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Sandbox VR, a full-body virtual reality gaming venue, will open at The Boro in Tysons on Dec. 22 (courtesy Sandbox VR)

Zombies, pirates and other virtual characters are about to be unleashed on Tysons, just in time for Christmas.

Sandbox VR will launch its new virtual reality gaming experience at 1656 Silver Hill Drive in The Boro with a grand opening on Dec. 22. This is the first Virginia location for the San Francisco-based startup, which has expanded to over 40 sites across North America, Asia and Europe since introducing itself to the world in 2019.

“We are thrilled to open our very first Virginia location and The Boro — with its robust lineup of entertainment options — is the perfect home,” Sandbox VR founder and CEO Steve Zhao said. “We can’t wait to introduce the McLean community to our world-class VR experiences and give residents and visitors alike the opportunity to experience a whole new reality.”

Initially anticipated this summer, the 7,508-square-foot venue will feature four private rooms known as “holodecks” that can each accommodate up to six players at a time. Players get a headset, haptic vest, a backpack, and wrist and ankle sensors that enable them to interact with each other in a fully immersive virtual world.

Pre-opening booking is now available at a discount of $39 per guest through Dec. 21. Admission is typically $50 to $55 per player, according to Sandbox VR’s website.

Games available at the Tysons location will include “Deadwood Valley” (zombies), “Deadwood Mansion” (haunted house), “Curse of Davy Jones” (pirates), the fantasy world “Seekers of the Shard: Dragonfire,” a sci-fi adventure “Amber Sky 2088,” the gladitorial “Unbound Fighting League,” and ones based on “Star Trek: Discovery” and the dystopian Korean show “Squid Game.”

Sandbox VR will be open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to midnight on weekends.

The virtual reality concept’s arrival continues a trend toward interactive entertainment in Tysons, as the area seeks to diversify its retail offerings to draw in visitors and support a growing residential population. Tysons Corner Center in particular has become a regular destination for pop-up “experiences,” such as the “Encanto”-themed show that opened today (Friday) and a Hot Wheels attraction coming next week.

The primary entertainment option at The Boro right now is the ShowPlace Icon movie theater.

“The Meridian Group is excited to officially welcome Sandbox VR to The Boro,” said Charlie Schwieger, vice president of asset management at TMG, the property owner and developer. “This tech-driven, immersive and social experience will be an entertainment destination for visitors of all ages. It’s the perfect addition to The Boro’s experiential retail lineup, restaurants and family-friendly entertainment options.”

Next year, The Boro will see the arrival of The Trillium Tysons, a senior living community currently under construction. The high-rise apartment building constitutes the first block of the neighborhood’s second phase, a 9.37-acre expansion that will include 40,000 square feet of retail space and more than 800 residential units.

The chain Poke Bros is opening its first Fairfax County location in Lorton Marketplace (courtesy Poke Bros)

(Updated at 1:30 p.m. on 12/8/2023) A growing chain restaurant that specializes in poke bowls is making its first foray into Fairfax County.

Poke Bros. says it anticipates a “large audience of hungry customers” for today’s grand opening of its new franchise in Lorton Marketplace. Doors will open at 9453 Lorton Market Street, Suite 17, at 11 a.m.

“Most fast food options out there are the same old fried food,” Poke Bros founder Xue Gong Chen said in a press release. “We’re proud that Poke Bros gives people something that’s quick and easy for lunch or dinner but with fresh, healthy ingredients and great flavor. Good food should be easy to grab on the go.”

A traditional Hawaiian cuisine, poke originated in pre-colonial days as cut-up raw fish that was eaten with fresh seaweed and preserved with sea salt. Influenced by Japanese immigrants, the dish evolved into its present-day form around the 1970s, becoming trendy in the mainland U.S. over the past decade — to some disapproval from Hawaiians.

Poke Bros was started in 2016 by Chen and two friends who first encountered the dish during a trip to California, according to its website. They opened the first restaurant in December of that year in Columbus, Ohio, with the goal of bringing “an inexpensive and accessible product” to the Midwest.

The fast-casual chain has now expanded to 72 locations in 13 states. The Lorton franchise is just the company’s second in Virginia, joining a location in Midlothian, and its first in the immediate D.C. area.

