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Manassas Business

Manassas Farmers Market has more vendors, ‘Take-Out Tuesdays’

The City of Manassas Farmer’s Market is back for its 25th peak season. Running from April through early November, the market is open on both Thursdays and Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. The Thursday market will be housed at the Harris Pavilion beginning April 7, while Saturday shoppers can find all their market necessities in Parking Lot B, across from the Train Depot beginning April 9. (more…)

Manassas businesses shine, take home top awards

On Thursday evening Feb. 25, 2016 the Prince William County Chamber of Commerce hosted its 5th annual business awards dinner at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas to honor the best of the local business community. Awards recognize excellence in business, innovative practices, outstanding contributions to the community and businesses/organizations that stand out among their peers.

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Winning spinach and chorizo soup now on Manassas menu

A frigid winter evening didn’t hold people back from coming to historic downtown Manassas for the 2nd Annual Souper Bowl, Friday, Feb. 5.

Crowds filled the sidewalks and shops as they explored downtown and tasted 13 different soups. In the end there had to be a winner, and this year’s Souper Bowl Champion was Mariachi’s Tequileria & Restaurant with their homemade Chicken Tortilla Soup, featured at the Center for the Arts at the Candy Factory.

Mariachi’s is a new restaurant in Manassas opening just over a month ago in the old City Square Café location on Battle Street. They featured two soups at this year’s event – the winning Chicken Tortilla Soup as well as a spinach and chorizo soup.

Originally, the spinach and chorizo soup wasn’t a regular menu item, but after such positive praise at the Souper Bowl, owner Antonio Escamilla added it to the restaurant’s daily menu.

“We’ve had a few different groups of people come in since the Souper Bowl, saying they learned about us and our location after attending the event,” Escamilla said. Mariachi’s is owned by Escamilla, Rafael Martinez, and Primo Castlan who says their goal was to bring authentic Mexican cuisine and traditions to downtown Manassas – “it’s the food your grandmother would make” said Escamilla.

Every Friday and Saturday night a live mariachi band performs in the restaurant but on this First Friday they traveled to both Calico Jack’s and the Center for the Arts to supply an added ambience as attendees sampled the soups from both locations.

Head chef L. Fernando Babadilla says the key to the winning Chicken Tortilla Soup is his homemade tortilla recipe that he has had perfected for nearly five years. Chef Fernando’s secret to the spinach and chorizo soup – homemade chorizo. The chorizo mixed with the creaminess of the spinach makes for a soup packed with flavors everyone can enjoy.

This year’s Souper Bowl saw nearly a 20 percent increase in attendance with many already talking of their excitement for next year’s event.

It was a great kickoff for this year’s series of First Fridays, the next of which is Friday, March 4. Don’t forget to mark your calendars and come out to enjoy a fun evening in historic downtown Manassas! For a comprehensive list of events going on in Manassas this year, go to www.visitmanassas.org.

This post is written as part of a paid content partnership between Potomac Local and City of Manassas to showcase businesses and economic development in the city.

City of Manassas companies receive ‘Excellence in Business’ nominations

This post is written by the City of Manassas as part of a paid content partnership between the City and Potomac Local to showcase businesses and economic development.

EXCELLENCE — most commonly defined as a talent or characteristic which is unusually high quality and which exceeds the average. It is often invoked, repeatedly strived for, but rarely achieved. 

On Feb. 25, 2016 two dozen Manassas City businesses will vie for this coveted designation during the Prince William Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Awards dinner.  The awards recognize excellence in business, including categories for innovative practices, outstanding contributions to the community and businesses/organizations that stand out among their peers.    

Nominees include tech firms, fine dining restaurants, and government contractors from both the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park as well as from Prince William County.  They are small businesses, large employers and everything in between.    

Some have just recently opened their doors –like CJ Finz, while others have been around for more than 20 years, as is the case with Carmello’s and Little Portugal.  Both are located in Historic Downtown and both are nominated for “Outstanding Customer Service.”  (more…)

Business is booming in Manassas

This post is written as part of a paid content partnership between Potomac Local and City of Manassas to showcase businesses and economic development in the city.

Historic Heart. Modern Beat.   These four words simply yet masterfully describe the City of Manassas.  In case you missed it, this is the City’s new tagline, and it’s pretty spot-on.      

Manassas is a city steeped in rich history and tradition and takes great pride in the pivotal role it played in our country’s defining war. 

Manassas is also transforming. 

It is attracting a creative class of entrepreneurs that are changing the face of our City.  They are authentic, eclectic, driven; and they are breathing new life into Manassas, most notably in Historic Downtown.  (more…)

Leela Nowka paintings on display at Manassas City Hall

Leela Nowka

Paintings from artist Leela Nowka, impressionistic painter from India, are on display in The Hall at City Hall.

Born in Niarobi, Kenya, Nowka graduated college in India from the Isabella Thoburn Women’s College. She had a long a career in the Indian Diplomatic Service and is currently retired and living in the City of Manassas.

Nowka studied art under impressionist painter Sylva Monteleon and realist painter Acharya Charles Pather. In 2008 she oversaw the “Object D’Art Cell” in the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi. The group provided art to dignitaries and Indian Embassies. (more…)

BBC, WaWa, ’90-Day Fiancé’ are just some of the big names filming in Manassas

The tent was set up and light was barely coming over the horizon when the crew from Twin Productions began filming two commercials for Wawa, the food and gas chain of Pennsylvania.

“Manassas was like a perfect Hollywood back lot,” said Sasha Levinson, director for the Wawa commercials. “So many areas to create stories in, Manassas was an ideal place for our story to come to life.”

“Manassas was the perfect combination of beautiful locations and a cooperative and helpful infrastructure that made shooting our Wawa commercial a wonderful experience,” commented Angela Edwards, Producer for Twin Productions.

