When is a restaurant not just a restaurant? When it’s connected to a framing store, like the new Rus Uz in Ballston.
The restaurant is connected to Ballston Art and Framing (1000 N. Randolph Street), which is owned by the family behind the KH Art and Framing store on Lee Highway. Jamil Hakimi runs the framing business and said he originally had planned on just running his store until he was approached by the Rakhmatullaev family about sharing the space, which previously had been occupied by Daily Deli.
“I’ve been in the framing shop business for a long time. I was going to turn this into a whole frame shop. We actually put up walls around the kitchen,” Hakimi said. “Then these guys came in one day, we introduced each other, and from there we just went half-half, basically.”
Prior to moving to the Ballston location, Rus Uz had been a catering business in Alexandria specializing in cuisine from Russia and Uzbekistan. Bek Rakhmatullaev said his father has been a cook for more than three decades and served several different presidents and embassy officials as a caterer. He had been toying with opening a restaurant for years, though, and finally saw the perfect opportunity.
“He saw a demand and he always wanted to open a place. Everyone was always asking for a tasting room,” Rakhmatullaev said. “With catering, you have to have big orders.”
The family believes the combination of Russian and Uzbek foods will make their restaurant stand out from others.
“There isn’t anything around like us that combines the two,” Rakhmatullaev said.
As far as the framing portion, it’s connected to the restaurant via an open doorway. Hakimi is still working out a schedule and how closely it will coincide with the restaurant hours. He notes that for food safety reasons, no framing work will be performed at the new shop; all of the framing orders from the Ballston location will be worked on at the Lee Highway location.
Rus Uz is currently in the process of obtaining its license to serve alcohol. The owners plan to have grand opening sometime in the near future after the business has more time to get everything running smoothly.