It’s the far southeast corner of Arlington County — bordered by Crystal City to the north, Four Mile Run and Alexandria’s Potomac Yard to the south, railroad tracks and Reagan National Airport to the east and Jefferson Davis Highway to the west.
On the ground floor of two residential developments, at the intersection of so much transportation, a collection of shops and restaurants have been struggling to gain traction. But several new arrivals at the Market Square shopping center hold the promise of reinvigorating the area, bringing in new diners to Arlington’s last (for now) retail frontier.
Paisano’s Pizza, which serves pizza, pasta, salads and sandwiches, opened over the summer. Boasting a large kitchen but very little seating, the restaurant is hoping to capture take-out customers in an area where there’s only metered street parking and garage parking, and where most of the foot traffic comes from residents of the 465-unit condo building above.
Melody Tavern, located next to Paisano’s, has been courting local residents with “soft opening” events featuring free hors d’oeuvres and drinks. A grand opening is imminent for the “full-service, music themed restaurant,” which is owned by Michel Daley, former owner of southwest D.C. nightclub Zanzibar. Boasting a large, sunny main dining area and bar, as well as a large patio space, Melody is hoping to be a destination in its own right.
In June, Daley said Melody would host live music and comedy acts, and target the more mature “professional set.” A sign in the window warns that t-shirts, shorts and sneakers are not welcome at the restaurant.
Melody will be hosting an open house event from 7:00 p.m. to midnight on Friday, according to the sign.
Another new restaurant, meanwhile, is billed as “coming soon.” Building permits are up at the future HeeBeen Asian Bistro, across from Melody Tavern. The restaurant, which specializes in Korean BBQ and which has an existing location in Alexandria, has been in the works since this time last year. We’re still awaiting word from owner Mike Kim regarding when HeeBeen might open.
While Paisano’s, Melody and HeeBeen hope to attract more diners, at least one restaurant closed recently. A Jerry’s Subs and Pizza, across the street, now has “for lease” signs posted in the windows. That follows the closing of McGinty’s Pub, in the space now occupied by Melody Tavern.
That’s not the only dubious omen. The entire Market Square retail center, of which Paisano’s, Melody and HeeBeen are a part, is for sale. It’s unclear, however, why the owner has decided to sell.
Still, the long-term future for the businesses able to stick around looks bright. The National Gateway development between Crystal City and Potomac Yard promises to eventually attract a number of office tenants — up to 2.5 million square feet worth — and a corresponding number of office workers. And to the south, the redevelopment of Potomac Yard in Alexandria promises to bring a Metro station and even more residents to the area.