The menu features signature bowls — such as a “Johnny Utah” with salmon, avocado, edamame, cucumber, masago, Sriracha aioli and the chain’s exclusive, soy-based OG sauce — as well as a build-your-own option with rice and salad bases. There’s also mochi ice cream.

Anchored by Amazon Fresh, Lorton Marketplace is one of three main commercial centers emerging in the area once dominated by Lorton Prison. Other dining options in the shopping center include Glory Days Grill, Chipotle, Tropical Smoothie Cafe and the Japanese restaurant Tokyo One.

Prospective residents and other community members cut a ribbon to celebrate The Virginian’s renovation (photo by Jamey Simpson)

At 43 years old, The Virginian decided the time has come for a fresh look.

The senior living community held a grand opening last Friday (Nov. 17) to reveal the results of its first renovation since getting established at 9229 Arlington Blvd in Mantua more than four decades ago.

The $67 million renovation overhauled the facility’s assisted living wing, adding a restaurant and bistro, a movie theater, a library, a fitness center, a salon and other amenities for residents and their families.

“We wanted to refresh the building and bring a new product to the market that the new generation of seniors were really looking for, providing more of an independent living setting, more flexibility and options,” The Virginian Director of Sales and Marketing Jenna Ballard said. “So, that’s really what drove this.”

According to Ballard, design work on the renovation got underway before the pandemic, but the project got put on hold during the early months of COVID-19. Construction took about three years and is expected to fully finish by the end of this year.

A 32-acre property surrounded by Mantua Park, The Virginian was acquired by an affiliate of the Chicago-based private equity firm Focus Healthcare Partners in 2019. The new owner said it would undertake a “substantial renovation that will transform the property into a true Class A asset,” the Washington Business Journal reported at the time.

The Virginian consists of 330 rental apartments, including assisted living, independent living, memory care and skilled nursing units. It currently has about 275 residents, Ballard told FFXnow.

While the renovation didn’t significantly expand the 367,000-square-foot building, it provided more amenities and common areas for residents, according to Ballard.

“It’s like a one-stop shop. Everything is here for them,” Ballard said. “They could have meals in different restaurants. They could have a number of different activities and programs all here on campus. They don’t ever have to leave if they don’t want to.”

The design by interior designer Meyer Senior Living Studio and architect Moseley Architects aimed to “honor the old town charm of colonial Virginia with a new, hospitality-inspired contemporary flair,” according to a preview in Environments for Aging magazine.

More than 100 prospective residents, community partners and members of the Central Fairfax Chamber of Commerce attended last week’s grand opening, which featured a ribbon-cutting, champagne, hors d’oeuvres and a VIP tour.

Ballard says The Virginian’s goal going forward is to ensure residents have access to all the services they need on campus, regardless of “what stage they are in life.” In addition to long-term residences, the facility offers outpatient rehabilitation services, including a program specifically for people who have Parkinson’s disease.

“This is one of the best communities I’ve ever seen,” Ballard said. “It’s extremely attractive to our prospects and their families, because it provides them with so many options where they can be here for life and have peace of mind when they make this decision that it was the right move for them. So, I think from the design aspect to all the new amenities and resources that we have here, I think the entire project was incredible.”

Pisco Y Nazca in Reston (courtesy Pisco Y Nazca)

The Peruvian ceviche gastrobar that arrived in Reston Town Center this summer has a grand opening celebration coming up, just in time for end-of-the-year festivities.

The grand opening for Pisco y Nazca Ceviche Gastrobar is expected to take place on Wednesday, Dec. 13 at 2:30 p.m.

The 6,240-square-foot restaurant features a bar that provides an open view of the kitchen. It is located at 1871 Explorer Street for lunch and dinner, along with brunch on Saturday and Sunday.

“We extend an invitation to the Reston community to savor the flavors of Peruvian cuisine, drawing inspiration from the world’s premier ceviche establishments, offering distinctive dishes and unique cocktails,” Pisco y Nazca Regional Manager Rosa Reyes said.

