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The Japanese store opens today in Fair Lakes Shopping Center (via Uniqlo)

UNIQLO opened its first location in an open-air mall at Fair Lakes Shopping Center today (Friday).

The Japanese brand will open a 9,000-square-foot store at 13041 Fair Lakes Shopping Center. The company has other locations at Tysons Corner Center, Union Station in D.C., and Pike & Rose in Bethesda, Maryland.

“Fair Lakes is a great location to help extend this mission to new customers, while building on the success we’ve seen in the region, with three other existing stores in the D.C. metro area,” said Nakasuji Masahiko, Uniqlo’s North American marketing director.

Masahiko said the Fair Lakes location offers conveniences similar to Uniqlo’s original location in Japan, where it was built as a roadside store.

“Fair Lakes Center offers a similar convenience, as well as a real sense of community where people can live, work, and gather,” Masahiko said. “As our first store opening following the pandemic, we’re proud to be bringing people back together again at a location that resonates so well with the brand.”

The Fair Lakes location is the company’s 44th store. In celebration of its grand opening, the store will offer special offers and giveaways through Sept. 29.

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Construction has begun on a renovation of Chesterbrook Shopping Center in McLean (courtesy Federal Realty)

(Updated at 2:45 p.m.) Construction has begun on a substantial renovation of Chesterbrook Shopping Center in McLean.

Barricades, signage and other equipment started emerging at the Safeway-anchored retail strip in mid-August, reader Mike Whatley told FFXnow.

An overhaul of Chesterbrook has been anticipated since longtime property manager Federal Realty Investment Trust took ownership of the 90,000-square-foot property at 6214 and 6246 Old Dominion Drive in May 2021, calling the site “well-positioned for future growth.”

Federal Realty confirmed to the Washington Business Journal last week that construction is underway on a $8.5 million “facelift” for the shopping center, which was originally built in 1967, according to Fairfax County property records.

According to the WBJ report, Federal Realty has no plans to turn Chesterbrook into a dense, mixed-use neighborhood. Instead, the focus is on modernizing the building facades and introducing new outdoor amenities akin to its recent renovations of Birch & Broad in Falls Church and Old Keene Mill Shopping Center in Springfield.

Here’s more from the WBJ:

“Today, customers are more likely to spend time with friends and family closer to home,” a trend Federal hopes to tap into by creating a “destination” within the community, Deirdre Johnson, the company’s senior vice president of asset management, said in an email.

Federal, which managed the property for 19 years before buying a majority stake in 2021, envisions a comprehensive modernization of the façade, storefronts, landscape, lighting and outdoor gathering spaces, as well as the addition of new restaurants and retail. Construction has already begun and will be completed in phases over the next two years.

The renovation has already shaken up the tenant mix at the shopping center.

The growing number of vacancies at Chesterbrook, including a 9,764-square-foot space that has been empty since Rite Aid shuttered, is part of an intentional “remerchandising” plan, per the WBJ.

In addition to the smoothie chain South Block, newcomers to the mall will include Kosmo Nail Bar and the clothing store J. McLaughlin.

Kosmo announced in May that it would be expanding to Chesterbrook, adding a second McLean location to its existing site at 1365 Beverly Road. The nail salon is expected to open this fall, according to Federal Realty’s website for the shopping center.

After previously telling FFXnow that it hopes to open next summer, South Block is now projecting a spring 2023 opening. J. McLaughlin didn’t return a request for comment.

Johnson told the WBJ that Federal Realty “is working on ‘several’ letters of intent with additional new prospective tenants.”

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The gym F45 recently had a grand opening for its Vienna franchise (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 9:15 a.m. on 9/1/2022) A new gym has opened in the Town of Vienna.

The Australian fitness company F45 celebrated the grand opening of its latest franchise at 322 Maple Avenue West on Saturday (Aug. 27). The event was considered a success, according to an Instagram post.

Businesses local to the D.C. area like Greenheart Juice Shop and Vegetable and Butcher participated in the event, which featured massages, food, live music, and vitamin injections.

F45 Vienna says classes are at 5:45 a.m., 6:45 a.m., 8 a.m., and 9:15 a.m. as well as in the evenings. The website says the gym offers cardio, resistance, hybrid and recovery workouts on different days of the week.

The gym is located next to the forthcoming YamaChen Sushi, which has now been under construction for almost a year. An employee at the restaurant’s Fairfax location said she doesn’t know when the Vienna one will open.

