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(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) Insomnia Cookies has set up shop in Fairfax County.

Tomorrow (Saturday), the late-night bakery chain will open the doors of its new location at University Mall (10669 Braddock Road, Suite D-7) with a 13-hour grand opening event — and yes, there will be free cookies.

Throughout the grand opening, which will last from noon until 1 a.m., customers will be granted one free “classic” cookie with no purchase required. Additional free cookies and other giveaways will also be available to those who participate in a “Sink a Shot” milk pong challenge, according to a press release.

As previously reported, this is Insomnia Cookies’ first bakery in the Fairfax area, though it has six locations elsewhere in Virginia.

“We’re so excited to be joining the Fairfax community,” Insomnia Cookies Chief Marketing Officer Tom Carusona said. “This new location near George Mason will allow us to deliver warm cookies to both students on campus nearby as well as reach new Insomniacs throughout Northern Virginia.”

Headquartered in Philadelphia and New York, the business was founded in 2003 by Seth Berkowitz, who was a University of Pennsylvania student at the time and came up with the concept in his dorm room. It now has more than 220 locations across the country.

Menus vary across locations. The Fairfax bakery’s cookie line-up features “classic” flavors, including gluten-free chocolate chip, vegan birthday cake, and snickerdoodle, as well as “deluxe” flavors, such as s’mores and chocolate peanut butter cup.

The store also sells brownies, ice cream, ice cream sandwiches and cakes.

After the grand opening, operating hours will be:

  • Monday to Wednesday: 11 a.m.-midnight
  • Thursday and Friday: 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
  • Saturday: noon-1 a.m.
  • Sunday: noon-midnight

In addition to its brick-and-mortar stores, Insomnia Cookies ships cookies nationwide and offers deliveries, including late at night.

Per the press release, the Fairfax bakery will deliver to George Mason University, Fairfax City and other nearby parts of the county, including Centreville, Chantilly, Springfield, Lake Ridge, and Vienna. Delivery hours go until midnight or 1 a.m., depending on the day, according to the website.

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A fast-casual Indian restaurant is now dishing out briyani, dosa wraps and more at Tysons Corner Center.

Chopathi India Kitchen quietly opened next to Chipotle on the Nordstrom side of the mall earlier this month after a build-out that took over a year, according to county permits.

The restaurant will get an official grand opening on Monday (July 25), but the soft opening has been a useful transition period, as Chopathi finishes hiring and training employees, says Robert Salzedo, one of the business’ partners.

“Customers give feedback, I ask questions, anything we can improve. I ask how was the food,” Salzedo told FFXnow. “If something’s wrong, we fix it, so the execution’s properly done when we say we’re open to the public.”

This is the sixth location for Chopathi, which launched in 2013 with a stall in the Dulles Town Center food court that has since closed. Loudoun County still has a standalone restaurant in Ashburn, and the business has expanded to Maryland, opening sites in Hanover and Gaithersburg.

Chopathi made its first foray into Fairfax County in 2019 via Chantilly’s Sully Plaza before setting its sights on Tysons. As the D.C. area’s biggest mall, Tysons Corner Center is the “crème of the crème” for restaurants, drawing visitors from across the region and even the world, Salzedo says.

The mall announced that it had added Chopathi as a tenant in June 2021.

In addition to mix-and-match rice bowls and wraps, the menu features briyani bowls, curries, and dosa wraps, a kind of crepe that can be filled with chicken, lamb, fish or paneer and dipped in sauce. There are also desserts and a variety of meat and vegetarian appetizers.

Salzedo says many of the ingredients are imported in bulk from India. The food is stored and cooked at Chopathi’s central kitchen in Chantilly.

“[The owner] is very passionate about the food,” Salzedo said. “…The sauces are sauces you can’t get anywhere. The sauces are what make the flavor, as you can tell, and that sets it apart…the specific spices that he imports that I don’t even know.”

Chopathi has no immediate plans to add other locations, since the business team’s focus for now is on ensuring the Tysons restaurant is successful. Calling word-of-mouth buzz “the best advertising,” Salzedo says it usually takes about a year to tell whether a new location will stick.

“The plan is to be successful,” he said. “We have to execute the perfect meal.”

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Tysons Biergarten, left, and RollBar, right, operate out of shipping containers inside a tent at Shipgarten in Scotts Run (courtesy of Shipgarten/Instagram)

(Updated at 8:55 a.m. on 7/15/2022) After spending weeks perfecting various food and drink offerings, Shipgarten is ready to formally introduce its dining-in-shipping-containers concept to Tysons.

Launched on May 26 with its Tysons Biergarten revival, the Scotts Run pop-up will celebrate the completed rollout of its four restaurants and five bars with a three-day grand opening, starting at 3 p.m. tomorrow (Friday).

