2350 Clarendon Boulevard
When Fire Works opened its first urban location, in the Courthouse neighborhood of Arlington, the owners thought it would be best to start from scratch, to create a space to suit the needs of both the restaurant and the community it’s in.
Fire Works was built from the ground up, taking the same ideas of the wood fired pizza restaurant’s successful Leesburg location, and going bigger, upscale and trendier. The construction included bars inside and out, a huge patio and glass windows.
To take on this project, the owners of Fire Works hired Jon Hoffmeyer. He’s been in the business for 25 years, but this was the first time he took a restaurant from conception to operation.
Hoffmeyer worked with engineers and the restaurant owners. He says because the restaurant is family-owned, he got more autonomy than he would have with a corporate owner.
“I took it from a shell,” Hoffmeyer said. “It’s been rewarding actually, because it was something I hadn’t done in that scope before, and got to go from the ground up.”
Once construction was completed, Hoffmeyer hired and trained the staff, and opened Fire Works in August 2010. Training is very important to Hoffmeyer, because in his philosophy, the staff come first.
“First and foremost staff is well trained and equipped, and they can take that to the guests,” Hoffmeyer said.
When employees are well-trained, they can take a positive attitude and transfer that to guests, he says. When the focus is only on the guests of restaurants, staff members don’t love to work there — and it shows.
The restaurant business tends to be transient, but Hoffmeyer has been pleased at how many staff stick around. He says some bartenders and servers have been there since day one, and a good portion of the kitchen staff.
“It’s a fun place and a good place to work and people can make a living at doing it,” Hoffmeyer said.
The pizza at Fire Works is very good, but is not the sole reason people come back, Hoffmeyer says. With music on and a crowd inside and out on the patio, the atmosphere is lively. It’s the energy, he says, that really sets Fire Works apart.
Something that makes Fire Works fit into the Northern Virginia restaurant landscape is its interest in finding locally-sourced foods.
It’s something that has become popular in recent years, but Hoffmeyer says “farm-to-fork” eating has been a priority of the owners since before the idea was trendy.
The standards for farm-to-fork mean it’s harder to make it work from the Arlington location — the meat comes from about 100 miles away, for example. In Loudon County, where the owners’ other restaurant locations are, it’s easier to get local foods.
Fire Works has now been in Arlington for more than five years. Hoffmeyer appreciates how businesses in Arlington look out for each other. He says the mix of business and residential spaces nearby make for an interesting balance.
He says Fire Works gets a chance to interact with that community, partially because of the glass walls of the building. When there’s light coming inside, guests can see out and pedestrians can see in. Because of that, he says the dining area isn’t removed from the outside world, and it feels like part of Arlington.
The preceding was a sponsored profile written by Eleanor Greene for ARLnow.com.