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Restaurants

Chipotle opens to smiles in Stafford

Stafford, chipotle, virginia
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Chipotle Mexican Grill opened its doors at Stafford Marketplace on Monday.

It’s the first Chipotle to open in Stafford County, and the opening was celebrated with a line of hungry fans standing outside the door.

In addition to several Chipotle employees, Rep. Robert Wittman (R-Va. 1) attended a ribbon cutting for the business, as did Stafford County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Cavalier.

The new restaurant faces Garrisonville Road and is part of a recent addition to Stafford Marketplace. A Verizon Wireless store will soon join Chipotle as its next door neighbor.

Chipotle employees spent the weekend getting ready for the big opening, however, no menu specials or discounts were planned for the event. A new Chipotle restaurant opens every two days, according to the company’s website.

First Chipotle in Stafford Opens Monday

Chipotle, restaurant, virginia

Chipotle opens new restaurant every two days

Employees on Saturday night were putting the finishing touches on Stafford County’s very first Chipotle restaurant.

The popular fast-food restaurant chain that allows customers to walk up to the kitchen and choose what they want in their oversized burritos, bowls, and salads will open its doors at 11 a.m. Monday. Devoted fans of the restaurant chain and Stafford County officials are excited about the grand opening.

The restaurant, like most new Chipotles, is small. Lines of customers can stretch from the order counter to the front door. A lot of customers take their food and go.

“It’s great food, its great tasting, and its food with integrity. It’s food that you can you trust to eat with no antibiotics, it’s organic, and it’s a fresh taste made in here,” said Delmis Carcamo, of Springfield, who is the restaurant’s general manager.

For those new to Chipotle, they have a very limited menu of nearly football-sized burritos filled with rice, beans, chicken or pork or steak. The customers say what vegetables, salsa, and the restaurants coveted guacamole.

Fans can also get those same ingredients put into a “burrito bowl,” a burrito minus the tortilla. It’s the most popular item on the menu, said Carcamo.

It’s $7.21 for a burrito or a bowl with chicken, $7.95 with steak. There’s also a salad for those who don’t like rice.

The new Chipotle is the latest addition to Stafford Marketplace shopping center on Garrisonville Road. The restaurant faces Garrisonville Road, and it’s located next to what will be new Verizon Wireless store.

Chipotle is so popular and sought-after in Stafford that a Facebook page was created by restaurant fans who wanted the chain to open a location in the county.

Today, the restaurant will hold an invitation-only preopening party that will give employees a chance to learn the ropes with customers inside. On Monday, it’ll be business as usual with no grand opening menu special planned.

The restaurant chain is undergoing a massive hiring spree. According to the company’s website, a new Chipotle is opened every two days.

Malones Restaurant Readies 2nd Floor for Opening

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Come January at Malones of Manassas restaurant, it’ll be formal downstairs and a party upstairs.

The Old Town Manassas eatery at Main and Church streets will open its long-awaited 2nd floor bar and lounge on Jan. 1. Construction crews are now hard at work on the expansion.

New fixtures for the bar and dining area were delivered prior to Thanksgiving. The 2nd floor will hold a total of 82 people on the 2nd floor. In addition to a bar, the room will include 12 cocktail tables and will have several TVs mounted to the wall.

It’s taken about two years for the restaurant – which is located inside an old church – to reach a point where it can open the top floor to customers.

What is the reason for the delay?

“A little bit of this, a little bit of that… it’s expensive,” said Kathy Saylors, who was overseeing construction of the second floor.

Saylors is the sister of restaurant owner Kevin Malone.

When it opens, the second floor will also feature live music. The downstairs portion of the restaurant also has a bar, as well as dining tables.

On its menu, Malones features steak, as well as a mix of seafood and pasta dishes.

“Cuisine de Commerce” Stirs Manassas Lunch Rush

Zandra’s Taqueria  makes gourmet tacos for thier customers in Manassas, Virginia.

Who says there’s not anything good to eat around here?

More than 10 area restaurants that put out their best eats Thursday at the Continental Event Center in Manassas for “Cuisine de Commerce.” And, more than 100 people came to the taste of the town event.

Offered to event goers was samples of everything from barbecue to sushi to great desserts. Some of the samples were generously portioned, and that made for some pretty full plates at lunch.

Crab cakes, bowtie pasta and Sausage Rustica were just some of the offerings at the table for Travinia Italian Kitchen, a restaurant located at Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center in Woodbridge.

“We make everything fresh from scratch using American-inspired Italian ingredients,” said Liana Bilicich, who manages Travinia’s catering operation in Woodbridge.

