Alexandria Restaurant Partners (ARP), the new group behind Virtue Feed & Grain in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia, Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap in Alexandria, and the recently opened Palette 22 in Shirlington, announced the temporary closure of The Majestic Cafe in Old Town as of March 14 for an eight-week interior design update and menu makeover to reopen the spot as a new concept. ARP purchased a majority ownership stake in the restaurant in late 2015, and intends to reposition it with a change in culinary direction as well as upgrades to the dining room and bar to make the space warmer and more intimate. Anticipated opening is May 15, and the restaurant will be known as The Majestic.
“This is a rare and very special opportunity to refresh an Alexandria landmark,” says ARP partner Scott Shaw. “It’s something we could hardly pass up given our ties to the community. As The Majestic has been a fixture in Old Town since 1932, we’re embracing that longevity, and are bringing the food and the experience to have more of an edge and an appeal that has been missing from the scene here.” Shaw and fellow partners David Clapp and Dave Nicholas are excited to be the next stewards of the iconic restaurant, and are eager to position The Majestic into a bigger and more influential spot in Alexandria’s growing and diverse culinary scene.
At the helm of the restaurant will be Chef/Proprietor Gaby Hakman, a consulting chef, restaurant owner, and operator, who will relocate from Miami. Most recently Hakman was the Chef/Owner at Andiamo Brick Oven Pizza. For The Majestic, Hakman seeks to create a contemporary menu of uncomplicated and robust dishes with hints of her Mediterranean palate, and hopes to bring a new rotisserie into the kitchen to create specials that won’t impact regular menu offerings. She plans to create recipes that are protein and vegetable-forward, not contrived nor trendy, and will work with local and regional small producers and purveyors to source ingredients. “Memorable food is essential in a local restaurant, and with this opportunity I want to use the setting of The Majestic as a background for an authentic and very flavorful dining experience,” she says. “I want it be a go-to spot for locals to enjoy a wine-filled evening with friends, and for visitors as a ‘must-do’ for the food and the experience.”
The project will include interior design by David Chennault, and minor architectural work by Paul Beckmann, of Beckmann Architects in Old Town, Alexandria, whose local project credits for ARP include Virtue Feed & Grain, Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza and Tap, and recently opened Palette 22. Beckmann is careful not to call the assignment a full renovation. “The previous owners did a beautiful job of restoring The Majestic 18 years ago. The floor plan works, and the building is good shape, so we’ll preserve the iconic art deco design elements, and will replace furniture, redo restrooms, and we’ll make some back-of-house updates.” Award-winning Bonitt Builders of Northern Virginia will do the necessary contracting work, having previously completed the earlier restoration of the historic deco building and restaurant.