Special Olympics Virginia is ready to make another splash at the Mosaic District.
The nonprofit’s annual Polar Plunge fundraiser will return to the Merrifield community for a fourth year on Saturday, Jan. 14. As in previous years, participants will jump into a pool of icy water to raise money for the organization’s more than 18,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities.
The event is Special Olympics Virginia’s first fundraiser of the year and one of five planned in the state for 2023, according to Senior Director of Development Ellen Head.
“I love that we start things off with a plunge because long before we had unified sports (where people with and without disabilities play on a team together instead of segregated) we had plunges which, by nature, are unified,” Head told FFXnow by email. “We have Special Olympics athletes alongside of everyone else jumping into the cold pools!”
The Mosaic District hosted a plunge for the first time in 2019. The event returned in early 2020 before taking 2021 off due to the pandemic.
Like last year, the Polar Plunge will be held on Strawberry Lane in front of Target. Check-ins will start at noon, followed by a costume contest and award presentation at 1 p.m. and the actual plunging at 1:15 p.m.
@polarplungeva is back at Mosaic on Jan 14! 🌊 🥶
Gather your friends and GO ALL IN. It’s time for a chilly pool plunge with the coolest Special Olympics supporters in Northern VA! All proceeds support @specialolympicsva
🔗 Tap link to sign up: https://t.co/Zy3SkLixeS pic.twitter.com/xCPKvi83zT
— Mosaic (@mosaicdistrict) December 14, 2022
Advance registration is currently open, and participants have already raised over $20,000, according to Special Olympics Virginia’s website. Proceeds from the Mosaic District plunge have grown every year, from roughly $35,000 in 2019 to $50,000 last year, according to Head.
For this year’s event, the nonprofit has partnered with Archer Hotel, which replaced the Hyatt House at the Mosaic District last year. As an incentive, the hotel will provide access to its suites before and after the plunge for the two teams and two individuals who raise the most money.
Collectively, the polar plunges raise close to $1.5 million each year, though Special Olympics Virginia hopes to exceed that mark in 2023, Head says.
The organization also hopes to see its program enrollment bounce back to pre-pandemic levels, which surpassed 23,000 athletes.
In addition to organizing free local and state-level sports programs and events, the nonprofit provides health and fitness resources. A clinic at its annual Summer Games offers free physical and mental health services, including dental, vision and hearing care.
“This is important since many of our athletes lack this care due to the limitations of Medicaid,” Heard said.
There will be kebabs galore at the Mosaic District in Merrifield this afternoon.
Kirby Club, a new restaurant concept from the owners of Compass Rose and Maydān in D.C., will open its doors at 4 p.m. today, as first reported by Washingtonian.
Serving up eastern Mediterranean food, with a particular focus on kebabs, the restaurant is at 2911 District Avenue in the spot formerly occupied by Jinya Ramen Bar, which moved to a larger space a couple of doors down this summer.
“Kirby is the gathering, a celebration,” co-owner Rose Previte said. “It’s the joy of community and family and a sense of belonging. It’s our healing after Covid. We lost it for a long time and now that we have it back we crave and cherish the joy that coming together brings us.”
Kirby Club is the first Virginia location for Previte and fellow owner Mike Schuster, who developed the concept with co-founder and partner Mayu Horie. The team also includes Chef Omar Hegazi, whose previous work includes a tenure as sous chef at Bourbon Steak in D.C.’s Four Seasons hotel.
Initially called Tawle after the Arabic word for “table,” the concept was renamed to avoid confusion with Maydān’s “tawle” menu and pay tribute to a Lebanese American social club that Previte’s grandparents started in Akron, Ohio, in 1933.
According to a press release, Previte’s grandparents wanted to name the club after their home village of Kherbet Khanafar in Lebanon, but they figured it might be a handful to pronounce, leading to “Kirby Club” as a nickname.
“The club was created to preserve culture while fully embracing life in America,” the press release said. “Wherever the gathering, food was at the center, bonding old and new, heritage and new generations to foods made anew with American twists and local ingredients.”
Here’s more from the press release on Kirby Club’s food and drink offerings:
The menu revolves around kebabs, a universal love language shared across multiple countries in the Eastern Mediterranean. At the heart of the menu are Chef Hegazi’s Kebabs including Dukka Shrimp marinated in sesame, hibiscus, coriander and Chicken Shish Taouk with garlic, cumin and fenugreek. Guests can opt for a Kebab Shindig, a full-blown kebab party with one of each kebab plus dips and spreads like Havuc, a seasonal carrot dip with garlic and lemon, or Bessara made of fava beans, tahina and cilantro. To share or split, there are Picnic Platters such as the Beef Rib with cumin, allspice, Aleppo pepper, pomegranate, pickles, sweet & spicy harissa, as well as a wide range of shareable starters like Falafel, fava beans, parsley, coriander, sumac onions, bread, pink tahina.
