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The latest design for the new Patrick Henry Library was presented to the Vienna Town Council on Nov. 13 (via DPWES)

(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) The anticipated cost of renovating Patrick Henry Library has escalated in recent years, leading Fairfax County to seek a bigger contribution from the Town of Vienna.

The Vienna Town Council agreed on Monday (Dec. 4) to raise the town’s cap on funding for the new library’s construction to approximately $4.7 million — a $590,000 increase from the previous maximum set in 2020.

Under the existing joint development agreement, the town committed to paying up to $4.2 million or 19% of the total construction costs, along with 30% of the design costs. The project will replace the 13,817-square-foot community library at 101 Maple Avenue East with a bigger facility and a new parking garage.

The remainder of the funds will come from Fairfax County. However, an updated cost estimate completed in September found that the price of materials, labor, fuel and other factors has gone up, a trend affecting all of the county’s capital improvement projects, county staff recently told the town.

“The higher costs are attributable to the market escalation for material costs including supply chain issues, and continuing shortages in skilled labor,” Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services spokesperson Sharon North told FFXnow by email.

North says more specifics about the county’s cost estimates can be shared “in the next few days” after DPWES updates county leaders on the town council’s decision.

In an email summarized by town staff, DPWES project manager Maryam Mostamandi told Vienna officials that the county’s cost estimators believe costs could continue escalating “at least through the end of 2025.”

“However, they have also cautioned that the market remains volatile, and they are finding it difficult to predict costs for the future,” she wrote.

She said plans for “aggressive” sustainability goals — including solar panels and all-electric building systems to achieve net-zero carbon emissions — have also contributed to the rising cost of the Patrick Henry project.

Those initiatives don’t affect the town’s share, which covers the 84 spaces it has been allocated in the four-level parking garage, Vienna Director of Finance Marion Serfass told the council. She said it “may not be practical” to eliminate a floor of the garage to lower costs, a suggestion evidently floated by council members in an earlier closed session.

“That would cut our number of spaces dramatically,” Serfass said. “…It would cut 68 spaces out, so we probably would not have enough garage spaces to get anything from [the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority] or to receive the grant we have agreed to, because NVTA wants to see something for their money.”

Though construction bids aren’t expected to go out until next fall, this was the last opportunity for Vienna to back out of the joint agreement. If the town took that “off-ramp,” it could’ve gotten back $331,500, or 50% of what it paid for the project’s design, according to staff.

Instead, the council unanimously voted to move forward with the project, which has been in the works since a feasibility study started in 2018.

“I hope construction costs come down, but it’ll give us the parking we need and improve the vibrancy of Vienna,” Councilmember Howard Springsteen said.

Councilmember Chuck Anderson agreed that the library is important to the community but warned county officials in the room, including Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, not to expect any additional increases to the financial cap.

According to town staff, the county gave “verbal assurances that there will be no more requests for cost increases.”

“I think we deserve the best possible library, and if there are overruns, we’ve kind of already paid for it through our regular property taxes to the county of Fairfax,” Anderson said.

A menorah and light-up dreidel have been added to Vienna’s holiday displays in the Town Green (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) The winners of Vienna’s first-ever holiday display lottery have been revealed.

A menorah and illuminated dreidel were installed late last month at the Town Green, joining a live Christmas tree — also a first for Vienna — that was lit during the annual Church Street Holiday Stroll last Monday, Nov. 27.

A winter solstice display proposed by resident and town council candidate Shelley Mountjoy is expected to be added today, the Town of Vienna announced last week.

Commemorating Hanukkah, which will unfold this year from Dec. 7-15, the menorah was installed on Nov. 28, while the dreidel came into place the following day. They were submitted, respectively, by the Chabad Tysons Jewish Center and Jewish Moms of Vienna.

The winter solstice, which kicks off the season with the shortest day of the year, will arrive at 10:27 p.m. EST on Dec. 21.

