Reston, VA

A new seafood ghost kitchen is coming to Reston.

Willie T’s Seafood Shack is opening in the Reston-area but will only be available for delivery through Ubereats, GrubHub, and DoorDash, a company spokesperson tells Reston Now.

While the hope is to start delivering “in a few weeks,” there are plans to open a dedicated brick and mortar in the coming months also in the Reston area.

The current concept of delivery-only, says the spokesperson is to “build branding” as they prepare for a more permanent restaurant opening.

The term “ghost kitchen” refers to setting up a kitchen in a non-permanent space and providing delivery-only service. They’ve become very popular during the pandemic, particularly in the D.C.-region.

Willie T’s Seafood Shack is owned by Reston-based Thompson Hospitality, which owns a number of restaurants across the region and the country.

This includes Makers Union at Reston Town Center (which replaced American Tap Room), Big Buns in Arlington, and Hen Quarter in Alexandria. Late last year, the company bought out Matchbox Food Group, which owns all of the Matchbox locations.

Thompson Hospitality also owns Homewood Suites in Reston, off of Sunset Hills Road.

A previous iteration of Willie T’s was in Dupont Circle in D.C. before moving across town to Connecticut Avenue NW, and, then, closing.

According to the restaurant’s website, the menu is simple. For soups, there are lobster bisque and clam chowder. Entrees include sandwiches and baskets of grilled and fried fish, which includes catfish, whiting, and shrimp. There’s also crab cakes.

At least one job is currently available as well at the delivery-only establishment, kitchen supervisor.

Photo via Thompson Hospitality

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Friday Morning Notes

New Vaccine Distribution Process In EffectWhile local health districts are allowed flexibility in how doses are administered, roughly half of the available supply each week will be used for people 65 and older. The other half will be allocated for people eligible in the other categories. [Fairfax County Government]

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department Partners with George Mason University — The department’s data analytics strategy management division partnered with the university to give students a chance to work with real world data from the community. Students studied the relationship between medications administered and procedures performed to distance from the receiving hospital. [FCFRD]

Warren Thompson Talks Growth for His Reston-based Hospitality Company“If you ask Warren Thompson to predict what the restaurant industry looks like on the other side of the Covid-19 crisis, he’s straightforward — ‘I believe 30% to 35% of restaurants will not make it. They will either close or change hands.'” [Washington Business Journal]

Reston Tech Company Names Chief Growth OfficerReston-based tech company TekSynap announced last week it has hired Pete Brady as chief growth officer. With more than 35 years of experience in military operations, growth, business development and technology, he was most recently the chief growth officer with BlueWater Federal, which was acquired by Tetra Tech. [Virginia Business Monthly]

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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Thursday Morning Notes

Reston Company Buys Matchbox –Thompson Hospitality, a Reston-based company, has brought Matchbox out of bankruptcy with new ownership. The company expects to open a new location at Wiehe-Reston East. [WTOP]

Herndon-based Company Acquires Maryland Cyber Defense Firm — “ManTech International Corp. (NASDAQ: MANT) has made its first acquisition move of the year, buying cybersecurity firm Minerva Engineering in a deal announced Thursday. The terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed, but it marks the Herndon information technology company’s first mergers & acquisition activity since 2019’s $115 million purchase of Kforce Government Solutions Inc.” [Washington Business Journal]

Fairfax County Park Authority Names New Director of Golf — “The Fairfax County Park Authority has selected Jesse Coffman to head operations at its eight public golf courses. Coffman will begin his duties as Director of Golf Operations on Dec. 7, 2020. He succeeds Todd Johnson, who will retire in December as Golf Enterprises Branch Manager after more than 32 years with the Park Authority.” [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Homewood Suites by Hilton is opening in Reston next month.

The new hotel, which owned locally by Thomson Hospitality, will be located at 1735 Business Center Drive.

The business is accepting reservations for arrivals on Nov. 15 and onwards. While an exact opening date has not yet been determining, the hotel may accept reservations before Nov. 15 as it moves closet to completion.

A hotel representative told Reston Now that Homewood Suites is offering a 20 percent discount on room rates.

The facility includes studio and one-bedroom suites, each with a full kitchen and a fitness center with Peloton.

Photo via Homewood Suites

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