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Guapo’s will replace the now-shuttered Chevys Fresh Mex restaurant at Gatehouse Plaza in Merrifield (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

A family-owned chain of Tex-Mex restaurants will soon add Merrifield to its roster of locations across the D.C. area.

Guapo’s plans to take over the former Chevys Fresh Mex restaurant at 3052 Gate House Plaza, as the Washington Business Journal reported on Friday (Sept. 23).

“We are looking to open early 2023,” Guapo’s owner Ángela Musalem told FFXnow by email, adding that more information will be available as the opening gets closer.

Chevys didn’t return FFXnow’s request for more details about the closure of its Merrifield location by press time.

The restaurant will be located between Uno Pizzeria and Fairfax County’s first unionized Starbucks in Gatehouse Plaza, which also has a Wendy’s, Panda Express, Sweetwater Tavern and Sunoco gas station.

Fairfax County granted an interior alteration permit to Guapo’s on Sept. 9 allowing renovations to the building’s patio, vestibule, bar area, and dining room.

According to its website, Guapo’s was started by the Ricon family, who moved to Virginia in the late 1970s. The chain is currently run by the original owners’ children after they all attended and graduated from Fairfax County Public Schools.

The business has six Guapo’s locations, including one in Fair Lakes, as well as three Charcoal Chicken & Taquerias, one of them on Elden Street in Herndon.

The Washington Post ranked Guapo’s as the fourth-best Tex-Mex restaurant in the D.C. region in 2017, highlighting its freshly made flour tortillas.

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The Boro is bringing back its annual Oktoberfest celebration (courtesy The Boro Tysons/Lancer Photography)

Theoretically, an intrepid day drinker could hit up all three of the Oktoberfest celebrations around the Tysons area scheduled for next weekend.

Provided they have a designated driver or don’t mind quick Uber trips from the Metro: here’s where they’ll be going:

Kicking off a full day of Oktoberfest activities around the Tysons area is Caboose Commons (2918 Eskridge Road). The Merrifield brewpub is launching is “Hoptoberfest” on Saturday, Sept. 17, at around 11 a.m. The celebration will run all day and feature beers from various local breweries.

Shipgarten (7581 Colshire Drive) is launching the same day at 1:15 p.m. The Tysons bar is launching its Oktoberfest on Saturday, Sept. 17, with a ceremonial “tapping of the keg” for a beer imported from Germany. the festival ends at 6 p.m. The festivities will feature over 50 beers from Germany, Austria and the United States.

Nearby, The Boro (8350 Broad Street) is kicking off its Oktoberfest an hour later. The Boro’s Oktoberfest will launch at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17, featuring a biergarten, outdoor games, polka music and more. The first 150 guests will receive a free branded stein.

That same day, Cox Farms’ Fall Festival kicks off. The festival opens on Sept. 17 and will be open every weekend (Thursday through Monday) until Tuesday, Nov. 8. The festival features several large slides and a hay ride, among other attractions. The Fall Festival opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m., with the last entry one hour before closing, so the theoretical Tysonian might want to visit the Fall Festival before touring the Oktoberfests.

A little later than the others: Vienna’s Oktoberfest is scheduled to return on Saturday, Oct. 1, from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. along Church Street. This year, the event is slated to feature two beer and wine gardens, along with a selection of international food, a car show and more.

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(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) A coworking company that advertises its flexible offices as “the future of workspace” is bringing that future to Merrifield.

Venture X has leased nearly 28,000 square feet of space on the third floor of Williams Crossing (3060 Williams Drive) and will open its first coworking location in Fairfax County on Jan. 2, 2023, the company announced last Wednesday (Aug. 10).

The site will offer private offices, shared desks, virtual office space, conference rooms, and a community and cafe area.

This will be Venture X’s fourth Virginia location, including one that opened in Arlington last year, and the second owned by Richie and Charissa Parsons, who also own a location at One Loudoun in Ashburn.

