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Dining in Reston Town Center

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#1 Joe H

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Posted 03 March 2007 - 06:05 PM

Mon Ami Gabi from Lettuce Entertain You (which has an outpost in Bethesda) will open in one of two ten story office buildings currently under construction. Il Fornaio from California will open in Midtown West which is one of the 21 story condominiums. If anyone knows of any of the several other new restaurants scheduled for Town Center please post them here. On Linda Roth's website she notes that a high profile midwestern restaurant group is opening two concept restaurants in Fairfax county. Mon Ami Gabi is certainly one of them. Could this be the other: http://www.cafebabareeba.com/ Just a guess for this.

As an aside, for me, it is a shame that most if not all of the new restaurants will be part of national groups as opposed to locally owned or chef owned and operated. Where are Jeff Black or the group that did DC Coast/Ten Penh/Ceiba, etc.? Excepting Maestro, Colvin Run Tavern and 2941 western Fairfax County is becoming something of a wasteland for "regional" excellence. I suppose that I should be thankful that we even have these....

#2 cf75

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 09:49 PM

welll....talking outloud -- Jeff and barbara black, one of my favorite couples in the business, just sunk a bunch of money into Black's Bar and Kitchen...and Passion Hospitality (DC Coast...) did the same for Acadiana.

Maestro has the luxury of being financially backed by an amazing hotel group...which isn't why it thrives, but why it exists.
With Michel, Cathal and Robert Wiedmaier expanding...up and comers like Barton Seaver and Michael Babin's crew...I'm hopeful for the independent operator.

it depends on who has the dollars...
I personally worry about the public's tastebuds being mentally oversalted by chains Granted, we opened 3 Krispy Kreme stores in DC (c'mon, who doesn't love an original glazed!?) and we're going to aid in the opening of Il Fornaio later this year (a v small company - this is their first east coast expansion). They have their place - and I think in such a transient city, regional/national brands are a source of comfort for newcomers.
...but if the rise in chains stumps the public's taste for culinary adventure - well that would be a crazy shame.

I think the hope lies in the growing culture of foodies and an interest in cuisine, et al. Boards like this, blogs like Metrocurean, Best Bites, The List, allowing chefs on radio shows and morning TV shows (which is growing more popular despite the conglomeration of radio)...i've heard that Food Network is the new MTV for Generation...um...whoever watches MTV now - high schoolers? Great restaurants are popping up in Tidewater, Richmond, Eastern Shore, etc...these are good signs!

But i don't know what's going to get one person to give up Outback for Ray's, or Olive Garden (ew) for Al Crostino...or to get the readers polls to support more independents than chains (albeit that's a numbers game). It's why brands that are new to the area hire us. To ensure that people hear about them! But in a cluttered city, it's still a challenge. Like all things, learning begins at home! :o


in other news, right on the mark with Mon Ami in Reston. will keep you updated on the rest. Thanks for reading...Cheers.
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#3 mdt

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 10:39 PM

What are the chances that an independent owner could even afford the lease or get adequate financing? The folks that own the buildings know who can pay the bills with little risk. It is too bad as all of us suffer.

#4 jpschust

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 08:33 AM

What are the chances that an independent owner could even afford the lease or get adequate financing? The folks that own the buildings know who can pay the bills with little risk. It is too bad as all of us suffer.

ain't that the truth in Reston aka the hell hole of eating in the DC area
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#5 SquashSoup

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 08:45 AM

I find it most fitting that only chains are going into Reston Town Center.

Chain restaurants, chain stores, total homogenization.

But then again I'm a New England girl that thinks the whole idea of the fake/planned center is odd.

#6 jiveturk21

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 09:44 AM

Growing up in this area, it has been nuts seeing RTC grow the way that it has, utterly shocking. While the parking is awful, I am actually impressed that the traffic around there never seems to be as bad as other places that I drive.

Anyway, they pushed out Lee's Ice Cream (original tenant) for Ben and Jerry's. Then they pushed out the sandwich place that used to be there, I think it was called WrapWorks, and word is that they are putting a Potbelly in its place. They say it is all to bring business into the shopping center, but could they possibly need any more business!? And, is anyone going to seriously go through the hassle of going to RTC for an ice cream cone at Ben and Jerry's!? People may be more likely to buy ice cream at Ben and Jerry's as opposed to Lee's, but I would be shocked if more people are coming to RTC just for that reason. You put in more anchor stores for things like that, not ice cream and sandwich shops.

#7 Joe H

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 12:29 PM

I love Reston Town Center. It is very European with a town square ambience that attracts a great deal of life to it, especially on the weekends. I would suggest that it is one of the most successful designs of its kind in America and the model for countless other developments. I also much prefer it to the ostensible alternative, a shopping mall connected to office buildings and apartments. What I am disappointed in is the very high cost of leasing retail space (downtown D. C. prices) which discourage local chef and ownership. I know that several years ago Kinkead wanted to come to the spot where Morton's is today but couldn't close a deal. Town Center needs to have a mix similar to, say, Bethesda where there are outposts of national chains alongside of regional or chef owned restaurants.

