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Inova Center for Personalized Health (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The University of Virginia is expanding its presence in Fairfax County.

The Charlottesville-based institution will add a new site for its Northern Virginia campus next year in Merrifield, where it has leased 55,000 square feet at the Inova Center for Personalized Health (8095 Innovation Park Drive), the Washington Business Journal reported last week.

According to the WBJ, UVA will move into the second and third floors of Building C on Inova’s campus, which opened in 2015 and features a conference center, a sports medicine hub, a fitness and rehab center, and cancer services in the Schar Cancer Institute. Designated for office and educational uses, Building C already hosts health care programs for Shenandoah University.

Intended to serve the university’s significant base of students from the D.C. area, UVA Northern Virginia’s Fairfax site will house a variety of degree programs as well as classes for high school students and workforce training, the WBJ says:

The university’s new space, slated to open in January, would serve as a D.C.-area base for programs across the university’s schools and departments, such as master’s degrees in health or engineering. It’s also designed to serve as a hub for education beyond its degree programs: classes for high schoolers in creative writing, forensic science and coding set for this summer; or, perhaps, trainings for companies, in which employers would cover the costs for their employees.

The site will also be used as a space for testing new programs that could later be expanded to other campuses.

“The populations are different,” UVA Northern Virginia Dean and CEO Gregory Fairchild told the WBJ. “Thinking and testing you’ll see us do will probably — potentially, over time — lead to something different here that we wouldn’t do in Charlottesville.”

UVA launched its Northern Virginia campus in Rosslyn on Sept. 22, 2021, offering courses for its schools of business, engineering, education, data science and continuing and professional studies. Officials said at the time that the Arlington site was “just the beginning” of their plans for the region.

The university previously shared space with Virginia Tech at the Northern Virginia Center (7054 Haycock Road) in Idylwood, but it left in 2020 after declining to support a redevelopment. The property was sold last fall to a development team that will transform it into a construction hub with housing, a Virginia Tech research lab and a headquarters building for HITT Contracting.

UVA’s new site at the Center for Personalized Health will build on its existing collaboration with Inova Fairfax Hospital, which serves as a teaching hospital for the university’s medical students.

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The Beaufort Bonnet Company sells children’s clothes and accessories like baby swaddles (courtesy The Beaufort Bonnet Company)

Merrifield will welcome a new kids’ clothing store next month, just in time for parents to update their little ones’ wardrobes for the spring.

The Beaufort Bonnet Company will open its first retail store in the D.C. area on March 2 at 2920 District Avenue, Suite 143, in the Mosaic District.

Headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky, the business focuses on clothes and accessories for babies and young children, but it also stocks some shirts, swimwear and lounge wear for adults.

“The Beaufort Bonnet Company is a children’s lifestyle brand,” a company spokesperson said. “Our mission is to make babyhood and childhood special. We encourage parents to dress their little ones up and take lots of pictures. They are only little for a little while — we believe it’s important to embrace this sweet yet fleeting stage in life.”

Beaufort Bonnet originated as a small operation in Beaufort, South Carolina, that made baby bonnets. After getting a bonnet as a gift for her baby daughter, CEO Markey Hutchinson bought the business from the original owners in 2012 and renamed it in honor of its original product.

A stay-at-home mom in Lexington, Hutchinson initially worked out of her basement, but she soon struggled to keep up with demand, according to a profile by Smiley Pete Publishing. She found the support she needed in a partnership with Oxford Industries, a clothing company whose labels include Tommy Bahama and Lilly Pulitzer.

With the addition of the Mosaic District, Beaufort Bonnet will have just four corporate stores, including two in Florida and one in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. However, its products are sold by hundreds of boutiques nationwide, including Lemoncello in Arlington and The Purple Goose and Monday’s Child in Alexandria.

Designed with an Americana theme in a nod to its proximity to D.C., the 1,344-square-foot store at the Mosaic District will feature a miniature colonial house with a playhouse, kitchen and Lego wall.

“The beautiful seating area was designed in collaboration with Lauren Deloach, an Atlanta-based interior designer using a variety of patterns and textures that lend to the timeless but fresh style that is synonymous with T.B.B.C.,” the spokesperson said.

Other relatively recent openings at the Mosaic District include Mimi’s Handmade Ice Cream, which had a soft opening last November. The Asian street food restaurant Hawkers is also expected to open in the former Four Sisters space later this year.