Here’s a sampler of highlights from the restaurant’s menu:

  • CHEF’S SIGNATURE CEVICHE — corvina, shrimp, smoked jalapeño leche de tigre, sweet potato, choclo
  • LOMO SALTADO — wok seared tenderloin, soy and oyster sauce, onions, tomato petals, jasmine rice, fries
  • PESCADO CROCANTE — fresh whole fried fish, spicy Asian sauce, arroz chaufa blanco
  • TACU SECO DE CORDERO — braised lamb shank, cilantro sauce, ají amarillo, salsa criolla
  • ARROZ CON POLLO — Peruvian style chicken and rice, huancaina sauce, salsa criolla
  • CAUSA SAMPLER — Crocante, tartare, pollo

Also found in D.C. and Florida, the restaurant says its name comes from a Peruvian saying — “Entre Pisco y Nazca” — that translates to “enjoyment of libations in a social setting.” Accordingly, the bar serves signature cocktails, such as a pisco spritz that blends the Peruvian grape brandy with Aperol, lemon juice and sparkling wine.

Hours of operation are 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. There are daily happy hours, and weekend brunches include build-your-own mimosas and a bottle of sparkling wine.


The Dunn Loring Metro station’s new “beerstro” is set to pour its first official brew tomorrow (Thursday).

The Casual Pint, a pub specializing in craft beer, will throw a grand opening celebration for its Dunn Loring franchise (2676 Avenir Place, Unit F), starting with a first toast at noon, according to a media advisory.

Festivities are planned throughout the day, and supervisors Dalia Palchik (Providence) and John Foust (Dranesville) are expected to attend.

Franchise owners Jenn Longmeyer-Wood and Derek Adams previously told FFXnow that they hope to create a casual, family-friendly gathering spot where local residents can “hang out and just keep it easy.”

Residents of McLean, the pair worked at The Casual Pint in Seven Corners — the Tennessee-based company’s only other location in Northern Virginia so far — before deciding to open their own franchise.

In Dunn Loring, the 1,753-square-foot pub can seat 42 people indoors, including 10 at the bar. Outdoor seating is also available in The Shops at Avenir Place’s courtyard, which Adams and Longmeyer-Wood hope will host musical performances and other events in the future.

Here’s more from The Casual Pint on its food and drink offerings:


Casual Pint of Dunn Loring’s expertly curated selection of beers includes options from a 22-tap draft beer system, as well as single beer cans and bottles available for purchase to drink on-site or take home along with crowlers and growlers available to-go. According to Adams, their craft beer selection will always include IPAs, Pilsner and a dark brew or two on tap, as well as at least one cider and seasonal offerings. The restaurant also serves a curated range of wines, ciders, non-alcoholic beers, and various soft drinks for a diverse beverage experience.


Casual Pint of Dunn Loring features a small menu of all-star classic fare, including 12-inch handmade German pretzels from woman-owned Prop and Peller, served with house made beer cheese. Additionally, customers can enjoy brats, burgers, flatbread pizzas, wings, salads and wraps. Eventually, the team will begin adding seasonal items and regional specialties, incorporating ingredients and items from local butchers, locally grown vegetables, and locally owned/small-business specialty items.

Diners can also take the full Casual Pint experience home with food and craft beer to go, including Growler Fills, Mix-A-Six Packs out of our bottle & can cooler or packaged beer off the dry shelves. Kegs are also available for any occasion with advance orders.

The Casual Pint of Dunn Loring will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.

Maizal, a Latin American street food restaurant, is now open at Plaza America in Reston (courtesy Maizal)

Maizal, a chain that specializes in Latin American street food, is finally up and running in Reston.

The restaurant opened its doors in Plaza America this past Thursday (Nov. 2) — a full year later than the previously anticipated Halloween 2022 opening.

Patrick Mika, Maizal’s marketing and catering director, said he can’t comment on the delay, but the restaurant team is “just happy to be open.”

“We are so excited to finally be able to share our concept with Reston,” Mika told FFXnow. “…We have already had several people walk in from seeing our ‘now open’ banner and they were all blown away by the flavors!”

Located at 11690 Plaza America Drive, Maizal took the place of Zoës Kitchen, the fast-casual Mediterranean eatery that got swallowed up and rebranded by Cava.