To complement the food, house-crafted cocktails include the Wanderer of WANA made with tequila, orange blossom, mango, lime, sumac-Aleppo salt; and large-format cocktails including Camellia Kirby made with gin, apricot tea, campari +vermouth.
The restaurant will be open from 4-10 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Other recent arrivals at the Mosaic District include Neuhaus Belgian Chocolate and Junction Bistro and Bar, which both opened this past fall.
The Mosaic District has been declared a rousing success by Fairfax County, but between that mixed-use neighborhood and the Dunn Loring Metro station to the north, vestiges of Merrifield’s more industrial past remain.
A trio of new redevelopment pitches promise to further the county’s efforts to revitalize Merrifield by replacing older properties with housing that’s more closely integrated with retail, offices and other commercial activities.
Advanced by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday (Dec. 6) as part the Site-Specific Plan Amendment process, which considers land use changes to the county comprehensive plan for individual properties, the proposals could collectively pave the way for some 4.7 million square feet of development, most of it residential.
Prosperity Business Campus
Calling for up to 2.7 million million square feet of development, property owner Link Logistics‘ proposed transformation of the 41-acre block of warehouses and offices along Prosperity Avenue between I-66 and Hilltop Road is the largest of the nominations.
The amendment would allow five mid-rise, multifamily residential buildings and two blocks of townhouses, though the southernmost building could be left as office.
The residences would be supported by ground-floor retail and private amenities, parking garages and nearly 12.9 acres of publicly accessible park space, including a central park across Prosperity Avenue and the retention of Long Branch stream valley to the west.
Under the name B9 Sequoia Prosperity Owner LLC, Link Logistics has proposed extending Merrifield Avenue through the site to Prosperity and adding two new local streets as well as a service alley.
“The proposed street grid and public park space will allow for the transformation of the existing office park into a porous and inviting community offering new pedestrian connections for the existing adjacent communities to the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metrorail Station,” the application says.
Merrifield at Dunn Loring Station
Built in 1968, the existing 706-unit apartment community at 8130 Prescott Drive could be replaced by 1.5 square feet of mixed-use development over eight blocks, including four low to mid-rise residential buildings and two residential high-rises ranging from 10 to 14 stories tall. Read More
(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) A 19-year-old man from Chantilly died this morning in a two-vehicle crash on Prosperity Avenue in Merrifield.
According to police, David Mendez Hernandez was driving north in the 2900 block of Prosperity Avenue in a 2007 Nissan 350Z when he crashed into a tractor-trailer turning left into the southbound lanes. He was transported to a hospital, where he died.
Officers responded to the scene at 7:02 a.m. Prosperity was shut down between Route 29 (Lee Highway) and Route 50 (Arlington Blvd) until after 10 a.m.
Mendez Hernandez was driving “at a high rate of speed” and lost control of his sedan when the crash occurred, the Fairfax County Police Department said, noting that detectives don’t believe alcohol was a factor.
The FCPD has now reported 19 non-pedestrian deaths in vehicle crashes this year, matching the death toll seen at this point in 2021.
According to Virginia crash data, there have been 55 road fatalities in Fairfax County in 2022, though the database hasn’t yet three deaths reported so far in December. In addition to Mendez Hernandez, that includes a fatal crash on I-495 in Tysons last Thursday (Dec. 1) and the death of a pedestrian on Route 50 in West Falls Church on Sunday (Dec. 4).
Officers are investigating a two-vehicle crash in the 2900 block of Prosperity Ave in Merrifield. One person was pronounced deceased. Prosperity is closed between Rt 50 and Rt 29. Crash Reconstruction detectives responding. Follow police directions. #FCPD pic.twitter.com/Bzz3gphML8
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) December 6, 2022
(Updated at 2:10 p.m. on 11/13/2022 to correct zip code) It’s going to be a busy Saturday for Settle Down Easy Brewing. In addition to marking its fourth anniversary, the Merrifield area brewery will throw a grand opening party for its new Oakton restaurant and bar from noon to 8 p.m.
Replacing the shuttered Austins Big and Tall store in Hunter Mill Plaza at 2952E Chain Bridge Road, The Oakton Tasting Room is envisioned as not just a place to grab dinner and drinks, but as the kind of hangout spot that Settle Down Easy owner Frank Kuhns says is missing from Oakton — despite nearly 37,o00 people calling it home.
