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Ray’s Hell Burger Too Closes, ‘Surprise’ Coming Soon

by ARLnow.com — October 12, 2011 at 12:51 pm 8,690 52 Comments

Restauranteur Michael Landrum is up to his mysterious ways again.

Less than a month after the quiet opening of Ray’s to the Third across the street, Ray’s Hell Burger Too (1713 Wilson Blvd), the sit-down table service version of the more casual Ray’s Hell Burger concept, has closed. A sign in the window declares: “Coming Soon… Big New Surprise!”

Even more surprising, the sign also says: “Stay tuned to ARLnow.com for details.” That was news to us — we only found out about the sign from a reader seeking more details. Luckily, we were able to catch a rain jacket-clad Landrum at the flagship Ray’s Hell Burger in Rosslyn to clear things up.

“That was a little dig,” Landrum said with a smile. He noted that ARLnow.com seemed to publish details about Ray’s to the Third before he even knew what he was going to ultimately do with the space.

Landrum said he’ll be opening a new concept restaurant in the Ray’s Too space, but was short on details. Asked if seafood — the long-rumored Ray’s the Catch — was to be the new concept, Landrum said it “isn’t currently in the works.” Instead, Landrum says he’s currently content to be expanding the seafood offerings at Ray’s to the Third.

So what will the new concept at 1713 Wilson be?

“I can’t tell you what I’m doing here,” Landrum said. “With my restaurants, I don’t know when they’re going to open, or what’s going to be on the menu, until the day before… Honestly, everything works, but I sort of just make stuff up as I go along.”

Landrum did volunteer, however, that he’s hoping to open the new restaurant within a month — perhaps by Nov. 1. There won’t be any construction involved, so he expects a “quick turnaround.”

Landrum added that the eatery, whatever it is, will be quick, casual, “down and dirty” and at a “working-man-friendly price point.”

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  • Arlington, Northside

    Working man friendly price point! I sure hope so!

  • LP

    Well done, ARLNow – you guys are officially tops in local (Arlington) news!

  • Johnny Utah

    “ray’s the game” Thats what i’ve heard.

    • steve

      what would ray’s the game be?

      • KalashniKEV

        Game meats.

        • CW

          That’s what the Ray’s Too location was originally supposed to be.

        • Steve

          How popular are roadkill burgers going to be in Arlington?

          • Richard Cranium

            And will Arlington’s throngs of free-roaming chickens and / occasional highway stray horses qualify for the menu?

    • FW

      The Most Dangerous Game?

      • Richard Edward Connell Jr.

        Is man

  • TGEoA

    Hopefully the return of the Arlington Grill — aka Raise your skirt

    • Novanglus

      LOL. “Ray’s Your Skirt”. I forgot that space was once a Gentleman’s Club. He could merge with two other restaurants there and make it an all skirt-steak menu: cheesesteaks, fajitas, pho, …

      Or why not take over the whole building?
      - Greenberry’s -> “Ray’s the Alert”
      - The ABC store -> “Ray’s the Bottle”
      - Moneygram -> “Ray’s Cash”
      - Century 21 -> “Ray’s the Roof”
      - Village Bistro -> “RSVP: Ray’s pondez s’il vous plait”

      Then add:
      - A poultry place called “Ray’s Hackles”
      - A karaoke bar called “Ray’s Your Voice”
      - A dessert shop called “Ray’s Cane”
      - A head shop called “Ray’s the Dead”

      • Steve

        I’d appreciate Rays the Smoking section….

        • Novanglus

          You mean Ray’s the Haze?

          Or he could open that at Charles Town Casino: Ray’s Your Hand.

      • Homunculus

        Tax-prep place:

        Ray’s Your Taxes.

      • Maria

        This was excellent. Very nice job.

    • Richard Cranium

      That was, possibly, the single worst strip club in the history of strip clubs.

      • Ray’s Your Skirt

        Not possibly, it was the worst I had ever been to -but many of the same dancers from the Crystal City gentlemans club would work the circuit so occasionally decent girls. My buddy and I hated going there every wednesday night for dollar draft night since the regular girls (of the larger size) wearing pasties and G-Strings were bitter that we just sat in the corner and drank. There were not as many drinking options back in those days – but that was back when Rhodeside Grill has the best looking and “friendliest” bartenders in the metro area.

  • CW

    Not too big of a surprise that hell burger too is closing. It never really picked up much business in my experience. No one wanted the table service, and the menu offerings weren’t very different. Even original hell burger seems to have lost steam as it fades from the hot, hyped place into an established facet of the community dining scene (that’s a good thing, in my opinion).

    What I do wish would happen is that Landrum would expand his offerings. There are so many commonalities running through what was at its peak four restaurants in arlington – burgers, fries, diablo sauce, crab bisque, etc.. that were available on two, three, four menus. All four places are/were at the end of the day mostly meat and potatoes. I’d like to see something truly different (in this area I mean – I realize that RTS east and Classics have varied menus).

  • Zach

    As long as the incredible onion rings at Ray’s Too pop up at this new restaurant or Ray’s to the Third…

    Really though, I liked Ray’s Too a lot. I don’t think I’ve been to Ray’s Hell Burger since it opened. I will gladly tip a server to avoid the chaos of trying to get a table at Ray’s Hell Burger. I also felt like my burgers came out tasting hotter and more freshly off the grill at Ray’s Too.

  • Rick

    Ray’s got crabs?

    • Richard Cranium

      Kind of a personal question, dontcha think?

