Reston Town Center’s Freedom Drive (via Google Maps)

A distillery and restaurant will transform a space at Reston Town Center, possibly at the end of this year.

Open Road Distillery — along with a chef-driven speakeasy-style restaurant Heirloom — will share a space at the former Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market (1871 Fountain Drive), part of numerous changes coming to the shopping-office-residential destination.

The Burn first reported the exact location of the new  business.

Matthew Carlin, president of the West Falls Church-based Metropolitan Hospital Group, tells Reston Now that the end of 2022 is a target date for opening, but it will likely be pushed to the beginning of 2023.

“Having been born and raised in Northern Virginia, I have always wanted to be part of a great landmark like the Reston Town Center. We are excited to bring something truly unique to the Reston community,” Carlin also said in a statement.

The new space will feature a casual dining room, indoor/outdoor patio bar, live music and a tasting room with distillery tours.

The new distillery comes through Carlin and Metropolitan Hospitality Group chief operating officer Vince Spinoso, who have brought forth other restaurants throughout Virginia and D.C., including CIRCA, Open Road, Trio Grill, El Bebe and Salt. The distillery marks a new approach for the pair.

Carlin says they’ll be in need of many workers.

Photo via Google Maps

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Village Center at Dulles shopping center (via Google Maps)

The clocktower plaza in McNair will have a new Mexican street food restaurant, aiming to open this summer.

Taco Bamba, which has locations throughout Northern Virginia and Maryland, has signed a lease for a new eatery in Village Center at Dulles (2445 Centreville Road), a representative told Reston Now.

“I believe Herndon is a true melting pot of cultures and people from different backgrounds,” award-winning chef Victor Albisu said in a statement. “It is the type of area where Taco Bamba can thrive creatively.”

The 2,850 square-foot space will feature 20 to 30 indoor seats, including bar seating, as well as a seasonal patio.

A spokesperson for the company, Justin Rude, said it’s going to replace Rubino’s Pizzeria but will require work to make it ready.

“Like all Taco Bamba locations, the menu of traditional tacos will be supported by a list of creations honoring the surrounding neighborhood,” the company said in a news release. “The German-style clocktower center will also play a role as we create odes to various ethnic offerings around town.”

Foodies will remember that Albisu competed on Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay” in 2015 and won with a steak and eggs dish. He also appeared as a guest judge on Telemundo’s “Top Chef Estrellas” and “Hell’s Kitchen.”

Albisu noted that the company has its eyes on national expansion, but the Northern Virginia-based concept and brand believes in growing locally.

The Herndon restaurant’s menu will be unique, with neighborhood-specific empanadas and feature tacos, tostadas, and super tortas. It will also have free coffee until noon to accompany its all-day breakfast items, according to the news release.

Albisu, a Vienna resident, opened the first location of Taco Bamba in Idylwood in June 2013. With an Alexandria restaurant expected to open early this year, the Herndon location will give Taco Bamba a total of seven sites in Northern Virginia.

Photo via Google Maps

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Fogo de Chão (File photo by Josh Hrach/Flickr)

The Brazilian steakhouse chain Fogo de Chão is looking to expand in the northern Virginia region.

Permits show the restaurant is looking to add a location at Reston Town Center at 11915 Democracy Drive across from outdoor dining staple Jackson’s Mighty Fine Food & Lucky Lounge and the Mexican restaurant Uncle Julio’s.

The addition would make it one of numerous additions coming to the shopping district in 2022. It would fill a location that’s been vacant for most of the COVID-19 pandemic after the Chinese and Thai restaurant Big Bowl closed in early 2020 after nearly two decades of business.

A marketing executive with the Plano, Texas-based company didn’t respond to a message seeking comment, but a New York City public relations firm for Fogo de Chão answered, saying they have limited information available and adding that they’ll “be in touch with a bit more insight when available.”

But a manager at the Tysons location tells Reston Now that the new location should open in 2022, hopefully by the middle of the year, noting that the Tysons location will remain.

Fogo de Chão has yet to start hiring for the new location, the Tysons manager said. The Brazilian steakhouse is also working to open another location in Southern California.

