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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(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) It took about nine months longer than anticipated, but True Food Kitchen is officially in business at Reston Town Center.

As announced in late March, the health food restaurant opened its new Reston franchise on April 28. This is True Food Kitchen’s 37th location nationwide and its fourth in the D.C. area, joining venues in the Mosaic District, Ballston Quarter in Arlington, and Bethesda, Maryland.

“We are thrilled to officially plant our roots in Reston, a buzzing dining scene and community home to a vibrant, active and wellness-driven community,” True Food Kitchen CEO Christine Barone said. “We’re grateful to be welcomed into Reston Town Center and look forward to sharing our mission to bring people together to eat better, feel better and celebrate a passion for better living.”

Founded in 2008 by integrative medicine specialist Dr. Andrew Weil, True Food Kitchen emphasizes anti-inflammatory food and offers a menu that changes depending on what ingredients are in season.

Right now, the restaurant has its spring menu, which features a new vegan double cheeseburger, spicy tuna spring rolls, and avocado key lime pie as a dessert option. Some dishes, such as the ancient grain bowl and spaghetti squash cassarole, are available year-round.

Located in the former M & S venue at 11901 Democracy Drive, True Food Kitchen Reston occupies 9,379 square feet of space with a main indoor dining room, outdoor patio seating, and a private dining room that can seat up to 44 patrons, according to a press release.

The location also boasts a private entrance and room exclusively for people looking to get takeout or pick up online orders, a feature that seems especially useful while the COVID-19 pandemic persists.

Other accommodations for pandemic-related public health guidelines include mobile ordering, a seating arrangement set up for social distancing, and modified service intended to minimize contact between customers and workers.

True Food Kitchen is still hiring for several open positions, including servers, cooks, hosts, dishwashers, and bartenders.

Like other chain restaurants, True Food Kitchen maintains a standard aesthetic design and atmosphere across its different franchises, but the Reston Town Center location has one local touch in the form of wall murals with plates hand-painted by four different artists based in the D.C. area.

Sabrina Cabada, who lives in Arlington, says she appreciates hearing from brands who are interested in working with local artists.

“I am a figurative artist and liked the idea of incorporating food and emotion into my signature style,” Cabada said.

The other participating artists are Martina Sestakova, Emon Sura, and Natasha Platt. They each painted a row of plates based on how they interpreted the moods of happiness, calm, energy, and focus.

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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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Morning Notes

True Food Kitchen Opens at Reston Town Center — True Food Kitchen officially opened its doors at Reston Town Center yesterday (Wednesday) after a more than two-year wait. Located in a 7,798-square-foot space at 11901 Democracy Drive that was previously M&S Grill, the restaurant was previously expected to open in August 2020 before getting delayed and announcing an April 28 opening in March. [The Burn]

Key Reston Planner Dies at 93 — Glenn William Saunders Jr. died on April 1 at his home on Singer Island, Florida. The civil engineer served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War before working as an engineer for the cities of Alexandria and Fairfax. He was hired by Reston founder Robert E. Simon in 1961 to help plan, design, and build the planned community. [Patch]

Fairfax County Could Expand Outdoor Classrooms — Fairfax County Public Schools has been running outdoor learning pilots at five schools since the start of the 2020-2021 academic year with the goal of expanding classroom capacity and reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Using federal relief funds, FCPS has purchased a total of 215 tents, each costing around $4,300, as of late April and anticipates expanding the program in the fall. [The Washington Post]

Fatal Drug Overdoses Up During Pandemic — “Last year was Virginia’s worst on record for fatal drug overdoses. In 2020, nearly 2,300 people died from drugs in the state, according to a new report from the Virginia Department of Health. That’s a 41% increase from the year before, which was already record-breaking.” [The Virginian-Pilot]

Reston Breweries to Celebrate American Craft Beer Week — “With three breweries in or near Reston, the Brewers Association is urging craft beer drinkers to support local breweries as American Craft Beer Week approaches. The 15th annual weeklong observance will run from May 10-16 this year.” [Patch]

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Morning Notes

Democracy Drive in Reston Town Center Closed — The street will be closed all week for “ongoing infrastructure updates with repairs and modifications being made to the waste lines in the Southwest Building,” a Reston Town Center spokesperson says. The street remains accessible to pedestrians, and all stores are open. [Potomac River Running/Twitter]

Kennedy Center to Fully Reopen in the Fall — The Kennedy Center will hold a grand reopening in September, launching an extensive lineup of performances and activities to celebrate its 50th anniversary. A limited number of in-person concerts are also being planned for this spring and summer. [Washingtonian]

Task Force Proposes Strategies to Preserve Affordable Housing — Fairfax County Affordable Housing Preservation Task Force presented a report to the Board of Supervisors yesterday (Tuesday) with recommendations for maintaining the county’s approximately 9,000 existing market affordable multifamily units. [Fairfax County Government]

