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Paciugo Gelato Becoming Street Corner Cafe

by Katie Pyzyk — December 18, 2012 at 3:30 pm 3,580 34 Comments

Paciugo Gelato and Caffè in ClarendonThe owner is staying the same, but most of the other aspects of Paciugo Gelato and Caffè in Clarendon (3033 Wilson Blvd) are about to change.

Owner John Croce said while the shop launched as a gelato franchise earlier this year, he’s now shifting gears and wants to transform it into a cafe serving a full menu. He’s also changing the name to “Street Corner Cafe” and renovating the inside. In July, he began dabbling with a limited number of breakfast and lunch items and says they were an immediate hit.

“This is what people want and this is what we want to be. We’re trying to evolve,” Croce said. “We still have gelato but we’ve expanded the line of food products to welcome more customers in. You can never satisfy everyone but you can try to satisfy most people. I think that will be accomplished.”

To honor Clarendon and Arlington, Croce is naming some of the dishes after local streets or neighborhoods. For instance, there will be a grilled chicken sandwich with provolone, sweet pepper strips and a chipotle sauce called the “Wilson Boulevard.” Croce is still throwing around name ideas for the various cheesesteaks and Italian sandwiches. The cafe will also feature soups, salads and smoothies. Croce touts the daily lunch special, which will be a sandwich, drink, chips and a cookie for $8.99.

“We’re convenient, we’re priced right,” he said. “You can get the full gamut here and your wallet won’t be empty.”

In addition to the focus on good food, Croce said he puts much energy into customer service.

“It’s a quaint little place right smack dab in the middle of a lot of restaurants,” said Croce. “I just want to be a part of the Clarendon community. I think it’s gonna be a well-rounded, neat concept.”

Cosmetic changes are already underway for the restaurant. When it’s finished, there will be a new sign outside and a few more seats inside. Street Corner Cafe’s transformation should be completed by mid-January.

  • James Moron

    Hard to imagine as it is the only gelato/frozen yogurt/ice cream place within 2 feet of it.

    I wouldn’t exactly describe it as quaint.

  • Chester

    Specialguy29

  • malaka

    Perhaps there’ll be a Donaldson Run Submarine?

    • R. Griffon

      OMG that would be awesome. PLEASE!

  • Chris

    The owner of this restaurant is a very nice guy, and I truly wish them all the best.

    Some thing strike me as strange though. The terrace in front of their restaurant was bare all summer — no plants, no nice tables, nothing — right in the middle of Clarendon. Only in September or so they installed some shrubs to make it look a little nicer.

    Also, why is the frontdoor all the way on the right of the store?

  • nom de guerre

    “I think it’s gonna be a well-rounded, neat concept.”

    Just what the area needs-another concept.

  • Modwop

    C’mon people….he HAS to have a sandwich named the “Sam’s Corner Special”. Who’s with me????

    • John Fontain

      I agree completely.

    • nom de guerre

      “The Sam’ Corner Special” would feature thinly sliced, Guinness braised corned beef, freshly made sauerkraut infused with organic juniper berries and bay leaves, Gruyère cheese and Russian dressing on a marbled rye bread and then grilled to perfection.

      “The Trevor” would feature a topless cheeseburger-90% hand chopped, hand fed Waygu beef with 10% beef fat added for juicyness, cooked medium rare and served open faced on a toasted brioche bun, topped with carmelized red onions, smoked provolone cheese, micro greens and a barbecue sauce infused with honey, mangos and Jack Daniels. Powdered garlic available upon request.

      • DCBuff

        My understanding is that they will indeed have the “Sam’s Corner Special” on the menu; however, it will perpetually be 86ed.

      • Schtick Willie

        This steamboat is getting old

  • John Fontain

    Good luck to Mr. Croce. I hadn’t been into the gelato place because I perceived the prices to be exorbitant. I’m much more likely to stop by here if it is a cafe, especially one that is reasonably priced and serves good but unpretentious food.

    However, I strongly believe that Mr. Croce should consider a different name. One that isn’t so generic sounding. No offense, but Street Corner Cafe sounds like Average Restaurant to me.

    Why not be adventurous and open up the name to public suggestions right here on this site? Get the public involved. Doing so will also build some interest in the cafe and make lots of ARLnow readers feel like they a stake in the place’s success. Anyone have any suggestions?