Having said this several of the groups going into/in Reston Town Center are among the best of their kind, i.e. Lettuce Entertain You, Uncle Julio's/Rio Grande, Clyde's and Morton's. Il Fornio is an interesting regional chain with a menu that emphasizes a different area of Italy every month or so. I've eaten at several of their stores in Northern CA and enjoyed it. Still, it is not an Obelisk or Tosca and that is what I hope will one day come to Town Center.

If we cannot have a Rock Creek come into Town Center, alternatively a Seasons 52 from Darden would be sensational. If there's no Jeff Black or Michael Landrum then perhaps, at least, Outback could bring a Roy's and Pappas Bros. would look north along with D. C.'s first Emeril's or Bobby Flay's. At least if we must have chains perhaps we can have those among the best, if there is such a thing.

Are any of those above even considering the D. C. area?

#8 lion

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 12:17 PM

I would like to see an Inox or Estadio or Zaytinya or Source like restaurant open in Reston Town Center where there IS foot traffic and also a space available in a building where ground was just broken diagonally across from Passion Fish.

I write this as someone who has no connection in any way to anything at Town Center; rather as someone who lives in Reston and would like to see a restaurant "which makes a difference" and is not an outpost of a national chain. There is education, wealth and a downtown ambience here in what I believe is the single best available location in northern VA.

And, yes, the subway is coming.


Estadio in the Reston Town Center would be perfect.

#9 DonRocks

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 12:37 PM

Estadio in the Reston Town Center would be perfect.


It would do extremely well there.

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#10 Joe H

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 06:23 PM

I did try.

#11 UStifosi

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 01:59 PM

Estadio, Proof, Zaytinya, Black's Market Bistro, Jaleo, Vermillion....any of them would be perfect in Reston and packed every night.

I also really like Mokomandy and have told the owner and chef they need to move to RTC. We'll see.

#12 Kibbee Nayee

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 02:16 PM

I'll have to take a differing viewpoint. I view the Reston Town Center as a Disney-esque playground with no sense of community or local charm. It is dominated by chains, with decidedly non-discerning palates and tastes chasing glitsy gimmicks and shiny objects. It's a place where 20-somethings can pile 5-deep in the screaming bar scene at Jackson's, or where well-heeled expense accounts believe that Morton's or McCormick & Schmick constitute deal-making atmosphere. Fine dining would not thrive here -- PassionFish is about the finest that can survive here. Crowds and dollars chase mediocrity here, from Clyde's to Big Bowl to Paolo's to Uncle Julio's.

I would assume that the owners of Estadio, Proof, Zaytinya, Black's and so on have done their homework and have avoided this Yuppie playground for sensible business reasons.

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#13 Joe H

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 02:35 PM

Kibbee, respectfully, but I may disagree a bit on this one. I would argue that at least some of the chains are "regional" such as Clyde's, GAR (Jackson's) and PassionFish. Jeff Black has five restaurants now, Mark will have four (I think?) and Zaytinya might have as many as all of them combined. If each of these added another location they would roughly be similarly sized to the first three.

Saturday night my wife and I were at Et Voila. I cannot tell you how badly I would like to see this at Town Center or Fabio's Fiola or Beck's or.... Still, I believe that the kind of restaurant that Estadio is or Zaytinya is fit perfectly into the mix at Town Center. I also believe that because of the exhorbitant rent they would be charged (am I not correct that per square foot both Clyde's and Jackson's have the highest dollar volume of each group?) the amount of investment, almost by definition, demands an ownership group that has other locations.

I think fine dining is becoming a fearful rarity for a lot of restauranteurs especially in an environment that might play host to $5.00 premium gas by the summer. Whoever goes into Town Center is going to be very much aware of this. I would see Beck's before Marcel's or Jaleo before a take on MiniBar. I mention Estadio because I love the place and the food. It is exactly the kind of restaurant that will do well in a downturn.

My guess is that unless one of the principals of those we mention aboved are interested we're looking at another Lettuce Entertain You (Big Bowl, Mon Ami Gabi).

OR, and this is a real hope of mine to: PassionFish is part of a group that includes (d) DC Coast, Ten Penh, Ceiba and Arcadia. What would a Ceiba or a Ten Penh do diaginally across the street from Passion Fish? Jeff Tunks is imaginative and gifted; he could do his own take on a Tapas restaurant.

Does Jeff follow this board?

Does Jose Garces follow this board?

#14 UStifosi

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 03:06 PM

Reston, Vienna and Tysons are starved for privately (non-conglomerate) owned fine dining establishments that have entrees priced below $30. Look at Bazins in Vienna, Nostos in Tysons and Villa Mozart in Fairfax (and the aforementioned Mokomandy in Sterling). Those places are consistently packed for all the obvious reasons.

Jacksons, Mon Ami, Il Fornaio, Clydes, M&S they all have the deep pockets behind them to pay for the space which the small guy can't afford.

#15 JBag57

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 03:19 PM

I am right there with UStifosi and Joe H.

