Three men have been arrested for coercing women into sex work at “high-end” brothels in Massachusetts and Virginia, the Department of Justice announced yesterday (Wednesday).
Locations used for the brothels include units in Hanover Tysons and Avalon Mosaic, apartment buildings in Tysons and Merrifield, according to a court affidavit by a Department of Homeland Security special agent.
Federal prosecutors have charged Massachusetts residents Han Lee and Junmyung Lee as well as California resident James Lee “with conspiracy to coerce and entice to travel to engage in illegal sexual activity,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Massachusetts said in a press release.
According to the DOJ, since at least July 2020, the men enticed primarily Asian women to travel to and work in the brothels, whose clients included “politicians, high tech and pharmaceutical executives, doctors, military officers, government contractors that possess security clearances, professors, lawyers, scientists and accountants.”
Specifically, the defendants allegedly rented high-end apartment complexes as brothel locations, which they furnished and regularly maintained. The monthly rent for the brothel locations were as high as $3,664. It is further alleged that the defendants coordinated the women’s airline travel and transportation and permitted women to stay overnight in the brothel locations so they did not have to find lodging elsewhere, therefore enticing women to participate in their prostitution network.
The locations in Tysons and Merrifield were advertised on a website claiming to be for nude photography models, but the DHS agent says he believes the ads are a “front” for commercial escort or prostitution services.
“Approximately twenty (20) sex buyers were interviewed in connection with this multi-yearlong investigation,” the agent said in the affidavit.
Clients were charged anywhere from $350 up to $600 per hour that they paid in cash, the DOJ says. Prosecutors allege that the defendants concealed “hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash” from the prostitution ring through deposits in their personal bank accounts and “peer-to-peer transfers.”
“Additionally, it is alleged that the defendants regularly used hundreds of thousands of dollars of the cash proceeds from the prostitution business to purchase money orders (in values under an amount that would trigger reporting and identification requirements) to conceal the source of the funds,” the press release said. “These money orders were then used to pay for rent and utilities at brothel locations in Massachusetts and Virginia.”
The defendants could face up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and fines of up to $250,000 under the sex trafficking charges, according to the DOJ.
Han Lee and Junmyung Lee appeared in a federal court in Boston yesterday after getting arrested that morning, while James Lee was arrested in California and “will appear in federal court in Boston at a later date,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
There’s a new shop in Merrifield focusing on an eclectic, “curated collection” of handcrafted goods.
Vivid Chill hosted a grand opening this past weekend in the Mosaic District, moving into Suite 150 at 2910 District Avenue from a spot in Great Falls.
The shop offers everything from jewelry and clothing to books, face oils and playdough.
According to Vivid Chill’s website, its focus is on “handcrafted, ethically made, sustainable, nontoxic, eco-friendly” goods.
Originally opened at Great Falls Village Centre in early 2021, the shop won a spot on Washingtonian’s Best New Shopsof 2021 list, which highlighted owner Marika Tsombikos’s dedication to selling only the best assorted items she can find, typically with clean design and bright colors.
Vivid Chill’s website says the store is open from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
(Updated at 5:40 p.m.) The Mosaic District has reeled in a different kind of seafood restaurant.
Kreole, a new concept that blends flavors from Creole and Asian cuisines, will open in the Merrifield neighborhood
tomorrow (Tuesday) next Monday (Oct. 23) at 2985 District Avenue, Unit 115. The news was first reported by Eater DC.
“We felt that there were no other concepts that connect the dirty south and far east in this area,” Kreole chef and owner Chad Sparrow said. “The food diversity in Mosaic has most things covered, but this hasn’t been done. We also think it will be a destination spot as so many ppl love seafood and the way we are preparing it is unique and bursting with flavor.”
Sparrow says the company determined it wasn’t “getting the legs that we had hoped for” from Junction, which still has locations in Alexandria, Capitol Hill and Chevy Chase. But Common Plate Hospitality is confident that Kreole will be a more successful catch for the Mosaic District.
“We thought that this concept is very different and would work better in this space,” Sparrow said.
Located next door to Urbano, a Tex-Mex eatery that also came from Common Plate, the 3,000-square-foot restaurant will have 90 indoor seats and 15 seats outside.
The menu consists of seafood “catches,” including crabs, lobster, shrimps, clams and oysters, that can be customized with different sauces, spice levels and add-ons, such as corn, potato, sticky rice or cajun fries. There are also some items like krispy wings and shaky beef that are designed to be shareable, along with soups and salads.
