May 4, 2023, E-News: Fairfax County’s Bunnyman Brewing Named for Urban Legend; Celebrating Small Business Week + Weekly Business News Digest
Community-focused Fairfax County Bunnyman Brewing Named for Urban Legend
In celebration of National Small Business Week, we are proud to highlight Bunnyman Brewery, a Fairfax County small business.
Locally owned, founded and operated by Eric Barrett and Sam Gray, Burke, Va.-based Bunnyman Brewing is named after a long-time local urban myth about an ax-wielding man dressed in a white bunny costume who wreaked havoc in Fairfax County and throughout the region. Starting back in the 1970s, many Fairfax County kids grew up hearing scary stories about the Bunnyman. Sitting around campfires, the stories grew and changed, as urban legends tend to do, from mere sightings in the woods to versions of violent crimes by a man donned in a bunny suit.
Nestled in a woodsy area of Burke, Bunnyman Brewing is located nearby to the railway that was often featured in versions of Bunnyman lore. According to some tales, the Bunnyman escaped off a train from the former Lorton Reformatory, a prison that was in operation from 1910-2001. Building on this myth, Barrett and Gray are opening a second Bunnyman Brewing location this Fall in Lorton at the Workhouse Arts Center, the 55-acre center for the arts and arts education that, through adaptive reuse, utilizes existing structures on repurposed land at the former Lorton Reformatory.
But, despite all the supposed sightings and incidents, and alleged crimes, Brian A. Conley, historian-archivist, Fairfax County Public Library, conducted an extensive multi-year investigation that debunked the stories of the violent man in a bunny suit. Yet the tales live on.
Both graduates of Fairfax County Public Schools, Barrett and Gray joined as a team to open the Bunnyman Brewing in 2021 in Burke, Va. Hearing frightening stories about the Bunnyman was part of the culture of growing up here, according to Barrett and Gray, and so that was the reason they chose its name.
“So over time, the stories grew more and more ridiculous as kids tried to scare each other,” Barrett said. “But it’s, for us, a nod to the local community. People that are from this area right away are like, I love that you named it that. It’s part of the culture of growing up here. And for those people who’ve moved into the area, it’s a great way to start a conversation, teach them something about this area, something about growing up in this area. So, for us, it was really just a nod to being local.”
While both Barrett and Gray grew up just miles from the brewery location, they first met in 2018 at their kid’s sporting events. Conversation on the sidelines tended to focus on their mutual passion for well-crafted beers and how they wished there was a brewery nearby. At that time Barrett was working for a large tech company leading product management, and Gray had worked as a Fairfax County firefighter for 28 years. Both men were nearing retirement and decided to make a jump from their current careers to open the craft brewery together right in Burke.“So both of us had always been here, and I couldn’t think of a better place to be,” Gray said.
“I grew up right up the street, and this has always been a fairly underserved area for independent businesses. There are not a lot of restaurants, bars, or anything in this general area yet. There is a ton of residential housing here and a ton of people that were thirsty for a brewery. No pun intended,” Barrett said. “This is an area where you have 84,000 homes within a five-mile radius of here with no other brewery.”
“So for us, we wanted to build a community-based business in the community that we grew up in. And this was perfectly central to that. The other part is that we needed industrial zoning. This is an industrial facility that happens to be right next door to where the urban legend happened. So, it was the perfect place for us to build this business,” according to Barrett.
“Fairfax County has great schools, great infrastructure, and a great diverse population. That is something that we believe in and maybe we can give back a little bit by serving the community that we grew up with,” Gray added.
As a community-based business, Bunnyman Brewery is a family-friendly brewery that’s open to kids and dogs, Gray emphasized. Families can come by after sports games, for birthday parties, and just to hang out. Food trucks that are on rotation serve food from a variety of local restaurants.
But, of course, the main spotlight at Bunnyman is on the beer. Bunnyman Brewing crafts high-quality beers with a rotation of unique variations. It’s an 18-tap self-pour system in the main taproom and an additional nine-tap system in the mezzanine. Three tasting areas are available: the lower main tasting room, an upstairs mezzanine, and an ample outdoor space, which includes a large Oktoberfest tent.
As a relatively new and a rapidly expanding business, Gray noted that they value the collaboration among the more than 14 breweries in Fairfax County’s thriving microbrewery ecosystem.
“We truly believe that it’s a joint effort between the other breweries and ourselves which allows us to be a little more community-focused, more locally focused in the area just surrounding our area in central Fairfax County,” Gray said. “I think that area that we serve is special to us and the people that come here also see it as their neighborhood place.”