  • SomeGuy

    Wondering if the following is appropriate for this article, based on the content and accompanying photos:
    “Disclosure: ArlNow.com has a mutual advertising relationship with Michael Landrum’s restaurants.”

    • http://www.arlnow.com ARLnow.com

      No, there’s no relationship.

  • Pingback: » Ray’s Hell Burger Too Closes Its Doors | Burger Days

  • Chris

    I have been telling people that ArlNow.com is the place to go for news! Way to get validation from a local business owner.

    Suggestion, can one of this week’s poll’s be about what type of new food we need in the area? Can the options include a selection of good grilled cheese sandwiches and/or mac and cheese options. I so craved a great grilled cheese on sourdough or specialty bread the other night and finally had to go to the Whole Foods to find the stuff to make it myself, but if there was an restaurant option, I would have done that.

    • http://www.arlnow.com ARLnow.com

      Thanks! You’re right, that could be a good poll topic. Perhaps we’ll do it later this year. In the meantime, check out our poll of what types of restaurant folks have had enough of: http://www.arlnow.com/2010/11/29/morning-poll-food-options-in-the-r-b-corridor/

    • GreaterClarendon

      Add a Chicken Fried Steak to that list – not a decent one to be had in the area – all frozen or pre-packaged with canned gravy. None of the Chicken friend steak’s around here taste like chicken ;-)

    • Grilled Cheesus

      There’s great grilled cheese options at Earl’s, Rabbit, and sometimes Northside Social.

    • Hmm..

      A grilled cheese truck has been parking by Rt 50/ Rosslyn each morning and night but drives away to serve lunch elsewhere.

      Grr.. not cool to tease locals with grilled cheese signage, then serve it elsewhere. *shaking fist*

      • CW

        Don’t worry – their food sucks. It’s based out of Rosslyn but sells mostly in downtown DC, though they were set up in Clarendon one evening last week. But, either way, you could make a better one at home for fifty cents.

    • KalashniKEV

      eeeeww… You’re nasty.

  • meh..

    ahhh…this explains my last visit. PHEW… I was hoping the place wasn’t just going down hill.

  • 1800Wilson

    I had dinner the first week Rays3rd was open and spoke to the General Manager, whom you may have seen floating between the Steaks, Hellburger, and Hellburger Too (shaved head).

    We had a great conversation about the 3rd’s concept, and how Michael Landrum wanted a mid-tier price point between the Steaks and Hellburger that served food made with integrity that a wide audience could afford. If you’ve been to the 3rd, you’ll note their amazing Hanger steak and frites is about $17 (if my memory serves me correct) which is a great deal. Michael and his team are an asset to the Courthouse community and I’m thrilled that their new concept will be opening up shortly.

  • novasteve

    Has anyone seen the latest southpark episode? Kinda hard to eat burgers after seeing that.

  • yrb

    Ray’s the Hype

  • http://eatmoredrinkmore.com EatMore DrinkMore

    My prediction is a Ray’s Cheese-steak place. He talked about that a long time ago.

    • Southeast Jerome

      Cheesesteak and/or Deli-sub place would be excellent, something with subs as good as Italian store, but you could sit down, drink a brew or too, good neighborhood hangout.

  • Pingback: Even Michael Landrum Doesn’t Know What Michael Landrum Is Up To At Ray’s Hell Burger Too - Young & Hungry

  • Billy

    Raise the Bar, possibly?

  • Billy

    err, RAYS the Bar. Duh.

  • Charlie

    Very disappointed w R3!
    Small piece of meat lost under a pile of fries.
    Milkshakes were to die for though.
    Appetizer were nteresting but not home runs –maybe a double.
    Will go back for shake.
    Would really like to see return of the one pound burger that was at first place. That was awesome.

    • KalashniKEV

      I went there last night and LOVED it.

      Didn’t get a milkshake though…

    • Paul S

      What cut did you get? The sirloin I ordered last week was definitely not small.

  • Ellen

    What happens to the staff when he just up and closes a restaurant–do they get their same hours elsewhere?

    • Michael Landrum

      Your concern is very well noted, Ellen. All of the employees were offered the same or increased hours. Most were offered either advancement or positions that would lead to advancement.

      All of the staff accepted and are thriving in their new digs.

      With the move to the larger digs, approximately 10 new positions were created; and when the Hell-Burger II site re-opens in its new format, approximately 20 new positions will be created.

      Starting with only 5 employees shortly after 9/11 with all of the airports still closed and hotels at 5% occupancy, Ray’s has since created 150 positions in Arlington alone, 80 of which were added since the financial meltdown of 2008.

      In the almost ten years Ray’s has been in business, while not loved by all, only 10 individuals have actually lost their positions.

      As a side note, in addition to payroll and sales tax, Ray’s generated somewhere in the range of $300,000 in Arlington County Meals Tax in 2010 alone, much of which was derived from out-of-county and out-of-state dollars.

      I hope your concerns have been adequately addressed and the seriousness with which we take our responsibilities and social obligations as an employer adequately expressed.

      • alaaro

        BOOM, roasted.

      • Tabby

        Only 10 in 10 years? Does that count people who felt forced to resign? I have no bone to pick–I’m just skeptical, having worked in the business.

        And the “Ray’s” ideas were far funnier the last time this came up. (Kudos to myself and a few others.)

      • Arl Eddie
  • jaynonamous

    Yawn….who cares….

  • Shelia

    Rays the Chickens please. Want some good ole fried chicken.

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