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Free flan, flowers for Mother’s Day

Pollo Campero, a Latin chicken restaurant chain, will be celebrating Mother’s Day this Sunday by giving mothers a free dessert and flowers.

Any mothers that stop by one of the Pollo Campero locations on Sunday will get a free flan dessert and a fresh flower, said a release.

According to a release, Campero’s flan is a vanilla custard topped with caramelized sugar.

Here are the participating area locations:

 

Woodbridge

14083 Jefferson Davis Blvd.

Alexandria

7705 Richmond Hwy.

News
Brush fires plague Garrisonville businesses

Fire fighters inspect and extinguish a second mulch fire by Alliance Physical Therapy on May 4.  [KJ Mushung/Stafford Local News]

Fire fighters inspect and extinguish a second mulch fire by Alliance Physical Therapy on May 4.
[KJ Mushung/Stafford Local News]

Several small brush fires occurred along Garrisonville Road in North Stafford yesterday, two of them in the same place but hours apart. 

The first incident was a mulch fire on the side of the building where Alliance Physical Therapy is located in the North Stafford Plaza shopping center at around 3:15 p.m. 

Two hours later, the Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department headed to a brushfire at 627 Garrisonville Road, in the area of Barton & Williams School of Dance.

Minutes after that call, another came in for a bush on fire in the parking lot of Home Depot in the Doc Stone Shopping Center. The main concern about this incident was that the burning bush was near parked cars. 

Around the same time as the Home Depot parking lot fire, a mulch fire by Alliance Physical Therapy, in the same location as before, was reported. 

A Home Depot employee said this was the bush that fire fighters doused earlier that evening. The ground around it was still wet. [KJ Mushung/Stafford Local News]

A Home Depot employee said this was the bush that fire fighters doused earlier that evening. The ground around it was still wet.
[KJ Mushung/Stafford Local News]

Each fire was extinguished in minutes. 

Although the causes of these fires have not been determined, Assistant Fire Chief Mark Doyle said that a lot of times in these situations the fire department will find “improper disposal of smoking materials” to be the cause. Since so few businesses allow smoking inside, people will go outside to smoke and then throw the cigarette on the ground. Sometimes the cigarette is burned up in the subsequent fire, so there’s no evidence to find. 

News
Here’s the scoop on Cinco de Mayo festivities

11149356_882783895113745_4902485986083669719_nTo kick off the evening’s Cinco de Mayo festivities, there are several restaurants in the area with food and drink specials.

Prince William

El Charro – 2893 Dale Blvd, Woodbridge, VA
El Charro is offering any two of their bottled beers for $5.

El Paso – 3031 Golansky Blvd, Woodbridge, VA
El Paso will be offering drink specials all day.

Manassas

Zandra’s Tauqueria – 9114 Center St, Manassas, VA
Zandra’s will be hosting a Happy Hour until 7 p.m. with a Tequila Tuesday theme. They will also be offering drink specials and beef tongue tacos all evening.

Don Lencho – 9116 Mathis Ave, Manassas, VA
Don Lencho’s will be having a drink special for mimosas, and a Taco Tuesday with taco’s al a carte for $1.50.

El Cactus – 9406 Battle St, Manassas, VA
El Cactus is offering half-priced appetizers from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., 50 cent chili con queso from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and a sombrero contest. There will also be drink specials.

Stafford

El Gran Charro -2834 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Stafford, VA
El Gran Charro will be offering a taco special, with $1.25 for hard shell tacos and $1.50 for soft tacos. They are also offering nachos for $2.99. Their Cinco de Mayo drink specials include $2.99 lime margaritas and Corona’s for $2.50.

Haymarket

El Vaquero West – 14910 Washington St, Haymarket, VA
El Vaquero West is offering drink specials including a 32-ounce draft for $6.85 and all bottled beers for $2.85. They will also be offering their medium lime margaritas for $4.25.

Get home safely

To ensure that participants in the Cinco de Mayo festivities get home safely, special ride programs will be available for area residents.

SoberRide
The SoberRide program, run by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, is available to all Washington D.C. area residents from 4 p.m. today, until 4 a.m. tomorrow morning.

