Columbia Pike has been fortunate to continue to welcome new businesses opening in the area despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the hardships it brings. While there may have been delays and unexpected challenges, our business community is still growing with the addition of nearly a dozen new businesses opening since March, including Eye Smile Optometry & Dental Care.

Eye Smile is truly a family-run business. Dr. Keith James and Dr. Yvonelle Moreau are a husband and wife team running their practices side-by-side. The couple met while earning their undergraduate degrees at the University of Rochester. Dr. Moreau earned her Doctorate of Dental Surgery from New York University (NYU) College of Dentistry and Dr. James attained his Doctorate of Optometry from the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Optometry. Upon graduation, the couple relocated to Northern Virginia while Dr. James served on Active Duty in the United States Air Force. They loved the area so much, they decided to stay and call Virginia home.

They also decided to open their business here. For 10 years, the two dreamed of working together with their own private practices. They even had the name picked out. As they searched for the perfect location, they fell in love with Columbia Pike’s diversity and welcoming community.

“The community really took hold of us,” said Dr. Moreau. “Everyone was very supportive. The team at Centro was particularly helpful throughout the entire process and we’ve made some great connections with our fellow small businesses in the area.”

While opening during the COVID-19 pandemic certainly had its challenges, Dr. Moreau said she and her husband were pleasantly surprised at the number of bookings they received.

“Early on, most people considered regular dental cleanings or annual eye exams as non-essential and were only booking for emergency situations, so we really had to rethink our entire marketing strategy. But as initial lockdown restrictions began to lift, we started filling up more quickly than we could have imagined.”

Initial plans for Eye Smile’s opening included a grand opening celebration and series of educational presentations in the schools that had to be cancelled but the couple hopes they can reschedule their outreach efforts when it’s safe.

“Education about the importance of taking care of your visual and oral health is a big goal for us. Too often these areas of our health are neglected, but we hope to change that,” said Dr. Moreau. “We also want to make coming to Eye Smile a positive experience that people look forward to rather than avoid.”

Dr. Moreau and Dr. James strive to create a welcoming and friendly atmosphere they hope feels more like “visiting a friend” than the typical dentist visit. While it is not safe to do so yet, Eye Smile plans to host happy hours and mingling events, educational events for kids, and more in their new space. For now, they are working on getting to know the community and build partnerships with other local businesses. In July, Eye Smile did a 5-day social media giveaway in which they included prizes from other Columbia Pike businesses, such as Idido’s Coffee and Social House, Orangetheory Fitness, and The Pilates Loft.

Currently, Dr. Moreau and Dr. James are mostly alternating which days each clinic is operating, with both open on Thursdays and every other Saturday, to ensure they can adhere to capacity limitations and keep customers safe. Patients are also seen by appointment only. Appointments can be booked online or by phone.