Photo by Josh Hrach/Flickr

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FedWings has opened at Reston Town Center, smoking and frying out of the Ted Bulletin's kitchen (Photo courtesy of Salis Holding)
FedWings has opened at Reston Town Center, smoking and frying out of the Ted Bulletin’s kitchen (Photo courtesy of Salis Holding)

A delivery-only chicken wing spot from the owners of Ted’s Bulletin and Federalist Pig has opened at Reston Town Center.

FedWings opened the outpost last month, smoking and frying chicken wings out of Ted’s Bulletin kitchen at 11948 Market Street.

The wings were being served at their barbecue restaurant Federalist Pig (with locations in D.C. and Maryland) prior, but it became clear to the owners that there was a big appetite for this easy-to-eat-at-home, finger food.

“When the pandemic happened, a lot of people wanted more wings,” co-owner Nick Salis tells Reston Now. “And we were trying to figure out how to keep our kitchen staff employed and keep people working… so we launched this wings brand.”

Their first so-called “ghost kitchen” was out of Kramer’s Bookstore in D.C.(which they also own) and have since expanded to eight locations, including Reston as well as ones in Merrifield and Arlington.

Salis says what makes their wings unique is that they smoke them, quickly deep fry them, and, then, toss them in a proprietary rub.

“These wings are not the easiest wings to make,” he says. “We smoke them for an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the wood. Smoking is a little bit of an art.”

Since they started smoking and frying in mid-September, Reston’s FedWings has been doing crisp business, Salis notes.

While the pandemic continues to change and debilitate the restaurant industry, Salis says that the Ted Bulletin’s location at Reston Town Center has been hurting ever since Boston Properties infamously instituted paid parking back in 2016.

“There was a drop in sales of 30% overnight,” he says. “It was like your worst nightmare. It leaves a scar.”

Salis is hopeful though, since sales are climbing back, creeping closer to what it was when the restaurant opened there in 2014.

The hope is that FedWings will help continue that trend. The response has been “awesome” so far and the company is evaluating what the next steps could be, whether that means opening more ghost kitchens or establishing dedicated brick and mortars for FedWings.

“As of right now,” Salis says, “We’re just enjoying serving these wings to the community of Reston.”

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Despite a few days’ delay, Red Velvet Bakery and Little Beast Bistro are now set to open at Reston Town Center West on Saturday (September 18).

Initially planning to open earlier this week, owner Aaron Gordon tells Reston Now they “weren’t quite ready” but doors will open at Red Velvet at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

The first 200 people at the bakery will receive a free cupcake, Gordon says.

Little Beast Bistro will also officially open that day at 4 p.m..

The restaurant and bistro first announced it’s new 12100 Sunset Hills Road location back in May.

Gordon previously ran the popular Red Velvet Cupcakery at Reston Town Center. However, that bakery closed more than three years ago largely due to the implementation of paid parking at Reston Town Center.

“We’re extremely excited to be back in Reston after three years away!” he wrote in an email to Reston Now last month. “Red Velvet Bakery is coming back to Reston much stronger.”

The menu at Red Velvet includes a “full array of favorite cupcakes” as well as croissants, cross-cinnamon rolls, butterkuchen, and other pastries. It will be carry-out only, but offer some seating outside.

Little Beast Bistro serves sandwiches, pizza, and Detroit-style pizzas. It has a dining room with about 100 seats, plus 20 seats outside as well as carry-out options.

Photos courtesy of Aaron Gordon Food Group

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Crust Pizzeria is coming to Herndon Centre, replacing Italian District, which closed in 2020 (via Google Maps)

MOD Pizza is about to get some competition in Herndon.

The Tysons-based Crust Pizzeria Napoletana is adding a second location at 360 Elden Street in Herndon Centre, just across the parking lot from the fast-casual pizza chain’s Herndon franchise, which opened last year.

Construction on the space, which is listed as 2,400 square feet in size by the shopping center, has been underway for a couple of months now, Crust Pizzeria owner Kevin Ejitemai told Reston Now earlier this week.

Adjacent to a Popeyes, the new pizza eatery has taken over the site previously occupied by the family-owned restaurant Italian District, which was a casualty of the economic challenges introduced by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to Ejitemai.

