UnCommon Luncheonette in Clarendon is hoping to open next week, bringing a concept that owners say is missing from the neighborhood.
The new diner-esque eatery on the corner of N. Garfield Street and 11th Street N. is set to be exclusively a breakfast, brunch, and lunch spot, co-owner Joon Yang tells ARLnow, with a menu, decor, and hours to match.
The location, a block from the Metro and in the midst of apartment buildings, is a perfect fit for this concept, he says.
“We fashion ourselves as a typical New York-style diner,” Yang says, who owns the restaurant along with head chef Jon Mathieson. “We’re going to open at 7 in the morning and people walking by are going to see this bright light glowing from a corner.”
The focus on the day’s earlier meals is what makes the restaurant, well, uncommon in Clarendon, according to him.
Earlier this week, ARLnow got an exclusive peek at the restaurant’s food, menu, and interior.
The space is classic and cozy, with only about half a dozen tables plus bar seating for about 15. There will be an additional 40 or so seats outside, bringing the total to about 80 seats.
The bar is marble with blue-tinged lights overhead and bright blue stools. The checked floor tile matches the diner image. The walls are mostly bare, but Yang says that the intention is to add to the decor in the coming months.
Both the breakfast and lunch menus have some traditional items, like egg sandwiches, waffles, and fried chicken, but there’s some unexpected dishes inspired by Yang’s other meat-centric restaurants.
There are five different kinds of poutine, a Canadian favorite of french fries, cheese, and gravy, on the menu including a vegetarian option and a breakfast version topped with sausage gravy and fried eggs.
Also available is a smoked steak frites and a rib sandwich that Yang says was directly influenced by dishes at his Epic Smokehouse in Pentagon City.
For those looking for lighter fare, there’s a selection of handmade soups.
“One of my favorites is a good cream of mushroom soup,” Yang says. “I feel like people under-appreciated what a good soup is.”
UnCommon also has an ice cream machine with plans to incorporate milkshakes and other ice cream-centric choices into the menu as spring turns into summer.
The restaurant does have a liquor license, but that isn’t the main focus, particularly since the plan is set to close in the afternoon. That’s another thing that separates UnCommon from other establishments in the neighborhood.
“I know a lot of owners of bars and restaurants in the area and they question… ‘Are you going to do this without nightlife?’ That’s where they all make the money,” Yang says. “I understand that. But this is a different concept.”
ARLnow first reported in July 2021 that UnCommon Luncheonette was coming to the space formerly occupied by Riverside Hot Pot and Bowl’d. By December, construction was coming along with Yang telling ARLnow that the restaurant’s concept would be one that “no has done before in Clarendon or, even, Arlington.”
He admits there have been some challenges opening a restaurant in Clarendon at this time, including hiring full-time staff, the neighborhood’s saturation of restaurants, and the apprehension of some customers to return to in-person dining.
But he’s optimistic that UnCommon Luncheonette will work here and now.
“I’m old school. When people come in here, I want to shake everyone’s hand and say hello. I want to know everyone’s name,” Yang says. “I still think people want that.”
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