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Boccato Gelato Expanding with Boccato Lounge

by ARLnow.com June 1, 2011 at 10:42 am 2,926 34 Comments

When the adjacent El Chaparral Meat Market closed earlier this year, the owners of Boccato Gelato & Espresso in Clarendon (2719 Wilson Blvd) spotted an opportunity. They signed a lease for the space, and are now in the process of converting it into a bar/lounge.

The new “Boccato Lounge” will serve as a “place for families and the community to gather,” according to co-owner Cristian Velasco. Featuring beer, wine and live entertainment, the lounge will similar to Tryst in Adams Morgan — a hybrid coffee/alcohol hang-out spot.

Velasco says the lounge will allow Boccato to give its coffee and espresso program the attention it deserves, while giving customers more room to enjoy their drinks. There will, of course, be free WiFi.

The lounge will include a stage where local musicians will be able to perform and movies will be able to be screened. Velasco envisions Latin, jazz and bluegrass musicians taking the stage on some nights, and DJs performing on other nights. The rest of the lounge space will be able to accommodate various community uses, including yoga in the mornings, educational events during the day, salsa dancing at night and kids activities on weekends.

“Chill atmosphere, good music,” is how he summarized the concept.

Meanwhile, Velasco is busy opening a second Boccato Gelato on King Street in Old Town Alexandria. He expects the store to open in late June. No word yet on when Boccato Lounge may open.

H/t to John Fontain

  • Failed Again

    Can’t wait. This place is going to be the cat’s meow, or dog’s bark, depending on your dog/feline preference.

  • CW

    Did they “spot an opportunity”, or were they in cahoots and decided to shift the business? It was my understanding that they were to some extent the same people. I mean, when there’s a physical opening in the interior of the building connecting the two, I kinda figure that they’d at least know each other, if not be the same people.

    Anyhow, I look forward to the coming throngs of yuppies with their #$%* *#$#U& dogs and strollers clogging up the entire sidewalk while they sit on Boccato’s illegal lawn furniture and slop down their gelato.

    • Anon

      Nope – they weren’t the same people. The market owners were charging the Gelato people nearly the entirety of their own rent, and then not paying their own rent or the bills, like the electric bill. The whole thing came undone when the power went out and the Gelato people found out the market owners owed back rent and the market’s monthly rate owed was almost equal to what they were paying them.

      • CW

        Nice! Maybe El Chaparral will be reborn on the Pike?

        Also, when did it actually close? I remember seeing their lonely few empanadas baking under the heat lamp as recently as a week or two ago, it seems.

    • ywd&s

      Sounds like you’ll be there in a stroller too….”waaa, yuppies with dogs and strollers, waaaa, illegal lawn furniture, waaa, waaaaaa”. Anyhow, stay away.

      • CW

        Wow, nice 5th-grade-level insult you’ve got there.

        • ywd&s

          #$%* *#$#U&

  • Failed Again

    I hope their first act is bluegrass! I love it. I actually go home after buying gelato and blast the blue grass, so having a lounge next door will be better than my usual routine. Looking forward to blue grass and boccato gelato!

  • doodly

    This looks awesome. It’s seems a bit like the beer garden concept, without noise problems to deal with.

  • CW

    Yeah, I’ve heard really nasty things about the owner anecdotally, as well.

    • CW

      (follow-up: the above comment was in response to a since-deleted character assault on the owner)

      • walkon

        Five additional ideas for the Boccato Lounge:
        Hot Tube House served with cold gelato
        Roller Skating Rink with a ‘Stroller NIght” during the week.
        Bad Lawn Furniture Warehouse
        Paint Ball Hut – The owner is the main target
        Gelato Fight Night- One big party, one big gelato fight.
        The Brat Lounge- A place parents can bring their bratty kids.

  • cj

    If they promise a stage for local musicians, have they applied for a live entertainment permit?