In order to use the free ride program, you must 21-years and older.

To use the service, you need to call 800-200-8294. SoberRide will pay for the first $30 of the fare, and anything over this amount all riders are responsible for.

The participating cab companies are Alexandria Yellow Cab, Barwood, Inc., Fairfax Yellow Cab, Loudon Yellow Cab, Northern Virginia Checker, Red Top Cab Company, Silver Cab of Prince George’s County, Yellow Cab of the District of Columbia, and Yellow Cab of Prince William County.

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Manassas area thrift store struggles following slew of discount chains

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Community Thrift, a locally owned and operated thrift store on Sudley Road in Manassas, is struggling to compete with larger discount retailers in the area.

According to Leslie Morris, manager of the store, the amount of donations has decreased in recent months, as discount chains like Goodwill and Salvation Army have come into the area.

The Community Thrift store is unique in that its staff is primarily made up of members of the disabled community in the county. The store opened its doors as a non-profit back in 1999, according to Teresa Guzik, Media Relations Specialist for ServiceSource.

Job opportunities for the disabled

ServiceSource – a non-profit disability organization – manages the operation of the store, said Guzik.

“[ServiceSource] serves more than 16,000 individuals with disabilities annually through a range of innovative and valued employment, training, habilitation, housing and other support services,” commented Guzik.

Individuals working in the store expressed their concern about the future of the store – and their jobs – due to the decline in donated goods.

“People treat other people [here] like family…I am still a little bit worried about the [donations] going down. This program and the store is here to help needy people,” said Ashley Hatton, who has been an employee for 8-years.

“I like working here. I like the people. I want to try something new [to get more donations],” said Jennifer Gifford, an employee that has been with the store for 9-years.

Family and friend’s thoughts on Community Thrift

Morris stated that community businesses that support causes like the disabled in the area were worth supporting.

“I took the position here as manager of the store because it had such a warm feeling. I’ve been in this industry for a long time, and I gravitated towards this specific store because of its charity work – working with people with disabilities. I originally thought it was going to be a very challenging experience, but it’s turned out to be a very rewarding experience,” Morris said.

For parents with disabled individuals, the store has also been a positive experience.

“The Community Thrift Store has been a godsend to our daughter. The store has provided our daughter with a sense of purpose and feeling of accomplishment…there are too few opportunities for those with special needs in our community where they can be contributing members to the community. It’s continued success relies on the support and contributions of all our neighbors. Without them, this establishment and those that it directly supports would become even more dependent on government assistance programs,” said Jane Hatton, a parent of one of the employees.

All donations made to the Community Thrift store are tax-deductible, and can be dropped off anytime during store hours.

News
Occoquan Art on the Block comes May 9

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 2.41.32 PMOccoquan’s annual Art on the Block celebration will be taking place on Saturday, May 9 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Residents will be able to meet with local artists, view art demonstrations along the streets of Occoquan, and take part in a raffle to win a wildlife river tour by Rivershore Charters.

Many Occoquan businesses will be taking part, including Art a la Carte, the Artist’s Undertaking Gallery, Red Art & Design, Spiral Creations and The Loft Art Center.

 

 

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Bond rating, economic outlook for Stafford improving

Moody’s Investors Service, a company that assesses bond credit ratings, has upgraded Stafford County’s bond rating from an Aa2 to an Aa1.

The higher a counties bond rating, the lower the cost to borrow money. This means that Stafford County will be able to borrow funds at a lower cost, which will save residents money.

Bond rating agencies look at four criteria when assessing a locality’s financial standing, including finances, the area economy, debt and financial management and governance.

According to data from the Census Bureau, Stafford is now considered ninth in the country for median household income with an average of $96,355.

Additionally, the number of jobs in the county have increased by 42% in the past 10 years, said a release.

According to the board of supervisors, their fiscal management and budgeting have allowed the community to prosper.

“This is very exciting news and we are thrilled that Moody’s recognizes our ongoing fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraint. We have faced challenges along the way and have had to make difficult decisions to continue providing high quality services to our community, but we have never wavered from our goal of improving our bond rating. All of our efforts have been deliberate to move us closer to that goal,” said board of supervisors Chairman Gary Snellings.

