Ballston breakfast and lunch spot Laura Cooks is now closed after 18 years at its current location on N. Randolph Street.
Today (July 13) was the restaurant’s last lunch rush, owner Laura Hong tells ARLnow. Although both the website and the sign on the door note tomorrow (July 14) as the closing date, Hong clarifies that’s a mistake.
Laura Cooks was a deli-style lunch and breakfast spot that was open from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m, located on N. Randolph Street just a half block from Wilson Blvd (and in close proximity to ARLnow’s office). It served sandwiches, breakfast burritos, omelets, pancakes, and burgers all morning and afternoon.
The restaurant is closing because Hong is retiring after more than four decades cooking, memorizing orders, and running a business.
“I’ve doing this for 45 years and all of my kids are grown. They want to travel with me and I couldn’t do that because I’m always here,” she says. “Now, I’ll be able to do that.”
Laura Cooks began as a sidewalk snack bar before moving to various locations in and around Ballston. It eventually landed at its current location on 875 N. Randolph Street in the mid-2000s, and that’s where Laura Cooks has remained ever since.
Hong says that her long-time landlord, local developer Fred Schnider, always made sure her business stayed afloat and had a place to go even during tough times. The decision to retire and close was hers, Hong notes.
“It’s bittersweet to announce Laura is retiring and closing down the store… Laura has been serving Ballston for over 45 years and loving every moment,” reads the sign on the door. “She will miss getting to see all of her customers (and memorized orders) she’s gotten to know over the years. Thank you again for supporting Laura.”
While Laura Cooks is closing down, Hong insists that she won’t be totally gone from Ballston. She plans to cook and help out some at the new Hangry Joe’s Hot Chicken location that’s moving into space, Hong tells ARLnow.
Hangry Joe’s Hot Chicken is a franchise of Nashville hot chicken restaurants, with other Northern Virginia locations as well as locations in Maryland and Texas. ARLnow has reached out to the company for confirmation that it’s coming to the space but has yet to hear back as of publication.
The last few days have been very busy at Laura Cooks as word spread that she was retiring and closing the business.
“If it was always this busy, maybe I wouldn’t be retiring,” Hong says, chuckling.
While it’s somewhat sad for Hong, her daughters are happy. They are going to get see their mom a lot more now that she’s retiring.
“They don’t want me to work anymore,” she says. “They want me to spend more time with them.”
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