Reston Startup Raises Millions in Funding — The cybersecurity startup ThreatQuotient Inc. raised $22.5 million in equity and debt funding that it hopes to use to accelerate the growth of its data platform, which gives clients information they can utilize to automatically detect and respond to threats. The company says it saw “record bookings and revenue growth” last year. [Washington Business Journal]

Celebrate National Beer Day at a Local Brewery — National Beer Day comes every year on April 7 to mark the end of the Prohibition-era ban on the sale and consumption of low-alcohol beverages like beer. Local options for celebrating include Herndon’s Aslin Beer Company as well as Bike Lane Brewery and the Lake Anne Brewhouse in Reston. [Patch]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Updated at 9:45 a.m. on 4/6/2021 — True Food Kitchen has extended the job fair for its new Reston Town Center site into late April, a spokesperson says.

Earlier: After months of delays, True Food Kitchen is opening in Reston Town Center on April 28.

The 7,798-square-foot restaurant is also kicking off a three-week job fair to hire 100 staff members ahead of its opening at 1901 Democracy Drive.

The schedule for job fairs is below. Applicants can also apply online.

  • Now – Saturday, March 27; 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Monday, March 29 – Saturday, April 3; 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Monday, April 5 – Saturday, April 10; 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. 

The restaurant includes a dining room, outdoor patio, and bar. Its dining chairs are made of recycled soda bottles and the space is designed around an open kitchen concept.

True Food Kitchen’s menu adheres to a diet developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, who specializes in integrative medicine. The menu focuses primarily on anti-inflammatory foods.

Open jobs include chefs, cooks, servers, hosts, dishwashers, and managers.

Photo via True Food Kitchen

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When Gary and Diane Reedy opened Famous Toastery in Reston two years ago, the couple looked forward to running a brunch and breakfast spot near Reston Town Center’s future Metro station.

Nearly two years after operating Famous Toastery, the couple decided to close the Reston location at 12100 Sunset Hills Road. The business, which offers a combination of breakfast, brunch, and lunch options, is one of several ground-floor retailers at RTC West, a mixed-use development owned by JBG Smith.

It is the last business venture for the couple, which built several businesses — including some of the first laser tag facilities in the area — in previous years.

Gary Reedy says the landlord of the property was difficult to deal with during the pandemic.

He says that although a discount on the rent was offered for six months, payments had to be paid back over two years.

‘We tried working with the landlord over the spring and summer with no progress,’ Reedy said.

The couple is now retired after 25 years of building businesses in Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

Famous Toastery has locations throughout the country, including a location in Ashburn and Roanoke.

Photo via Carlos Banos

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Reston Town Center’s Bow Tie Cinemas is looking to re-open by Memorial Day.

A company spokesperson tells Reston Now that they plan is to turn the projectors back on when “the film supply becomes more stable, perhaps by Memorial Day at the latest.” Meaning, when studios begin releasing more movies again to theaters (as opposed to streaming services or on demand).

The spokesperson noted that studios have already started doing this, advertising summer releases and populating the calendar for the later year, due to the re-opening of theaters in New York and Los Angeles.

The Reston Town Center movie theater shut down a year ago and has yet to reopen.

However, several other local theaters have already opened their doors including Herndon’s AMC Worldgate 9 and AMC Tysons Corner 16. The Regal Dulles Town Center, however, remains closed.

Virginia currently allows movie theaters and other arts venues to open with up to 30% capacity.

Bowtie Cinema’s only other Virginia location in Richmond reopened in July. The company spokesperson didn’t answer a follow-up about why the Richmond location is open while the Reston one is currently not.

When it does re-open, a number of safety protocols will be in place including mandatory facemasks, increased cleanings, social distancing, and contactless cash exchange.

Bowtie Cinemas acquired the theater at Reston Town Center in 2011 from Rave Cinema.

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A Reston Now employee was kicked out of Reston Town Center on Tuesday afternoon for taking photos.

Jay Westcott, a staff photographer for Reston Now and its sister sites Tysons Reporter, ALXnow and ARLnow, was asked by a security guard to leave RTC after he attempted to take several photos outdoors. Westcott has earlier been asked by an editor to update Reston Now’s file photos, which we use to illustrate stories about everything from new office tenants to events and other happenings.

Westcott had just paid for parking and begun taking photos of a landscaping crew when he was approached by a security guard.

Boston Properties, the Massachusetts-based company that owns RTC, says that any media, photographer or videographer must seek a permit — processed through RTC’s marketing — each time they want to take photos in the center.

The permit application notes that all photos must be approved by RTC prior to publication and “are available for licensing by Reston Town Center management for use in Reston Town Center publications.”

