Reston, VA

GNC plans to close its location at North Point Village Center after the company files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection early last week.

The vitamins and supplements retailer plans to close between 800 and 1,200 stores across the country.

A company representative told Reston Now the Reston location, which is located at 1456 North Point Drive, will likely shutter its doors within the next two weeks. An exact closing date has not yet been determined.

In a June 23 letter to its customers, the company stated that the COVID-19 pandemic “created a situation where we are unable to accomplish our refinancing and the abrupt change in the operating environment has had a negative impact on our business.”

Here’s more from the letter:

As a result, we felt the best opportunity for us to continue to improve our capital structure and address certain operational issues was to restructure through a Chapter 11 reorganization. This gives us the opportunity to improve our balance sheet while continuing to advance our business strategy, right-size our corporate store portfolio, and strengthen our brands to protect the long-term sustainability of our company.

Other Virginia locations are also closing, including the stores in Vienna, Sterling, Franklin and Charlottesville.

Photo by Laura Crielly

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Reston Company Bought by McLean Contractor — “McLean-based defense contractor E3/Sentinel LLC announced Monday it has acquired Reston-based Lucid Perspectives, a software and systems engineering company. This is E3/Sentinel’s fifth acquisition in the past two years. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.” [Virginia Business]

Temporary Moratorium on Evictions in Va.— “The state’s Supreme Court issued the ban Monday following a request from Gov. Ralph Northam. It extends previous orders that had put a hold on evictions, but expired last month. Under the new rule, even renters who have been threatened with eviction but have not been served a formal notice cannot be legally removed from their homes until June 28 at the earliest.” [DCist]

Herndon Town Council to Meet Tonight — The council will meet virtually at 7 p.m. today (Tuesday) to discuss the proposed capital improvement program through fiscal year 2026. [Town of Herndon]

County Launches New 911 Service — “Fairfax County’s Department of Public Safety Communications (DPSC) — the county’s 9-1-1 Center and the largest public safety answering point (PSAP) in Virginia — is leading the way regionally by becoming the first jurisdiction in Virginia, D.C. and Maryland to transition to Next Generation 9-1-1.” [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Financial hardship created COVID-19 has forced a local beauty spa and studio in North Point Village Center to shutter its doors.

Ellada Studio (1458 North Point Village Center) closed its doors after the owner struggled to pay $20,000 in monthly rent and other expenses. The owner told Reston Now that the business received no relief from its landlord despite promises of receiving a lower rate before the COVID-19 crisis.

In a May 15 letter to the tenant, Lerner Corp stated that the business’s “obligation to pay rent is unaffected by the current circumstances or any event of force majeure.”

“Then they changed their mind and demanded the difference and the dollars for the time [we were closed],” Aidana Ablyazova, the co-owner, told Reston Now. She partners with her mom, Nurgul, to run the business.

Although the U.S. Small Business Administration offered a $10,000 grant, that amount was nowhere near enough to cover half of the studio’s rent or payroll. The owner applied for other federal grants, but received nothing. The owner and employees will now move over to Taaj Beauty Lounge, a beauty salon in Tysons Corner.

“The business itself is dead,” Ablyazova said. “But my employees are coming with me and I’m going as an employee to now.”

She says it doesn’t make sense to rent or have a business during the public health crisis.

The mother-daughter duo first opened Ellada Studio at North Point Village Center in November 2016.

Hair Cuttery, which is located at 1434 North Point Village Center, also appears to have closed, according to a message posted on its storefront.

Photos by Laura Crielly

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Reston Company Emerges from Bankruptcy — Reston-based IT infrastructure company Internal Corp. has emerged from bankruptcy protection with a new CEO and $300 million in liquidity. The company restructured its finances and appointed its former president and chief financial officer, Michael Sicoli, to CEO. [Virginia Business]

Recap of Reston Farmers Market Opening — The Reston Farmers Market opened for the 2020 season over the weekend. Market managers spread out tents to facilitate social distancing and special rules were also in effect. [Reston Connection]

A Drive-by Celebration of Mother’s Day — The Herndon Harbor Adult Day Health Care Center organized a drive-by parade to distribute personalized Mother’s Day gifts and arts supplies. [Fairfax County Government]

Reston Association Board to Meet Today — The board will select new positions, including those for newly elected members. Forms for the organization’s new conflict of interest policy will also be distributed at the meeting. [Reston Association]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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COVID-19 Case Information Delayed — The latest data from the Virginia Department of Health is not available due to a technical issue with the department’s case site. [Fairfax County Government]