A grand opening is scheduled for Nov. 15 at 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-8:30 p.m. Customers will be offered a free burrito bowl with any drink purchase, though the “premium meats” — grilled steak and braised brisket — will still cost an extra $2.50.

Mika says Maizal has specialty items that “set us a part from other Latin concepts,” including a variety of arepas, empandas and street tacos. The menu also includes quesadillas, nachos, chips and dips, burritos, and rice and salad bowls. The burritos, bowls and arepas can be ordered as pre-set or build-your-own dishes.

This is Maizal’s first Fairfax County location, but it’s part of the same restaurant group as Mezeh Mediterranean Grill, which can be found at Reston Town Center West, among other sites. Mika previously told FFXnow that the company’s familiarity with Reston through Mezeh led them to bring Maizal to the area.

Maizal now has five locations total, including two D.C. restaurants, one in Ballston and one in Charlottesville. Additional locations are expected to open at L’Enfant Plaza in D.C. and Pentagon City Mall in Arlington by the end of this year, Mika said.


A new dine-in movie theater option debuts tomorrow (Thursday) in Reston Town Center.

LOOK Dine-In Cinema’s grand opening is slated for tomorrow at 11940 Market Street — the previous home of Bow Tie Cinemas, which shuttered more than a year ago.

James Meredith, LOOK’s CMO, told FFXnow that the theater’s dining experience sets it apart from other moviegoing options in the area.

“The new LOOK Dine-In Cinema in Reston offers an elevated dining experience where our made-to-order, chef inspired menu items and craft cocktails are delivered directly to your seat,” Meredith said. “Additionally, every auditorium offers luxury reclining chairs and crystal clear presentation.”

The 11-screen cinema is the company’s first in Virginia. It features luxury seating and dine-in mobile technology that allows guests to order from menus and craft beverages. Items are then delivered to the guest’s seat.

Items on the menu include chicken tenders, crispy wings, loaded mac and cheese, burgers, quesadillas and a honey sriracha salmon bowl.

Those features will help the theater maintain its competitiveness, Meredith said.

“Our guests are looking for a full-service experience that includes great food, their favorite cocktails, state-of-the-art presentation, comfort and variety. At LOOK, we are part of the community and offer favorite content for all of our guests,” he said.

Customers can order more items up to 30 minutes before the show ends.

“I couldn’t be more excited to bring LOOK Dine-In Cinemas to Reston Town Center,” CEO Brian Schultz said. “Our theater is a place for this great community to enjoy, laugh, cry, be inspired, and most importantly, come together. It’s not just about movies; it’s about creating memorable moments and a shared experience that unites us all.”

Tomorrow’s grand opening features only evening showtimes from 5-9 p.m. Movies will include Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon,” Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla,” the horror flick “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie” and Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour concert film.

The Fairfax County Animal Shelter’s Lorton campus and the Lorton District Police Station share a site (courtesy Fairfax County)

(Updated at 1:05 p.m.) Fairfax County is ready to unveil its new, combined police station and animal shelter in Lorton.

The Fairfax County Animal Shelter’s Lorton campus and the Lorton District Police Station will get a grand opening celebration on Saturday, Oct. 28. The event will start with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m., followed by an open house with games, refreshments, tours and more from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The animal shelter announced on Wednesday (Oct. 11) that its Lorton campus will open for dog, cat and small animal adoptions on Thursday, Oct. 26, but all drop-offs should still be made at the Michael Frey Animal Shelter in Fairfax (4500 West Ox Road) through Oct. 31.

Located at 8875 Lorton Road, the 23,000-square-foot shelter features 44 dog kennels, 42 cat “condos,” two “catios,” a veterinary clinic and a 20,000-square-foot outdoor space for the animals.

The additional space will help relieve capacity at the Fairfax shelter, which has been strained by a post-pandemic influx of pet surrenders, particularly dogs. The expansion will also enable the Fairfax County Animal Shelter (FCAS) to provide services and housing for animals from Fairfax City.

“This facility will allow us to substantially grow the geographic reach and impact of our work for the residents of Fairfax County,” FCAS Director Reasa Currier said. “Not only will we be able to create even more families through adoption, but the second shelter will provide a hub for essential services including behavior and training support, veterinary medical care, pet supplies and other critical services that help keep pets with their families.”

