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Innovation Park brings high-tech jobs to Prince William

Innovation Park, located adjacent to George Mason University’s Prince William Campus, is continuing to grow and bring in high-tech companies and jobs to the area.

Innovation Park, a business and technology park space, first started back in 1998.

It now has more than 26 companies and 2,300 employees working within its scope, according to Jeff Kaczmarek, Executive Director of the Prince William County Department of Economic Development.

“To date, the [economic development] department has directly assisted in attracting approximately $720 million in capital investment by Innovation Park tenants, and the creation of over 2,000 jobs,” said Kaczmarek.

The Virginia Department of Forensic Science, the National Institute of Health’s Biomedical Research Laboratory, the FBI’s NOVA Resident Agency, Mediatech, ISOThrive, and Microvax are among the companies that utilize the Innovation Park space.

According to Kaczmarek, one of the fastest growing components of Innovation Park is the Prince William Science Accelerator.

The Prince William Science Accelerator allows small technological companies to come in and utilize their lab and office spaces for an affordable cost, to help them grow.

The county’s economic development department has partnered with George Mason University to help Innovation Park grow.

Dr. Angel Cabrera, President of George Mason University, spoke with Potomac Local to announce that the university’s Prince William Campus is being rebranded as the science and technology campus.

Kaczmarek stated that their partnership with the University and the upcoming rebranding would help further their cause to develop Innovation Park and the Prince William Science Accelerator.

“From our perspective, the rebranding exercise signals exciting developments for Prince William County as it will heighten public awareness surrounding the campus…[it] is another step towards Prince William County being known as the science and technology hub of the region,” Kaczmarek said.

Kaczmarek commented that instead of having to drive out of the area for a good job, the continued development of Innovation Park would benefit the county, and grow the jobs where people live.

Kaczmarek also stated that the university would be able to further create a workforce that will be equipped with the tools and knowledge to go into these types of high-tech jobs.

In addition to the businesses in Innovation Park, and the Prince William Science Accelerator, another project the county’s economic development department, and George Mason University are working on is the Virginia Serious Game Institute.

According to Kaczmarek, one of the fastest growing majors at the university is their game development and design program.

“The Virginia Serious Game Institute, a public-private IR start-up [is an] incubator for entrepreneurs in simulation, modeling, and gaming,” Kaczmarek said.

The county’s economic development department will continue to work on bringing in new businesses to both Innovation Park and the Prince William Science Accelerator, hopefully bringing more high paying jobs to Prince William County.

Stafford area public access network to open new studio space

On Saturday, the Central Virginia Public Access Television (CVTV) network, will be hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house for their new studio space.

The space, which is 5,300 square feet, is located off of Route 3 in Fredericksburg, according to Charles Thomas, the CEO for CVTV.

According to Thomas, the project has been a work in progress for over six years, and they have seen huge growth in the past few years.

“We were all over the place before – then we found a couple of classrooms up at the Career and Training Solutions location – they were gracious enough to allow us to come in there and do some of our programming there,” said Thomas.

The new space will have three studios and other space for volunteers and staff to prepare television programming.

“Now we’re moving into a 5,300 square foot studio [space] and office. We’ll have three studios – one will be large enough to hold 50 people, so we’ll have an audience studio. We’ll have a news studio. And then we’ll have a multi-purpose studio, which will have a green screen and a couple of other sets set up in there. We’ll also have office space, so we can have people come down and sit – they can do any type of work they need to do to prepare for their program…we’re very excited to be moving to our new location,” Thomas commented.

In addition to the new space, they’re hoping to expand their coverage area, which currently includes Stafford, Spotsylvania, and Fredericksburg, with the hope of spreading into King George. Thomas also stated that they’re working on increasing their program lineup.

“We’ve expanded on our programming a great deal. Last season, we actually did all of the high school football games. We’ve got about 30 programs we’re seeing right now – hopefully, we’ll get that to 50 by this summer,” Thomas said.

Thomas stated that the biggest thing he has learned while running CVTV is that you have to stay consistent.

“The biggest thing I’ve probably learned is that you have to…my level of persistence had to grow. When you’re dealing with an all-volunteer organization, you have people that come and go, and it can be tough having any consistency on a long term [basis]. It’s just one of those things you have to keep painting the vision; you have to be persistent and you have to keep selling the dream,” Thomas commented.

CVTV is currently looking for volunteers to get involved, with plans to hire staff as they continue to grow.

Historic Manassas, Inc. wins achievement award in Richmond

During an awards ceremony in Richmond, Historic Manassas Inc. was presented with the Virginia Main Street Milestone Achievement Award.

The award is given to those that have demonstrated voluntary investments to revitalize downtown areas, like Downtown Manassas.