This is not the first film crew to choose Manassas in the last several months. Six other production companies have filmed in the City in just a short period of time. The City of Manassas’ new brand touts the City as having an historic heart and a modern beat. These film crews are a perfect example of the new brand.

Filming the City’s Modern Beat was Sharpe Entertainment as they used Stonewall Park to film an episode of “90-Day Fiancé.” Ideology Productions shot a commercial for American Public University also in Stonewall Park.

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Illustrating the City’s Historic Heart was Flight 33 Productions who worked at Liberia Plantation to film an episode of “Codes and Conspiracies” for the American Heroes Channel. Also along the Historic Heart theme was Boundless Productions from the BBC filming a segment of “Great American Railroad Journeys” outside the City’s Train Depot.

As a more “Modern Beat” type of filming, Fox 5 selected the City of Manassas for one of its summer Zip Trips. City staff worked with Fox 5 producers to showcase the City and all it has to offer, ranging from restaurants, to shops to the wonderful community.

A grad student filming his thesis project in the City incorporated both the Historic Heart and the Modern Beat of the City of Manassas. He used a portion of Main Street to shoot a retro movie with 1950’s subject matter.

The Virginia Tourism Corporation website cites a study by the Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Public policy which found that more than 8,000 people in Virginia are involved in this industry, which brought more than $500 million in economic impact to Virginia in 2004.

While that data is a bit old, it gives a general perspective on the importance of the film industry to the Commonwealth and, by extension, localities. Film crews spend money with local businesses – shops, restaurants and small businesses all benefit. The crew that filmed for WaWa had more than 60 people on location throughout the day. So not only does all of the filming in Manassas contribute to extending the City’s brand, it really has a positive economic impact as well. Look for the

The City will continue its efforts to work with this important industry in the future.

This post is written by the City of Manassas to showcase businesses and economic development in the city in a paid content partnership with Potomac Local.

The future of retail in the City of Manassas: Why some stores are perfect, and some aren’t

retail shopping in Manassas

The City of Manassas recently completed a retail study using H. Blount Hunter Retail & Real Estate Research Co. The study was designed to examine the market and trade area from the perspective of a retailer. This economic analysis is intended to assist in recruiting retail businesses to Manassas and guide future planning and development efforts.

The City analyzed several existing and potential retail trade areas where shoppers can find a mix of chain and independent businesses. These areas are primarily located on transportation corridors and include Sudley Road, Mathis Avenue, Liberia Avenue, and Route 28/Nokesville Road.  

The analysis also included Historic Downtown which is both on a transportation corridor and is a destination center. Hunter identified several sites within these areas that are well-positioned to capitalize on emerging consumer trends and market factors. 

Route 28

For example, residential development has been successfully sustaining retailers along Route 28. It is a high-visibility area that is well traveled, which are benefits that are attractive to retailers. And, in the next few years, Manassas Gateway between Godwin Drive and the Prince William Parkway will begin developing with an exciting mix of housing, office space, entertainment businesses, and retail space. New residents, office workers plus visitors to the planned hotel, Heritage Brewing and other planned attractions will generate the critical foot traffic that new retailers want.

Mathis Avenue and Centreville Road

Another area for retail development is along Mathis Avenue and Centreville Road. This major commuter route is lined with businesses that generally offer “convenience goods.” 

There is incredible potential for refreshing the look of the existing shopping centers with façade improvements and enhancing parking lots with landscaping to completely change their appearance. Aesthetic improvements can go a long way in helping to fill vacancies as well as to attract high-quality tenants. Also, the large parking lots offer plenty of room for developing pad sites along Mathis Avenue, which means more commercial buildings can be built within them to create space for new businesses.

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Downtown

In Downtown Manassas the unique historic district is set apart from other commercial areas in the region because it is filled with independent restaurants and retailers that can’t be enjoyed anywhere else. It offers an attractive sense of place, a storied history, a year-long calendar of events, and experience-driven visits from local residents as well as people who come from miles away.  

Hunter points out that unlike other shopping areas in the D.C. Metro region, shoppers will travel greater distances to the downtown for the “powerful combination of community events, dining, and specialty shopping in a walking environment that has niche appeal.” 

New development opportunities may present themselves along areas that are underutilized – such as the commuter parking lots surrounding the Manassas Museum — and can accommodate new, mixed-use construction. Future development can likely attract even more boutiques, galleries, and restaurants, especially since most chain businesses require bigger spaces than what is available there.

Chain businesses have very specific requirements

Retail development is a complex process. Residents of a community frequently ask that a specific retailer be recruited to the City; however, retailers, especially large chain businesses, have very specific requirements that they look for when choosing a new location. These include a minimum building size, access to highways, and certain customer demographics – typically income levels. 

Since the City can’t grow in size, the retail that Manassas can recruit has to fit within the existing buildings or on the vacant land that is available. Each retailer’s preference for where they want to open a location is different, too. Some want to be near their competition and others want to be near other stores that appeal to similar customers. 

All chains avoid opening new locations in close proximity to their existing locations because they don’t want a new store to steal sales away from an existing one. This is why your favorite store in a nearby town might not open another location in the City. 

For example specialty retailers currently located in Fair Lakes, Potomac Mills, and the growing commercial corridors in Gainesville to the west may not be able to locate in Manassas. Consumers travel greater distances to take advantage of these mall environments and consequently the retailers will space their locations much further apart.

Why a cashier asks for your zip code

Many people don’t realize what a complex science retailers practice when siting new stores. In addition to analyzing complementary and competitor businesses, they use demographic information, drive times and zip code data which they get from your credit card company whether you shop in a physical store or online and when you otherwise provide it. Have you ever wondered why a cashier asks for your zip code when checking out with your purchase?