Currier added that she’s excited to welcome South County residents “who may have not have had access to our resources and services before,” given the distance to the Fairfax shelter.

The animal shelter is co-located with the Lorton District Police Station, a 34,000-square-foot facility at 8855 Lorton Road. The Fairfax County Police Department has said the new South County station will improve service by allowing smaller patrol areas and reducing response times.

The FCPD has appointed Capt. Richard Morvillo as the station’s first commander.

“He is charged with beginning to develop community relationships with existing advisory committees and HOAs,” the FCPD’s public affairs bureau told FFXnow. “He also will serve as a conduit for any concerns brought to his attention to be relayed to the station commanders responsible for a particular area of the County until Lorton is fully operational.”

When fully staffed, the station will have 70 sworn officers and 10 professional staff employees. There will be about 20 to 30 officers working each day across two shifts, according to the police department.

As the FCPD waits for incoming recruits to alleviate a staff shortage, the new station will follow a phased approach, with officers from the Sully, West Springfield and Franconia districts continuing to patrol the Lorton District area.

“During the initial stages of the opening, the police department plans to begin front desk operations during the day and will have an emergency phone available outside during hours the station may be closed for community members to contact the police,” the FCPD said. “Coverage of the southern county patrol areas will remain the same until we begin transferring officers into the new station.”

In addition to Morvillo, the first phase of staffing includes a police lieutenant and former Fairfax County NAACP president Shirley Ginwright as a new community outreach specialist, On the MoVe reported.

The joint Lorton facilities broke ground in May 2021 after years of planning. The project cost an estimated $30 million for design and construction, funded by a $151 million public safety bond referendum approved by voters in 2015.

Lidl has set an opening date for its Pike 7 Plaza location in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

German-owned grocery chain Lidl is almost ready to unveil its brand-new location in the heart of Tysons.

Next week, the chain is opening a new store in Pike 7 Plaza (8387 Leesburg Pike) with a pair of events.

An “open house” is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 3, from 5-7 p.m. The event will be open to all ages, with face painting for children and a chance for community members to tour the store and sample wares.

Lidl officially opens on Wednesday, Oct. 4. The store will launch with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 7:45 a.m., followed by special offers on a first-come, first-served basis.

“The first 100 customers in line before the store opens at 8:00 a.m. will receive a special gift card ranging from $5 to $100 each,” Lidl said in a release. “Shoppers can also sample Lidl’s award-winning assortment and take advantage of special giveaways.”

The store will be open from 8 a.m.-9 p.m. every day.

Lidl is also pushing its “myLidl” membership program. The release said $1 will be donated to the nonprofit Capital Area Food Bank for every new member who signs up and sets the new store as their home page.

Lidl has been expanding its presence in Fairfax County recently, adding locations in ChantillyMcLean and Lorton over the past two years. The grocery store can also be found in Merrifield, Fairfax, Burke, Springfield and Lincolnia.

Elsewhere in Pike 7 Plaza, construction has begun on a new, standalone building for Shake Shack in the southeastern corner of its parking lot. The restaurant will feature a “drive-up” window and support curbside pickups.

Jersey Mike’s is set to open at Seneca Corner in Great Falls (courtesy Republic Land Development)

Another fast food option will soon be open in Great Falls.

Jersey Mike’s Subs is slated to open in at Seneca Corner (1024 Seneca Road) tomorrow (Sept. 23). The store will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.

The opening will kick off with a day of giving in support of Lowes Island Elementary School. All sales on opening day will be donated, according to the company.

Franchise owner Chris Brown said he wanted to support students and start the school year off on a strong note.

“Jersey Mike’s has maintained community involvement as its core value since the very beginning, and it is in that spirit that we’ve decided to donate all opening day sales, not just profit, to Lowe’s Island Elementary School,” Brown said. “We couldn’t think of a better way to announce to the community that we are here, and we want to help, all the while serving up the best submarine sandwiches.”

Items on the menu include cold and hot subs, with options like ham and provolone and California chicken cheese steak.

Jersey Mike’s has more than 2,500 locations across the country.

The sub shop will join CVS and Domino’s Pizza at Seneca Corner. A Five Guys is also slated to open in the newly constructed shopping center sometime this year.


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