Amir Mostafavi always knew he would eventually open a South Block juice bar in his home of McLean.
The McLean High School graduate worked at the now-defunct Box Office Video chain that was owned by his parents for about two decades. Those days of stocking shelves, having an encyclopedic knowledge of actors, and ordering hard-to-find movies for customers were his first lessons in entrepreneurship.
“We were a local, family-run business that competed with Blockbuster, but what set us apart was our connection to the community,” Mostafavi told FFXnow. “People coming in, they knew me or my mom or my dad. We knew what our customers wanted…If someone came in and asked me about where a movie is, I could tell them it’s three rows over, three shelves down, and three videos over.”
In the years since, he has taken that experience and has applied it to create his own business. Mostafavi first opened his first juice bar on the campus of George Washington University in 2006 called “Campus Fresh.”
If working at Box Office Video was the entrepreneurial equivalent of an undergraduate education, Campus Fresh was like graduate school.
“I always joke with people that’s where I got my Ph.D. in business,” he said.
Five years later, in 2011, Mostafavi opened South Block was in Arlington’s Clarendon neighborhood. While it wasn’t an immediate success, as the company’s website notes, they kept building the company “one block at a time” and eventually opened a second location in 2015 in East Falls Church.
There are now 13 South Block locations across the D.C. region, including one in Vienna.
Soon, the juice bar’s 14th location is set to open in McLean’s Chesterbrook Shopping Center in early 2023.
Bringing his company home has Mostafavi reminiscing about working at his parents’ video store.
“It’s come full circle. I feel a sense of accomplishment,” he said on working in McLean. “I think about my dad.”
Mostafavi is now 47, the same age as his dad when he opened Box Office Video in Langley Shopping Center — only 2 miles from the site of the new South Block.
“Me having that same experience at the same time in my life and opening in the same place where he opened it, it’s just kinda…” he said, trailing off and clearly emotional about the thought. “My dad lives in Vienna now and owns a Persian restaurant there. That’s kind of his retirement.”
When noted that owning a restaurant doesn’t sound like much of a retirement, Mostafavi laughed, “He works more than I do.”
Beyond the personal connection, he believes McLean is a perfect place for a South Block. He says the community is “underserved” in terms of food choices and is always “so supportive” of local businesses.
“Even though it isn’t [techincally] a small town, it still has that small-town, community vibe in that people want to support small businesses,” he said.
South Block is moving into Chesterbrook Shopping Center, which was first built more than 50 years ago. It’s now undergoing an $8.5 million facelift. Mostafavi said the renovation is “much needed for the community” and one of the big reasons why they choose to move in.
Just like Box Office Video, South Block is a family affair with his brother serving as vice president of the company. For Mostafavi, that was the only way to go, considering how much he learned from his parents about what it takes to run a small, local business.
“It’s from [them] that I learned work ethic, being resourceful, persistent, and not giving up,” he said. “That’s all huge in being a successful business.”
A pet care business that brings grooming, dog walking, pet sitting and other services directly to owners has expanded into McLean.
Launched earlier this month, Woofie’s of McLean introduced itself to the community on Saturday (Sept. 17) at the kick-off for Shipgarten’s seven-week Oktoberfest celebration in Tysons. The “Dogtoberfest” event on Oct. 22 will serve as a grand opening.
Dogtoberfest festivities will include baths, nail trims and a raffle for a free grooming. Woofie’s will also offer a $5 discount on a first walk or 10% off a first grooming appointment, the company said.
Franchise owner and operator Ana Hul, a McLean resident, credits her 10-year-old Yorkie with inspiring her to become an owner after patronizing Woofie’s for years.
“I have been personally impacted by the way Woofie’s has taken care of my dog Pepper, and I wanted to provide that same level of care to pets in my own city of McLean,” Hul said in a press release.
