Shirlington’s Curious Grape to Become Cheesetique?

by April 20, 2011 at 8:00 am 9,938 42 Comments

Alexandria’s Cheesetique will be taking over operations at the Shirlington location of fellow cheese-and-wine shop The Curious Grape (4056 Campbell Avenue) in Shirlington later this year, according to Cheesetique owner Jill Erber.

“I can confirm that we plan on opening in the current Curious Grape [location] this autumn,” Erber said in an email yesterday afternoon. “The details are being hammered out, so I don’t have more specifics for now.”

Cheesetique, located in the Del Rey section of Alexandria, is a specialty cheese shop with an integrated wine and cheese bar. In addition to cheese, the bar also serves small plates, simple entrees and charcuterie.

A message left for The Curious Grape management on Monday has not been returned.

Update at 4:40 p.m. — Apparently there’s some confusion stemming from the fact that we said Cheesetique was taking over “operations” at Curious Grape’s Shirlington location. Erber wants it known that Cheesetique is not taking over Curious Grape as a company, only the physical store location.

Update at 3:55 p.m. — We’ve finally heard back from Curious Grape’s management. They issued the following press release this afternoon.

The report that a cheese shop is taking over the operations of Arlington’s A List #1 wine store, The Curious Grape, is false.   No other entity is taking over The Curious Grape or its operations.  While we do not think that ARLnow report was intended to be misleading, the report is totally untrue.  We are unsure how anyone could have come to the conclusions as reported in ARLnow, but there has been no discussion, plans or agreement between the Curious Grape and Cheestique, or anyone else, to take over The Curious Grape’s operations.

The Curious Grape would invite Cheestique to retract any impression that it will take over The Curious Grape’s operations.  Further, the use of the Curious Grape logo in the ARLnow report was in no way authorized by The Curious Grape, and that misimpression should be corrected as well.  While we wish Cheestique well, the misleading publicity is unfortunate.

The simple fact is that The Curious Grape will not be continuing in its present location in Shirlington, and will make an announcement at the appropriate time of its future plans.   Please do not announce the demise of Arlington’s WUSA A List number one wine retailer.  We are very alive, well and will continue!  Please stand by for future announcements about The Curious Grape.

  • Tabby

    Oh? I’m curious what happened. The Grape has a nice selection at all price points, unlike Cheesetique which only has pricey wines.

    • NPGMBR

      I’ve noticed the same thing. But I must admit that although I really like The Curious Grape I tend to buy most of my wines at Pearson’s in DC because they tend to have the best prices.

    • JJ

      It’s not really mysterious – boils down to one of two things: either the Curious Grape isn’t doing that well and needs to close or find a place with lower overhead, or the Curious Grape is doing great and is looking for a larger place or a better location to grow the business. Same reasons apply to why Cheesetique is moving in there from where they are. It’s the marketplace in action.

  • TGEoA

    This story stinks

    • Tabby

      Makes me a bit bleu, don’t know why. Curious Grape is a goudaddition to Shirlington.

      • CW

        Stop it with your cheesy humor.

  • G

    I hope this new place will have the free tastings like curious grape…

  • VAinVA

    Cheesetique is primarily a cheese shop that also sells wine. Curious Grape is a wine shop that also sells cheese. Will be interesting to see where this new shop comes out. My guess (hope?)is a more balanced mix of wine and cheese.

  • chris

    Anyone know if cheesetique is closing their del ray location?

    • Liam

      The Del Rey location is staying open I am told. So they will have two locations.

  • Dreamer

    They couldn’t have put in a nice Jewish deli, huh? A place like taht would KILL it in Shirlington. Between $5 cupcakes and CakeLove and pompous roadkill at the bar at Carlyle … aah, I good pastrami on rye extra mustard …

    • Tabby

      Have you tried the sandwiches at Best Buns or whatever it’s called? Very tasty.

      This town is just not a deli town the way Philly and NYC are. No waves of immigrants of various nationalities–until the Vietnamese in the 1970s perhaps.

    • Bringmetheyuppies

      I’m with ya. I think we should talk to Katz’s and see if the want to open a branch in S. arl.

    • Liam

      There was a deli there for years…Primo Deli. It was there at least until 1998. Great subs and sandwiches, but it could not survive business-wise, so they closed. It was right next to Curious Grape.

  • Rebecca Krafft

    Here’s what Curious Grape just posted on their FB page. The Curious Grape wrote: “Thank you! We are closing on May 31st, and will be re- opening in a new location. As of right now we cannot confirm the location. we are very excited about our future plans and appreciate you continued support.”

    • Tabby

      My bet: Clarendon. Or wait, maybe Ski Chalet!

      • ArlGal

        I’m not sure Clarendon would be a best bet, since we already have Best Cellars (free tastings) and screwtop.

      • Skeptical

        The Grape in Ski Chalet would rock.

      • Jim

        ski chalet, ski chalet!!

    • Allan

      Yet another retailer bites the dust in the Village.

  • I knew Cheestique was coming (2nd store)this summer or fall. This is more than a wine and cheese shop, it is a cafe with wonderful plates and charcuterrie. They will be an addition here. Don’t cry for Curious Grape, I don’t think they will go far away.