The 20-somethings mentioned by Kibbee Nayee will continue to keep Jackson's and America's Tap Room flourishing, and even M&S seems to have become more of a bar scene for the next age group up.

I cannot tell you how happy I would be to have a non-seafood-exclusive (and non-Morton's) counterpart to PassionFish. I would be willing to pay about double what I now have to pay at Mon Ami Gabi and Il Fornaio to be able to frequent an Estadio or a Vermilion, or the like.

I had heard a rumor quite some time ago that NRG was looking at RTC and other locations in Reston for a third iteration of Rustico. I have not heard anything on that recently, however.

#16 Kibbee Nayee

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 03:56 PM

I cannot tell you how happy I would be to have a non-seafood-exclusive (and non-Morton's) counterpart to PassionFish. I would be willing to pay about double what I now have to pay at Mon Ami Gabi and Il Fornaio to be able to frequent an Estadio or a Vermilion, or the like.

Well, you're sort of hinting at a Ray's the Steaks kind of place, which I think is all that the Town Center can handle as far as fine dining is concerned, and which I believe would thrive there.

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#17 jayandstacey

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 08:42 PM

I'll have to take a differing viewpoint. I view the Reston Town Center as a Disney-esque playground with no sense of community or local charm. It is dominated by chains, with decidedly non-discerning palates and tastes chasing glitsy gimmicks and shiny objects. It's a place where 20-somethings can pile 5-deep in the screaming bar scene at Jackson's, or where well-heeled expense accounts believe that Morton's or McCormick & Schmick constitute deal-making atmosphere. Fine dining would not thrive here -- PassionFish is about the finest that can survive here. Crowds and dollars chase mediocrity here, from Clyde's to Big Bowl to Paolo's to Uncle Julio's.

I would assume that the owners of Estadio, Proof, Zaytinya, Black's and so on have done their homework and have avoided this Yuppie playground for sensible business reasons.

Been thinking about this and I think you are right in your description but I also suspect the restaurants you mention would (generally) go where people are and would not snub RTC if given the chance.

I think the biggest cause of RTC being Disney-esque is its age. It just hasn't had the time to evolve into a personality the way older city centers have. I do think that city planners in charge of RTC should allow some creativity where they can - like if a restaurant wants to subdivide to allow a small bakery at the street front.

RTC also suffers from popularity. This city is STARVED for central places that are pedestrian friendly and filled with commerce, not monuments. (we kick butt in the monuments department!) We have a few such places - OT Alexandria for instance. But a place like Tysons is NOT pedestrian friendly at all - it is a car place...so not too much 'walking around' synergy like RTC has. The fix to this? Allow RTC to expand until it gets to where some areas can support smaller, sole-proprieter places.

Soo...Time and continued expansion of retail frontage will make RTC more within the reach of the kinds of places you describe. Give them 10 years and it'll happen.

#18 Kibbee Nayee

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 10:08 PM

Been thinking about this and I think you are right in your description but I also suspect the restaurants you mention would (generally) go where people are and would not snub RTC if given the chance.

I think the biggest cause of RTC being Disney-esque is its age. It just hasn't had the time to evolve into a personality the way older city centers have. I do think that city planners in charge of RTC should allow some creativity where they can - like if a restaurant wants to subdivide to allow a small bakery at the street front.

RTC also suffers from popularity. This city is STARVED for central places that are pedestrian friendly and filled with commerce, not monuments. (we kick butt in the monuments department!) We have a few such places - OT Alexandria for instance. But a place like Tysons is NOT pedestrian friendly at all - it is a car place...so not too much 'walking around' synergy like RTC has. The fix to this? Allow RTC to expand until it gets to where some areas can support smaller, sole-proprieter places.

Soo...Time and continued expansion of retail frontage will make RTC more within the reach of the kinds of places you describe. Give them 10 years and it'll happen.

My observation, however right or wrong it may be, is that the nouveau Town Center concept appeals more to the people who find themselves in the upper middle class, for whatever good fortune has been visited upon them, but whose discernment for finer fare is quite immature. The chains, concepts, gimmicks and cupcake shops appeal to them, but not the truly contemplative and one-of-a-kind eating establishments.

The Town Center I would enjoy most would have Joe's Noodle House alongside Mount of Lebanon alongside Elephant Jumps alongside Han Gang alongside Cava Mezze Grill alongside Ray's the Steaks alongside PassionFish alongside Four Sisters alongside Pupatella alongside Hong Kong Palace alongside Thai Basil....whew! With some nice theaters and fine Old Town-ish shops and pleasant gathering places and watering holes. Alas, the Town Centers inflicted upon us are chains, chains and cupcake shops, and they chase me to Lancaster or Fredericksburg or locations where a real sense of place actually exists...

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#19 kirite

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 10:23 PM

Reston is a planned town. Some others include Brasilia, Columbia, MD, Washington, DC, the Levittowns (PA and NY), and Roosevelt NJ. Some of them have flourished, and some have not. The planners have a tendency to overlook how people really live. Jane Jacobs vs Le Corbusier.