Known for its high intensity interval training workouts, F45 has grown rapidly in Fairfax County since 2019, adding franchises in Tysons, the Mosaic District, Fairfax Corner, Fairfax Circle, and Reston. The company says it’s the fastest-growing gym franchise in the world.

Yet another studio is in the works at Springfield Plaza. That location is on track for an opening in November or December, a pre-sales representative for the franchise told FFXnow.

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Wawa’s new Fairfax City store will open on Sept. 1 (courtesy Wawa)

Wawa will do its best Oprah impression tomorrow (Thursday) — only instead of giving away cars, it will serve up free coffee to all customers in Virginia.

The occasion prompting this caffeine-fueled largesse is the grand opening of Wawa’s first store in the City of Fairfax, the company’s 100th in the state.

Replacing the old Rodeway Inn, the new convenience store and gas station at 9700 Fairfax Blvd. will welcome its initial customers at 8 a.m. by handing out commemorative T-shirts to the first 100 people to walk through the door.

To mark the milestone opening, Wawa says all 100 of its stores in Virginia will provide free coffee of any size that day. At the Fairfax store, the coffee giveaway will continue through Sept. 11.

Here is more on what to expect from the grand opening from a press release:

Friends and neighbors are invited to count down the exciting moment to when the doors open for the very first time at 8:00 a.m., followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9:00 a.m., with Wawa mascot Wally Goose, oversized scissors, red ribbon, confetti and fanfare.

As part of the grand opening festivities, Wawa will present at $30,000 grant from The Wawa Foundation to Special Olympics Virginia to support the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which unites officers from law enforcement agencies and corrections departments across the state to raise more than $1 million annually for Special Olympics Virginia. Each summer, law enforcement officers carry the Flame of Hope across Virginia, culminating with the Torch Run Final Leg and the lighting of the Olympics cauldron to officially open the Summer Games.

The day will also bring a hoagie-building competition between the Fairfax City Police Department, City of Fairfax Fire Department, and George Mason University Police Department, with $1,000 checks going to charities chosen by each department.

In addition, Wawa says it will recognize a member of the local community who has had a positive impact with a ceremony and gift basket. The gesture is part of the company’s “2022 Day Brighteners” initiative, which celebrates standout employees and community members.

“At Wawa, our core purpose is fulfilling lives every day and since our first store opened, we’ve believed that we all have a role in making this world a better place,” Wawa President and CEO Chris Gheysens said in a statement. “Our store teams and Associates deliver experiences and emotional connections with customers that go beyond what traditionally happens in a retail environment. Simply put, they help make their communities happier and more connected.”

Joining locations in Vienna and Chantilly, the 6,049-square-foot Fairfax store has 12 gas pumps and will offer hot food from its kitchen, including the chain’s signature hoagies and customizable burgers. There are also drinks and ready-to-go items.

Services include mobile ordering, curbside pickup, delivery options and catering.

The store has about 50 full-time and part-time employees. All of the positions are newly created, per the press release.

Started as a dairy processing plant in Pennsylvania in 1902, Wawa evolved into a grocery business with the opening of its first market in 1964. In recent years, the chain has been rapidly expanding beyond its core Pennsylvania and New Jersey service area, with a total of 52 new stores expected to open in 2022.

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Smell of Love Candles founder and CEO Alejandro Buxton brews a batch of candles (courtesy Smell of Love Candles)

The future is burning bright for Smell of Love Candles and its 12-year-old CEO.

After starting the Vienna-based business in his family’s kitchen about two years ago, Alejandro Buxton will bring his homemade, soy and coconut wax candles to Tysons Corner Center next week, opening Smell of Love’s first brick-and-mortar location.

Located on the mall’s second floor between Victoria’s Secret and Banana Republic, the kiosk will open with a ribbon-cutting at 10 a.m. next Thursday (Sept. 1). Customers during opening weekend, which will go through Sept. 5, can enter a giveaway for the chance to win a year of free candles.

“It’s very exciting working at Tysons, because my mom grew up in Tysons. My family actually still shops at Tysons,” Alejandro said. “It’s a big thing, making our candles there.”

The idea for Smell of Love took hold when Alejandro’s family realized that the headaches his mom sometimes got were caused by the candles she liked to have around the house.

While those candles went into the trash, Alejandro — then 9 years old — started testing alternatives that would be healthy and environmentally friendly. The result was “Jurassic Orange,” a cedar-based, orange-scented candle “with full-bodied notes of bergamot and grapefruit fused with an herbal bouquet,” per its online store profile.

