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Dogtopia expanding to new Gainesville location

Dogtopia, a one-stop shop for all things canine, will soon be opening a  location in Gainesville, VA. Dogtopia offers full or half-day dog day care, seven days a week. For dirty dogs, spa services will be included with boarding. The state-of-the-art facility is set to open soon although a date has not been listed. Company representatives have not returned requests for comment.

For those nervous about leaving their beloved dog alone, Dogtopia offers webcam access in each of their four playrooms so you can check in with your pet. Dogtopia’s indoor playrooms are fully climate-controlled, and the rubber flooring is designed for the dogs’ comfort and to ease stress on paws, joints, legs and hips. 

Dogtopia has nearby locations already open in Woodbridge, Springfield and Manasssas. 

News
Long & Foster’s Gainesville office hosts community service day

The Gainesville, Virginia, office of Long & Foster Real Estate, the largest independent residential real estate company in the United States, will take part in the company’s 20th annual Community Service Day on June 7, 2017. The Gainesville office will join the brokerage’s over 220 offices in the day of giving back by hosting a packing party for Comfort Cases.

Thousands of children enter the foster-care system each year, and most carry little more than the clothes on their backs. Comfort Cases was founded on a mission to provide the essentials to these brave children on their journey to find a home. Founder Rob Chasteen-Scheer, an adoptive father of four, experienced the foster care system first hand as a young adult which led to the formation of Comfort Cases.

“Our Gainesville Long & Foster agents appreciate our community’s support and this is our way of showing how much we appreciate our customers and clients,” said Managing Broker Zhanneta Lopez. (more…)

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Market at Opitz Crossing sells for $29 million

From a press release: 

Sterling Organization, a vertically integrated private equity real estate investment firm has announced the sale of Market at Opitz Crossing, a 157,724-square-foot grocery-anchored shopping center in the Washington, D.C. MSA, to Klein Enterprises for $29.25 million. Market at Opitz Crossing was originally acquired on November 18, 2013, via Sterling’s institutional fund Sterling Value Add Partners, LP (“SVAP”) for $17.75 million. Geoffrey Millerd and Mat Adler of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank represented the Sterling-managed fund in the recent disposition of the asset.

Located at the intersection of Jefferson Davis Highway (US-1) and Opitz Boulevard just 1 mile east of Interstate 95 in Woodbridge, VA, Market at Opitz Crossing is anchored by Wakefern’s grocery concept PriceRite. During Sterling’s ownership, a new Chipotle Mexican Grill outparcel building was added and the occupancy of the shopping center increased from approximately 77% to 96%. (more…)



Water’s End Brewery knows ‘sometimes you just need a Damn Beer’

Prince William Beer Trail

Editors note: This is the second in a series of posts showcasing breweries in Prince William County, Virginia.

After Prince William County had changed a zoning code that longer restricted breweries to industrial areas and allowed them to open in neighborhood shopping districts, Water’s End Brewery chose Dillingham Square in Lake Ridge, and the rest is history.

Owners Zach Mote, Ryan Sharkey, and Josh Fournelle are dedicated owners; you can always find them behind the bar serving customers. As of now, the brewery doesn’t have any other employees, but Ryan Sharkey, one of the three co-owners, noted that when they do start hiring employees, an owner will always remain present.

“We receive constant feedback and the raw experience of serving our customers face to face makes us focus intensely on producing the highest quality beer we can,” said Sharkey. “Our brewer has actually taken a “taproom vote” on which style of beer to brew the next day- that’s not something that would happen at most other breweries.”

Their most popular drink is “Damn Beer,” which they promise to always have on the menu. Sharkey describes it as an “easy-drinking golden ale that is often referred to as their ‘gateway beer.”

Sharkey notes that many customers are new to craft beer and it can be difficult to distinguish a brew that customers like. The Damn Beer gives an easy introduction for newcomers and provides a break from stronger flavors seen in stouts and other darker brews.

“Sometimes you just need a Damn Beer, and our craft beer aficionados will order it too as a break from the big flavors of some other beers,” said Sharkey.

There’s also a method behind the naming madness of each brew courtesy of their brewer, Zach Mote.
“Our Adventure Hat, strong American black ale, describes the hat Zach would like to wear while on brew days on the back deck,” said Sharkey. “You’ll find the hat proudly hanging behind the bar.”

The HopDrop, a white IPA, describes Water’s End logo; Sharkey explains that it’s a water droplet transforming to hop cone as “water ends and the beer begins.” Some names will also have references to the community.