More than 60,000 volunteer hours have been put in to events and the revitalization of Downtown Manassas since 1997, according to a city release.

Historic Manassas, Inc. has been working in Downtown Manassas as a non-profit organization since 1986. 

In Virginia, there are currently 25 areas as designated Main Street communities. These communities are involved with the Virginia Main Street program, which is managed by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

The department provides the areas with assistance and training to help improve and expand their businesses and economic growth opportunities in these downtown areas, said a city release.

“The spirit of volunteerism is alive and well in the City of Manassas as evidenced by this award. Volunteers are what make this City great and this is an overwhelming number of volunteer hours donated to our Historic Downtown. We thank every volunteer for their gift of time,” said Manassas City Manager, W. Patrick Pate.


JC Penney location in Manassas Mall to close in April

JC Penney in Manassas Mall will close in April.
Employees will have the option to relocate to another store.
JC Penny has long been an anchor store in Manassas Mall.

About April 4, the JCPenney store located in the Manassas Mall will be closing.

Last week, Potomac Local spoke with a staff associate at the store that confirmed that the location was going to be closing.

Inside the store, most merchandise was being offered at a discount, and store fixtures were already being packed. 

According to Joey Thomas, a Media Relations and Corporate Affairs representative for J.C. Penney Company, Inc., the store was underperforming.

“We continually evaluate our store portfolio to determine whether there’s a need to close or relocate underperforming stores.  Reviews such as these are essential in meeting our long-term goals for future company growth.  While it’s never an easy decision to close stores, especially due to the impact on our valued associates and customers, we feel this is a necessary business decision,” said Thomas.

There are currently 60 staff members employed at the Manassas JCPenney location, according to Thomas.

Employees may receive separation benefits, assistance in relocating to another JCPenney store, or career training services to help them find a new job.

“Eligible associates who do not remain with the company will receive separation benefits, and, if possible, we will assist associates in identifying other job opportunities at nearby JCPenney stores.  Additionally, we’re offering all associates an on-site career training class.  The class will assist associates in writing resumes, filling out applications, answering interview questions and more,” Thomas commented.


AT&T invests $950M in Virginia, including Prince William, Manassas

In the last three years, AT&T has invested almost $950 million dollars in wireless and wired network infrastructure, including local improvements in the Northern Virginia region.

While the projects were being completed all across the state, several of AT&T’s upgrades took place in the Prince William and Manassas area.

In Haymarket, the company upgraded their 4G LTE cell sites, which are located at the intersection of Antioch Road and Route 66. According to a release, this was done in anticipation of further growth in the western part of Prince William County.

There were additional cell site improvements done throughout the county, including Manassas, according to a release. 

Additionally, AT&T activated several new Wi-Fi hot spots as part of their program, Project Velocity IP. This will allow residents in area restaurants, hotels and book stores to connect more efficiently to an businesses’ Internet network.

Currently, AT&T services more than 300 million customers in the United States, and plans to expand their service offerings throughout the state.


Personally Yours moves to new location in Occoquan


Personally Yours, a small home-décor store owned by Betsy Merklein, has moved to a larger location in Occoquan at 402 Mill Street.

The business has always been located in Occoquan, but Merklein wanted to move to a larger space in the community.

“We have a larger retail space than we had in our other store. We have designed the store so that there is more retail space on the bottom floor for customers who need to do some quick shopping, or don’t want to do stairs, which is a case for some. We do have three lovely rooms upstairs to expand our retail space,” Merklein said.

The store’s merchandise is comprised of home decorating goods and other seasonal decorations.

“Our main focus, besides home décor, [are] our seasonal decorations. We do a lot for all the holidays – we do St. Patrick’s Day, we started the year off with a big Valentine’s Day splash, and now we’re going into Easter. We’ll have specialized items for Mother’s Day for mothers, sisters [and] aunts. Then we go into a patriotic season, where they’ll be banners outside,” said Merklein, continuing, “People like to decorate their homes in spots, for different holidays.”

Merklein said that she wanted to remain in the Occoquan area because of the welcoming community and her ability to retain her freedom and individuality as a business owner.

“[We chose to stay in Occoquan for] the charm in the town, the close-knit community of the town, and the residents and the businesses. We get to make our own decisions we get to set our own hours…we get to keep our individualism.”

The store has five employees, which are county residents.

“I have a great staff, and I depend on them greatly,” Merklein commented.

Personally Yours is open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

First Friday March Madness in Downtown Manassas

first friday, manassas, shop, city
  • Historic Manassas Inc.
  • Address: 9431 West Street Manassas, Virginia 20110
  • Website: visitmanassas.org

Historic Downtown Manassas is going a little “mad” for First Friday. On March 6 from 6 to 9 p.m., City restaurants, retailers and the Manassas Museum are offering specials and special entertainment.