Cognizant to Acquire Reston IT Company — “Reston-based human resources tech company Collaborative Solutions LLC will be acquired by New-Jersey based information technology company Cognizant, the companies announced Tuesday. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed and the deal is expected to close during Q2 2020.” [Virginia Business]

New Chief Marketing Officer for Ellucian — “Reston-based higher education software company Ellucian announced Wednesday it has named Sharon Loeb as its chief marketing officer. She will lead marketing initiatives and digital transformation for the company. Loeb was most recently the executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Cengage Learning, where she led marketing, communications and public affairs for the company.” [Virginia Business]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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A Tribute at Reston Hospital Center — Local officers and first responders gathered yesterday (Monday) for a tribute at Reston Hospital Center. The emergency responders turned on their sirens as they drove around the center. [WJLA]

Longtime Reston Citizens Association Board Member Dies — John Hanley, who joined RCA in 2009, played a vital role in considering nominations and planning for RCA’s Citizen of the Year award. He also helped shape RCA’s position on the issues of land use and planning. [Reston Citizens Association]

Easing of Business Closures in Sight — Gov. Ralph Northam held a press conference this afternoon in which he announced that “Phase 1” of the Commonwealth’s easing of restrictions is likely to start on Friday, May 15 — in about a week and a half. In the meantime, Northam extended the closure of non-essential businesses through May 14, and said his stay-at-home order will become a “safer at home” recommendation.” [ARLnow]

Local Student Wins 2020 College Board Opportunity Scholarship — “Imani Irons, a senior at South Lakes High School, has been named one of 25 winners nationwide of a 2020 College Board Opportunity Scholarship.  The $40,000 scholarship was awarded to Irons for completing all six college planning steps laid out in the College Board Opportunity Scholarships program. Research shows that completing specific steps helps clarify the complex college planning process, especially for low-income and first-generation students.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Oversight Body Shoots Down Sale of Reston-based .org Operator — “The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has rejected the $1.13 billion sale of the Reston operator of the .org domain to private equity firm Ethos Capital. As the domain system’s nonprofit governing body, ICANN had to approve the deal.” [Washington Business Journal]

Photo via Walter Alcorn/Twitter

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Thursday Morning Notes

Local Company Tapped for Contact Tracing — The Indiana State Health department has hired Maximus Inc., a Reston-based company, to begin contact tracing for its 92 counties. The company will begin the laborious process of reaching out to people who have tested positive and determining who they have been in contact with over the last two weeks. [Indiana Business Journal]

Herndon Cares Seeks More Support — The initiative has provided more than 1,000 community members with takeout dinners fro local restaurants. The four-week-old program is made possible with partnerships with local faith communities. [Reston Patch]

Local Restaurant Offers Food for Front Line Fighters — Pica Deli, a Reston-based restaurant, raised $2,600 to help fund costs to donate deli sandwiches to frontline hospital medical staff and first responders. [The Connection]

Reminder: County Small Business Loans — Small businesses based in Fairfax County are eligible for up to $20,000 at zero percent interest through the county’s recently established Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Fund. [Fairfax County Government]

Reston Association Annual Meeting is Today — The annual meeting is set for 7 pm. today and will be held via Zoom. The meeting will also be streamed online via YouTube. [Reston Association]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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The fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has been especially rough for Roer’s Zoofari, a local family-owned zoo and safari, that is temporarily closed.

With no foot traffic due to stay-at-home orders, zoo staff work in tight shifts to care for animals. Some take walks with animal care staff where children during field trips and other guests would have walked to enjoy the zoo’s cheetah, zebra, water buffalo, and other animals.

Owner and CEO Vanessa Roer says the last eight weeks have been an emotional roller coaster.

Just as COVID-19 led to a local standstill, the zoo had little to bank on in the months where it typically sees visitation pick up due to birthday parties, field trips and warming temperatures.

“Most days we keep our chins up, but every so often, we lock ourselves in the walk-in cooler and scream and cry in frustration. Then we go outside and kiss our giraffe, hug a baby goat and step forward — one step at a time.”

The zoo turned to crowdfunding when it became clear that it would take time for funding from the Small Business Administration to cash in. Typically, the zoo does not make enough revenue to cover off-season costs from November through the end of February.

“We plan for four months of little income, but we never saw months five and six with zero income,” Roer said.

The business moved quickly to furlough all non-essential employees.

The crowdfunding campaign has raised $34,786 of its $100,000 goal — a response that Roer said went beyond what she expected. Community members have donated produce, meat, dry feed, and hay to help out.

But it took 28 days for the business to receive funds from GoFundMe as other residents and businesses raced to online platforms to secure cash flows.

“I literally processed payroll at the beginning of that week without enough money to cover the Friday distribution — on a wing and prayer,” Roer said.