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Luther Jackson Middle School entrance (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Luther Jackson Middle School students will have to wait for their first dance of the year.

The Valentine’s Day dance scheduled for this afternoon (Wednesday) has been postponed after threats of gun violence at the Merrifield school (3020 Gallows Road) were discovered earlier this week.

While Fairfax County police say there “does not appear to be any substantial threat at this time,” Luther Jackson officials announced the postponement yesterday (Tuesday) “out of an abundance of caution.”

“As soon as we have a new date selected, we will let everyone know,” the school said in a newsletter bulletin. “All tickets already purchased will be honored on the new event date once selected. Regular after-school activities will proceed as usual, and previously canceled activities have been added back on to the signup form.”

The first threat came in the form of graffiti found in a school restroom late Monday (Feb. 12) afternoon, Luther Jackson principal Raven Jones said in a message sent to parents at 8:14 p.m. that day. The graffiti made a “vague” threat that there would be a shooting at the school on “Thursday.”

“We notified the Office of Safety and Security and the Fairfax County Police who have responded, checked the school and begun an investigation,” Jones wrote. “Fairfax County Police continue to investigate but do not believe that there is a valid threat to the school based solely on this graffiti.”

As a precaution, additional security personnel were assigned to the school yesterday morning.

However, a second anonymous threat was found circulating on social media, claiming that there would be a shooting and possibly a bomb at Luther Jackson Middle School this Thursday, Feb. 15. The message appears to have first emerged on Instagram before getting shared on Twitter.

In an update sent to parents at 9:21 a.m. yesterday, Jones said school officials were “aware of the additional social media post also referencing a school shooting on Thursday.”

Fairfax County Police and our Office of Safety and Security are actively investigating. I do not have any further information to share at this time but will update you as soon as we are able. Additional safety and security staff will be monitoring our school.

The safety of our students is our primary concern, and we will always investigate these incidents as soon as we are made aware.

If you or your student has any information to share about this situation, please contact our Office of Safety at 571-423-2000 or through our anonymous safety tip line that you can access online, by text or by phone.

The Fairfax County Police Department says its investigation into the social media threat is ongoing, though there isn’t believed to be a “substantial” threat at this time.

“We urge the community to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity promptly,” the FCPD said. “Additionally, we encourage individuals to refrain from sharing unverified information on social media platforms to prevent unnecessary panic. The Fairfax County Police Department is committed to ensuring the safety and security of all individuals, and we will continue to work diligently to resolve this matter.”

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The Korean barbecue restaurant Meat Project is now open in Halstead Square (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

A new Korean barbecue eatery is now cooking at Halstead Square near the Dunn Loring Metro station.

Meat Project opened the doors to its new location on the ground floor of The Lofts apartment building at 2727-G Merrilee Drive in mid-January, marking its first expansion beyond its original site in Centreville.

For the soft opening, which was announced on Instagram on Jan. 12, the restaurant is operating from 5-11 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday and from 5 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Its website suggests the start time will eventually move up to 2:30 p.m.

Meat Project was started at 5825 Trinity Parkway in July 2020 by owner Sam Kim and his mother, Grace, who also own Rainbow Food Catering and Manoa Bakery Cafe in Annandale.

Both locations offer all-you-can-eat meats and seafood for $30 per person, or $20 for kids who are under 4 feet tall. Kids under 3 feet tall can eat for free, per Meat Project’s website. There is also a bar that serves beer, wine, sake and soju.

Kim previously told FFXnow that the Merrifield restaurant would have some additional menu and bar items, including cocktails.

Meat Project joins a rush of recent restaurant openings around the Dunn Loring Metro station. In the past few months, nearby Avenir Place has added The Casual Pint, the taiyaki shop Rice Culture and the American-style barbecue joint Myron Mixon Pitmaster BBQ.

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The Chinese noodle shop Shi Miao Dao will soon open a franchise in Merrifield Plaza (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 5 p.m.) A few new tenants are making their way to Merrifield Plaza, the H Mart and Lidl-anchored shopping center at Route 29 and Gallows Road.

The newcomers will include a franchise of Shi Miao Dao, a Chinese noodle shop that can also be found in Rockville, Maryland, among other locations. The Merrifield restaurant is part of the same brand, but the operator isn’t affiliated with the one in Rockville, says a broker for TSCG, which manages and leases Merrifield Plaza.

