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Personal training studio Fitness Together is planning to open a new location in McLean later this year.

The company has filed a permit to open at 6263 Old Dominion Drive in McLean in the former McLean Super Cleaners space.

The studio’s website said it will offer one-on-one personal training in private suites or virtually.

“You are unique and your training should be, too,” the website said. “No matter your age or fitness level, we are invested in helping you reach your personal goals because we take your health, well….personally.”

The studio doesn’t have prices listed online, saying the cost varies by studio, frequency of sessions, and “overall commitment to goals.”

The application for the building, meanwhile, says the new studio will come with extensive alterations, including new interior walls, ceilings, accessible restrooms and more.

The studio website said it’s scheduled to open in August 2024.

Photo via Google Maps

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Vienna restaurants Bazin’s on Church and Bazin’s Next Door (111 Church Street) will close later this month after the restaurant space was sold to new owners.

After 18 years, owner Julie Bazin said she and her husband were looking forward to traveling and spending time with family and friends, while new ownership takes over the location.

“Patrick and I have sold Bazin’s and Bazin’s Next Door and our last day will be Saturday, April 27th,” Julie Bazin said told FFXnow. “We will be forever grateful to this wonderful community and our team for an amazing 18 years!”

Julie Bazin said she’s excited for the new owners to come in and she’ll continue to support whatever restaurant comes next. No new restaurant concept has been officially announced.

The restaurant was known, in part, for its extensive gluten-free menu after Chef Patrick Bazin was diagnosed with Celiac disease, Patch wrote.

Julie Bazin said new ownership will take over on May 1.

Photo via Bazins on Church/Facebook

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Hilton, which has corporate headquarters in Tysons, has topped Fortune’s 2024 100 Best Companies to Work for rankings (courtesy Hilton)

Hilton continues to rake in five-star reviews from employees.

The Tysons-based hotel giant has been named the best company to work for in the U.S. by Fortune Magazine, which released its 27th annual round-up of the top 100 companies today.

The announcement marks a return to the top for Hilton, which has been ranked no. 1 twice before but slipped to second place last year and in 2022. That was still enough for Fortune to recognize Hilton as the World’s Best Workplace for 2023, giving the distinction to a hospitality company for the first time ever.

“Our team members have always been at the heart of our hospitality, and these collective recognitions are the result of the passion they bring to our guests and to one another each and every day,” Hilton President and CEO Chris Nassetta said. “We are so proud of the incredible culture we’ve built together and look forward to building on this tremendous foundation in the years to come.”

Based on surveys conducted by the data and research platform Great Place to Work, this year’s 100 Best Companies to Work for were united by an embrace of hybrid and remote work, with only two requring employees to work on-site four or more days a week, Fortune CEO Alan Murray said.

According to Great Place to Work, earning employee trust is more critical than ever for a quality workplace, as many industries assess the potential and risks of generative artificial intelligence, technology that CEO Michael Bush says “will radically transform how we work.”

Rated as a great place to work by 95% of responding employees, compared to 57% for a typical U.S. company, Hilton was distinguished by an emphasis on diversity and career growth, along with worker benefits such as discounted stays at its hotels, according to Fortune.

An example of employee comments describes a supportive environment for all workers:

The company goes above and beyond to recognize and celebrate team members and I have never experienced anything like it at any other workplace. I can confidently share my ideas and they are taken seriously even as an hourly employee. I have learned so much about sales, revenue, front office, food and beverage and operations in my 4 years here and I worked in 4 other hotels that never provided nearly as much learning experience as I’ve received here. My boss is the most encouraging, supportive and understanding boss that I have ever worked for. I love it!

In a press release, Hilton said it has worked to create a “strong global culture” and invested in “programs and benefits that support inclusion, wellness, growth and purpose.”

“Hilton’s culture of people serving people engages and inspires team members to create great stays for our guests, which drives guest satisfaction, strengthens Hilton’s business and creates continued economic opportunity for communities around the world,” the company said.

Headquartered at Park Place II (7930 Jones Branch Drive) since 2009, Hilton employs about 460,000 people, including 4,300 people in the D.C. area. The company has over 7,500 properties and is currently angling to build a new, dual-branded hotel in Tysons’ Scotts Run neighborhood.

