Thursday, November 26, 2009

Vintage 51 South Riding - Loudoun/Dulles South's Premier Brewpub and Local Music Scene

Vintage 51 Restaurant, Brew Lounge and Live Local Music

The past 12 years here in the Rt. 50 Corridor/Dulles South exurbia area of Northern Virginia's Loudoun County have been an exercise in waiting - waiting for a real local music scene, waiting for decent restaurants, waiting for more upscale martini bars and brewpubs, waiting for the traffic, schools and economy to improve....Basically, waiting for the Dulles South region (Eastern Loudoun, Western Fairfax and Western Prince William counties) to evolve its entertainment, retail and cultural offerings in the same manner as the Dulles North area already has (i.e. Ashburn).

The wait's over, finally - at least for those in the Chantilly/South Riding area who enjoy professional and local live music, handcrafted and locally-sourced classic American meals in an "urban lounge" setting, and a spectacular selection of custom martinis, Loudoun wines and regional craft beers not seen to date this side of Rt. 15 and the Dulles Toll Road.

Vintage 51 Restaurant and Brew Lounge fully opened recently in South Riding's Market Square, at the intersection of Rt. 50 and the Loudoun County parkway. Vintage 51 is an extension of the very popular Vintage 50 Brew Lounge in Leesburg, already voted one of "Loudoun's hottest new restaurants".

Loudoun's Best Beer
While Vintage 51 in South Riding is currently unable to serve handcrafted brews created over at its own Leesburg microbrewery, it does serve an inspired selection of wines, custom martinis and cocktails, and a huge selection of great beers (in the spirit of the Northern Virginia Brewfest series) from breweries including Clipper City, Flying Dog, and Dogfish Head. We purchased our own custom "Vintage Growler" with Bell's Two-Hearted Ale for some Thanksgiving cheer...

Loudoun's Finest Wines
For the Loudoun wine lovers, the Vintage 50/51 restaurant wine bars offer over 200 wines by the glass or bottle - ranging from international to very local Loudoun winery selections including Chrysalis and Fabbioli Cellars.

Loudoun's Best Live Music
The live music scene in Loudoun County and Dulles South is dramatically improved with the addition of Vintage 51 live performers and local music events weekdays and weekends. We'll provide a lot more information on this Dulles South/Loudoun music scene shortly - last night at Vintage 51, for example, we thoroughly enjoyed the smooth, reggae-infused, heavily-improvised acoustic rock classics by Purcellville's own Miguel Aubertin, a popular favorite and regular around the Loudoun vineyard and Vintage 50 music venues. Sample his music at

Loudoun's Hottest New Restaurant
The Vintage 50 and Vintage 51 menus are a savory collection of locally-raised beef, lamb, pork and wild fowl dinners, fresh seasonal vegetables, herbs, fruits and cheeses, creative seafood appetizers, and classically modern, innovative New American comfort food. The "Made in Loudoun" initiative is clearly in play here - from the delicious lunch sandwiches with local ingredients and handmade sauerkraut, to organic meat entrees made with local ingredients from Loudoun's own organic farm at the Fields of Athenry.

Check out the new Loudoun and Dulles South restaurant, brew lounge and live music scene now on a regular basis - in South Riding.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Northern Virginia Business News, and a Thanksgiving Carpet/Upholstery Cleaning Special

Happy Thanksgiving 2009! Hopefully your travels, entertaining and family events are safe and healthy this year. We're looking forward to a little downtime and giving thanks for the highlights of what's otherwise been a difficult year for many businesses. While hiring and long-term business investing hasn't exactly picked up yet, there are many signs of pickup among Loudoun and Northern Virginia small and home businesses, as consumers and other small businesses begin to pick up buying activity or at least begin planning to do so.

