While everyone at the Falls Church City Hall and in the traditional corridors of power in the Little City is hopping up and down with glee over the prospect of a large-scale, mixed use project anchored by a Harris Teeter grocery store going into the 200 block of W. Broad Street, others are not so pleased.
Anthony and Faye Yiannarakis, for 40 years the family owners of a great Falls Church icon, Anthony’s Restaurant, are enduring sleepless nights now, worried about the plight of their employees and the disregard by City Hall for the contribution they’ve made to the City as they confront the expiration of their lease in January and the prospect of being plowed under for the new project.
Anthony’s has been a Falls Church legacy for 40 years, having fed and been a family-centered, affordable community space hosting countless birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, youth sports teams’ post-game pizza feeds, as the entire Falls Church community watched Tony and Faye’s two kids, Theo and Penny, grow from infants to after-school helpers, to adult employees and beyond. There is nothing to compare to the role that Anthony’s has played, and continues to play, in the life of Falls Church.
The prospect of its demise cannot be allowed to stand. The Harris Teeter project is slated to be built on an assemblage of properties, some owned by the City and its Economic Development Authority, that have long since been vacated and where no other business sits. Except, that is, for Anthony’s Restaurant.
A way has to be found to keep Anthony’s there, or to ensure that it is relocated nearby under conditions where it can continue to thrive. There is a growing ground swell of grass roots citizens support sharing this view that will be expressed in its early stage with a petition that will be presented to the F.C. City Council Monday night. So far, according to Tony and Faye, there has only been lip service from City Hall.
But now, there are plenty of options at the City’s disposal, depending on its will to act. The proffers that the developer will be asked to contribute to the good of the community in exchange for the Council’s approval of a “special exception” can, and should be, geared to this end.
For example, the new development is supposed to include 3,000 square feet for a restaurant. Presumably, the cost of a lease or purchase of that space would be prohibitive for Anthony’s, and the developer reportedly already owns two restaurants in the region that it might want to move there. But Anthony’s, even though occupying 4,000 square feet now, could fit nicely in there, especially if the developer were to proffer to the City a means for it to happen (such as by subsidizing the cost).
For a first step, an agreement needs to be reached to ensure that Anthony’s can stay in the space beyond the termination of its lease in January.