Annapolis restaurateur, gym owner to open restaurant in Old Town food court

It took nearly two years, but a new restaurant is getting ready to make a go of it in the former Waterfront Food Pavilion on the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria.

Larry Ray, owner of the Big Vanilla health clubs in Maryland and at least one Greene Turtle franchise, outlined his plans for a restaurant called Blackwall Hitch to the Alexandria Waterfront Commission Tuesday, which Old Town Alexandria Patch first reported.

The Alexandria Economic Development Partnership had been hoping to find a single restaurant tenant for the space since it closed in December 2011. One time home to several small, fast-casual vendors, the food court floundered in recent years.

Economic development officials were looking for a tenant that would complement the only other active restaurant on the waterfront: Chart House, a fine dining seafood restaurant.

Blackwall Hitch will feature New American cuisine, wine and craft beer and space for live music, according to Patch. The owner plans a multimillion-dollar renovation of the space.

Along with the Waterfront Market, a fast-casual restaurant and market from Bittersweet Cafe owner Jody Manor, Blackwall Hitch will add to a range of dining options along the waterfront.

The Waterfront Market is aiming to open Nov. 18 and will feature fast-casual sandwiches, soups and salads, as well as sushi and market items and beer and wine for retail purchase. The plans include 40 seats on the dock outside the building and a portable bar for beer and wine service outside.

The market is aiming to be a community destination, said general manager Megan Samonds. The business did a survey for six weeks during the summer that asked residents what they wanted in the neighborhood.

“We really tailored the menu and the feel of the space to those responses,” she said. “People want somewhere on the water, to go and not spend a fortune … to have a great food that doesn’t cost a lot of money.”

Waterfront Market welcomes the news of Blackwall Hitch going into the pavilion, which is situated across a pedestrian walkway from the market, according to Samonds.

“We’re really looking forward to it. The more neighbors we have, the more people that come down,” she said. “They are not a direct competitor for us … so we can all help to encourage that sense of community.”


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