“This is way nicer,” says a patron inside Northside Social’s new Falls Church location, “because the one in Arlington—they didn’t build that from scratch.”
Actually, “they” (Mark Fedorchak, brother Stephen Fedorchak and Brian Normile, the restaurant partners behind The Liberty Tavern, Lyon Hall, Liberty Barbecue and both Northside Social sites) didn’t forge this building from scratch either. Rather, they renovated and added on to a historic property, as is their forte. In this case, the property at 205 Park Avenue is the late 18th-century Cloverdale House that once sat on West Broad Street and most recently served as the Blue and Gray Post of the American Legion. But you wouldn’t know it from the look of things.
There’s still a faint scent of construction materials in the newly refurbished space, which opened on June 11, but today it’s overpowered by the general sense of excitement among the two dozen customers milling about. Both of the patio entrances lead to a spacious ordering counter and merchandise area, which features a large bakery case filled with housemade sweets (overseen by pastry chef Bridie McCulla) such as matcha-white-chocolate cookies and Nutella pop tarts. There are also two well-stocked refrigerated cases with cans of gose and saison among the mix of sodas and parfaits, and a shabby-chic table loaded with snacks and branded T-shirts.
The food menu, directed by chef Emer O’Rourke and executive chef Matt Hill, is similar to what’s available at the original Northside Social in Clarendon (which opened in 2010)—a blend of elevated breakfast items, sandwiches and salads with a few variations. A notable addition is Neapolitan-style pizza, baked in an on-site wood-burning oven and sourced with ingredients from the Falls Church Farmers Market. Like its sibling in Clarendon, the Falls Church location serves D.C.-based Counter Culture coffee.
Buzzing pagers are used to alert customers when orders are ready. While they’re waiting guests can grab a seat on the downstairs patio, the upstairs deck, or at a table in one of a handful of rooms. In what may once have been the historic property’s living room, the rustic setting finds walnut-hued wood that was reclaimed from other parts of the building, and a framed U.S. flag with 48 stars, circa 1950—a holdover from the building’s American Legion days.
Like Northside Social 1.0, the Falls Church expansion has an upstairs bar that carries the restaurant from day to night, offering wine and beer, plus—unlike its Clarendon location—a cocktail menu that includes four boilermakers and a rye/port concoction called “The Little City.” On the beer front, choose from a mix of eight mostly local, rotating drafts, along with bottles and cans from more far-flung areas, selected by beer director Maria Milton. The bar also serves a dozen wines curated by wine director and bar manager Annika Collins. Beer and wine are available throughout the day on both floors, and cocktails along with table service start at 5 p.m.
Co-owner Mark Fedorchak seems to take great pride in the new property, and was dutifully busing plates and adjusting light fixtures at the restaurant opening. For him and his partners, branding this second coffeehouse and bar with the same moniker as their first was an easy choice.
“Northside Social in Clarendon has become a beloved neighborhood destination,” Fedorchak says. “We love the name. We think that the name evokes what the space has become in terms of the gathering place.”