Based initially out of Hul’s home, Woofie’s offers home visits for dog walking and pet-sitting services, including overnight care, as well as pet spas out of a mobile van that can stop at customers’ houses and community events.
The franchise’s service area includes McLean, most of Tysons east of Route 7, and northern Arlington. Its operating hours are from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Founded in Ashburn in 2004, Woofie’s began franchising in 2018 and now has five locations, all in Northern Virginia. A Reston-Herndon franchise launched in April 2019.
Another dessert shop has officially opened at 332 Elden Street in Herndon.
Nothing Bundt Cakes is slated for a grand opening on Oct. 7 and 8 following a soft opening that happened in early September.
The first 75 guests on grand opening day will receive a free coupon for one mini bundt cake — known as a bundtlet — every month for a year, along with drawings for other prizes.
Store owner France Saunders also plans to have balloon art and face painting for children.
“Our goal is to create a cake that not only reminds you of home, but also opens you to a new world,” Saunders said. “All of our cakes and frosting are made in each bakery. Each of our recipes uses the freshest of ingredients to include real eggs, butter and cream cheese.”
The bakery first opened in 1997 in Las Vegas and has since expanded to over 400 locations across the U.S. and Canada.
Saunders also owns the company’s Dulles franchise, which opened in 2017.
A new nail salon has opened in Reston.
Beauty Nail Bar opened at 1675 Reston Parkway this month. The nail salon first called Tysons home.
The plaza, which is anchored by Home Depot, has several empty spaces available for leasing.
The nail bar was started by owner Nam Huynh of Wolf Trap in 2014. It offers manicures, pedicures, nail extensions and waxing services.
The owner was not immediately available for comment.
Another medical cannabis dispensary is opening this week in Fairfax.
Beyond/Hello will open its second local dispensary at 10521 Fairfax Blvd in the City of Fairfax. The new location will begin serving patients on Wednesday (Aug. 29) at 10 a.m.
Beyond/Hello, owned by Flordia-based Jushi, is one of the only four companies currently allowed to sell cannabis in Virginia. FFXnow first reported the news of the company’s plans in April.
Fairfax County got its first medical cannabis dispensary in late July, with Beyond/Hello opening a site just off of Richmond Highway in Huntington.
The new 10,500-square-foot Fairfax dispensary is located in a former RiteAid. It will feature a licensed pharmacist, 26 patient checkouts, and 45 parking spots with “easy in-and-out access.”
In July, Chief Commercial Director Trent Wolveck told FFXnow that the attraction of this particular spot was its parking and proximity to the highway. Jushi CEO and founder Jim Cacioppo noted in a press release that the closeness to George Mason University was a selling point as well:
Known for its hallmark landscaped and leafy street medians, Fairfax is recognized by Forbes as one of the top places to live in the nation. Beyond Hello™ Fairfax is in a prime location, located in close proximity to George Mason University, a host of shopping centers and independently owned retail shops in the heart of Northern Virginia, and nestled in the suburban expanse of the Washington, D.C. metro region. We are very excited to serve patients in this region and deliver a retail experience that exceeds expectations.
A new state law that took effect July 1 makes it easier for Virginia residents to purchase medical cannabis, removing a requirement that patients register with the state. Now, patients just need written certification from a licensed practitioner. The law passed this year with bipartisan support.
Passed earlier this year with bipartisan support, the law is expected to encourage more residents to obtain their medical cannabis certification and greatly expand the industry.
However, retail sales of cannabis remain illegal after another bill failed in the General Assembly. As of now, cannabis retail sales won’t be allowed in Virginia until Jan. 1, 2024.
Meanwhile, Beyond/Hello is continuing its expansion in Northern Virginia. A location in Clarendon is expected to open by the end of the year, with a Woodbridge dispensary starting to serve patients in early 2023.
The Fairfax location will be Beyond/Hello’s fourth dispensary in Northern Virginia, joining ones in Huntington, Manassas and Sterling. The company also has dispensaries in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Pennsylvania.