“We live in a multicultural community, and we wanted to provide an opportunity for various winter holiday traditions to be honored in our public space,” Vienna Town Manager Mercury Payton said. “Residents from all walks of life gather on the Town Green for celebrations throughout the year, and we look forward to seeing various festive displays that represent our community during the season of peace and light.”

Announced in early November, the lottery gave residents an opportunity to submit their ideas for winter holiday decor that could be installed alongside the new Christmas tree. The submission period was open through Nov. 17, and the winners were notified by Nov. 22.

However, the town only received three submissions — the maximum number it planned to select — so no actual lottery was necessary for this first year.

At the Chabad Jewish Center’s request, the town will host a menorah-lighting ceremony at the Town Green (144 Maple Avenue) at 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10.

(Correction: This article initially listed the start time for the menorah-lighting ceremony as 4 p.m.)

All of the displays can remain up until Jan. 10.

In other Vienna holiday news, voting is underway for the town’s annual window decorating contest. Winners will be announced during a holiday reception at Town Hall (127 Center Street South) on Friday (Dec. 8).

The Maple Room Restaurant and Lounge has opened at 377 Maple Avenue in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The successor to Vienna’s popular Amphora Restaurant has arrived, bringing high-end cuisine and cocktails.

The Maple Room Restaurant and Lounge opened at 377 Maple Avenue on Sunday (Nov. 26), meeting its stated goal of a November launch. An employee confirmed the opening but declined to comment for now, as the restaurant is still getting settled in.

“Relax and unwind in our stylish lounge area, complete with cozy bar seating,” The Maple Room said in social media posts. “Pull up a chair at the bar and let our mixologists wow you with hand-crafted cocktails. Ready for the full experience? Book your reservations on Resy and join us for an unforgettable evening.”

For the time being, the restaurant is only operating during dinner hours, opening at 4 p.m. every day except for Mondays. It closes at 11 p.m. on Tuesday through Thursday, 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 10 p.m. on Sunday.

The Maple Room is encouraging diners to reserve a table online. The restaurant can seat 170 patrons inside and got the Town of Vienna’s approval last year for a 44-seat outdoor patio.

Coming from Mac St. Hospitality Group, a Sterling-based company that also runs the Greek eatery SouvlakiBar in Oakton, The Maple Room serves prime steak and other upscale American cuisine. A menu shared on Facebook features salads, charceuterie boards, lamb and pork chops, and seafood, including a grilled whole branzino and an $85 seafood tower with shrimp, oysters and lobster tail.

Mac St. Hospitality is affiliated with Sarantis Properties, a developer that bought the property from the families that owned Amphora in 2020. A 24-hour diner known for its extensive menu and all-day breakfast, Amphora closed in January 2021 after 44 years in Vienna.

The Amphora Diner Deluxe is still operating in Herndon (1151 Elden Street), along with a bakery and catering service.


A Korean fried chicken restaurant based in Centreville has spread its wings to Vienna, adopting a new name in the process.

Oh My Dak quietly opened at 128 Maple Avenue West in late October, according to Min Kim, who operates the eatery with her husband Joseph Kim. It takes the place of Rose Kabob, which closed last November after serving up Persian cuisine for 16 years.

The Kims got into the Korean-style fried chicken business before the dish became a full-blown trend in the U.S. Their first restaurant, Cheogajip Chicken, opened at the Old Centreville Crossing shopping center (13814 Braddock Road) in 2006 — the same year that the chain Bonchon made its American debut.

While Cheogajip is still going strong in Centreville, particularly gaining traction in the area’s Korean community, Min Kim says they wanted to bring their brand of chicken, made with a “special” recipe and sauce, to a new audience.

The couple settled on Vienna as their second location at the suggestion of the owner of Maru Korean Cuisine and Sushi, which happens to be next door to Oh My Dak.