“After being open less than 10 months, our first location is almost at capacity,” Richie Parsons said in a press release. “So, we’ve been looking at options for expansion. When presented with the opportunity to open a Venture X in a highly desirable location next to Mosaic District, we knew this would be the perfect spot for our second location.”

Parsons highlighted the building’s relative proximity to the Mosaic District, I-495 and Route 50, and the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station as assets.

Founded in southwest Florida in 2012, Venture X is now a subsidiary of the United Franchise Group Coworks, which is the largest privately held coworking franchise in the world, according to the press release. It has almost 50 locations worldwide.

While initially a challenge for the industry, the pandemic has fueled a coworking revival, as employers push to reopen offices while acknowledging that many workers want the option to work remotely.

Venture X President Michael White said in a statement that the company is “thrilled” to see the Parsons bring a franchise to Merrifield, which he called “an ideal community” for the “contemporary, design-forward” concept.

“Our brand is geared towards business professionals looking for upscale surroundings,” White said. “The demand for more flexible workspace in Virginia continues to increase and this highly anticipated location is expected to enter the market around the end of this year.”

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The Belgian company Neuhaus Chocolate will open a boutique at the Mosaic District (photo by Federica Carlet/Neuhaus Belgian Chocolate)

The Mosaic District has a new chocolate shop on the way to fill the hole left two years ago by Artisan Confections.

Neuhaus Belgian Chocolate will open its first Northern Virginia store in the Merrifield neighborhood this fall, confirmed Antony Verbaeys, the company’s U.S. managing director.

“Neuhaus Belgian Chocolate is indeed opening a boutique in Mosaic District,” Verbaeys said in an email. “The Washington metro area is an important market for us with stores in D.C. and Bethesda, MD. A presence in Northern Virginia is a logical next step to serve our loyal clientele.”

The store will move into 2905 District Avenue, Suite 170, which had been occupied by Artisan Confections for eight years before the Arlington-based chocolate shop opted to close that location in July 2020.

Though there were no signs indicating Neuhaus’ approach as of this past weekend, Fairfax County issued a permit for interior demolition of the space on July 26. Verbaeys says the store is currently scheduled to open in early October.

Originally opened in Brussels in 1857, Neuhaus was started by Swiss pharmacist Jean Neuhaus, who developed a method of dipping his patients’ medicine in a thin layer of chocolate. His grandson later replaced the medicine with nuts, cream, and other fillings to invent what’s now known as Belgian pralines, according to the company’s website.

Neuhaus now has eight stores in the U.S., opening its American flagship on New York City’s Madison Avenue in 2012. Its existing D.C. area locations are in Bethesda Row and Union Station.

The chocolate shop isn’t the only business expected soon at the Mosaic District, which recently welcomed the Indian restaurant Rasa. Junction Bar and Bistro has hopes for a late August arrival, and the gym BASH Boxing is on track to open in September.

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Morning Notes

A car at the Franconia-Springfield Metro station pick-up line (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Sidewalk Projects Planned to Address Route 7 Pedestrian Safety — Virginia and Fairfax County officials are working to add sidewalks along Route 7 in the Culmore area of Bailey’s Crossroads. Prioritized sites include the Liberty gas station where a pedestrian was hit and killed by a vehicle in December, prompting safety advocates to campaign for improvements. [Annandale Today]

Person Rescued from Lincolnia House Fire — “Units arrived on scene with smoke visible and fire on the second floor. Two of three occupants evacuated the home prior to fire department arrival. One occupant was trapped in a bedroom. Crews rescued the occupant via a ground ladder — unharmed!” [FCFRD]

Former FCPD Officer Sentenced in Daughter’s Death — Jason Michael Colley pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree assault in Frederick County Circuit Court last week in connection to his 6-month-old daughter’s death in 2017. Sentenced to a combined 50 years, he will serve eight in private home detention and serve five years of supervised probation on the condition that “he not engage in physical punishment of children.” [ABC7]