Zandra’s Taqueria is a newcomer to the area restaurant scene. Just opened in Downtown Manassas, the eatery does not define itself as a Tex-Mex or Mexican-style restaurant.

“This is gourmet tacos,” said Nick Cowalewski. “We do everything from duck tacos, to Mahi Mahi, to beer battered, to barbecued pork; it’s made to order.”

Keeping with that made-to-order theme was Café Rio, a Mexican restaurant in Sudley Manor Plaza in Manassas, offered chicken enchiladas with cilantro lime rice. The restaurant’s motto: Fast, friendly, with flair. 

“When you walk into the restaurant, you create your own masterpiece. People are able to pick and choose what they would like in their food and we’ll walk you down the line, and that when you leave you are happy with your meal,” said Brittany Boudfuehrer.

Thursday’s “Cuisine de Commerce” is one of the several events held by the Prince William Chamber of Commerce.

cuisine de commerce 1 PF changs Woodbridge Continental events center IMG_3440

Secret Garden Cafe Donating to Charities in Nov.

Starting in November, Occoquan’s Secret Garden Cafe is beginning a donation program where 10% of sales on a particular evening go to a deserving nonprofit organization in the community.  

On Friday, November 7, the Secret Garden Cafe will donate 10% of the evening’s proceeds to Rolling Thunder’s Wounded Warrior Program.  Then, on Friday, January 2 and Friday, February 6, 10% of sales will go to the Occoquan Historical Society.

The Secret Garden Cafe is located at 404 Mill Street in Occoquan and is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

The restaurant’s website posted this to describe their menu:

When asked to describe our menu, after many attempts to describe it, we are left simply saying, “well, its food we like.” From the far east of the globe to the far west, we are not afraid to be adventurous.

Cuisine de Commerce Encourages Professionals to Dine Local

Cuisine de Commerce is an event from the Prince William Chamber of Commerce. [Photo: Potomac Local]

15 restaurants to participate in Cuisine de Commerce

 

The Prince William Chamber of Commerce is preparing for one of its most popular events, the Cuisine de Commerce, sponsored by Internet Ad Management, Inc. Taking place at the Continental Event Center, 9705 Liberia Avenue in Manassas, 11:30 a.m. on November 6, this “taste of the town” will feature samples from 15 area restaurants and caterers.

A toy drive will also take place, with donations accepted at the event and at Burke & Herbert Bank locations throughout greater Prince William.

 “We encourage everybody in the community to come out, discover new restaurant favorites and bring something for the toy drive,” said Chamber President and CEO Debbie Jones. “This event is all about our community: highlighting and supporting local businesses. With all that Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park have to offer, we want members and guests to see that there is plenty of reason to stay close to home when going out to eat.” Jones encourages employers to consider recognizing their staff or clients by inviting them to join you for this luncheon, where a table of ten is just $375 for members or non-members.

“Burke & Herbert Bank is proud to be the Toy Drive Sponsor of the Cuisine de Commerce. As a local community bank and the oldest bank in Virginia we believe it is important to support the communities in which we do business,” said Burke & Herbert Bank Senior Vice President Terry Cole. “We are excited about working with the Prince William Chamber to help bring holiday joy to less fortunate children in our neighborhoods and pleased to have our branches serve as locations for the collection of toy donations.

“I’m proud that so many of our members are glad to give back to the community that supports their business,” said Bruce Moore of Internet Ad Management, Inc., the Main Event Sponsor and a member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors. This is the third year that his company has sponsored the luncheon. Over the last two years, the event has featured a food drive where members brought in close to 500 pounds of food. This year everyone is asked to bring a toy, which the Continental Event Center, in partnership with local churches, will distribute to local families in need of help this holiday season.

According to Jones, this luncheon is a great way to treat office staff, clients or friends to a special lunch. Attendees will have the chance to sample foods and treats prepared by:

Zandra’s Taqueria

P.F. Chang’s

Bahama Breeze

Travinia Italian Kitchen

A La Carte Catering and Event Design

The Piedmont Club

UNO Chicago Grill

Dyvine BBQ in Motion

Café Rio Mexican Grill

Cakes by Happy Eatery

Not Your Average Joe’s

‘The Bone’ Holding Ribbon Cutting on Monday

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Join us in celebrating our successful opening of The Bone in Historic Old Town Manassas.  The ribbon cutting will be held at 5 p.m. on Monday at The Bone, 9420 Battle Street. 

Representatives of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce and Historic Manassas Inc. will be on hand to assist with the ribbon cutting, as well as Manassas Mayor Hal Parrish.