Italian District has been reported closed on Yelp, whose last review for the restaurant is dated July 14, 2020.

Crust Pizzeria Napoletana opened off of Old Courthouse Road on the Vienna side of Tysons in 2015. It prides itself on being “the only authentic Neapolitan pizzeria in the area” and features a wood-fired oven that was handcrafted in Naples, Italy, according to the website.

For the restaurant’s first expansion, Ejitemai says he wanted to stay within Northern Virginia to maintain some proximity to the existing location. Herndon seemed like an ideal place to attract both residential and commercial customers.

“Herndon is an up-and-coming area,” Ejitemai said. “There’s a lot of technology firms around that could give us good lunch [business], and then a lot of homes around for dinner.”

The Herndon location will have a menu identical to the one in Tysons, which offers small plates, salads, pasta, and sandwiches, along with the signature 12-inch-wide pizzas.

It will also boast a wood-burning oven imported from Italy. Ejitemai says the oven and the ingredients that Crust Pizzeria uses — including double zero flour for the dough, bufala mozzarella, and San Marzano tomatoes — are what distinguish it from other pizza makers.

“[The oven] will be showcased inside of the store burning wood, so it’s not just having food. It’s an experience in our restaurant,” he said, describing the softness of the pizza dough as “like silk cloth in your mouth.”

According to the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Authority, Crust Pizzeria has applied for a retail license so it can sell wine and beer on the premises. The license has been pending since July 28.

Ejitemai says he hopes to open the Herndon pizzeria before Christmas, though the exact date is “a moving target” with work to revamp the site ongoing.

Photo via Google Maps

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(Updated 12:20 p.m.) A new restaurant and day spa are opening nearby the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station around the holiday season.

Eve’s Garden Lounge & Bar and Emiline’s Day Spa are opening next to each other at the new Faraday Park development at 1831 Michael Faraday Drive, about a 10-minute walk from the Metro station. Both businesses are from the same ownership group, which also own Alo Vietnam in Herndon.

The businesses will open sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, co-owner Don Lee confirmed to Reston Now. They will occupy two 1,746 square-foot spaces — about 3,600 square feet in total — and operate next to each other.

“We were supposed to have construction late last year, but that was delayed because of COVID. So, we just started construction,” Lee said in June.

The day spa will offer services for both men and women like pedicures, facial treatments, hair salon, and massages.

The restaurant has yet to reveal its menu, but Lee says it will be similar to Herndon’s Alo Vietnam, which offers modernized Vietnamese fare like pho, banh mi, and rice vermicelli. The difference, Lee says, is that Eva’s will be “more Asian fusion and focus more on presentation and will be higher end.”

Lee told Reston Now in June that the ownership group’s ultimate goal is to have a business located within walking distance of all the Silver Line stations, extending out to Dulles Airport.

Alo Vietnam opened within a five-minute walk of the future Innovation Center Metro station in late 2019 in anticipation of Silver Line Phase 2’s opening. Of course, the line has yet to open, leaving businesses like Alo Vietnam in the lurch.

Lee hoped that, by being near a Metro station, the business would be buoyed by commuters, office workers, and tourists.

“We did invest in 2019…thinking that we will carry the load the first year until the Metro opens,” Lee said in June. “Then, we will have a good location with a lot of foot traffic with tourists and from all the businesses around.”

But between the long-delayed $2.8 billion public transportation project and the pandemic, that dream has yet to be realized for Lee and Alo Vietnam. Now, Silver Line Phase 2 is looking like it may not open until mid-2022.

When Eva’s Garden Lounge & Bar and Emiline’s Day Spa opens in Reston by the end of the year, they will be the first of Lee’s businesses to be open near a currently operating Metro station.

The businesses are two of four confirmed retailers coming to Faraday Park, which opened one residential tower for move-ins in April with a second tower expected to be completed in the next few months. The gym F45 and the salon A+ Nails are the others.

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A new Herndon family-owned Pakistani breakfast restaurant may be the only one of its kind in Virginia and, perhaps, even the country, according to its co-owner.

Desi Breakfast Club on 3065 Centreville Road might just be the only diner that serves exclusively Pakistani breakfast all day, says co-owner Malik Waleed Ahmad.