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Startup company expands at the Prince William Science Accelerator, receives $1.4M

The first company to open a space at the Prince William Science Accelerator – ISOThrive, LLC – has announced they will be moving into a larger space on the site.

The Prince William Science Accelerator is a facility located in Innovation Park – a collaborative effort between the Prince William County Economic Development department and George Mason University, to bring jobs and industry to Prince William.

ISOThrive is currently working on a probiotic nutritional supplement, and plans to enter the commercial market this year. They have received $1.4 million in private investments.

“The Prince William Science Accelerator is focused on growing a pipeline of world-class researchers, businesses and investors into the community. Being home to the only university-anchored science and technology park in the Greater Washington, DC metropolitan area, Prince William County provides new life sciences entrepreneurs and startups an ideal environment that promotes synergy and collaboration,” Prince William County Board of Supervisor’s Chairman At-Large Corey Stewart said in a release.

According to Jack Oswald, the CEO of ISOThrive, the Prince William Science Accelerator has allowed the company to grow quickly.

“ISOThrive’s participation in the Prince William Science Accelerator has enabled us to quickly advance our research and fast-track our time to market. The support of Prince William County and the close proximity to the world class resources of the MicroBiome Analysis Center at George Mason University have been instrumental to our efforts,” said Oswald in a release.

Additionally, ISOThrive is conducting a research study, and are looking for participants to test their supplement. In order to participate, individuals must be between 18 and 45, have a BMI of 25 or higher, and be in good health. Participants will be compensated $235 for their time and involvement, said a release.

 

News
New Kia dealership coming to Manassas

There’s a new car dealership coming to Manassas.

Construction on the site of the new Brown’s Manassas Kia on Liberia Avenue has begun.

The owner of the incoming dealership is Charles Stringfellow. 

Plans were submitted and approved for the project by the City of Manassas in 2014.

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Virginia Serious Games Institute to make Prince William a gaming hub

In collaboration with the Prince William County Economic Development Department and George Mason University, the up and coming Virginia Serious Games Institute (VSGI) is now growing to incubate and accelerate several more game design companies in Prince William.

VSGI, located at George Mason University’s campus in Prince William, started with just an idea from the institute’s founding director Dr. Scott Martin.

“It was an idea I came up with, after a visit to the University of Coventry over in the United Kingdom…I loved the [serious game] model [there]…[to act] as an incubator and an accelerator for companies within the simulation games base,” said Martin.

The game design major has been a huge growth area for George Mason University. 

“It’s the fastest growing academic program in the history of George Mason University,” Martin commented.

With support from the economic development department, and an ongoing $250,000 investment from the Commonwealth of Virginia – legislation budget amendment that started two years ago, VSGI was able to take on 7 startup game design companies.

Another community partner that has helped VSGI is the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), which is based out of Alexandria. AACP has invested $500,000 thus far into VSGI.

“We had been studying education innovation as an association of educators for about a year seriously…we knew we needed a partner, and we thought about a couple, but none locally until we heard the announcement about the partnership between SGI and the county,” said Dr. Lucinda Maine, Executive Vice President and CEO of AACP.

Over 70 jobs have been created since the opening of VSGI last year.

Martin stated that the companies that work as part of the VSGI create ‘serious’ games, versus entertainment games. 

“The difference between entertainment games and serious games is that [entertainment games] are developed purely to entertain. Whereas serious games have another purpose – persuasive games, educational games – however, they still have an entertaining component…Serious games can do things – like save lives,” said Martin.

One of the companies working with VSGI has created a firefighter simulator that is being used in Fairfax County to train emergency responders, said Martin.

Atlanta is considered to be a growing entertainment game hub, and Martin stated that he hopes in the coming years that Prince William County will become a serious game industry hub, bringing jobs and development to the area.

Professions Quest, one of the original game design companies that partnered with VSGI has announced their first commercial game coming to market – a health industry learning game called Mimycx.

The game allows students and healthcare workers to work collaboratively to solve problems and learn about important information they will use in their careers.

This summer VSGI is planning for rapid growth, said Martin.