Before and after the official cutting of the ribbon there will be social time with complimentary BBQ sliders and drink specials and all attendees will enjoy 10% off dine-in and take-out orders from 4 to 6 p.m. 

While you’re here, grab a 6-pack of craft brew to kick off the after-party. Those who purchase two six packs get a free t-shirt.

RSVP’s are not necessary, just show up for the party. For more information, please contact Chase Hover at 703-330-3820 or email at chase@thebonebbq.com.

Blue Arbor Cafe Celebrates 10 Years, Rolls Back Prices

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OCCOQUAN, Va. – The Blue Arbor Café has spent 10 years in Occoquan, and after all of that time the restaurant has never used an oven.

“It’s all soups, salads, and sandwiches,” said owner Steve Power. “We don’t even have a flattop grill or microwave.”

As part of their anniversary celebration, the eatery will roll back prices of all of their sandwiches this weekend to what they cost 10 years ago – $7.50, including a side dish. That’s a $1.75 less than what they cost today.

And there will be music, too, from The Prince William Youth Orchestra, The Back Alley Blues, Mike Soule, and Ray Sheehan. And giveaways from small businesses in Occoquan, including an introductory scuba lesson from Patriot Scuba.

The tiny town has been a good home to the restaurant, and is home to a score of friendly shop owners.

“It’s kind of isolated from the rest of the sprawl and crawl of the rest of the area. It feels like a family here… all of the merchants are friendly and there is no fighting or competition happening amongst us,” said Powers.

He has, however, outgrown his small restaurant space and would someday like to expand to serve more customers.

“We can seat 28 people inside but if there is inclement weather we can’t keep up with the amount of people who want to eat here,” he said.

While Powers admits it’s a nice problem to have, he says he’d rather have a space that could accommodate about 70 guests.

For New Owner, Montclair Family Restaurant a Home of His Own

071414-leoneDUMFRIES, Va. – Since coming to the U.S. more than 15 years ago, owning his own restaurant is something Francesco Leone has dreamed about.

Leone lives in Woodbridge with his wife, a his daughter, 6, and two sons ages 2 and 4, and recently made his dream come true. He purchased the Montclair Family Restaurant on Va. 234 outside Dumfries.

After spending the past 13 years working under this father-in-law at Armetta’s Restaurant on Minnieville Road in Dale City, getting an eatery of his own was the next logical step.

“Little by little, if I put a lot of hard work into this we will continue to be successful,” he said.

Hard work is something Leone is no stranger to. I worked with him, in what seems like another lifetime, at Tony’s Pizza on Va. 234 in 2001 (Armetta’s and Tony’s Pizza are under the same ownership). Leone was often behind the grill, taking orders, and making them in the back of the restaurant helping to ensure the place never ran out of food.

At Montclair, he says he’s thankful to inherit staff that has worked at the diner for years and a customer base of familiar faces that come almost daily.

Leone says the previous owner was hesitant to sell, but he eventually brought Leone in, showed him the books, and then he agreed to sell.

Those who come and sit at one of the 19 tables inside the diner shouldn’t expect too many changes on the menu. Rooted in Greek and American fare, the gyros here are very popular and come loaded with feta cheese and thick shanks of lamb, beef, or chicken. Burgers are popular here, and Leone also takes pride in the rotisserie chicken and the green beans freshly prepared here. Breakfast is also a big hit with regulars.

“When I went into the kitchen for the first time I had to ask the cooks where the microwave was. It was so small and hidden,” said Leone. “We have one,’ they said, ‘but we don’t use it that much.’”

Leone came to live in the U.S. in 1998 and married his wife at a ceremony back in his native Italy a year later. His family has been supportive of him stepping up and running his own business, and he says his children are the light of his life.

“If I can do this job for someone else for so many years, I know I can do it for myself,” he said.

Montclair Family Restaurant is located at 17001 Dumfries Road near Dumfries and is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Reservations, walk-ins, large groups are all welcome and take out is available.

Before he was a news reporter, Uriah Kiser was a restaurant server at several area restaurants. He still values many of the friendships made while working in the restaurant business and still likes to go out to eat.

Los Toltecos Serving Up New Menu, Authentic Mexican Atmosphere

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LAKE RIDGE, Va. – A Mexican restaurant in Lake Ridge is under new management and has a new colorful way of welcoming its customers.

Los Toltecos in The Glenn Shopping Center has completely redone its dining room with new light fixtures, tables and chairs, as well as new art – from life-sized giraffes, murals, and oversized masks – all are bright and colorful, authentic items imported here from Mexico.