Make sure to also keep an eye out for their Beer Club, one that sports 270+ members who can enjoy larger pours, discounts, special events, and beer releases.

More: Comics, sci-fi, and beer. A one of a kind brewery in Prince William.

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‘We passed a bunch of cows on the side of the road’ and Moo Moo Junction was born.

James Smith was going to tear down Moo Moo Junction before he decided to open an ice cream stand there.

The small, walk-up ice cream stand opened at the corner of West and Church Streets in Downtown Manassas. The opening came one year after Smith purchased the adjacent building; a house turned office building at 9119 Church Street.

The building that is now home to the ice cream shop was a storage shed, one he thought he no longer wanted.

“That’s where they store all the files [for his office building], and it would flood a lot, and it has some drainage issues,” said Smith. “It was in pretty rough shape, so I was going to tear it down because I needed more space for the parking lot.” (more…)

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Jitterbugs Ice Cream Cafe dedicated to memory of owner’s late parents

It’s like taking a step back in time.

The new Jitterbugs Ice Cream Cafe is now open on Center Street in Downtown Manassas. The ice cream shop’s interior is that of a classic diner featuring chrome fixtures, a jukebox, a lunch counter, and tables designed to look like your sitting in a 1957 Chevy convertible.

“The inspiration is, it is truly a tribute to my mom and dad. I had started the plans for this in 2011 believe it or not, everything in here is custom-built,” said Bren Compton, the owner of the family restaurant.

Customers will find multiple flavors of ice cream, milkshakes, and soon sandwiches, hot dogs, and salads. No alcohol will be served.

“Nothing alcoholic,” said Compton. “It is a family restaurant cafe.”

Compton said Jitterbugs will be a destination for downtown and will increase foot traffic to the area. This the second business for Compton in Downtown Manassas. She’s operated the Alyssa Bryn boutique for the past 17 years.

Ice cream was something Compton shared with her late parents. During the renovation process, she wrote on a piece of unfinished drywall a dedication to her mother and father who passed away seven, and 10 years ago, respectively.

“I used to call them up even after I was married and I had children, and I would ask them to meet me for ice cream, and they always came,” said Compton. “Then my mom’s last year of five she was not able to drive, so she would call me to come pick her up and take her for ice cream.”

Jitterbugs Ice Cream Cafe is located at 9125 Center Street.

News
Former Channel 5 anchor speaks to Prince William Chamber

Laura Evans spoke publicly in Prince William County for the first time since leaving the anchor chair at Washington, D.C.’s local Fox TV station.

Evans worked at WTTG-TV Channel 5 for the past 18 years anchoring from the news desk, working in the field, and producing small news segments that featured up and coming members of the community, and businesses that helped change the lives of people in need for the better.

“It’s great to be speaking not in front of a teleprompter, not on contract, and not wearing false eyelashes,” Evans told a group of about 50 people gathered for a “meet the media” event held by the Prince William Chamber of Commerce.

The former newscaster who lives in Maryland and has just started a new marketing and public relations firm Laura Evans Media told a story of changing TV news environment that is fueled by competition not only among rival news stations but between co-workers sharing content on social media. (more…)

News
Popcorn Monkey will expand, open second location in Manassas

A new gourmet popcorn shop will open a second location in Downtown Manassas.

Popcorn Monkey will expand to a 1,000-square foot shop on the corner of Main and Center streets. The shop will replace the old ArtBeat Gallery that closed earlier this spring.

The business will sell flavored popcorn, candy, and soda. The candy and soda, to include wax lips, will have a retro flair. All products are everything will be made in-house, according to store owner Deltone Moore, who owns the business and runs it with is daughter and son.

The flavors of popcorn will be mixed, to include cheese flavor, sweet flavor, as well as savory flavor popcorn mixed with nuts.

Popcorn Monkey opened its first store in Middleburg four years ago. All products will continue to made at the 1,500-square foot Middleburg location and shipped to Manassas.

Before deciding to open a new location in Downtown Manassas, Moore opened a popular kiosk at Manassas Mall in 2015 and sold flavored popcorn. The kiosk is now closed, according to a mall customer service representative reached by phone. 

“We couldn’t keep up with demand,” he said.

The company fills multiple online orders, as well as works to fill orders for weddings and special events.

Moore plans to open his new shop in Downtown at the end of June.

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A Prince William County woman wins Virginia Small Business Person of the Year

Corliss Udoema never had a plan to grow her business.

