Reston, VA

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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Taste of Istanbul is set to open at 11190 Explorer Street in Reston Town Center on May 16.

The restaurant will serve authentic turkish food like baklava, döner (seasoned meat), dolma (stuffed grape leaves), shepherd’s salad, Turkish pizza, and Turkish coffee.

Taste of Istanbul’s arrival was first announced in November. It is replacing Midtown Kabob, which closed last year.

The owners told Reston Now in November that they were prepared to open despite the uncertainty of the pandemic.

“This is a time where people don’t know what’s going to happen next,” they said. “But we believe we are prepared for this.”

While cases were on the rise late last year, vaccinations are increasing, and restrictions on businesses are easing as Fairfax County starts to gain a greater semblance of normalcy.

Taste of Istanbul’s owners got their start serving up food at local farmers markets several years ago, first at EatLoco market at One Loudoun and then at the FRESHFARM Reston farmers market.

They will continue to have a presence at those markets, a restaurant representative confirmed to Reston Now in an email.

The restaurant is family-owned and operated. Chef Ercan Karaman and his wife Hacer grew up in Turkey and learned how to cook for a big family, according to EatLoco market’s website. Their children also help with the family business.

Taste of Istanbul is 100% halal and will also provide catering.

Reston Town Center is seeing a gradual increase in restaurant openings as the pandemic appears to be waning. True Food Kitchen opened at 11901 Democracy Drive late last month as well after initially planning to open late last year.

Photo courtesy of Taste of Istanbul

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Sheetz in Herndon rendering (Photo via screenshot/Fairfax County Planning Commission)

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has approved the plan to bring a Sheetz to Herndon, the first of its kind in the county.

First reported in February 2020, the 6,007 square-foot Sheetz will be built at 13850 McLearen Road.

But the approval at Tuesday’s (March 23) County Board meeting comes even though there were stated misgivings about the company’s refusal to go through the LEED-certification process.

Despite the county requesting that Sheetz commit to LEED-certification or an equivalent program, the company declined.

The reason, as a company spokesperson stated during the meeting, was that verification was a “very time consuming and burdensome process.” The company did promise to adhere to other green building commitments.

This reasoning didn’t sit well with a number of supervisors, noting that it set a bad precedent for others looking to get approval to build in the county.

The county, as well as neighboring jurisdictions, have prioritized LEED-certification as a means of meeting long-term goals of cutting carbon emissions.

Supervisor James Walkinshaw also noted that building another gas station in Fairfax County “perpetuates our addiction to fossil fuels” and will be a decision we regret with “what all the world knows about the climate crisis.”

However, a majority of the County Board still approved the building of a Sheetz food store, gas station, and restaurant with a drive-through.

In total, 8 supervisors voted yea, one nay (Supervisor Walkinshaw), and one abstained (Supervisor Storck).

The company representative at the meeting noted this will be the first Sheetz location in Fairfax County.

With the approval, Reston Now has reached out to Sheetz about a timeline for construction and an estimated opening date. We have yet to hear back as of publication.

The Sheetz will occupy a roughly 2.7-acre parcel of land that will soon be vacant after the demolition of a two-story office building and surface parking lot. That building was constructed in 1977.

The Sheetz will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There will be 49 car parking spots, five of which will be reserved as electric vehicle charging stations.

The building is set to be constructed with materials including brick veneer facade with cast stone masonry.

County staff asked for high quality landscaping” so the development is “attractive” in its “highly visible site” along McLearen Road.

Photo via handout/Fairfax County Planning Commission

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Despite a few stalled plans, Pupatella, an award-winning Neapolitan pizza restaurant, is set to open in Reston this week.

The new site at 1821 Wiehle Avenue will host a soft opening on Wednesday, tentatively at 4 p.m. and will feature the local chain’s full menu.

Michael Berger, one of the partners of the business along with founders Enzo Algarme and Anastasiya Laufenberg, said the Reston location will only offer takeout service for the foreseeable future due to the pandemic. However, Pupatella looks forward to offering dine-in service at some point in the new year.

Pupatella already has locations in Arlington, Richmond and Washington, D.C. The Reston location marks the second Pupatella to open this year after one in Dupont Circle in the District opened in August.

The Reston restaurant was initially scheduled to open in early 2020, but was delayed by the county’s permitting process.

“It didn’t really ever cross our mind that we wouldn’t open them. We just decided to shift the service model for now and kind of go through this with everyone else that’s going through this too,” Berger said.

