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LeoNora Bakery to Open Clarendon Storefront

by ARLnow.com September 26, 2011 at 3:24 pm 9,131 55 Comments

Arlington’s LeoNora Gourmet Bakery, which offers its artisan baked goods via delivery and through a couple of local retailers, will soon have its first brick-and-mortar storefront.

The bakery is opening a store at 1108 N. Irving Street. Clarendon’s grungiest block — home to the Red Top Cab parking lot and to the no-frills Sam’s Corner deli — will soon be filled with the aroma of fresh-baked bread, as LeoNora plans to do all its baking in-house, in a bakery area behind the front counter.

Colombian-born bakery owner Carolina Garcia says that after a year and a half in the delivery business, LeoNora is ready to have a storefront to call its own.

“We realized that people really wanted a retail store,” Garcia told ARLnow.com. “That’s why we decided to open… they want the option to go and pick it up somewhere nearby.”

Currently, LeoNora’s baked goods are available for purchase at local retailers like Whole Foods, Arrowine and Boccato Gelato. The bakery will still offer free delivery to customers in D.C. and parts of Northern Virginia when the store opens, but Garcia says the minimum order will increase from $30 to $50.

Garcia, who trained as a baker and pastry chef in France, makes French baguettes, sourdough loafs, cakes, quiches and various pastries. Her inspiring economist-to-bakery-owner story has been told by news outlets from TBD to CNN to Northern Virginia Magazine.

Garcia says she hopes to have the new store open in a couple of weeks.

“It’s going great, we are very happy,” she said.

  • John

    I hope she replaces the dated windows and door, removes the ugly trim, has decent signage, and renovates the interior space. It could be a nice spot.

    • Richard Cranium

      Other than that, not much to be done!

    • charlie

      omg a new door will make it a success.
      ugly trim? seriously?

      if it is good people will show up.

      • Donna

        I agree. Some of the best places are holes.

        I like this post, something positive for once. I wish this business well.

  • hooooos

    “no-frills Sam’s Corner deli”? Isn’t that a drug front?

    • Lee-n-Glebe

      Along with the Cigar store in Ballston @ Randolph Street

  • RCW

    I always thought it was a front for human trafficking… Either way there is no way it is a legit business


    Sam’s has the best sandwiches in Arlington. They also bake the best cupcake anywhere. Hope the new bakery is a sucess.

    • CW

      Too bad they have to be open to ever prove that.

      • they’re doing just fine

        I used to work across the street from Sam’s and went there often for lunch… it’s a family business, they close when the grandkids have swim meets… they don’t keep long hours something like 11/11:30-3 or 4… they don’t make money at dinner, so why pay the overhead/utilities to have the place up and running. They’re really nice people and they’ve done well for themselves so the system they’ve got works for them and people don’t need to knock it. They get A LOT of lunch call ins and do a lot of large sandwhich deliveries to local offices. I’ve been waiting for a sandwich and chatting with the family for no more than 20 minutes when they’ve taken upwards of 10 calls for large orders.

        Yes, they provide a service so in fairness you’d think they’d be open hours that they may be able to provide it to more people, but there are plenty of offices in the area that take lunch breaks and check them out, so they’re content with the clients they have. Not blasting you, but others who say it’s a drug front and other things that are just cruel are just rude. If they were open for dinner hours you likely wouldn’t be going to get a deli sandwich enough times in a week to be worth their cost/time to stay open, so unless you can provide them the evening business, don’t say rude things when they don’t need to stay open to turn a profit. (Many restaurants are only open for dinner… this is the opposite, not ridiculous, it’s just uncommon.)

        • CW

          Well, I think a lot of people, myself included, just lament the fact that it’s not something that more of the community can use and benefit from. And, with the property likely worth a million or more, it shouldn’t be too hard to see that people find it odd that someone wouldn’t want to run a more profitable business there. The explanation everyone is giving make sense, but the passers-by who have just walked past two blocks of packed restaurants before they see this time capsule of a place that’s never been open to their eyes aren’t going to know that.

    • AllenB

      Earl’s makes the best sandwiches… ‘nuf said.