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Esposito’s Fairfax closed on March 10 after 40 years in Fairfax City (staff photo by James Jarvis)

After years of enjoying the homey Italian cuisine served at Esposito’s Fairfax, Colleen Lester and her family decided the time had come to give back to the woman behind the restaurant.

So, when they learned that Esposito’s would close for good on March 10, ending a 42-year run in Fairfax City, Lester created an online fundraiser to support owner Maria Esposito. The campaign has now raised $4,100 out of a $20,000 goal, as of press time.

Esposito previously told FFXnow that she was given just two weeks to vacate the building at 9917 Fairfax Blvd where the business had operated since 1982. The property had been sold and is being considered for a Tommy’s Express Car Wash.

According to Lester, the abrupt notice left Esposito with a significant financial burden.

“Since she didn’t have much notice, she didn’t really have time to prepare financially for the cost of moving out of the space,” Lester said by email. “She also wanted to provide some sort of severance for her employees, who all lost their jobs without much warning.”

She will also still need to pay business taxes and any debts resulting from food and equipment orders that were placed weeks to months in advance but then had to be canceled, added Lester’s mother, Brenda Halbrook, who remains in close contact with Esposito.

The GoFundMe campaign is intended to help ease the burden of those expenses. Boosted by multiple triple-digit donations, it will remain open until early July, according to Halbrook.

A native of Fairfax County, Lester says her family was “heartbroken” when they heard that their long-standing favorite dining spot was going to shutter.

“My parents have lived here for the past 40+ years. We have been going to Esposito’s together for decades and are long time customers/friends of Maria’s,” she wrote. “…Our family has been eating at Esposito’s since I was a child and now my kids love going there with my parents (their grandparents) so we are 3 generations of loyal customers.”

Esposito’s was “packed” during its final week of business, and based on their conversations with Esposito, Lester and Halbrook say the restaurant owner appreciated the outpouring of support.

Since the closure, Esposito has been working at the Italian Oven, which is owned by her cousin. The McLean restaurant reopened at 6852 Old Dominion Drive in June 2022 after a 20-year hiatus.

The possibility of a comeback for Esposito’s Fairfax in a new location isn’t out of the question, according to Halbrook.

“The sudden notice to close shocked Maria to her core, but the outpouring of support from her many fairhful customers has been incredibly helpful to her,” Halbrook said. “Maria is a ‘people person,’ who genuinely loves her ‘family’ of customers. Maria would like to open her own restaurant again, if she can get the needed support.”

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Elected officials and Mitre leaders cut a ribbon to celebrate the opening of Mitre’s AI Discovery and Assurance Lab in Tysons (courtesy Office of Senator Mark Warner)

When you have concerns about an artificial intelligence-based technology, who are you going to call? For many federal government agencies, the answer is now the Mitre Corporation.

The not-for-profit research organization launched a new AI Assurance and Discovery Lab at its Tysons headquarters yesterday (Monday) with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended Virginia Sen. Mark Warner and Reps. Gerry Connolly and Don Beyer.

Staffed by Mitre’s scientists and engineers, the lab will help federal agencies and, in the future, private companies assess the risks, security and effectiveness of AI systems that could be used in health care, national security, transportation and other fields, according to a press release.

“Government use of AI will have consequential impacts on the nation and world,” Mitre Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Charles Clancy said. “…However, in adopting these systems, we also need to mitigate risks. Providing an independent assessment of the security, safety, and efficacy of AI systems will play a critical role toward helping government and business realize the transformational power of AI in benefits processing, intelligence analysis, autonomous vehicles, and more.”

Clancy added that the lab is envisioned as “a blueprint for a national network of AI assurance facilities.”

Founded in 1958 in Bedford, Massachusetts, where it still maintains a headquarters, Mitre was started by MIT to develop and manage an air defense system designed to detect potential Soviet missiles. Now bringing in a reported $2.2 billion in revenue, the contractor has helped build everything from facial recognition tools for the FBI to a contact-tracing system used during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Forbes profile.

The new lab inside the Mitre 4 high-rise at 7525 Colshire Drive will provide a space for testing AI technology, which is already being used by federal agencies to analyze drone photos, study volcanoes and match job seekers with openings, among other reported examples.