Choosing poorly is the worst decision a retailer can make. In addition to the capital cost of opening a new store, companies lock into lengthy leases. Plus, closing a store can tarnish a company’s image in the eyes of the consumer who wonders why the business failed and may attribute it to other peoples use and perception of the product.

For a City of approximately 40,000 people, Manassas has more opportunities for retail development than experts typically anticipate for communities of that size. This is because there is a customer base of about 150,000 people within a five mile radius, which builds the potential for retail recruitment.  

Future development opportunities and destination commercial districts means there is a lot in store for retailing in Manassas.

This post is written as part of a paid content partnership between Potomac Local and City of Manassas to showcase businesses and economic development in the city.

Leave the stress of the season behind! Shop Small in the City of Manassas

 

Shop for olive oil, home décor, fashion, pottery, fair trade goods, jewelry, books, antiques and collectibles, musical instruments, quilting supplies, and spiritual items

When it comes to holiday shopping, you can choose between two completely different experiences next week.

On Black Friday, you can rise before the sun and get ready to fight frenzied crowds. You can endure long lines as you frantically attempt to snag limited-time, mega deals on big-ticket items.

Or, on Small Business Saturday, you can instead enjoy a leisurely day browsing independently owned businesses, discovering unique gifts and specialty items, enjoying attentive customer service, and sitting down for a relaxing meal with friends and family.

There are many independently owned shops across the City of Manassas where fantastic, one-of-a-kind gifts are waiting for you on Saturday, November. 28.

In Historic Downtown Manassas, retailers will open early at 9 a.m. to welcome shoppers through their doors. You can park once and stroll for hours while finding something for everyone.  To get an idea of the wide range of retailers in the downtown, take a look at VisitManassas.org’s merchant directory.

Explore specialty boutiques that offer premium food from wine to olive oil, home décor, fashion, pottery, fair trade goods, jewelry, books, antiques and collectibles, musical instruments, quilting supplies, and spiritual items. Leave the stress of the season behind! In between your purchases, pick up a warm beverage, take a spin around the ice-skating rink at the Harris Pavilion, and enjoy lunch or dinner at one of the independently owned restaurants.

If you have history buffs on your list, there is no better place to visit than Echoes, the Manassas Museum shop. It features a wide array of merchandise that celebrates local history and culture. From children’s toys to Civil War collectibles to souvenirs – you will find many distinctive presents here that are not available elsewhere.

For shoppers pressed for time, a drive along Liberia Avenue to The Shops at Signal Hill, the Fairview Shopping Center, and the Davis Ford Crossing Shopping Center will offer you the convenience of running errands, buying groceries, and shopping “small.”

Discoveries here will delight the people on your list who hard to shop for. You can find gifts for antique seekers, archers, coin and military memorabilia collectors, art enthusiasts, cyclists, foodies, and cigar connoisseurs. And, you can save time by not cooking and stopping into one of the ethnic eateries or your other local favorites here.

If you are cruising down Centreville Road, don’t miss stopping into one of the antique shops that could very well have that rare piece you have been looking for. There are also several niche boutiques that can satisfy very specific wish lists – like bowling supplies, dancewear, signature pieces of jewelry, and vinyl records.

The desire to “buy local” has been growing in popularity over the years. American Express, the force behind Small Business Saturday, estimates that shoppers spent a total of $14.3 billion at independent businesses in 2014. This spending significantly impacts a community. Studies have shown that for every $100 that is spent at an independently owned business, approximately $45 is re-spent in the local community. This is often because those business owners live locally and recirculate their earnings back into their hometowns, conduct business with other local establishments, make charitable donations, and put local employees on their payrolls.

On the flip side, for every $100 spent at a national chain business, only approximately $14 goes back to the local community.

For shoppers who love spending time at independent businesses, shifting a portion of their holiday dollars will make a difference in supporting their community and their favorite merchants. Show your love for your favorite shops and choose Small Business Saturday next week!

Manassas is bucking the national trend and welcoming younger entrepreneurs to the city

A wave of business owners under the age of 35 has been bringing both new energy and great new destinations to the City of Manasass.

This activity comes at a time when the rate of entrepreneurship among young Americans has been falling across the U.S. While the Kauffman Foundation recorded the lowest rate of entrepreneurship in 17 years among people between the ages of 20 to 34, the City has been attracting this demographic.

Some of the forces driving this trend include a local culture of support for independent businesses, a collaborative business environment, and a strong sense of community.

There is no greater encouragement for an entrepreneur than the vote of confidence that support from the community can bring. Sean Arroyo, the CEO and co-founder of Heritage Brewing Company, used Kickstarter to see if locals would get behind his brewery concept.

Kickstarter is an online fundraising platform through which business owners can make sales pitches to raise money for their ideas. He met his goal and raised more than $20,000 from 166 backers three years ago. Support for Heritage continues to grow. A planned expansion will make it the second largest brewery in the state.

“It was funded mostly by people in and around Manassas and Northern Virginia,” said Arroyo. “It signaled to us that people want us here.”

Strong local support makes locating in Manassas an obvious choice for other business owners, too. Chase Hoover, co-owner of The Bone barbecue restaurant, says his family has been involved with businesses in Manassas for generations. Opening The Bone in the City was a “no-brainer” for him because he likes being in a community with so many independently owned businesses and strong support for buying local.

“The hospitality industry in Downtown Manassas is made up of many young entrepreneurs, which gives the city an energetic, unique flair you can’t find anywhere else,” said Hoover. “We love working with the other [local] restaurant owners to put on special events such as the weekly live music and numerous festivals throughout the year.  It is truly a small town where everyone works together toward the common goal of bringing great food and a great experience to visitors and locals alike.”

