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Eat the Frog
43170 Southern Walk Plaza Ste 104
Ashburn, VA 20148
Having pursued her passion for fitness for over twenty-seven years, Julie Green and her husband Travis, decided that they wanted to bring a unique experience to the neighborhood. After countless hours of extensive research, Green jumped at the chance to bring Eat the Frog Fitness, a franchised gym to Loudoun County.
Founded by the Olympic decathlon gold and silver medalist, Bryan Lay, and founder and CEO of Thrive Fitness, Joe Culver, Eat the Frog’s central premise is built on a quote by Mark Twain, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” In other words, get that dreaded work out in, and you’ll be able to conquer anything!
The black and neon green-themed gym will be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with coaches on site most of the day to provide guidance and training to new and old-hat members alike. Once members get the hang of the classes, they can focus their efforts on activities led by Tad, the virtual coach who is accessible throughout the day.
Regular fitness assessments and customized eightweek programs allow coaches to help members achieve their goals, with a strong emphasis on recovery every four weeks. Anywhere from thirty-five to forty classes are offered a week, ensuring that even the busiest member has an opportunity to actively participate in the program.
With new equipment such as Nu Bells, an innovative barbell system which can be used in multiple ways, as well as Kaiser bikes, Green highlights that the fitness program “really is geared for everyone. Fitting all levels from beginner to athlete, the high-intensity workouts help people to get in shape faster than if they were trying to do so on their own.”
A Wedding Loft
11B S King St, Leesburg, VA 20175
Anyone who has planned a wedding knows how incredibly time consuming, and stressful the entire process can be; most difficult of all, the management of the many vendors it takes to pull off a perfect event that will please the bride and guests alike.
It was this lament that Barbara Kriss came across again and again in her dealings with brides when she would meet with them to create their wedding invitations via her graphic design and web development business. “I would meet with brides and their families, and they would be so exhausted,” Kriss said, “…so tired of finding a vendor and often wished they could find them all in one place.”
With this in mind, Kriss set out to create a safe, multiuse space for local wedding industry professionals, particularly those who were female-owned.
Members of the Wedding Loft community can rent one or more of the rooms for use as a photography, videography, or podcast studio, food tastings, or other consultative activities for which wedding vendors often do not have space. Kriss also offers on-site equipment rental, to include beauty bar stations and lighting equipment, so that Wedding Loft members cannot only rent but create a space that meets their clients’ needs.
Educational workshops are also offered to help support budding and veteran small business owners alike, by providing such courses as How To: Get Your Business License and Insurance and even “real talk” sessions to allow members to come together and share their successes and challenges. Members are also encouraged to participate in the mentorship program designed to partner “baby birds” as Kriss calls them, with more tenured and experienced professionals.
A Wedding Loft also offers events that allow brides and their families to take advantage of their one-stopshop for local wedding vendors and provides access to the exclusive member’s list. Those interested in becoming members are encouraged to apply online.
At the heart of the concept is the desire to create a community.
Kriss calls on her own experience as a business owner to acknowledge that wedding industry professionals just don’t have a place to go to for education and resources. And Kriss, ever modest, is hesitant to take full credit for this venture mentioning that she has worked hard with her partner, Paul Tartaglioni, to draw on local resources, such as the Mason Enterprise Center, to really learn how to build upon such a unique business model. She also repeatedly gave thanks to the many women who have supported her through the process. “It’s not just me,” Kriss said, “so many other women have poured their heart and soul into this place.”
24560 Southpoint Drive #100
Aldie, VA 20105
One shouldn’t be fooled by the somewhat nondescript professional building which houses Exhale Studios. This gorgeously appointed space radiates stillness and calm with its neutral, coastal color palette and wide, open spaces. Stepping through the doors gives you pause and augments the feeling of having left your troubles behind.
Rhonda Wilson dreamt of starting her own yoga studio for several years before finally seeing her hopes come to fruition with the help of her partner, Brian Salter, who left behind a twenty-year career as a software developer.