“We’re very fortunate. Our industry is definitely on some hard times. I really feel for a lot of our colleagues that didn’t have the ability to pivot as much in their business model just because of the style of service they were.”

After its soft opening, the restaurant will eventually feature an outdoor waiting area with benches and heaters, as well as tables with fire pits for on-site dining.

The importance of opening this location is more than just business for Berger, as it hits on a personal level.

A Reston native, Berger is a South Lakes High School graduate that grew up around the Tall Oaks area. He is also quite familiar with the location of this Pupatella as he was a regular visitor of the Pizza Hut that occupied the site until it closed late last year.

“I went to that Pizza Hut numerous times for Little League parties, swim team parties, general neighborhood gatherings,” Berger said.

“So I’ve told my friends that I almost feel like I’ve been entrusted with this historical site in Reston. Everybody that’s been in Reston for more than a few years knows that complex. It has almost a brand of its own.”

Hearkening back to Berger’s alma mater, the Reston restaurant will feature a graffiti art installation done by the South Lakes High School art department along with one of the school’s teachers.

As a throwback to the location’s time as a Pizza Hut, Berger said it will also feature a tabletop arcade game machine with Pac-Man, Galaga and other games.

“For years and years and years, that was just such a neighborhood gathering place,” Berger said. “It really was the neighborhood pizzeria, and we’re just so excited to bring back a neighborhood pizzeria to the community.”

Photos courtesy Michael Berger

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Finn Thai plans on expanding from its original location in Reston to Great Falls.

The restaurant, which serves traditional cuisine from South East Asia, will take over the space currently occupied by Wild Ginger, according to Finn Thai’s owner Willy Chaokrajang. 

Currently, the new Finn Thai location is waiting for approval to serve wine and beer at 752 Walker Road, Suite A.

The eatery is expected to open in February, Chaokrajang said, adding that the location was chosen because he thinks it will be convenient for customers.

“The menu will be similar to what we have in Reston,” he added. 

Currently, the restaurant has three other locations scattered throughout the D.C. area.

Photo via Finn Thai/Facebook

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(Updated at 2 p.m.) A Vietnamese restaurant, gym and nail salon are planning to come to a new development in Reston.

Alo Vietnam will occupy a 1,746-square-foot space, according to Renaud Consulting. Other newcomers will include A+ Nails and F45, Josh Weiner, the senior vice president of the commercial real estate firm KLNB, told Reston Now.

The Faraday Park development consists of multifamily buildings with ground-floor retail at 1831 Michael Faraday Drive.

More from the consulting firm about the restaurant:

The group comprising the team of Alo Vietnam is made up of 4 partners, which includes 2 established local businessmen and 2 famous chefs from Vietnam. Together this group owns and operates 4 well-known restaurants in Saigon, Vietnam.

Alo Vietnam also has a wine and beer license pending for its Herndon location at 2321 Dulles Station Blvd, Suite C.

Photo via Alo Vietnam/Facebook

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A new chicken restaurant coming to the VY at Reston Heights will serve up food with a Peruvian flair.

Chicken Rico plans to open a new location at 11830 Sunrise Valley Drive, according to Fairfax County records.

It is unclear when the location will open for business since a company spokesperson declined to share any details, but those curious about the chain can check out the other location in Herndon (1254 Elden Street).

The chain offers customers fast food options including baked chicken, fried plantains, rice, various grilled meats and more, according to its Facebook page.

Chicken Rico is one of several eateries coming to the apartment building, including My Home Thai, Reston Kabob and California-based chain BurgerIM.

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Great China appears to have closed its doors for good at North Point Village Center.

The restaurant had its windows papered last week, according to a reader-submitted photo. As of today (Sept. 9), the sign is now gone at the restaurant’s spot at 1484 North Point Village Center.

The restaurant is no longer listed in the shopping center’s directory.

A building permit indicates that the address will be home to a new restaurant.

Hat tip to Laura Crielly

Second photo courtesy Laura Crielly

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A new barbecue restaurant chain is coming to a shopping center along Sunrise Valley Drive in the Herndon area.

Mission BBQ has a license pending to serve beer at 2445 Centreville Road, Suite 34B at the Village Center at Dulles.

Currently, Mission BBQ has locations in 16 states — with 16 spots in Virginia. The closest spots right now are in Chantilly and Sterling.