Hours of operation for the new restaurant will be 4-10 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.
(Updated at 4:35 p.m.) Merrifield’s Mosaic District is bringing its “Films in the Park” screening series back for the fall — this time, with three times more Lin-Manuel Miranda.
While the live recording of “Hamilton” on Broadway remains walled off on Disney Plus, the prolific Tony, Grammy and Pulitzer Prize winner wrote songs for three out of the four featured movies, including tonight’s opener, “Encanto.”
In contrast, this summer’s edition of the outdoor movie series had just one film — “Moana” — with contributions from Miranda. The three-month lineup also highlighted recent blockbusters like “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.”
The Mosaic District describes this as a “special fall edition” of the series to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, which lasts from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
The full schedule is below, with each screening starting at 6 p.m. in Strawberry Park:
- Sept. 21 — Encanto (2021, 1h 42m, PG)
- Sept. 28 — Vivo (2021, 1h 35m, PG-13)
- Oct. 5 — In The Heights (2021, 2h 23m, PG-13)
- Oct. 12 — Coco (2017, 1h 45m, PG-13)
The U.S. has observed National Hispanic Heritage Month since 1988. Intended to recognize the cultures, histories and contributions of the country’s Spanish, Caribbean, and Central and South American residents, the occasion began as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 before expanding to a full 30 days.
Fairfax County was planning its first-ever festival to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month this Saturday (Sept. 23) at the PARC at Tysons (8508 Leesburg Pike). However, the Fairfax Fiesta has been canceled due to expected inclement weather, including “heavy rain, high winds and uncomfortably cool temperatures.”
“We received a tremendous outpouring of interest from the community to participate and attend this event,” Celebrate Fairfax, which organized the event, said. “…Safety is our highest priority for the artists, vendors, community organizations, elected officials, event staff and volunteers scheduled to set up, break down, and participate in the event.”
The similarly named Fiesta Fairfax in Fairfax City, however, will go on. Originally set to take place this Saturday in Old Town Square, the event has been relocated indoors to Old Town Hall (3999 University Drive).
Expect more music and food, along with other kinds of live entertainment and “educational exhibits,” according to the city’s website.
About 17.3% of Fairfax County’s population identifies as Hispanic, as of the 2020 Census, which found that the county’s growing Asian and Latino communities had turned it into the second most racially diverse county in Virginia.
A two-day outdoor fall festival returns to the Mosaic District on Sept. 23 and 24.
The annual Fall Festival will bring activities and entertainment to the mixed-use neighborhood in Merrifield from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
URBNmarket — a curated marketplace — will include a mix of 80 handmade, artists and vintage good vendors to the festival. FRESHFARM — the D.C.-based nonprofit that runs the Mosaic District’s weekly farmers market — will also feature local vendors with produce and snacks.
Activities for kids will include a moon bounce, pumpkin painting and a games corner. A glamour tent by the Vienna Signing Princesses will also offer face painting and hair braiding.
Performances are planned throughout both days on the main stage on Strawberry Lane:
Saturday, September 23
- 11 a.m. — Vienna Singing Princesses
- 11:15 a.m. — Tea with Mrs. B
- 12:30 p.m. — School of Rock – House Band
- 2 p.m. — Patrick Alban and Noche Latino
- 4 p.m. — Izis La Enfermera de La Salsa
Sunday, September 24
- 11 a.m. — Vienna Singing Princesses
- 11:15 a.m. — Tiny Dancers
- 12:30 p.m. — The Cassaday Concoction
- 4 p.m. — Royals USA
There will also be fall-themed selfie stations, along with a sip-and-stroll at participating locations.
The event is free, and complimentary shuttle service will be available from the Dunn Loring Metro station.
A new clothing store focused on “sustainability” and social impact has opened in the Mosaic District.
Faherty opened its newest store over the weekend at 2905 District Ave. It was first announced in early 2023. This is the company’s third location in the D.C. area, including stores in Bethesda and Georgetown.
The company also aims to have a social impact, particularly by acknowledging that the brand sells items with patterns inspired by indigenous Native Americans. The company says now it has a “mission as a brand to model a mutually beneficial relationship between Native artists and non-Native companies for collective healing.”
The Fairfax location’s webpage notes that the store sits on Nacotchtank, Piscataway, and Pamunkey lands.
Mosaic District has seen a slew of openings in recent weeks. Last month, Pottery Barn opened while, in July, Latin wine bar Grand Cata started serving. Jewelry store Brilliant Earth also opened earlier this year as well.