#20 Joe H

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 10:45 PM

D. C. was a planned town, wasn't it? Great observation!!!

#21 JBag57

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 11:15 PM

My observation, however right or wrong it may be, is that the nouveau Town Center concept appeals more to the people who find themselves in the upper middle class, for whatever good fortune has been visited upon them, but whose discernment for finer fare is quite immature. The chains, concepts, gimmicks and cupcake shops appeal to them, but not the truly contemplative and one-of-a-kind eating establishments.

The Town Center I would enjoy most would have Joe's Noodle House alongside Mount of Lebanon alongside Elephant Jumps alongside Han Gang alongside Cava Mezze Grill alongside Ray's the Steaks alongside PassionFish alongside Four Sisters alongside Pupatella alongside Hong Kong Palace alongside Thai Basil....whew! With some nice theaters and fine Old Town-ish shops and pleasant gathering places and watering holes. Alas, the Town Centers inflicted upon us are chains, chains and cupcake shops, and they chase me to Lancaster or Fredericksburg or locations where a real sense of place actually exists...


What exists in RTC has, as you say, and by and large, been "inflicted upon us". Probably a large number of people that frequent RTC meet your description, but I assure you that there are plenty of people, including me, who patronize RTC and who would be offended if you tried to characterize us in that way. I also think that many of those who currently meet your description would experience a maturation in discernment for finer fare, if given the chance.

I (and we) go to RTC (not as frequently as I (or we) otherwise might), because Tysons is a disaster and, if you, like me, were to actually live out this way, you could not make the trip downtown or to Old Town Alexandria at the drop of a hat. I do not hesitate to say, on my behalf as well as on behalf of a pretty wide circle of friends and acquaintances, "build it [something akin to the Town Center that you pine for], and they [we] will come [much more often than we go to RTC]."

By the way, upthread a little ways, I am not sure how you surmised that I was wishing for a Ray's the Steaks at RTC, when I specifically mentioned Vermilion and Estadio--unless you are equating the three places to each other, or are just struggling with reading comprehension...

#22 jayandstacey

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 11:19 PM

My observation, however right or wrong it may be, is that the nouveau Town Center concept appeals more to the people who find themselves in the upper middle class, for whatever good fortune has been visited upon them, but whose discernment for finer fare is quite immature. The chains, concepts, gimmicks and cupcake shops appeal to them, but not the truly contemplative and one-of-a-kind eating establishments.

The Town Center I would enjoy most would have Joe's Noodle House alongside Mount of Lebanon alongside Elephant Jumps alongside Han Gang alongside Cava Mezze Grill alongside Ray's the Steaks alongside PassionFish alongside Four Sisters alongside Pupatella alongside Hong Kong Palace alongside Thai Basil....whew! With some nice theaters and fine Old Town-ish shops and pleasant gathering places and watering holes. Alas, the Town Centers inflicted upon us are chains, chains and cupcake shops, and they chase me to Lancaster or Fredericksburg or locations where a real sense of place actually exists...

The cava mezze near me is in a "town center".

I agree with your observation, but disagree with the cause. We've been subject, for 75 years, to crappy constructs that lack that sense of place - malls, strip shopping centers, big box stores and the like. Now we finally get some decently designed places and guess what - there's a mad rush to get in there. It isn't the fault of the the designed place, rather that deep pocket companies will elbow out the mom and pops when supply is limited. The biggest error continues to be that such places are confined to pens, like they are outdoor malls to be driven to, then exited from. The logical extension is to allow such places to expand to meet demand - of residents, mom and pops, etc.

The result? Places like manhattan. Which may not be to everyone's liking, but it has some of the highest densities, highest land values - and best selection of restaurants, chains and not. It can work and be sustainable for generations.

#23 jayandstacey

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 11:41 PM

Reston is a planned town. Some others include Brasilia, Columbia, MD, Washington, DC, the Levittowns (PA and NY), and Roosevelt NJ. Some of them have flourished, and some have not. The planners have a tendency to overlook how people really live. Jane Jacobs vs Le Corbusier.

To be very clear about this:
Planning itself isn't bad - but most of the car-based planning of the last 75 years is really bad and lacks a sense of place. The more recent new urbanism movement seeks to return to design that is treasured and which people seek.

Columbia is a perfect example of a crappy place that is liked only by cars, not people. Who ever says "it's a nice day....let's go to Columbia for lunch and a stroll?". Where would one even stroll? Does Columbia even have two businesses close enough to stroll between? What does one envision when they think of Columbia? I think of 6 lane roads, strip malls that are 1/4 mile off those huge roads, store signs that are all the same color, a street plan that is unnavigable.... Etc. there's a reason that Columbia's land values never really showed any exception despite all the planning - cuz its just miserable there.

Good planning is rare, and often models older places that developed before planning involved micromanagement - in places like Annapolis, old town Alexandria, Frederick, etc, where planning only laid down a street grid and people were allowed to build as they saw fit - and built fabulous, albeit dense, places.