      • Tre


      • KalashniKEV

        Not breakfast sandwiches… -1

        • Clarendon

          IOTA has excellent breakfast sandwiches !

  • Amy D

    is Sam’s Corner ever open?

    • drax

      I’m thinking of breaking in on Halloween. It has got to be haunted.

    • CW2

      It is open for lunch hours. Between about 11:30AM and 3-4PM.

  • CW

    Until the story dropped the Boccato reference, I was thinking “Didn’t they just start distributing through Boccato last week?” Weird that they are building up their distribution through other channels while simultaneously trying to establish a ground presence in the same location. Seems like their margins would be higher on stuff sold in-store, and distributing through other outlets so close by would eat into that.

  • JimPB

    Great to see Carolina Garcia’s LeoNora selling enough to move up to a store front.

    But for me: No whole wheat bread — no orders from me.

    • JEB

      . . . agreed – would love to be able to run down to the bakery and get a fresh loaf of whole wheat bread – not sourdough, though. Maybe if enough of us ask . . .

      • NorthArlingTim

        It would be lovely to have real AND fresh pan de yuca, almojabanas, roscones… real Colombian bread items. The Goya stuff really doesn’t compare.

      • V Dizzle

        Sour dough = much lower glycemic index than whole wheat. Who knew, but actually not a bad health choice. Just sayin’.

        • Elizabeth

          VDiz, you must made my day.

        • JEB

          . . . well, that will make it worth a try if that’s all they offer – but the glycemic index comes in second place to good yeasty bread! . . .

  • NoVapologist

    Nice to have another alternative to Whole Foods, Le Pain Quotidien and Heidelburg, all of which can be spotty in the fresh bread department.

    • Harris Teeter

      Believe it or not, I have the best damn bread. Better than all those, except maybe Heidelberg.

      • Chris

        You’re right, HT – best bread anywhere. Love it!

  • Heifer

    How much will the cupcakes be?

    • Mario

      What about the pizza dough?

  • ClarendonDweller

    This is awesome! I am looking forward to something brightening up that block. And nothing beats fresh bread.

  • Apologies to a commenter who posted a comment that was accidentally deleted. Feel free to repost.

  • Steve

    Seriously, is anyone going to ever do anything with the Indian restaurant spot next to the Moroccan place next to O’sullivans? I tried to get O’sullivans to get it tmake it a smoking bar, but they apparently have no interest. But there’s been nothing there since 2004!

    • charlie

      the last two or three storefronts are being “historically saved” and rebuilt as part of the new development next door if that ever happens.

    • LP

      No way? No interest in a smoking bar? Who would’ve thunk it?

      Why would they spend tens of thousands on a smoking bar when they can just have the FEW patrons who do smoke go outside for FREE?

  • blomster

    I just had one of the baguettes yesterday (purchased from Arrowine). Yum!

  • Whitney Wilson

    This is great news. Hope its as good as it looks.

  • Zach

    I think there is an ARLNow story to be written about Sam’s Deli. What the hell is it? It’s never open and it definitely looks like a front (hell, when it IS open I have only ever seen someone sitting on a chair in FRONT of the counter reading the paper, Sopranos-style), yet I’ve seen twice now people saying that it has great sandwiches.

    • charlie

      maybe sam’s should be at Clarendon Day. if they cared.

    • CW

      I would just like to STRONGLY vocalize my agreement with this!!! ARLnow, PLEASE do some research and put together a story about Sam’s!!! I’ve lived in the area for years now and have been by the storefront hundreds of times, across all times of day, all seasons, all days of the week, and I have never once seen anyone doing anything that resembled conducting business.

      I will not consider it a full story, though, unless it has video of someone being sold a sandwich. I want to know the truth!!!

      • charlie

        they own the property. they also own the other storefronts. that are the irish bar, morocoan place, and the stuff on Irving.
        that is their income.

      • CW2

        Well CW1, how about you just go into the story during lunch hours, and have a chat with the owners? You’ll find that they are an older couple who have been in Arlington a long, long time. They are very friendly, and will be able to tell you a lot about the history of Clarendon, particularly that block.