Old Dominion Drive Closed for Two Days — “Old Dominion Drive (Route 738) will be closed to through traffic between Balls Hill Road (Route 686) and Route 123 (Dolley Madison Boulevard), weather permitting, from 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 8 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9 to replace stormwater pipes…Traffic will be detoured via Balls Hill Road, Lewinsville Road (Route 694) and Route 123 back to Old Dominion Drive.” [VDOT]

Two Charged in McLean Church Burglary — Two men were reported forcing entry into the Faith Bible Presbyterian Church (6901 Haycock Road) through a window at 5:17 p.m. on July 31. Officers found the 18-year-olds inside the church, taking property. They were both charged with burglary and property destruction, and one of them was charged with providing false identification to law enforcement. [FCPD]

Reston Assault by Teens Under Investigation — “Officers from the Reston District Station of the Fairfax County Police Department are investigating an assault that occurred Wednesday night in the South Lakes area, according to the weekly crime report. Around 10:45 p.m., a group of teens stole property and assaulted a person in the 11900 block of Barrel Cooper Court…The victim was treated for non-life-threatening injuries” [Patch]

Renovation of Merrifield Fire Station Complete — “After a little over two years, the renovation at Station 30, Merrifield, is complete. [Thursday], crews moved back in. Station was totally operationally during the renovation with a trailer for personnel in back. The reno included an addition of 440 square feet.” [FCFRD/Facebook]

Graffiti by Soldiers Revealed at Historic Fairfax Farmhouse — “Between March 1862 and June 1863, hundreds of Union soldiers left their enduring marks in charcoal, graphite or crayon on the walls of the attic and first and second floors of Historic Blenheim, a brick 1859 farmhouse and 12-acre estate on what is now Old Lee Highway.” [WTOP]

It’s Monday — Humid throughout the day. High of 91 and low of 76. Sunrise at 6:17 am and sunset at 8:13 pm. [Weather.gov]

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(Updated at 3:55 p.m. on 8/4/2022) A developer that specializes in “live/work lofts” has set its sights on a pair of Merrifield office buildings being vacated by Inova Health System.

The buildings at 8110 Gatehouse Road and 2990 Telestar Road will be renovated and repurposed, respectively, as live-work units and workforce housing under a rezoning proposal that Fairfax County received from Madison Highland Live Work Loft Services LLC on July 25.

Madison Highland consists of the developers Madison Marquette and Highland Square Holdings. Formed in April to build more live-work communities in the U.S., it is also behind a live-work development proposed for the Skyline Center in Bailey’s Crossroads.

Inova had been using the Gatehouse and Telestar buildings as its corporate headquarters for the past 12 years, but the nonprofit is consolidating those operations on its main campus to the south, according to a July 22 statement of justification.

“This creates a unique opportunity to repurpose the newly vacant buildings…while furthering a number of important County policies,” McGuireWoods attorney Mike Van Atta wrote, citing the county’s goals to expand the availability of workforce housing and park space.

Inova confirmed that its Gatehouse and Telestar offices will be relocated to the Inova Center for Personalized Health (8100 Innovation Park Drive) this fall.

Fairfax County introduced live-work development as a new residential use with the revised zoning code adopted in 2021, defining it as:

A structure or part of a structure with areas specifically designed for occupancy by a single owner, tenant, or user to accommodate a residential dwelling unit and a flexible work space. This use does not include a home-based business that would be permitted in a single-family detached dwelling.

In its application, Madison Highland proposes turning the Gatehouse building into 210 live-work units that could range in size from 600 to 1,300 square feet. The individual units could be used as housing, offices, joint residential/office space “or any combination of those uses.”

The Telestar building, which was built in 1969, is being planned for up to 82 workforce dwelling units that will have one or two bedrooms. All units will be reserved for residents who earn 60% of the area median income or below.