“We’ve been doing a soft opening for the past few weeks, making sure everything is perfect, especially the food, and things are looking very, very bright,” said Matt Rofougaran, managing partner for Creative Bar Concepts, which also developed Hops N Shine in Alexandria.

The festivities at 7581 Colshire Drive will include live music and local DJs, a moon bounce, face painting, various games and contests, a UFC Fight Night viewing, a ceremonial keg tapping, and at 3 p.m. on Saturday (July 16), a ribbon-cutting led by Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay.

“I am thrilled to be attending the ribbon-cutting for the ShipGarten pop-up,” McKay said in a statement to FFXnow. “This is exactly the kind of innovative use of urban open space that not only creates jobs but is fun, unique, and responsive to what the community wants. I am looking forward to joining the founding team for a beer and perhaps a curry wurst or taco!”

Concluding with an adults-only stein hoisting competition at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, the full schedule of events can be found on the grand opening weekend’s Eventbrite page.

Since late May, Shipgarten has unveiled a different shipping container each week. The biergarten, which features German beer and cuisine, was followed by the Asian fusion restaurant RollBär in early June and the fast-casual Persian eatery, Salamati Grille.

The final concept, Waffles and Tacos, opened about 10 days ago. As suggested by its name, the restaurant features customizable Belgian waffles and street tacos, along with American craft beer, a whiskey bar, and a distiller bar.

Boasting three 2,500-square-foot tents and what it says is the largest outdoor patio in the D.C. area, Shipgarten used the prolonged soft opening to ensure the staff was fully trained and refine the food and drink menus, Rofougaran says.

In all, Shipgarten has more than 100 beer options and over 60 types of bourbon, whiskey and tequila, according to a press release. Supplementing the bars and restaurants are a dog park, a kids’ playground, TVs and a 24-foot-wide projector screen, and outdoor games, including a giant Jenga and water pong.

“It’s just a big theme park in the heart of Tysons,” Rofougaran said.

After the grand opening weekend, Shipgarten will begin its regular operating hours of 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week.

Photo courtesy of Shipgarten/Instagram

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America’s Best Wings, a national chain of chicken wing restaurants, launched its first Fairfax County location today (Friday).

The fast-food company’s latest franchise opened to customers around 11 a.m. at the Cedar Park Shopping Center (262 Cedar Lane SE, Suite E) in Vienna. The soft opening precedes plans for a more formal introduction to the town next week.

“We’re super excited. I don’t think I’ll be sleeping the next two days to see how the community reacts,” franchise owner Mohammed Karim told FFXnow on Wednesday (July 6) after the restaurant completed its final health inspection.

Operating from 11 am. to 11 p.m. on Monday through Saturday, and until 10 p.m. on Sunday, the eatery serves 30 different flavors of chicken wings, along with seafood, burgers, Philly cheesesteaks, rice bowls, and salads.

America’s Best Wings has opened approximately 120 locations across 12 different states since starting about 20 years ago, according to founder Steve Kim.

Karim started franchising with the company in 2012, opening a store on Alabama Avenue SE in D.C. He now runs 11 different locations, but the Vienna one is the closest to home, located just a couple minutes’ drive from where he lives.

Given that personal connection, integrating the new restaurant into the community is a priority for Karim. The interior decor includes a wall with photos of Vienna landmarks and a summary of the town’s history.

Karim’s son plays for Vienna Little League, and he has already been in contact with that organization and Vienna Youth Soccer about America’s Best Wings potentially becoming a sponsor.

“Every time we lease a store…we don’t look for one day or two days. We want it to stay for 20 years,” Karim said. “…We’re so happy to be in this community. We want people to come. We want people to know us.”

Set for next Friday (July 15), the store’s grand opening will include an offer of five free wings for every customer who orders a five-piece meal. Flavors include dry rubs like cajun, garlic and parmesan, and the unique Moon Dust, as well as sauces that range in spiciness from mild to nuclear.

According to Karim, the flavors all come from recipes developed by Kim and don’t significantly vary from one franchise to another. The wings are sourced locally and cooked on-site without ever being frozen.

Supply-chain disruptions stemming from the Covid pandemic and recent inflation have presented challenges, but Karim says he’s committed to never compromising on the raw ingredients that go into the food.

“We try our best to always use the best ingredients,” he said.

While still focused on a successful opening in Vienna, America’s Best Wings has also been searching for other potential sites in Fairfax County, with the caveat that each location must be at least three miles away an existing franchise.

Karim says the team hopes to open a restaurant in Fairfax City but haven’t identified a specific location yet.