        Yes, their hours are strange, but it’s my impression that they’re semi-retired, and simply don’t want to work long hours. The sandwiches are quite good. I recommend trying the turkey. Fantastic sandwich that reminds me of Thanksgiving leftovers.

        • CW

          I’d love to. But no one has ever seemed to be there on the days I’ve gone by. I don’t work in Clarendon but I’d figured I’d been around on enough weekdays to at least see somebody in there. I was being a bit facetious with the previous, but it’s clear that I’m not the only one with this curiosity.

          I’ve read their menu board through the glass and, if their sandwiches are as good as people say, it looks like a fantastic value for the price.

          @Charlie – thanks, makes sense since those were the collective holdouts from the acquisition and bulldozing elsewhere on the block. I appreciate the info – that was a couple years before my time here.

          • client

            They’re very nice people… and they have property incomes and have owned the property for quite sometime. They close for family events and vacations and they only keep lunch hours, but the sandwich shop is just one of many business ventures and truly I believe just “for fun” and to stay a part of the community. They remember their customers and we chat about their family and mine. I miss being closer to that location during the day as I can’t get there much for work, but sometimes if I’m lucky enough to walk by between noon and 4 on a weekday, I’ll poke my head around their door and see if the “open” sign is turned, just to say hi. And yes, the value for the sandwiches is very good. Fresh and tasty everytime.

      • About a year ago an ARLnow.com writer walked into Sam’s Corner with the intention of doing a totally innocuous profile of what seems like a unique, older local business. For reasons unknown, the owner started asking strange questions of the writer, then rudely kicked the writer out and threatened to sue if anything was written about him or the restaurant. It was bizarre enough that we reported it to the police. Police told us that no crime had been committed. Seeing as how we don’t have the power or desire to “investigate” a private business, that episode and this comment will be the first and last time we devote any sort of time to Sam’s Corner — save the occasional wayfinding reference, as seen in this article.

        • in fairness

          You can see some of the comments here where people even jokingly suggest that they’re a drug front or some trafficing group… and I think they’re sensitive to the comments. is it possible they didn’t know if someone was a legit reporter or that the intentions before asking questions was put out? Just saying, they’re very nice people, but they’ll even tell their regular customers some of the things they’ve heard about their business and personally, their family. I think the defensiveness kicked in before the interest to entertain the community. I bet if they were approached by anyone with a true backdrop upfront (like, “we’d like to do a ‘profile of what seems like a unique, older local business'”) they may be more willing to chat. They’re friendly people and do have A LOT of knowledge of the development throughout Clarendon. Always a good place to get local building info too.

          • CW

            Well it doesn’t seem like their actions in the aforementioned instance did much to help those perceptions!

  • Jim

    I’m always interested in a good bread place. So far, the best bread I have found is Best Buns in Shirlington and Breadline in Foggy Bottom. Heidelberg, Whole Foods, Le Pain Quotidian, and all grocery stores are distant seconds, or thirds. I will definitely check her out to see how she compares. Good luck.

  • Bob Freeman

    I had been buying LeoNora’s at Boccato. Glad to see her expand and fulfill her dream. Now if Boccato could do something with the eyesore they have created in the old El Chapparel store. Its been nearly four months. We want you to succeed but growing impatient. Any insight Arlnow?

  • Chris

    Regarding Sam’s… I think he has been there something like 25 years. He and his wife run it. I’m guessing he has a very long-term lease at a ridiculously low rent, and is just taking it easy in his older age.

    How about that row-house looking building a little further down that block, past Liberty Tavern on the left? Anyone know what was there before? Is it for sale, or slated to be torn down as part of the apartment project there?

    • Smoke_Jaguar4

      What is the plan for this area? The section bounded by Hudson St, 13th St, and Washington Blvd is a vast wasteland of abandoned lots and parking. At the very least Red Top could build a parking garage, then profit by selling parking spaces to the public, and sell off some very valuable real estate.

  • tom smart

    how about fresh pao de queijo?

  • Alexandra

    I can’t find LeoNora’s hours anywhere – even on her website. Can you let us know?


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