Although funding soon began pouring in — the zoo received a Paycheck Protection Program loan that covered two months of payroll — the zoo still needs money to keep afloat through June.

A federal loan through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance is critical to the longterm success of the zoo. After technical hiccups on its first application, the Zoofari is still waiting on securing that loan since applying on March 31.

“Since our revenue is seasonal, each day we are closed, we are not earning money that will be saved for next winter,” Roer said. “Just getting by right now will mean that we may not get by in 9-12 months.”

Still, the animals are getting good care, she says. Roer’s veterinarian is making visits to the zoo and mask-wearing staff work in pairs to take care of animals.

Donations are still needed, Roer said. If the zoo does not pay its mortgage payments by June 1, the business could go back to its previous owner. So far, a forbearance period lasts until June 1. Funds are also needed to pay for health benefits, insurance, utilities and veterinary care.

Photos via Roer’s Zoofari/Facebook

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Scrawl Books, a locally-owned shop in Reston, though strained by the lack of foot traffic in the shop, seems to be doing well thanks to community support.

The shop’s owner, Rachel Wood told Reston Now that the store is staying afloat because of the local bibliophiles who are taking the campaigns encouraging people to support local businesses to heart.

In the past few weeks, the shop has shifted its business model to include curbside pickup and home delivery –which is free for people in Reston, Herndon and parts of Vienna.

“We are really happy to be able to be here for the community and get books to people so they can stay home longer and have a better time while they are there,” Wood said.

All of the free community engagement events that used to be held in-person, like the bookclubs and speakers, were simply moved onto digital platforms.  Many of the events hosted by Scrawl still have a significant number of participants, according to Wood, who added that people are looking for activities to combat the boredom of self-isolation. Anyone interested in Scrawl’s events can check out the location’s Facebook page for links and details.

In terms of staff favorites, Wood said she is currently enjoying a book called “Barn 8: A Novel” which tells the story of two auditors in the US egg industry who try and pull off a heist, according to the book’s publisher. The book retails at the shop for $16 in paperback.

Those who wish to order books for delivery or pickup from Scrawl (11911 Freedom Drive) may do so or by calling 703-966-2111 from noon. until 6 p.m. daily or ordering online.

For anyone who wants to help young kids who no longer have access to books through the public library system, Scrawl is collecting donations for teachers planning to send books to their students so the kids can continue to boost their literacy skills.

Unfortunately, though, other stores in the area such as Reston’s Used Book Shop have closed indefinitely, according to its website. There is no word from owners when the shop will reopen.

Photo via Scrawl Books/Facebook

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Two months ago, Local VA, a gourmet dive bar, opened its doors at Lake Anna Plaza. The opening of the small business at 1633 Washington Plaza was marred by delays, but welcomed by customers and the Lake Anne community for its trendy aesthetic and varied menu.

But after a state order directed restaurants and other businesses to limit customers and shift to takeout and delivery, the recently-opened business is struggling to remain afloat. The owners say they’re in it for the long haul, despite financial setbacks.

When the nearly $350 billion stimulus package for small businesses launched, the owners said they immediately applied. One week later, the Small Business Administration assured them that a $10,000 forgivable loan would be on the way within three days of the receipt of a second application. The owners applied but heard nothing in return, despite multiple emails to the administration and their bank.

With federal funds exhausted for small business, Local VA is still optimistic about its future.

“Even when the pandemic forced us to switch to carry-out, your support kept us positive, enthusiastic and moving forward,” the owners wrote in a statement. “And now, we shall conquer this mountain, too. This is our room and its a livelihood for several good, caring and dedicated people.”

Local VA struggled to secure federal assistance is emblematic of other small businesses. The forgivable small business loan program quickly depleted in just under two weeks. It is possible that Congress will add additional money to the program, which was launched on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The business continues to take takeout orders.

“Be strong, be safe and let’s conquer this new world together,” the owners wrote.

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Two Hour ‘Virtual’ Delay for Fairfax County Public Schools — Teacher-led instruction for middle and elementary school levels will be delayed two hours today to allow teachers to activate Blackboard security upgrades. High school office hours will begin no earlier than 10 a.m. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Reston Company Selected as Top Entry Level Employer — Carahsoft Technology Corp made it to CollegeGrad.com’s annual list of top entry-level employers. The company is expected to onboard 700 new employees and 174 interns this year, a 27 percent increase from last year. [GlobeNewswire]

Marriage Licenses Go Virtual — The county launched a new virtual marriage license appointment program today for couples to receive a marriage license from the Fairfax County Court Clerk’s Office. The county’s clerk notes he has seen an increase in the number of couples applying for marriage licenses since the pandemic hit locally. [Fairfax County Government]

Virtual Q&A by Bow Tie Cinemas — The theatre is hosting a virtual session with the directors and selected cast members of Extra Ordinary. The event begins at 6 p.m. [Bow Tie Cinemas via Facebook]

Reston Community Players Scholarship Kicks Off — Applications for annual scholarships for high school. Applications are due by May 1. Interviews, which will take place between May 16-17, will be held virtually.

