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Progress at New Michael Landrum Restaurant

by ARLnow.com May 24, 2011 at 10:02 am 6,966 48 Comments

What’s coming to the ground floor of 1650 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn?

We know it’s a restaurant, and that Michael Landrum of Ray’s the Steaks fame is behind it — his name is on the ABC permit, after all — but at this point it’s hard to tell what kind of restaurant it will be.

Previously, we reported that the establishment’s name, per the ABC permit, was “The Lobster Pot.” That led to speculation that Landrum was building his long-talked-about “Ray’s the Catch” seafood restaurant. But now there’s a new name on the permit: “Ray’s Hell Burger III.”

So will the brown walls of the space at 1650 Wilson soon house an expanded Ray’s Hell Burger? And will the existing Ray’s Hell Burger location across the street turn into Ray’s the Catch? Or is 1650 Wilson actually going to be Ray’s the Catch? Or is the real answer none of the above?

Either way, we’re told that the restaurant — whatever it may be — will open in “a few weeks.”

  • Bob

    One of the long-time servers at Ray’s the Steaks told us a while ago it was going to be the new Hell Burger home, so not a big surprise as it has a lot more space.

  • ArlForester

    Whatever it is, I hope it has big doors so that Landrum’s ego can squeeze through. What a jerk.

    • Mike

      Couldn’t disagree more. I work in a retail store in the area and have crossed paths with Landrum a few times, and have found him to be a very friendly guy.

    • othersideoftheriver

      More room for the rest of us, then.


    ArlForester what is behind your anger. FREDTERP

    • ArlForester

      A group of us went into Rays the Steaks one early evening, a little before the normal rush. We were seated and then ignored for a good 20 mins. When we went to speak to the person is charge (who we later found out was Landrum) he acted as though we were in the wrong. He told us we could leave if we weren’t happy (great response huh). We told him we weren’t going anywhere. Then he threatened to call the police to have us removed. We told him to go ahead and call (as most in the group were FBI agents). We doubted that the police would make us leave. I have relayed this tale over the years and received similar stories about him.
      He makes a good steak and a mediocre burger. Neither of those make him a nice guy.

      • Suckling Pig

        ArlForester… He insulted you and you thought you would teach him a lesson by staying there anyway and giving him your money. You showed him who is boss.

        My guess is that you approached him with a prissified attitude, probably interrupted him while he was speaking to another customer, expecting him to share your outrage that you were overlooked during the middle of dinner rush for a few minutes. You probably demanded that someone gets fired for this outrage and your whole meal be comp’t.

        You probably didn’t tip your server either.

        • ArlForester

          You don’t know squat. As I noted, it was before the dinner rush. He was also doing nothing. There was no one else there. All we asked for was to be served after sitting there for 20 mins. We hadn’t even been given water or menus. There was no one to tip. We didn’t have a server. How’s that, moron?

        • ArlForester

          At least you chose an appropriate username as you clearly are suckling something.

          • Harkin

            Wow, what a jerk – if you carry that bullish crass attitude with you everywhere you go, and get in a huff anytime something doesn’t go the way you think it should, then it wouldn’t surprise me if people aren’t nice to you or go out of their way to accomodate you. You sound like a pig headed bully with a short fuse, and they probably had you pegged as an a-hole the minute you walked in – might explain the lack of service there sunshine.

          • ArlForester

            Someone here was a jerk. It wasn’t me. What did I write that remotely would make me out to be a pig headed bully? My response to Suckling Pighead, someone who wasn’t there but still decided it was his/her place to interject? Okay, carry on.
            If I am the only person to have a bad experience with Landrum, you might have a point. Unfortunately, that is far from the case.

          • Suckling Pig

            Wow, ArlForester, I must have really gotten under your skin.

            So let me get this straight…the restaurant was slow. The host seated you and then you just sat there for 20 min being ignored. Then, Landrum was just standing there and you came up and politely asked for a server and he said “if you don’t like it you can leave” and you said “we’re not going anywhere” and he threatened to call the police. Then you and your FBI friends left.

            That story reeks of BS and you know it. By the way, nice touch with the name calling. What grade are you in exactly? I’m sure it really pisses you off when you don’t get your way so I apologize for pointing out to you that your story is not believable.

          • ArlForester

            Sorry I didn’t bore you with the entire details of the story. You will have to just accept that what I wrote is true unless you want to get off Landrum’s jock for a second and let him respond. He might remember the event unless, like I have heard, he has confrontations like this fairly often and this one blends in with the rest. The only b.s. is you thinking you know a thing about what happened and for some off reason taking the side of the guy known for being a jerk to people, Landrum.