Specializing in cuisine from the southwestern province of Yunnan, Shi Miao Dao originated in China, where it has more than 750 restaurants, before expanding in recent years to North America, according to Eater San Diego, where a franchise opened last year.

Translating roughly to “ready in 10 seconds,” the name refers to the time it takes to dump the ingredients of the restaurant’s signature, DIY noodle soup into the accompanying pork broth, the Washington Post said in a review of the Rockville location that calls the dish “exquisite.”

Shi Miao Dao will occupy 1,200 square feet at 2833 Gallows Road, per TSCG.

Also coming to Merrifield Plaza is La Mexicana, an expansion of the bakery and taqueria that has operated at 2907 Arlington Drive in Hybla Valley since 2002.

According to its website, the eatery was started by a couple who wanted to “share our Mexican heritage and love for baking” and specializes in traditional Mexican dishes, like tacos and tamales. Washingtonian designated it as one of the D.C. area’s best cheap eats in 2017 and 2018.

“From mouthwatering tacos to traditional enchiladas, La Mexicana promises to be a haven for lovers of Mexican cuisine,” TSCG said.

La Mexicana’s second location will be at a 2,000-square-foot space at 2855 Gallows Road next to Lidl. Owner Carlos Benitez estimates that it’ll be four to five months before the restaurant opens, since they’re waiting for Fairfax County to approve the necessary permits to start construction.

Finally, Merrifield Plaza will add Sou the Spa, a South Korean beauty and skin care clinic that can currently be found in Annandale. The spa has leased 1,200 square feet at 2851 Gallows Road.

TSCG says Shi Miao Dao is expected to open sometime in March, but there’s no estimated opening date for Sou the Spa yet.

“We are thrilled to welcome La Mexicana, Sou the Spa, and Shi Mao Noodles to Merrifield Plaza Shopping Center,” TSCG Executive Vice President Billy Orlove said. “These establishments add a unique and diverse dimension to our current offerings, providing something for everyone in the community. We know that Merrifield Shopping Center will continue to be a great source of retail stores.”

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Poffy opened in the Mosaic District in 2021 (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

A Merrifield bakery that specializes in poffertjes — a traditional Dutch snack that resembles puffed-up pancakes — has closed up shop.

Poffy ceased operations during the weekend after Thanksgiving, opening its doors in the Mosaic District (2985 District Avenue, Suite 170) for the last time on Nov. 25, the business announced on Instagram.

“We have enjoyed meeting and getting to know each one of you,” Poffy said. “THANK YOU for getting to know us…for cheering us on and supporting us…for your friendship.”

Opened in May 2021, Poffy was started by owners Lilian Wanandy-Perez and Kevin Perez, who adapted a poffertje recipe from Wanandy-Perez’s grandmother to avoid dairy, eggs and other allergens, according to a profile by Northern Virginia Magazine.

Here’s more from Poffy’s farewell message:

Our journey started as a scribble of ideas in our notebook.
✨ An idea to create food & space that are safe for those diagnosed with food allergies just like our kids so that they can have fun and eat without worry (even just for a bit)
✨An idea to create ‘not your everyday’ culinary experience that is simple, delicious and fun for everyone
✨An idea to create a space to connect with one another and form human connection in this instant, fast paced environment
✨An idea to be able to make a positive impact even in the smallest way for anyone we serve each day

THANK YOU for being part of our journey … .our journey in an effort to make an impact in one’s life… our journey in an effort to bring joy to your day!

Unfortunately the twists & turns, ups & downs have brought us to the end of this journey.

Come & visit us this week as we would like to meet you all and thank you in person!

For our allergy community and beyond, please head to #linkinbio or DM us as we would love to continue connecting with you as we craft our new journey… to receive updates on our upcoming projects.

Last but not least, a special THANK YOU to all Poffy crew members that have become an integral part of our journey. Thank you for being YOU…for your heart…your grit…your hardwork….your creativity..your passion. We’re forever grateful!

Thank you Mosaic!

There’s no indication yet of what will replace Poffy, but the ice cream shop Mimi’s Handmade opened next door around the same time that its neighbor closed. The Mosaic District is also slated to add Beaufort Bonnet Company, a children’s clothing store, and the Asian street food chain Hawkers in the coming months.

Hat tip to Adam Rubinstein

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Mimi’s Handmade is now open at the Mosaic District in Merrifield (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Mimi’s Handmade is now chilling at the Mosaic District in Merrifield.