The list participating merchants is growing and can be viewed at .visitmanassas.org.

Each store and restaurant is selecting their own way to celebrate March with either a Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day or other March theme.

The Manassas Museum will offer free admission and 10% off at Echoes, their gift store.

The Osbourn High School String Quartet will serenade museum visitors.

There will be book signings, drink specials and much more around the Historic Downtown of the City of Manassas. Come for dinner and stay to shop and explore.

Inspired by the success of the monthly event concept held in other localities, First Friday in Historic Downtown was created by the Historic Manassas, Inc. promotions committee to enhance tourism and entertainment offerings in the City of Manassas.

The initial First Friday event was held in February 2014 and has grown and evolved. Some months feature roving musicians and caricature artists, while other months feature sidewalk art, games or special foods.

Prince William Chamber honors 2015 businesses of the year

Patrick King, of Imagine, of Imagine, and Steve Nelson, of Cardinal Bank. [Photo: Kathy Strauss / IMAGEWERKS, LLC.]
Mary Lopez from the Independent Empowerment Center, and Donna Flory, Vice President of the Flory Small Business Center in Manassas. [Photo: Kathy Strauss / IMAGEWERKS, LLC.]
Patrick King, of Imagine, of Imagine, and Steve Nelson, of Cardinal Bank. [Photo: Kathy Strauss / IMAGEWERKS, LLC.]
Pictured center, right: Patty Baisden, of QMT Windchimes, and Molly Grove, of George Mason University. [Photo: Kathy Strauss / IMAGEWERKS, LLC]
Donna Snellings, of NOVEC (center) . [Photo: Kathy Strauss / IMAGEWERKS, LLC.]
Jo Ellen Benson, of Ready Hands, Inc. and Marci Hunsecker Settle, of Keller Williams Realty. [Photo: Kathy Strauss / IMAGEWERKS, LLC.]

The Prince William Chamber of Commerce honored their members with their annual Excellence in Business Awards.

There are 10 categories in the Chamber’s business awards ranging from small business of the year, community service, and innovative partnership of the year.

The awards were held Wednesday, Feb. 25, at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas.

Agnes L. Colgan Community Service Awards: Health & Human Services

Trillium Drop-In Center, Inc.

Trillium Drop-In Center is a private non-profit organization dedicated to providing stigma-free services to Prince William County’s mental health consumers.  Trillium Drop-In Center began as a Manassas support group that turned a Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute grant into an opportunity for more than 3,000 people to better cope with mental illness, to find housing and to find jobs.

Agnes L. Colgan Community Service Awards: Arts & Education

Literacy Volunteers of America–Prince William, Inc.

Literacy Volunteers of America—Prince William (LVA-PW) provided tuition-free reading and writing classes to more than 8,500 adults, reducing the estimated number of 35,000 adults in Prince William County who could only read at or below the 4th grade level.

2015 Business Awards:

Micro Business of the Year: American Solutions for Business

American Solutions for Business works diligently to enhance productivity and to increase creativity, while reducing client costs through their product offering of promotional products, printed documents, office supplies, e-commerce and marketing solutions.

Small Business of the Year: ECU Communications

ECU Communications is a full-service advertising and marketing communications firm that specializes in online advertising and is a leader in outreach and recruitment programs for multilingual audiences.

Medium Size Business of the Year: Fluet, Huber, Hoang

Fluet, Huber & Hoang PLLC is a values-based, veteran-owned law firm serving middle-market companies with international business, defense and national security legal expertise. 

Large Business of the Year:  American Disposal Services

American Disposal Services, with almost 600 employees, is the fifth largest employer in Manassas. It is more than just a “trash company.” It is an environmentally conscious, full-service recycling resource, which also hauls trash. American Disposal Services launched a ThinkBeforeYouthThrow® recycling outreach program in 2011.

New Business of the Year: PR for Anyone

Before PR for Anyone, there was no one to show small business owners how to promote their business through publicity, how to gain exposure, how to attract increasing numbers of customers and clients, and how to do it in a time-efficient manner. Launched part way through 2014, PR for Anyone already has 2,000 subscribers on its mailing list because of the valuable information and resources provided to small businesses at no cost.

Community Outreach Award-Mike Garcia Construction

Mike Garcia Construction is a beloved company and devoted supporter of our community here in Prince William County. Owner Mike Garcia and his staff have provided the City of Manassas with more than 3,000 hours of volunteer service, supports and volunteers initiatives that provide resources and help for the area’s homeless and is actively engaged in mentoring Manassas City Public School students to develop skills for future employment.

