The City of Falls Church, Virginia, subsumes 2.2 square miles; within its boundaries live approximately 10,000 inhabitants, give or take. The town has given itself the title of "The Little City," but with this weekend's news, one might call it the Little Beer City, and that's not in reference to small beer.
Falls Church Beer Tour
On the southeast edge of town — in Seven Corners— there is the Dogfish Head Alehouse, which opened in 2007; catty-corner across Route 7 is Public House No. 7, which opened last year. It sports a solid, if small, draft selection, with English food and the occasional cask tapping.
In the heart of town, at the intersection of Broad Street (Rt. 7) and Washington Street (Lee Highway), there is the 3-year old Red, White, & Bleu, a small but 1,500-brand beer shop (and wine and cheese). Its sister establishment, Argia's —long-established on Washington Street— has a small but solid draft selection and an award-winning Italian-American menu.
Two blocks further northwest along Broad Street is Dogwood Tavern, which opened in 2008, with American-fare, a Virginia theme, and an American-micro draft menu.
Just up the road, at 444 W. Broad, is Mad Fox Brewing Company, a nearly 10,000 square-foot restaurant and brewery, not quite 2 years old. Owner/brewer Bill Madden is the doyen of area brewers; he began his Washington, D.C., career in 1996 at Capitol City Brewing. He features at least 3 cask ales at any one time, in addition to a dozen or so house-made drafts.
Past the town's boundaries lies an outlet of the grocery chain, Whole Foods. Its beer department has been manned for 7 years by Jeff Forrest, who, at his counter, makes grocery-store shopping more enjoyable by pouring a rotating draft selection of four craft or imported beers (and he fills growlers-to-go).
Stretching the bounds further west of the city, there's the brewpub/restaurant Sweetwater Tavern, in Merrifield. Its the area's beery granddaddy, having opened in 1997. Since then, executive Brewmaster Nick Funnell has garnered several awards for his beers at the Great American Beer Festival.
As of Friday evening, the first of June, 2012, a new kid had arrived in town.
spacebar Lands in Falls Church!
spacebar (indeed written in lower case) opened its doors at 709 W. Broad Street, in Falls Church, Friday evening, during the height of the dramatic storms moving through the area. Local craft beer fans weren't deterred.
The brainchild of owners —and husband and wife— Lary and Erica Hoffman, spacebar is the new 'sister' restaurant to its 22-year old sibling Galaxy Hut (in Clarendon, Virginia). Like it, the focus will be on 'craft' beer —twenty-four 'craft' beer draught lines— in a whimsical, inviting, cozy environment.
Due to limited space and storage, Lary designed what he calls "megerators": re-purposed keg coolers built from tall 3-door beverage coolers. Each holds up to 4 full-size kegs (13.2 or 15.5 gallons) and 8 sixtels (5.16 gallons). Mason jars under each drip pan catch any foam and overflow. Since the kegs are located directly behind the taps, waste should be minimal. The beer register lists the draught beers under 6 categories: IPAs, Belgian-style, Dark & Rich, Lighter, Session Ales, and Fruit/Wheat. (See the opening line-up: here.) There is a small selection of bottled beers and wine, but no liquor. At this point, there are no plans for a dedicated cask line, but Lary promises the occasional 'Firkin Friday' cask tapping.
The quirky fun continues through to the menu. The kitchen —really a grill at the end of the bar— offers 19 (!) grilled cheese sandwiches, soup, and salad. There are a lot of add-on options, or what the menu calls "stuff." Things like meatloaf, bacon, smoked salmon, turkey, hot dogs, etc. One could even order a grilled cheese sandwich with only the 'stuff,' hold the cheese. There are plenty of vegan/vegetarian options: veggie burgers and hot dogs, vegetables, vegan 'cheese,' vegan faux meats, etc. And, as at Galaxy Hut, tater tots are on the menu.
Physically, spacebar is cozy, long, and narrow. As you enter the front door, the 28-foot bar is to the right, sitting in front of the 24-taps and the kitchen grill. Old-style radiators serves as supports for the bar-top. Booths line the left side of the pub. The total seating is for around 50 people.
Interspersed throughout will be tabletop video games, "quirky, hand crafted decor," and local art. The sound system plays current and classic indie rock and post-punk (read: Lary's iPod). There are future plans for live music, what Lary impishly calls "indie-chamber:" low-key, experimental, small scale groups.
Both Hoffmans anticipate a demand for takeout: after a long day at work, who wouldn't want a grilled cheese sandwich and a beer? Both feel that the traditional take-home growler, at 2 liters, would be a bit too much beer, so they've applied to the Virginia ABC to permit ... take-out 16-ounce pints in sealed Mason jars. Clever, and it makes sense.
Befitting the duo's creative thinking, here's another possibility. The pub's building was originally designed to have a second story, one that was never constructed. Thus, the building is structurally sound to support a 1,200 square foot beer patio and greenhouse vegetable garden ... open on the rooftop, a first for Falls Church. "Not until 2013, at the earliest," they are quick to add. "spacebar needs to be open for a year."
Lary Hoffman began his restaurant career, as do many musicians, working in coffee shops. Then, in 1998, he signed on at Galaxy Hut as a manager and bartender. His other 'real' job was with Fairfax County government, working in after-school programs. In 2005, he purchased Galaxy Hut from original owner, Alice Despard.
Erica Hoffman, a Florida native, received a Master's Degree at George Mason University (in Fairfax, Virginia) in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. "That comes in handy running a bar," she laughed.
- 709 West Broad Street
Falls Church, Virginia.
- Website: spcbr.com
- Facebook: spacebar.va
- Hours: 5pm till close, 7 nights a week.
- Admittance: 21 and over only.
- Parking: Small lot for 18 cars. Parking available on neighborhood streets after 5pm.
Nader Baroukh(r) —Falls Church mayor—
visited spacebar on its second day of business.