Miguel Pires, the owner of Zandra’s Taqueria, also cites the spirit of the community as a factor for opening his business in the City. He says he was raised in his family’s restaurants – Carmello’s and Monza – and worked as a general manager for both establishments for 10 years. When the time had come to open Zandra’s, Pires chose Manassas because he “wanted to continue to expand downtown’s culinary experience.” 

Chris Sellers, the owner of CJ Finz, credits the small-scale buildings in the historic downtown for giving restaurants a more intimate feel and an opportunity to focus on customer service.

“The restaurants here aren’t commercialized,” he said. “We get to build a connection to the community through each table that we serve.”

Business owners who are active with community organizations and civic groups strengthen that connection to the City even more. “People like me, Miguel, and others are excited about being the next leaders of the downtown,” said Sellers.

Entrepreneurs of any age can take advantage of area support services to get their business idea off the ground and join this community. The City’s Economic Development Department’s staff members are available to discuss the local economy, business ideas, great sites for locating new establishments, incentives, and the steps in starting a business.

Also, training and advice is available from George Mason University’s Mason Enterprise Centers, the Community Business Partnership, and the Flory Small Business Center (by referral).

Chinese travel to Manassas to learn about local government

When delegates of the Shaoxing Yuecheng District in China were looking for an American local government to learn from, they selected the City of Manassas.  

On Oct. 20, 2015, the City of Manassas hosted five members of the Shaoxing Yuecheng Delegation from China.  Vice Mayor Way and City Manager W. Patrick Pate put together a team of senior staff to speak to the group.  The group heard from the Chief of Police, Voter Registrar, Treasurer, City Attorney and the Purchasing Manager about local government processes and transparency in government.

Members of the delegation were impressed to learn that the Manassas City Police Department is in the top one percent of police departments internationally as evidenced by their current CALEA rating.  Delegates asked questions as to which agency, out of the Federal government, state or local governments were responsible for the different aspects of government, such as elections and public safety.

At the end of the event, members posed for a group photo.  Members from the City of Manassas include City Manager W. Patrick Pate, Vice Mayor Jonathan Way, Purchasing Manager Jimmy Falls, Treasurer Robin Perkins, Voting Registrar Ann Marie Bausch and Director of Economic Development Patrick Small.  The Shaoxing Yuecheng Delegation included Mr. Jin Quanhai, Vice Secretary, CPC Yuecheng District Committee of Shaoxing City, Mr. Chen Jirui, Town Chief, Yuecheng Lingzhi Town People’s Government of Shaoxing City, Mr. Wang Yin, Director, Yucheng Fushan Sub-district Office of Shaoxing City, Mr. Zhao Xiongwei, Deputy Director Shaoxing City Yuecheng District Economy and Information Technology Bureau, and MaChao, Secretary, CPC Yuecheng Chengnan Sub-district Committee of Shaoxing City.

These upcoming events help you celebrate ‘Spooktacular Manassas’

Now that the leaves are starting to take on red and auburn hues and the morning air feels crisp – it means it is time to celebrate fall in Manassas! From the annual Fall Jubilee to creepy cemetery tours, there is something going on every weekend in the City. There is no better place to celebrate autumn and Halloween!

The 2015-16 season of the Manassas Ballet Theater starts on Oct. 23 with the show “Jazz in Motion,” which combines ballet with contemporary and classic jazz standards. Show your tickets to several downtown restaurants and receive a dinner & a show discount! See the complete list online. Hylton Performing Arts Center. Tickets start at $15.

Take a guided tour of the Spirits of Manassas on Oct. 24 and trace the stories of the weird and sublime. Hear about historical figures who once passed through town, including authors Charles Dickens and Edgar Allen Poe, The Gray Ghost (John S. Mosby) who spent time at the old Opera House, and learn about strange incidents along the railroad tracks – including a ghost cow! Tours start at the Manassas Museum on the half hour from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Buy tickets at the Museum, online, or call 703-368-1873 – $15/adults; $7.50/kids 12 and under.

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Join the last bicycle tour of the season on Oct. 24 from 9 to 11 a.m. Explore historic areas around Manassas with fellow cyclists. See historic homes, the only remaining earthwork constructed in 1861 by Confederate soldiers, and more. Buy tickets at the Museum, online, or call 703-368-1873 – $5.

Swing by Haunted Happenings on Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to noon for family fun. Activities will be held in the Center for the Arts parking lot. Kids can decorate their own pumpkin and participate in a costume contest before heading into downtown businesses for trick-or-treating. 9431 West Street. Downtown Manassas. Free.

Hurricane Joaquin threatened to rain out the Annual Fall Jubilee, so it was rescheduled for Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Browse cool crafts, play games, pick out a pumpkin, and enjoy live music and dance performances. Enter pumpkin pie baking and eating contests or the cornhole tournament. Manassas. Free.

Follow the Headless Horseman to the Pied Piper Theatre company’s production of Sleepy Hollow on Oct. 24 at 2 and 7 p.m. and  at 3 p.m. Metz Middle School. 9950 Wellington Rd. Tickets start at $11.

Don’t miss taking a tour of the Manassas City Cemetery, which dates back to the 1860s, on Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. Manassas is not a quiet little town where nothing ever happens! Listen to tales about the City’s most notorious figures, gory murders, criminals behaving badly, and crossed debutantes. Manassas City Cemetery at 9317 Center Street. Buy tickets at the Manassas Museum, online, or by calling 703-368-1873 – $5. (These stories are not meant for children’s ears!)

Follow the trail of balloons downtown to businesses displaying artwork by local featured artists during the Fall Gallery Walk on Friday, Nov. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. Downtown Manassas. Free.

