venue last fall, converting a 19,260-square-foot space on Route 7 previously occupied by the Container Store.

The organization recently announced that it will forgo the Celebrate Fairfax! Festival this summer in favor of smaller events throughout Fairfax County, similar to the Tysons Block Party and other activities it has hosted at the PARC.

Photo via Courtney Cook/Unsplash

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Capital One Center plans to complete Phase 2 of The Perch and the “Block A” office and retail building (left) this year (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The second phase of The Perch in Tysons remains on track for completion later this spring, Capital One Center says.

The 2.5-acre skypark opened on top of the new Capital One Hall performing arts center (1805 Capital One Center Drive) in August. It currently features Starr Hill Biergarten as well as a dog park, bocce ball pits and an outdoor amphitheater.

Phase two will add “Perch Putt,” an 18-hole miniature golf course, and an adjacent food truck area, whose denizens were spotted being lifted 11 stories into the air on Nov. 16.

Details about those amenities remain scarce, but a permit request submitted to Fairfax County in January indicates that, in addition to the three vehicles that got airlifted up in November, the food truck area will include a one-story shipping container outfitted for bar service.

A Capital One Center spokesperson confirmed that the container will serve as a bar, but said the development is not ready to share more details.

Capital One Center officially announced on Wednesday (March 23) that it has signed three new restaurant tenants:

  • Stellina Pizzeria, which will take over the former Starbucks space in Capital One’s headquarters building. When it announced the lease in February, the restaurant said it hoped to open this fall, but Capital One Center now says it will arrive in 2023.
  • A Tex-Mex restaurant with a “strong coastal influence and a large al fresco bar.” The concept comes from the team behind The Salt Line, a seafood eatery in Ballston, as reported earlier this month by the Washingtonian.
  • An unspecified “new concept” from chef Pepe Moncayo, who runs a Japanese and Spanish fusion restaurant and lounge in D.C. called Cranes. The signing was first reported by the Washington Business Journal.

According to the press release, Moncayo’s restaurant will be located in the mixed-use retail and office tower still under construction across from the Capital One headquarters.

Capital One Center says in the release that it plans to deliver the “Block A” tower this year — earlier than the 2023 timeline previously anticipated.

“The latest additions at Capital One Center will enhance our growing collection of retail with acclaimed local restaurateurs and unique entertainment options for both our Capital One associates and our DMV community,” Capital One Center Managing Director Jonathan Griffith said.

Sisters Thai is also expected to open a new restaurant — its largest yet — at 7730 Capital One Tower Road later this year.

When fully built out, Capital One Center will cover 25 acres in Tysons East with 6 million square feet of development. It currently consists of the Capital One headquarters, Capital One Hall, Wegmans, The Watermark Hotel, and the nail salon Nothing in Between Studio.

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The Hello Kitty Cafe Truck will visit Tysons Corner Center on Saturday (courtesy of Sanrio)

A familiar cartoon character will swing by Tysons Corner Center this weekend, with a slew of new merchandise in tow.

The Hello Kitty Cafe Truck will set up shop in the mall’s Plaza at 1961 Chain Bridge Road from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday (March 26), marking its first appearance in Fairfax County since March 2021.

More recently, the truck, which sells Hello Kitty-themed food and collectibles, popped up in Arlington County in July.

New items for this year’s tour include a Hello Kitty Cafe lunchbox, a lavender T-shirt, and a canvas tote bag. The truck will also carry a stainless rainbow thermos, hand-decorated cookie sets, and madeleine cookie sets.

The cookies and plush animals are among the stall’s best-selling items, according to a press release.

The truck only accepts credit and debit card payments.

Sanrio, the company behind Hello Kitty, launched the cafe truck in October 2014 as part of its first venture into the food world. Since then, the trucks have visited more than 100 cities in the U.S.

The upcoming Tysons stop is one of the truck’s five scheduled appearances in the D.C. area for its 2022 tour. There are also planned visits in April to Bethesda and Columbia in Maryland as well as the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival in D.C. during the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

The Hello Kitty cartoon character is actually a young British girl, not a cat, but because of her appearance and name, is known to many as an adorable feline that adorns outerwear and accessories.

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Pedro Benedito Chimo Mandriz (Courtesy)

When Pedro Benedito Chimo Mandriz’s family returned to their home country of Angola, he stayed in the U.S. to pursue his dream of running his own restaurant.

Years later, the Lorton baker has taken a step to turning that dream into a reality after starting a pastry business in 2021 with the help of Escala, a rebooted counseling and business assistance program run by the nonprofit Northern Virginia Family Service.

Mandriz, 29, is one of 100 people who have benefited from Escala during the pandemic.

While working part-time at Manchester Bagel in Franconia, he took a class with Escala and launched Freaking Good Cakes, which specializes in German fruit cakes but also offers cupcakes and custom orders, all made out of his home.

“I was having the idea that to have or own a business in America, the only way is by doing…loans, and they showed me, no, that’s not the only way,” Mandriz said. “It helped open my eyes.”

Escala started in 2001 and stopped in 2017 before being rebooted during the pandemic. Its name comes from the Spanish verb escalar, meaning to climb, a nod to the program’s bilingual services.

The program’s small business counselor, Liga Brige, helps entrepreneurs develop their business ideas with marketing and financial assessments, frequently helping startups launch from owners’ homes.

“The majority of businesses established during those past years were usually in construction, in day care…in cleaning businesses and food,” Brige said.

During the pandemic, Escala’s participants have typically focused on the culinary arts, including female food service workers who realize they can prepare certain foods out of their homes, Brige says.

Known as food cottage laws, Virginia’s code lets private homes make some low-risk items without a food inspection, from baked goods to candies, dry seasonings, roasted coffee, and more.

“There are laws which allow you to produce from home certain foods, certain products which do not require a lot of licensing,” Brige said.

Most participants in Escala are Hispanic women, typically aged 36 to 55. Many were professional chefs in the hospitality industry and affected by the pandemic, while others were cooking out of their homes.

Escala’s successes so far include:

The program relies on government funding, and Northern Virginia Family Service plans to seek more grant money to expand Escala from Fairfax and Arlington counties for their upcoming fiscal years, which start in July.

Liga currently serves as the one-stop shop coordinator, but she hopes to have another counselor provide assistance to reach as many industries as possible.

Restricted to low-income adults in Virginia, D.C., and Maryland, the program offers counseling and workshops for free. A nine-week course costs $300.

Mandriz’s ultimate goal is to run his own restaurant that serves food from his country. His advice to new entrepreneurs? Take risks and listen to others’ expertise.

“Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Most of the people that want to go into business…they should be open to [listening] to other people’s information. They’re going to have a solid ground where they can build their business.”

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