In the short time that Colony Grill has been in Clarendon, the pizza place has garnered a lot of love.
The spot opened last October at 2800 Clarendon Blvd in The Crossing Clarendon (formerly known as Market Common). Colony Grill, a small Connecticut-based chain, is known for its short menu featuring one innovation to pizza: the thin-crust, hot-oil bar pie. On weekends, it becomes a breakfast pizza best served with a mimosa or Bloody Mary.
Co-owner Ken Martin tells ARLnow that the company is as excited to be in Arlington now as it was a month before the opening.
“I think we’ve been well-received by local guests and the community, which has been great,” he said.
Small, out-of-town restaurant chains setting up shop in Arlington have not always found the county to be a fruitful place to pursue an expansion. What worked in one place often does not work here, for one reason or another.
But reviewers on Google and Yelp seem to agree with Martin that Colony Grill has found a good fit: “Finally a solid pizza place right in the heart of Clarendon! Place looks amazing on the inside,” said one.
A Stamford native who now lives in Arlington said she “had high expectations for this location,” given its Connecticut provenance, and was not disappointed, praising the service and the local addition of “a down-to-earth, inexpensive, quality pizza joint.”
But business could be better, Martin said. Back in the Constitution State, most sales are inside rather than take-out. In Clarendon, most sales are inside too, but Colony Grill is limited by booth spacing. Restrictions have been lifted faster in New York and Connecticut, allowing customers to be seated back-to-back in booths so long as a barrier is in place, he said.
“We certainly need more capacity,” Martin said.
Martin observed that people in Virginia seem more reluctant to dine out than those in Connecticut and New York, where the original restaurant and its four outposts are located.
“It seems like some of our guests in Virginia, they just want to be given permission to leave their house — they’ve tried to follow the rules and do their best,” he said. “We want to get through this. We’ve been fairly healthy because of the type of restaurant we are, but we’re so desperate to get more bodies into the restaurant.”
He said he hopes to see some additional restrictions lifted in the coming weeks and months, which Colony Grill will need “to remain healthy as a business.”
“Our dine-in business has been very strong but within a context that’s a bit limited,” he said. “Takeout has been okay, but typically, takeout business lags for a year or two until we establish ourselves.”
The pizza joint is still working to establish itself as a member of the community. A “Wall of Heroes” features photos of those who have served in uniform as first responders or members of the military. For Veteran’s Day, Colony Grill offered free pizza to current and former military members.
This year, Colony Grill is sponsoring the Armed Forces Cycling Classic, which was canceled last year. The races through Crystal City and Clarendon are set to take place on Saturday and Sunday, June 5-6, respectively — pending final permit approval and an easing of restrictions on outdoor gatherings.
“We’ve tried to be a good partner for our size of business,” he said of the sponsorship.
Although uncertainty exists, Martin said his restaurant will continue its focus on its thin-crust pizza, hospitality and a wecoming atmosphere.
“That’s going to get us returning customers over the long haul,” he said.
Remember the Stamford native? She later updated her review to say she’s “been going consistently once a week.” Her one pro-tip: “Ask for your pizza on the well-done side, it’s my favorite.”