Innovative Practice/Partnership of the Year: Northern Virginia Community College-Global Learning Center

The Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) Manassas, Global Learning Center is expanding the barriers of the traditional community college by locating one of its offices in Manassas Mall. For many, stepping onto a college campus can be intimidating and so, by locating one of its offices in Manassas Mall, NOVA Manassas Global Learning Center seeks to establish a new hub where NOVA, the second largest community college in the nation, can connect with Prince William’s diverse and growing population at an easily accessible location.

Tech Company of the Year-Imagine

Imagine is a fun and creative web design company specializing in social media, corporate identity and public relation strategies aimed at marketing a company’s identity in the best light. Imagine is devoted to providing in-kind logo and web design development for local nonprofit organizations.

See more photos from the 2015 Excellence in Business Awards

Partially collapsed in Manassas building demolished


In Downtown Manassas, a building on Battle Street that partially collapsed on Feb .14, was demolished.

The demolition of the building was handled by Old Town Landscaping, and completed last Friday. 

The structure, which was located next to the old Washington Post offices and The Bone restaurant, lost a portion of its roof, which was caused by winds gusting more than 40 miles per hour that evening. 

No one was in the section of the building that collapsed and there were no injuries, although 14 residents in close by apartments were evacuated for their safety, according to Patty Prince, the Manassas City spokeswoman.

Prince stated that the residents who were evacuated are no longer affected by the collapse.

“The residents who were evacuated that night were in an adjacent building.  They were back in their apartments on Monday night and should no longer be affected,” said Prince.

The space is owned by the estate of George A. Roy, which is being managed by Robert M. Cooper Jr. of Cooper Law, according to a city spokeswoman. Several calls from Potomac Local to Cooper have went unreturned. 

There is no word as to what building, if any, will take the collapsed building’s place.

C.J. Finz brings southern-style seafood to Downtown Manassas

raw bar, Manassas, virginia

Chris Sellers and John Kibben opened their first restaurant, C.J. Finz Raw Bar & Grille in Downtown Manassas at 9413 West Street, on February 11, offering residents a taste of Southern-style seafood.

According to Sellers, their inspiration for the restaurant came from their love of seafood they ate on trips to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

“I got tired of having seafood only once or twice a year, so we decided to bring our love for the Outer Banks here to historical Downtown Manassas,” said Sellers.

With the support of local business owners and the community, the restaurant got off to a great start with a busy grand opening.

“We exceeded – four times – what we had forecasted [for our grand opening],” Sellers said.

The building, which was previously a Subway sandwich location, needed some transformation to turn it into the atmosphere Sellers and Kibben were looking to achieve.

“We wanted to do an industrial shabby-chic look – we didn’t want anything cookie cutter. We’re dealing with a very small space, so we’re a boutique style restaurant,” Sellers commented.

C.J. Finz Raw Bar & Grille also has a patio and deck area that the owners intend to capitalize on in the summer time for concert series, and allow patrons to watch outdoor events in the area, like parades.

Among the menu items the restaurant offers, Sellers said that the fried pickles were the top appetizer, and that their ahi tuna salad, fried oyster po-boy sandwich, lobster roll and barbecue shrimp with cheesy grits were among the top items they serve.

“We’re not the only one [in Manassas] doing seafood, but I think we’re the only one [focusing] exclusively on seafood – but it’s a menu for everyone,” said Sellers.

Before opening the restaurant, Sellers worked as a manager at the City Tavern for 15 years. The owners of City Tavern, along with other local business owners, have helped to support them, and they hope to return the favor to the community.

“We want to be a local business; we want to help the community, work with others – that’s all we want,” Sellers said.

Sylvan to bring 20 jobs, STEM program to Stafford

Franchise owner Scott Lindsey just opened the first Sylvan Learning Center location in Stafford on Clement Drive and is planning to bring more than 20 jobs and an innovative STEM program to the area.

Lindsey has been with Sylvan for more than ten years and currently owns centers all across Northern Virginia, but as a Fredericksburg resident he felt that there was a need for Sylvan in the community.

“I live in Fredericksburg…I see that we needed Sylvan here in the area,” said Lindsey.

The Center is looking to hire 20 to 25 employees, including a Center Director and teachers to carry out the instruction.

In addition to opening the new location, Lindsey is also launching Sylvan’s Edge STEM program, which will give Stafford students the opportunity to work on robotics, coding and accelerated math.

“We’re able to really have fun while learning. They’re skills that are going to be necessary for [the student’s] careers later in life,” Lindsey commented.

The center will still offer the standard study skills, math, reading, writing and college prep instruction.

The STEM courses include six sessions and range from $199 to $299 a course.

The coding program involves interactive game design.

“Each session a student goes through, they will design a game, using coding on the computer. And they’ll be able to take that game home with them each time and share it with their friends,” said Lindsey.

And in the robotics program, students will learn how to build a series of robots made with Legos.

“There’s a different robot built each session, and they can program it to do different things,” Lindsay stated.