‘This is not a new policy. Some brands have policies in place regarding professional photography so we normally escort media on site,” said Ashley Arias, director of TAA Public Relations, Boston Properties’ PR agency.

The application also stipulates that storefronts, loading docks, and building entrances cannot be photographed without written permission.

Reston Now owner and publisher Scott Brodbeck said that although RTC is privately owned, it is a de facto public space.

“Jay is a consummate professional who was simply updating our stock photos of the area. Credentialed members of the media should not be required to obtain permits in order to do their jobs in such a setting,” Brodbeck said. “That’s doubly true given that any member of the general public is able to take such photos with their smartphones without being hassled by security.”

Some local photographers say that although the permit process is cumbersome, RTC’s marketing team is forthcoming and welcoming.

“I just keep a copy of the PDF on my phone, and any time a security guard requests a permit, I show them my phone, they take a quick glance at it, and let me carry on,” Reston-based photographer Charlotte Geary told Reston Now.

Boston Properties’ photography policy highlights some elected officials’ concerns about the privatization of publicly used spaces.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said that the photography restriction in open areas of RTC underscores the fact that open areas in RTC are not public open spaces and rather “private property accessible and usable by the public with conditions established by the private property owner.”

He says his task force, which is reviewing Reston’s Comprehensive Plan, is taking a look at the pros and cons of privately owned and maintained open spaces versus publicly owned and maintained spaces. The topic was discussed at a December meeting.

It’s not the first time the privatization of open space has been an issue in Reston.

In the spring of 2019, Comstock Companies, the developer of Reston Station, clashed with the county over the permissibility of campaigning on its property.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Reston Town Center manager Boston Properties and security contractor MaxSent may have to face trial over a women’s 2018 lawsuit alleging she tripped, fell, and got hurt walking from the parking garage to the shopping center.

Camille Sedar fell down a short flight of stairs, landed face first, and lost consciousness. She was later diagnosed to have a concussion. The suit alleges she tripped due to loose, uneven bricks and “sagging” caulk at the top of the stairs causing the fall.

Sedar says she doesn’t remember the fall. Though witnesses didn’t actually see her fall, they saw her on the ground, hurt, and called for help, according to court documents.

Sedar won the appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit earlier this week, as first reported by Bloomberg Law.

The appeal centered on if there was enough “material” facts and evidence that lack of upkeep and maintenance could have caused the loose bricks and her fall.

Sedar provided photographic evidence, scuffed shoes, and an expert engineer witness saying large gaps due to loose bricks create tripping hazards.

The defense argued that it wasn’t on their clients to fix small “sidewalk irregularities,” which are visible to all and known to be avoided. Plus, it was “mere speculation” that these irregularities caused her fall in the first place.

However, a loose brick may not be immediately obvious and visible, argued the plaintiff, and therefore created a hazard.

Sedar also offered evidence that the shopping owners and property manager had knowledge of the hazard.

The court agreed there was enough evidence that the loose brick and sagging caulk could have created a tripping hazard and, therefore, the case could go to trial.

“We make no comment on which parties’ evidence is more persuasive. We only ask whether Sedar has provided ‘evidence beyond speculation’ that provides a sufficient basis for a reasonable inference of causation,” reads the court’s opinion. “We conclude that she has.”

Reston Now has reached out to each side’s attorneys but have yet to hear back as of publication.

Photo by R. Dawson/Flickr

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Monday Morning Notes

Local Podcast Explores ‘Gray Love’ — Reston resident Laura stasis is returning with the second season her podcast for people over the age of 50. The podcast is called Dating While Gray. [Reston Patch]

True Food Kitchen On Track for April Opening — The business is still on track for an April opening in Reston Town Center. It will be located at 11901 Democracy Drive. [The Burn]

Delayed Opening for Inova Vaccine Clinic — Because of yesterday’s wintry mix, Inova’s vaccination center is planning for a delayed opening today. All canceled appointments will be honored. [Inova]

School Board Approves Capital Improvement Program — The Fairfax County School Board approved the capital improvement program for FY2022-2026. The program includes partial funding for the Silver Line Elementary School. [FCPS]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Thursday Morning Notes

Playa Bowls Brings Taste of Jersey Shore to Reston — “Robert Giuliani started Playa Bowls in 2014 on the Jersey Shore, as a surf-themed restaurant offering healthy food for people on the go.” [Reston Patch]

Herndon Police Arrest Man in Connection with Child Pornography Charges — “After an investigation in conjunction with the Internet Crimes Against Children  Taskforce, Zoubir Chenini. 39, of Annandale, VA, was arrested by Herndon Police Department on one felony count of possession of child pornography, nine felony counts of 2nd/subsequent possession of child pornography, and five felony counts of distribution of child pornography.”[HPD]

CEO of Reston-based Company Lays Out Five-Year-Plan for Embattled Firm — “For years, comScore was distracted by prolonged and pricey internal investigations and high-cost debt. Now, at long last, CEO Bill Livek said he can focus on its future. [Washington Business Journal]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Makers Union is striving to embody the moniker “Pub For The People” with an offering of local products and community engagement throughout Reston Town Center.