“He’s our friend, so he asked, ‘Why don’t you come to Vienna? Korean fried chicken is very popular these days, so why don’t you try to open a restaurant in this area?” Min told FFXnow. “That’s why we came to here.”

Like Cheogajim, Oh My Dak offers five flavors of fried chicken: original, sweet and mild, hot and spicy, soy and garlic, and a mayonnaise-based supreme sauce. The menu also features specialty dishes, such as tteok bokki (spicy rice cake sticks) and chicken feet, and cup bops, a new addition that mixes chicken with rice, noodles and vegetables.

The restaurant opens 11 a.m., closing at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, and at 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It’s closed on Tuesdays.

Joseph Kim says Oh My Dak will get a more official grand opening, possibly in December, but right now, it’s still finding its feet and training employees.

“It’s totally different than Centreville, different people, different style,” Min Kim said. “I think Vienna has their own special style.”

Advocates collect petition signatures supporting a Town of Vienna tree conservation ordinance at Vienna Oktoberfest 2023 (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The future of Vienna’s trees will rest on a new town council.

When it met on Monday (Nov. 13), the current Vienna Town Council was scheduled to finalize a proposal aimed at preserving and enhancing the town’s tree canopy, which has declined over the past decade.

But after a public hearing on noise and other agenda items pushed the meeting past midnight, the council voted instead to discuss the tree conservation ordinance in a 5 p.m. conference session before its meeting on Dec. 4 — leaving no time for a formal vote before the end of the year, to the disappointment of some council members.

“I think it’s a shame that it’s come down to this, because this is something that’s been known for a long time, and it just has not been acted upon to the level it should’ve been in my opinion,” said Councilmember Steve Potter, who is retiring due to health challenges. “…We’re not doing what we said we were going to do, and that’s the part that bothers me, because it’s just not right.”

Designated a top priority for 2023 by the council, the tree ordinance will increase requirements for canopy coverage — from 20 to 25% for large, single-family residential lots, for example — and introduce new standards and incentives to encourage developers to plant and preserve trees.

If adopted, the conservation ordinance would be just the second one in Virginia, following in the footsteps of Fairfax County, according to a memo from Vienna Director of Planning and Zoning David Levy. Like most localities, Vienna currently requires that developers replace trees, rather than preserve them.

However, the council is still deciding the best approach to implementing the new rules.

One option recommended by Town Attorney Steve Briglia would update the town code chapters on zoning, subdivisions and the Conservation and Sustainability Commission (CSC), whose duties include serving as the town’s tree board. Under this approach, the requirements would still be enforced by the planning and zoning department.

An alternative proposed by Vienna resident and Kirkland & Ellis LLP attorney Brian Land, whose firm was hired to conduct a pro bono analysis in 2020, would create a new chapter in the town code with all tree canopy and preservation requirements. The ordinance would be implemented by the Department of Parks and Recreation and establish a tree commission independent of the CSC.

Tree advocates who testified before the council at a public hearing on Oct. 23 “overwhelmingly” favored Land’s proposal, arguing that it would be broader in scope and make a clearer statement on the importance of trees to Vienna, Gazette Leader reported.

The town attorney recommended giving the planning director authority to allow deviations from canopy requirements in cases where they would cause “unnecessary or unreasonable hardship to the developer.” It also doesn’t require trees to be monitored or inspected after construction.

The Vienna Planning Commission issued a recommendation last Wednesday (Nov. 8) largely supporting Briglia’s proposal with a few tweaks, including a requirement that developers seeking to deviate from the canopy standards justify their request and an added provision for inspecting trees before and after they’re planted similar to what Land suggested.

“This language is consistent with current practice and codifying it will clarify the process for builders and property owners,” the commission said in a memo for the town council.

The council gave no indication on Monday regarding which direction it plans to take but instead spent half an hour debating whether to schedule a conference session on the issue next month, knowing that an actual vote won’t come until a new council takes office.