New this Thanksgiving - keep track of all the growing business news in Loudoun County and Northern Virginia, at Northern Virginia Business News online. A new online business and marketing publication service of KME Internet Marketing, Northern Virginia Business News (or "NOVABizNews") provides fully search-optimized and free exposure of all Northern Virginia Business News events, press releases and social media announcements. Follow us also on twitter, @novabiznews.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Loudoun Dulles District Update from Stevens Miller - Plus Commentary

November 10, 2009 Dulles District Newsletter‏

Proposed Site for HS-7
There is good news for everyone who has been waiting anxiously for information concerning the location of a new high school in Dulles South. On Tuesday, October 27th, the School Board voted to approve the purchase of 101 acres of land for construction of HS-7 and a future elementary school. The land is located on Goshen Road on the western edge of the Stone Ridge community. The School Board has worked closely with the Board of Supervisors these past months to find a site that is located near the population that it will serve. HS-7 is scheduled to open in the fall of 2012.

There will be a community information meeting about HS-7 and a future elementary school on November 18th at 6:30pm in the Mercer Middle School auditorium (42149 Greenstone Drive, Aldie). The design plan for the high school is 1800 students and 875 for the elementary school. The meeting will provide the community with an excellent opportunity to receive more information about the proposed school site and plans. I hope you are able to attend.

For more information, please contact:
Dr. Sam Adamo, Director
Department of Planning and Legislative Services
Loudoun County Public Schools
21000 Education Court
Ashburn, VA 20148
Phone: 571-252-1050 Fax: 571-252-1101

Commentary - this is indeed good news, albeit a year delayed

Letter to Governor Kaine
In 2006, Governor Kaine set a goal to preserve 400,000 acres of land before his administration leaves office in 2010. The benefits of this goal include preserving water quality, providing additional opportunities for recreation and preserving wildlife habitat and historic landscapes. As of September 15, 2009 the state has permanently protected 352,623 acres.

Recently four large, multi-parcel properties located in the Dulles District went into foreclosure. These four properties, Greenfields, Broad Run, Lenah and Arcola, comprise 4,154 acres. Three years ago, a proposal to allow 15,000 homes on these properties was narrowly defeated.

I believe the foreclosure of these four properties in Loudoun presents a unique opportunity to help meet Governor Kaine’s preservation goals as well as the increasing demand for a state park in the Northern Virginia region. At my request, the Board unanimously voted to send a letter to Governor Kaine requesting the Commonwealth purchase one or all of these properties for a state park in Loudoun.

Commentary - we believe this is also a unique opportunity to bring much-needed revenue, community services and opportunity to Loudoun and the Dulles South area, were this land set aside for things like a University Campus, Recreational fields/sports park, Environmental Educaation/Research facilities, an Arts/Entertainment Center, etc...let's be a little more visionary and serious about this?

Budget for FY 2011

As the budget process begins, the Board of Supervisors would like to hear residents’ opinions about budget priorities. There are two public input meetings about the budget scheduled in early December. I am also planning to host a few community meetings in Dulles regarding the budget. More information soon!

Budget Public Input Sessions:
- Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 6:30pm in the County Government Center in Leesburg
- Thursday, Dec. 10 at 6:30pm in the School Administration Building in Ashburn

Residents can begin signing up for either session beginning Tuesday, Dec. 1 by calling 703-777-0200.

Commentary - one area we'd like immediate, serious budget improvement and focus on, is Economic Development and Loudoun County Marketing, to attract and retain businesses, assist small businesses, attract research/educational centers, etc...hand-in-hand with this would be significant improvement in the quality of education, including teacher recruitment and salaries, research programs, advanced and continuing education in science/technology/business, etc.

Gum Spring Regional Library
The long awaited groundbreaking for the Gum Spring Regional Library was held Saturday, November 7th. The ceremony was an exciting beginning to what will be a great asset to the Rt. 50 corridor. The library is scheduled to open in 2011.

Veterans Day
Please remember that November 11th, is Veterans Day. This day is set aside to honor the brave men and women who have served in the armed services. Many have given a lot to keep us safe and free. Please take a moment to thank a veteran for their service and recognize their honor, bravery and service to our country.