There’s a real tropical feel here… I literally tried to bring back the feel of the real Mexico,” said general manager Alejandro Lopez.

Since taking over in February, Lopez has made making the Los Toltecos in Lake Ridge a viable, successful restaurant. He drives to Lake Ridge each day from his home in Frederick, Md. to work at the eatery, and he says daily drink specials from 3 to 8 p.m., World Cup games on TV, and a newly revamped menu have brought in customers willing to give the place a second try.

Lopez says turning around the restaurant hasn’t been easy. The corner eatery in 2009 had developed a reputation as a nightclub and was often the scene of late-night parking lot fights, said Lopez.

Since then, a glass partition was erected to separate the non-smoking bar from the restaurant. It keeps out the noise of sports on TVs and loud music from the dining room while allowing bar guests to enjoy a fun atmosphere filled with salsa music.

The restaurant manager says he printed menus and took them to area businesses and schools and asked people to give his restaurant a second try. He said the push has won over a few new fans.

One of the best new dishes on the menu is the Toltecos Parrillada – two pieces of carne asada, chicken, covered in cheese and chorizo sausage, served with rice, beans, and corn or flour tortillas for $15.95. It’s one of over 50 menu options all made with fresh ingredients that cost more but taste better, said Lopez.

While Lopez is from Mexico and returns every few months to see family and brush up on recipes, he comes Northern Virginia from Wisconsin where he says there is fierce competition in the Mexican restaurant business.
“You go to Chicago and Wisconsin and there are Mexican restaurants on every corner,” he said. It’s not like that here in Northern Virginia, he adds.

There are five Los Toltecos locations in Northern Virginia including Lake Ridge, one in Winchester, and one in Maryland. The restaurant hopes to expand into the fine dining market with a new concept called “Senor Tequila’s” and into the fast-food market with their take on something like Chipotle called “Mr. Burritos.”

Los Toltecos in Lake Ridge is located at 4120 Merchant Plaza.

DAKS Grill Closing, Owners Promise New Location

DALE CITY, Va. – DAKS Grill on Minnieville Road will close today.

The owner of the business in a statement to Potomac Local News noted the restaurant will reopen soon in another location, but did not state why this location of 23 years would close.

“We are deeply saddened to announce the closing of our Dale City location,” the statement read.

The restaurant has come to be known for its American fare and its outdoor patio. In recent years the size of the establishment’s parking lot grew smaller as new businesses, including a car wash, opened next door.

The location in an old stone house dates back to when much of Woodbridge was a rural farming community. A historical marker next to the restaurant denotes the old stone farm house as being common architecture of Northern Virginia during the early to mid part of the 20th century. Originally a hog farm, the farm was converted to dairy in the 1950s. The buildings were later torn down in 1991 ending the life of the last major farm in eastern Prince William County, the marker states.

Next to the old the spot as the location of the old Russell General Store, this was at the center of commercial life for the farming area then known as Bethel, Smoketown, and Hoadley, and Agnewville, the marker states. Before it was demolished, it served as the home for Ernie Sullins Outlet – a discount clothier known for their outrageous local TV commercials.

Going Bannanas Over Gourmet Pizza in Manassas Park

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Potomac Local Leaders 

The owner and chef of Pizza Spot in Manassas Park first got his hands into the dough at just 16 years old.

After completing culinary school, Rajeev, who prefers to go by the last name “C,” pursued a Bachelors Degree in hotel and restaurant management. Upon graduation, he quickly moved up to fine dining and service learning from renowned chefs at several leading hotel chains in Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia including The Omni Hotel and The Four Seasons Hotel, all while completing an MBA.  

After 15 years, he was eager to return to the fast pace of restaurant work. Being inspired by a family of great cooks and a successful catering business, he knew he was born to cook. On July 4, 2010, he realized his life long dream and opened Pizza Spot in Manassas Park. As a resident of Manassas with his wife and daughter, the location and timing was perfect.

Vickers: Why is your pizza so good and can you describe your top three selling pizzas?

Rajeev: As authentic as pizza gets, we are not your average pizza joint. Offering the best in ingredients, we make our own dough and sauces fresh in the restaurant. We serve lunch and dinner seven days a week. Many of our regular customers call ahead for take-out or take advantage of free delivery (within 3 miles). Pizza Spot is known to have something for everyone. Our menu consists of a large variety of signature pizzas, calzones, pasta, salad, Panini and our wings. Our handpicked colossal wings range from sweet chili to fiery hot. Our chicken wings are prepared with a homemade seasoned marinade and feature several unique sauce flavors.