“I have customers who come in, and they’re like ‘we go to Dubai and the Middle East and there’s breakfast places, but we’ve been looking here and there’s nothing,'” said Ahmad, who owns the restaurant with his father Zaheer Ahmed and brother Fahad Qadeer.

The family opened Desi Breakfast Club (in Udru, “Desi” means “of local origin”) in early June as a solution to their own breakfast-searching woes.

They also own Charcoal Chicken in Chantilly. After closing late at night, they often would go in search of breakfast, and there would only be one option: the IHOP next door.

“We saw the demand for a Pakistani restaurant to do breakfast,” Ahmad said. “And on weekends, brunch.”

They sensed a particularly acute need for this specific niche to be filled in the Town of Herndon, which has a population that’s about 18.5% Asian, as of 2019, with a growing number of residents from the South Asian subcontinent.

“Indian, Pakistani, Nepali, Bangladeshi…our politics, our cultures, they all may divide us,” Ahmad said. “But food is one thing that unites us all. And we all eat the same food.”

He says because word has been getting around the local community, the restaurant is constantly crowded on weekends with people traveling from across the region to eat there.

In fact, Desi Breakfast Club is currently reservations-only on Saturdays and Sundays.

The menu consists of a mix of stews, flaky breads, samosas, fritters, eggs, and sweets like halwah (a sesame candy).

“The star of the show is Halwah Puri,” Ahmad said, referring to a dish that consists of fry bread, halwah, spiced potatoes, and chickpeas. “It’s the most popular dish. It outsells everything else by a hundred percent.”

All the recipes are ones his father brought from Pakistan when the whole family moved to Herndon 18 years ago. Cooking was always his father’s “hobby,” but, in 2010, he told his family he wanted to open a restaurant. That’s when Charcoal Chicken was born.

“In the beginning, when we first came to America, the restaurant was a means to an end,” Ahmad said. “But it’s a dream come true…We are building something.”

Ahmad, now 28, has lived in Herndon for nearly two decades. He says he grew up eating all of the dishes being served at Desi Breakfast Club, something that he likely has in common with others.

“Back home, every mom [and dad] makes the best food,” he said. “These are my family’s recipes, but I’m sure there are other people who eat this exact same food. They just make it a little differently in their home.”

Every Monday, the restaurant is closed so the family can mix spices and prepare food together. His father helps his brother prepare and manage the kitchen, while Ahmad works in front of the house, interacting with customers.

“It’s rewarding…I get to meet new people every single day. I get to feed people and just see happy faces,” he said. “I even put in 12, 13 hours daily, but I don’t get tired.”

Ahmad tells Reston Now that he encourages everyone to come by, regardless of whether they’ve tried Pakistani breakfast food before, so he can share a little piece of who he is with others.

“When you come eat with us, it’s like you’re eating at home. Our home,” Ahmad said. “I’m happy that all the food that I ate growing up and enjoyed, I get to share with everyone and my community.”

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Bb.q Chicken has officially arrived in Reston.

The Korean fried chicken eatery opened its doors at North Point Village Center on June 27, and its first week of business has been a success, according to franchise manager Sabina Cho.

Occupying a space previously filled by Jerry’s Subs, this is bb.q Chicken’s first franchise in Reston, but the chain has established more than 2,000 locations nationwide since coming to the U.S. in 2014.

A spokesperson told Reston Now in May that the company is working to expand its presence in Northern Virginia, which also includes restaurants in Centreville and Falls Church.

“It’s definitely a very good area,” Cho said of Reston.

Bb.q Chicken’s arrival was fortuitously timed as spreading COVID-19 vaccinations led Virginia to ease its public health restrictions last month, ushering in a gradual resurgence of in-person dining.

Because of its relatively small size, bb.q Chicken’s Reston location was actually designed to cater more to takeout customers, Cho says, but it has a few tables for patrons who would prefer a sit-down meal.

“We would love to have more dine-in customers,” she told Reston Now.

The menu includes about a dozen different flavors for the restaurant’s signature chicken wings, from the golden original version to soy garlic and a galbi flavor intended to evoke the Korean-style barbecued ribs. There are also other Korean dishes, such as kimchi fried rice, and various side dishes.

