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Shack Shack is now open at the Mosaic District, but with limited hours (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax County’s second Shake Shack is now open and serving customers.

Known for its burgers and milkshakes, the chain quietly opened the doors of its new Mosaic District restaurant on April 18, store manager Tasha told FFXnow.

However, the site is currently operating only from 5 to 9 p.m., according to the Mosaic District website.

“Just some store issues,” Tasha said when asked about the limited hours. “We’ve got to get some things figured out still.”

The restaurant doesn’t yet have a clear timeline for when hours will expand, she added.

Shake Shack is located in the 4,000-square-foot space at 2911 District Avenue that previously belonged to the fast-casual Indian joint Choolah. It has several tables and chairs on a 668-square-foot outdoor patio.

Originating as a hot dog cart in New York City, Shake Shack now has over 200 locations nationwide, but the Merrifield site represents its first expansion in Fairfax County since opening at Tysons Corner Center in 2014.

“It’s been good so far since we opened,” Tasha said. “We wanted to be part of a good community. We wanted to be part of a family-oriented community, and that’s what we did.”

While no other plans in the county have been officially confirmed, the company will reportedly be the tenant for an upcoming drive-thru facility at Pike 7 Plaza in Tysons.

Elsewhere in the Mosaic District, Sunglass Hut has opened next to the MacMillan Whisky Room, and a Pressed juice shop is expected to arrive this month. Work is underway on a new, bigger space for Jinya Ramen Bar, which will relocate to make way for the Middle Eastern restaurant Tawle this summer.

For those who miss Choolah, the Indian eatery RASA will open its first location in the county adjacent to Mosaic’s Target. The restaurant applied for beer/wine and mixed beverage licenses on April 21, according to Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority records.

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The Mosaic District’s roller skating rink from summer 2021 (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The outdoor roller skating rink that popped up on Strawberry Lane in the Mosaic District last summer could become a seasonal fixture — with a possible ice skating rink also in the works.

EDENS, the owner and developer of the Merrifield mixed-use community, has partnered with operator Rink Management Services Corporation to revive the Mosaic Skateland rink annually, starting this summer, according to a special permit application recently submitted to Fairfax County.

“The goal of this event is to create a fun activity that brings the community outside and active after a couple years of Covid-19 quarantine,” Rink Management Services said in a statement.

If the permit is approved, the roller skating rink will operate seven days a week from June 24 through Sept. 25, with about a week required to both set the facility up and take it down. It will allow one-hour sessions with up to 50 skaters each.

Instead of blocking off Strawberry Lane, the Mosaic District’s main thoroughfare, the rink will be located on Mosaic Town Center Drive at the District Avenue corner, adjacent to Barnes & Noble.

Like in 2021, this year’s Skateland will open during LGBTQ Pride Month. In an email, EDENS suggests following the launch day with a Pride celebration on June 25, including a donation to FCPS Pride, an advocacy group for LGBTQ+ school employees.

After this year, the roller rink will shift to more of a spring event, running approximately 90 days each year from the beginning of April through the end of June, Rink Management Services suggests.

The company has also proposed introducing an ice skating rink at the Mosaic District during the winter.

The ice rink would run for approximately 120 days from early November to late February, and it could support holiday events as well as the annual Polar Plunge fundraiser for the Special Olympics, according to the application materials.

Because the rink will stick around longer than it did last year, a temporary event special permit is required from the county, which carries a $16,375 fee, according to Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik.

At Palchik’s request, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors agreed on March 22 to grant EDENS a 75% reduction in zoning fees in accordance with an emergency measure adopted on July 27 that waived or reduced regulations and fees to assist the hospitality industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the ordinance only mentions indoor recreational facilities as eligible, Palchik made the case that the Mosaic skating rink proposal is “essentially the same” as the hospitality uses explicitly mentioned in the measure.

“The proposed skating rink is intended to add significant outdoor activities to an existing, established shopping and lifestyle center,” she said, adding that EDENS intends to use the proceeds from the rink to support a local nonprofit.

EDENS declined to provide further details about the skating rink plans.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said the amount of the permit fee “raised my eyebrows,” suggesting the board could examine whether to make changes.

“That seems excessive for something like this,” McKay said.