Get a jump start on your holiday shopping and support patient care at the Holiday Bazaar at the Novant Health Prince William Medical Center on Nov. 6 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Nov. 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Browse handmade and one-of-a-kind items – see the website for a list of vendors. Medical Office Building, 8700 Sudley Rd., 14th floor. Free.

Join your fellow community members at the Greater Manassas Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 7 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Stop by a downtown coffee shop and settle in along the parade route along Center Street to celebrate area Veterans. Downtown Manassas. Free.

Don’t forget the farmer’s market continues to be open on Thursdays in the Harris Pavilion and Saturdays in Parking Lot B from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pick up your favorite fall staples before grabbing lunch nearby.

Are you feeling creative? The call for the 2nd banner art contest for 2016 is open

A creative spirit and an artistic flare contribute to the City of Manassas’ “modern beat.” Once the historic downtown was designated an Arts and Tourism district, it became PL 2a growing destination for public art, galleries, and events. From works of art by local artists on display in restaurants and in City Hall to the curated shows and performances at the Center for Arts, the community embraces and celebrates creativity. This month, however, the City of Manassas’ art scene is interactive. Artists and art lovers have three opportunities to contribute to the community’s creative vibe.

First, it’s time to vote for your favorite banner on the lampposts in downtown. Historic Manassas Inc. sponsored a contest calling for banner designs and received more than 130 works of art from area artists. Faced with a tough decision, a Selection Committee chose 60 pieces of art to decorate the downtown and named the contest’s winner – “Train Station” by Kelly Willis, which featured the City’s historic depot.

But there is a second prize still up for grabs – the $500 People’s Choice Award. After months of admiring the works of art blowing in the breeze, you can now vote for your favorite. You have many choices ranging from fiery sunsets to cherry blossoms to teetering tea cups. Pick up a walking tour guide at the Manassas Visitor’s Center in the train depot and stroll downtown to view each banner one more time. Enjoy a day downtown, pick up a cup of coffee, do a little shopping, and deliberate over lunch before dropping off a ballot at the Manassas Visitor’s Center by Oct. 30.

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Are you feeling creative? The call for the second banner art contest for 2016 is now open. Artists over 16 may submit their designs and vie for a chance to be a part of Manassas’ art scene. The application and guidelines are available on Historic Manassas’ Inc.’s website. The deadline for submissions is Jan. 15, 2016. Don’t wait for the last minute. In addition to having your work on display in the community, there is a $1,000 grand prize.

Lastly, since it is never too early to get into the holiday spirit, the City has issued a call for ornaments for the holiday tree at Virginia’s Executive Mansion. All submitted ornaments will be on display at City Hall, but one lucky ornament will be sent to Richmond. The Governor is seeking one-of-a-kind, handmade ornaments that fit in with the theme, “Celebrating Virginia’s Localities.” If you have an idea for a unique way to represent the City of Manassas, drop your 6-inch ornament off at City Hall by Oct. 20. Learn more online.

Manassas set the bar with high-quality, truly local craft spirits and beer

The craft beer, wine, and spirits industry has been growing in leaps and bounds.

In the last few years, two breweries and a distillery have opened in the City of Manassas. While each place offers their own unique vibe and products, two characteristics unite and set them apart from the competition – a commitment to quality and local ingredients.

“Similar to the farm-to-table movement, people are excited by the grain-to-glass concept and high-quality products made from local grains,” says Bill Karlson, the co-founder and CEO of KO Distilling. “We make a point of telling people during tours that our wheat comes from Renwood Farms in Charles City and our rye came from Bay’s Best Feed Farm in Virginia’s Northern Neck.”

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KO Distilling opened in September and welcomed 450 people to its grand opening. During its first week, more than 100 people stopped by to sample its whiskey and gins. The distillery is a true agribusiness – the spirits are not just made in Virginia, but the majority of the grains used are sourced from local farms.

A Nielsen study found that “local, authentic” are qualities desired of beer and spirits growing in importance among consumers, most largely among the 21-34 demographic.  Perhaps that is because today about 75% of adults over the age of 21 live within 10 miles of a brewery. The Atlantic reported that there were 70 small distilleries in the U.S. in 2003. Karlson says that KO is the 19th craft distiller in an industry of about 1000 microdistillers.

Customers seek quality and want to know how ingredients are sourced, says Sarah Meyers, co-founder of Manassas’ first craft brewery BadWolf Brewing Company.

“We try to source local whenever possible and at Little BadWolf they get to see beer being made right in front of them. Given how many craft breweries are popping up, we might hit a saturation point, so you need to make sure your quality is way up there and that is our biggest focus.”

The beer made at Heritage Brewing has a 100-percent organic base and 92 percent of all ingredients are either organic or locally sourced.  Sean Arroyo, CEO of Heritage Brewing, explains, “Our approach is committing ourselves to the consistency and quality of our product and bringing the best ingredients that we can through organics and local aspects.”

This fall, Heritage is collaborating with The Bone, a barbecue spot in historic Manassas, on a bacon stout. And BadWolf is working with downtown Manassas restaurateurs on an “Old Town” Beer that will only be available in downtown establishments.

Experimenting with new creations keeps the excitement alive. Heritage, which is a 20-barrel brew house, also operates a small pilot system for making small batches of creative releases for the taproom. “It gives us a way to interact with our consumers and let them decide what our next big beers will be,” says Arroyo.

After BadWolf’s successful first year, Meyers and her business partner and husband Jeremy opened a 6,000-square foot production facility. Little BadWolf Brewing Company, the smaller, original location, is where people can try out the experimental batches and even suggest recipes, while the new Big BadWolf has space for special events and growler and kegs of their flagship brews.

“We are using our space for more than beer,” says Meyers. “We focus on giving back to charities and bringing people together for social events.” One look at BadWolf’s event calendar shows there is always something going on, including yoga, painting, and Craft Beer Bingo – all accompanied with a pint. Similarly, Heritage hosts trivia and live music nights in addition to special events like a new beer dinner series.

