It’s 8 p.m. on this Saturday night in Falls Church, just an hour or so after Mother Nature finished dumping upwards of 20 inches of snow in what this editor is confident to say was the biggest single snowfall accumulation, at least around his house, in his 25 years living in this community.
Having learned by making a round of phone calls that four eating and drinking establishments bunched together in downtown Falls Church were, to my surprise, open for business tonight, I decided to walk the three/four blocks from my abode to check them out, to give my readers of the Falls Church News-Press an exclusive.
The hardest part of the walk was in the 20 inches piled up right outside my door, down my walk, and on the sidewalk about 30 feet to S. Virginia, which had been plowed but was still very rough with only a single lane passable. With my bad knees, I never could have made this without a very sturdy walking cane. I moved quite slowly.
Coming onto West Broad Street, or Route 7, one of the main Snow Emergency throughfares with multiple snow-packed lanes open, it was a haunting scene of bright white silence except for some stoplights and lighted store signs, framed against a pitch-black background. The street lights reflected brightly on the snow that was piled high everywhere along the site of the street and on that packed on the street. There was the sound and then the sight of a snow plow working on the parking lot at the Broaddale Plaza, and the grinding on the packed snow of less than 10 vehicles that passed by either way as I walked slowly down Broad toward Washington.
My first stop was it at Anthony’s Restaurant, which I was surprised to see had a parking lot full of cars. The attendance inside included the owners, the lovely Anthony and Faye Yanniarakis, who were thrilled to see me. About six tables were occupied, and, behold, at one of them was Falls Church City Sheriff Steve Bittle with his family. What a photo op! Anthony and Faye, and their son who grew up working there and is now a manager in his 20s, all confirmed to me they’d be open for their special weekend breakfast tomorrow at 8 a.m. prompt. Anthony said their Manassas restaurant was closed today.
I progressed down to the Ireland’s Four Provinces, where another contract plowing truck was working diligently to clear the path into the back parking lot. Inside, only the bar section was open and there were about 15 brave souls insistent on spending their Saturday night doing something other than sitting at home. As I lifted my camera to snap a shot of the scene, I heard one murmur, “What happens here stays here!” I aimed the camera away from her and took a shot. All the restaurant staff there know me well and were very friendly as I made my way out for one more stop, across the street at the Dogwood Tavern.
There, I found a very different scene. Instead of the smaller gatherings of hearty souls at the first two stops, the Dogwood Tavern was hopping. No live music, but all the TV screens were lit up with different college hoops, the bar was full and most of the tables in the restaurant section were filled. I saddled up to the counter for a respite, and decided my big adventure warranted a bacon cheddar cheeseburger and fries. I asked the waitress, Rachel, if she had any problems making it into work, and she said “No.” She lived in Arlington, she said, and drove in about 5 p.m. without any problems. She said no one else on the staff there reported any problems getting to work, either.
Was there any doubt that you’d be open tonight?, I asked. “No, none,” she said. “We learned from the mistake of closing during the last one of these storms.” I wound up packing half my cheeseburger to go, and set out for home. I decided it was not a good idea for me to venture it the extra couple blocks out and up the hill on N. Washington to check out Clare and Don’s, which I’d been told was also open and prepared to stay that way until 2 a.m.
Heading back past a closed CVS and other stores, I encountered more people, maybe a dozen total, meandering along W. Broad, all friendly and saying hello, and a Domino’s Pizza delivery truck on S. Virginia. I noted that the snow was firmer than when I’d come the other way earlier, no doubt the result of temperatures plunging towards the low teens tonight that will turn a lot of it very hard by morning. With the aid of my cane, I retraced the most difficult part of my trek, which was back up my steps and front walk to my door.
My cat was very glad to see me. It felt very hot inside as I took off my overcoat, and realized that I’d been sweating. I checked the clock to see I’d been gone almost exactly two hours.