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The autonomous Relay shuttle travels between the Mosaic District and the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The autonomous Relay shuttle that has been puttering around Merrifield will stay in operation at least through the end of this year.

Fairfax County accepted additional funding from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation last week to extend its pilot project through December 2022, as it hopes the recent decline in COVID-19 cases will boost the shuttle’s ridership.

The $208,000 state grant is supplemented by a required local match of 20%, or $52,000, bringing the total amount to $260,000, according to county documents.

“Ridership levels have still been relatively low due to omicron and winter weather, but we are expecting an increase during the summer,” Robin Geiger, head of communications for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, told FFXnow.

The Relay shuttle opened to passengers on Oct. 22, 2020, in the Mosaic District. It is free to ride and travels between Barnes & Noble and the nearby Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays.

A partnership between the county and Dominion Energy, which provided the shuttle, the demonstration project is Virginia’s first state-funded use of a self-driving, electric vehicle in public transportation.

The county enlisted the Virginia Transportation Research Council and Virginia Tech to conduct an independent study of the technology and the service’s effectiveness as a transportation option, but that effort has been unavoidably shaped by the pandemic.

Though the shuttle can accommodate up to 12 passengers, capacity has been limited to three people, including a safety attendant, throughout the pilot to encourage social distancing.

Geiger notes that face masks are also required on the shuttle as long as the federal mask mandate for public transportation remains in effect, which is currently through April 18. Governors from 21 states, including Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, filed a lawsuit against President Joe Biden’s administration yesterday (Tuesday), calling the mandate an example of federal overreach.

Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19 and some more mundane logistical issues, such as drivers illegally passing the 10 mile-per-hour vehicle, the Relay pilot “has been going well” overall, Geiger says, adding that the county has been learning throughout the experiment.

The shuttle will be on display this weekend (April 2-3) at the Mosaic District’s “Art Blooms” festival, a celebration of spring in partnership with the National Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C.

Art Blooms at Mosaic will also feature crafts and farmers markets, a beer garden from Caboose Brewing Company, a wine garden, live musical performances, and various family-friendly activities, such as face-painting and cooking demonstrations.

“[Relay] will not be operating during the festival, but we will be promoting the days and hours of service,” Geiger said.

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Pressed is opening a juice bar in the Mosaic District this spring (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 5:15 p.m. on 3/30/2022) Health fanatics will have a new reason to visit the Mosaic District later this spring.

Pressed, a California company whose plant-based juices can be found in many grocers and coffee shops, will open a new store in the Merrifield development. This will be its first retail site in Virginia, though there are two stores in D.C.

An opening date has not been confirmed yet, but it’s expected to come in May, according to Pressed CMO Michelle Peterson.

“We’re opening our first storefronts in key markets, such as Fairfax, to be able to reach new audiences with our innovative juice store concept and making real, healthy food accessible to everyone,” Peterson told FFXnow, citing the variety of dining and shopping options in the Mosaic District as a draw for Pressed.

The store will occupy 700 square feet in Suite 140 at 2905 District Avenue, adjacent to the recently opened clothing store LooLous. The space was previously occupied by a similar business: Puree Juice Bar, which closed in August last year.

The store’s modest size is consistent with Pressed’s other locations, including its original 25-square-foot “juice closet” in Los Angeles, California. The inaugural store launched in 2010 when the company was called Pressed Juicery, according to its website.

“Our store model is efficiently built so that we don’t take up more space than we need,” Peterson said.

It now has more than 100 retail stores and supplies wholesale partners in nearly 3,000 locations, Pressed said by email.

With a focus on nutrition, Pressed produces cold-pressed juice with flavors like kale spinach and beet apple ginger. It also serves plant-based milk, smoothies, and plant-based snacks, including smoothie bowls and soft-serve ice cream.

Levesque says the Mosaic District store is the only one currently planned in Fairfax County, but Pressed will open a few more locations in D.C. later this year.

The coming months will also see the Mosaic District add Shake Shack, Sunglass Hut, the fast-casual Indian eatery RASA, and the Middle Eastern restaurant Tawle, which will fill the space vacated by Jinya when the ramen bar relocates just down the block.

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People enjoy Mosaic District’s Strawberry Park (File photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 3 p.m.) A D.C.-based Indian restaurant is coming soon to Fairfax County.