The restaurant, a project by Reston-based company Thompson Hospitality, opened this past August at 1811 Library Street. It replaced American Tap Room, which closed in December 2019.

The restaurant’s general manager, Alex Brown, bills the establishment’s concept as an effort to provide a welcoming atmosphere and traditional American dishes “with a twist.”

“We wanted to really kind of create a space where everyone feels comfortable celebrating whatever life’s occasion is,” Brown said.

The menu reflects a variety of the restaurant’s ideals with trying something a bit different while paying homage to the local makers of the area. The menu features a diverse sampling from 30-layer deep-fried lasagna to yuzu lemon drop martinis.

“An occasion doesn’t have to be a birthday or anniversary. We really believe that when you go out to dine, whether it’s for lunch, brunch, dinner, celebrating happy hour with friends or maybe it’s just a casual lunch or dinner during the week or on the weekend, it’s a celebration.”

Makers Union offers an eclectic menu for lunch and dinner options as well as its happy hour, “The People’s Hour.” It also features a brunch with à la carte and family-style options.

“We wanted to bring the idea of a pub into the modern day… so food, beverage and décor while still holding true to traditional pub value – welcoming, energetic & celebratory environment,” Brown said.

The menu items feature a sampling of local wares from makers when possible for food and drink. A list of those makers can be found on the restaurant’s site.

“Obviously being a local Reston based restaurant, we really wanted to feature and celebrate local makers,” Brown said.

“Everybody who kind of had a piece in helping put this restaurant together is a group of makers. Everybody has different backgrounds in different areas, whether it be breweries, roasters, chefs, distillers, farmers. So a group of makers came together to kind of create this pub for the people.”

That celebration of local makers has spilled into the restaurant’s work to try and create a familial feel within the community.

The restaurant, like so many others in the area and country, was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to adhering to local, state and federal guidelines for safe business practices, Brown said the restaurant has significantly leveraged its to-go program to aid in establishing itself in the community. It has also offered free delivery within Reston Town Center.

Makers Union has also hosted a ghost kitchen pop up for another Thompson Hospitality restaurant, Big Buns Damn Good Burger Co.

“We say we’re made in Reston for Reston,” Brown said.

“We really wanted to look at what Reston Town Center was missing and what we felt the community was looking for, and then use that to kind of ideate the restaurant.”

Makers Union hosted a soft opening with a to-go event in August. It has since had a dog costume contest for Halloween and a “Yappy Hour” that allowed patrons to bring their dogs to the patio introduce the restaurant’s happy hour.

Brown says the restaurant is eyeing future opportunities to connect and serve the community, including offering Super Bowl Sunday dining packages and Valentine’s Day weekend specials.

“We just want to continue to get to know the community and really just grow the business through excellent food and high-level service in an amazing, clean environment with welcoming décor,” Brown said.

Photos courtesy Makers Union

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Arlington-based MakeOffices is shutting down all of its local locations, including their offices at Reston Town Center.

The news about MakeOffices closing down was first reported by Washington Business Journal.

Last week, members of the coworking company began receiving notifications at many locations that the co-working spaces would be closed.

Reston Now spoke to representatives at the Reston location, which opened in 2015, and an employee confirmed that they would be closing as well within the next three months.

While the deal isn’t fully done yet, another coworking operator may move into the MakeOffices space in Reston Town Center, an employee said.

In an email to Reston Now, MakeOffices spokesperson said they are closing but ‘still in the process of reorganizing.'”

MakeOffices opened its first location in Rosslyn in 2012 and has since expanded to 14 locations in Northern Virginia, Maryland, D.C., Chicago, and Philadelphia.

The Clarendon location is its flagship, opening in 2016 with 40,000 square feet of space and 135 private offices. The Reston location is similar in size.

Photo via Google Maps

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Monday Morning Notes

Big Leasing Activity for Reston — Ranked by square footage, Microsoft Corp.’s lease for nearly 400,000 square feet of space at Reston Town Center was the largest office lease inked in the DC area so far this year. [Washington Business Journal]

Reston Association Issues Candidate Call — Three seats are open on the nine-member Board of Directors. All positions are for three-year terms and the deadline for filing as a candidate is Jan. 22. [Reston Association]

What to Expect About Local Vaccinations — The county has rounded up information on what to expect what you receive your COVID-19 vaccine, including common side effects and how the vaccine works. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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