Mayor Linda Colbert and the three council members who sought reelection this year — Howard Springsteen, Chuck Anderson and Ray Brill — are all set to return. They will be joined by Planning Commissioner Jessica Ramakis, Board of Architectural Review Chair Roy Baldwin and budget analyst Sandra Allen, according to election results finalized Tuesday (Nov. 14).

In response to complaints about the delay on a tree conservation ordinance vote, Colbert noted that the council had accomplished other objectives, including the adoption of an updated zoning code and approval of sidewalk projects facing an October 2024 deadline.

“I don’t think anybody’s trying to push this off,” Colbert said. “I think we have done a tremendous amount of work, this council has, and there’s only so many minutes or hours in a day. Nothing’s lost…We’ve done a lot of work on the trees. It just takes a lot of time.”

Vienna Town Council candidate campaign signs for the 2023 general election (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 10 a.m. on 11/16/2023) A week after polls closed, the next mayors and councils for the towns of Vienna and Clifton have been decided.

The Fairfax County Electoral Board certified the local race results for this year’s general election yesterday (Tuesday), including for a Vienna Town Council contest where write-in votes exceeded votes for two of the seven candidates on the ballot.

However, none of the submitted candidates received enough votes to shift the outcome of the race, according to the Fairfax County Office of Elections. Vienna Transportation Safety Commission chair Beth Eachus, who began campaigning as a write-in candidate in September, received 1,803 of the 2,073 write-in votes, county election officials said.

The names and vote totals of the other write-ins weren’t identified.

Instead, budget analyst and former Fairfax County School Board candidate Sandra Allen has secured the last of six council seats with 2,053 votes — just seven more than the 2,046 that went to Shelley Mountjoy, a former community college professor and creator of the Vienna Votes outreach project.

Allen will join Vienna Planning Commissioner Jessica Ramakis and Board of Architectural Review Chair Roy Baldwin as newcomers to the council. All three incumbents — Howard Springsteen, Chuck Anderson and Ray Brill — won reelection.

A total of 5,981 ballots were cast in the town council race — a 48.5% turnout rate for the town’s 12,323 registered voters, according to the county elections office.

With voters allowed to choose up to six candidates, the 22,463 votes cast broke down as follows:

  • Howard J. Springsteen — 3,535
  • Jessica Ramakis — 3,465
  • Charles “Chuck” Anderson — 3,418
  • Ray Brill, Jr. — 2,951
  • Roy J. Baldwin — 2,922
  • Sandra Allen — 2,053
  • Shelley Mountjoy — 2,046
  • Write-in votes — 2,073

Mayor Linda Colbert also won a second term after running unopposed.

This was the Town of Vienna’s first November election since the Virginia General Assembly adopted a law in 2021 requiring all municipal elections still held in May to move.

Clifton mayor defeated by write-in votes

While Vienna didn’t see a successful write-in campaign, Clifton Mayor William Hollaway has been unseated after receiving 62 votes — five fewer than write-in candidate Thomas Peterson, according to the Virginia Department of Election results. A total of 131 votes were cast.

A lawyer, Holloway hasn’t faced any official opponents since 2010, when he was first elected as mayor.

His successor will be a familiar face for the town’s 330 residents. Peterson previously served as mayor of Clifton in 2006 to 2010, and his family runs the popular Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot.

Peterson told NBC4 that his wife had encouraged him to run after the candidate filing deadline had passed. His campaign consisted of just 10 yard signs, but Clifton voters “were excited to actually have a choice for the first time in 12 years,” NBC4 reported.

The Clifton Town Council race, which featured five official candidates vying for five seats, also saw a write-in victor in Mary Hess, who received 71 of the 471 total votes cast — more than incumbents Stephen Effros (65) and Darrell Poe (48).

Fairfax County’s overall voter turnout for the 2023 general election ended at 41.1%, a slight drop from the last time local races were on the ballot in 2019, according to the county elections office. The 323,816 ballots tallied include 3,900 provisional ballots and 9,476 mail-in ballots received after Election Day on Nov. 7.