According to Lindsey, it is crucial that parents to invest in their child’s exposure to STEM programs.

“[The STEM program] is definitely something that most kids are interested in. There’s a big push for careers in the future with STEM, and this is taught in a way that’s very fun and it’s innovative,” Lindsey said.


For those interested in applying for positions, Lindsey said to send your resume to the attention of the Director of Education at center@sylvanstafford.com.

For every burrito sold, El Cactus in Manassas gives $2 back

El Cactus Owner Brian Hollenbach made the winning soup at this year's "Souper Bowl" held in Historic Downtown Manassas.

When Brian Hollenbach moved to the Manassas area to launch his first Mexican restaurant El Cactus last year, he had two things in mind – great food and the community.

Located on 9406 Battle Street in Downtown Manassas, the restaurant has become known for its Taco Tuesdays and a rotating menu of quirky and playful ingredients.

el cactus 1 manassas vaHollenbach has been in the restaurant industry for 21-years, working all across Virginia, but for him, Downtown Manassas is the community where he wants El Cactus to thrive.

“When we were looking to start a restaurant, we wanted our core values [to be] – the strength of the community, the strength of Manassas, is the strength of El Cactus,” said Hollenbach.

And this strength has paid off, winning El Cactus the Best Dessert title in last year’s Taste of Manassas for their tres de leches. Additionally, the restaurant won the February “Souper Bowl” First Friday event in Downtown Manassas with their tortilla soup.

According to Hollenbach, the top selling item at El Cactus is the tableside guacamole, and the top taco is their Carne Angus taco.

One thing that El Cactus has become known for is their playful menu and their willingness to try out interesting food combinations. One of these items is the “Korean Taco” – a marinated rib eye taco with kimchi.

They’ve offered a whole slew of interesting tacos on their menu, including venison, bison, sea bass, and crab.

Their current features taco is their take on a lobster roll, Hollenbach said.

“We take a flour tortilla, we flash fry it, so it puffs up, and then we do a cold lobster salad, and a little bit of Old Bay, a little bit of lime juice, a little bit of cilantro and a little bit of mayo,” Hollenbach stated.

In addition to their creative food offerings, El Cactus has also served infused tequilas, Cactus Pear Margaritas and even fried tequila.

And while El Cactus has established a reputation for delicious and creative food, they’ve also become known for their work in the community.

They host several charity events and fundraisers throughout the year, partnering with organizations like the Boys & Girls Club and schools including Osborne High School and Metz Middle School, often donating large amounts of food.

Hollenbach also said that El Cactus works with military organizations as well, donating proceeds from menu items purchased.

“[For] every burrito we sell – $2 goes to a hero organization. We launched our National Burrito Day with the Wounded Warrior project, as well as the Navy Seal Foundation and the Volunteer Fire Department in Manassas,” Hollenbach said.

El Cactus plans to continue their community efforts, and will compete in next year’s Taste of Manassas with their tableside guacamole, Korean taco, and fried Oreo dessert.

Hollenbach is hopeful for the future of El Cactus and the Downtown Manassas community as a whole.

“We wanted Old Town Manassas to be a destination. It already had some amazing restaurants, and we’re looking forward to more coming in…we just want the community to thrive,” Hollenbach said.

Attack the Fat: Working as a team to change each others lives


“Attack the Fat” is all about working together, mixing it up, and challenging yourself 

Freedom Aquatics and Fitness Center is at it again with their wildly successful Attack the Fat Challenge.  This popular eight-week long program makes weight loss achievable and fun. 

Over 900 participants have seen over 8,000 pounds lost in the course of the program.

Attack the Fat Director Robin Frey says that the reason the program is so successful is that it relies on accountability and competition.

 “We just had our weigh-ins and participants are going to look at one another’s numbers and that creates a competitive spirit,” Frey said.

There are currently nine teams participating in the challenge with four to six people on each team.   The different teams are meant to foster an environment where everyone works hard to motivate one another to succeed. 

A groups’ success as a whole relies on each members’ individual success, so when a member loses weight or reaches a goal it’s not just for themselves but their entire team.

“It creates that environment of allowing them to understand that they can help each other,” Frey said.  Participants in the program also seem to enjoy this aspect of it, taking full advantage of the competitive nature and team building benefits.

Frey says the program also utilizes various fitness activities.  Sometimes, she says, they will use things such as a Dynamax ball body weight.  At other times, they do things such as burpees which require no equipment.  Each week the workout changes.

“We’re creating a need for adaption constantly because we’re changing it as we go,” said Frey. 

Although the program does use weigh-ins as a tool for measuring progress, it’s not the only way they track it.  Frey says that the program isn’t so much about the number but about creating a real change when it comes to lifestyle choices.