The ice cream maker quietly opened its newest shop at 2985 District Avenue, Suite 160, about a month ago, owner Rollin Amore told FFXnow yesterday (Wednesday).

“So far, we’ve been very well received, and I’m pretty pleased about that,” Amore said, noting that the business also recently expanded to Rockville, Maryland.

Started in Pentagon City in December 2021, Mimi’s is named after Amore’s youngest daughter and builds on gelato and sweets recipes passed down by his grandmothers. All of the ice cream is made in-house, and there are 32 flavors available at a time, many of them unusual.

While most flavors are the same at each location, there’s some variation between neighborhoods. For example, wasabi peas didn’t gain much traction in Arlington, but it has emerged as a favorite at the Merrifield store, whose customers tend to be “very discerning on quality,” Amore says.

“If you have a lot of children, the flavor selection will be a lot different than if you have Gen Xers or you have an older crowd, so it’ll vary depending on the demographics,” he said. “…Chocolate, butterscotch, Oreo sell great in every community, but some of the more unique flavors, each community has its own characteristics.”

In addition to ice cream scoops, the menu offers sundaes, milkshakes, ice cream sandwiches and hot drinks.

With foot traffic coming at a slower pace for the winter, Amore anticipates waiting for spring to schedule a grand opening event, which would be similar timing to the original Arlington store’s launch. The shop in Merrifield is open from noon to 9 p.m. on Mon through Friday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Also found in Chevy Chase’s The Heights food hall, Mimi’s has a fifth location in the works at Pinecrest Plaza in Lincolnia. Amore says the team hopes to open that shop in the summer.

Coming in the new year to the Mosaic District will be the Beaufort Bonnet Company, a children’s clothing store that says it expects to open in late February or early March. In addition, the Asian street food chain Hawkers will take over the former Four Sisters restaurant, but an opening time frame hasn’t been confirmed.

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The Tex-Mex restaurant Guapo’s recently opened a location at Gatehouse Plaza in Merrifield (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 4:05 p.m. on 1/2/2024) The Rincon family business has officially staked a claim in Merrifield.

The Tex-Mex chain Guapo’s, which the Rincons have owned since 1990, welcomed diners to its new location in Gatehouse Plaza for the first time last Thursday (Dec. 21). The building at 3052 Gate House Plaza was last occupied by Chevys Fresh Mex, which closed over four years ago now, per Annandale Today.

Guapo’s soft opening came months later than its originally anticipated launch of early 2023, but the initial response from the community suggests the wait was worthwhile.

“People have been expecting it for a while now, and yesterday was very, very busy,” Guapo’s marketing manager told FFXnow by phone on Friday (Dec. 22). “So, customers are really, really happy that we brought it to Merrifield.”

Residents of Virginia since the late 1970s, the Rincon family opened its first Guapo’s in D.C.’s Tenleytown neighborhood in 1990. The flagship location has operated at 4515 Wisconsin Ave. NW ever since, though there were reportedly plans to move down the street in 2016 that got nixed.

According to Guapo’s, the business is now run by the founders’ children, who all graduated from Fairfax County schools and universities. It has expanded to Arlington, Fair Lakes, Bethesda, Gaithersburg and Georgetown, and the spin-off Charcoal Chicken and Taqueria can be found in Herndon and Manassas.

The expansion to Merrifield was inspired by the family’s history, according to the marketing manager.

“When the family first came from Colombia to Virginia, they lived in Gallows Road that’s why they chose Merrifield to honor their beginnings in the United States,” she said.

All locations are owned and operated by the Rincons, who haven’t tried franchising. Guapo’s says they plan to “stay local for now before we decide to expand nationwide.”

While the look of the Merrifield restaurant is more modern, the owners were committed to keeping the same recipes and level of customer service seen at other locations, according to the marketing manager.

The menu features many staples of Tex-Mex cuisine, including enchiladas, fajitas, burritos, tacos and a variety of meat, seafood and chicken dishes. There are also salads, soups and brunch options, such as omelets and eggs benedict.

Guapo’s is open in Merrifield from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. during the week and from 10 a.m. until midnight on Saturday and Sunday. A grand opening celebration planned for Jan. 10 will be highlighted by a live DJ and salsa music from a band at 5-10 p.m.

(Correction: This story previously misstated Guapo’s hours of operation and timing of the band’s performance at the upcoming grand opening.)

Located northwest of the Route 50 and Gallows Road intersection, Gatehouse Plaza is also home to Sweetwater Tavern, Uno Pizzeria and Grill, a Wendy’s, Starbucks, Panda Express and a Sunoco gas station.