    I’ll start. How about “Croce’s”? Or how about “How about Croce’s?”

    • John Fontain

      As in:

      Anna: “Where should we go to grab a bite to eat?”

      Dave: “How about Croce’s?”

      Anna: “Croce’s?”

      Dave: “No, How about Croce’s?”

      Anna: “What? That’s what I just said.”

    • Deadite

      You wrote it off without ever stepping foot inside it. Such an Arlington move.

      With that said, I agree with you that the new name stinks. Has he learned nothing from the Market Tavern debacle?

    • eatit

      Referring to food as “unpretentious” pretty much guarantees that your attitude toward food is fairly pretentious.

      • John Fontain

        Please explain.

        • eatit

          Normal people don’t call food “unpretentious.” They just call it food. They don’t try to give it human personality traits. Doing so is somewhat pretentious.

          • John Fontain

            Pretension only relates to human traits? Who knew!?!

            Your comments are amusing because if you knew me you’d know that my views toward views are anything but pretentious and that I actually mean what I wrote.

          • DCBuff

            No, vegetables are pretensual. People are pretentious.

  • R. Griffon

    I’ve been there a few times with my kids, and the gelato has always been excellent. But it’s hard to really stand out when there are so many other places within just a few blocks that have similar offerings, all of which are pretty good.

    This a very smart move IMHO as there’s a horrible lack of “grab n’ go” sandwich places in the area. Earl’s and South Block Smoothie are the only ones I can think of. Both are pretty good, but more would be awesome. I look forward to trying it.

    • Rick

      Earl’s is overpriced and average at best. Not sure why people like that sandwich shop so much.

      I had a friend come in from Fairfax and said he drove all the way in to eat at Earl’s…I was like “WTF is wrong with you…you chose Earl’s over Lost Dog Cafe and Italian Store!?!?”

      It’s going to be gone anyway in two years…that block is getting demo’d and office space is going in there (another high rise).

      • ArlingtonWay

        Italian Store. Six inch Roma on a soft roll. Can’t beat it. Gotta say, I went to the Italian Store, and it was closed, so I went to the hamburger place next door. Petty damn good too.

        • Ralph

          Never understood why people like the Italian Store. The bread is terrible and has nothing to do with real Italian bread. I mean seriously, a soft roll?

          • Deadite

            Blasphemy!

          • YTK

            I stopped going to the Italian store the day they sold me a staaale Pannetone. My Italian mother hit the roof.

  • Clarendon

    This is encouraging. I think the owner is doing the right thing and as long as he makes a decent sandwich he should do better than before. I’m curious as to where the gelato is going to come from now. Do they make it onsite – will it still be provided by the Paciugo franchise ? Many franchises don’t like when you alter their formula.

  • ArlNative

    Cheesesteaks should be called something inspired….like a “cheesesteak.” Cutesy names are for Lost Dog and Stray Cat.

    • nom de guerre

      Most true natives of Arlington call them steak and cheese, not “cheesesteaks.”

      • John Fontain

        I thought the true natives called them A-Town steak and cheeses.

  • karzai

    I wholeheartedly endorse Croce’s move. I’ve seen evolution in his offerings over the past few months and he even responded to my request for broader bagel offerings. It’s still not Brooklyn Bagel in Courthouse, but at least it’s something. The owner is extremely responsive and friendly and welcoming and I will definitely continue to be a regular customer of his.

  • The Jimmy

    Without a name for your sandwiches, you got no snap, no zip. You need a nickname that makes people light up.

  • Eddie

    This owner is a genius as unlike other owners he listens to what customers want and is transforming his store into a Breakfast,Lunch,Ice Cream Cafe.

    The new Gelato is great and soon they will be selling Ice Cream novelties like hand-dipped gelato pops, ice cream sandwiches, monster milk shakes, root beer floats and sparkling smothies.

    I eat breakfast and lunch at his store every week and teh price point is great and the food is fantastic.If you have not been there yet try it,you will love it.

  • YTK

    Will it have a bocce court?

  • CSC

    A sandwich place is just what the area needs, really. I always felt sad when, upon us passing by, the owner would basically beg us to come in and have gelato. But, as nice as he was, we didn’t want gelato. We would like a sandwich now and then, though.

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