The Attack the Fat challenge is happening now.  

The preceding post was written by Potomac Local as part of a promoted content agreement with Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center.

Historic Downtown Manassas has 14 new shops, eateries, and new apartments on the way


More new shops, restaurants opening in Historic Downtown Manassas

The City of Manassas and its downtown development partner, Historic Manassas Inc., have been gradually moving away from referring to Old Town in favor of the moniker Historic Downtown Manassas. This helps to avoid being confused with that other “Old Town” in Northern Virginia.

But in this case, the title seems to resonate because the City is welcoming a host of new businesses to its historic district.

Over the past 12 months more than 16 new businesses have opened or announced their intent to relocate into the Virginia Main Street Community. As 2014 drew to a close, the City had already welcomed new retail outlet Records and Rarities; professional office users Caitlan Jordan, Attorney at Law, and SCS Integrated Support Services; personal services provider the Man Cave; and restaurants the Bone and Zandra’s.

In January a regional favorite, Malone’s, expanded to offer consumers a more casual dining and bar area on the second floor to complement the fine dining experience locals and visitors have grown to love.

Beginning late last year, a series of announced closures by long-time business owners in the Historic Downtown Manassas left development officials scrambling to identify new business prospects. They need not have worried as the City proved both its resiliency and attractiveness to entrepreneurs who are rushing in to fill the spaces being vacated. 

“What really happened was a generational opportunity for a new wave of small business owners to realize their dreams of opening or relocating their businesses in our Downtown. In many instances these spaces are some of the most attractive and high profile storefronts available,” City Manager Pat Pate told the Old Town Business Association.

A number of business owners obviously agree. Historic Downtown Manassas has recently announced that new business openings are pending by retail operators Scatter Seeds, a purveyor Fair Trade goods and local artisan products, Amy’s Bridal (formerly of Woodbridge), Manassas Olive Oil and Totally Vintage Design (formerly of Haymarket); raw bar and restaurant CJ Finz and ice cream parlor Jitterbug will join the crowd as will CutRate Barbershop and the NEW School.

In addition, and proving that Manassas is becoming a living destination of choice in addition to a retail and dining mecca, two new urban style apartment projects have been approved which will bring almost 200 new studio, one and two-bedroom luxury units into the Historic Downtown.

Economic Development Director Patrick Small and Historic Manassas Inc. Executive Director Debbie Haight say there are still a few opportunities left for new businesses that may have missed the initial rush to open. One of these, the site of the former Opera House Gourmet, is possibly the most desirable retail location in the City.

Located diagonally across Center Street from Harris Pavilion, it is the most prominent and highly visible storefront as people enter Downtown. Small and Haight say this and the few remaining retail spaces still on the market won’t be vacant long. In fact, several confidential business announcements are pending.

The preceding post was written by the City of Manassas under a marketing agreement with Potomac Local.

From music, wine, to romantic dinners: Where to take your valentine this year

valentines day

Looking for some last minute ideas for your Valentine’s Day celebration? Potomac Local has you covered. Here are some events and local eateries that will help make your Valentine’s Day special.


Valentine’s Day Dinner
Malone’s of Manassas
9329 Main Street, Manassas, VA 20110

 This fine dining restaurant in Downtown Manassas is offering a prix fixe menu to create a 3-course meal for your Valentine’s Day dinner. It runs from 5p.m. to 12a.m. and is $80 per person. Dinner package comes with a champagne toast and live music in the upstairs area, that begins at 9p.m. The package does not include liquor or beverages.


Valentine’s Day Sweetheart Ball
Emeritus at Manassas
8341 Barrett Drive, Manassas, VA 20109

At the Emeritus Retirement Living community there will be a Valentine’s Day Sweetheart Ball from 6p.m. to 9p.m. There will be dancing, hors d’ouerves, and a chance to meet the staff at Emeritus.


American Festival Pops Orchestra: Valentine’s Day Pops
Hylton Performing Arts Center
10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas, VA 20109

If you’d like to do something less traditional than a romantic dinner on the town, then check out the Valentine’s Day Pops concert being hosted at the Hylton Center. Starting at 8p.m., the American Festival Pops Orchestra will begin playing classic love songs. Ticket prices range from $29 to $48 per person.



National Museum of the Marine Corps Wine Dinner
National Museum of the Marine Corps
18900 Jefferson Davis Highway, Triangle, VA 22172

If you and your partner enjoy a nice glass of wine, then look at the Marine Corps Wine Dinner being held near Quantico. The dinner will take place from 6p.m. to 8:30p.m. Make sure if you plan to attend that you RSVP.