Arlington-based ice cream shop Mimi’s Handmade is set to begin scooping soon too.
Pottery Barn is now open and operating in the Mosaic District.
The home furnishings and decor business started serving customers in the mixed-use Merrifield neighborhood on Friday, Aug. 18, a store employee told FFXnow.
The store occupies close to 15,000 square feet at 2905 District Avenue, Suite 100, where Nieman Marcus and GreatGatherings had previously set up shop. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
“Pottery Barn offers expertly crafted furniture and home decor,” the company says on its website. “Come by and learn more about the complimentary decorating and design services offered by our Design Studio Specialists. We also have registry experts ready to help you create a well rounded wedding registry.”
Now based in San Francisco, Pottery Barn was founded in 1949 by brothers Paul and Morris Secon in Manhattan, New York. It was later sold to Gap and then, in 1986, Williams-Sonoma, which had 188 Pottery Barn stores, as of 2022.
The Merrifield store supplanted Pottery Barn’s longstanding Tysons Corner Center location, which has closed, a mall spokesperson confirmed. The Tysons mall has been home to Pottery Barn since at least 2008, according to its Yelp reviews.
Pottery Barn didn’t return requests for comment by press time. It also has a store in Fair Oaks Mall.
Other recent additions at the Mosaic District include the Latin wine bar and restaurant Grand Cata and the jewelry store Brilliant Earth. The clothing store Faherty’s is on track to open a couple of doors down from Pottery Barn this Friday, Sept. 1, a spokesperson told FFXnow.
The ice cream shop, Mimi’s Handmade, is still in the works, but no opening date has been announced yet.
Summer Restaurant Week starts later this month across the region, with more than 30 Fairfax County businesses scheduled to participate.
Hundreds of restaurants are participating during this year’s summer edition, including several Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport eateries — a first for the campaign.
“This year’s Summer Restaurant Week cycle is a special one,” RAMW President and CEO Shawn Townsend said in the press release. “Not only does the promotional week take place during the DC Jazz Festival, we have multiple restaurants participating from our region’s airports, allowing both locals and travelers to the area to take part in the special offerings.”
The restaurants offer brunch and lunch menus for $25 a person and dinner for $40 or $55 a person. There will also be alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink specials as well.
There will be 32 Fairfax County restaurants participating in the upcoming edition, which will run from Monday, Aug. 28 through Sunday, Sept. 3.
- Bistro Atelier — French cuisine
- Bracket Room — Sports bar
- Carrabba’s — Italian food
- Chef Geoff’s — American food
- Devil’s Backbone — Gastropub fare
- District Chop House — Steakhouse
- The Washington Burgundy and Gold Club — American classics
- 2941 Restaurant (2941 Fairview Park Drive) — French cuisine
- Alta Strada Mosaic (2911 District Avenue) — Italian food in the Mosaic District
- B Side (8298 Glass Alley) — American food in the Mosaic District
- Matchbox (2911 District Avenue) McLean, and Reston locations) — Pizza in the Mosaic District
- TRIO Grill (8100 Lee Highway) — American food
- Founding Farmers (1904 Reston Metro Plaza) — Locally sourced food and bar at Reston Station
- Matchbox (1900 Reston Metro Plaza) — Pizza at Reston Station
- North Italia (11898 Market Street) — Italian food at Reston Town Center
- Morton’s (11956 Market Street) — Steakhouse at Reston Town Center
- PassionFish (11960 Democracy Drive) — Seafood restaurant at Reston Town Center
- Pisco y Nazca Ceviche Gastrobar (1871 Explorer Street) — Peruvian food at Reston Town Center
- The Melting Pot (11730 Plaza America Drive) — A fondue restaurant
- Agora Tysons (7911 Westpark Drive) — Greek/Mediterranean/Turkish
- American Prime (1420 Spring Hill Road) — Steakhouse
- Circa at The Boro (1675 Silver Hill Drive) — American bistro
- Earls Kitchen + Bar (7902 Tysons One Place) — American food at Tysons Corner Center
- Founding Farmers (1800 Tysons Blvd) — Locally sourced food and bar at Tysons Galleria
- Jiwa Singapura (2001 International Drive) — Singapore cuisine at Tysons Galleria
- Joon (8045 Leesburg Pike, Suite 120) — Persian food in Fairfax Square
- Matchbox (1340 Chain Bridge Road) — Pizza in McLean
- North Italia (1651 Boro Place) — Italian cuisine at The Boro
- The Capital Grille (1861 International Drive) — Steakhouse and seafood restaurant in Tysons Corner Center. The Fair Lakes location at 12169 Fair Lakes Promenade Drive is participating as well.