Vienna Transportation Safety Commission chair Beth Eachus ran for Vienna Town Council as a write-in candidate (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Vienna residents will have to wait a few more days for the results of the town’s first-ever November election.

While Mayor Linda Colbert was easily reelected in an uncontested race, the makeup of next year’s town council remains less clear, thanks to a slew of write-in votes that could determine one of the six open seats.

According to preliminary results from yesterday’s general election, all three incumbent council members in the running — Howard Springsteen, Chuck Anderson and Ray Brill — have secured new two-year terms.

Seeking an eighth term on the council that he first joined in 2009, Springsteen received 3,349 votes, or 15.78% — the most of the seven candidates on the ballot. He was closely followed by Vienna Planning Commissioner Jessica Ramakis (3,265 votes, 15.38%) and Anderson (3,248 votes, 15.3%). Rounding out the likely winners are Brill (2,807 votes, 13.22%) and Vienna Board of Architectural Review chairman Roy Baldwin (2,756 votes, 12.98%).

Officially duking it out for the final seat are Shelley Mountjoy (1,907 votes, 8.98%) — a former community college professor and creator of the Vienna Votes outreach project — and Sandra Allen (1,898, 8.94%), a budget analyst who previously ran for an at-large Fairfax County School Board seat.

However, both women trail the 1,997 write-in votes counted so far, which account for 9.4% of all votes. While it remains to be seen who all those votes were for, Vienna Transportation Safety Commission chair Beth Eachus launched a late campaign in September as a write-in candidate.

The unofficial results for the 2023 Vienna Town Council election (via Virginia Department of Elections)

The Fairfax County Office of Elections, which manages the town’s elections, is currently tallying the votes, but the final results won’t be known until they’re certified next Tuesday (Nov. 14), according to election officials.

“The Electoral Board is ultimately responsible for determining who the votes were cast for, along with the final tally for write-in votes cast,” Fairfax County Director of Elections Eric Spicer told FFXnow. “Mail-in ballots that arrive by noon on Monday, Nov. 13 will also need to be counted. Final elections results will not be available until the Electoral Board certifies them on Tuesday.”

Per the county’s unofficial results, there were 21,227 votes cast in the town council election, with each voter allowed to mark up to six candidates. In total, 5,638 ballots were cast in Vienna’s four precincts for a roughly 45% turnout of the 12,323 registered voters in the town, election officials say.

That easily surpasses the 16.9% turnout for the last town council race in 2021, when Springsteen and fellow incumbents Steve Potter and Nisha Patel competed against then-planning commissioner David Patariu for three seats.

The Virginia General Assembly passed a law in 2021 shifting all municipal elections from May to December. The move was intended to encourage more participation and reduce administrative costs, though some Vienna elected officials worried that local issues would get overshadowed by county, state and national races.

In response to the change, the town council voted in November 2021 to eliminate the staggered terms that put three seats on the ballot at a time. Going forward, all six council seats will be up for election every two years.

Popeyes at Maple Avenue Shopping Center in Vienna (via Google Maps)

This Halloween brought neither trick nor treat for two men in Vienna who got served instead with assault charges.

Police officers were called to the Vienna Park apartments in the 200 block of Cedar Lane SE around 9:40 a.m. on Oct. 30 after one resident declined to pick up his dog’s feces and another took umbrage, the Vienna Police Department said in its crime recap for the week of Oct. 28 to Nov. 2.

“The man advised that he and his brother confronted the dog’s owner, resulting in an altercation,” the VPD said. “The dog’s owner advised his two neighbors assaulted him while he was picking up the waste, causing minor injury. Rescue responded to treat the small cut, but the man refused transport to a medical facility.”

Police say the dog owner later got court summonses from the Fairfax County Magistrate’s Office that charged both men — a 41-year-old Vienna resident and a 26-year-old from Harrisionburg — with simple assault, a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia that could result in a jail sentence of up to a year or a fine of up to $1,000.