The candle was a hit with Alejandro’s mom, Patricia, so with her encouragement and assistance, he turned his candle-making into a full home business with online retail.

Smell of Love quickly outgrew the Buxtons’ kitchen, increasing its capacity from six candles at a time to around 200 with a move to the basement.

A visit by Vice President Kamala Harris at D.C.’s annual Downtown Holiday Market in December further boosted the business’ profile. With boxes of candles starting to crowd the house, it became clear that the basement would no longer be adequate.

In stepped Tysons Corner Center, which offered space for a production facility and a kiosk. This is the first time that the mall has leased to a kid, according to Tysons Corner Center General Manager Jesse Benites.

“Tysons Corner Center is thrilled to support entrepreneurs like Alejandro and his Smell of Love Candles business with this special opportunity to showcase their brand in one of the nation’s most popular shopping destinations,” Benites said in a press release. “…He will certainly inspire many budding kid entrepreneurs to follow their passion and believe where it might take them.”

Generally, juggling work and school has been “pretty simple,” Alejandro says, though it can be more difficult when he has an upcoming test.

However, with the Tysons production facility capable of making 600 candles at a time, Smell of Love is now hiring production team members, a marketing intern, and part-time sales associates to help run the kiosk, which will be open during mall hours.

“It’s a lot of candles to make,” Alejandro said “…So, we’re definitely hiring actually.”

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Spirit Halloween has already opened a store in Bailey’s Crossroads (staff photo)

(Updated at 4:40 p.m.) A different kind of ghost will soon take up residence in the former Lord & Taylor at Tysons Corner Center.

A Spirit Halloween pop-up will move into the store’s lower level, mall spokesperson Maurisa Potts confirmed to FFXnow, stating that a specific opening date is still being worked out.

According to Spirit Halloween Communications Director Nikki Balles, the location at 7950 Tysons Corner Center is slated to open early next week, giving trick-or-treaters plenty of time to pick out the spookiest evening wear and decor.

An exact opening date is expected to be announced soon.

In business for more than 38 years, Spirit Halloween boasts over 1,400 locations annually, making it the biggest Halloween retailer in the U.S., according to its website.

A Bailey’s Crossroads store has already opened, and one in Fair Lakes Shopping Center’s former Saks off 5th will open at 11 a.m. today (Thursday). A pop-up is also coming soon to the former Tuesday Morning in Centreville.

Balles says the Tysons location was identified by the company’s real estate team, which “works year-round to identify and lock in the best locations available.”

Lord & Taylor departed Tysons Corner Center in January 2020, and since then, it has intermittently been used as a mass COVID-19 vaccination site until the Virginia Department of Health shut down those operations in March.

Perhaps unbeknownst to Spirit Halloween’s real estate team, the vacated store has also been a hub for paranormal activity, according to local medium Janie Daum, who told FFXnow last October that she has investigated some uncanny reports tied to the women’s restrooms.

Whether or not the space is actually haunted, Balles says customers can expect plenty of surprises from Spirit Halloween this fall, including new merchandise from pop culture favorites like “Ted Lasso,” “Squid Game” and “Bluey.”

“We expect this to be another killer year thanks to our expansive collection new and returning costumes, décor and accessories, along with our industry leading line of animatronics,” Balles said. “The strength of the brand and superfans enables Spirit Halloween to continue expanding our retail footprint, increasing store count and jobs each year.”

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The former Savvy Rest store on Maple Avenue is being renovated for Smoothie King (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Another health-focused juice bar is laying claim to territory in the Town of Vienna, joining the likes of South Block and Greenheart Juice Bar and Cafe.

The Texas-based chain Smoothie King will take over the space at 258 Maple Ave East that Savvy Rest Natural Bedroom vacated last summer after 10 years in the town.

A public relations representative for Smoothie King said the company wasn’t ready to comment on the upcoming store yet, but they confirmed that a fall coronation could be in store.

“We are working with a local operator to target a fall opening,” the spokesperson told FFXnow by email.

Started in 1973 as a home experiment by founder Steve Kuhnau, Smoothie King opened its first franchise in New Orleans. It emphasizes the nutrition of its smoothies and its use of organic vegetables and whole fruits with no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

Though the business says it has more than 1,300 franchises worldwide, the Vienna store will only be its fourth in the Fairfax County area, joining locations in Fairfax, Fort Belvoir and Tysons.