“We received another investment from the Commonwealth of Virginia this summer, and we’re expanding to 14 companies,” Martin stated.

The institute is currently taking applications for the 7 additional slots. The application deadline is May 1. 

 

News
Food Truck Fest comes to Woodbridge May 23

On May 23, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. there will be the first annual Woodbridge Food Truck Festival at Gar-Field Senior High School on Smoketown Road.

The festival will feature local vendors, and some of the area’s best food trucks, said a release.

The event is free for all residents, and there will be food and drinks available to purchase on site.

This festival signals a growing trend in food trucks in Prince William County, and the greater Northern Virginia area.

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Millennials fleeing suburbs for cities: Challenges facing Prince William County

Committee of 100

So much has changed in Prince William County in just the past 10 years, that the Prince William County Committee of 100 came together April 16 at the Montclair Country Club to discuss what the future of the county may look like and what it may need to succeed. 

The Prince William County Committee of 100 holds regular non-partisan, educational forums to study interests, problems and goals of the citizens of Prince William County, as well as the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park. It has been functioning for more than 25 years.

“The rapid growth in Prince William County over the past decade has presented enormous challenges in overcrowded classrooms, efficient commuter traffic patterns, shortages of public amenities and over-stressed public safety resources,” read a description of the forum on the committee’s web page. “Jobs and housing are the two drivers of the future economy in Prince William County. The current economic conditions threaten growth in quality jobs, housing values and expanding business opportunities. The future for Prince William County will, in large measure, be determined by how Prince William County adapts its policies to protect the future of our community.”

The panelists were Robert Buchanan, Principle of Buchanan Partners LLC and President of the 2030 Group; Dr. Terry L. Clower, Northern Virginia Chair and Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University; G. Mark Gibb, Executive Director of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission; and Ralph Stephenson, Chairman and Co-Founder of Citizens for Balanced Growth. 

Brendon Shaw, director of government relations for the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, served as moderator. 

Each panelist gave their take on the future of Prince William County — what it may look like and what it will need. At one point, a joke was made that more Millennials should have been invited. 

One focus of the discussion was the trend of Millennials moving back into cities instead of expanding into the suburbs as previous generations have. Gibb said a “demographic inversion” is underway. For the last 50 years the region saw the people moved out of the cities to suburbia but is now seeing a population shift toward the Beltway.

If you want people to come to Prince William County, then you have to develop areas that they want to come to, Gibb remarked. “Do you want to [be] a suburban area or be more like an area that provides amenities for these new Millennials?”

Mark Gibb, Executive Director of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, speaking at the April Committee of 100 program.

Mark Gibb, Executive Director of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, speaking at the April Committee of 100 program.

Clower told the group the county needs balance, and balance comes through planning. He said land-use plans need to tie into the region’s economic development strategies, which in turn need to tie into the transportation strategies. 

“That can put you ahead of the game,” said Clower. “Economic development is a process… It doesn’t ever stop.” 

The next meeting will be held the evening of May 21 at the Wyndham Garden in Manassas. Visit PWC100.org for more details.

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Fallas discount store opens across from Potomac Mills Mall

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Fallas Discount Stores, an off-price retail chain, has opened a new location in the Prince William Square Shopping Center, across from Potomac Mills Mall.

According to their website, the store chain was established in 1962 in Los Angeles, and now currently has more than 200 locations in the United States.

The new location offers a selection of clothing for men, women, boys, girls and juniors, along with luggage and home furnishings.

Fallas is one of several new stores to move in to the shopping center in the past few months.

A Ross Stores location is also set to be coming to the shopping center.

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Virginia Serious Game Institute launches their first online game

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Virginia Serious Game Institute is based in Prince William County

The Virginia Serious Game Institute has announced their first game title – ‘Mimycx’ – a multi-player online game meant to help those in the healthcare industry.

The game institute, based out of Prince William, is releasing the title in partnership with one of the startups it has incubated – Professions Quest, LLC.

Virginia Serious Game Institute started in October 2013, after a $32,000 investment from the Prince William County Board of Supervisors to fund the effort, which was a partnership with the county’s economic development department and George Mason University, a release said.