VPD officer Celines Fitchue delivered the summons on Oct. 31. Both men “were released on their signatures,” the recap says.

October also closed on an unpleasant note for a customer of the Popeyes in the Maple Avenue Shopping Center, according to the Vienna police report:

Trespassing and Petit Larceny 23-010041 and 23-010052
325 Maple Avenue, East
October 28 8:19 p.m.

An employee reported a customer was upset with the quality of their meal and threw a stack of disposable cups at them. When the man left the restaurant, he forgot his book bag. The employee requested the man be trespassed from the restaurant. A short time later, the man called the police station, reporting his book bag stolen. The man was advised that he had left the property in the restaurant and could come to the police station to retrieve it. When he recovered his property, he reported that US currency was missing. An officer advised the man he was trespassed from the restaurant and would be arrested if he returned to the premises.

A day later, police helped F45 Fitness Training (322 Maple Avenue West) trespass a patron who was “talking inappropriately to the employees.”

Officers also took a report on Oct. 25 of someone pouring “syrup on the pickleball court” at Glyndon Park (300 Glyndon Street NE) sometime between midnight and 8:30 a.m., according to the recap.

“[The citizen] also advised that on October 11, she observed another liquid that had been poured on the court,” the VPD said.

Photo via Google Maps

The Town of Vienna’s parks and recreation facilities include Waters Field for baseball (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The Town of Vienna is moving forward with the creation of a parks system master plan.

The Vienna Town Council authorized parks and recreation staff on Oct. 23 to spend $236,230 to hire the consulting firm Kimley-Horn, which was selected from four potential vendors to develop the plan that will guide the town’s facilities and services over the next decade.

“The parks and recreation department has a strong commitment to provide fair and just access to high-quality parks, green space, recreation facilities and programs for all members of the community,” Vienna Parks and Recreation Director Leslie Herman told the council. “The park system master plan will set a vision to guide long-term future development, redevelopment and improvements to the town’s park systems, open space, trails and recreation facilities over the next five to 10 years.”

In addition to creating an inventory of existing amenities and their conditions, Kimley-Horn has been tasked with evaluating town-owned properties that could be used for parks or recreation in the future, including the Annex site (301 Center Street South) where the former Faith Baptist Church is set to be demolished and the Robinson family property at 124 Courthouse Road SW.

According to Fairfax County property records, the Town of Vienna bought the property where former mayor Charles Robinson and former council member Maud Robinson had lived for $1.4 million in December 2019, not long after Maud Robinson died. The 31,688-square-foot site has been designated as future park land.

As part of the parks master plan, the town has asked Kimley-Horn to recommend three options for developing the Robinson property, complete with conceptual designs and cost estimates.

Councilmember Chuck Anderson suggested that the consultant also look at how much the town could potentially get if it sold the property and used the resulting funds to support parks and rec initiatives.

“That, I think, is one option for that property,” Anderson said. “That’s just one I want to make sure is on the table.”

The council was initially scheduled to approve the funds at an Oct. 2 meeting, but the vote got deferred after members raised questions about the project’s cost and scope.

After getting a 23-page report from Kimley-Horn responding to those questions, council members said they’re now satisfied with the firm’s proposal for the master plan, which it anticipates will take about 16 months to develop.

In response to a question about the timeline from Councilmember Howard Springsteen, the firm said the project could take less time, but it recommended considering “this a 16-month effort at the outset so as to set realistic expectations.”

Springsteen said he was “ready to support” the master plan project after Kimley-Horn reassured him it would provide operating, maintenance and capital costs for its recommendations, along with comparisons to the town’s annual budget.

Springsteen said the master plan needs to provide “a good roadmap,” especially since it will be developed and implemented under a different council. All six council seats and Mayor Linda Colbert, who’s running unopposed, are on the ballot for this year’s general election, which will take place next Tuesday (Nov. 7).