Though no external changes have been made to the building yet, Smoothie King has obtained permits from Fairfax County to renovate the interior. It also got signs approved by the Vienna Board of Architectural Review on July 21.

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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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The concept behind Fresh Baguette is self-evident from its name.

Serving freshly baked, artisanal bread and pastries, the Bethesda-based bakery is on the rise in the D.C. area, with its newest store expected to open in McLean early this fall.

If the store passes its final inspection by the Fairfax County Health Department this week, it will be on track for a grand opening at 6707 Old Dominion Drive around Labor Day, according to Fresh Baguette founder and owner Florent de Felcourt.

“We will have racks with fresh products coming out of the oven, and we serve them from the rack directly with the freshest products that we can provide, so it’s really a concept of freshness,” de Felcourt told FFXnow.

A native of France and former naval officer who had worked at the French Embassy in D.C., de Felcourt launched Fresh Baguette in October 2013 to fill what he saw as a deficit in good bakeries in the area.

The business now has five locations, including the McLean one, its second in Northern Virginia after opening an Alexandria bakery on March 1. With a recently leased, 30,000-square-foot space in Germantown expected to significantly increase production, de Felcourt hopes to eventually have 20 or more sites across D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

He saw McLean as a fitting location for its origins as a stop on the Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad that connected Great Falls to D.C. in the early 20th century.

“A bakery is great for connecting people,” he said. “…People come here, and they find a different environment, different universe, different products they don’t find anywhere else. They talk together. So, yeah, it’s a way for them to connect differently.”

Under construction for roughly nine months, the bakery will have 14 to 16 seats for people who want to eat and drink on site, but customers typically get their orders to go, de Felcourt says, attributing the company’s success during the pandemic in part to that approach.

In addition to baguette and loaf breads, which is all made daily with entirely organic ingredients, Fresh Baguette serves croissants, sandwiches, quiche, and various sweets and pastries. The menu will have some seasonal items, such as a yule log cake offered around Christmas each year.

Even with his ambitious expansion plans, de Felcourt has no intentions of turning to franchising or altering his emphasis on making each product fresh, including those sold to company’s 180 wholesale customers.

“The products are very specific,” he said. “They are inspired by French bakeries, but they are very specific, and we want everyone to put all his heart in our products, in displaying the products, in respecting the products, and we want our customers to feel like they want to eat these products just by looking at them.”

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(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) Insomnia Cookies has set up shop in Fairfax County.

Tomorrow (Saturday), the late-night bakery chain will open the doors of its new location at University Mall (10669 Braddock Road, Suite D-7) with a 13-hour grand opening event — and yes, there will be free cookies.

Throughout the grand opening, which will last from noon until 1 a.m., customers will be granted one free “classic” cookie with no purchase required. Additional free cookies and other giveaways will also be available to those who participate in a “Sink a Shot” milk pong challenge, according to a press release.

As previously reported, this is Insomnia Cookies’ first bakery in the Fairfax area, though it has six locations elsewhere in Virginia.

“We’re so excited to be joining the Fairfax community,” Insomnia Cookies Chief Marketing Officer Tom Carusona said. “This new location near George Mason will allow us to deliver warm cookies to both students on campus nearby as well as reach new Insomniacs throughout Northern Virginia.”

Headquartered in Philadelphia and New York, the business was founded in 2003 by Seth Berkowitz, who was a University of Pennsylvania student at the time and came up with the concept in his dorm room. It now has more than 220 locations across the country.

Menus vary across locations. The Fairfax bakery’s cookie line-up features “classic” flavors, including gluten-free chocolate chip, vegan birthday cake, and snickerdoodle, as well as “deluxe” flavors, such as s’mores and chocolate peanut butter cup.

The store also sells brownies, ice cream, ice cream sandwiches and cakes.

After the grand opening, operating hours will be:

  • Monday to Wednesday: 11 a.m.-midnight
  • Thursday and Friday: 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
  • Saturday: noon-1 a.m.
  • Sunday: noon-midnight

In addition to its brick-and-mortar stores, Insomnia Cookies ships cookies nationwide and offers deliveries, including late at night.

Per the press release, the Fairfax bakery will deliver to George Mason University, Fairfax City and other nearby parts of the county, including Centreville, Chantilly, Springfield, Lake Ridge, and Vienna. Delivery hours go until midnight or 1 a.m., depending on the day, according to the website.

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