According to a release, the game is meant to help students and workers in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, nursing, dentistry, public health, allied health and veterinary care by working together on an interactive game that will teach them how to deal with real-life healthcare scenarios.

The Mimycx game will be debuted at the upcoming IPEC Institute conference in Herndon later this month, said a release.

“A key goal in the design of Mimycx is the development of a new approach to interprofessional education learning that creates benefits not yet discovered through any other virtual or e-learning educational vehicle.” said Dr. Scott M. Martin, Founding Director, Virginia Serious Game Institute, in a release.

Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman At-Large Corey Stewart spoke about how the game institute, and other high-tech projects in the county are driving growth and economic development.

“Prince William County encourages technological innovation, growth and expansion. The Virginia Serious Game Institute captures our shared vision to help small businesses realize their market potential and growth opportunities,” said Stewart in a release.

A release stated that the game is set in a futuristic environment, and they can either play on their own or interactively with five members or go on different missions within the game together. During the gameplay students in the healthcare field will be evaluated on their performance.

Following the launch of Mimycx, Professions Quest will be releasing a new scenario for gamplay every six weeks, stated a release.

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Delegate Anderson, Women Veterans Interactive to host veterans job fair April 18

On Saturday, April 18th, from 9am to 4pm, an area organization that supports women military veterans will team up with three elected officials to host a free Prince William County Veterans Resource & Job Fair. The event will be held at Ebenezer Baptist Church at 13020 Telegraph Road in Woodbridge.

The lead organization hosting the event will be Women Veterans Interactive, a nationally recognized not-for-profit organization that supports women veterans through various programs. U.S. Army veteran Tammi Lambert, a resident of Woodbridge and a Women Veterans Interactive member who deployed to Iraq while on active duty, has coordinated event planning efforts over the last several months.

Joining Lambert as a co-host will be Del. Richard L. Anderson (R-51st), a retired 30-year Air Force colonel and chairman of the General Assembly Military and Veterans Caucus. Del. Michael T. Futrell (D-2nd), whose district includes Quantico Marine Base, will also co-host the event. Dumfries Town Councilman Derrick Wood (D-Dumfries), a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, will also serve as a co-host for the job fair. (more…)

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Principi announces departure from community health center after 7 years

Frank Principi, a Woodbridge Supervisor, has announced that he has stepped down as the Executive Director of the Greater Prince William Community Health Center after seven years of service.

According to Paul Moessner, president of the health center’s board, Principi’s role as director was always meant to be a temporary one.

“We had a sit-down conversation about the things he’s looking to do, and things that [the center] is looking to do…[he] was brought on as a short-term rescue mission to decide whether or not we could be successful and go forward…and that was seven years ago. So we have moved significantly past that, and Frank has been just an absolute wonder…but it was time to move on,” said Moessner.

Moessner recalled the time when Principi first came on board, and how the center was struggling at that time.

“We worked very hard at [building the center] and I think structurally we had most of the right choices made, but we didn’t have the right [director] and at that time we were looking at scarce resources and were finding a difficult place to settle in…4 or 5 of us sat around my family room on a couple of weeks going, ‘Is this the week we have to close because we’ve run out of money,’” said Moessner.

Principi agreed that the director role was always meant to be temporary.

His job was initially to close the center, but after working with the patients, he decided to turn things around and make the health center a success.

“It’s been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my professional career. Seven years ago, I was asked to come in and close the center…walking through the waiting room every day on that short-term assignment, and looking at the faces of the people of our community…seeing those faces, I went to the board and asked them to change the assignment from closing the center to going to plan ‘B’ [to save the center],” Principi commented.

Principi said that over his time leading the Greater Prince William Community Health Center, they have seen enormous growth and success in the community.

“We’ve gone from 75 square feet of medical office space to 30,000 at two different locations. We’ve gone from 5 employees seven years ago, to 64 employees today. We served 800 patients in the first year of operations, and we’re anticipating that we’ll serve 16,000 patients. We have fought back valiantly, we’ve told our story in the community…and quite frankly after seven years, my job is done, and I’m looking to move on to bigger challenges,” Principi stated.