“We’re still looking around to see if the location and customers are what we’re looking for,” Karim said.

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Inside Rateba Grill and Ramen (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Rateba Grill and Ramen has opened at the Pan Am Shopping Center in Merrifield.

Offering a combination of Korean food and Japanese noodle soups, the new restaurant celebrated its grand opening on Tuesday (July 5). It replaced Lo’s Restaurant at 3075 Nutley Street, next to Bangkok St. Thai.

The restaurant will operate from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday through Saturday, with workers getting an break between lunch and dinner at 3-4 p.m. each day. Sunday hours run from noon to 8 p.m.

Owner Kibum Kim conceived of Rateba as a way to blend the cuisines from his two existing restaurants in Newington: Matsui Sushi & Ramen and the casual Korean barbecue joint Puzukan.

Rateba serves bulgolgi, cha dol (or sliced brisket), and other grilled meats as platters with salad and rice, and in bao or buns. The ramen comes in the traditional miso and shoyu flavors, but there are also some more unique options, like the volcano spicy miso with spicy chicken and bok choy vegetables.

The restaurant is about 2,000 square feet in size and can seat 60 to 70 people. While it doesn’t have a designated outdoor dining patio, the Pan Am Shopping Center has tables and chairs in a common area along the sidewalk.

“We just want to make really good food,” Kim told FFXnow in April. “We’re making really nice, delicious food for people so then we can convince other people around here to come to the restaurant and enjoy my food, so that’s our ultimate goal, making good food and good memories.”

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The new Herndon Outback Steakhouse, opening July 5 (photo by Restonian)

Outback Steakhouse will celebrate its grand opening on Tuesday (July 5), moving up the street from its previous location in the Town of Herndon.

The new 6,543-square-foot restaurant at 365 Elden Street features a large bar area and dining room. The current location at 150 Elden Street closed yesterday (Tuesday).

Douglas Canby, the restaurant’s proprietor, said the company is giving up to $5,000 from opening day proceeds to Operation Homefront, a nonprofit organization that supports military families.

“We are looking forward to joining the Herndon community and welcoming members to the Outback family when we open our doors,” Canby wrote in a statement.

The restaurant will be open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Construction on what was once a wooded lot began last year.

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Morning Notes

A trail bridge at Hidden Oaks Nature Center in Annandale (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Virginia Reports Second Case of Monkeypox — “The patient is an adult male resident of the Northern region of Virginia who was exposed out of state. The Virginia patient did not require hospitalization and is isolating at home. To protect patient privacy, no further information will be provided.” [VDH]

Discrimination Lawsuit Details Issues at Annandale Apartments — “The Fairfax County Circuit Court heard a case [Friday] that shined a light on the filthy and inhumane conditions at Fairmont Gardens in Annandale. Dean Sanchez, a former leasing agent, is suing the Donaldson Group, the company that owns the apartment complex…Sanchez reports the apartments are infested with mice, bedbugs, roaches, and mold.” [Annandale Today]

Man Arrested in McLean Charged in Capitol Storming — “A U.S. Naval reservist who was assigned to an agency that operates spy satellites told an undercover FBI agent that he stormed the U.S. Capitol with members of the far-right Proud Boys extremist group and has espoused anti-government and antisemitic ideologies, federal authorities said in court records unsealed on Thursday.” [NBC4]

Lawsuit Alleges FCPS Mishandled Sexual Assault Complaint — “Lawyers for a former Fairfax County student recently filed an amended complaint against the Fairfax County School Board outlining allegations of an unsafe environment that led to repeated sexual harassment and sexual assaults of the student.” [Inside NoVA/WTOP]

Metro Introduces $2 Weeknight Fares — “Lower-priced unlimited Metrorail and Metrobus monthly passes are now on sale for travel beginning July 1, providing more flexibility and value to customers who may no longer be commuting five days a week. And beginning Monday, June 27, all customers traveling on Metrorail after 9:30 p.m. on weekdays will benefit from a flat fare of $2 per one-way trip.” [WMATA]

Police Investigate Fairfax City Shooting — “The founder of a non-profit that builds schools for girls in Africa was found shot to death inside his Fairfax city home Friday morning.” [NBC4]

Falls Church Abortion Clinic Plans Expansion — “Falls Church Healthcare Center is working to expand capacity because they suspect they’ll soon get more out-of-state patients. They are looking to add more appointments, considering adding an extra day for scheduling and hiring nurse practitioners to deliver care.” [DCist]

New Lorton Fire Station Gets Grand Opening — “The new $14 million fire station is significantly larger, has energy efficient and environmentally sustainable features, and was outfitted to comfortably accommodate both male and female members of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue and the volunteer fire company.” [On the MoVe]

It’s Monday — Rain in the morning and afternoon. High of 80 and low of 68. Sunrise at 5:47 am and sunset at 8:40 pm. [Weather.gov]

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McLean residents turned out in force yesterday (Wednesday) for the grand opening of Fairfax County’s newest Lidl — its first north of I-66.