“The opening of MITRE’s AI Assurance and Discovery Lab is an exciting development in the most fertile frontier of technological progress — extracting maximum value from AI while mitigating some of its risks,” Warner said in a statement. “We need to have an all-hands-on-deck approach to studying and unleashing the potential of AI, and I look forward to seeing the discoveries and progress the lab will be able to make in this critical field.”

According to the press release, the lab’s physical space can be customized “for specific mission scenarios and workflows.”

The facility will be supported by more than 200 staff members from Mitre’s AI and Autonomy Innovation Center, according to AI Assurance Solutions Lead Miles Thompson, who oversees the lab. The space can accommodate 50 people at a time and “thousands of remote connections.”

“Federal agencies, and soon private companies, can bring AI-enabled systems to the lab to explore potential risks including whether they perform effectively, consistently, and safely in real-world contexts,” the release said. “MITRE will also use the lab to evaluate factors such as whether systems are secure and free from harmful bias, and allow users to control how their information is used.”

Connolly said Mitre’s lab will be “invaluable” for helping the government adopt AI “with the proper guardrails in place,” while Beyer noted that it suggests Northern Virginia will “continue to lead the way on tech innovation.”

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The clothing store Daniel’s Boutique is moving to Tysons after 36 years in Crystal City (courtesy Mona Rashidi)

(Updated at 11:50 a.m. on 3/19/2024) A local wardrobe consultant who has worked with celebrities like Kim Kardashian is setting up shop in Tysons.

Nasrin Rashidi hopes to reopen Daniel’s Boutique, the women’s clothing store that she owns with her husband, Sasan, at 8150 Leesburg Pike in early April. Named after the couple’s son, the business had operated in Crystal City for 36 years until closing its location there on Dec. 17.

Located in Suite 120, Daniel’s Boutique will have slightly less space in Tysons than it did at its previous home in Arlington’s Crystal City Shops, but the storefront will be much more visible, according to Nasrin.

“We’re excited for something different, something still service-oriented and all of that, but a little different for the next phase of our business,” she told FFXnow in a recent interview. “We want to kind of elevate the whole thing [so] that we bring in clientele that are looking for a nice place to shop and get service.”

Immigrants from Iran, the Rashidis established their first business, L.A. Moves and Furs, at Beacon Center in Groveton in 1984 before moving to Crystal City and opening Daniel’s Boutique a few years later.

At one point, they ran three stores in Crystal City and a fourth at the former Skyline Mall in Bailey’s Crossroads. The business eventually consolidated into a single location at 2142 Crystal Drive in 2018.

Specializing in women’s designer fashion, including gowns, suits and furs, Daniel’s Boutique offers tailoring, wardrobe consulting, and fur storage and restyling services to all genders in addition to selling clothes as a retailer.

Though the shop accepts walk-in customers, Nasrin says most clients make appointments, which gives her time to assemble a wardrobe appropriate for their needs, whether they’re preparing for a job interview or a wedding.

“I don’t just bring out clothes to sell it,” Nasrin said. “I want to make sure this clothes would be the right item for the right person, and being honest about what I’m selling to them brings them back… Sometimes, I go out of my way to re-style the dress for them. They know I can do that. I add a sleeve to the dress or whatever to accommodate their needs for the events. So, that is a need that is not provided everywhere.”

Some of those clients have been bold-faced names, such as the aforementioned Kardashian and her then-husband Kanye West and actor Andy Garcia. Nasrin has also worked events like the National Christmas Tree Lighting in D.C., the Gershwin Prize ceremony at the Library of Congress and the annual Mark Twain Prize celebration at the Kennedy Center.

Even with its sometimes high-profile clientele, Daniel’s Boutique remains a decidedly family-oriented affair. Sasan’s parents sometimes helped at the stores before they passed away, and the owners’ children, Daniel and Mona Rashidi, are both involved in the business.

Mona, who’s part of the marketing team, says she’s inspired by her parents’ journey. Nasrin’s first job after she left Iran at 17 was at a dry cleaner, where she pressed clothes and made alterations, among other duties.

“I know how hard my parents have worked for all these years. They’re the reason I was able to eat and have a home,” Mona said. “…Coming from another country and starting their business and being so successful, I’m very proud to be part of this and help them as much as I can.”