Other food-oriented tenants at North Point Village Center include Glory Days Grill, Gregorio’s Trattoria, and Finn Thai. The sushi joint Matsutake Sushi is expected to fill the vacancy left two years ago by Boston Market in November.

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Exterior of Le Vingt-Trois Cafe & Bakery in Herndon (via Le Vingt-Trois Cafe & Bakery/Instagram)

A couple of days a week, Mary Achi gets up around three in the morning to bake tartes, baguettes, croissants, and other assorted pastries.

She’s the baker and owner of the French-inspired cafe and bakery Le Vingt-Trois that opened at the end of February at 311 Sunset Park Drive in Herndon.

“I’m an interior designer…and I renovated the whole place,” Achi told Reston Now. “Baking [has been] my hobby since a very young age. I merged these two things together and created my dream.”

Everything is baked in-house, and all the recipes are her own, from the sandwiches to the croissants to the tartes. A lot of the freshly-baked goodies can be found on the cafe’s Instagram.

“I’ve always loved French food,” Achi said. “I think it’s a very classical food, very simple but tasty at the same time.”

She’s completely self-taught, she says, and often had her husband try her new recipes.

“I tested all the food on my husband. He’s gained weight because of me,” Achi said, laughing.

Mary Achi opened Herndon's Le Vingt-Trois Cafe & Bakery in February (Photo courtesy of Mary Achi)
Mary Achi opened Herndon’s Le Vingt-Trois Cafe & Bakery in February (courtesy of Mary Achi)

The bakery’s name is also connected to Achi’s relationship with her spouse. “Le Vingt-Trois” translates to “The Twenty-Three” in French.

“That’s me and my husband’s lucky number,” she said.

Achi is from Australia but moved to Herndon in September. She had visited the town often because her husband’s family lives here, and Herndon’s charm drew her in.

“Every time I came here, I just fell in love more and more with this area and all of Virginia,” she said. “The people are very nice and supportive. That’s why I love it here.”

Le Vingt-Trois opened in the late winter, when COVID-19 restrictions were still in effect.

While it was a risky move, business has been going “pretty well.” Achi anticipates it will tick up even further with the bakery opening on Saturdays starting this week.

Banana & cinnamon cake from Le Vingt-Trois Cafe & Bakery (via Le Vingt-Trois Cafe & Bakery/Instagram)

Achi says people thought she was “crazy” for opening during the pandemic, but now, with vaccinations on the rise and restrictions relaxed, both customers and even other businesses are thanking her.

“Once I opened, people started coming to thank me…for helping things get back to normal,” Achi said. “Also, other businesses that closed during the pandemic thanked me because I influenced them to reopen again.”

The cafe is open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., serving breakfast, brunch, lunch, and afternoon coffee.

When coming in for the first time, Achi recommends a few menu items but highly vouches for one in particular.

“Our apricot tarte is the top seller. Also, croissants and the chicken avocado sandwich [sell] well,” she said. “But the Jambon Beurre is to die for.”

While the days can be very early and the work hard, for Achi, it’s all a hundred percent worth it.

I’ve always dreamed of opening my own cafe and having it where people can sit down, chat, listen to very calm music, and feel relaxed,” Achi said. “And sell my own recipes….this is that exactly.”

Photo via Le Vingt-Trois Cafe & Bakery/Instagram

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A new Korean fried chicken restaurant will open in North Point Village Center this summer.

Bbq Chicken at 1432 North Point Village Center in Reston is targeting a July 4 opening, a restaurant representative tells Reston Now. Build out is currently about 75% finished.

The location was previously a Jerry’s Subs that closed in September 2019.

The restaurant is part of a national franchise with close to 2,000 locations across the country, but this is the first one in the Reston/Herndon area. There is a location in Falls Church.

Several more locations of bbq Chicken are being planned for the area, including in Herndon and Ashburn, by the end of the year, the restaurant representative says.

The franchise specializes in Korean fried chicken with menu options for spicy, honey garlic, and more traditional Korean flavors like galbi (sweet with sesame seeds) and gang-jeong (cinnamon and spicy).

