Customers often line up through the doorway at the new Preservation Biscuit Company at the Southgate Village Shoppes on East Fairfax Street, which has been a regular feature of the restaurant since it opened on March 16.
“It’s been crazy!” owner Tricia Barba exclaimed about her new restaurant. “We are very grateful [for the business] and still can’t believe it.”
Waiting for those customers on the inside are Preservation’s warm and toasty biscuits, filled with strawberries and whipped cream or fried chicken or any of the other varieties available.
That is, if they’re lucky enough to get them. Sellouts before the store closes at 3 p.m. are common, motivating Barba to hire more staff, including an additional biscuit maker.
The carryout is managed by Jonathan Coombs, who prides himself on biscuit making. Weekend sales of 500 biscuits sold daily are almost double what Coombs and Barba predicted which is “taking more prep time than we thought,” Barba said. Chef Jon is “very particular on rolling the dough and how many times you have to fold it to get it the perfect height.”
The best-seller by far is the fried chicken sandwich ($12.50) which she and Coombs created together. The duo have tinkered with ingredients several times, but now they think they’ve attained their unmatchable signature dish.
The sandwich stands several inches high and its “secret sauce” (“I’m not giving away our sauce!” Barba joked when asked) mixes deliciously with a hint of Thousand Island dressing, bacon, hot honey, napa cabbage, gouda, pimento cheese and dijon mustard.
On the tops are dabbles of what seems like orange paint applied by an impressionist.
In addition to biscuits, there are breakfast meats ($2), pork and chicken embellishments, plain homemade jams ($1) and guacamole, egg, bacon, lemon aioli ($10) and more.
Would you like prime rib with that biscuit? Coming right up with Swiss cheese, caramelized onions and roasted bell peppercoulis ($13). A kid’s menu is available, too ($6).
Being a girl of the South, I know a thing or two about barbecue, especially when it comes to north of the Memphis, Tennessee line. So I can say that Preservation’s got some of the finest pork tasted in these parts, piled high ($3) on top of a tasty mountain of mac and cheese ($5) with a hidden crumbled biscuit sprinkled somewhere.
I like my barbecue smothered in coleslaw, and Preservations’s slaw is crunchy and delicious, lacking gooey mayonnaise “expanders” to soak it all up, but $3 for about a fourth of a cup is a bit too steep for my wallet, even for slaw.
On the sweet side, the “strawberry shortie” ($6.50) is a teaser, so big I saved my second half for “later” — which became “now” once I started eating.
It has a mostly biscuit taste rather than a shortcake one, with a middle moisturized by oozing fruit and whipped cream. (The restaurant may add a “peach shortie” later.)
Not everything is high calorie at Prevation Biscuit. There’s a Caesar salad ($8) and Barba plans to add some vegan selections, especially for Chef Jon’s palate.
Southern roots seem to make biscuits better, and no one knows that more than Coombs who spent five years in the Army at Ft. Benning, Georgia where he developed a fondness for Southern cuisine. That experience helped spark his passion for cooking, leading to chefdom at area eateries after military life. (He served three tours of duty in Iraq and earned a Purple Heart.)
Barba and Coombs met at the Matchbox at Woodbridge where Coombs was executive chef and Barba was the brand marketing director. After coronavirus shut down that Matchbox, Barba, who likes “comfort foods, especially biscuits” started thinking about “one of my favorite things. With the hardship everyone has been going through and the whole pandemic, what does everyone need? Ultra comforting food.”
She contacted Coombs: “What do you think about biscuits?” Together they chose “flour, butter, love” which is Preservation’s mantra.
Barba was born and raised in Washington, D.C., but “I just thought this concept would work well here. A lot of my friends live in Falls Church which has that ‘small town’ feel.” Barba looked at spaces in D.C., Vienna, and other Virginia spots. Falls Church beat them all.
“It may seem crazy to some, opening [a restaurant] right now, but it was a good opportunity to get some space on good terms,” Babra said.
Just before opening day, last minute tech problems created major headaches, but in true Falls Church fashion, the owners of Thompson Italian and Spin Pollo came to the rescue to help launch their new neighbors’ restaurant.
Barba is donating $1 from the sale of one biscuit every week to local charities, like Homestretch, Inc., Falls Church Educational Foundation and Columbia Baptist Food Pantry.
The restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday with plans to open on Tuesday. Order from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. at 102 East Fairfax Street, Falls Church 22046, 571-378-1757 or for assured orders, visit preservationbiscuit.com.
Don’t forget the sausage gravy ($3)! Or just plain ole biscuits are available, too ($3).