She admittedly never set sales goals or had plans to grow beyond working from her kitchen table.

“If you were trying to talk to a ‘business’ person, that’s not me,” she said. “I had taken one contract, and I did well. When I hired somebody, I treated them well. They call it organic growth.”

Udoema grew her company Contract Solutions from her kitchen table at her home in Prince William County to a multi-million dollar operation. The staffing agency was awarded a $40 million contract with the U.S. Treasury last year. (more…)

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What will it take to make Virginia number one for business again?

Virginia’s rural counties are dying as the population continues to flee the southwest portion of the state.

Along the state’s “urban crescent” on Interstate 95 in Northern Virginia to I-64 to Hampton Roads, things are booming. In fact, they’re the two only growth regions in the state.

Stephen Moret at Virginia’s Economic Partnership hopes to change all that while working to restore the state to its “lofty” perch to the top of the best states in the nation to business, where it sat in 2008.

“We see Northern Virginia continuing to be a growth leader, but we want to continue to push for growth in all regions of the state,” said Moret.

As residents leave to find new jobs in other states, companies have been reluctant to invest in Virginia for reasons like higher taxes, federal sequestration, and what Moret called negative perceptions about the state. Washington, D.C., and its Virginia suburbs consistently rank 2nd on national lists of worst traffic congestion. (more…)

News
A non ‘Mac Guy’ opens a Mac store in Manassas

Ron Mosely has never been a “Mac guy.”

He’s used iPhones and iPads, but he’s never been the one to stand in in line outside an Apple Store for the release of the next big must-have thing from the world’s biggest retailer.

“No, that wasn’t me,” said Mosley.

But he was looking for an opportunity.While living with his family in Colorado, his daughter tried to get him to purchase a Tropical Smoothie franchise.

“‘Dad, there’s none here,’ and she was right,” said Mosely, about the lack of locations of the popular drink and sandwich chain where they were living. (more…)

News
McAuliffe to speak about business growth in Prince William County

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe will address the Prince William Chamber of Commerce.

He will deliver a “State of the Commonwealth” address at the Hylton Performing Arts Center “focusing largely on issues related to the economy and business climate,” according to a Chamber spokeswoman.

The governor’s upcoming stop in Prince William County speaks to the region’s growing business community.

“I do not believe in recent history we have had a governor concentrated on economic development more than McAuliffe,” said Dr. Terry Clowler, head of the George Mason University Center for Regional Anayalis. “When he is going about the state telling the story of opportunity and economic potential, I think it’s easy for him to find both of those in Prince William County.”

Prince William County’s location outside the Capital Beltway and its large population have allowed it to attract a mix of manufacturing and government contracting jobs. The county is now the state’s second-largest locality, and it’s emerging position in business is a newfound one.

“I don’t think it’s unfair to say that even 10 years [Prince William County] was not at the forefront of anyone’s mind when they talk about the forefront of economic growth in Virginia,” added Clower.

The Prince William Chamber invited McAuliffe to speak at a luncheon that will be Hylton Performing Arts Center, located at 10960 George Mason Circle in Manassas, on Tuesday, June 13. Doors open at 10:45 a.m. The Governor’s remarks will commence at 11:30 a.m. with the luncheon concluding at 1:00 p.m.

All are welcome to attend.

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ALDI remodels, reopens Manassas, Stafford stores ahead of Lidl opening

Deborah Anderson was out for two things at eight o’clock this morning.

“Wine and chocolate,” the Stafford woman said.

Anderson stood first in line to enter a newly renovated ALDI grocery store on Garrisonville Road in Stafford County. It was one of three ALDI locations, to include stores in Manassas and one near Fredericksburg, that reopened Friday after closing one month ago for renovation.

The new ALDI is about 2,000 square feet larger, brighter, and stocked with more groceries than before. The grocer is not only known for its low prices, and it’s off brand products comparable to name brand items, but for its growing selection of organic produce. (more…)

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CENTERFUSE co-work space opens; Manassas leaders say public investment is to stimulate job creation

MANASSAS, Va. — City leaders presented a $200,000 check to CENTERFUSE.

The note from the Manassas City Government signified the co-working space inside the old Hynson’s Department Store, more recently an old Fauquier Bank location at Center and Main streets in Downtown Manassas, is open for business.

The facility is designed for entrepreneurs or small businesses in need of office space in which to rent and work, a conference room, or a spot to sit down, open a laptop, and fire off some business emails.