A new dancing studio is waltzing its way to the Town of Herndon.
Owner Severyn Szapiaczan, a competitive dancer who is originally from Poland, plans to open Ballroom Boutique Dance Studio at 585 Grove Street on Sept. 2.
Szapiaczan says the business will offer instruction for beginners and experts.
“All of our dance instructors are highly skilled and trained to help you learn in our invigorating dance studio. Hailing from around the world, our teachers are award-wining professionals and gifted educators, many of whom are still active in competitive dance themselves,” Szapiaczan wrote in a statement.
Potential clients can take advantage of a free dance lesson.
The business specializes in ballroom dancing and prepping for wedding dances.
“Our teaching system is like a store for dancing. Everything you learn connects to another pattern, dance, or concept and planned according to your skill level so everything is fun, quick, and easy to learn,” Szapiaczan wrote.
Szapiaczan’s experience includes more than 300 dance contests around the world, and he helped Kirsie Alley prepare for Dancing with the Stars and Dancing with the Stars All-Stars. He has been dancing and competing since he was 9.
In just over a month, Tysons Galleria patrons will be able to get dinner, a drink and a movie — all from the same reclining, leather armchair.
“Tysons Galleria is a natural fit for the surrounding D.C. suburbs, which is known for its upscale shopping, world-class cultural attractions, and fine dining scene,” CMX Cinemas told FFXnow by email. “We believe CMX CinéBistro at Tysons Galleria will exemplify the pedigree residents and visitors to Tysons Corner have come to expect.”
Between the nearby AMC at Tysons Corner Center, The Boro’s ShowPlace ICON Theatre, and Angelika Film Center in the Mosaic District, the Tysons area isn’t exactly starved for moviegoing options, but the CinéBistro promises a different kind of experience, where the food is as much of an attraction as what’s playing on screen.
Each of the theater’s eight screening rooms will essentially double as a dining room, with servers who bring in food and drinks from the restaurant and Stone Sports Bar outside.
With appetizers, salads, sandwiches, entrees, desserts, and a drink menu, including wine and cocktails, the restaurant will feature “rustic New American cuisine” with dishes like steak au poivre with duck fat and fried ruffled pommes frites. Vegetarian and gluten-free options include artichoke cakes with Old Bay remoulade and Brazilian tomato slaw.
Patrons must arrive at least 30 minutes before their showtime to get in-theater dining service. Standard concessions are also available.
“This allows them to get comfortable in their recliners and it gives our team time to take, create, and serve their orders before the film starts,” CMX said, noting that all seats have a swivel table, cupholders and a reading light.
All showings after 8 p.m. will be limited to people 21 and older. CMX says the age policy doesn’t have a huge effect on what movies are shown and when, but the showtimes can be adjusted for the anticipated audience. For instance, kid-oriented, animated movies may have more daytime screenings.
“What that does is it helps foster a more mature, refined experience that really mirrors the Tysons Galleria ambiance,” CMX said by email. “But overall, we think we’ve built something that is truly a destination, even if you’re not watching a movie. Our food and drinks are top-notch; the films are a bonus.”
CMX Cinemas launched with its first dine-in theater in April 2017 in Miami, Florida. It now has 33 locations with 358 screens across the U.S., including traditional theaters and CMX Market Cinemas that provide “grab-and-go” service, according to the company’s website.
The Tysons Galleria location is 43,268 square feet in size with over 800 seats.
CinéBistro will be an anchor tenant for the former Macy’s space, which was subdivided after the department store closed in 2019. Home to Bowlero, Crate & Barrel, and other retailers, the new wing is fully leased with the restaurant Jiwa Singapura and sports bar Yard House also expected this year.
(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) A coworking company that advertises its flexible offices as “the future of workspace” is bringing that future to Merrifield.