“I quit because I believe in her and what she does,” Salter stated with the setting sun reflecting off his glasses, combing his fingers through his salt and pepper hair as Wilson looked on with tears in her eyes. Salter went on to explain that he had injured his shoulder, and his physical therapist had recommended that he try yoga to help with the recovery.
“I could never have the confidence to go to yoga because I’m a dude,” Salter said. But after taking Wilson’s class, he acknowledged that it transformed everything. He gave up weight lifting because his body felt better.
“It truly is a labor of love,” Wilson stated.
Soft-spoken and surprisingly petite, Wilson has used that love and her years of experience as a yoga teacher to guide her in thoughtful offerings that will eliminate excuses to not come to yoga. Men’s and women’s lockers with showers and on-site towel service are just some of the amenities Exhale Studios offers its members. While yoga mats are available for just-in-case moments, Wilson highlighted that members are to bring their own mats. “Mats,” she said, “are a really personal item.”
The space has two studios, one for more intimate, small group or private lessons, and the second can comfortably accommodate up to sixty yoga enthusiasts. Wilson plans to make use of a minor, nearby lake for walking meditations and nature walks in the spring. With a background in water, she also hopes to offer SUP yoga classes by planning a retreat in the next year or so along with a 200-hour yoga teacher training in January 2020 to promote yoga as a lifestyle that it is accessible to everyone.
“After I first took yoga teacher training,” Wilson stated, “I always knew I wanted to hold a place for teachers and create a space free of dogma. I wanted to build a place literally to find your inner breath and connect with your inner self.”
Current class offerings include hot yoga, vinyasa, yin yoga, yoga nidra, as well as meditation and will be offered anywhere between 5:30am to 7:30pm.
Brew Birds Café
42020 Village Center Plaza Ste 130
Aldie, VA 20105
When the recession hit in 2008, Steve Sakole, who had been working as a graphic designer, found himself without a job. Sakole returned to the restaurant business, an industry he had relied on in his youth, and discovered a passion for craft beers, and ultimately, a desire to build his own business.
Fast forward ten years, Sakole decided to combine his expertise in craft beer with his wife, Heather’s, love of coffee, to launch Brew Birds Café, with the support and backing of his parents Joe and Phyllis Sakole. Family plays a large part in Sakoles’ dream café which should appeal to not only the coffee aficionados and craft beer enthusiasts, but also to the college student living at home looking for a place to study or the tired mom who just needs to get away for a quiet moment.
Sakole shared that it was his own experience as a new parent who often worked from home that helped him to determine that this morning to night café model would be embraced by the local community. “So many people can work from anywhere. We want to be a destination for those people,” Sakole said.
“There just aren’t a lot of places to go in the area that offer good coffee plus craft beer and wine and a nice menu.” The Sakoles worked with chef consultant Anne Alfano for months before opening, to dial in a diverse menu, with breakfast food offerings, that he realized were sorely lacking locally. “We use simple, quick, and good ingredients with a concise menu where each item has a different flavor profile that will stand out on your palate.”
The menu is accessible to everyone, with a full list of coffee concoctions, nine beers on tap and one cider, kid-friendly choices such as a tater tots and mac ‘n’ cheese made with a bechamel sauce created in house, to offerings for the elevated palette like a PJ&B Fried Egg breakfast sandwich comprised of gruyere cheese, bacon and pepper jelly . Oh, and of course, don’t forget the wines.
The modern and thoughtfully designed setting takes into account most patron’s needs, from easily reached sockets to a beautiful outdoor patio for those who want to enjoy the fresh air while visiting. Sakole has already planned events with local musicians and partners with charities as a way to work closely with the community.
Bubbles and Brews Virginia
As trends go, who would have thought that wine and cocktails on tap would be a thing? But here we are, and Bubbles and Brews’ Jenny Campbell, and her mom, Shirley Harr, plan to tap into the trend by offering a novelty that’s sure to be a hit for events ranging from weddings to company parties.