          • DC123

            Sheesh, people, you’re defending a guy that has been known to act this way rather often against someone who is simply giving their own story about a bad experience they had. I guess no one is entitled to give a negative opinion of this guy or his restaurants, lest they get bashed by others for their “sense of entitlement”.

      • CrystalMikey

        So, why’d you guys stay again?

        • ArlForester

          We only stayed for a few minutes after he decided us asking for a server was somehow an outrageous request. All we did was request a waiter. He jumped from that to “if you don’t like the service here, you can leave”. Is that reasonable to you?

          • CrystalMikey

            I’m just giving the guy the benefit of the doubt of having a real bad day. And yes, I would have left too.

          • ArlForester

            I guess you’re more passive than me. The dialogue was:
            Me: Excuse me, we’ve been waiting 20 minutes and no one has come over.
            Landrum: If you don’t like the service, you can leave.
            Me: We haven’t had any service.
            Landrum: Like I said, you can leave.
            Me: We would like to order.
            Landrum: If you don’t leave, I will call the police and they will make you leave.
            Me. Wanna bet?
            Then we sat there just long enough to pay him back for his lack of any customer service skills and then we left. Like I said, when I have told this story to others, their response has often been a whopper of their own about this guy. I am a reasonable customer as I have worked in the restaurant biz and I treat my servers quite well. This isn’t some undeserved vendetta I have. It happened and at no point did we deserve to be treated like that.

          • CrystalMikey

            I gotcha man…like I said, I would’ve rolled too and gave someone else my hard-earned $$$.

          • CW

            I’m not going to pick sides with respect to a specific incident, but it’s been pretty well-documented that Landrum’s been known to have these sorts of interactions with potential customers, specifically ones with any sort of complaint. I’ve had nothing but good experiences with his restaurants, but I’m just saying that these sorts of anecdotes appear to be part of the common knowledge surrounding his ventures.

          • ArlForester

            I had nothing but good experiences before this myself and that is why I suggested we eat there.

          • Anonymous

            Probably had a hard time finding you a server because he likes to fire them all the time. Seriously, I’m close to a former server who was fired (via text message BTW, how professional) because this individual mentioned there was moisture in the ceiling tiles and could be creating mold and making several employees sick. He routinely fired servers, talked to them like pieces of crap and felt it necessary to remind them that they can never make the kind of money they do at his place. He’s a punk and he think’s he’s Gods gift to restaurant culture in the Washington area. I can’t wait until Karma catches up to that terd.

      • Courthouse Res

        The fact that you had to identify that most in the group were FBI agents says it all. So arrogant. Newsflash: You, nor your group or FBI, has jurisdiction over a squabble in an Arlington County restaurant. So yeah, he could have called the police on you. And he can tell you to go to hell, it’s his business. Is it good business? No, but it’s his business.

        • ArlForester

          You’re clueless. No one identified themselves as agents to Landrum. Read the dialogue. He lost his mind when we told him we had waited for 20 mins for a server. If that’s acceptable to you, good for you. I expect better of a place. I also expect people to side with the person who received the bad service but I forgot how many of you “new” Arlingtonians love bad service and even pay extra for it.

          • John Fontain

            I side with you on this issue ArlForester. Landrum is known to be fiercely protective of his staff, but by many accounts it sounds like he is protective even when it is not deserved. I, for one, am over the hype surrounding his places. The last time I ate at Steaks, my steak was no better than what could be had for half the price at Ruby Tuesday (a place obviously not known for high quality steaks). Landrum’s flippant attitude towards those that pay his bills will ultimately cost him.

          • CW

            Your first two sentences I agree with wholeheartedly. The food I still enjoy. The hype, well, I’ve never liked that as much.

          • Courthouse Res

            I know you did not identify yourself as such in the establishment, but you did on this board and it speaks to your personality. As others pointed out you seem to be of the type, “Do you know who I am?!” Whether you said it or not doesn’t matter, you just give off that vibe. I am not okay with that kind of service so I would leave and never go back. I don’t eat that kind of food so I wouldn’t eat in his establishments anyway.

          • Ugh

            I agree, my steak from Ray’s the Steaks was terrible. I don’t understand why that place gets rave review. I’m convinced I could cook a better steak in an easy bake oven.
            I don’t doubt the manager is a giant douche as ArlForester describes. Ray’s Hell Burger is nothing special to me either, it’s mediocre at best.