Both buildings will be fully renovated, but their core structures “will be preserved to the extent possible,” the statement of justification says. The heights — six stories for the Gatehouse building and four for the Telestar building — will remain the same. Read More

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Bad Axe Throwing has vacated its Mosaic District space (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The former Bad Axe Throwing spot at the Mosaic District in Merrifield is being wiped clean.

Work to demolish Suite 190 at 2985 District Avenue has been underway for the past month, based on Fairfax County permits, as property owner EDENS prepares the space for a potential new tenant.

For those just itching to toss a hatchet or two, though, Bad Axe Throwing urges patience. The business is “actively pursuing a new location to open in the Fairfax area,” says Skylar Mills, the operations manager for the shuttered Mosaic District site.

“Fairfax is an amazing area and we are fully committed to finding a new, awesome location but it can take some time,” Mills said in an email to FFXnow. “Being an event based business, and axe throwing on top of that, narrows our options so we generally need to remain patient until the right space becomes available.”

Mills said she couldn’t comment further on a possible new location or reopening date but confirmed the company is “looking at any and all options in the broader area,” not just the Mosaic District.

Bad Axe Throwing started in 2014 amid a trend of axe-throwing bars that first took off in Canada before migrating to the U.S. in the late 2010s. After opening its first center in Ontario, it now has eight locations in Canada, dozens in the U.S., and two in the U.K.

The Mosaic District bar opened in September 2019 and reported success with over 600 visitors in its first weekend. However, it closed in the spring of 2020 when then-Gov. Ralph Northam ordered a shutdown of most businesses in Virginia in an effort to limit the coronavirus’ spread.

Bad Axe Throwing founder and CEO Mario Zelaya told FFXnow’s sister site, Tysons Reporter, that May that the company intended to reopen the Mosaic location when possible, though even then, a “long and difficult road to recovery” was expected.

The Mosaic District has added a few, mostly food-related tenants in recent months, including Shake Shack, the pizza eatery Pupatella and Pressed juice bar. The fast-casual Indian restaurant Rasa will open in the mixed-use neighborhood tomorrow (Saturday).

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The fast-casual Indian eatery Rasa will open its Mosaic District location on July 30 (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

A new fast-casual Indian restaurant has arrived at the Mosaic District, filling a gap left in the Merrifield neighborhood’s dining options by Choolaah’s departure.

Rasa, a small but growing chain started in D.C. by two friends, will fully open its first Fairfax County location to customers this Saturday (July 30). Details about the grand opening will be forthcoming, the business said in an Instagram post on Friday (July 22).

“This will be our first suburban location, and we are so excited to be able to share our cuisine and culture with folks in Fairfax,” Rasa co-founder Sahil Rahman said. “Whether it’s your first time trying Indian food or you grew up in a South Asian household, we hope to be a place where guests can either experience a new culture or celebrate their own, while enjoying delicious food and drinks at an accessible price point in a welcoming and cozy environment.”

Located right next to Target at 2905 District Avenue, Suite 160, Rasa is 1,800 square feet in size with 27 seats, along with four outdoor tables that can accommodate eight people.

The restauranta will serve rice and salad bowls with both chef-prepared and do-it-yourself options. Drinks include juice and mango lassi as well as beer, wine, and cocktails.

The Mosaic location will also be the company’s first to feature a kids’ menu, a move that reflects the area’s “family-centric” environment and is intended “to encourage cultural and culinary exploration across all ages,” according to a Rasa spokesperson.

Rahman says Rasa “crafted a menu that is for everyone.” All of the meat is Halal, vegan options are plentiful, and since chef K.N. Vinod is from Kerala, flavors from southern India are represented as well as north Indian dishes like chicken tikka that are more common in the D.C. area.

Founded by Rahman and his childhood best friend, Rahul Vinod, Rasa opened its first location in 2017 near D.C.’s Navy Yard, just a block away from Nationals Park. The business expanded to Mount Vernon Triangle in 2020 and Arlington’s Crystal City last summer.

