A couple of days a week, Mary Achi gets up around three in the morning to bake tartes, baguettes, croissants, and other assorted pastries.
“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.
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.
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
Plans to extend Soapstone Drive could move forward as Fairfax County officials seek public comment tonight on the project, which would create an additional crossing on the Dulles Toll Road for cars, pedestrians and cyclists.
At Dogwood Elementary School (12300 Glade Drive) from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., the floor will be open for the public to comment on a environmental assessment completed as part of a multi-step process since the Board of Supervisors approved the project in 2014. The study examines the potential effects of the project for properties listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historical Places, the country’s official list of historic sites worthy of preservation.
The new roadway will provide a half-mile extension between Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills Road and a new crossing over the Dulles Corridor. County officials have said the project is necessary to tackle congestion on Wiehle Avenue, limited access for buses to Wiehle-Reston East Station and the lack of connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists in the area.
Completed in August, the assessment reviews impacts of the project on surrounding land. For example, the assessment finds the project rests within 200 feet of on two sites with hazardous materials and would result in increased noise for two areas near the project.
Overall, the assessment concludes the project will not “contribute substantially to cumulative impacts, particularly in light of the efforts to minimize adverse impacts of the project and other mitigation measures to be implemented.”
Following the public hearing, the county will revise the assessment as needed and submit it to the Federal Highway Administration, the body which will make a decision about the feasibility of the project.
In 2014, the county’s supervisors included $2.5 million for the preliminary design of this project as part of its Six Year Transportation Project Priorities. At that time, they also put the project — estimated to cost $91.75 million — on the county’s list of high-priority projects for 2015-20.
More information on the project is available on the county’s website. Written or oral comments may be submitted at the hearing or in writing within 10 days after the hearing to [email protected]. Include “Soapstone Connector” in the subject line.