“In Oakton, there’s one zip code — 22124 — and we are going to promote that and the level of how proud you are to be a resident of Oakton,” Kuhns told FFXnow. “We’re going to create this family-friendly, energetic, exciting space for the residents of Oakton, but everyone is welcome of course. We want Oakton to have its own special place to call its own.”
A resident of Oakton himself, Kuhns started looking to expand Settle Down Easy at his wife’s suggestion. As COVID-19 pandemic restrictions eased, the couple was looking to go out for wine and appetizers but noticed a dearth of happy hour options in the area compared to nearby Vienna and Fairfax.
They hope The Oakton Tasting Room will fill that void, with a still-casual yet more refined ambiance than the industrial feel of Settle Down’s existing brewery at 2822 Fallfax Drive.
Opened in 2018, the Merrifield location serves food from a taco stand run by El Tio Tex-Mex Grill, but it primarily focuses on brewing, manufacturing five barrels of craft beer at a time to serve at a 40-seat bar.
The Oakton Tasting Room will be as much a restaurant as a brewery. Along with beer, it will offer wine, cider, and food for both lunch and dinner in a collaboration with local farmer’s market staple, The Fermented Pig, whose handcrafted meats and charcuterie boards made an impression at earlier events with Settle Down Easy.
An official menu isn’t available online yet, since it will likely evolve as the restaurant figures out what works and what doesn’t. However, all ingredients will be sourced from farms within a 100-mile radius, according to Kuhns.
“We want to be hypersensitive to our carbon footprint, we want to respectful to the environment, and we want to provide something to support other local businesses within 75 to 100 miles of our Oakton Tasting Room,” he said.
At nearly 4,000 square feet in size, the tasting room has the capacity for 150 customers. While there’s no outdoor seating at the moment, Kuhns says they hope to work with their landlord to add that next summer.
Nods to Oakton will range from black-and-white photos in the bathrooms showing the area’s history to a beer exclusively available at the tasting room called 123, after Route 123. Settle Down already serves a 2 Cloud 9 beer in Merrifield, reflecting its location near Route 29.
Expected to draw a sizable crowd, The Oakton Tasting Room’s grand opening will include a ribbon-cutting, cake at 3 p.m., and surveys of food and drink offerings. Merrifield patrons can get in on the excitement too: the first 50 customers who get a beer at both locations that day will receive a free gift and a commemorative coaster.
After inflation, supply chain issues and increased personnel expenses doubled the cost of the Oakton buildout from what was planned, Settle Down has no immediate plans to expand further, but the team is considering ways to help its Merrifield location stand out.
“I think probably in early 2024, we will look for the next venture for Settle Down Easy,” Kuhns said. “…That could be us doing a manufacturing warehouse. That could be a collaborative partnership with The Fermented Pig. We don’t know yet, but I know we want to continue to grow, so our plan in the next two years is to have more growth for our business in Virginia.”
The Blackfinn Ameripub in Merrifield (2750 Gallows Road) will serve its last beer this weekend, according to staff at other franchise locations.
The pub featured classic Americana fare, like burgers and fries, a broad selection of ales, and a specialized “gameday menu“.
In addition to football games, Blackfinn Ameripub is also locally known for its New Year’s Eve parties.
Merrifield’s Blackfinn Ameripub will reportedly be open through the weekend and shut down on Sunday (Oct. 30), staff at two other Blackfinn Ameripub locations confirmed. The Merrifield location could not be reached by phone.
There are two other Blackfinn Ameripub locations in the region — one in Ashburn and one in D.C. just north of the White House — and one in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Photo via Blackfinn Ameripub/Facebook
There will be no ice skating at the Mosaic District this winter.
The Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals agreed on Wednesday (Oct. 19) to postpone a decision on Rink Management Services Corporation’s special permit request for a rink in the Merrifield neighborhood that would have roller skating in the spring and ice skating in the winter.
This is the third time that the board has deferred or continued the case after previously chiding the applicant for its public outreach efforts. Residents voiced concerns about the rink’s potential impact on noise, traffic and access to their homes during a public hearing on July 13, the Sun Gazette reported.
“Essentially, what the applicant has decided to do at this point is not pursue an ice skating rink for this winter season,” Department of Planning and Development staff coordinator Brandon McCadden told the board this week. “So, they’re looking for a deferral to Feb. 1, which would give them time to again reevaluate their plans for the roller rink and the ice rink for future seasons.”
Mosaic District owner and developer EDENS introduced its temporary roller rink in 2021. Mosaic Skateland returned this summer but got moved from Strawberry Lane, where it required a closure of one of the district’s main thoroughfares, to Merrifield Center Town Drive near Barnes & Noble.
