News

F.C. Council Gives Final OK to Land Sale, Urges Keeping Anthony’s Restaurant

The Falls Church City Council tonight gave a second and final unanimous vote in favor of selling City-owned land in the 200 block of W. Broad St. for purposes of constructing a new Harris Teeter grocery store with residential units above.

img 5518Anthony’s Restaurant owner Tony Yiannarakis spoke in front of the Falls Church City Council Monday night. (News-Press photo)

The Falls Church City Council tonight gave a second and final unanimous vote in favor of selling City-owned land in the 200 block of W. Broad St. for purposes of constructing a new Harris Teeter grocery store with residential units above.

But the vote was anti-climactic following exchanges between the Council and a standing-room-only turnout of citizens urging that the 40-year old City historic icon, Anthony’s Restaurant, be spared in the process of the new development.

The repeated urgings of the citizens for City Hall to work harder to either include Anthony’s in the redevelopment of the block, or to relocate it nearby, did not fall on deaf ears on the Council. “This is like a scene from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,'” Councilman David Tarter said, congratulating Anthony’s owners Tony and Faye Yiannarakis, sitting in the front row of the audience, for bringing out so many people to hail and advocate on behalf of the restaurant.

“This turnout and 1,671 signatures on petitions (since last Thursday-ed.) tell me that people want me to be around,” Yiannarakis told the Council. He said he’d be willing to take space in a new building or be relocated nearby. “My restaurant is not just to make money — although it has helped us to raise and put our children through school — but it’s been for all the people for 40 years that we’ve served, talked to and loved, things you can’t buy with dollar bills.”

“I am pretty optimistic that if all the parties are willing, there is great potential for this to be a win-win,” Councilman Phil Duncan said. Mayor Nader Baroukh said he is “asking the developer Rushmark Properties to “work toward a win-win situation, and I am asking Anthony’s to do the same.”

“We’ll do all we can to have you stay in the community,” Tarter said. “This is not a matter of choices between one or the other, but we have to find a way to have both,” Vice Mayor David Snyder said.

City Manager Wyatt Shields referred to the efforts of the City’s Economic Development Office to work with Anthony’s for a solution since it was known that the property owner would look to sell or redevelop the property, and that Anthony’s lease expiring in early 2013 would not be renewed.