According to Principi, he is currently weighing his options professionally, but stated that he plans to stay in the non-profit world.

“I have a few opportunities that [I’m] exploring, and once that due diligence is complete I will be making an announcement publicly, but I will say I’m staying in the non-profit industry, and I’m going to be helping many larger numbers of people in our community,” commented Principi.

Paul Moessner said that the health center has launched a search for a new director, and the current interim director is Mary Ellen Bond, who is the operations director for the center.

“We had an announcement out for candidates for the Executive Director’s position…we have a number of people who have submitted [resumes]. Our board will sit down and make a selection from that. We’re not worried about being able to get a person with lots and lots of experience,” Moessner said.

Moessner commented that a decision for a permanent director would be made in the coming weeks.

News
New Hilton hotel opens in Woodbridge, brings 40 jobs

Updated 

The Hilton Garden Inn hotel located on Neabsco Commons place in Woodbridge had their grand opening yesterday.

The 141-room hotel is located near the NOVA Woodbridge campus and Freedom High School. 

According to Tim Sudberry, a manager at the hotel, it offers regular rooms, junior suites and 1-bedroom suites.

“95 is a busy corridor – we’re close to Fort Belvoir, we’re close to Quantico, we’re close to [Washington] D.C. so we’ve got a little bit of everything. We have business guests and leisure,” Sudberry commented. 

Sudberry said that the hotel hired 40 individuals.

At the Hilton Garden Inn they offer a full breakfast buffet, free Wi-Fi, microwaves, mini fridges, and points for their Hilton Honors program.

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H-Mart to open 49,000 square foot store in Manassas Junction

H-Mart will be opening a 49,000 square foot retail space in Manassas Junction, located on Centerville Road in Manassas.

The store will open on April 25, according to a media spokesperson for H-Mart.

H-Mart is a Asian supermarket chain based out of New Jersey, according to a release.

Their target customer market is the Asian-American population, and they differ from a traditional grocery store, in that they have several unique international offerings, said a media spokesperson for H-Mart.

The building was formerly used by Giant Food, but the company vacated the building back in November 2012, said a release.

The Manassas Junction shopping center is 79,427 square feet, and was built back in 1981.

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Smoothie King offers “healthy alternative,” jobs in Woodbridge

The first Smoothie King location opened at Merchant Plaza in Woodbridge on March 20 and is looking to provide a healthier alternative for meal replacements.

Smoothie King is a business that offers smoothies and athletic supplements in locations in the United States and abroad.

The new location is owned and operated by franchisee Richard Benjamin.

According to Benjamin, they opted for a soft opening, but they will be hosting a grand opening celebration on April 25, but business has been great thus far.

“We’ve actually hit the ground running – I don’t think we expected to have this type of volume this early, especially during a soft opening. We couldn’t be happier,” Benjamin said.

He was introduced to the Smoothie King brand back in college.

“I used to play football for the University of Maryland…and [my coach] asked me if I wanted to go [toIMG_1770 Smoothie King] with him after practice…and I had never even heard of [it]. I’ve loved it ever since,” Benjamin commented.

When deciding to move forward with opening a store, Benjamin stated that he wanted to work with Smoothie King because it provided a healthier alternative to other smoothie stores in the area.

“I really thought Smoothie King had a lot more nutritional value, and everything else. So I started looking into it, and I thought for myself, for my kids – we wanted a healthy alternative in the community,” said Benjamin.

Benjamin stated that each store typically employees 15 to 20 employees, and they are looking for individuals to join their team.

They also intend to partner with local organizations for fundraisers, and are currently working with the Woodbridge Little League teams.

“We’re active participants in the community…and we wanted to provide a healthy alternative because it’s good for our kids, it’s good for us and there’s something for everyone,” stated Benjamin.

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Bottle Stop wine bar offers local food and drinks in Occoquan

The Bottle Stop Wine Bar and Shop, located in Occoquan, offers a mixture of local artisan drinks and small tapas style food plates for a unique dining experience.

Owned by Emil and Kim Wigode, the wine bar opened up a year and a half ago.

The Wigodes previously owned the Old Dominion Wine Shop on Mill Street in Occoquan for 5 years, before deciding to expand into a new location with a wine bar.