Thursday, November 05, 2009

Loudoun County Marketing and Business Retention - Awash in Unrealized Opportunity

This week's Loudoun County Marketing and Business Retention Committee meeting (the MBRC is a part of the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development, or DED) was quite interesting, with many discussions revolving around the status of Loudoun's marketing efforts to attract "heads in beds" as well as new business investors.

What was missing, from our perspective as a Loudoun-based professional Internet Marketing firm, was a concrete marketing plan and progress report with measurable performance indicators and objectives, that most businesses typically use to gauge the effectiveness of their integrated online and offline marketing and communications efforts. While the Loudoun County Visitor's Association (LCVA, a non-profit association mostly funded by the DED, as "primary programmatic element of Loudoun's travel and tourism promotion") is doing a fantastic job of creating online web-based marketing material and beginning to leverage social media/Web 2.0 tools (follow @visitloudoun), there's quite literally no similar effort or investment (in our opinion) for doing the same online to promote Loudoun's non-tourism related business community.

Here's the interesting tidbits we learned:

- The MBRC has recommended that the DED fully fund the LCVA for the upcoming fiscal cycle - this is a good thing, and frankly funding should be increased - though making sure that the LCVA capabilities and programs are executed in a way that they can be integrated and reused for other DED programs, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and the Chamber of Commerce.

- The Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce 2010 Public Policy Positions paper, regarding Economic Development, was discussed and generally received approving remarks - though we'd suggest the word "Internet" or "Online" be used once or twice. The paper does recommend twice that "measurable performance goals and metrics" should be developed and implemented, and that Loudoun leverage in its marketing the "County's strongest economic assets, including industry sectors where Loudoun possesses a clear competitive advantage". Absolutely correct.

- "Rural Tourism" initiatives should be moved to the LCVA program - this is also a good idea, as LCVA is in name a "whole county initiative".

- Loudoun's got over 4 and 1/2 years worth of vacant buildings, and it evidently costs more to provide residents with Government services than businesses - this "upside down" and otherwise bleak indicator of the economy is actually an marketing opportunity waiting to be leveraged, i.e. Loudoun's competitiveness in the DC region in terms of low-cost, accessible and environmentally-attractive places to work and recruit employees.

- One of the MBRC/DED's biggest priorities is to do a better job recruiting new businesses to the county, overcoming the persistent perception that Loudoun's incredibly difficult to do business with...what was particularly interesting about this discussion, was that despite this perception, there really are very good examples of business investment success, and very real methods and routes to successfully purchasing and operating properties in the County - these examples and information, however, are simply not marketed.

- The initial foray by LCVA into online marketing and social media is well-received and is evidently generating positive economic impact, but can be much more aggressive and infused with professional Internet Marketing and Social Media ROI tracking methodology...for example, there were "0" new subscribers to the Industry eNewsletter in September; sales numbers were significantly down this quarter because (in part) of the absence of a sales person (an online sales campaign can be much more self-propagating); there appeared to be no online paid advertising at all; overall "IT Marketing Economic Impact" was down nearly 10% since last year; and there was "no data" by which to judge economic impact of the social media activity.

- There was discussion regarding the many events recently held or being planned, including a "Teacher's Internship Project", a "Vendor Opportunity Fair", the "Breakfast of Leaders", etc...but these events simply aren't marketing or published effectively using available online tools and outlets (just try to find them using Google; one meeting attendee remarked that the Local and Regional Media outlets simply don't provide as much coverage of Loudoun/DED-related news as they should).

- There was much other discussion about "print-based" marketing and signage associated with existing or planned rest stops (to be re-opened, according to our new Governor!), visitor's centers and other community centers - all good things, but with low ROI compared to online methods.

In all, we'd classify the road ahead for the DED and MBRC as "awash with overwhelming and real opportunities for professionally-managed success, use of Internet New Media, and immediate tactical collaboration with the local business and technology community".

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