Daniel’s Boutique’s 36-year stay in Crystal City ended more abruptly than expected after the landlord rejected the owners’ request that they be allowed to stay through the end of the year, including the busy winter holiday season.

Fortunately, Atlantic Realty Company, the owner of 8150 Leesburg Pike, offered a temporary office space where the business could store its goods until construction on the new shop finishes.

“We are hoping for that,” Mona said of the potential early April grand opening. “There will be a big announcement, because all our clients are also waiting. They’re asking all the time.”

This story was updated to clarify Daniel’s Boutique’s work with Kim Kardashian. The business altered her outfit for a BET Awards ceremony, but it didn’t provide the clothes, as previously implied.

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The Esposito’s Fairfax in Fairfax City will permanently close after this weekend.

Owner Maria Esposito told FFXnow that the property owner notified her last Thursday, Feb. 28, that she had two weeks to vacate the premises because the property has been sold.

Located at 9917 Fairfax Blvd, the Italian restaurant first opened over four decades ago in 1982 and will welcome its final customers on Sunday, March 10.

It’s unclear who bought the property, but the Fairfax City Council is currently mulling a special-use permit to repurpose the 1.15-acre site for a Tommy’s Express Car Wash.

D.C.-based private equity firm Olympus Pines, which submitted a pre-application in November 2021, is behind the car wash proposal. The Board of Architectural Review Board and City Council members reviewed the application at two separate work sessions held last December and this past January.

A public hearing date, required before any vote, has not been set.

Last month, Esposito assured FFXnow she had no plans to close the restaurant, but the decision was ultimately out of her hands.

“It breaks my heart, this is like a family to me,” she said. “You become family after so many years. I’ve known all the customers since before 1982 in the ’70s. We share good news. We share sad news. We have shared tears. You know, we have a history over here… It’s been very sad, but it’s not in my control.”

Esposito says she plans to work temporarily in McLean, stating that she needs “a job, but right now we don’t know what the future holds.”

When reached for comment, Fairfax City Economic Development (FCED) said it has been working with the restaurant owner to make sure they’re aware of the resources it offers to local businesses.

“Esposito’s is a long-standing Fairfax City business and we have been working with the ownership to ensure that they have access to our resources and programs designed to help businesses remain and stay in Fairfax City, regardless of the location,” FCED President and CEO Christopher Bruno said.

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Clifton’s Paradise Springs Winery is one of six Virginia wineries to attend the 2024 Wine Paris and Vinexpo Paris (courtesy Visit Fairfax)

The lead-up to Valentine’s Day has carried an extra note of sweetness for Paradise Springs Winery.

The Clifton winery is wrapping up a three-day stay in France for the fifth annual Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris, where it’s representing Fairfax County as one of just six participating Virginia establishments.

Held this Monday through Wednesday (Feb. 12-14), the international trade show is one of the world’s biggest events for the wine and spirit industry, drawing businesses and entrepreneurs from nearly 50 countries and an estimated 40,000 visitors this year.

“To think of the journey we’ve been on since opening the winery over 18 years ago, to now have our wine being well received globally by audiences in different regions that are known the world over for producing excellent wines, is a really satisfying feeling,” Paradise Springs Winery CEO and founder Kirk Wiles said in a statement.

Encompassing 36 acres in Clifton near Hemlock Overlook Regional Park, Paradise Springs (13219 Yates Ford Road) became the first winery in Fairfax County when Wiles and his family launched it in 2007.

The business crafted its first vintage — a reserve cabernet sauvignon — that fall, but its doors didn’t open to the public until Jan. 16, 2010 due to some legal wrangling with the county over whether the property was zoned for a vineyard, Paradise Springs says in its official history.

The winery has since expanded to a second location that opened in Santa Barbara, California, in 2014, making it the first bi-coastal wine brand in the U.S., according to Visit Fairfax, the county’s official tourism marketing agency.

At this week’s Wine Paris Vinexpo, Paradise Springs showcased its 2021 petit verdot — which was named a Virginia Governor’s Cup Case winner last year. It also poured a cabernet franc petit manseng and a specialty mix of petit verdot and tannat that will be served at the home of the U.S. ambassador to France this week.

Fairfax County’s wine scene remains small. Paradise Springs is joined by the Winery at Bull Run, which opened in Centreville in 2012, and Woodlawn Press Winery, a family-owned microwinery located just off Richmond Highway in Mount Vernon.