  • Rob

    It’s said Rays Hell Burger 3 for at least a month now. I remember seeing the permit in April.

  • YoBimbo

    Michael Landrum does have a huge ego, but unlike a lot of other people, he doesn’t let it get in the way of doing a lot of good things for other people.

  • Cyclotron

    I heard that they originally wrote in their restaurant permit application as being a burger restaurant or something like that. Once it was approved, Arlington wouldn’t let them go with their new/different seafood restaurant concept. Therefore they’re going to stick with Ray’s Hell Burger, but offer a larger menu that may include some seafood as well as some offerings from the Ray’s the Steaks menu.

    • charlie

      that is total BS. Arlington can NOT control what food you serve. Even on their best days.

      • Chef

        Wanna bet? What planet are you on? How bout City of Chicago vs. foie gras? United Stated Dept. of Ag. vs. Wild Game. Ever heard of the health department, architectural review board, licensing and economic development, ABC board? They may not OVERTLY dictate it, but control they do.

  • Shell

    Really?? Do we really need another flippin’ burger place?? Please Ray, go for the seafood!!! Anything other than burgers, cupcakes, or pizza!!!!!!!!!

  • CW

    Two things:

    1) Are they ever going to progress any further on the space next to Ray’s the Steaks, which I believe was going to be Landrum’s wine bar?

    2) Are they ever going to start on trader joe’s in Clarendon Center? They signed that least months ago, I’d believed. It doesn’t make any sense – either Saul Centers is losing a ton of rental income on one of the best locations in town, or TJ’s is throwing away a ton of rent payment money on an empty space, which is illogical for a low-margine business like theirs. Someone is losing out and it makes no sense.

  • Thomas Carlyle

    I’ll forgive any amount of ego and boorishness in gratitude for the great steaks I’ve consumed there over the years.

  • Tim

    Landrum should open a rooftop bar and call it Ray’s the Roof.

    • Cyrus

      Or a restaurant using pure ingredients like sugar, and call it Ray’sing Cane.


    • i support this. and not just because i giggled.

  • Chef

    Well ArlForester has a huge ax to grind. This line of reason reminds me of the over-zealous “Yelp*” types, whose self-importance is expressed in their bashing restaurants left and right for the sport of it.

    On Landrum, he’s an iconoclast. There’s no inflated ego, you’re projecting. He’s just got the balls to do what so many operators are afraid to do – conduct business on their terms. Landrum puts out a good steak (though I hate finish-to-done over the fire) for a great value price. His wine list is among the best out there and super-value priced beyond expectation. Just don’t expect to get your ass kissed when you walk in… or thanked on your way out. It’s just that way – you can have good, fast or cheap: pick two.

    Now, for those who are paying attention, note that Ray’s is as full as ever, but if you’re REALLY paying attention, the number of tables in both dining rooms has shrunk. Hmmm?

    I would bet that spot next to RtS is a wine bar. A little bird told me some months ago, but who knows.


    • ArlForester

      You see inconoclast, I see Soup Nazi. No steak for you!

  • earlp

    I’m kind of sick about hearing of how much of a jerk this guy is. The last time I visited one of his places I actually saw Mr. Landrum going off one of his staff. I mean, like in a really screwed up way. I’m never giving this guy my money again. What a psycho. start treating your customers with appreciation. I’ll go to Ruth’s Chris and have a fine meal without feeling bullied. Chillout dude.

  • Tabby

    I’ve been to Ray’s the Steaks (old location and new) and RTC a combined 10 or so times. I’ve always enjoyed good service and good food.

    • Tabby

      Though I should add that I’m not questioning ArlForester’s story. Having worked worked in the restaurant business in this area, I learned that most people who go into it as owners or managers do so because their behavior would never be tolerated in a typical business environment.

  • So Seafood or Burgers

    Soooooooo what we are saying is it might be any one of the restaurants mentioned in the write-up. Sweet comments guys. Way to bring that one home.

  • YTK

    All these new businesses opening– and we wait and wait and wait until they open – which takes forever. This heah’s the South– we’all take our sweet tiiime!!

  • Cyclotron

    This article states that it’s Ray’s Hell Burger III.

    In other burger news, did anyone see the line for BGR at Taste of Arlington? It appears that despite being inundated with new burger joints, Arlington’s hunger for ground beef patty sandwiches has yet to be satisfied.

    • That article merely cited our article. It contained no new information.


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