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A growing, Florida-based Asian street food chain has its sights set on Merrifield.

Hawkers is planning to open a restaurant in the Mosaic District next year, an employee at the company’s Arlington location confirmed to FFXnow.

According to Fairfax County’s permit database, the 5,312-square-foot eatery will be located at 8190 Strawberry Lane, Suite 1 — the space occupied by the Vietnamese restaurant Four Sisters until it closed on May 14, concluding 30 years of business in Fairfax County.

Hawkers was created in 2011 by four friends who wanted “to bring the bold flavors of Asian street food to the streets of Orlando,” according to its website. The company has since expanded to 15 locations across seven states, breaking into the D.C. area with a Bethesda restaurant in 2020 and a Ballston one that opened last year.

Drawing from a mix of East Asian cuisines, the menu features dim sum, meat and shrimp skewers, noodles, fried rice, green papaya salad, a Po Po Lo’s curry based on a family recipe and more. The beverage menu includes cocktails, sake, wine, beer and Japanese whisky.

Oath Pizza has closed

In other Mosaic District news, Oath Pizza appears to have closed, but it’s not entirely clear whether the shutdown is temporary or permanent. A sign posted to the restaurant’s door since late November states that it “will be pausing pizza operations for a short period of time.”

“We look forward to fulfilling your delicious pizza needs again soon,” says the notice signed by the Oath Pizza team. “Thank you all for your ongoing support and we look forward to serving you our brand of Feel Good Pizza again soon.”

However, the company’s website no longer functions, and other locations have also reportedly closed, including in D.C. and its home state of Massachusetts. According to the Nantucket Current, the slew of closures might stem from a lawsuit filed by investors in May that accused Oath Pizza CEO Andrew Kellogg of self-dealing.

Even with the lawsuit, though, Oath Pizza has continued adding franchises, including its first California location, which opened in early August. The Mosaic District restaurant (2920 District Avenue, Suite 150) opened in October 2017 as the chain’s first expansion outside the Boston area.

Oath Pizza didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Just a couple of doors away, interior renovations have begun on a store from the Beaufort Bonnet Company, which sells baby and children’s clothes. The shop will be 1,344 square feet in size and located at 2920 District Avenue, Suite 143.

Signs posted to the storefront indicate that the shop is “coming soon.” The company didn’t respond to inquiries from FFXnow by press time.

Hat tip to Adam Rubinstein

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The entrance to the Marriott hotel at 3111 Fairview Park Drive (via Google Maps)

Updated at 1 p.m.Hiep Van Vo, the suspect in Sunday’s shooting at the Fairview Park Marriott, was arrested at 11 p.m. yesterday outside a Giant in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Fairfax County police said today (Monday).

Vo is in custody at the Montgomery County Detention Center “awaiting extradition back to Fairfax County,” according to police.

Earlier: Fairfax County police are looking for an Annandale man believed to be the suspect in a fatal shooting at the Marriott hotel near Merrifield early yesterday (Sunday) morning.

Detectives obtained warrants last night for 43-year-old Hiep Van Vo, charging him with second-degree murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and possession of a firearm as a felon, the Fairfax County Police Department announced.

Police and fire units were called to the hotel at 3111 Fairview Park Drive around 12:42 a.m. after a 911 caller reported that someone had been shot in the chest and arm, according to scanner traffic on Open MHz.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department personnel, who happened to be at the building after responding to an unrelated fire, found Charles Anthony Ashe Jr., 44, of Maryland “near the elevators suffering from gunshot wounds to the upper body,” the FCPD said.

Ashe was transported with life-threatening injuries to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he died that morning.

Witnesses reported that the shooting took place on the hotel’s sixth floor, and an officer said they found blood near the elevator, according to the scanner.

The FCPD says its detectives have determined that the shooting occurred after Ashe entered a hotel room where Vo was staying with four other people.

“Inside the room, Vo shot Ashe. No one else was injured,” the FCPD said. “Ashe was able to exit the hotel room and was carried by friends, who heard the gunshots, to the elevator. Vo fled from the hotel…Evidence of narcotics was discovered inside the hotel room.”

Police believe Ashe and Vo knew each other, and the shooting wasn’t a random act. The FCPD advises anyone with information about Vo to call 703-691-2131 or send a tip through Crime Solvers.

Image via Google Maps

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