We offer 20 toppings for you to create your own pizza – hand tossed, deep dish or thin crust. Our top-selling Signature pizzas include:

The Godfather

Pepperoni, Italian sausage, ground beef, bacon, green peppers, onion, mushrooms and olives

The Greek Macedon

Pesto sauce, chicken, green peppers, onion, olives and feta cheese

The Margherita

Fresh basil, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella

The Hawaiian Hercules

Pineapple, ham, chicken and bacon. Topped with chef’s special sauce

As a chef and food critic, I take pride in making each pizza as it is my passion. All my pizzas are creatively inspired by international flavors and cooked the traditional way on brick stones. My secret recipe comprises of 3 key factors – Ingredients, Temperature and Touch.

Vickers: What type of community work have you done in the past?

Rajeev:  Over the past few years, the ManassasPark community, residents and local businesses have been extremely supportive and in return, we take pride in providing delicious food as well as friendly service to everyone. As a local family owned restaurant, we are active in the Manassas community supporting several events and charities – Manassas Park National Night Out, local sports teams and bands, student discounts etc.

Vickers: who are your best costumers?

Rajeev:  We also participate in several marketing programs to keep our customers informed of new menu items, coupons and other specials. We encourage our entire customer base to join our Loyalty Program – The Pizza Spot Rewards, for additional savings and free food items.

Vickers: what’s your vision for your business based in the Manassas  park community ?

Rajeev:  As we grow, we would like to attract and serve crowds from well beyond city limits. It is my simple philosophy that food should be fresh, fun and easy to prepare and healthy to fit the American lifestyle. Our food is sure to keep our customers coming back for more.

Want to go?

Pizza Spot

9107 Andrew Drive,

Manassas ParkVA20111

Chamber of Commerce Invites You to Taste the Town

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MANASSAS, Va. – The Prince William Chamber of Commerce is preparing for one of its most popular events, the Cuisine de Commerce.

Taking place at the Continental Event Center, 9705 Liberia Avenue in Manassas, 11:30 am on Sept. 17, this “taste of the town” will feature samples from 15 area restaurants and caterers.

A food drive will also take place at the luncheon, with donations accepted at the event and at Burke & Herbert Bank locations throughout greater Prince William. September is Hunger Action month.

“We encourage everybody in the community to come out, discover new restaurant favorites and bring something for the food drive,” said Chamber Chief Operating Officer Debbie Jones. “This event is all about Prince William: highlighting local businesses and supporting the community. Quite a few of our members use it as an ‘employee appreciation’ luncheon, bringing their whole staff along.”

Last year, the drive collected more than 250 pounds of food. This year, Jones said the Chamber hopes to top that with Food Bank Sponsor Burke & Herbert Bank accepting donations at area branches now through Sept. 17.

This event benefits SERVE/Northern Virginia Family Service, and is sponsored by Internet Ad Management and Burke and Herbert Bank.

Tickets for Cuisine de Commerce are $40 for Chamber members, $50 for non-members and include lunch. Visit pwchamber.org/events or call 703-368-6600 to purchase. A complete list of participating food vendors is also available online.

‘By the River’ Offers Fresh Food Next to VRE

[Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – It’s a small store and deli with a lot to offer.

The “By the River Convenience Store and Cafe” is one of the few stops found along rural Brooke Road in Stafford County. It takes it’s name after its location, by the Potomac River and the Aquia Landing county park.

Inside the store is a full deli, where a mixture of Salvadorian and Mexican foods are prepared daily, fresh from scratch.

Most popular here are the taquitos, which is a tortilla rolled with chicken, paired with a salad with homemade tomato salsa.

Menu prices from from $5.99 for some items to $11.99 for the steak, which here is appropriaely listed on the menu as carne asada.

“People should come in and try our foods. It’s a small convenience store is make by scratch,” said Ivette Hernandez, who works at the small shop.

There is a dining area outside the store complete with tables, umbrellas, and patio furniture. It’s a warm, welcoming spot next to the Brooke Virginia Railway Express station.

The store’s customers are commuters who use the railroad, as well as those who live in the area, said Hernandez.

“By the River”  has been open for six months.

Tucked Away, Rheingarten Offers Authentic Flavor

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NORTH STAFFORD, Va. – It sits tucked away along U.S. 1 in Stafford County. Not like many roadside attractions, this quaint destination has a small bridge that carries cars across a stream into a gravel parking lot. The stone facade of the house and wooded surroundings denotes the uniqueness of the venue.

And then, as if almost you’ve been transported overseas, the sight of people wearing traditional German clothes not often seen outside of Oktoberfest, and you know this is not your normal chain restaurant.