Such is RTC. People flock to it - as people like to be around other people and in spaces that are comfortable and scaled/designed for humans. The businesses will evolve over time and lend character.

#24 jayandstacey

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 12:03 AM

My observation, however right or wrong it may be, is that the nouveau Town Center concept appeals more to the people who find themselves in the upper middle class, for whatever good fortune has been visited upon them, but whose discernment for finer fare is immature


To focus on this ... Notice that these town center places almost never have fast food places? Wouldn't the people you describe above yearn for a big Mac?

The physical layout of such places effectively shuns fast food places, as you can't have a drive- thru where walls are shared with neighboring businesses. Of course, McDonald's does have some urban locations but by and large they prefer the pad sites.

My point is that the design of RTC actually keeps out some of the bottom of the culinary barrel. More interesting options on a par with the places you mention will come with time.... But are also rare places by any measure, the exception to the rule.

But I don't think the fact that the place does not yet have exceptional offerings is reason to dismiss those walking the streets as incapable of appreciation of such offerings.

#25 jayandstacey

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 12:11 AM

To further this - would we say that manhattan only appeals to those with immature taste? RTC is modeled after manhattan in many ways - mixed use buildings, high density zoning, cars pushed out and underground, vital street activity.

Manhattans had 200 years to develop- it isn't the clientele that precludes the places you've named from being at RTC. Mostly, it's that they are already located elsewhere. Give some places a chance to open and develop in RTC.


#26 Joe H

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 12:53 AM

Just a general observation: I've lived in Reston for 24 years having lived in Montgomery County (Silver Spring) and D. C. before. I was also born on North Capitol street decades and decades ago. I've been fortunate to have travelled heavily for over 30 years on business throughout North America and Europe. I say this because I admit to being a chauvinist.

I love Reston Town Center. I love the communal celebration with countless festivals and events, I love the "downtown" ambience, I love the-yes-European flavor of the town square which is its centerpiece. From parking garages with retail on the ground floor as well as condos which wrap around their outside to high rise office buildings on top of the same seven story parking garage-RTC is imaginative as well as a benchmark for successful urban design. I also much prefer Reston Town Center to Disney's effort, Celebration.

But. it is not Old Town nor Annapolis nor Dupont Circle nor Adams Morgan. Nor is it the Grand Plaice nor Marien Platz. I understand and know this.

But for what it is and what it will be with age I believe it is a resounding success. I must also mention what the alternative could have been like. I drove down Route 7 today in Tyson's with the six story high subway bisecting it. Nobody was walking down any street. Nobody. There was really nowhere to walk. I cannot tell you how much I dislike Tyson's. Reston could have been like this-but it's not.

It is new, though. There is no cheap space. By definition even retail on a side street or a cafe a block away costs much more than a frame house in Arlington or a secondary street in Bethesda. There are no frame houses, no secondary streets. For some-and I understand-the character is years away.

But it's a sincere and I think enormously successful attempt that with age will be realized. In the meantime I wish there could be a RTS or Joe's Noodle House or the kind of 1950's era dairy bar that spawned the original Anita's in Vienna. Or the kind of street, Church street, that Neilsen's and Bazin's are on. But there isn't. So I continue to lament that we don't have the chef owned restaurant that we really need. Or the ethnic restaurant that really needs "secondary" space to survive in.

Still, I believe there is hope. At the top of this thread I hoped that Passion Foods would open a restauant here (long before they announced it). They did. Today, I hope that an Estadio will come. Perhaps not. But in time there will be another Passion Fish and as I am thankful for that I will be thankful for what comes in the future.

But, please, not another national steak house.

#27 kirite

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 09:50 PM

If Robert Moses were still around he would be thrilled by Tyson's. Everything he loved is there (or will be soon). Concrete everywhere. High, low and in between. Multilane roads going hither and yon. Bland uniformity. Sidewalks, such as they are, rolled up by 8 p.m. This guy wanted to cut a highway through Greenwich Village.

#28 jayandstacey

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 10:18 PM

But for what it is and what it will be with age I believe it is a resounding success. I must also mention what the alternative could have been like. I drove down Route 7 today in Tyson's with the six story high subway bisecting it. Nobody was walking down any street. Nobody. There was really nowhere to walk. I cannot tell you how much I dislike Tyson's. Reston could have been like this-but it's not.

Yup.

If Robert Moses were still around he would be thrilled by Tyson's. Everything he loved is there (or will be soon). Concrete everywhere. High, low and in between. Multilane roads going hither and yon. Bland uniformity. Sidewalks, such as they are, rolled up by 8 p.m. This guy wanted to cut a highway through Greenwich Village.

Yup.

I've never seen anything written about it, but such actions nearly killed Georgetown. The widening of Wisconsin and M streets, the relegation of the waterfront to mere parking, the scar of Whitehurst freeway and the transformation of a street-based set of buildings to the Georgetown Mall - it only took about 40 years of bad decisions to nearly kill what had been a thriving area for 100s of years...and one of the City's centers. It seems to be recovering, probably on the strength of the well heeled residents working to save it. But the Robert Moses effect can really just destroy an area that would seem otherwise impervious.