“We looked at all kinds of different models.. what we ultimately settled on is a public-private partnership where this is a business-led enterprise,” said Manassas Economic Development Director Patrick Small. (more…)



RASco brews up better beverage quality for Prince William County breweries, restaurants

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As the craft beer industry rapidly expands and builds with it a following of beer connoisseurs in their quest for the ultimate sensory experiences through flavor, there is one key technology in Prince William County that can make all the difference for better-tasting craft beer. 

For the past two years, ROMEM Aqua Systems Company, RASco, Inc. has been focused on this technology –  research and development of their TruBru water system.  Yes, that’s right water.  Engineering a cleaner, better-tasting craft beer in Prince William County starts with water. 

TruBru is an advanced filtration system that uses automated technologies to deliver consistent water chemistry, which is vital to overall beverage quality. RASco miniaturized their existing technology for use in breweries by developing a modular, scalable, mobile water purification system that could fit inside a brewery’s common tight spacing.

“If you don’t start out with a quality first ingredient, it’s hard to produce a quality end product. In breweries, that first ingredient is water.  This is our most exciting product, and it’s applicable not only to breweries but to restaurants as well. We explain to people how the different chemical relationships of our water can help them produce their foods. That quality water gives a better taste. This is not your typical processed water, bottled water or tap water,” said Jim Judkins, RASco Vice President of Operations. 

RASco was built on water

In 1977 after 20-plus years in the U.S. Army, Dr. Vincent Ciccone launched V.J. Ciccone & Associates in Woodbridge, VA. Focused predominantly on civil and environmental engineering services, the company expanded over time to include mechanical, electrical, plumbing and even architectural engineering. After a period of growth in the 70’s and early 80’s, V.J. Ciccone & Associates was acquired in the mid-80’s by a large international engineering firm. 

In 1991, Dr. Ciccone opted to re-form the company as RASco, Inc. to implement patented water purification systems. Housed in a ten thousand square foot facility off Route 1 in Woodbridge, RASco is in the optimal location due to its proximity to Quantico and Fort Belvoir. RASco’s clients include various state and federal government agencies, as well as private sector and commercial businesses. (more…)

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Okras and its ‘N’Awlins’ fare a sign of life on the Virginia Oaks Golf Course

It’s the “Cheers” of Virginia Oaks.

Okras — a staple restaurant in Downtown Manassas since 1998 — opened its second location on the Virginia Oaks golf course clubhouse in Gainesville. The Cajun-style restaurant is the sole occupant of the clubhouse, complete with dining areas, a full bar, patio, and events spaces.

The new restaurant offers the same signature “N’Awlins” food including Shrimp and Grits, Red Beans and Rice, Gumbo, but it does so in an atmosphere that is brighter, more open, and more conservative than its Manassas flagship location. (more…)

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‘CENTERFUSE’ will hold its grand opening ceremony on Friday

MANASSAS, Va. — The region’s first co-working space funded in part with public money will hold its grand opening on Friday afternoon.

Located in Downtown Manassas, “CENTERFUSE” will offer workspaces for entrepreneurs and small companies that cannot, or chose not to rent a full-fledged office. 

From a press release: 

“The wait is over! CENTERFUSE, the much anticipated coworking Space will fill the gap for businesses to operate economically and efficiently in a beautiful and inviting atmosphere.  Moreover, it brings opportunity for the many entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and emerging ventures that need a fully equipped space to do business, network and grow. CENTERFUSE offers flexibility for businesses to work… their way, with keyless entry, and 24/7-secured-member access. 

CENTERFUSE has several membership options to fit individual needs, a calendar filled with activities available to members with workshops, seminars, and networking events. You may choose to attend a “JAVA JUICE UP” (morning programs packed with marketing, technology tips or business training), “THINKATHON” brown bag lunches, or “COLLABREWTIVE” Fridays, packed with fun networking activities. CENTERFUSE is a state-of-the art facility, equipped with the latest smart TV’s, hi-speed printers, conferencing equipment, fast WIFI, coffee/tea bar, and a fully-equipped kitchen.”

The co-work space will be located inside the Hynson’s Department Store on the corner of Center and Main streets, which was most recently home to Fauquier Bank. Space inside CENTERFUSE will be rented for between $250 and $800 per month.

Manassas City officials agreed to invest $200,000 in the co-working space. The money will be used for the build-out, or remodeling of the interior of the building and will be paid to the owners of the center — a jointly owned effort between Whitlock Wealth and ECU Communications — upon completion of the build out.