  • Kevin

    Bummer! Curious Grape has the best tastings (and tasting policy) of any shop in town.

    They will be missed.

  • Skeptical

    Wherever the Grape goes, I’ll go out of my way to go there. I like Cheesetique’s offerings — I’m kind of a cheese geek — but they jack up the prices to the highest the market can bear, and then feature counter help and waitresses about young enough to be my grandkids, looking like extras from “Sex and the City,” who patronize you every time you come in about your “discriminating taste.” The Fromagerie in Old Town is equally good on cheese selection, doesn’t gouge despite its primo location, and conversations with the help are, well, normal.

    Well, at least it’s a good day when this is the worst bummer on Arlington Now (so far).

    • Tabby

      Grape and Bean is well-regarded.

      I agree with you about the people who work at Cheesetique. They’re not warm and welcoming.

      • Liam

        I couldn’t disagree more. I have been a customer of both Curious Grape and Cheesetique for years. The staff at both are just what you would want from a small independent wine or cheese (or wine and cheese) shop. The reason I keep coming back is because they are knowledgeable and friendly. And for you to discriminate against waitstaff because they are young is just as ridiculous as you saying they patronize you for your taste. I am sure the Curious Grape is moving to a better location for them, and they will continue to do just fine. Cheesetique is not the bad guy here, its not like they opened next door and forced Curious Grape out. The Curious Grape made a decision to close their current location, and Cheesetique took advantage of a great location. If nothing else we should be celebrating that a locally owned, operated shop is opening up there rather than another chain.
        We need to celebrate the fact that shops like Curious Grape and Cheesetique can continue to thrive in the face of competition from places like Harris Teeter and Safeway, and the Targets of the world. We need to support the independent business person for taking these chances and offering us opportunities we would otherwise not have. Variety is good, and if you don’t like the prices, then vote with your patronage and your wallet, but you don’t have to belittle the people that work there because you think the prices are too high.

        • Tabby

          I didn’t “belittle” anyone–I waited tables from 24-31–nor did I comment on the relative youth of the staff. The previous commenter said that he/she feels condescended to.

  • NomNom

    So is Cheesetique moving or are they opening another space?

  • anon

    There are no Cheesetique infidels in Shirlington. Never!

  • Keith

    Seriously whoever wrote this needs to take rethink how they report. The Grape is moving, probably to a larger location, and the Cheesetique is opening a new location at their current location. There is no TAKEOVER going on in any way and that language should not have been used. This wasn’t the Cheesetique’s claim. It was the author’s misunderstanding.

  • JenLynn

    Said to see Curious Grape move out of Shirlington. Living in the village, it is easy to pop in for a tasting or a bottle. The staff is friendly and always welcome my dogs. I have leaving them outside and I’m sure Cheesetique will not be dog-friendly.

    • Liam

      Why would you just assume that Cheesetique is not dog friendly. Way to jump out on a ledge with no research or knowledge. For all of you who know nothing about Cheesetique I have been a long time customer, of both Curious Grape and Cheesetique. Cheesetique can’t have dogs inside because they are a restaurant and it is against health codes, but i have dined outside on their patio with my dog on many occasions, and they are happy to place a bowl of water out and give him treats from time to time.
      For all of you worried about tastings: They have been doing Sat tastings for several months now, and I have no reason to believe they would stop that practice at their new location.

  • cheeseeater

    Cheesetique is opening a 2nd location; Del Ray is not closing.

  • Blueskies

    Am I the only one who appreciates the chocolate selection at Curious Grape? They stock some good stuff.

    • No, I love their chocolate. They are carrying a great line of bars from Zoe Chocolate, made in Frederick Md or close by.

    • Skeptical

      Yeah, I love that too. The Don Puglisi Aztec style stuff with bergamot. Where else do you find that sort of thing.

    • Matto

      You can buy the same chocolate at World Market for a lot cheaper of a price.

  • Eponymous Coward

    Further, the use of the Curious Grape logo in the ARLnow report was in no way authorized by The Curious Grape, and that misimpression should be corrected as well

    The Curious Grape is invited to acquaint itself with the trademark doctrine of nominative use. And to chill.

    • Scott

      Haha. I enjoy your name!

  • G

    Cheesetique will not have much outdoor seating space out front compared to its’ neighbors.

  • winelover

    The Curious Grape ROCKS! I can’t wait to find out where they are moving to. Sounds exciting. Their friendly and knowledgeable staff and incredible selection of wine, chocolate, and cheese make it one of my favorite places to visit in Shirlington, and I do that often. Cheers!!

  • gar

    I thought the tome of the Curious Grape response was arrogant and unnecessary. The report was not “totally” false. It mistakenly, or “freudian slipperly” (if I may make up a fake word here), mention overtaking operations at the curious grape. It clarified that it was just an overtaking of the physical location.
    I am curious now, why won’t the grape name the location? Why is it having a moving sale of stock and now “newly stocked” inventory? Aren’t you going to need wine at the new location? Sounds like pure BS.

  • Patti Pierson

    Good Luck to The Curious Grape. Also, thank you for the beautiful bar — we love it and will take good care of it. Let us know your new location

    Patti and Don Pierson


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