#29 Joe H

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 06:44 PM

From Young and Hungry: http://www.washingto...on-town-center/

http://www.washingto...0081004653.html is Tom's review.

I have not been to the D. C. locations but my initial reaction is, great-another good hamburger at Town Center. I'm guessing that Clyde's and Jackson's aren't overwhelmed by this news. Also can't help but feel terrible disappointment that hmmboy couldn't do an Estadio or Jose an Jaleo here.

I also have to say this: we have friends visiting tonight and we were going to take them out to dinner. The kind of place that I wanted would be, say, the "Wine Kitchen" in Leesburg, i.e. small, 40 or 50 seats with character, chef owned, good and reasonably priced wine list and eclectic but excellent menu and preparation. There is nothing in western Fairfax county like this. (Several places would almost qualify but we don't like the rooms.)

I suppose that with rents at Town Center there will never be anything like this either.

If we are going to have more hamburgers, milk shakes, and comfort food I suppose we should feel lucky that Ted's Bulletin is coming here.

Just can't give up my Estadio fantasy....

#30 Kibbee Nayee

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 07:53 PM

Just can't give up my Estadio fantasy....


I'm with you....or even another Passion Foods concept, or an outpost of Lebanese Taverna, or a clone of Pizzeria Orso or anything other than the chain after chain of mediocrity in the Disney-esque Town Center.

Other than PassionFish, and usually because of its sushi, I wouldn't drive 5 miles out of my way for a meal in the Town Center....

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#31 Joe H

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 12:38 AM

In truth Ted's Bulletin is a mini chain including Matchbox as is PassionFish and Jackson's. Realistically we are fortunate that we're not overrun with clones of McCormick's and Schmidt's, Morton's and Uno's. We are indeed lucky that the quality of several of these (including the incoming Ted's) will help support Town Center as a dining destination for western Fairfax County.

I am just afraid that as Tysons has an excess of steak houses we're going to have an excess of hamburgers. Why can't we have a Beck's or Jaleo or Ceiba. There's room for a 2941 or Inox and an upscale market to support it.

FWIW if a chef and investors reading this were interested I would ask them to take a serious look at Old Town Herndon, near the Ice House Cafe, Jimmy's Old Town Tavern, the Russia House, Zefferelli's-anywhere in there. Create a room of "character," give it a personality. But not homogenous American food; GAR and Clyde's both do a good job with this. I'd like to see a Zaytinya or something like Cafe Atlantico. Perhaps Rasika would consider an outpost this way? Baltimore's Black Olive "south." Or, if the chef owner of Staunton's Central Grocery gets tired of his new gig at Charlottesville's Glass Haus Kitchen may be would consider moving north to here?

By the way, isn't there room for a second restaurant in the Avant?

#32 lion

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 01:36 AM

I like Ted's Bulletin in Capital Hill, but in the Reston Town Center would prefer something like Range. Why is it so hard for an inventive style of cooking to take place there?

#33 Joe H

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 10:57 PM

Now, I know nothing about what I am going to suggest.  And from my wife to many on this board there are a huge throng who will agree with my admission that I know nothing.  But...

 

Fairfax County is an affluent wasteland with over 50 million square feet of office space spread between Tysons and Reston.  Thre is nowhere here where one can have an experience like Chef was providing at Suna.  Nowhere.

 

There is a vacancy in the flagship Hyatt Regency main dining room in Reston Town Center right now.  I am suggesting that as Fabio could help sell rooms at the Ritz Carlton with Maestro so could Johnny Spero sell rooms at Reston Town Center's only hotel.  And its image.  Which just happens to need something/someone special to compete with Jackson's/Clyde's/Passion Fish/Morton's/M & S/Uncle Julio's and fifteen more restaurants along with more hotels opening nearby in the years to come.

 

A restaurant, a destination of character in the right place:  20 million square feet of office space in a landmark town center with the two wealthiest counties in America surrounding it.  Median fmaily income is north of $110,000 a year for Western Fairfax and Loudoun. 

 

I think a serious suggestion.  I passionately believe that Reston Town Center and the half million of us who live within ten minutes of it will support a cutting edge Chef.   

 

Note:  I have no connection to Town Center, Hyatt or anyone there.  I just like to eat and believe this is an idea whose time has come-at the right location.



#34 collije

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 10:57 AM

There's certainly enough disposable $ out there and you're right about the dining landscape.



#35 thetrain

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 02:19 PM

Now, I know nothing about what I am going to suggest.  And from my wife to many on this board there are a huge throng who will agree with my admission that I know nothing.  But...

 

Fairfax County is an affluent wasteland with over 50 million square feet of office space spread between Tysons and Reston.  Thre is nowhere here where one can have an experience like Chef was providing at Suna.  Nowhere.