While all three businesses are committed to building a sense of community, they also take being a regional destination seriously. As Meyers says, “people won’t go to just a bar, but places like a brewery are something special they will seek out.”

Karlson says that he and his business partner, John O’Mara, always envisioned KO Distilling being a tourism destination by matching a great product with a great experience. “The minute visitors walk through our doors,” he says, “they know they aren’t in a warehouse anymore.”

KO Distilling’s tasting room has leather couches, a fireplace, and copper and oak design elements that mimic the copper pot still they use for distilling and barrels they use for aging. The atmosphere rewards locals as well as travelers for making the drive. Karlson, Meyers, and Arroyo all agree that Manassas, with its close proximity to I-95 and 66 and its abundance of historical sites and attractions, is an ideal location for attracting tourists from the metro area and beyond.

“What we want to do is bring in the community, produce a quality product, and have a great time doing it,” says Meyers.

Micron: A memory maker in Manassas

Today, people are glued to their smartphones. Hours at a time are spent in front of computers, tablets, and game consoles.

Despite this, few of us think about what makes them work. High-performance memory is the main component that makes our favorite gadgets have such cool features.

And when a computer slows down a few years after purchase, instead of buying a new one, a $50 memory upgrade can get you back up to speed in minutes. One of the biggest innovators of this powerful technology is located right in the City of Manassas.

Micron Technology is an advanced semiconductor solutions provider that designs and manufactures memory technologies. Founded in Boise, Idaho, in 1978, Micron has risen to the top of its industry.

It is the largest semiconductor manufacturer in Virginia, the only U.S.-based DRAM manufacturer, and the largest U.S.-based wafer supplier. (DRAM is the memory a computer processor needs to function. A wafer is a thin, round slice of material, usually silicon, that serves as the foundational layer on which a semiconductor is built.)

The company came to Manassas when it acquired Dominion Semiconductor in 2002. Soon after, it began investing heavily in modernizing the existing plant.

According to a study by George Mason University, Micron’s early capital investments during 2002 – 2005 totaled more than $178 million, created almost 390 jobs annually, and generated $56.5 million in new personal income to local residents. At the state level, Micron added $376.2 million in value to Virginia’s economy.

The company continues to grow in leaps and bounds. Sixteen years after it was established, Micron had already invested $300 million in expansion projects and was listed on the Fortune 500.

Today it has more than 30,000 employees across the globe and has netted $16.4 billion in sales during the last fiscal year. Manassas has been a part of this success story.

In 2010, Micron decided to invest $56 million to expand its Manassas facility to take advantage of the area’s highly skilled workforce. It built out a new “clean room” – a manufacturing environment with a low level of dust, chemical vapors, and other contaminants that is used in the semiconductor industry – in order to boost its memory chip production.

Former Lt. Governor Bill Bolling joined Micron’s executives in Manassas to announce the company’s expansion and celebrate its significant contributions to the Commonwealth and Manassas. The expansion created more than 100 new jobs. In fact, for the last five years, Micron has been the largest employer in the City of Manassas and currently employs more than 1,500 workers.

Years ago, Micron’s success caught the eye of former President George W. Bush who used the Manassas facility as the backdrop for a speech he delivered to highlight the importance of STEM education, investing in a highly skilled workforce, and being an innovator in a global marketplace. More recently, First Lady Michelle Obama gave a speech at this same facility to discuss the tech companies hiring veterans. She recognized Micron for doing its part to train these workers so they can compete for high-paying jobs in the technology sector.

The company is committed to giving back to the community. One of its biggest causes is STEM education and elevating students into high tech jobs.

In 2013 alone, the Micron Technology Foundation, together with Lockheed Martin, donated more than $53,000 to the Manassas City Public School Education Foundation for robotics and STEM programs. Staff members volunteer their time and mentor students through internships that sometimes evolve into full-time jobs.

As the company continues to grow and innovate – bringing smaller, more powerful and faster high-tech products to market – it continues to strengthen the City of Manassas and the regional workforce.

Delicious Downtown: Manassas Restaurant Week returns

raw bar, Manassas, virginia

Foodies have a great reason to get excited about fall!

September marks the return of Historic Manassas Restaurant Week. Restaurant Week is a tourism and marketing promotion celebrated throughout the U.S. to help bring in new customers and grow local businesses. Local restaurants feature their cuisine and offer a multi-course tasting experience for a special price.

Historic Manassas Inc. produces this event to showcase the City’s exciting culinary scene and encourage people to visit downtown businesses. Diners can try out places where they haven’t yet dined and regulars can score a great deal at their local favorites. Most Restaurant Week promotions are two courses for $25 or three courses for $35 and the specials run September 20 – 26.

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Insider’s Scoop on Restaurant Week Specials

Carmello’s (9108 Center Street) brings seasonal fine dining and an award-winning wine list to Historic Manassas. Their Restaurant Week dinner for $35 will offer a choice of a chopped house or caesar salad to start; a choice of gnocchi con carne, veal Napolitano, or marinated pork chops for an entrée; and either crème brule or chocolate hazelnut cake for dessert.

C.J. Finz Raw Bar & Grille (9413 West Street) is the City’s surf and turf destination. They have a fantastic deal that starts with your choice of a pint of beer or wine and is followed by a half-dozen shucked oysters or a half-pound of spiced shrimp. Your meal continues with your choice of several sandwiches, including a lobster roll, fried oyster po’boy, tuna tacos, salmon BLT, as well as non-fishy options like rib-eye steak, grilled chicken, or a burger on pretzel roll.