The Rheingarten Restaurant has been serving up a taste of Germany since 1990. With hand painted murals on the wall, miniature hand puppets that mimic those seen on old episodes of Mr. Rogers, and a full bar, the authentic restaurant is where we made our fine dining experience Saturday night.

I began with beer (what else would you order at a German restaurant?) and ordered a glass of Weihenstephan Hefeweizen. The 16-once glass was tall, and it was presented with an orange peel which gave the beer the of Blue Moon. The taste, however, was much better, light and refreshing.

Then onto the appetizer: Fried breaded cauliflower in a Thai sauce. It tasted as the name suggests, like cauliflower, breaded over, and then fried. It was something I had never had before nor seen on other menus lately, so trying new things is always worth it. The sauce gave the started a nice touch.

For my main course, I ordered the Zwiebelrostbraten (sirloin steak) for $23.95. Yes, I could’ve went for something more German like the Brat & Bauernwurst Teller like my father in-law had, but hey, but steak sounded great.

It was cooked a perfect medium well and had a very tender center. Some portions around the edges were a bit tough to chew, but the garnish of tiny minced onions and carrots more than made up for that in the dish’s overall presentation. A bit dry, the steak could’ve used some more sauce. It was served with pommes frites and wonderfully seasoned vegetables that were nearly my favorite portion of the meal.

While it was my first time at Rheingarten, many who work at nearby Quantico Marine Corps Base have made this place a lunchtime destination. Now that federal furloughs have been ordered for civilian defense employees, the restaurant hopes to capture more bar business with a special “Furlough Fridays” happy hour starting each Friday at 11 a.m.

“The federal contractors have to go to work for a couple of hours, but then after that, they need something to do and somewhere to go,” said Katherine Hornig, whose managed the restaurant for 17 years.

Rheingarten was founded by a since retired German couple. Horning took over managing for them, and her husband became the executive chef.

Dinner prices range from $17 to $28, and lunches range between $8 and $13. Appetizers and desserts are offered on both menus.

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[Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

Bobby Flay’s Burgers & Fries Shake Up Woodbridge

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Chef Bobby Flay hands out one of his signature burgers from his kitchen. [Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

By STEPHANIE TIPPLE

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – A long line circled the Potomac Mills parking lot Tuesday, waiting in anticipation for the opening of Bobby Flay’s 15th Bobby’s Burger Palace in Woodbridge.

The casual dining restaurant, which seats 70, is an expression of Flay’s childhood love for burgers, and his take on American classics.

“It’s been a long journey and I’ve spent a lot of time at my high-end restaurants, but I’ve always been a burger guy. Cheeseburgers are just my go-to food craving, so I always thought it would be cool to open my own burger place. I can still taste what it tastes like and I feel in some ways it shaped my technique for the burger after that,” Flay said.

Before opening the first of the chain in 2008, Flay thought long and hard about how his burgers and cuisine at Bobby’s Burger Palace would stand out from the crowd.

“There’s a lot of places that serve good burgers in this country and so I was trying to figure out how I was going to separate myself from the rest of the pack. And I think the thing that I decided was that I was going to be true to who I am,” Flay said.

The inspiration to create a menu of burgers inspired by all American ingredients came from his experiences on his Food Network show, Food Nation, where he had the opportunity to travel the country and experience the regionally unique flavors and ingredients.

“When I look at a map of America, I look at it differently. When most people look at a map they see states, towns and cities. But when I look, I see ingredients from all the different places,” said Flay.

According to Flay, there are three crucial components in the burger game; the burger, the fries and the milkshakes.

“I think of the burger as the quintessential sandwich,” said Flay.

The burgers served at BBP are certified Angus beef, and all are made on a flat iron griddle versus a grill in order to preserve the flavor, according to Flay.

And while he refuses to skimp on quality for his burgers, Flay stressed his restaurant’s affordability.

“When I started opening these restaurants, and still today, I hear people say, ‘Oh Bobby Flay has a burger place – the burgers must be $20 dollars,’ but that’s not what I’m trying to do here. I’m trying to cook a burger that everyone wants to eat,” Flay said.

A definitely unique feature of Flay’s burgers is the option to “crunchify” a burger, which means to add a thin layer of potato chips to the burger, at no additional charge.

“Whenever I’d eat a burger there’d be French fries or potato chips on the plate, next to my burger, and the cheese would melt down onto the potato chips on the side I would eat those first,” Flay said.

While Flay had control in creating the menu, as a true foodie he has a hard time settling on his favorite burger.