 

There is a vacancy in the flagship Hyatt Regency main dining room in Reston Town Center right now.  I am suggesting that as Fabio could help sell rooms at the Ritz Carlton with Maestro so could Johnny Spero sell rooms at Reston Town Center's only hotel.  And its image.  Which just happens to need something/someone special to compete with Jackson's/Clyde's/Passion Fish/Morton's/M & S/Uncle Julio's and fifteen more restaurants along with more hotels opening nearby in the years to come.

 

A restaurant, a destination of character in the right place:  20 million square feet of office space in a landmark town center with the two wealthiest counties in America surrounding it.  Median fmaily income is north of $110,000 a year for Western Fairfax and Loudoun. 

 

I think a serious suggestion.  I passionately believe that Reston Town Center and the half million of us who live within ten minutes of it will support a cutting edge Chef.   

 

Note:  I have no connection to Town Center, Hyatt or anyone there.  I just like to eat and believe this is an idea whose time has come-at the right location.

 

There are a few reasons why this hasn't happened and probably won't happen anytime soon.  First, I'm guessing most younger/cutting edge chefs are not going to want to work in Reston, especially if they have an opportunity in the city.  Second, the most recent Tyson's area attempts at higher end establishments have faltered and we have evidence that for some reason most of those affluent people aren't willing to spend their money on innovative restaurants and I'm guessing investors have noticed those other restaurants' failures.  Third, I'm guessing there are more people from Reston that are willing to dine in DC after work than there are people in DC willing to drive out to Reston, even on a weekend.  Traffic on 66 is frequently bad, even at inexplicable times, and those Dulles tolls are ever rising.  A restaurant at RTC would have to be almost solely supported by an area that hasn't shown a lot of love for high end/innovative dining.



#36 Kibbee Nayee

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 07:20 PM

My opinion, FWIW, is that the problems that prevent quality restaurants from thriving in the RTC are twofold -- the rents and the palates.

 

A restaurant like El Manatial is the quality equivalent of anything in the RTC, but its balance sheet could not possibly tolerate the rent. It's the bar and the alcohol that pay the rent at the RTC, not the food.

 

The palates of the expense account crowd -- I know the IT executives well -- is not discerning. If Fabio Trabocchi or Johnny Spero were to open a restaurant in the RTC, the expense account crowd would still think Morton's was a better place to dine. It's sad, really sad.

 

Uncle Julio's turns out the kind of food that Gordon Ramsay would be rescuing on Kitchen Nightmares. Jackson's serves up Chez Sysco to twenty-somethings who can't tell pulled pork from pig slop. Il Fornaio is culinarily interchangeable with Olive Garden.

 

I doubt we will ever see the RTC as a culinary destination. It is what it is.


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#37 darkstar965

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 09:45 PM

There are a few reasons why this hasn't happened and probably won't happen anytime soon.  First, I'm guessing most younger/cutting edge chefs are not going to want to work in Reston, especially if they have an opportunity in the city.  Second, the most recent Tyson's area attempts at higher end establishments have faltered and we have evidence that for some reason most of those affluent people aren't willing to spend their money on innovative restaurants and I'm guessing investors have noticed those other restaurants' failures.  Third, I'm guessing there are more people from Reston that are willing to dine in DC after work than there are people in DC willing to drive out to Reston, even on a weekend.  Traffic on 66 is frequently bad, even at inexplicable times, and those Dulles tolls are ever rising.  A restaurant at RTC would have to be almost solely supported by an area that hasn't shown a lot of love for high end/innovative dining.

 

These are all logical and strong points. But I think most of it is fast being invalidated by the Mosaic District.  It is serving much the same population.  Surely, it is drawing and will draw from Vienna, Tysons, Falls Church and the towns around it.  And I bet it'll draw nicely from the city though still beyond the beltway more than 15 miles from town.  Same traffic and tolls could be issues but I'm guessing won't be.

 

True that, though beyond the beltway, it is about 6 miles closer to DC than RTC.  Six miles.  And also true that the jury is still out with Mosaic still bringing on final tenants and one major anchor (a "younger/cutting edge chef" named RJ Cooper) is still finishing its buildout.

 

All said, Mosaic was developed by people who I think understand what was needed to be successful.  High quality and an attractive retail mix.  Target customers currently being underserved by other options.  There's really no comparison between the two areas when you compare the storefronts. High end furnishing, the Angelika theater, Dolcezza Gelato, Jason Andelman's chocolates, Mediterra and interesting ethnic spots/smaller restaurants already in/around Merrifield like Four Sisters.

 

No doubt Mosaic's developers saw an opportunity with RTC's general mediocrity.  And, no doubt Mosaic is already stealing share from RTC.

 

When the smoke clears, it may well be that both areas will draw enough customers to be successful.  After all, we don't know RTC's financials but, judging by crowds there when I'm rarely there, they seem to be serving a market whether or not many of us on this board like it. It may just end up that while the geographic markets will overlap, the psychographic markets won't as much.

 

That might all prove wrong.  But I'd bet it more likely to be accurate when assessed a year or two from now.