City Square Café (9428 Battle Street), where many enjoy artisan charcuterie and cheese boards, will entice diners with a choice of appetizer, entrée, and dessert for $35 during dinner. For $48, you can indulge on a wine pairing with your meal.

El Cactus (9406 Battle Street) offers fresh Tex-Mex favorites. During Restaurant Week, two can dine for $36. Pick one of five different appetizers to share, including the Manassas Soup Bowl-winning chicken tortilla soup. Entrees on special include carne asada, smoking fajitas, mole salmon, shrimp-topped tilapia, honey roasted cilantro chicken, and sweet honey salmon salad. Dessert features churros or the Taste of Manassas-winning tres leches.  

Mackey’s (9412 Main Street), an American pub, is home to bourbon-glazed, “drunken” meats from the grill as well as plenty of “pub grub” favorites. They are offering an appetizer and entrée combo for $25.

Monza (9405 Battle Street) is where you can enjoy live music on the weekends and your favorite team on the big screens. They will be offering a choice of bruschetta, mozzarella sticks, arancini, or fried calamari for an appetizer and a choice of chicken picatta or pan-seared Atlantic salmon for an entrée for $25.

Okra’s (9110 Center Street) brings a taste of New Orleans to Manassas. This Cajun Creole favorite will feature a different dinner special each day of Restaurant Week. Swing by to see what the day’s special entrée will be and enjoy it with the choice of an appetizer and dessert for $35 during dinner. 

Philadelphia Tavern (9413 Main Street) offers authentic Philly fare and boasts hoagie rolls that come straight from Amoroso Bakery. Grab a pal and enjoy two of their famous cheese steaks and two draught beers for $25 during both lunch and dinner.

The Bone (9420 Battle Street) is downtown’s home for smoky barbecue and hand-picked craft beers. Come by for a two-meat combo platter with Banana Puddin’ Pie for dessert and a local craft beer for $25. Choose from pork, brisket, turkey, chicken, or ribs and pair it with two sides and bread.

Note: The full menus at every restaurant will still be available in addition to the Restaurant Week special menu items, deals, and pricing.

Millennials find walkable downtown, new apartments near transit in Manassas

Old Towne Square
Old Town Heights
Messenger Place

 

For the past decade, city planners have been discussing the ways that Boomers and Millennials are going to reshape communities.

These two demographic groups comprise almost half of the U.S. population — the Census Bureau estimates there are 75.4 million Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) and 83.1 million Millennials (those born between 1982 and 2000).

Despite the age difference between Millennials and Boomers, they share similar preferences regarding where and how they want to live. Walkable neighborhoods with amenities such as coffee shops, restaurants, arts venues and shopping are at the top of the list. The less people need to get into a car to enjoy those amenities, the happier they are. This is why more people are relocating to small cities and towns with defined downtown districts.

The City of Manassas is a perfect example of what people are seeking in a vibrant downtown. Residents in and around the historic district have a short walk to the growing array of downtown restaurants and shops, festivals and events, markets, galleries , and more. In fact, Historic Downtown Manassas has a Walkscore of 85, which is considered “Very Walkable.”

Responding to these lifestyle trends, real estate developers have become increasingly willing to diverge from typical suburban development to smaller and denser urban renewal projects. Conceived during the economic downturn, several new (but different) housing developments in the Downtown Historic District cater to both demographics.

Prescott Court, a 33unit garagestyle townhome development offers homes priced around $300,000 and is still under development. Old Towne Square, a 58unit townhome development featuring two and threebedroom units with Georgianstyle architecture was priced slightly higher. Old Towne Square began construction in 2013 and the last unit was sold in August.

“The neat thing about this community is that it encompasses an entire city block in the heart of the historic district. We were excited about the location because it is walkable to so much in downtown Manassas,” says Candy McCracken of Van Metre. “We worked in partnership with the City to come up with the right product on this site. Everybody is happy with it and homeowners love it.”

Millennials are more transient now than ever before and find apartment living appealing. The City of Manassas offers downtown apartments to meet their needs.

The Courts at Historic Manassas offers 139 luxury rental units priced from $1,400-$2,000 per month. These units are close to all of the amenities that Downtown offers while also being conveniently located to major employers and the VRE.

Renting allows residents to become acclimated to a new area before buying, provides housing without the financial and maintenance burdens of home ownership, and grants flexibility for relocation without worrying about selling a home. Interestingly, the flexibility afforded by apartment living also appeals to Boomers who like to travel extensively.

Highlighting these trends, two more apartment projects in the Historic Downtown are in preliminary development. Messenger Place will replace the vacant News & Messenger Building at 9009 Church Street and will bring 94 apartments to downtown75 two-bedroom units and 19 one-bedroom units. It will be a five-story building that will feature 3,500 square feet of retail on the ground level. Residents will enjoy a 24-7 gym facility, lounge, and office area. Rents will range from $1,500 to $2,000. The developer, Coleman Enterprises LLC, anticipates construction to start before the end of the year and for units to become available in July 2016.

Finally, 105 apartments will be coming to Prince William Street, replacing the ABC Building. Manassas Station will anchor this edge of downtown with a three-story building by Christopher Land LLC. It will offer a combination of one- and two-bedroom units featuring granite countertops, walk-in closets, and balconies. Manassas Station will offer residents a fitness center; a community room with a TV and wet bar; and a “cyber café” for working remotely. Rents are anticipated to be comparable with the other two developments and the project is anticipated to be completed in late 2016.

Fall for Manassas! So many great events happening this season

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Children are already back in school and now the sun sets earlier and earlier. Why does summer always go by so quickly?

Don’t lament digging out your coats and putting away your flip flops. With autumn comes plenty of festivals and events to get you in the mood for fall.

First Friday

To kick off September, there is a First Friday on Sept. 4. Enjoy the last of the warm weather by strolling the streets of downtown where you can enjoy live music, shopping, and dining from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Downtown.

