By Derrick Perkins
Jody Manor’s concept for a shoreline eatery picked up steam last week when the planning commission overwhelmingly backed the proposal.
Called the Waterfront Market, Manor’s restaurant would seat 150 patrons – indoors and outside – in space currently occupied by the city’s archaeology office in the Torpedo Factory. Described as “something of a ship’s store,” the eatery will cater to residents, tourists and boaters frequenting Alexandria’s marina.
“Having examined these issues over the last five years … this is what this area needs,” said planning commission member Nate Macek, who previously served on the city’s waterfront commission.
The May 7 presentation revealed new details about Manor’s plans. The Alexandria native and owner of Old Town’s Bittersweet Cafe foresees serving gourmet breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes and offer a full service bakery. While there is no talk of live entertainment, the market will serve beer and wine.
“I think there’s a huge need for what we’re proposing down there,” Manor said. “It’s something that can be done in short order.”
Yvonne Callahan, president of the Old Town Civic Association, spoke favorably of the project during public testimony. But the group had concerns about replacing existing benches for outdoor dining, she said, and worried about the city’s penchant for allowing private businesses public space for their operations.
Resident Lynn Hampton also praised Manor’s project, but said she would like to see the restaurant stay open later than 11 p.m.
“My husband and I are both sailors and thinking about coming into the dock and being able to sit at a restaurant by the waterfront up until 1 ‘o’ clock at night would be a nice exception,” she said.
The planning commission voted unanimously to send the project before city council.
“[The Waterfront Market] is part of what we hope to do with the food pavilion eventually, but that’s taking some time to get there and this was a really creative suggestion to bring some of that to the waterfront now,” Macek said. “And I think it will really enliven the space.”