#38 lion

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 10:32 PM

I think it is important to consider when RTC was built ~20 years ago, it was a premiere destination place for points west of Reston.  People would drive to RTC from an hour west to visit a more urban center and it was a safer option than DC.  This is before the outdoor open air style shopping center with a mixed usage park or outdoor pavilion (aka faux main streets of yesteryears) became the fashion for development.  Now all across America that design has taken hold and classic malls are falling by the wayside. 

 

There are corridors of wealth in VA that are clearly defined for example with the Tysons Corner versus Fair Oaks malls.  Fair Oaks since its inception attracted people from south VA because of the anchors stores that were more affordable.  Thus the intentional draw does establish the overall intended shopper.  With weekend revenue, it is clear Mosaic District is for adults without kids where as RTC is for families. The intended demographics support the developers intentions. 

 

The food in the gentrified suburbs is always bland in a sense because the audience is for families.  That audience needs food that little kids will eat, will appeal to the largest demographic of the population, and cheap to prepare. 

 

Of course, I would love for RTC to have more diverse food.  If there was a 'Maestro' at the Hyatt, it would be incredible for those of us who love food.  

 

However, I'm a big believer that restaurants have to go wide more popular (sizes, tastes, accessibility)  and before ratcheting up quality (experimentation, diversity of items, high prices) to insure the strong foundation is there to keep the room full. 

 

For example, we went to Bon Chon in Fairfax recently. It is a strip mall across from a Home Depot.  There are four or five other little restaurants/food offering places in the same location.  Bon Chon's interior was substantially higher quality than the other places within the strip.  It was packed the entire time we were there and there was a strong take out business.  Visibility wise it is on side street, so people had to intentional being going there to get it.  The brand name draws people.  Could they have opened in the RTC and been successful? 



#39 JBag57

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 12:57 AM

lion wrote: "With weekend revenue, it is clear Mosaic District is for adults without kids where as RTC is for families. The intended demographics support the developers intentions."

 

Two visits to the Angelika theater and one to the grand opening today of Red Apron Butchery, as contrasted with many years of going to RTC, I think this is exactly what differentiates the two, and why RJ Cooper, Cava, Black's and Neighborhood Restaurant Group have chosen to open in Mosaic.  The younger generations seem to have an appreciation for some of the things chains don't offer.  I went to college in Boston, and spent my non-study evenings swilling whatever macrobeer (Bud, Naragansett, whatever) was on special at whatever bar that night.  I went back many years later, at the inception of microbrews, and that is what the college kids (now referred to as hipsters) were seeking out!  (I did wonder where they got the money to drink the significantly more expensive brews!).

 

In addition, Mosaic seems to be hitting the nail on the head in terms of turning a suburban Metro station area into something close to urban.  Having grown up about two miles away from there, that appears to be pretty miraculous. Merrifield is not exactly Clarendon or even Ballston.

 

I have kids who are now in college, and my wife and I are on the other side of "adults without kids", compared to the 23-30 year old throng in Red Apron today.  Even though we will be looked upon as "old fogies" at Mosaic, we will likely spend more time and money there in the coming years than at RTC.  We no longer need the "family oriented" places.

 

By the way, and not making an attempt to hijack this thread, more than a "few" years ago, I was irked when a wine bar by the name of "Tallula" opened up at Whitey's after it was forced to close due to a fire! :wacko:



#40 Joe H

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 03:14 PM

Chef, come to Reston Town Center where the Hyatt Regency's main dining room is now vacant. 



#41 Mark Slater

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 03:45 PM

Chef, come to Reston Town Center where the Hyatt Regency's main dining room is now vacant. 

 

Joe, hotel cooking has many, many, many drawbacks for an adventurous chef.



#42 Barbara

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 09:56 PM

Joe, hotel cooking has many, many, many drawbacks for an adventurous chef.

 

Yeah, ask Tom Power about that. <_<



#43 Joe H

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 01:45 PM

http://www.restonnow.com/

 

It must have been a year ago when I implored Mark on here to consider Reston Town Center for an outpost of Estadio.  I was convinced that a Spanish tapas bar would do well there.  It was the one restaurant that Town Center didn't have.

 

Now, there is one coming:  Barcelona Wine Bar and Restaurant. http://www.barcelona...ashingtondc.htm

City Paper:

http://www.washingto...14th-street-nw/

Tom Sietsema:

http://dc.eater.com/...na-wine-bar.php

Eater early comments:

http://dc.eater.com/...ne-bar.php#more

Boston Globe rave about similar location:

http://www.bostonglo...eKwM/story.html

 

And, there is a Mexican taco bar and taqueria also from the same group: Bartaco http://www.bartaco.com/

New York Times:

http://www.bartaco.com/PRnyt.html

 

Both are going into the Avant (new 15 story apartment building diagonally across from PassionFish) along with the World of Beer (still hate that name).  

 

Ted's Bulletin looks like it'll open soon, too.

 

We have not been to the D. C. Barcelona which is about a half block or so from Estadio.  While I wish this could have been Estadio it is a huge step for western Fairfax county.  Great move for Town Center.







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