Majestic Cafe Reopening May 23 in Old Town Alexandria

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The Majestic

Majestic Cafe Reopening in 2 weeks after Extensive Renovation

On Monday, May 23rd, The Majestic Café, located in the heart of Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia, at 911 King Street, 22314, will reopen after undergoing an eight week renovation.

Housed in an historic and iconic storefront, the newly refurbished restaurant will showcase a new comfortable yet sophisticated setting. Extensive updates were made to the finishes, fixtures, and furnishings making for a completely new dining experience. Additionally, guests can anticipate a new and fresh culinary direction with Executive Chef/Proprietor Gaby Hakman at the helm, moving away from the restaurant’s previous Southern influence towards a more diverse, seasonal, and vibrant, protein and vegetable-forward menu. Hakman has worked to create a contemporary seasonal bistro menu with ingredient-focused dishes showcasing quality olive oils, herbs, garlic, and other influences that reflect her Mediterranean palate, as well as rotisserie meats, which will add deep flavor and variety to the restaurants signature dishes.

The Majestic will offer contemporary seasonal bistro fare showcasing uncomplicated and robust dishes with hints of a Mediterranean palate.  Recipes are rich in protein, vegetable-forward, and are not contrived or trendy.  Meats and produce are sourced locally and from small producers whenever possible.  Additionally, a rotisserie has been added to the kitchen, which allows the culinary team to cook food evenly and help seal in juices, producing more flavorful dishes.

The Majestic Café is as old as the George Washington Masonic Memorial and as new as the 21st century. The original Majestic Café was founded in 1932 by John Gadonas, at 622 King Street. He opened the New Majestic Café at 911 King Street in 1949. Mr. John, as he was called, altered the building to enlarge the space, added an Art Deco facade, and outfitted the restaurant with the latest equipment and furnishings. The Gadonas family closed the restaurant in 1978, but kept the building, hoping to reopen someday. That hope became a reality when a group of local investors refurbished and reopened The Majestic Café for the first time in 2001.

In December 2015, Alexandria Restaurant Partners purchased the restaurant and embarked on a plan to create an entirely new concept to fill the historic storefront and to bring dynamic and inspired chef-driven dining back to Old Town.  The Art Deco façade and the large neon signs on the exterior are original, with the signs rebuilt, including one running 25 feet to the rooftop. A third sign, carried over from the original Majestic in 1932, remains in perfect working order and hangs once again inside the front window. The service kitchen visible from the dining room is where all cooking happens while the restaurant is open. The terrazzo floor is largely original. A team of expert craftsmen matched and repaired the original, then extended it throughout the expanded dining area. The tin ceiling on the sides of the dining room reproduces the tin design of the original Majestic.

In May 2016, ARP redesigned the interior of The Majestic with the help of Paul Beckmann, of Beckmann Architects, and interior design by David Chennault, both of Old Town, Alexandria. The new design pays respect to the art deco roots and elements that were retained in the renovation, while adding modern updates and layers of interest through color, texture, a contemporary mix of high and low, articulated through fabrics, finishes, textures, lighting, and an assortment of artwork of all kinds. Inspiration came from intimate supper clubs, art salons, and a collector’s gallery/library/conversation space, and the walls will be adorned by salon-style installations of two-dimensional artworks of all types, including photographs, prints, paintings, drawings, framed and unframed, to add to the composed, yet casual feeling of the restaurant.

Rich jewel-tones throughout the space are enhanced by ambient lighting, and at the individual booths along one side of the space, small lamps create even more mood and dining ambiance. The open display kitchen takes center stage, while at the opposite end at the storefront and entrance area, the bar offers guests a chance to linger and enjoy a classic cocktail or two.

(Flickr Pool photo via Geoff Livingston, on Flickr)

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