Venture X has leased nearly 28,000 square feet of space on the third floor of Williams Crossing (3060 Williams Drive) and will open its first coworking location in Fairfax County on Jan. 2, 2023, the company announced last Wednesday (Aug. 10).
The site will offer private offices, shared desks, virtual office space, conference rooms, and a community and cafe area.
This will be Venture X’s fourth Virginia location, including one that opened in Arlington last year, and the second owned by Richie and Charissa Parsons, who also own a location at One Loudoun in Ashburn.
“After being open less than 10 months, our first location is almost at capacity,” Richie Parsons said in a press release. “So, we’ve been looking at options for expansion. When presented with the opportunity to open a Venture X in a highly desirable location next to Mosaic District, we knew this would be the perfect spot for our second location.”
Parsons highlighted the building’s relative proximity to the Mosaic District, I-495 and Route 50, and the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station as assets.
Founded in southwest Florida in 2012, Venture X is now a subsidiary of the United Franchise Group Coworks, which is the largest privately held coworking franchise in the world, according to the press release. It has almost 50 locations worldwide.
Venture X President Michael White said in a statement that the company is “thrilled” to see the Parsons bring a franchise to Merrifield, which he called “an ideal community” for the “contemporary, design-forward” concept.
“Our brand is geared towards business professionals looking for upscale surroundings,” White said. “The demand for more flexible workspace in Virginia continues to increase and this highly anticipated location is expected to enter the market around the end of this year.”
The empty shell of one of Herndon’s longest-running restaurants — the Ice House Cafe — is poised for a new future.
A future restaurant is planned for the location, according to Dennis Holste, the town’s economic development manager.
Town spokesperson Anne Curtis clarified that a formal application has not yet been submitted to the town, with the exception of the above rendering. The concept was discussed at a town meeting earlier this month.
The former home of the Ice House Cafe (760-762 Elden Street), which closed in 2019 after its owner retired, was sold off to a new owner in 2021. It was a part of the town’s fabric for more than 40 years.
Since then, the applicant has filed a preliminary rendering that hints at what could be in store for a space that was once home to a beloved restaurant and oyster bar.
The owner tells FFXnow that the project is in the early phases of development and that detailed information about the plans is not ready for public dissemination.
The building has a rich history, with previous uses involving topless dancers and two drugstores.
The second half of 2022 is expected to be busy at Pike 7 Plaza in Tysons.
In addition to Ingle Korean Steakhouse, which is hoping to open this month, the shopping center will welcome the Japanese restaurant Kusshi Ko later this year, property owner and manager Federal Realty confirmed in a press release on Friday (Aug. 5).
This will be the first Fairfax County location for Kusshi, which started in 2018 as an offshoot of the long-standing Hanaro Sushi in Bethesda. Kusshi Sushi first opened at Bethesda’s Pike & Rose shopping center before expanding to Pentagon City in July.
The Tysons location will be a smaller version of those restaurants, as reflected by the altered name. Filling a 1,500-square-foot suite at 8365 Leesburg Pike that was vacated last year by Manhattan Pizza, Kusshi Ko won’t have a full bar, and the menu may be more limited, according to co-founder Tony Chow.
However, customers will still be able to expect “fresh, quality sushi and creative rolls,” he says.
“It’s still the same Kusshi materials and quality and menu items, but a little bit diluted down,” Chow told FFXnow.
Also coming to Pike 7 Plaza this year will be the second Northern Virginia location of LightRx Face & Body, a medical spa that specializes in non-invasive laser treatments, and Pacific Dental Services, which provides business support to dentists’ practices.
“Our highly trained team is eager to provide safe, effective and affordable laser treatments to clients,” LightRx Marketing Manager Iva Sopic said in the press release. “We will customize individualized plans using only the latest technologies to achieve the look clients want without surgery, pain or downtime.”
Though it wasn’t mentioned in the press release, Federal Realty has previously said that Lidl could open in the shopping center this year, and construction on a standalone Shake Shack is expected to begin in the fall.