The rink has now been dismantled after the season wrapped up on Sept. 25.
In a proposal submitted for county review this past spring, EDENS and Rink Management Services, which operates the facility, are seeking to have the roller rink annually from April 1 to June 30 and add ice skating from Nov. 1 to March 15.
They had hoped to start the ice rink this year, but the delays in the permitting process have nixed that.
“[They’re] really looking to target spring and summer 2023 for roller skating and then ice skating the following winter,” McCadden said.
The planned roller rink would be 76 feet long and 36 feet wide with 10-foot-tall poles for lighting and six speakers to play music. The ice rink would be 100 feet long by 50 feet wide with a 3.5-foot-tall enclosure, a 1,000-square-foot admission and rental tent, and space for a portable aircooled chiller and a zamboni.
Both rinks would accommodate up to 50 skaters per session with two to five employees on site, according to the application.
If approved, the roller rink would stay on Merrifield Towne Center Drive, where it takes up two travel lanes and five parallel parking spaces. The ice rink would be on District Avenue next to Penny Lane Park, requiring the closure of that section of the street and 18 parking spaces.
In a staff report dated July 6, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation said that it “has no concerns” related to traffic circulation and parking, noting that the Mosaic District has about 2,500 garage parking spaces and 150 on-street spots.
“The proposed street closures will not impact deliveries to the adjacent mixed-use buildings since the loading spaces are located at the rear of the buildings along Merrifield Cinema Drive,” the report said.
The Office of the Fire Marshal requested some changes to the plan, including requiring that the street closures be marked with signage with caution lights and/or moveable barriers, but staff felt the modifications addressed their concerns about access for fire department personnel, according to the report.
However, some additional revisions to the plan are evidently in the works. McCadden told the zoning appeals board that, when the case returns on Feb. 1, it will “essentially” require a new public hearing “because it’s going to substantially be a new application.”
FFXnow reached out to EDENS and Rink Management Services for comment but didn’t hear back by press time.
A couple in Merrifield have been sentenced to prison for using the wife’s real estate job to steal people’s identities.
Caprice Foster, 51, and Marcus Foster, 33, took personal identifying information from at least nine people and used it to “buy a luxury vehicle, lease high-end residences, and obtain loans and credit,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said Friday (Oct. 14).
The information was primarily obtained through Caprice Foster’s work as a real estate agent and timeshare salesperson, per the news release:
To carry out their fraud scheme, the Fosters created numerous false identification documents in other people’s names, including social security cards and driver’s licenses, and they also fabricated tax and employment documents in their victims’ names. The Fosters opened fraudulent bank accounts using stolen identities and deposited stolen and altered checks into these accounts. The Fosters also incorporated a business that they used in furtherance of the fraud. Mr. Foster even impersonated victims in state court eviction proceedings to prolong the Fosters’ stay in residences they fraudulently leased.
Caprice Foster was sentenced to 80 months in prison, while Marcus has been sentenced to 58 months.
According to the Department of Justice, Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis joined prosecutors at the sentencing announcement, along with officials from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Photo via Tierra Mallorca/Unsplash
Praline Bakery is no longer serving up cake, macarons and other pastries in the Mosaic District.
The bakery closed for good this fall after its lease ran out, according to a farewell message posted to the door at 2987 District Avenue, Suite 160.
“We have so appreciated your business these last five years,” the Praline Mosaic team wrote in the message. “Your support has meant the world to us. We have loved getting to know you, petting your pooches, and watching your kids grow up. We hope that we provided a little bit of sweetness to your lives.”
Specializing in French baked goods, Praline came to the Merrifield neighborhood in 2016 as the first expansion of Praline Bakery & Bistro, a Bethesda, Maryland-based business started in 2006 by former White House pastry chefs Susan Limb and Patrick Musel.
Praline’s original Bethesda store in The Shops at Sumner Place shopping center and a location at The Wharf in D.C. remain open.
While the Mosaic location is permanently closed, the closure letter suggested the team may have another venture in the works.
“While the shop won’t be open anymore, there are still cookies to be baked! If you would like to reach out and learn about what we are doing next, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com,” the letter said.
FFXnow attempted to contact Praline by email and phone but hasn’t heard back, as of press time. However, a Shopify store called Book Girl Bakes appears to be coming soon.
In other Mosaic District developments, BASH Boxing is now open at 2905 District Ave, Suite 195. The Arlington-based company officially opened the doors of its newest gym on Sept. 23 and will have an opening party event on Oct. 27, according to its Instagram.
BASH didn’t return FFXnow’s requests for comment.
H/t to Adam Rubinstein
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.