By Erich Wagner
Jody Manor just recently earned city council’s permission to open a waterfront eatery, but he’s already moving full steam ahead.
City councilors approved plans for a 150-seat restaurant and retail market in and along Torpedo Factory Art Center last month. And Manor plans to have the business — which will combine indoor and outdoor features — up and running as early as August.
The Alexandria native, who also owns Bittersweet Cafe, said the Waterfront Market will offer a quick-service restaurant along with a bakery. Manor said it was easy moving forward quickly with the project, thanks in part to the cooperation of city officials.
“You’ve got to come to the city with a well-developed concept before you can get approval,” Manor said. “It can be problematic because you can spend a lot of money only for the city to tell you, ‘No.’ The major difference has been that the city has been incredibly cooperative and supportive of this venture.”
Manor said he was able to speed up the eatery’s opening by finishing most of the preliminary work while awaiting formal city approval.
“We were pretty confident we’d get it done, so we’ve been pushing ahead with other aspects of the project, from menu development to the design of the space,” he said. “… And the [renovation and] build-out is pretty simple. There’s a lot of equipment, a lot of refrigeration equipment, so it was just a matter of making a vanilla box for all of it.”
John Long, CEO of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, said that while people already have motivation to visit restaurants and shops in Old Town, this new market could lure more visitors and additional businesses to the Potomac shoreline.
“This helps to draw people closer to the waterfront and will probably provide an incentive for additional folks to consider putting other shops and restaurants and opportunities down at the end of King Street,” Long said. “When successes start to happen, it breeds more success.
“When businesses see something like Jody Manor’s new market, they’ll say, ‘Well, what else is open there and what other opportunities do we have there?’”