RASA, a fast casual restaurant started by two best friends, plans to open in the Mosaic District at 2905 District Avenue, according to county records.

County permits show that a permit for sprinkler work was issued on March 17.

A spokesperson for the restaurant declined to comment on the opening, but later clarified that it will take over a space next to Target that was occupied by Leon until the British fast-food chain closed its U.S. locations last year.

This will be RASA’s fourth location overall and its first in Fairfax County. The chain plans to double its footprint and is “actively seeking additional locations,” Bisnow reported yesterday (Monday).

The Mosaic District space will feature swings to provide outdoor seating and a door inside that connects to the adjacent Target, according to Bisnow.

Here’s more from the restaurant’s webpage on how the business came to be:

Our story starts back when we were just itty bitty little things. You see, we were born into the restaurant industry. Our fathers, hard-working immigrants, moved to this country back in 1985. Old friends from their days back in India, they started working together at a local spot in DC, and in 1991, embarked on the shared adventure of opening their first restaurant together. A year before that, we entered the picture, and have been best friends ever since.

Growing up with Bombay Bistro + Indique, we noticed that a lot of our friends either hadn’t tried Indian food or had misperceptions about it. We’d hear stuff like “I don’t like curry!” and “Isn’t it all spicy?” on the reg, and it confused us because we knew curry just meant sauce and there’s such diversity of flavor + heat profiles across India.

The food of our families had always been delicious, nutritious, and made with love. So, we’d bring our friends to the restaurant, order for them, and to their surprise, without fail, they would fall for Indian cuisine. Over the years, we’d see these converts coming back for birthday celebrations, graduation dinners, and anniversaries.

Sooner or later, we started to realize it wasn’t that all these friends didn’t like Indian food – they just hadn’t been introduced to it in an accessible and fun way before. So in high school, we wrote a business plan for the idea, (we actually won a small business competition!) and started dreaming about how cool it could be.

We went to college, graduated, and did the whole corporate rat race thing for a few years in New York. But this vision kept coming back to us, and we knew we had to bring it to life. So we took the leap, quit our jobs, moved back home, and decided to do the damn thing.

Along the way, we traveled across India to reconnect with our roots and dove deeper into not only the intricacies of Indian cuisine, but our own friendship and families as well.

RASA is the realization of that vision, where we bring together our two worlds to share the authentic flavors of our youth with our friends + community right here in the DMV.

The Mosaic District is already home to a diverse mix of restaurants including Ted’s Bulletin, Cava, bartaco, District Dumplings, and Jinya Ramen Bar.

A Shake Shack is also coming to Mosaic sometime this spring.

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Sunglass Hut is opening soon in the Mosaic District (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Sunglass Hut has set its sights at the Mosaic District.

The international sunglasses retailer, which has its roots in Florida, plans to open up shop at 2920 District Avenue.

The company did not return multiple requests for comment from FFXnow.

County permits indicate that the business has received permits for its sprinkler system and is actively working on completing the new layout.

The business has 43 locations across the state, including three in Fairfax and four in Tysons.

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Shake Shack, a burger-and-shake restaurant, plans to open in Merrifield’s Mosaic District this spring.

A company representative tells FFXnow that while an opening date has not been determined, the burger joint expects to announce its grand opening in the coming weeks.

Earlier this year, the company announced plans to push back the opening of restaurants throughout the country due to soaring construction and material costs and limited labor.

Business Insider reports that the company plans to open between 40 and 45 new locations this year — a record for the chain.

As previously reported, Shake Shack is taking over space formerly occupied by Choolah at 2911 District Avenue. The fast-casual Indian restaurant closed early in the COVID-19 pandemic but confirmed it would be permanent in January 2021.

The county is currently processing permits for suppression systems and other technical components, according to county records.

The space is roughly a little over 4,000 square feet and has a 668-square-foot outdoor patio.

The Mosaic District is already home to a diverse mix of restaurants including Ted’s Bulletin, Cava, bartaco, District Dumplings, and Jinya Ramen Bar.

This will be Shake Shack’s second Fairfax County location, joining an outlet at Tysons Corner Center. The company has also been mentioned as the prospective tenant for a drive-thru restaurant proposed at Pike 7 Plaza in Tysons.

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