Chocolate Infused Wine Dinner
Maddigan’s Waterfront
201 Mill Street, Occoquan, VA 22125

On the water in Occoquan, Maddigan’s Waterfront will be hosting a Chocolate Infused Wine Dinner, as well as offering a special Valetine’s Day menu. The dinner begins at 7p.m. with a reception. The featured winery is Rodney Strong Vineyards. The wine dinner is $59 per person, and the Valentine’s Day menu is $75 per couple. Reservations are required.



Valentine’s Day Weekend Celebration
Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center
14900 Potomac Town Place, Woodbridge, VA 22191

The new Stonebridge shopping center is having an entire weekend of Valentine’s Day celebrations. Restaurants in Stonebridge, like Not Your Average Joe’s and Firebirds will be having special menu offerings for the entire weekend. A perfect option if you can’t celebrate on February 14.



Sinfully Sweet Dessert & Wine Pairing
Potomac Point Winery
275 Decatur Road, Stafford, VA 22554

At the Potomac Point Winery, sit down for a romantic pairing of wine and dessert. Choose from four dessert options, paired with the wines made by Potomac Point. The event has two dates: February 13 at 8p.m. and February 14 at 4p.m. 6p.m. and 8p.m. The cost is $36 per person.

Bull Run Rotary Day is Feb. 21 at the Capitol Steps Concert for charity

Rotary Day is typically a fun, informal event to introduce the community to Rotary and their local beneficiaries.

Rotary Day is not just for a club or district. There are National Rotary Days in many countries and even an International Rotary Day at the United Nations. The Rotary Day events convey the Rotary’s relevance and highlight the good work and involvement.

The theme for Rotary International, this year is “Light Up Rotary” so there is increased effort this year to illuminate the great things that Rotarians facilitate. This year is also the 25th Anniversary of the Rotary Club of Manassas Bull Run, so there is extra pride in this year’s Bull Run Rotary Day.

This year’s Bull Run Rotary Day will be on Feb. 21 at the elegant Hylton Performing Arts Center and is called “Love and Laughs.” It is on the eve of Rotary International’s 110th Anniversary and just a week after Valentine’s Day for those couples that couldn’t make a date night. The evening entertainment will feature DC’s Capitol Steps.

Purchase your tickets online.

Manassas company Dizzy Pig to host outdoor cooking classes

The Dizzy Pig Barbecue Company, headquartered in Manassas, has announced that they will be hosting outdoor cooking classes throughout the year for residents to attend.

The company, founded in 2002, became known for their line of thirteen seasonings and other barbecue products, which are all made locally.

Dizzy Pig has won several cooking competitions using their products, and this inspired the team to offer cooking classes, said Joanne Cawley in a press release.

More on the classes being offered by Dizzy Pig:

February 21 Dizzcovery – Brisket and Butts 
March 21 Dizzcovery – Pizza and Creative Grilling 
April 25 Dizzcovery – Chicken 
May 16 Dizzcovery – Brisket and Butts 
June 14 Dizzcovery – Seafood 
July 18 Dizzcovery – Getting the Most Out of Your EGG 
August 22 Dizzcovery – Ribs 
September 19 Dizzcovery – Prime Rib 
October 17 Dizzcovery – Pizza and Creative Grilling 
November 14 Dizzcovery – Mad Max Turkey Method Class 
December 5 Dizzcovery – Getting the Most Out of Your EGG

Dizzy Pig seasonings can currently be found at more than 700 retailers around the world, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Singapore.

They couldn’t solve the graphics problem in house, so JTC used their expansive network to find a solution

  • JTC, Inc.
  • Address: 9720 Capital Court, Suite 305, Manassas, Va. 20110
  • Phone: 703-794-1225
  • Website: http://www.jtcinc.net/

An architectural firm relies on graphics. When they can’t access them, that can be a problem. 

Alexis Peck is the Vice President of Design at Peck Peck & Associates, an architectural firm located in Woodbridge, Virginia that has been in business for 42 years.

Peck also heads the marketing and IT department and is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Peck Peck and Associates needed Jewell Technical Consulting, Inc. (JTC, Inc.) to assist them with the recovery of data, lost from corrupted hard drives.

Peck explained in detail the entire process.

“We had a couple of backup hard drives for some graphics of ours from archive projects and one day when we tried to access the backups, all of the actual hard drives had been corrupted,” said Alexis Peck. “I’ll note that it was not equipment that we bought through JTC, it was something we bought years and years before they came on board and so we contacted them to see if they could help us recover the data….”

JTC, Inc. was unable to solve the problem in-house and reached out to another company for extra assistance.

“…Through JTC we worked with another company and sent the hard drive out and they were able to recover some of it (not all)…” said Peck. “It wasn’t any client information or anything like that, it wasn’t anything critical to our operations, it was just something we wanted to keep for nostalgic reasons.”

Though the other company was located out of state, Peck said overall experience was very easy.