The bbq Chicken spokesperson says the company is expanding the number of locations in Northern Virginia, because Korean fried chicken has traveled well and can be easily prepared for pick-up and delivery.

They chose North Point Village as the restaurant’s introduction to Reston because the shopping center provides substantial parking with good access for delivery drivers.

The shopping center also will have a sushi restaurant opening in it in November of this year. Earlier this year, Christie-Adam Salon and Spa opened, replacing another hair salon.

North Point Village Center is owned by Lerner Retail, whose portfolio includes the to-be-redeveloped Spectrum at Reston Town Center.

North Point Village Center opened in 1993 and was the last of Reston’s five village centers to be built.

Photo via bb.q Chicken US/Instagram

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Willie T’s Seafood Shack, a ghost kitchen out of the Homewood Suites in Reston, is now open.

The seafood concept from Thompson Hospitality opened today (May 20) for delivery and curbside pick-up, a company spokesperson tells Reston Now.

Their hours will be from 4-10 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and 12-10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Initially expecting an April opening, Willie T’s opted to push the timing back after making a decision to expand its menu with “more robust seafood offerings” like lobster rolls, grilled lobster, and crab cakes, the spokesperson says.

The cooking is being done out of the kitchen at Homewood Suites at 1735 Business Center Drive. The hotel is also owned by Thompson Hospitality, a Reston-based restaurant, facility management, and hospitality group.

The group also owns Makers Union at Reston Town Center, which replaced American Tap Room, Big Buns Damn Good Burgers in Reston and Arlington, and Hen Quarter in Alexandria.

In 2020, the company bought out Matchbox Food Group, which owns all of the Matchbox locations.

The group is currently “actively” looking for a brick and mortar location for Willie T’s in the Reston/Herndon area as well as Silver Spring, Maryland, the spokesperson says.

To avoid a lot of construction and enable the venue to open more quickly, Thompson Hospitality is searching for a second-generation restaurant space, meaning a location that has been already built out and leased to a previous food service tenant.

Thompson Hospitality hopes that Willie T’s will stay in Reston since a number of their businesses are in the area, the spokesperson noted.

A previous iteration of Willie T’s was set up in Dupont Circle in downtown D.C. before it moved across town to Connecticut Avenue NW and later closed.

Delivery is available through Ubereats, GrubHub, and DoorDash. Patrons can also order curbside pickup.

Photo via Thompson Hospitality

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(Updated at 10:15 a.m. on 5/25/2021) A new sushi restaurant is coming to Reston’s North Point Village Center later this year.

Matsutake Sushi is expected to open to customers in November, Matsutake National Inc. President Heesook Chun confirmed to Reston Now in an email.

Matsutake Sushi will be moving into 1492 North Point Village Center, which has been vacant for the past two years. The most recent tenant was a Boston Market that closed in 2019.

There are other Matsutake Sushi locations in the D.C. region, including one at Worldgate Centre in Herndon that closed, Washington Reagan National Airport in Arlington, and Frederick, Maryland.

Chun says he no longer owns most of them, except for the Arlington venue.

The menus at those restaurants include sushi, sashimi, teriyaki, hibachi, and tempura.

North Point Village Center is owned by Lerner Retail, whose wide area portfolio includes owning the Spectrum at Reston Town Center, which is still set to be redeveloped.

North Point Village Center has had several comings and goings over the last year.

Christie-Adam Salon and Spa replaced another hair salon earlier this year. GNC shuttered last summer. Also this time last year, a fire broke out on the shopping center’s roof and swastikas were found spray painted on the sidewalk. FCPD classified it as a hate or bias incident.

North Point Village Center is one of Reston’s five village centers and the last one built. It was opened in 1993.

Photo by Laura Crielly

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A new restaurant that offers sushi and Thai cuisine has taken up residence at Plaza America in Reston.

SAAO Thai and Sushi will open its doors in late May, according to Naruedon “Don” Senatham, a partner on the restaurant.

It is located in Suite 105 at 11730 Plaza America Drive, taking the place of Nikko Sushi and Hibachi. Other tenants in the building include The Melting Pot and NCI Information Systems Inc.

