There’s a love affair blooming in Ashburn: between the Belmont Chase retail center and the surrounding community.
Anchored by the Whole Foods Market, which opened last summer, the center has since attracted a range of fun and trendy restaurants and shops. And in the process, it’s becoming a social hub that western Ashburn has been missing.
“It fills a hole that we didn’t know we had at Belmont,” said Belmont Country Club HOA President Rushi Shah, an 11-year resident of the community.
“We could go to the [Belmont] club but this gives us so many more choices,” Shah said, noting that residents were thrilled to have Whole Foods and a number of restaurants open during January’s major snowstorm. The center is walkable from some parts of the community and an easy drive for others.
And while Whole Foods is a big draw, popular niche restaurant chains are also pulling in crowds.
One of the restaurants that’s generating lots of buzz is Cava Grill. The DC-area chain (that has expanded to open locations in New York and Los Angeles) is known for its healthy build-your-own entrées and fresh juices.
Cava is known to have a cult following, and devotees in Loudoun are no exception since the Ashburn branch opened last November. “Obsessed” is a word that came up frequently during a recent discussion about the chain on a community Facebook page.
“Cava Grill definitely builds and maintains a devoted following. I am one of them. There really are not other options for truly healthful and delicious cuisine—both words being operative,” Cava spokesman Dusty Lockhart said.
One Facebook fan says her “happy place” is the center’s popular Pure Barre fitness studio for a workout, followed by a restorative lunch at Cava.
For HOA president Shah, who had experienced the Cava Grill phenomenon in Tysons Corner before its Loudoun opening, it was a perfect addition to the neighborhood.
“I love it and the fact that they opened one here is amazing,” he said.
Another new eatery, Cooper’s Hawk Winery, is also garnering rave reviews—and big crowds—since opening last month.
The Chicago-based chain operates a handful of locations around the country. Loudoun, with its growing population, was a natural fit, said Jeffrey Patterson, general manager of the Ashburn branch.
The restaurant’s appealing niche is its extensive offering of wines under its own label, blended by head winemaker Rob Warren (in an interesting twist, some Loudouners may remember Warren from his days as head winemaker at Tarara Vineyards near Lucketts).
The company also offers retail wine sales—so if you like the glass you had at dinner, you can buy a bottle to take home.
Cooper’s Hawk makes its own wines from a dizzying range of varietals (from grapes sourced mostly from the West Coast but also from Europe and elsewhere). The Ashburn location offers dozens of its own wines by the glass, and offers pairing suggestions with its “modern casual” menu. Patterson said two of the restaurant’s most popular items are Gnocchi Carbonara and Short Rib Risotto.
For Brit Jones of Ashburn, Cava is a favorite for a casual meal, and Cooper’s Hawk for “fancy-ness and grown-up-ness” when looking for a nice evening out with her husband and children. “We just love Cooper’s Hawk. The staff and management really went all out to ensure we had a pleasant dining experience,” Jones said.
Cooper’s Hawk attracts a range of diners from all walks of life—from young professionals to families.
“It’s a very broad spectrum—that’s what we like,” Patterson said.
After just a few weeks, the buzz has already caught on, and regulars say reservations are a must since there’s usually a wait. Patterson says the restaurant will be opening its patio later this spring.
Other community favorites include Pazzo Pomodoro, a cantina style Italian restaurant—described by one social media fan as “a hidden gem”—which regularly hosts live music; and MOD Pizza, a build-your-own wood-fired pizza place known for its industrial chic decor. Peet’s Coffee, a San Francisco-based chain with a following of its own, is a popular meeting place for Belmont locals.
It appears that this is one retail center that’s a perfect match for the neighborhood (and there may be folks in other areas of the county who are just a little bit jealous).
And to top it all off, Shah says Belmont Chase reps have been helping the community maintain road medians and attending HOA committee meetings.
“They’ve been great neighbors,” Shah said.