Celebrating National Small Business Week
While Fairfax County is known as the headquarters location of major corporations, including nine Fortune 500 companies, small businesses – fewer than 50 employees – make up more than 90 percent of the Fairfax County business community.
Did you know that the Fairfax County RISE Relief Grant Program awarded $52.5 million to more than 4,800 small businesses and nonprofits impacted by the COVID-19 public health crisis? More than 72 percent of the organizations receiving grants identified as owned by women, minorities, and/or veterans.
Good Morning Washington: Northern Virginia Companies Are Looking to Hire Veterans, Transitioning Service Members and Military Spouses!
WJAL’s Good Morning Washington sat down with Victor Hoskins, President & CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, to discuss an upcoming career fair focusing on veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses. Northern Virginia companies are ready to fill thousands of positions!
Here are more details about the career fair:
May 10 (in person)/ May 11 (virtual) – Transitioning Service Members, Veterans and Military Spouses Career Fair and Resource Expo. Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s Hire Vets Now Foundation, in partnership with Fort Belvoir, present a Veteran & Military Spouse In-Person Career Fair and Resource Expo at the National Museum of the United States Army at Ft. Belvoir on May 10, and virtually on May 11. Join us to interview with leading companies in Northern Virginia that are collectively hiring for thousands of positions across multiple sectors. In addition, veteran career organizations will be providing valuable career resource information, including resume translation guidance, community information, military spouse career education services, and more.
Visit workinnorthernvirginia.com/career-fairs to sign up now.
Weekly Business News Digest
America’s best for diversity: Tysons-based Booz Allen Hamilton ranked 10th in the nation on Forbes’ America’s Best Employers for Diversity list. Additional Fairfax County-headquartered companies that rank on the list include Maximus (Reston); ICF International (Reston), SAIC (Reston), Leidos (Reston), Northrop Grumman (Falls Church area), Hilton (Tysons), Gannett (Tysons), Capital One (Tysons), Mars (McLean), Airbus (Netherlands/Herndon), Inova (Fairfax), Parsons (Centreville), and CACI (Reston). Forbes partnered with market research firm Statista to create the sixth annual list of America’s Best Employers for Diversity. To determine the rankings, Statista surveyed more than 45,000 Americans working for businesses with at least 1,000 employees. Participants were asked to anonymously rate their organizations based on criteria such as age, gender, ethnicity, disability and LGBTQ+ equality, as well as general diversity. Click here to learn more.
$50M Gift to GMU: Fairfax-based George Mason University School of Business will be renamed for the late Donald H. Costello, a Loudoun County native and business owner who left the university $50 million in his will, Virginia Business reported. The donation is the university’s largest individual gift in its 50-year history. Costello, who died in 2017 at the age of 75, was born in Leesburg and in 1976 co-founded Haymarket-based Century Stair Co., which became the East Coast’s largest stair manufacturer. The gift will establish the Donald G. Costello School of Business, and establishes an endowment for undergraduate and graduate scholarships for business students. According to GMU, the school will officially adopt its new name later this year.
Paradigm changing: Falls Church area-based Northrop Grumman completed a critical design review of a Space Development Agency communications satellite in 13 months, a fraction of the time required for traditional space programs. “It’s paradigm-changing for programs that have this type of capability,” Blake Bullock, vice president for Northrop Grumman’s Communication Systems business unit, told SpaceNews in an article in its 2023 Space Symposium Daily, which is available for download by clicking here. “For a more standard military communications satellite program, you’re typically looking at multiple years to get to a critical design review.”
Platform protection partnership: Reston-based Leidos and San Jose, Calif.-based Zscaler, which has a Tysons location, partnered to help federal and defense agencies accelerate 5G adoption and enable the technology to power various applications, such as autonomous vehicles, predictive fleet maintenance and smart bases, ExecutiveBiz reported. The two companies will work together to protect 5G platforms from cyberthreats by leveraging Zscaler’s Zero Trust Exchange, a cloud-native platform designed to provide end-to-end security by establishing trust based on context and user identity. “Zero Trust cybersecurity offers the capability for organizations to operate safely over diverse communications networks that cannot be verified as secure,” said Padraig Moloney, external technology CTO at Leidos.