    • Modwop

      It’s a sure sign that I’m reading too much ArlNow coverage of the Westover Beer Garden, because when I read the reference to DJs and salsa dancing in this story my first thought was “Hey, I hope they apply for a Public Dance Hall permit!!!”.

  • Arrrrrlington

    El Chaparral was a dump and the worst Latin market ever. I went there twice looking for mole. They never had it. One time they had green mole….not the same.

    Someone will probably complain that this was another “ethnic gem” to collapse under the increasing yuppie population. Well I argue that the market was a s— hole and obviously run by idiots, hence it closed.

    • CW

      Maybe you shouldn’t assume that all Latin Americans are from Mexico, which is where mole is eaten?

      • novanglus

        El Chapparal has been in slow fade ever since Bread & Circus (now Whole Foods) opened. It used to be a great butcher shop with latin staples, and people would drive from all over to shop there.

        They tried to branch out and be more responsive to the yuppifying local taste, but couldn’t keep up with Whole Foods at that game. Without a good volume of business, it’s hard to stock a variety of perishables, and that leads to a death spiral.

        I miss what they were 10 years ago, but lately they’ve been more interested in complaining than adjusting.

  • Bard

    sad to see el chapparal go, but this sounds like a fantastic idea

  • SoCo Resident

    I’m just glad to see Cristian Valesco aand the other owners being successful. I trust they will do well. I am not sure what a “bar/lounge” for familes is, though???

    • Derp.

      Other owners are chill… Christian not so much. Very unbalanced dude.

      • wat

        why exactly has religious preference come into play on this thread?

        • Maria


  • NOVApologist

    My one visit to El Chaparral was enough to persuade me never to buy food there. Seeing rotting and fetid meat in the cases of a meat market isn’t a ringing endorsement of the business.

  • Idi Amin Dada

    Will they be placing a bunch of crap on the sidewalk in front of this new ‘lounge’?

    • CW


    • Larchmont

      I hope so, I want a place to sit next to my kids in their double stroller.

  • Stew Magnuson

    I hope the new place serves Cokes bottled in Mexico. That market was my source.
    Makes one wonder how they survived for so long after the neighborhood transformed. They had a lousy selection of food compared to other such grocers.
    We’re down to one Vietnamese dress shop in Clarendon? Or is that gone too?

  • Shirdizzle advocate

    Love their gelato, hate that they only take cash. Hope they change that now that they’re not paying El Chapparal’s rent đŸ˜‰ Looking forward to seeing what they have to offer in the music department

  • MC

    Sounds nice — potentially adding variety to Clarendon. Wish the owner success.

  • RT

    A few things:

    One, both owners are way cool, locals of NoVa and they know their food.

    If you want Coke bottled in Mexico, go to Restaurant Depot.

    Both Cristian and Rob are great guys. Character attacks are cheap and useless.

    El Chaparel was dying, they have other locations, go find them.

    Their concept has been done before with success and with both their knowledge of food/wine/service industry and local ties, it’ll do great.

    I’m not worried about the haters, they’re transplants and will move back to wherever they came from in a short time.

    Many of you don’t even realize how many locals, born and raised, have planted flags all over Clarendon, you’d be amazed!

    • Not so much

      I know it’s an easy strategy to discredit someone for not being ‘native’ but i actually grew up in Clarendon. Which i’m guessing is closer in than you, so using your logic… blah blah. we’ll let that bit of stupidity go.

      Worked at several stores around there as a kid and while i never worked at Boccato, i know first hand how insane Christian is. Dude is a total nut. I think i’ve met the other owner out around clarendon and he seems like a really nice guy but Christian is a prick. Aggressive, extremely rude and all too eager to cuss people out. Gave him multiple chances for him to chill out and he just kept going off.

  • maritza

    Wow…congratulations…it will give us a place to have fun.

  • Entienne

    Just curious, what is illegal about the lawn furniture?

    The gelato is good.

    Don’t know anything about the owner but the counter staff have been great. Friendly and customer service oriented.

    Look forward to seeing the new expansion.




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