Rahman says he and Vinod “have always had a fondness” for the Fairfax area, ever since Bombay Bistro — the restaurant started by their fathers, K.N. Vinod and Surfy Rahman, in Rockville, Maryland — expanded to Fairfax City in 1995.

“It’s very exciting to be able to get back out this way,” Rahman said. “At Mosaic, EDENS has developed a unique, vibrant, and thriving community, and we’re looking forward to joining such a diverse and lively place.”

Rasa hasn’t shared any specific expansion plans, but Rahman says the team hopes “to continue growing in the region and beyond.” The company has been “actively seeking” new locations in the hopes of doubling its existing footprint, Bisnow reported in March.

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Bash Boxing anticipates opening a gym at the Mosaic District this September (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

A boutique gym is bringing its boxing-inspired workouts to Fairfax County.

Introduced to Rosslyn in 2018, BASH Boxing will soon extend its reach beyond Arlington County for the first time with a new studio at the Mosaic District in Merrifield.

The location is expected to open in September, a BASH employee told FFXnow last week, but the company is already getting acquainted with the community, popping up at the weekly farmers’ market and partnering with other businesses on free workout sessions.

The gym will be located in 2905 District Ave, Suite 195, on the same corner as EagleBank and Sweetgreen. The room was previously occupied by Zengo Cycle, which declared bankruptcy and shut down all of its fitness studios last year.

BASH Boxing announces that it’s opening a studio in the Mosaic District (via Bash Boxing/Facebook)

With two established sites in Rosslyn and Ballston, BASH announced plans to start franchising in early 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to pivot to live-streamed classes that spring, founder and co-owner Alexandra Trakas told FFXnow’s sister site ARLnow in January 2021.

As its studios reopened for limited in-person classes in the summer of 2020, the business also revived its franchising plans.

“Trakas and her investment team, which includes Washington Capitals player Tom Wilson, plan to help open hundreds of locations ‘in the coming years,’ locally and nationally,” ARLnow reported.

The past couple of months have been busy at the Mosaic District, with a Pressed juice bar and Pupatella Neapolitan Pizza opening in May and June, respectively. In addition, the Mosaic Skateland roller rink has returned for a second year, and Jinya Ramen Bar recently completed a move to a larger location at 2911 District Avenue, Suite 170.

The Middle Eastern restaurant Tawle is expected to open in Jinya’s newly vacated suite later this year.

Screenshot via BASH Boxing/Facebook

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Fairfax County police car with lights flashing (file photo)

A man taking a nap in his vehicle in Merrifield earlier this month awoke to the startling realization that he was being carjacked, the Fairfax County Police Department reported on Friday (July 15).

According to the department’s recap for the week of July 8-14, a man was recently arrested in a neighboring jurisdiction for the carjacking, which occurred in the 8500 block of Lee Highway around 8:01 p.m. on July 10.

“The victim was asleep in the passenger seat of his running 2021 Toyota Camry,” the FCPD said. “While he was asleep, a man got in the car and drove away. When the victim awoke, the man implied he had a weapon and ordered the victim out of the vehicle.”

Last week, the McLean District Station also handled an assault case in West Falls Church that allegedly involved a vehicle and a handgun being fired.

The incident started around 10:57 p.m. last Tuesday (July 12) at the intersection of Monticello Drive and Labella Walk with two people getting into an argument while driving:

The man demanded the victim to get out of his vehicle while displaying a handgun. When the victim refused, the man parked the vehicle and assaulted the victim.  When the victim continued to refuse to get out of the vehicle, the man pulled the victim out of the vehicle while discharging a handgun. The man then left the area in the vehicle.

The FCPD says the individual pushed out of the vehicle was treated for injuries not considered to be life-threatening.

“This does not appear to be a random act,” the department said.

Overall, the FCPD received a total of 8,224 service last week, including 183 for domestic situations, 194 stemming from people experiencing mental health crises, and 572 for vehicle crashes.

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