“It depends on the day. The other day I had a Bobby Bleu Burger. That was my favorite two days ago – today, it might be something different. I always get my burgers crunchified,” he said.

 The restaurant does offer turkey burgers and chicken in place of a burger patty, and Flay defended the lack of a veggie burger on his menu.

“Vegetarians are very unhappy with me, because they want me to have a veggie burger but I’ve yet to find a veggie burger that I’ve thought was great. I’ve had some that were okay, but I just have not been able to find something that meets the standards of everything else on the menu,” said Flay, who suggested having one of their salads or grilled cheese instead.

The other two components are the fries and milkshakes. The fries, which are offered as original or sweet potato, are hand cut on the premises and made from scratch using a two-day labor-intensive process. And if you’re in the mood to dip your fries or douse your burger in sauce, then consider their three signature sauces; a chipotle ketchup, jalapeno hot sauce or burger sauce.

After a year of happy sampling, Flay perfected his milkshake recipes, which come with a whopping 11 oz in each glass.

“They’re the right thickness and have a tremendous amount of flavor. The calorie count’s about 20 – but I was the one that was counting,” chuckled Flay.

Flay’s “Palace” offers 10 different milkshake flavors, as well as malted milk powder as an add-on. One of the milkshakes that has garnered the most attention from customers has been the pistachio shake.

“I’ll let you in on a secret – the pistachio shake is a cult favorite. If you like pistachio at all, I urge you to taste it,” Flay said. If you’re trying to lay off the sweets, then consider their signature margarita, which is also served at Flay’s Mesa Grill.

No matter what you order, Flay wants to make sure that your experience is as great as the food.

“I want them to really have a good time. I think the thing that I love about this place is that we’re always having a good time. I want this to be the go-to place that they come for their burger craving and that’s a hard thing to do because people often have a place in their minds when they think of their favorite burger,” Flay said.

Meal Deal Offered at ‘Taste of Lake Ridge’

Visitors to the “Taste of Lake Ridge” sample food from restaurants in the Woodbridge area. [Submitted photo]

LAKE RIDGE, Va. – The restaurants in and around Lake Ridge are tasty, and the organizers of the annual “Taste of Lake Ridge” want you to come out and take in what community has to offer.

The neighborhood event will feature food from area restaurants like The All-American Steakhouse, Tim’s Rivershore, Langiappe on the Bayou, Glory Days Grill, Rita’s Ice, Harbor One Comfort Snack Mix, Oscar’s BBQ, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, and and Confections Cupcakes.

It’ll take place from Tuesday, May 14, from 4 to 8 p.m., at the Tall Oaks Community Center on Cotton Mill Drive, just off Mohican and Old Bridge roads in Lake Ridge.

“This is a fun event where families can walk to the community center, and commuters can get off the bus and walk down, and try some delicious food from great area restaurants,” said Lake Ridge Parks and Recreation Association spokeswoman Victoria Blevins.

To get a “taste,” tickets for the event are 50 cents each. A special Dinner Deal will be offered where event goers can buy 25 tickets for $10. As a bonus, anyone who refers a restaurant to participate in the Taste of Lake Ridge gets a free dinner deal coupon, said Blevins.

Jimmy the Greek Restaurant: Family Friendly Greek Fare

Greek plate lunch special and a side of sweet potatoes at Jimmy the Greet Restaurant in North Stafford. [Stephanie Tipple / Potomac Local News]

By STEPHANIE TIPPLE

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. – When you hear “Jimmy the Greek” you may be picturing the renowned sports commentator, but instead think tasty and affordable authentic Greek dishes.

Located off of Garrisonville Road in Stafford, this restaurant is part experience and part food. If you’re on your lunch break and looking for a bite to eat, then you’ll likely have two immediate impressions before you enter the front door; the restaurant is situated on it’s own Boulevard, and they have free wifi.

A blending of authentic Greek décor and Americana trinkets, Jimmy the Greek Family Restaurant is a popular local destination, and was fairly crowded on the afternoon when I sat down to try out their Greek fare for myself.

The menu, which covers breakfast, American favorites, traditional Greek fare and lunch and dinner specials, can make it very difficult to decide on one dish. Making the decision to tread new waters and try Greek cuisine, I settled on the Greek plate lunch special ($8.95) and a side of sweet potatoes; I am admittedly a sweet potato addict.

I found the television and the menu and place setting overly laden with advertisements to be a little distracting, but my server was attentive and I got my food quickly: a must when you have a short window to eat.

The tzatziki sauce paired well with the pita and the cucumbers, which balanced out the rice and pork that took up a large portion of my plate. While the rice was on the blander side, a scoop of the sauce mixed in makes all the difference.