Early voting has been ongoing since Sept. 22, with in-person locations operating through Saturday, Nov. 4.

“We have a lot of expectations out there, and we have to put things down in writing,” Springsteen said. “I too would like to have five extra homes, go to Europe 10 times a year, but there’s a cost involved [to] what we can or cannot do, so I look forward to you racking up these ideas.”

The town didn’t respond by press time to an FFXnow inquiry regarding a possible kick-off date for the parks master plan process. Public engagement efforts are expected to include surveys, stakeholder interviews and community workshops.


A Vienna business started by a 9-year-old got a national spotlight yesterday (Wednesday) when its young founder appeared on “The Drew Barrymore Show.”

Smell of Love Candles CEO Alejandro Buxton, now 13, was invited to the daytime talk show for an episode celebrating Black Entrepreneurs Day, which was created in 2020 by FUBU founder and CEO Daymond John to promote and raise money for Black-owned businesses.

In addition to getting advice from John, who co-hosted the episode with Barrymore, Alejandro received a $10,000 check from the Alexandria-based human resources company TriNet.

“It was the most amazing experience that I have had in my life,” Alejandro told FFXnow. “In preparing for the show, every emotion that you could feel…happy, nervous, shy, excited; I was overwhelmed and was feeling everything. I didn’t know how it would go and then once I got on the show and when I got on stage, Drew was so nice and Daymond as well so they made me feel really comfortable. Daymond gave me really good advice and I’m really grateful to Drew and her staff for everything they gave me on the show.”

As he recounted during the show, Alejandro launched Smell of Love Candles to create candles for his mom, Patricia Buxton, who “really loved candles” but got headaches from the ones they previously had in the house. Those candles also triggered Alejandro’s asthma.

The company’s candles are made out of soy wax and use carefully handpicked and tested fragrances, according to its website. A pop-up stall at Tysons Corner Center that opened last fall closed at the beginning of this year, but Smell of Love Candles has found success as an online store and at local weekend markets around the D.C. area.

Alejandro shared on “The Drew Barrymore Show” that he had sold more than 16,000 candles by the end of 2022, impressing both the host and John.

“It’s just so inspiring. On behalf of all moms, thank you for being you,” Barrymore said after the teen credited his mom’s love as his motivation.

Now four seasons in after premiering in fall 2020, “The Drew Barrymore Show” has drawn praise for its intimate interviews of normally guarded celebrities, but the “E.T.” actor faced a fierce backlash this fall when she attempted to film while the Writers Guild of America was on strike. She soon backtracked and shut down production until the strike ended on Sept. 27, though three writers in the WGA still declined to return.

Barrymore introduced Alejandro to her audience yesterday as “an absolute cutie pie” and noted that he’s “a huge fan” of John.

“We want to surprise him, because he has no idea you’re here right now,” she told John.

Alejandro confirms he “had no clue” that he would meet John, who’s regularly featured as an investor on the reality TV show “Shark Tank.”

“It’s the only thing I watch almost every episode, and he’s one of my favorite sharks,” Alejandro said. “So, seeing him in person and him giving me advice, that was really big.”

John advised Alejandro, who asked how to get his products in physical stores, to essentially keep doing what he’s doing, selling directly to customers instead of working with other distributors.

“If the store sells it, you don’t know who bought it, but if you sell it direct, you know who bought it,” John said. “…You want to super-size everybody’s fries, and the way to do that is having this communication of growing a community like you’re doing already.”

Alejandro says he plans to follow that advice. Having the $10,000 from TriNet certainly can’t hurt when it comes to operating a business. The candle-maker told FFXnow that he plans to use the money to buy supplies — both for Smell of Love Candles and for classrooms in need.

“My mom used to be a teacher, and it’s hard to be a teacher, so we’re fulfilling teacher wish-lists,” Alejandro said.


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