The last day for the fast casual stand known for their empanadas and peruvian coffee was Sunday, co-owner Giuseppe Lanzone tells ARLnow.
But the brothers went out in style, hosting a party on Sunday. There were Halloween costumes, free cookies, music, dancers, and alpacas.
“In Virginia, it’s much easier to bring alpacas,” says Lanzone, about the animal that’s native to the Andes and part of Peruvian culture. “Fewer regulations than D.C.”
Giuseppe and his brother Mario Lanzone are originally from Peru, but moved with their family to McLean in 1997. Before going into the food business together, Giuseppe was a two-time Olympic rower for Team USA.
The two started their first food truck in 2013. Soon, that one truck became two, then three. Next, the brothers started working with the Peruvian Embassy in D.C.
This got them enough attention to open their first outpost inside of the Latin market La Cosecha in Northeast D.C., next to Union Market. Soon, they were getting accolades from a number of local media outlets.
But then the pandemic hit.
It was at this time that Lanzone was living on Crystal Drive in Crystal City. He would often go for runs and walks “since there wasn’t much else to do” and passed the unoccupied stand (which was previously a rotating cast of pop-up eateries) at the privately-owned park.
“It was just an empty space. I kept think ‘what would be better than being able to stop outside and grab a coffee and an empanada,'” he says. “I didn’t want the space to go to waste.”
In April 2020, he and his brother partnered with National Landing Business Improvement District and made a deal with park owner JBG Smith to bring their Peruvian cuisine to Crystal City.
For the last 18 months, they’ve been serving out of the stand. But their contract is now up as renovations near.
“It was an incredible experience being part of the community,” Lanzone says. “National Landing BID and JBG were great partners to us.”
The 1.5-acre park at 1601 Crystal Drive is scheduled to undergo renovations during the winter, a spokesperson for JBG Smith confirms to ARLnow. It will reopen in the spring of 2023.
New vendor kiosks, an updated performance platform, a bar with a terrace, and restrooms will all be added. There will also be updates to the water feature, a widening of sidewalks, and improved walking and cycling connections.
What it won’t include, though, is the Peruvian Brothers — but that doesn’t mean they are disappearing from Arlington.
Lanzone said they are in discussions for opening a small brick and mortar in the neighborhood. While nothing is finalized and ready to be announced, there have been “talks” about opening up a new outpost that would be accessible to those who work at Amazon’s nearby HQ2.
“We are big fans of National Landing and Amazon and want to be part of the new development,” Lanzone says. In terms of the neighborhood, the feeling seems to be mutual.
“We have greatly enjoyed and appreciated our collaboration with Peruvian Brothers in National Landing,” said Amy Rice, Senior Vice President of Retail Leasing at JBG Smith. “We were thrilled to be able to offer them a temporary outdoor location during the height of the pandemic, and that setting proved to be a hit for National Landing residents.”
“As the transformation of National Landing continues, we are actively working with Peruvian Brothers to find a more permanent home with us in the neighborhood,” Rice added.
Meanwhile, Peruvian Brothers fans can find them at La Cosecha in D.C. and at their catering headquarters in Alexandria headquarters. The brothers are also now offering an empanada subscription service, with frozen empanadas dropped off at doorsteps twice a month.
The brothers say they’re confident they’ll be back in Arlington soon.
“We love it here,” Lanzone said.
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