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The shop 520 Ice Cream and Tea has closed at the Mosaic District after five years (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The Mosaic District is no longer home to the self-proclaimed first Thai-style rolled ice cream shop in Virginia.

520 Ice Cream & Tea permanently closed on Dec. 30, according to an Instagram post. A notice posted to the door at 2985 District Avenue, Suite 160, said the shop wouldn’t reopen in 2023.

“We thank you for five years of incredible support!” the notice said.

Billed as the first “Thai-inspired” ice cream establishment in Virginia and Maryland, the business had a location in Springfield that appears to have closed in 2019. Its Maryland locations in Rockville, Bethesda and College Park still seem to be open.

Several of the more recent Yelp reviews for the Mosaic shop complain about half-hour-long waits for ice cream. FFXnow was unable to reach 520 Ice Cream for an explanation of the closure.

The Mosaic District recently welcomed Kirby Club, a Mediterranean restaurant that opened in late December. Construction is underway in the neighborhood for three new tenants: a Pottery Barn furniture store, the jewelry business Brilliant Earth and the clothing store Faherty.

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Construction is underway on a new Pottery Barn on a prominent street corner in the Mosaic District.

No signs indicating the store’s identity have been posted yet, but the home furniture company has filed for a commercial alterations permit to renovate the space at 2905 District Avenue, Suite 100.

Visible from Route 29, the store will be in the location previously occupied by Nieman Marcus and then, briefly, GreatGatherings. The suite is 14,879 square feet in size, per Fairfax County’s records for the permit, which is under review.

This will be Pottery Barn’s third store in Fairfax County, joining locations in Tysons Corner Center and Fair Oaks Mall. The business didn’t return multiple requests for comment, so it’s unclear when exactly construction on the Merrifield site will be complete.

Also coming to the Mosaic District are Brilliant Earth — a jewelry store that says it sells ethically sourced diamonds and other gemstones — and Faherty, a family-owned clothing business.

Brilliant Earth will occupy a 2,029-square-foot space at 2905 District Avenue, Suite 105. It will be the company’s first store in Virginia, though there are existing locations in Georgetown, Bethesda and Baltimore.

Founded in 2005 with the goal of fostering “a more transparent, sustainable, and compassionate jewelry industry,” Brilliant Earth was drawn to “the sense of community the Mosiac District is creating,” says Kathryn Money, the senior vice president of merchandising and retail expansion.

“Brilliant Earth uses a data-driven approach to identify new showroom markets and expand our physical retail footprint in existing markets,” Money said by email. “As a digital-first company operating an omnichannel model, we are able to use online data to inform our showroom growth strategy.”

Faherty is on track to open at 2905 District Avenue in Suite 125 early this summer, a spokesperson confirmed.

Started by a Brooklyn-based couple, Faherty highlights its use of “environmentally responsible” fabrics to make “casual and elevated” clothes. Its products are available through some local retailers, including the Nordstrom in Tysons Corner Center, but the Mosaic store will be its first standalone location in Fairfax County.

“The Mosaic District seemed like the perfect place for us to open as we were attracted to the vibrant experience it offers to the community,” Faherty told FFXnow by email. “Mosaic is an innovative shopping environment and we’re excited to expand our retail experience with them.”

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Participants line up for the 2022 Polar Plunge at the Mosaic District (courtesy Sean Wallach/Special Olympics Virginia)

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.

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.

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The Mosaic District’s new restaurant Kirby Club serves eastern Mediterranean cuisine (courtesy Kimberly Kong/Kirby Club)

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¬†MaydńĀn 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 MaydńĀn’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.

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A few skaters use the Mosaic District’s roller rink in July 2022 (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

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.

Mosaic District owner EDENS hopes to put an ice skating rink on District Avenue (via Fairfax County)

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.

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Tysons Corner Center (file photo)

Halloween is showing up on Tysons Corner Center’s doorstep a couple weeks early this year.

The mall’s Fall Festival this weekend will include a full Halloween experience, with trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, and other activities.

The festivities will mostly unfold on the Plaza, where Maniac Pumpkin Carvers founder Marc Evans will put on live pumpkin-carving demonstrations from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will also be face painting, a photo booth, a vender market, a beer garden from Barrel & Bushel, and a Seasons52 wine tent.

Live entertainment will be provided by country musician Scott Kurt and the bands Under the Covers and The Moonlighters. In addition, the Traveling Players Ensemble will stage a puppet show from 1-5 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday).