This will be the fifth restaurant in the D.C. area for the ownership team, which also operates Teak Wood Thai & Sushi, Kruba Thai & Sushi, and The Regent Thai in downtown D.C. as well as Galae Thai in Alexandria.

Senatham told Reston Now that the restaurant team became interested in expanding into Reston after seeing the area grow over the past 10 years. Plaza America’s proximity to key transportation hubs like the Dulles Toll Road, Metro Silver Line, and Dulles International Airport suggested it had “great potential” for doing business.

“Over 15 years, we served millions of dishes of our Thai and Sushi culinary expertise in D.C.,” he said by email. “Now, we are offering Reston residents [the chance] to enjoy the dining experience with 2 cuisines in 1 place.”

The Thai menu features several staple dishes, such as pad thai, tom yum soup, and panang curry. There is also a Japanese menu with sushi, sashimi, and ramen.

According to Senatham, SAAO takes its name from the Northern Thai word for “twenty,” and its logo incorporates the number 20 in Thai numerals, a nod to the fact that it was intended to be established in the year 2020.

Inside, the restaurant has been furnished with woodcarvings and decorations made in Thailand.

“Saao Thai and Sushi offers an authentic Thai dining experience,” Senatham said, noting that the restaurant will use freshly sourced produce. “From smooth, aromatic curries to fresh salads and perfectly balanced pad thai, our menu provide an insight into the best of Thai and sushi cuisine.”

Photo courtesy SAAO Thai and Sushi

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Red Velvet Cupcakery is coming back to Reston and is set to open later this summer.

The well-known bakery that was formerly at Reston Town Center will open a new location at Reston Town Center West on Sunset Hills Road, owner Aaron Gordon tells Reston Now.

It will share a kitchen with Little Beast Bistro, a sandwich and pizza concept also developed by Gordon, but much like the two do in Chevy Chase, D.C., they will have seperate, distinct storefronts.

“I’ve always wanted to get back out [to Reston],” Gordon said.

His partner on these ventures is Kristen Brabrook, the former manager of Red Velvet’s Reston Town Center location.

“She’s been the manager with me since the store opened 10, 11 years ago. This is for her hard work,” he said.

Red Velvet Cupcakery and Little Beast will be located at 12100 Sunset Hills Road, replacing Famous Toastery, which closed in March.

Gordon says they sought out a pre-built, second-generation space so they could open on a quicker timeline.

The plan is open in early August, he says. The new location will be right across from Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant.

“It’s an ideal location,” Gordon said. “…With [development] projects and the Metro coming, it was very attractive. It’s easy to get in and out for take away and delivery too.”

Red Velvet Cupcakery will be carry-out with 10 to 12 seats outdoors and a separate, side entrance from Little Beast. It will serve up many other treats beyond cupcakes, Gordon says, including croissants, cinnamon bins, acai bowls, and cruffins.

Little Beast will have about 100 seats inside, 20 outside, and a bar/cocktail area. It will focus on pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and cocktails, and brunch will be available everyday.

To support these ventures, Gordon launched a crowd-sourcing campaign last week through MainVest, allowing anyone to invest in his Reston restaurants in exchange for perks like owner hats, a customized beer stein, and cupcakes for life.

Red Velvet closed almost exactly three years ago at Reston Town Center, a decision was mainly driven by developer Boston Properties instituting paid parking.

“We did our best to fight paid parking in RTC and we are proud to have played a large role in forcing the owners to reduce the paid parking hours, which costs them tens of millions yearly,” Gordon said at the time. “We only regret we were unable to force them to scrap their greedy money-grab entirely.”

A number of businesses ended up suing the developer over the paid parking system, claiming that it was costing them significant business. The lawsuits were settled in 2019.

Gordon says Red Velvet Cupcakery at Reston Town Center stopped being profitable when paid parking was put in place. So, when the lease ended in 2018, he was unable to negotiate an extension with Boston Properties, since he felt it no longer made sense to stay “at the same high rent.”

Now, Gordon is happy to be coming back to Reston particularly after a very tough past year.

“Going through the pandemic was hard for all, but particularly so for restaurants,” he says. “It was about finding the perfect spot, and I think we have.”

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