Photo via Mission BBQ/Facebook

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A new burger joint is coming to Herndon’s Junction Square.

Headquartered in California, BurgerIM is a national chain spanning 15 states, with plans to operate about 500 spots by the end of the year, according to its website.

Renaud Consulting announced that it recently helped BurgerIM sign a lease for a 1,500 square foot space at 1700 Lynn Street, Suite A. No word yet on when it’s opening.

Local news blog The Burn reported in April that Burgerim is also planning to open in Reston.

Photo via BurgerIM/Facebook

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Kabobi by the Helmand, a restaurant featuring Afghan cuisine, held its soft opening yesterday (May 29) in Herndon.

Owner Khaleeq Ahmad told Reston Now that the restaurant finally opened after delays with the permitting process. Ahmad said his restaurant offers “Afghan fusion” cuisine. It is located at 2321 Dulles Station Boulevard, Suite A — a short walk from the Innovation Center Metro station.  

The restaurant in Herndon offers a mix of traditional Afghan cuisine as appetizers, salads, bowls and wraps. Items range from “kabuli pallow,” a traditional Afghan dish with rice baked with chunk of lamb, raising and glazed carrots — to eggplants and mushroom wrapped in fresh bread.

The chain of Kabobi restaurants started in San Francisco in 1982 and expanded to Boston, Baltimore and Chicago. It is modeled after a sister restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland called Kabobi from the Helmand.

Photo by Khaleeq Ahmad

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The regional wood-fired pizza franchise Matchbox just announced plans to move into Reston early next year.

The franchise just signed a lease for 1900 Reston Metro Plaza Drive in Suite 100, according to a statement from a public relations agency representing Matchbox.

“The space is 5,500 square feet and offers expansive patio dining,” the agency said in an email. “The veteran D.C. restaurant group is currently focused on regional expansion within the DMV, targeting smaller, neighborhood-focused properties.”

The email says the restaurant is planning on opening in Reston Station in early 2020.

Other upcoming Matchbox locations include one in Silver Spring opening tomorrow (Friday) and ones in Penn Quarter and Bethesda opening this summer.

If you can’t wait that long, your best bet is the Matchbox locations in Ashburn (44720 Thorndike Street) or the Mosaic District (2911 District Ave).

Photo via Facebook

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The wait is almost over for Bombay Velvet, a fine-dining, Indian restaurant, at RTC West.

With the inspections process winding down, the restaurant will open in late March at 12120 Sunset Hills Road, Owner Rajiv Chopra told Reston Now.

The restaurant will be the latest addition this year to RTC West’s food scene, which includes Honeygrow, Mezeh Mediterranean Grill and BGR The Burger Joint.

Famous Toastery, a breakfast and brunch restaurant, is also set to open this month, an employee told Reston Now.

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Finn Thai Restaurant and Bar officially opened in the North Point Village Center on Presidents’ Day (Feb. 18).

Finn Thai fills the former Payless spot at 1466 North Point Village Center. The spot has been empty since the discounted footwear retailer left in 2017.

The menu includes curry dishes, noodles, fried rice and vegetarian selections, along with a kid’s menu and wine selection. According to the restaurant’s Facebook page, selected steaks are half-priced on Mondays just for the Reston location.

Finn Thai has two other restaurants — one in Purcellville and the second one in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

Photo via Finn Thai Reston/Facebook

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Restaurant chain True Food Kitchen plans to open its Reston location at M & S Grill’s former spot in Reston Town Center.

The restaurant will fill the vacant spot at 11901 Democracy Drive, which has been empty since M & S Grill closed last year on New Year’s Day.

When True Food Kitchen will open, though, remains unclear.

Reston Town Center said a press release last month that the chain will be one of six newcomers slated to open this year.

The next day, a post on Reston Town Center’s Facebook page said: “True Food Kitchen, the award-winning restaurant that has pioneered health-conscious dining, will bring its seasonal menu offering brunch, lunch, dinner and cocktails to Reston Town Center starting Spring 2020!”

A spokeswoman for True Food Kitchen told Reston Now she was not aware of an exact opening date and that the chain will announce its job fair as it gets closer to opening in Reston Town Center. The Reston address is not listed with the locations “coming soon” on the website, which includes spots opening in the spring, summer and fall this year.

Located across the country, True Food Kitchen focuses on offering food based Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet. The chain currently has a location in Fairfax and plans to open in Arlington.

Image via Google Maps

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