Bridal Showcase

Here’s a gift to all the brides-to-be is a one-stop shop for bridal research. Discover what Manassas businesses offer that will make the wedding of your dreams at the Historic Downtown Manassas Bridal Showcase on Sept. 6 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Harris Pavilion. Buy tickets.

Bands, Brews & Barbecue

How does a roasted porter with a vanilla finish or a seasonal ale with layers like a pumpkin pie sound? Sample the best beer that the region has to offer at Bands, Brews & Barbecue on Sept. 12 from noon until 6 p.m. Hourly BBQ pairings are featured in the VIP tent. Manassas Museum Lawn. Buy tickets.

Dog-a-pool-ooza

Cool off the dogs of summer at the Dog-a-pool-ooza at Stonewall Pool. The afternoon of Sept. 13 is the only day pups are allowed in the pool before it closes ($5/dog). Stonewall Park.

Greek Festival 

Interested in a Big, Fat, Greek Weekend? Visit the Annual Greek Festival on Sept. 18 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and the Taste of Greece and East the following day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Opa! Harris Pavilion. Free.

Antique car meet

What’s more American than an apple pie? An antique car show! Come check out 150 four-wheeled beauties at the Annual Edgar Rohr Memorial Antique Car Meet on Sept. 19 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This year’s feature car is a 1941 convertible Buick Phaeton and you can watch a team assemble a Model T Ford. There is still time to register to show your car for a small fee. Manassas Museum Lawn. Free.

Rev it up

Enjoy more classic cars as well as food trucks, cold beer, and live classic rock music at Bull Run Rotary’s Rev It Up for Rotary charity event benefitting CASA, Habitat for Humanity, and BARN from 5 to 9 p.m. Harris Pavilion. Free.

Chili cookoff 

Nothing says “fall” more than chili! Don’t miss the annual Chili Cookoff on Sept. 26 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Think you have the best batch? It isn’t too late to join. Enter as a professional cook, amateur cook, or nonprofit organization. Sampling starts after 1 p.m. Harris Pavilion. Free.

Latino festival 

Salsa your way to the Annual Latino Festival on Sept. 27 from noon to 5:30 p.m. You will find tons of games for children, tasty foods, piñatas, and live music and dancing all day! Harris Pavilion. Free.

Fall Jubilee 

Pick a perfect pumpkin at the Annual Fall Jubilee. Enjoy the crisp air as you browse cool crafts, play games, and enjoy live music on Oct. 3 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Downtown. Free.

Open house 

On Oct. 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., swing by the City of Manassas Utilities Open House at 8500 Public Works Drive to enjoy free food, a huge pumpkin patch where you can pick out a free pumpkin, children’s activities, and a chance to check out the cool utility trucks. Free.

Farmers market 

Don’t forget the farmer’s market is still open on Thursdays in the Harris Pavilion and Saturdays in Parking Lot B from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pick up your favorite fall veggies before grabbing lunch at a nearby spot.

How Downtown Manassas changed empty buildings into a regional entertainment destination

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When people visit the farmer’s market at the Harris Pavilion or navigate the crowds during First Fridays, they are surrounded by a beautiful historic downtown, thriving businesses, and lots of friends and neighbors. It is hard to believe that just 30 years ago, the streets of historic Manassas were desolate, buildings were in disrepair, and almost half of the storefronts were empty and boarded up.

How did downtown turn around?

In 1985, a group of business owners, residents, and City leaders rallied. Determined to revive the heart of Manassas, they needed to lure businesses and customers back from the sprawling strip malls and shopping malls. A series of community meetings explored both problems and opportunities before crafting a vision for a vibrant, walkable downtown filled with restaurants, shops, arts, and a city square

To realize this vision, the City embraced the Main Street Four-Point Approach that was designed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to revive struggling historic downtowns. At this time, Historic Manassas Inc. (HMI) was born.

In 2003, HMI was nationally recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation for revitalization excellence. Downtown Manassas was held up as a model when it won a Great American Main Street Award for rehabbing 54 buildings, dropping the vacancy rate to zero, creating 350 new jobs, and spurring $12

million in private investment.

These successes are attributed to HMI’s strong public-private partnerships, committed vision, and volunteer support. Main Street programs like HMI rely on dedicated community members who volunteer on committees and the board of directors to help carry out its work together with staff.  

The Main Street Approach is also unique in that it tackles multiple problems throughout the community at once. Instead of relying on a single “white knight,such as a stadium or a company to save a community, Main Street rebuilds a downtown by leveraging its local assets like heritage, historic buildings, independent businesses, walkable streets, and events. Community projects and improvements are done incrementally

Gradual successes over time have made Manassas a place where people want to spend time and money again.

Downtown’s revitalization got a jump start in the 1990s when Virginia Railway Express started commuter service and the museum was built, which created an attraction for new visitors. Businessman Loy E. Harris sustained the momentum by restoring three historic buildings, including the 1906 Opera House. 

This motivated others to fix up their buildings, too, and new businesses began opening. Later, the community was given a place to gather when a vacant half-acre lot in the heart of downtown was transformed into the city square and an all-season pavilion, which was named after Harris.

HMI isn’t resting on its laurels; it continues to work in partnership with the City and local businesses to strengthen the downtown. It hosts a full calendar of events all year long and supports those produced by others

In September alone, the Historic Downtown Manassas Bridal Showcase will show off the local businesses that make Manassas a perfect wedding destination, while Bands, Brews & Barbecue turn the City into a regional entertainment destination. Manassasgrowing cluster of restaurants was made even stronger when the Battle Street enhancements created space for outdoor dining. And, excitement continues to grow with each new piece of public art, arts-oriented venue, and gallery.

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