Historic Manassas Inc. has been contracted to provide business services and events at the co-working space, as well as man a reception area. 

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for co-work space begins at 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 5. The center was originally slated to open on April 7 but was delayed due to building remodeling and construction.

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Get a $10 Monza gift card for donating a child’s swimsuit

From Monza: 

From now through May 31, the public can drop off new swimsuits for CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates of Children) of Manassas, Va., at Monza and Carmello’s of Historic Manassas, Va. in return for a $10 Monza gift card. For more information, go to www.eatmonza.com.  

“Swimming pools will be opening soon, and so many kids go without proper swimsuits,” said Alice Pires, owner of Carmello’s and Monza of Historic Manassas, Va. “CASA is a tremendous support for kids in need of support, guidance and love, and we love the opportunity to be able to give back,” said Pires.

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The reality of flying cars may be right around the corner

A Manassas company has been tapped by the ride-sharing service Uber to develop a new flying concept vehicle.

From an Aurora Flight Sciences press release:

Aurora Unveils New eVTOL Aircraft at Uber Elevate Summit

Dallas, Texas, April 25, 2017 – Uber announced today that it has selected Aurora Flight Sciences as a partner to develop electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for its Uber Elevate Network. The formal announcement of the initiative partners took place at Uber’s Elevate Summit in Dallas, Texas.

“Uber is taking a big step forward toward making the world’s first VTOL network a reality and our partnership with Aurora Flight Sciences will help get us off the ground,” said Mark Moore, Director of Engineering for Uber. “The Elevate VTOL network will help improve urban mobility around the world and transform the way we travel.”
(more…)

News
Breweries seeking Virginia grain is more about ‘lip service’ than action

The new BadWolf Public House is about to get $10,000 in grant money from Virginia.

The recently-opened restaurant and soon-to-be brewery in Downtown Manassas won the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Grant (AFID) with help from the city before opening in March. It stipulates the brewery — a joint venture between BadWolf Brewing Company and C.J. Finz restaurant in Manassas — will invest more than $200,000 into its new Battle Street location.

That money will be used to invest in new brewing equipment and to improve the building. The grant also stipulates thew brewery must create two new jobs, and, most importantly, purchase nearly $22,000 in grain, wheat, or barley from Virginia farmers.

BadWolf has until May 31, 2020, to make good on its promise to do this, or the state will ask for its money back.

These AFID grants are nothing new to Manassas. Last year, city gin and bourbon makers KO Distillery won a $25,000 state grant that would help it triple production of its product by using Virginia grain.

Statewide, the brewing and distilling industry agriculture is booming, having a $52 billion economic impact to the state economy.

“Breweries; this industry has been one fo the fastest growing industries in Virginia if you look at the beverage industry as a whole,” said Ben Rowe, with the Virginia Department of Agriculture Grain Producers Association.

But with so many brewers opening up and not using wheat, barley, or corn that is grown in the state, that was a problem for the agriculture department. The AFID grant was born, in part, to keep more money in the hands of local producers and “to support local efforts in attracting new and expanding agriculture and forestry processing/value-added facilities using Virginia-grown products.”

“If you have a brewery in a locality and they’re purchasing grain out of the state or out of the country, the only thing you’re profiting from is the sale of the beer at the breweries,” said Rowe.

But the type of grain a microbrewery wants can be much different than major beer makers like Anheuser-Busch.

Today at Virginia Tech, researchers are working to make a better strain of Virginia grain — one that tastes good when made into alcohol, and one that breweries want to buy.

“We’re working closely with the food science and technology dept here tech to assess flavor profiles and characteristics of what we’re testing and what we’re developing so we can make better recommendations about the end use of the products we’re looking at,” said Wade Thomason, a professor and grains specialist at Virginia Tech.

How much Virginia farmers are paid for their crop determines what they grow each year. Right now, there is no shortage of Virginia-sourced grains for breweries and distilleries who want to buy them, Thomason added.

“I think there is more lip service going on right now from people who say they want to purchase Virginia-grown grain versus those who really are doing it,” he said.

Thomason liked the process of shopping for Virginia grain to shopping for a new bike.

“If you want to buy a bicycle today, you can name five places where you can get a bicycle at a different price and a different brand. If you were very specific about one of those you may be down to one or two places, but you would still be able to call a business and find out if they have what you want,” he explained.

“We don’t have that sort of awareness or interconnectivity between growers, producers, or end users. It’s basically, right now, the onus is on the distiller to go find a farmer and make this happen.”

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