Space investments: Reston-based CACI International sped up its movement into specific areas of the space domain through two acquisitions over two years with the goal of being an early mover in that part of the market. That leg of CACI’s strategy is in the build-and-investment phase, but the company is also touting some of the work it is undertaking to lay foundations for growth in future years, according to Washington Technology. During CACI’s fiscal third-quarter earnings call with investors last week, CACI CEO John Mengucci laid out some of the blueprint for growth in space and particularly the field of optical communications. CACI stood up a new photonics unit in 2019 when it acquired LGS Innovations to bring in more spectrum management and other communications solutions. Two years later, CACI added the laser technology piece with its purchase of SA Photonics. “The thesis to that acquisition was, let’s take what we purchased with LGS on the large, extremely reliable bespoke kind of solutions market, and then here’s SA Photonics who could use some assistance on the algorithm piece, but also they had phenomenal early-stage successes at building satellite-based optics at scale,” Mengucci told analysts. “I’ll reiterate, we are in the investment phase still.”
Rugged embedded systems market partnership: Fairfax-based General Dynamics Mission Systems partnered with Huntsville, Alabama-based Abaco Systems, a subsidiary of electronic instrument manufacturer Amatek, based in Pennsylvania, to develop new rugged embedded computing systems for use in communications, electronic warfare, networking and other mission areas, according to ExecutiveBiz. Under the partnership, General Dynamics will combine its programmable, embeddable security systems with Abaco’s rugged embedded computing technology to provide high-grade encryption and anti-tamper capabilities. The companies seek to build cybersecurity early in product development to address the defense industry’s embedded electronics requirements.
Entire range: Tysons-based wealth management startup Range said Wednesday it has raised a $12 million Series A round led by Palo Alto, California’s Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused venture fund, reported Washington Business Journal in subscriber content. Range said it will use the funding to grow its product and engineering teams to build new offerings for customers, including integrating its wealth management tools with AI technologies to automate certain money and tax planning actions. “With our new investors and their experience in AI, we believe this partnership and financing will allow us to assist families during unprecedented times of economic change and uncertainty,” said Fahad Hassan, co-founder and CEO of Range. “Our products will allow everyone to access the advice and tools typically only available to the wealthy.” Business Insider has more.
Space-powered weather hub: Spire Global, based in Tysons, announced the launch of a new centralized, space-powered hub that delivers essential insights to maritime stakeholders through three layers: maritime weather data Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), actionable intelligence APIs, decision support solutions and visualizations. The platform utilizes radio occultation (RO) data acquired by the Company’s fully deployed satellite constellation and its proprietary weather forecasting model, which assimilates RO data to generate 15-day global weather forecasts, ensuring that users have access to the most up-to-date and comprehensive information available. “With unparalleled global weather coverage from space, particularly in under-observed areas like the open oceans and other remote regions, the launch of Spire’s Deep Navigation Analytics Platform, provides the maritime world with one suite to facilitate a broad range of maritime use cases,” said Mike Eilts, General Manager of Weather and Earth Intelligence, Spire.
AI connection: Tysons-based Alarm.com acquired most of the assets of San Jose-based Vintra, a developer of AI-based video analytics. Vintra has developed a cloud-based platform that helps organizations monitor critical security events through video analytics. “The Vintra team adds to Alarm.com’s science and engineering expertise in the field of AI and machine learning, and we’re excited to welcome them on board,” said Jeff Bedell, Alarm.com’s president of Ventures Business and Corporate Strategy. “The acquisition expands the specialization of Alarm.com’s AI team and will extend our leadership in this important domain. Potomac Tech Wire picked up the release.
Honoring Puerto Rican Veterans: Tysons-based PenFed Credit Union recently partnered with the Honor Flight Network to bring two dozen veterans to Washington, D.C. on the first Honor Flight from Puerto Rico, reported InsideNoVa. When the veterans returned to San Juan Airport on April 14, they were greeted with thunderous applause, live music and an enthusiastic crowd waving American and Puerto Rican flags. During their visit to Washington, D.C., which PenFed paid for, the veterans visited several locations, including the World War II, Korean and Vietnam War memorials as well as Arlington National Cemetery. “Sponsoring this Honor Flight for Puerto Rican veterans was not only the trip of a lifetime for them, but it was also a beautiful way to express our gratitude and appreciation for their service and sacrifice,” said James Schenck, PenFed Credit Union president and CEO. “It was an honor to be in San Juan at the airport to welcome them home.”
