Falls Church’s famous Anthony’s Restaurant, the locally-owned and operated family eatery specializing in Greek, Italian and American staple dishes, celebrated the Big 50 last month. That is, 50 years of business in the Falls Church community.
Forced to move from its 300 West Broad Street location after 42 years there to make way for the new Harris Teeter and apartment complex in 2014, the long-standing and popular family eatery has continued to work its magic on area families despite the location change out of the City of F.C. proper to a location on Annandale Road just across Route 50.
When asked about his feelings on running his business for five decades, Anthony Yiannarakis, owner and founder, joked that he felt “old.” On a more serious note, he added that, through all the “ups and downs” — especially the hardships that many family-owned restaurants struggled with during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 — all the “rewarding experiences” that “you cannot buy” are what buoyed the whole enterprise for him.
Yiannarakis shared how, over the years, he has seen “parents with their babies in the basket,” and then later, “those [same] kids with their own kids” visit Anthony’s Restaurant.
The base dynamic of a restaurant like this boils down to listening to and talking with a variety of people and this is something that Yiannarakis underscored as a benefit of the trade.
“I sympathize [and] listen to the customers…and their problems,” adding that as a byproduct of meeting and getting to know many of his customers, he has attended a few funerals throughout the decades after forming connections with various people and their families.
Yiannarakis’ proclivity to sympathize with strangers — as well as the quality of the restaurant itself — explains both the eatery’s longevity and the outpour of gratitude and support from loyal customers. People “sent cards…best wishes” and thank-you notes, which are now tacked to a wall near the register. The 50th anniversary itself was marked on May 21st. “We offered some cake” to visitors, “we [also] gave out some glasses that have the name [of the restaurant] on them.”
Yiannarakis also showed two kinds of t-shirts made especially for the occasion, a white variant for the customers to take home and another black variant for the employees to wear. In addition, large, gold-colored balloons in the shape of a 5 and 0 can be seen after going through the restaurant’s doors.
Collectible pens, commemorating the restaurant’s 50 years in business, can also be found inside.
As one of the main draws is the food itself — from American icons like the BLT or the Philly cheese steak sub to Greek cuisine like the gyro and Moussaka — it turned out that “some of the recipes” have stuck since the beginning. The menu has, however, grown exponentially since 1972 (the year Yiannarakis began his business).
In the ‘70s, Anthony’s was a smaller, mostly take-out focused place to eat at its original location on West Broad in the center of the Little City. Time has seen Yiannarakis, his family and his employees navigate the logistics of having to move to their current location on Annandale Road and the uncertainty of Covid.
“I am thankful that I have my wife, my kids, by my side,” said Yiannarakis, adding that “a lot of my employees have been with me for many years,” with some of them having been on for “almost 40 years.”
Even though Yiannarakis doesn’t spend a lot on advertising, “except maybe during the holidays,” the appeal of his restaurant cannot be denied.
Staying operational for as long as he has and seeing business improve throughout the past year emphasizes the significance of both the 50th anniversary and the restaurant itself. People “like the business, the food, the atmosphere,” reflected Yiannarakis. “[We] had to try very hard to keep the doors open, [but now], slowly, we’re getting better…getting more business.”
With word-of-mouth (or through the internet, with websites like Yelp or reviews on Google), being the main way through which people find out about Anthony’s Restaurant, the Yiannarakis’ success is truly a testament to the level of work and dedication put into running one of the Little City’s most-favored places to eat out.