However, as chair of the Virginia Wine Board for the past eight years, Wiles says attending the Wine Paris Vinexpo represents a significant step forward for the state’s wine industry.

“To be here in this moment is validating for the Commonwealth — being recognized as producing some of the best wine in the United States,” he said. “The goal is to reach new audiences that don’t know the quality of Virginia wine, and the more people that know about our exceptional product, the higher the demand will be.”

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Princess Jewelers owners Lee and Lim Nguonly join their staff for a final photo before the Vienna store closes permanently on March 16 (courtesy Princess Jewelers)

The family that has run Vienna’s Princess Jewelers for nearly four decades is stepping down.

The retail jewelry store at 529 Maple Avenue West will permanently close on March 16, as owners Lee and Lim Nguonly retire after 38 years in the business. A liquidation sale is underway and will continue through that final day.

In a public announcement of the impending closure, the Nguonly family expressed “deep gratitude” to their customers and supporters, many of whom have already reached out in appreciation.

“Our customers were like family to us. Our children grew up alongside theirs. We shared in countless milestones in our customers’ lives — engagements, anniversaries, births,” Lee Nguonly said. “It’s been an honor and joy to share these momentous occasions with so many customers. We are very grateful for their loyal patronage.”

Located in the Village Green Shopping Center, Princess Jewelers first opened its doors in 1986. In addition to selling engagement and wedding rings and other diamond and gemstone jewelry, it offers repair, appraisal and custom design services.

With a staff of certified gemologists and goldsmiths, the business says it was able to build up a reputation for quality craftsmanship and customer service over the years, earning Lee Nguonly the title of “Business Person of the Year” for 2000 from the Vienna Chamber of Commerce (now the Vienna Business Association).

In a blog post for Patch in 2013, one customer gushed that they were treated “like I was a princess” when they visited Princess Jewelers to get their wedding ring fixed. The shop not only repaired the ring, but also created a second ring with diamonds they had from their mother.

“The key to our success was the mutual interest and trust — be it on the broad level of community and business, or between jeweler and customer,” Lee said in a press release.

As it prepares to close its doors for the last time, the business is selling all of its diamond and gemstone jewelry at a discount, with prices starting at 50% off for in-stock inventory. The sale doesn’t include loose stones or custom designs, according to a public relations representative.

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Cars head south on Richmond Highway (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

Public art and social spaces will be key to transforming southern Richmond Highway into a community, a panel of local land use experts says.

Last week, the consulting nonprofit Urban Land Institute (ULI) presented recommendations at the Hybla Valley Community Center for how to foster economic growth in the corridor, while preserving its cultural identity through “placemaking.”

Placemaking highlights the unique aspects of a community, including its people and history, which encourages activity and “helps to make the space vibrant,” Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation (SFDC) Executive Director Evan Kaufman told FFXnow in an interview.

“Obviously, you can go to any corporate strip mall across the country, and you’re not really going to find a sense of place,” Kaufman said. “You’ll probably find an Applebee’s, Wendy’s, and Home Depot, which are great. Those provide services, but they’re not really telling a story of the community.”

After spending two days studying four miles of the corridor from Jeff Todd Way to Lockheed Blvd, the assembled panelists proposed creating community spaces for socializing — like parks and event venues — and enhancing the area with public art and more greenery.

The full findings will be detailed in a report that’s expected in the next six to eight weeks, according to the SFDC, which worked with the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Development to finance the study.

ULI will also conduct follow-up surveys to track the implementation of the panel’s recommendations.

Designated as a focus area for commercial revitalization since 1986, the Richmond Highway corridor has seen those efforts intensify in recent years, as the county and Virginia Department of Transportation prepare to widen the road and add bus rapid transit service.

With some community members fearing negative impacts from the road widening project in particular on traffic, pedestrian safety and local businesses, the ULI study aims to identify strategies that can stimulate economic growth and improve the area’s quality of life.

In the short term, the consultant’s panelists recommended establishing a visitors center and using signage to guide visitors and residents to businesses affected by construction. Panelists also proposed using landscaping, pop-up activities and murals to beautify shopping plazas and make commercial areas more inviting. Read More

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