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  1. One operating restaurant recently closed: Big Chair Cafe and Bar in Anacostia at Martin Luther King Avenue: "Big Chair Cafe Bar & Grill Closes in Anacostia" by Jonathan O'Connell on washingtonpost.com The other that is still operating under its name but changed management is Toscana Grill. The management between the operator and lease holder ended and the lease holder took it back. In both cases the operators did not have leases. They had agreements with the existing lease holders (former operators) to operate the restaurants. It appears both agreements ended badly and quickly. I knew of Big Chair through the bartending school as we provided them with a stream of bartenders. They converted from a coffee house to bar/restaurant and had an excellent run. From their Facebook page it appeared there was a lot of satisfaction with the operations. --- In the other case the most recent operator made a business deal with the lease holder (former operator) and ran the restaurant for a little over two years. It became a local favorite of mine. Initially because of the NJ/NY style Italian food, flavors, and pizza and then because the operator till just recently it was easily one of the most outgoing, fun, engaging people I had met in the restaurant business over many years. It was easy to become a regular...as with many others. In the case of Toscana, the outgoing operator made a plan to leave, gave notice, but that quickly broke down and the change in operations occurred abruptly last week. I'll certainly miss the operations. I can't speak to the changes if any in the menu. One little note of interest: If you go to the restaurant website, you'll see a note from the website owner/former operator announcing the close down. Then go to the google reviews and sort by most recent: You'll see a "planted review" responding to the website announcement and how great the place is. In both cases the operators didn't hold the leases. Its a rough way to operate in my experience, and though its rare its also a way to get into the business as an operator with very little capital.
  2. We found the response to a one day quick post in arlnow to be spectacular and wrote about it on our little school blog: http://www.bartending-school.com/arlington-restaurants-making-chicken-salad-chicken-sh I used to lease restaurants and just know the location inside the Courthouse courtyard is just terrible. Nearby neighbors miss the restaurant because its on the interior of the courtyard and does not have street front visibility. Hundreds of people lined up to get free meals. We interviewed some eating on the patio. Astonishingly some were neighbors and simply didn't know the restaurant was available. They liked the meals, the offer in arlnow and the genuine response from the owner taking orders. It was an incredible example of social media gone wild creating visibility that you can't get elsewhere. Now for the restaurant I hope insurance covers everything and they are back in business in two weeks or so with increased customer awareness.
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