Never being one to say no to dessert, I settled on the turtle cheesecake ($4.95), after selecting from several contenders in the glass display case in the front of the restaurant. The slice was huge, so have a glass of water or your leftover beverage ready.

When you’re in Stafford, you need to stop in and give the Jimmy the Greek Family Restaurant a try. It’s affordable, quick and offers delicious Greek food and a long menu of choices that will keep you coming back for more.

Belmont Bay’s Osprey’s Restaurant Ceasing Regular Operation

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Osprey’s Landing restaurant in Belmont Bay has reopened after it closed for two years. (Stephanie Tipple/PotomacLocal.com)

Osprey’s Landing restaurant in Belmont Bay has reopened after it closed for two years. (Stephanie Tipple/PotomacLocal.com)

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – The Easter Brunch at Osprey’s Restaurant will mark the final chapter in a sort of part two for the only eatery in Belmont Bay.

Executive Chef T.J. Fisher says the restaurant nestled inside of a golf club among high rise residential homes overlooking the Occoquan River will no longer be open to the public when it closes Sunday. Afterward, the restaurant will only be used by private caterers during special events like parties and weddings.

“It’s sad because we all really put a lot of effort into this place to make it work,” said Fisher.

And some things did work here, like the restaurant’s happy hour specials, and special events like this Sunday’s sold out Easter Brunch. At $25 per person, it’ll feature cinnamon French toast, Lavender Barbeque Chicken, baked Atlantic Salmon with peach salsa, and pretzel dusted three cheese macaroni.

But what didn’t work here was the location, said Fisher. While the Occoquan River is clearly visible from the restaurant, it sits at the very end of the Belmont Bay neighborhood, making it hard for passersby to notice. While Osprey’s was a neighborhood favorite by those who live and could walk here, it never became a destination restaurant.

After it closed for the first time in 2009, Osprey’s reopened for its second incarnation in 2011 and quickly brought back their signature American food served with French flair, along with popular deserts like waffle bread pudding and crème brulee.

Baylor’s Soft Serve Opens, Replaces Familiar Ice Cream Stand

Baylor’s Original Soft Serve owner Penni Graves-Rodriguez said she reopened a familiar Dumfries ice cream stand under a new name to bring the community back together. [Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

DUMFRIES, Va. – Virginia’s first town has a new sweet spot, and it opened in a familiar roadside location.

Baylor’s Original Soft Serve opened for the first time Sunday on Main Street in the heart of Dumfries’ growing business district, joining a newly built McDonalds restaurant in nearby Triangle Plaza.

It replaces JoJo’s Original Soft Serve which closed last fall after owner Joseph Ruhren became embroiled in a legal battle that has him charged with forcible sodomy and sexual battery of a minor. Ruhren will stand trail on those charges in September, according to court records. But the owner of Baylor’s, Penni Graves-Rodriguez, wanted to do something to bring the community back together.

“I’m excited about bringing the community back to the gathering place. I was a customer of JoJo’s back in the day as well, and the kids would want to run around eating ice cream and play with their dogs, and it was just a fantastic spot,” said Graves-Rodriguez.

The renamed ice cream stand takes its name from Graves-Rodriguez’s father. His middle name was Baylor, and he died in June 2011.

As for the ice cream, Baylor’s opened for the season on Sunday to long lines with customers ready to try out the newest restaurant in town. Graves-Rodriguez said her ice cream is still the same as it was when it was JoJo’s, and the same faces will continue to greet customers from behind the counter.

“I’m looking for a few things that we can make better, but going with the flow and getting handle on business while get the hang of things before we change anything,” said Graves-Rodriguez.

The small ice cream stand is valued at $139,000, according to Prince William County property records, and spent only a short time on the market following the closure of JoJo’s last year.

Great Wraps Coming to Potomac Mills

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – A fast-food chain more than 10-years-old will soon open in Woodbridge.

Great Wraps, a quick serve restaurant specializing in wrapped sandwiches, salads, and curly fries, will soon open in Potomac Mills mall’s food court. It’ll join several other decidedly more upscale restaurants like Cheesecake Factory and Bahama Breeze that have opened their doors in outparcel locations in the mall’s front parking area.

The Georgia-based Great Wraps chain has grown to have 20 locations in the U.S. In Virginia, the sandwich chain has locations on the campus of Virginia Commonweath University in Richmond, in Harrisonburg, and at Tysons Corner Center mall.

The new Woodbridge location will be Great Wrap’s fourth location in the state.

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