Starting with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 7:40 a.m., the 25,000-square-foot grocery store saw a steady stream of customers pack the parking lot at 1330 Chain Bridge Road, drawn by promises of giveaways and special deals.

Upon entering the store, visitors were greeted by bold yellow signs touting the chain’s reputation for low prices and the warm scent of fresh bread and pastries, which proved irresistible to at least one shopper.

“I was very impressed with the bakery,” she said, noting that she doesn’t normally buy baked goods but decided to grab some this time.

A first-time Lidl patron, the McLean resident said she typically frequents Trader Joe’s and ALDI with the Giant Food just down the road as a “fallback.” However, the arrival of a coupon flier and a friend who likes Lidl convinced her to check out the new store, which she thought had “variety” and was “well-stocked.”

Another shopper told FFXnow that she has visited the store in Merrifield, but the McLean location will be more convenient, since it’s “basically right across the street from us.”

“It’s a little crowded,” she said, expressing hope that the store will be calmer after the grand opening excitement fades.

In anticipation of a busy day, Lidl set up two extra checkout counters to accommodate shoppers with smaller items, according to an employee. The store has six permanent checkout bays.

Lidl views the store’s opening as a decided success, reporting “a great turnout” in the morning and continued excitement throughout the day.

“I think that the community’s very, very excited,” McLean store manager Oleg Perederiy said. “We’ve been having a lot of people here. People are really happy they’re getting the products that they want. They’re happy with the prices, and just the overall experience for them is great.”

The store’s operating hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. It will eventually be joined by Matchbox Pizza and Big Buns Damn Good Burgers, though Perederiy said it will likely be another month or two before the restaurants open.

Lidl still has stores in the works for Tysons, Lorton, and Chantilly. A spokesperson says timelines for the new locations haven’t been set yet, but the Tysons one could be ready sometime this year, Pike 7 Plaza owner Federal Realty previously told FFXnow.

While the German company’s current U.S. expansion remains focused on the East Coast, Perederiy says it could make the leap to the West Coast someday.

“At the moment, this company’s still opening stores, we’re still rapidly growing, and we’re still having massive success in the States,” Perederiy said.

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Get ready, McLean: Lidl is about to make its debut.

As promised, the German grocer known for its low prices will welcome customers to its newest store this summer, with a grand opening celebration on June 1, the company announced today (Friday).

“McLean residents have been looking forward to the opening of the Lidl grocery store for some time because of its reputation for high-quality products at discount prices,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said in the press release. “Congratulations to Lidl on the opening and welcome to the wonderful community of McLean.”

Located at 1330 Chain Bridge Road, Lidl takes the place of McLean’s Safeway, which closed in April 2021. The store will operate from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day going forward.

Launching with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 7:40 a.m., the grand opening celebration will include “special giveaways,” samples, a raffle for a $500 gift card, and gift cards ranging in value from $5 to $100 for the first 100 customers.

Lidl says it has also partnered with the local food bank, Share of McLean, to donate $1 during that first week through June 5 for every customer who signs up for its myLidl rewards program and sets the McLean location as their home store.

According to the release, Lidl invested about $10 million in renovating the site, its 34th in the U.S. The new store will create more than 45 new jobs, and all workers start at $16 per hour with benefits — including healthcare coverage for both full-time and part-time employees.

“Lidl has a long commitment to Virginia,” Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Matthew Lohr said, referencing the company’s choice of Arlington as its U.S. headquarters. “This McLean store will be their 34th in Virginia and their $10 Million investment will bring affordable food and groceries to families across the region. We greatly appreciate all they do for the communities they serve.”

Since establishing its Crystal City base in June 2015, Lidl has focused on expanding its presence along the East Coast, opening more than 150 stores across nine states.

The news of an opening date in McLean comes shortly after Lidl confirmed to FFXnow that it has plans for a Tysons location at Pike 7 Plaza. The company already has stores in Merrifield, Fairfax, Lincolnia, Burke, and Springfield, and new Lorton and Chantilly franchises are also in the works.

“We are excited to see Lidl continue to expand its presence in Fairfax County,” Fairfax County Economic Development Authority President and CEO Victor Hoskins said. “With the opening of its McLean store, Lidl continues to help strengthen our economic base and enhance the vibrancy of our community.”

The new Lidl will be accompanied by Big Buns Damn Good Burgers and Matchbox Pizza, but there’s no word yet on when those eateries will open.

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