Sports agency scoring: As Tysons-based sports agency Octagon celebrated its 40th anniversary last month, it can look across decades-long ties with athletes, companies and brands, and a roster of tenured executives with deep roots in the agency, according to Sports Business Journal in a feature article about the company. Octagon now boasts more than 1,000 employees in 50 offices in 20 countries around the world. In 2022, Octagon’s brand consulting business oversaw more than $3.5 billion in sports sponsorship spending across leagues, teams and media platforms. Its talent and properties division managed more than $3.2 billion in player contracts and sponsorships. Octagon’s media rights consulting business oversees more than $24 billion in media rights under advisory, and its financial services unit manages more than $1 billion in client assets, according to the article.
An apple a day: After 22 years, the first retail store that Apple opened, Apple Tysons Corner, is moving down the hall to a much larger location in Tysons Corner Center on the upper level. “This is our store,” Steve Jobs said as he introduced the Apple Store on May 15, 2001, in a video launch. The store’s opening significantly impacted how customers purchased Apple hardware and received product support, as well as permanently changing the landscape of physical retail, AppleInsider reported.
Congrats, HGA! Tysons Capital One Hall builder HGA won the International Design Award in the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) 2023 Interior Design Competition in the Entertainment category. Part of a mixed-use urban redevelopment anchored by Capital One corporate headquarters, Capital One Hall features street-level retail, a 1,600-seat performance hall, 225-seat black box theater, atrium and event spaces, conference rooms, and rooftop garden and public park. The award will be presented at REVEL in Design, IIDA’s annual kick-off to NeoCon June 11, 2023, in Chicago. Click here to read more.
New leadership: The Tysons Community Alliance (TCA) named its first permanent leader, FFXnow reported. Katie Cristol will take over as the first permanent CEO on July 5, the community improvement district announced Tuesday. She will replace Richard Bradley, who has served as acting CEO since the TCA was created in October to replace the Tysons Partnership as a nonprofit advocacy organization for Tysons. The TCA role is to promote economic and community development in Tysons, overseeing the implementation of Fairfax County’s comprehensive plan for the area.
Celebrating Mount Vernon and Springfield small businesses: To celebrate National Small Business Week, Mount Vernon Springfield Chamber of Commerce is spotlighting businesses around greater Mount Vernon that have made an impact, Greater Alexandria Patch reported. The chamber, which merged in 2022 from the Mount Vernon Lee Chamber and Greater Springfield Chamber, has hundreds of member businesses. Even as Fairfax County’s Richmond Highway corridor is seeing changes with new development, small businesses are the backbone of the community. Fairfax County’s Richmond Highway corridor has over 35,000 jobs, and over 95 percent are small businesses with less than 50 employees, according to the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. Click here to see the featured small businesses.
Ensco (Springfield) will provide continuous systems engineering and integration services in support of the U.S. Space Force’s launch and test range system and defensive cyber operations under a pair of contracts worth $42 million combined. ExecutiveBiz
FCEDA Hosted and Sponsored Events
May 23 — Digital Transformation Community Spring Mixer. Northern Virginia Technology Council’s Digital Transformation Community of Interest is hosting a networking mixer. Come celebrate digital transformation and meet industry peers from our vibrant tech community. Light appetizers and drinks will be served. This event is open to both NVTC members and non-members. Click here to register.
May 25 — Celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: A Focus on Global Business. The Export-Import Bank of the United States Minority and Women Owned Business (EXIM MWOB) Outreach Group, in partnership with the Asian American Chamber of Commerce and the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, invites you to attend: “Celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: A Focus on Global Business” webinar on May 25, 2023, at 2pm EDT. The event aims to educate business owners about EXIM’s financing tools and services, as well as strategies for successful exporting. The MWOB office works closely with other government agencies and business development associations to promote EXIM financing and create export opportunities for U.S. businesses. Click here to register.
September 26-28 – Call for Experts: Connecting the Global Quantum Ecosystem. Quantum World Congress 2023 will occur September 26-28 in the Greater Washington region. It will once again bring together leaders from across the quantum ecosystem around the globe to address pressing challenges and emerging trends and share insights that help to accelerate and commercialize quantum technologies. Programming will take many forms — from presentations and panels to fireside chats and networking sessions. QWC will enable relevant, timely, and industry-leading information sharing and relationship building across these formats to foster a responsible environment for quantum growth. If your expertise and experience position you as a thought leader, then you are invited to complete the speaker application. Please also review the sponsorship packages to explore ways to showcase your brand at the event. Click here for more information.
FCEDA is Here to Help Your Business Thrive
Fairfax County EDA is here to connect businesses of all kinds to resources and information. For direct assistance, email the FCEDA at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 703-790-0600 to leave a voice message for our staff. And click here for resources available in the other nine jurisdictions that make up the Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance.