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William Jeffrey’s Tavern Bets Big on the Pike

by ARLnow.com November 18, 2011 at 3:28 pm 9,869 67 Comments

William Jeffrey’s Tavern, a new “eclectic American” restaurant and 16-tap watering hole on Columbia Pike, represents a huge bet on the Pike’s future by three successful local restauranteurs.

Wilson Whitney, Adam Lubar and Chris Lefborn — who own Rhodeside Grill (1836 Wilson Blvd), Ragtime (1345 N. Courthouse Road) and Dogwood Tavern (132 West Broad Street, Falls Church) — are plowing some $2 million into the elaborately-decorated, nearly 200 seat restaurant at 2301 Columbia Pike, on the ground floor of the Siena Park apartment building. They’re in it for the long haul, too, after signing a 20-year lease on the space.

“We’re really out there,” Whitney said of their investment.

The partners say they’ve been following the Pike’s redevelopment for some time, and decided to act now (after saving up for a few years) to grab “one of the better spaces” before the pace of change accelerates.

“We looked at this area for probably eight years, as a place to come and bring our style of restaurant to,” said Lubar. “But we didn’t really think it was ready for it until all this new development came down here.”

The partners are hoping to quietly launch the restaurant with a “soft opening” on Dec. 12, though that date is still in flux. Lubar said he is actually looking forward to the openings of the other two new restaurants on the block: Eamonn’s and Taqueria Poblano.

“We’re excited about that, we don’t want to be the only kids on the block,” he said. “We want this to be a destination. We want this area to be a place where we keep the residents here instead of sending them to North Arlington or across the river.”

The planned Columbia Pike streetcar was also a deciding factor in launching the restaurant.

“We’ve been waiting for it. I think it’s going to be really, really cool when it comes through,” said Lubar. “That was one of the selling points to this area, that that should be down here some day. I think connecting this area with Fairfax and making it a little more Metro accessible can only help develop this whole area.”

William Jeffrey’s will feature 16 beers on tap, including a “microbrew of the month,” and more than a dozen beers in bottles and cans. It will have “Prohibition-style” specialty cocktails, featuring fresh juices and homemade bitters and simple syrups.

The food menu includes appetizers, soups, salads and sides; seasonal entrees priced between $18 and $25; and wraps, sandwiches and burgers priced between $9.50 and $12. There will also be an emphasis on daily specials. Though the menu is pretty standard “American-style” fare, chef Sam Adkins — formerly of Jackie’s Restaurant in Silver Spring and Cashion’s Eat Place in the District — said there will be an emphasis on homemade ingredients, including homemade bacon, pickles, spice rubs, dressings and mayonnaise.

“People have gotten away from homemade food,” Adkins said. “We’re doing it with great ingredients… It’s going to be a lot healthier and a lot healthier and a lot more tasty.”

William Jeffrey’s is named after Lubar’s father, Jeff, and Lefborn’s father, William, who both passed away last year.

The restaurant will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., 7 days a week, with a happy hour from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. Eventually, the partners expect to add a Tuesday raw bar special, a Sunday brunch buffet and live acoustic music on certain nights.

  • CrystalMikey

    Wow…so great to see all these new places popping up on the Pike. Wish them the best!

  • South Awwwlington

    BRING IT ON! Can’t wait for the new options.

    • Jay

      It’s great to see people banking on the mass removal of minorities who help ed build this county into what it is today!

      • veeta

        New businesses/development and a diverse community are not mutually exclusive.

      • drax

        I’ll bet if you actually asked the minorities they’d say they welcome investment and jobs in their neighborhood. But I don’t think you asked them.

        • So Quick To Comment…

          …so slow to understand

          Do you live on the Pike? Didn’t think so. I did, but the prices are increasing at such a rapid pace, I had to move out. Now, many of the minorities have fewer and fewer options to live, so the jobs in “their” neighborhood won’t be on the Pike, as they continue to move out as well.

          • John Fontain

            It’s called the free market. If you don’t like it, please feel free to offer your place out for rent at below market rates.

          • ArlingtonChick

            I have to say, I live in the area and I find the newer buildings to be outlandishly overpriced. Not as overpriced as Clarendon, but still quite high considering there is no metro (don’t tell me there is a bus, that’s not a metro, that’s a bus). [Don’t worry kids, I don’t live in an outlandishly overpriced unit, I live in a reasonably priced condo that I rent from an owner].

          • NPGMBR

            I live in the area too (Dominion Plaza to be exact) and have been here since I moved to the area in 99. I love this neighborhood and admit that rental prices in the new buildings are very high but it has little impact on me because my rent is affordable to me.

            I welcome the change that has come and can’t wait to see the other planned changes. My only concern is that because the cost of housing continues to increase; it will take longer for me to reach the 50k I want to have in savings before I buy because I want to buy my first place right here in SArl along the Pike.

          • Jay

            you sound hot!, I own a condo because my brother hit the lottery!

          • veeta

            I do live in the neighborhood, and I think it would be more productive for you to advise people how to get involved with community efforts to retain housing for all income levels than just spewing complaints about any and every new development.
            Here are a few organizations making those efforts:

          • drax

            You have no right to live in a certain area. You found somewhere else to live that you could afford. The idea that an area should keep itself economically depressed to accommodate your need not to pay much for your housing is dumb.

            Yes, we need to be concerned about housing costs, but keeping certain neighborhoods poor isn’t the way to do it.

        • TGEoA

          Tell that to all of the Vietnamese in Clarendon.

          • yenta4

            What Vietnamese in Claren…….Ohhh, I see what you did.

            What do you bet all of the Vietnamese that got gentrified out of Clarendon are in the lower quarter of the 99%?

          • Tabby

            Are you kidding me? The Vietnamese who came here in the 70s and opened restaurants were (largely) educated people from the South. They did well and are all retired and living in Vienna/Oakton/Fairfax. Their kids are doctors/lawyers/assorted professionals.

            More recent immigrants from Vietnam tend to be from the north and are working in nail salons.

      • Maggie

        Wow, I didn’t realize these small business owners were responsible for the cost of housing in the area! Shouldn’t that criticism be directed at the condo developers popping buildings up all over the region and not towards these guys trying to grow their company? They are paying rent themselves, you know, not charging it.

        I commend these guys for taking a risk on what is a huge business venture for them. Seems to me that these undertakings result in more revenue and more jobs, which is encouraged in this economy.

        I can’t wait for it to open! Haters, feel free to stay away so you don’t “grumpy” up the bar for the rest of us 🙂

  • hoooos

    I just don’t they don’t take any of the wonderful staff away from Ragtime!

  • drax

    “The planned Columbia Pike streetcar was also a deciding factor in launching the restaurant.”

    • Josh S

      It won’t make a bit of difference to the haters.

      • novasteve

        And we’re going to read about empty streetcars running over drunk patrons of these new bars.

      • jim

        Just shows the nitwits operating this restaurant aren’t good businessmen. As does the 20 year lease. I give the place two years at most.

        • FrenchyB

          Haters gonna hate.

        • drax

          You were right, Josh!

        • Josh S

          I don’t know, Jimbo, what are your business credentials? I think businesses routinely evaluate nearby transportation infrastructure when deciding where to locate. You wouldn’t build a warehouse anywhere except close to a highway, would you? Except in rare instances, restaurants need to know that people have a way to get there. And especially for a tavern, that should include ways that don’t involve driving afterwards…..

          The place is huge, and that may be a factor in its success or not. I wonder if there was the option of selecting a smaller space…..

          • NPGMBR


  • ArlSouthside Hood

    Looking forward to this! A welcome relief from Clare-Fra-topia. I hope it attracts other restaurants to come on down.

  • drax

    It is a little scary to see another place called a “Tavern” with a menu described as “American” though.

    • CW

      Huh? Drinking places in America have been called taverns since colonial times.


      • novasteve

        he was probably referring to it being another place for of pretentious snobs with overpriced beers, like all the other “Taverns” in Arlington.

      • drax

        Yeah, but there are several mediocre non-taverns calling themselves taverns in Arlington these days, if you were paying attention.

        • SomeGuy

          Such as?

          • tess

            Mad Rose Tavern

  • jim

    The traffic caused by the street car would cause these clowns to lose more business than the street car brings them. But the street car is a pipe dream any way and will never happen. Just watch……

    • Foggy Dew

      As opposed to the 14 bus lines running up and down the Pike now that cause no traffic congestion at all.

      • Josh S

        I think anyone who makes the “trolley equals traffic congestion” argument just automatically rules themselves out of the conversation since they obviously have no experience living in a city that actually has trolleys.

    • M

      I agree, Josh. And so do people who resort to using name calling like “clowns” and “nitwits.” That level of conversation really makes me trust their business perspective.

  • Art

    You can see more of the work of the artist who did the mural here:
    He’s a former Arlington Resident.

  • Michelle

    Wow! Another Ragtime and Rhodeside Grill – type establishment!! I can’t wait… their food is the BEST! Thank God this is such a big place to accomodate everyone who loves that type of food. #excitedcantwaitomgomgomgomg

    Columbia Pike… land of the Tavern. Hurray!

  • John Fontain

    Looking forward to this place as well as its neighboring joints.

  • Pentagonian

    Too bad this place isn’t called “Uncle Jeffrey’s” decorated with lots of furry walls

  • bringmetheyuppies

    Praise the lord a tavern on the pike! Love Brennans bar but the food is horrible. And I am glad it is priced high. Keeps the little kiddies out and more reflects the incomes moving in. I will be there for the soft opening if I catch word of the date.

    • Josh S

      I don’t think the food is horrible, it’s just not what you expect. I think that if you simply sat down for a taste test at a neutral location, without the “Irish bar” setting, most people would say the food is good. Portions tend to be too small, but it’s good.

  • Jaynonamous

    Where are these 200 seats going to be? From peeking in the windows I thought it was much smaller…I was saying to someone that I thought they were doing the right thing to open a smaller spot, as opposed to the giant mess that P Brennans is…but if this is another giant restaurant, I feel bad for the guys opening it, as I just don’t see a time when your restaurants will ever be full. I love seeing the new places in my ‘hood, I just hope they don’t fail due to being to ‘big’ of a space for the amount of biz…

  • BeerBellyBuddy

    the food at Dogwood is awesome! The beer at Dogwood is amazing. And any business person who says they want to keep patrons from going to North Arlington is my hero for life!

    Oh, and competition for P Brennan’s will be good. The spanish/latin influenced design for that irish bar has always been a little “off.” Although I do have to disagree with the food reviews in these comments. I happen to like their food, and of course like their beer even if they aren’t micro.

  • Charles

    Yeah, but it’s in that faceless, no-setback hideous façade that some taste-challenged (straight?) buffoon in the Arlington Planning Office approved. And any parking that Arlington County hasn’t reduced (see Joyce Street), marked as no-parking, or given to Zipcar sucks suck sucks.

    • FrenchyB

      Perhaps you could, I don’t know, maybe park in the garage underneath the building?!

      • drax

        Or take the streetcar.

        • Josh S

          or the bus.

          • BlueSkies

            Or park on the street.

  • ArlingtonChick

    I’m excited for the Taqueria Poblano & Eamons, minus Todd Thrasher. I hope he stays in Old Town.

    • Josh S

      These two places are nowhere near completion. Poblano’s, in particular, is still empty concrete pillars in a wide open space. It doesn’t look like any work has been done on finishing the space at all. Hard to tell at Eammon’s, but it also is a long way from opening.

      • Captain Obvious

        Construction is supposedly starting next week on the Taqueria–there was some hold up over a misunderstanding between the building owner and the restaurant over vent capacity, but they’ve worked it out.

  • Bender

    And they just keep on blowing up that bubble.

    But one day . . . POP!

  • PikeMan

    Is that a sign I see on the sidewalk?

  • charlotte

    Todd Thrasher is coming to the Pike, TNT is opening in Eamonn’s.

  • I against I

    White people

    • drax

      with dog bakeries.

  • I against I

    $2 million into the elaborately-decorated to sit and eat a grill cheese sandwich. Welcome to Arlington.

    • Josh S

      I’m sure there’s a point in there somewhere, but I don’t see it.

      Restaurants are how many centuries old?

  • Katie

    As a huge fan of Dogwood in Falls Church, I’m glad to see them expand into other areas of nova. Their food is always good to great, and they retain some pretty awesome bartenders for years, which says something about the management.

  • Jay

    I’m going to park my foodtruck right in front of this place and serve $1 tacos jut so that these gentrificationist can’t exploit another arlington neighborhood! I will not make a profit but its worth it to me!

    • Josh S

      I think you’re a little late to the party. For dramatic action to prevent “gentrification” (whatever that means), you probably should have been around to chain yourself to the bulldozers that tore down the run-down, vacant and dirty buildings that used to be there…..

  • ThirstyVa

    Looks like this place is planning a mid-December opening. Looking forward to it!

  • Jared

    Looks good… Hopefully as good as other restaurants as well

  • Karen

    Called last night about the “soft opening” and the very condescending girl who answered said only people who lived in Sienna Park were allowed.

    I asked if the residents of Penrose were invited and she said no.

    We (the Penrose neighborhood) have been anticipating these restaurants coming to “our” neighborhood but this treatment is not very welcoming…..

    • Em

      Soft openings are generally invitation only, and it sounds like this one was just for their building residents. It seems like you’re being a little hard on them for not inviting the whole neighborhood, which would kind of defeat the purpose of a soft-opening (to have a practice period). I’m sure they will welcome you along with the rest of the neighborhood when they open on Thursday. No need to be so hard on them already.

  • Scheryl Gray

    Beautiful Place ! Best of Luck!!


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