Pines of Florence abruptly closed up shop in Virginia Square in late June and was replaced quickly by the planned Water and Wall restaurant, operated by the owners of Maple Ave Restaurant in Vienna. On Sunday, the Italian restaurant and pizza shop launched a soft opening at 3207 Columbia Pike.
Pines of Florence owner Shafi Khan said he was forced to leave his old location after an acrimonious eviction battle with his landlord, which included Khan suing to stay in his old space and taking the landlord to court.
“For me, that location was the best for delivery, it was very centrally located,” Khan said. “I had to let 10 people go. That hurt me more than anything else.”
The Columbia Pike location is smaller — with a capacity for 61 customers upstairs and 38 downstairs — than the 115-seat Virginia Square space, Khan said, but he promised that the menu will be unchanged. The space was previously occupied an Ethiopian restaurant and by Sangam Restaurant, an Indian restaurant that closed last summer. Khan and his staff worked long hours the past few weeks trying to get it ready to open.
Khan said Pines of Florence is offering customers 50 percent off of their total bill — not including alcohol — until Sunday, Aug. 18. The deal is intended to bring customers back to the business after its brief hiatus, a point of concern with the new storefront.
“I’m very worried about our future here,” Khan said. “This is a very difficult time for business, people are very health- and money-conscious. We just have to keep offering good food at fair prices, but it’s going to take some time to get the customers to come back.”