“We did everything through JTC so they came, picked up the hard drives from us. We paid everything through them, they took care of everything.”

Peck also noted that without JTC, Inc.’s network, they would not have known what company to contact. 

Peck Peck and Associates have worked with JTC, Inc. for over four years and originally chose JTC, Inc. for two reasons:

1. JTC, Inc. had been recommended by the previous company Peck Peck and Associates employed for their IT services

2. JTC, Inc. offered the best agreement to their firm

JTC is a Microsoft Certified Partner and a Dell Authorized Partner and utilizes Microsoft and Dell technology.

The preceding post was written by Potomac Local under an agreement with Jewell Technical Consulting.

McDonald’s adds Old Bay to fish sandwich

Fast food chain McDonald’s has partnered with the Maryland-based company McCormick & Co. to introduce an Old Bay Filet-O-Fish sandwich.

The sandwich will only be available in 700 stores, including locations in the Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia area.

McDonald’s will begin serving the sandwich on February 16.

Mark Furr, a McDonald’s location owner in Washington D.C., and Baltimore first came up with the idea to create the regional menu offering.

“McDonald’s is extremely excited to be able to deliver a true local taste to our customers via our classic Filet-O-Fish with a special OLD BAY tartar sauce,” said Furr in a press release.

In order to incorporate the Old Bay seasoning that is a regional favorite, McDonald’s will be adding an Old Bay tartar sauce to the Filet-O-Fish menu item.

McCormick & Co. is excited to collaborate with McDonald’s and offer this special product to costumers in the area.

“Old Bay is proud to collaborate with McDonald’s to offer a unique way to enjoy the distinctive flavor of Old Bay right in the Chesapeake Bay region,” said Ed Hernandez, Old Bay Brand Manager for McCormick & Co. in a press release.

Downtown Manassas hosts “Souper Bowl” Friday

Downtown Manassas kicked off their February First Friday with their “Manassas Souper Bowl” – a soup sampling contest offered by Historic Manassas Inc., and downtown partnering restaurants.

Residents had the chance to take part in the soup sampling by purchasing a $5 wristband. This allowed them to roam the streets of Downtown Manassas, visiting the seven locations that were participating to try a sample of their soup.

Participants got the chance to vote for their favorites, and the winning restaurant of the soup sampling event will be announced tomorrow at 4p.m.

More on the restaurant’s that took part in the “Manassas Souper Bowl” event:

At Allyssa Bryn, try Okra’s classic creole gumbo with chicken, andouille sausage, and tasso.
At The Things I Love, try chicken cauliflower soup from Monza.
At Records & Rarities, enjoy smoked brisket chili from The Bone.
At Prospero’s Books, sample soup from Zandra’s- ancho tomato soup + zandra’s grilled cheese- yum!
At Creative Brush Studio, warm up with clam chowder from Philadelphia Tavern.
At the Manassas Museum, treat yourself to some tortilla soup goodness from El Cactus.
Check out Love, Charley for shrimp bisque from City Square Cafe.

Manassas hosts their First Friday events every month from 6p.m. to 9p.m.

Hilarious, heartfelt: ‘Laughs and Love’ — A night you will remember!

capitol steps, hylton, rotary

The Capitol Step will perform at the Hylton Performing Arts Center thanks to Bull Run Rotary.

On Feb. 21, don’t miss Bull Run Rotary’s Laughs and Love benefit, at the beautiful Hylton Center featuring the Capitol Steps.

Why laughs and love? Here’s the love:

One of the greatest benefits of business ownership is being able to be part of give back to our community. Those who have faced hardship are struggling and in need.

Washmydeck.com is a seasonal business. We have a small fleet of vehicles that get lots of use eight months of the year. This leaves four months that where we can use our vehicles to help families in need have reliable transportation in order to help them work and get on their feet. We just look at it as doing a small part, with the resources we have.

Bull Run Rotary is doing it BIG by celebrating five hero organizations whose hard work day in and day out enriches the lives of those around us.

On one night, we set an ambitious goal to raise $50,000 to help abused children find security, battered women feel safe, families who have had hardship achieve the American dream of home ownership, and help feed our neighbors who live in tents in the woods.

Please help Bull Run Rotary in supporting CASA, Calling All Souls, Habitat for Humanity of Prince William County, Transitional Housing BARN, and Therapeutic Riding Rainbow Center, it promises to be a night to remember.

Oh yeah, there will be laughs!

Have you seen the hilarious Capitol Steps? They put the MOCK in Democracy with their song parody of political current events. The night will also have some surprise big VIPs. Regardless of your political leanings this is sure to be a night you will be talking about for some time.

Purchase tickets online at the Hylton Performing Arts Center box office.

See you there,

Steve Chapman, Founder, and President Washmydeck.com

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