Mad Fox Brewing Co., Waterford Close In on 15-Year Lease Pact

Brew Pub Near Set to Locate at The Spectrum

Amidst an otherwise gloomy economic contraction and stall in the City of Falls Church, owners of two new business start-ups are making progress toward buttoning up outstanding issues with their prospective landlord to bring new and tantalizing drinking and dining to the center of the City.

The Max Fox Brewing Company and Foster’s Grille are slated for opening in ground floor retail spaces beneath The Spectrum, the large mixed-use project at 444 W. Broad St.

Foster’s Grille, a locally-owned franchise of a chain that is thriving throughout the region, resolved its final snag this week, and could be open for business within 60 days, according to Bob Baxter, vice-president at Waterford Development, owners of The Spectrum. The location will be on the Pennsylvania Avenue end of the project, a half-block north of W. Broad.

Veteran brew master Bill Madden and his business partner Rick Garvin are eager to introduce the Mad Fox Brewing Company in the currently-vacant ground floor space beneath the Spectrum facing directly onto W. Broad.

Up to 1,250 barrels of beer a year would be brewed on the premises, providing customers with fresh and diverse options, in addition a robust dining menu and a full bar.

It was announced Tuesday that well-known local developer Ed Novak, the original developer of The Byron, has joined Mad Fox as an investor and consultant.

A meeting was held Tuesday afternoon between the Max Fox people, including Novak, and Baxter to hammer out remaining issues. Baxter told the News-Press yesterday that the “final lease” for 15 years was presented at the meeting for signing, and that he expected it to be signed within seven days.

But once hoped that the lease would be signed by last May, delays have persisted over issues of parking and financial security demands from Waterford, Novak told the News-Press. He said that differences remain, though progress was made Tuesday, and insisted it was premature to say with confidence they will be ironed out to the satisfaction of both parties.

Novak said that it is critical for the Mad Fox Brewing Company to have assurances of adequate parking for its prospective customers.

If the lease is signed by next week, Baxter said, the brewery could be open within 180 days, by next spring.

“We will be thrilled to get it going,” Baxter told the News-Press. “It and Foster’s Grille will be major drivers for bringing other retailers to the site.”

With 31,000 square feet of retail space beneath its 189 residential condominium units above, the Spectrum currently has only one operational retailer. Since the condominium market tanked over two years ago, the residential component of the Spectrum has remained overwhelmingly vacant, as well.

But Baxter said that a gourmet market and other prospective retailers have been “sitting on the sidelines” awaiting the sealing of the Mad Fox deal.

The outdoor dining component of the Mad Fox Brewing Company, which will occupy 8,600 square feet, will help bring life to the plaza that sits in the center of the project, he said.

For Madden, co-partner with Garvin as the principals founding Mad Fox, the new pub will be his first ownership venture after working as a brew master for the Capital City Brewery for nine years, and Vintage 50 Restaurant and Brew Lounge in Leesburg, where he will be ending his tenure on Sept. 4 to launch his new project here.

A graduate of Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, he gained his professional qualifications by graduating as a master brewer from the University of California at Davis in 1995, and took his first position at the Capital City Brewery.

“It’s going to be very good working with Waterford,” he said. “It is a great location.” The location became available when the restaurant, Not Your Original Joe’s, backed out of plans to move there.

In addition to the brews Madden will craft and provide on site, there will be wood-fired pizza, paninis, salads, entrees and other menu items. While it will be family-oriented, Madden said, it will be “beer-centric.”

With the great taste that comes with freshly-brewed beer also comes the ability to craft special seasonal or public favorites, such as a pumpkin beer for the fall, and others catered to the specific tastes of regular customers. “We can provide exactly what our folks want,” he said.

He has developed a repertoire of over 30 different craft beer recipes, and is best known for his German-style kolsch ale and Scottish-style wheat heavy ale.

He said that while “beer aficionados” will be a big part of his anticipated clientele, he will make a special effort to “fit into the City of Falls Church,” noting that the pub “will have a family orientation.”

The initial plans are to have the establishment open until 11 or 12 on weekdays and later on weekends. It is expected to have seating for 250.

The Foster’s Grille will fit into a smaller space, 2,628 square feet, with seating for 96. It will feature its charburger, chicken wings, hot dogs and related offerings.

Most of the build-out for that restaurant has already been completed, and stopped only when an issue arose on its financing requiring additional papers to be signed by Waterford.

Baxter said that was resolved this week when the papers were signed, allowing the project to move ahead.

“You should see people back in there within a few days getting set up,” he said.