Benton, New Businesses Honored by F.C. Council

Falls Church News-Press owner Nicholas F. Benton, the City of Falls Church’s “2007 Business Person of the Year,” has run his business in the City for 20 years, but almost all the other award winners feted by the City Council Monday night are brand new.


THE FALLS CHURCH CITY COUNCIL paid its respects to Falls Church businesses Monday, hosting a reception and then presenting awards to a number singled out for outstanding achievements in the past year. The News-Press’ Nicholas F. Benton was named Business Person of the Year, and Vantage Health and Fitness was named Business of the Year. Garrett Rambler’s Vantage Health and Fitness, named the “Business of the Year,” has been up and running in Falls Church all of three years. “Excellence in Customer Service” co-winners Spectrum Cleaners and Natalia’s Elegant Creations, are even newer. The “Environmental Stewardship” award recipient, Bob Young’s Read Building at 402 W. Broad is only months old as is, of course, the “New Business of the Year” winner, Clare and Don’s Beach Shack. The same goes for the “Most Improved Property” winner, Falls Church Cabinetry at the intersection of W. Broad and S. West.

The only other veteran business feted Monday was Mark Klostermeyer’s Design Frames, winner of the “Innovative Technology” award.

It was a grand weekend for honoring the City’s businesses and their leaders, as the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce presented four of its own awards at its annual banquet Saturday night. With over 170 in attendance, Matt Smith of Smith-Gifford won the Chamber’s “Pillar of the Community” honors, Barbara Cram won the Carroll V. Shreve Award for meritorious community service, Marybeth Connelly of the F.C. City Schools and Robert O. Beach of SAID/Quick Copy won the Chamber’s “Appreciation Award,” and David C. Welch won its James S. Elkin Award for Humanitarianism.

The City’s Business Awards were presented at the beginning of Monday’s City Council meeting to a standing room only crowd that included family and friends of the recipients. It followed a reception for the winners and their guests hosted by the City Council at the City Hall Training Room.

The Business Award choices were chosen from among nominees by the City Council, the City’s Economic Development Authority, the Environmental Services Council and the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce.

“It is a testament to the positive impact of the recent years’ successes in bringing mixed use development to Falls Church that so many of the winners this year are new businesses located in or, in the case of the Read Building, being a new development, itself,” said Sally Cole, executive director of the Chamber. “For some of the other new businesses, they were attracted here at least in part by the dynamic environment generated by the new development.”

Benton founded Benton Communications, Inc., in the City in October 1987 and founded the Falls Church News-Press in March 1991. The News-Press has won the City’s “Business of the Year” award twice, in 1991 and 2001, and its “Business Contribution to the Community” award in 1997. Benton has also won the Chamber’s “Pillar of the Community” award twice, in 1992 and 2003. Last week, the News-Press hosted a community-wide party at its offices to celebrate the completion of 17 years of consecutive weekly publication.

This year’s Chamber “Pillar” winner, Matt Smith, whose Smith-Gifford firm is one of the region’s finest marketing outfits, volunteered to design the logos for the Falls Church City Public Schools and the Chamber of Commerce, and has volunteered to help a number of local businesses with marketing ideas.

Last week, Smith’s firm also won a number of Addy Awards from the Advertising Club of Washington, D.C. for advertising design (see story elsewhere this edition).

Cram, this year’s Chamber “Shreve Award” recipient, is also a former winner of the “Pillar” award, as is Robert O. Beach. Among her many community service projects, she spearheaded the organization of last New Year’s Eve’s “Watch Night” in Falls Church and has been the City’s point person for Virginia’s 400th Anniversary Year.

One of the new businesses, John and Yeon Lee’s Spectrum Cleaners, toughed it out through the early construction phase of the new Spectrum Building. It and its neighbor, the Koi Koi Restaurant, were featured on the front page of the News-Press last fall for being almost completely blocked off by the construction.

The other “customer service” award winner, Natalia Lupichuk’s Natalia’s Elegant Creations, has satisfied many a sweet tooth in Falls Church since its recent founding, and catered the City Hall reception for the Business Award winners Monday.

Another of the new businesses, Mark Middendorf’s and Michael Dolgas’ Falls Church Cabinetry, put an entirely new and elegant exterior onto their W. Broad and S. West location that had been an visually unimpressive carpet store for the previous 16 years.

Brother and sister, Rebecca and David Tax opened Clare and Don’s adjacent the State Theatre last year, choosing to relocate from the Clarendon section of Arlington to Falls Church for the ambiance of the City. They also own the Lazy Sundae ice cream shop adjacent the 7-Eleven on N. West Street at Park Ave.

Klostermeyer’s Design Frames in Rowell Court was feted for its innovative use of technology in its computer imaging, providing customers an opportunity to see how framing options will blend with their paintings or photographs prior to placing an order.

Bob Young’s Read Building has the first “green roof” technology in the history of Falls Church, along with a number of other environmentally-friendly innovations.

Vantage Health and Fitness, located in the Read Building, began three years ago at a location renovated by Bob Young on S. Washington St. It then became the first commercial tenant in the Read Building, occupying the entire second floor. Numerous local celebrities can be seen working out there, attracted by its central location, talented staff and welcoming boutique ambiance.

The City also recognized two businesses for 25 years of service in Falls Church, Military Living Publications and the Hair Cuttery #334 in the Falls Plaza.

Welch, the Chamber’s Elkin Award winner, was honored for creating a charitable organization and launching a web site to educate the public about brain cancer. It has had over six million “hits” from over 90 countries.

Connelly and Beach, winners of the Chamber’s “Appreciation Awards,” were selected for their support of the local business community. Connelly created opportunities for students to be exposed to the real-life world of business, and Beach was recognized for his on-going support of the Chamber office, including the provision of discounted office space, printing and copying services.

Both awards events will be played on Falls Church Cable TV. The City Council meeting will be aired Friday, March 14, at 9 a.m., and the Chamber gala will be aired at a time to be determined (the programming schedule is at