“We really saw a lack of a place where you could have some good wine, whiskey, craft beer – and not necessarily large plates of food, but smaller platers of food that pair well… there just isn’t a lot of that in the Woodbridge area, especially Occoquan. We were trying to fill that niche,” said Emil Wigode.

For their alcoholic beverages, they pride themselves on feature local and small production artisan beverages.

“[We have] wines you’re not going to find at the grocery store or some of the big box places. They tend to be family owned wineries that we represent. We usually have at least one local Virginia wine available by the glass,” said Wigode.

Additionally, the wine bar offers whiskeys and scotches by the glass, as well as their local craft beer selection.

“We skew more local [with beers]. We have 6 craft beers on tap right now…we have 2 Virginia breweries [featured] – a Delaware brewery, a Pennsylvania one also,” stated Wigode. 

To go with the local drinks, Bottle Stop Wine Bar and Shop offers small tapas style fare that you can share with friends.

“Food wise we do cheese and charcuterie platters. So you can choose – we have a selection of about a dozen different artisan cheeses from around the world, and salamis and prosciuttos that you can mix and match. And then we do a few different versions of sliders – we do our specialty, which is a crab cake slider. And we do a beer braised beef slider – it’s short ribs braised in a local chocolate stout overnight. We do some smaller flatbread pizzas,” Wigode said.

Among their menu items, the most popular are the crab cake sliders and the Parmesan Asiago flatbread pizza.

According to Wigode, the community reaction to the wine bar has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We think people have enjoyed the concept. We get a lot of comments about how this was a needed element in the area. We’ve had a great first year and a half,” Wigode said.

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Will Virginia follow Indiana with its own religious freedom bill?

As Indiana moves forward with implementing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), Virginia may follow suit in the upcoming legislative session, which could have an impact on the state’s business climate.

The RFRA in Indiana will allow private companies to have legal cover and an option not to serve those whose sexual orientation or lifestyle does not align with a business owner’s religious beliefs.

There has been controversy over the legislation, and businesses like Angie’s List decided not to open offices in Indiana following its passage.

Religious freedom legislation is already on the books in Virginia. Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (Fauquier/Prince William) passed a religious freedom bill with bi-partisan support back in 2007. Lingamfelter’s bill made allowances for individual’s religious beliefs as it relates to state government – for example – a person that wears a head garment for religious reasons would not be required to remove the garment in a government building, even though there is a rule that head garments are to be removed in these buildings.

In this past legislative session, Delegate Bob Marshall sought to expand the terms of this religious freedom bill to include private businesses. The bill was killed in a sub-committee voice vote.

“It specifically dealt with the area of state licensing…I’ve got clinical psychologists coming to me, telling me they’ve got contracts with the defense department, and that they’re being told that they have to affirmatively counsel that sodomy-based marriage is a good thing and that people who are in such a union need to be counseled to stay together,” said Marshall.

According to Marshall, the bill he put forth was meant only to protect First Amendment rights.

“The First Amendment…the goal [of the legislation] was to protect your freedom of association rights, and your rights of religious liberty, as established by the First Amendment,” Marshall commented.

Marshall stated that the bill would not have had any negative impact on business in Virginia, which he also reportedly stated in a letter to the Indianapolis Star.

“Angie’s List can’t go to 20 states if they’re really serious [about the Indiana legislation]… nine other states have adopted this [law] through court litigation…This is simply fake – what the homosexual lobby and their liberal allies are doing. Nobody goes to a hamburger stand, and is asked the question, ‘Are you a homosexual?’”

Additionally, Marshall commented that he might reintroduce his bill in the next legislative session if re-elected this November. (more…)

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Bring your own cup to 7-Eleven for a Slurpee on April 11

On April 11, the 7-Eleven convenience store chain will be allowing customers to bring their own cups from home to fill with Slurpees.

And when they say any cup – they mean it.

The store locations will only be charging $1.49 plus tax for the Slurpees for the entire day, and there is no limit to the size, look or shape of the cup you can bring.

The deal is limited to April 11 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

All 7-Eleven locations are participating.

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