- Wildfire (2001 International Drive) — Steak and seafood in Tysons Galleria
- Wren (1825 Capital One Drive South) — Japanese restaurant at Capital One Center
Grand Cata recently made a grand entrance at the Mosaic District.
The D.C.-based Latin American wine bar and store opened the doors of its first Virginia location on July 18, according to an Instagram post.
The modest, 910-square-foot space is located next to B-Side in the former Poke Bar at 8298 Glass Alley, Suite 100. It includes a counter bar and table where visitors can drink wine and eat food, along with shelves of wine for retail sale and a market with sauces and other pantry items.
“We are so happy to be part of the @mosaicdistrict community and we are ready for you,” the business said in a social media post last week.
Started as a retail shop in downtown D.C. in 2016, Grand Cata was founded to fill what founders Pedro Rodríguez and Julio Robledo saw as a gap in the region’s wine market for options from Latin America.
The Mosaic District store is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. It’s closed on Monday.
Tenants still to come to the Merrifield neighborhood are Pottery Barn, the beach-inspired clothing store Faherty and the ice cream shop Mimi’s Homemade. In addition, farmers market operator FreshMarket announced last week that it will expand onto Strawberry Lane starting this Sunday (Aug. 6).
The Tysons area will have no shortage of fresh fruits and vegetables for the rest of this year, as one farmers market prepares to make its introduction and another expands its presence.
A brand-new Tysons farmers market will launch at noon today (Thursday) at The PARC at Tysons (8508 Leesburg Pike).
Run by Potomac Farm Market, the market will return every Thursday from noon to 7 p.m. through Oct. 19. It will have “seasonal fruits and vegetables, fresh cut flowers, and other locally sourced specialties” from area farmers and food producers, according to Celebrate Fairfax, the nonprofit that operates The PARC.
“We’re thrilled to work in partnership with Potomac Farm Market and host the farmers market at The PARC,” Celebratate Fairfax President and CEO Ashley Morris said. “The market provides an opportunity to bring neighbors together to connect over fresh, locally sourced food while also supporting local farms.”
To mark today’s launch, Celebrate Fairfax has planned a grand opening event with free ice cream from Tysons Creamery, while supplies last. The giveaway is a nod to National Ice Cream Month, but it will also likely be welcome for patrons on a day expected to get dangerously hot.
The farmers market is currently scheduled to be held outside, but organizers say it could be relocated indoors if necessary.
“We are monitoring the weather and have the ability to move the farm market inside The PARC if needed,” Celebrate Fairfax Director of Community Events and Engagements Trinity Yansick said.
Mosaic District farmers’ market set to expand
Looking south of I-66, nonprofit FreshFarm announced yesterday that it will expand its popular farmers market at Merrifield’s Mosaic District.
Operated by FreshFarm since 2019, the Mosaic market is open year-round on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It typically occupies more than two blocks along District Avenue from Strawberry Lane to Penny Lane, requiring the road to be closed to vehicle traffic.
Starting on Aug. 6, the market will extend its reach onto Strawberry Lane, increasing its vendor line-up from 45 produce, food and craft stalls to almost 60.
Covering the equivalent of three city blocks, the expanded market will be “in the running to be the largest farmers market in Northern Virginia,” FreshFarm says. Offerings will include “a wide array of fresh fruits and vegetables, artisanal baked goods, pastured eggs and meats, locally roasted coffee, prepared foods” and more.
“The expansion into Strawberry Lane means we can connect even more farmers and producers with the community while also providing local residents with a wider variety of fresh and healthy options,” FreshFarm Director of Agricultural Programs Rebecca Chávez said.
She added that the nonprofit hopes the bigger market will draw more participants for its Fresh Match program, which allows SNAP and other federal benefit recipients to get a dollar-for-dollar match on any benefits they spend at the farmers market.
“[It] both helps shoppers take home more nutritious produce and local foods while creating and sustaining new revenue streams for local growers,” Chávez said.
The Mosaic market’s expansion will coincide with the first day of National Farmers Market Week, which is recognized annually by the national nonprofit Farmers Market Coalition.
Earlier this year, workers for FreshFarm — whose other markets include ones in Reston and Oakton — unionized with United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400.