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Friday Morning Notes

Weird Brothers Adapts to Coronavirus — The local veteran-owned coffee shop has adapted to takeout curbside pick up and is offering local deliveries in the Herndon and Reston area. The owner says he’s seen a 50 percent drop in sales. [Patch]

Reston IT Company Names New CFO — “Reston-based information technology company Contegix announced Thursday that it has named Mike Dunn as its new chief financial officer. Dunn was most recently the CFO of systems integrator and managed hosting provider NeoSystems LLC.” [Virginia Business]

More Postponements for County Dockets — Although the Fairfax County Courthouse remains open, the Circuit Court, General District Court and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court have changed their bond and arraignment schedule until further notice. [Fairfax County Government]

Verisign Inc. Donates $500,00 — The Reston-based company has donated the money to Northern Virginia’s COVID-19 response fund “as part of a broader effort to support those in the region.” [Community Foundation for Northern Virginia]

Metro Scales Back Service — “Metro will operate significantly reduced rail and bus service on Saturday, April 4 and Sunday, April 5, maintaining a core network of 27 “lifeline” bus routes and providing twice-hourly rail service on all lines for the region’s essential travel need.” [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Reston resident Taruna Rijhwani knew telehealth was the way to go when she added the digital service to her Reston-based physical therapy clinic more than two years ago.

Now, as COVID-19 public health emergency prompts the restaurant industry to shift to delivery and carryout, Rijhwani says she’s shifting Health Watchers Physical Therapy and Wellness to video visits and telehealth.

Here’s more from the clinic on telehealth appointments:

They use secure HIPAA compliant platforms to connect with their patients and are able to continue to provide care without asking patients to leave their homes, keeping them safe & healthy.

Physical Therapist, Taruna Rijhwani has specialized training in the advanced system of Physical Therapy called Mckenzie Method which is especially suited for telehealth and guiding patients through right movements to help with their back, neck, shoulder or knee problems.

She notes that the number of patients coming into her office on 11250 Roger Bacon Drive has been steadily decreasing.

“We are making it up by transitioning to telehealth or video visits,” she told Reston Now.

Rijhwani initially began providing the service to keep the business relevant in the digital age.

“Look at Amazon. That’s our inspiration right there. No one goes retail shopping as much as they used to,” she told Reston Now.

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A Reston based global company is using data to try and track COVID-19 discussion around the world.

Comscore, headquartered at 11950 Democracy Drive, helps clients “evaluate media across platforms” to boost audience engagement, according to its website. Major clients for the company include Pepsi and Oracle.

The company recently expanded its efforts to provide “insights” into COVID-19.

Those insights range in data from things like media consumption during the outbreak to surging levels of in-home data usage.

Now that people are staying home, the company announced that as of today (Tuesday, March 24,) data use by gaming consoles is up 48% along with a 44% data use rise by in-home speakers.

When it comes to media consumption, roughly 3.2 million people checked governmental websites including the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control. Between March 9115, roughly 24.4 million people logged on to these websites. That’s over a 670% increase from the first few days of January, according to Comscore.

Due to recent changes in commerce, Comscore also noticed changes in other industries like retail and manufacturing.

“In looking at total digital visits to an aggregate of Amazon, Walmart and Target’s sites, we saw 779 million visits the week of March 9-15,” the company’s website said.

According to a blog recently released by Comscore, studies show that people are turning to local news when they face uncertainty during the pandemic.

“We need local news in times of crisis to learn about the changes impacting our daily lives,” Rachel Cooper-Blank, the author and company’s lead account manager, wrote in the blog.

Going forward, it seems that Comscore will continue to track changes to the economy and people’s habits during the pandemic.

Reston Now reached out to Comscore for comment and is awaiting a response.

Photo via Comscore/Facebook

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A new hair salon is coming soon to Reston Town Center.

Madison Reed, a professional hair salon, plans to open at 11874 Market Street. The salon offers hair color services through a “color bar,” according to its website.

The company, which sells hair care products, has color bar locations across the country, including in Bethesda, Md. A new location is expected to open in Rockville in March this year.

No word yet on when the Reston location is expected to open. So far, signage on the storefront just says “coming soon.”

Image via Google Maps

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