The mother-daughter duo partnered with Richmond based Get Cozy Bars to import and renovate an Italian Piaggio truck. The resulting Instagram worthy vintage, mobile bar packs a visual punch while proving to be versatile. Able to fit through double doors, the mobile bar can also easily support an indoor event, either via request or as a back-up for an event that would have otherwise suffered from poor weather conditions.
Seven taps for craft beers, two ambient taps for wine or prosecco, and the last for Guinness or nitro cold brew, the small but mighty mobile bar offers up endless possibilities. While Campbell and Harr do not have a liquor license themselves, they partner closely with client and caterer alike to develop a list of preferred offerings from wine, beers, cocktails, or even cold brew coffee to mocktails and a plethora of non-alcoholic beverages.
Best for parties with 75+ guests, the bar can also be decorated in a variety of ways with flowers or other décor, and customizable signage, which can be used to highlight anything from a newly wedded couple, to a company logo lending its support to a charity event. As the vintage, mobile bar’s popularity gains traction, there’s no doubt that it will continue to be used in more creative and aesthetically pleasing ways.
Cake or Death
29 South King Street
Leesburg, VA 20175
With popular hot spots like The Delirium Café and Balls of Glory in the rear-view mirror of his restaurant ventures, one would think that Curtis Allred would pause to smell the roses of his success. But Allred clearly finds it difficult to pass up opportunities to offer innovative dining options to the local community.
So what drives him to keep going?
“It’s important not to keep yourself in a rut,” as Allred puts it. And “I love creating, I love food, I love that look when an absolute stranger takes that first bite of your food… And you can see it in their eyes and expression, the flush in their skin, and can almost see them say, ‘holy crap that’s really good!’ I look for that at every table when I’m walking through.”
With hopes of providing unique and memorable experiences, Allred plans on opening Wildwood Pizza in the Village of Leesburg shopping center, and dessert venue, Cake or Death, located right across from Delirium Café in old town Leesburg.
With Wildwood Pizza, Allred taps into his four-plus years of experience working as general manager for the Leesburg favorite, Fireworks Pizza, to bring a family-friendly option to the Village of Leesburg. As a father of five, Allred found it hard to find a family-oriented option in the oft crowded shopping complex, even though other venues are clearly geared towards them.
The “chef-driven, craft pizza concept will be an American pizzeria and beer hall with a wood burning oven,” emphasizing fresh, unique ingredients with 30 beers on draft, wine and sangria offerings, as well as a compact cocktail program, just enough to appeal to everyone.
And Allred won’t stop there. Before the year is out, he will open Cake or Death. Taking over the space previously occupied by the Leesburg Vintner, Allred recognized that while some local restaurants offered superb desserts, patrons often just don’t have the room for them at the end of a delicious meal. And at times, Allred noted, people just wanted to enjoy something sweet.
Cake or Death will cater to just those patrons, taking the dessert concept a step further by pairing thoughtfully designed cupcakes with locally sourced wines.
“We will offer lots of fun stuff,” Allred notes, “such as cupcake and champagne kits to go. So it will be as much retail as it is onpremise consumption.”
While the basics, like vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, will be offered, (and “the basics had better be over the moon,”) Allred also described a crème de violet and lavender cake with an earl grey meringue paired with a late harvest Chardonnay which will satisfy the more adventurous tastes of local clientele.
With flavor profiles like that, there’s no doubt that these latest forays will attract the masses.
Photos by Traci Brooks
SAEMA KHAN is a burgeoning freelance writer with a background in communication who finds most joy in profiling people with interesting stories. Raised in Arlington, she considers herself a native Virginian and has seen NOVA go through tremendous growth and change. Saema currently resides in Loudoun County with her two sons, Ashal and Aryan, and her cat Jebby.