There will also be a kids’ corn maze set up on Sunday (Oct. 16).

Kids who arrive between noon and 2 p.m. on both days can participate in Tysons Mall-o-Ween, where they’l be able to collect candy from over 40 retailers in the mall. Free tote bags will be handed out at the Plaza.

Advance registration is required for Mall-o-Ween, but only one ticket is needed per family, according to an announcement on Facebook. The mall encourages kids to don costumes, but Halloween masks won’t be allowed inside.

The Town of Vienna is also getting a head start on the season of ghosts and ghouls with Halloween on the Green.

From 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. tomorrow, the parks and recreation department will offer snacks, games and prizes, story times, moon bounces, crafts and pumpkin decorating at the Vienna Town Green. The event page says a limited number of pumpkins will be available.

For area residents who’d prefer to celebrate closer to the actual holiday, Vienna will have its annual Halloween parade at 7 p.m. on Oct. 26. Saturday, Oct. 29, will bring costume contests to The Boro and The Perch at Capital One Center, and a Festival of Frights to McLean Community Center’s Old Firehouse.

The Mosaic District in Merrifield will close the weekend with a Halloween Spooktacular, which will feature trick-or-treating and a screening of the 2019 “Addams Family” movie on Oct. 30.

Finally, on Halloween itself (Monday, Oct. 31), Celebrate Fairfax will throw a party at The PARC (8508 Leesburg Pike) with “face painting, balloon twisting, mad science activities, and of course candy and other treats,” according to the Facebook event page.

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Praline Bakery has closed in the Mosaic District (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

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 info@bookgirlbakes.com or ally@bookgirlbakes.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

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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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Junction Bistro & Bar’s upcoming Mosaic District location features a mural nodding to the area’s past as a movie theater hot spot (courtesy Junction Bistro & Bar)

A Junction Bistro and Bar is on its way to Merrifield, ready to pay homage to the area’s cinematic past.

Drawing its name from the railroad ties of Alexandria’s Del Ray, where the original Junction Bakery and Bistro opened in 2016, the regional business adapts each of its locations to the neighborhoods they serve, Managing Director Noe Landini says.

When the opportunity emerged for a bistro in the Mosaic District, the property’s history with movie theaters — starting with the D.C. area’s largest drive-in and continued with the Angelika Film Center — was a logical source of inspiration.

“We thought, ‘Man, it would be really cool to design this Junction after a drive-in,’ so we have a lot of cool design features at this one that are much different from the rest,” Landini told FFXnow by phone.

The Junction team hopes to unveil those design features, including a hand-painted wall mural with iconic film characters and images, to customers in late August.

Located between Urbano and District Dumplings in the former Cheesetique space (2985 District Avenue, Suite 115), the Mosaic Junction materalized with a partnership between Landini’s REX Management group and Common Plate Hospitality, which owns Urbano.

According to Landini, Common Plate invited him to look at the adjacent, vacated space, since they thought his brand “would be a good fit.” He had also collaborated with Mosaic District developer and property manager EDENS “on some minor things” in the past.

“I knew them, and I met with them, and it did seem like a really good fit, so we said, ‘Let’s give it a shot,'” Landini said.

The Mosaic Junction will serve a lunch and dinner menu of sandwiches, salads, and various entrees, from shrimp and grits to Thai street noodles. Brunch will be available on weekends, and there will be baked goods made by the bakery in Alexandria.

It will be the third Junction with a bar, joining venues in Capitol Hill and Chevy Chase. Landini says it will have the capacity to serve about 140 people with indoor, outdoor, and bar seating.

The restaurant has been under construction for more than half a year now, with Fairfax County issuing an interior commercial alteration permit back on Jan. 27.

The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on supply chains has “one hundred percent” affected the restaurant’s build-out, Landini says. A refrigerator or oven that once might’ve arrived in a couple of days or a week now takes anywhere from four to 20 weeks.

“Whether it’s equipment for the kitchen or light fixtures or flooring, you name it, the supply chain is seriously broken in this country,” he said. “We’re not the only ones that are experiencing this. It’s everybody.”

With hiring for the new bistro underway, finding staff has also been a challenge — not in terms of finding people looking for work, but in finding people with experience, Landini told FFXnow.

Despite those obstacles, Landini says he’s eager to introduce Junction to the Mosaic District and find a foothold in the neighborhood.

“I know people that live there. I know people that work nearby. They’re very excited about us coming,” Landini said. “I’m very excited to come and be a part of that community.”

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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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